Anita Hoge was once asked if concerned citizens could stop outcome based education – the name under which “education reform” in the 1990s went. Her response was memorable. We were looking at a machine, she said – think, a complex system of gears – that required each piece to do its part. If any part of the country, any school district, were able to completely opt out and stop the “reform” at the local level, it would hold up the larger movement…for a while at least, buying time to inform more people. Hoge is a lecturer and columnist who is profiled in the book 'Educating for the New World Order.' In 1990, Hoge filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Education which was successful in requiring the government to seek parental consent for the psychological testing of school children.
That’s something to consider as local groups around the country band together to “stop” Common Core in their neck of the woods. Some of these groups are better informed than others and some will have greater success in conveying their concerns to the larger community but, to whatever degree they clog the gears of this giant machine that is slowly dragging us into the Brave New World, we have an increased opportunity to raise the alarm, to explain the situation, and to propose alternatives.
One local group that has just launched a bodacious website is Cleveland Catholics against Common Core (CCCC). Patterned on the web-work of Pittsburgh Catholics Against Common Core, CCCC joins dozens of similar organizations: Floridians Against Common Core, Arizonians Against Common Core, Hoosiers Against Common Core, Californians United Against Common Core…and so many others. There are also “specialty” sites, such as Charter Choice Truth (explaining the Trojan Horse that is in the charter school movement: www.chartertruth.com). Unlike Hoge’s campaign against outcome based education, current watchdogs and researchers – including Hoge – are able to disseminate their research easily and inexpensively.
So what does the Cleveland Catholics against Common Core website have to offer? There is an enormous amount of material devoted to explaining the problems of Common Core – including a piece by Hoge called “Manipulating Students – Reward and Punishment” that discusses the use of students as guinea pigs with the development of a “computerized, personalized student plan or career pathway is called a 'learning genome'.” Mary Jo Anderson’s article, “Common Core Sexualizes American School Children,” describes a plethora – a pattern – of curriculum choices designed to meet the standards that are graphic and offensive. Sometimes the material is removed in the face of parental complaints. “More often, however, an attempt is made to ‘educate’ the parent by officials who defend the choice as part of a ‘broad’ literary foundation intended to introduce students to Nobel Prize winners (Morrison) or multicultural perspectives (Latino and Black). And some school officials themselves feel pressured to defend CCSS [Common Core State Standards] exemplars as part of their professional identity.” There are also numerous videos for those who prefer talks to articles.
Shorter sections provide useful talking points for those who need to explain their position to school officials, bishops, parents, or anyone else. Most importantly, one section asks “How do we get rid of Common Core” and get Catholic education back into Catholic schools? It contains links to schools that use classical Catholic curriculum along with a good bit of discussion about what constitutes a classic Catholic education.
“Can Government Take Catholic Out of Catholic Schools?” Louise McNulty asks in the title of the site’s opening article. “Because churches accept tax exemptions,” she answers, “they can eventually be pressured or ‘controlled’ by secular government rules. We have already seen the threats to religious freedom through the new health care mandates…. When Christ talked of giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, I'm sure He foresaw our present crisis in Catholic education. And we know He didn't want us to give our children to Caesar. Even if our schools would close, we could, with God's help, resurrect Catholic education—at home, in home schools, etc. Perhaps if there were enough committed Catholic parents with children in public schools they could start a ground swell that would change some public school policy. After all, it is the public who elects local school board members. What we need is not Big Brother, but faith as big as a mustard seed and the willingness to work to make it germinate.”
Spero columnist Stephanie Block is the author of the four-volume 'Change Agents: Alinskyian Organizing Among Religious Bodies,' which is available at Amazon.