Milwaukee parents petition archbishop to remove Common Core from Catholic classrooms

May 29, 2014

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Ben Velderman Ben Velderman

Ben was a communications specialist for EAG from 2010 until August 2014. He is a former member of the Michigan Education Association.
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MILWAUKEE – One thousand Catholic parents have signed a petition asking Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki to remove the Common Core learning standards from the Catholic schools under his supervision.

common_core_chalkboardMembers of “Milwaukee Catholic Parents Against Common Core” say the nationalized math and English learning standards are experimental and poorly researched, based on “secular” values, and could undermine the independence of the private religious schools.

“Many Catholic parents share the sentiments of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that the Common Core was developed for a ‘public school audience’ and is ‘of its nature incomplete as it pertains to Catholic schools,’” the parents write in a press release.

The parents are also miffed that Archbishop Listecki adopted the standards without first getting their input. Catholic schools in the Milwaukee archdiocese began using the one-size-fits-all standards – which dictate the concepts that must be taught at each grade level – last fall.

“The other four dioceses in the state have decided to not adopt the Common Core standards,” the parents note in their press release.

One of the petitioners, Abby Figi, is so troubled by Listecki’s decision that she’s pulling her three children out of Catholic school and will begin home-schooling them, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Considering that Listecki has publicly defended the Common Core standards as merely a “reference point” for the estimated 132 K-12 schools under his stewardship, it will probably take a mass student exodus to get him to change his mind.

The Journal Sentinel notes that while adopting Common Core is a voluntary decision for private schools, some leaders understand that “many students in private K-8 schools transition to public high schools, where the standards would be in place.”

The SAT and ACT college entrance exams are also being aligned to Common Core, so familiarity with the new standards could also affect whether a student gets into the college of his or her choice.

It’s unclear if such considerations have influenced Listecki’s thinking, but parent Heather Schweitzer hopes they haven’t.

“A Catholic school’s first priority is to get children into heaven, not Harvard. Second, to teach the children how to think, not what to think,” Schweitzer said in the press release. “Common Core changes the integrity of our Catholic schools making them nothing more than public schools with crucifixes, statues, and prayers.”

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