The leadership of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee tried its hardest to silence opposition to its adoption of Common Core. Why has Common Core been rolled out so silently with any discussion on the matter strongly discouraged? Any subject such as this which cannot be openly debated is suspicious in the least. Archbishop Listecki released a letter to the public in which he states:

I am not as concerned that Common Core is adopted or adapted by our Catholic schools. In the Catholic schools, we have our guardians.

We are blessed to have Dr. Kathleen Cepelka, our superintendent. She has devoted her life to promoting and preserving Catholic education and has earned the reputation of being an outstanding Catholic educator. I trust Dr. Ceplka and know that she would never diminish our Catholic identity or limit our standard of excellence.

So we are to trust the Archdiocesan leadership that has failed us in so many ways already, and now refuses to have a dialogue about this issue and many others? What is even more insulting and inflammatory is how ignorant Archbishop Listecki must think we are. He acknowledges that Common Core is a potential hazard:

I am concerned with Common Core in our public schools. The majority of our Catholic children attend public schools and, as a religious leader, I want to know what influences are shaping the minds and thinking of our young people.

I would ask that our Catholic families who have children in public schools monitor and inform themselves of the curriculum that influences the education of their children. They may not have the same safeguards and guardians that are present in our Catholic schools.

Do you notice anything about that statement? It is clearly meant to placate and disarm readers. He might as well have said, “look over here… the public schools are the dangerous ones… focus your attention on them and think warm fuzzy thoughts about how we have guardians in our schools.” Don’t be fooled people; whether or not we have guardians in our schools is not the point. The point is that this entire dance is about money. MONEY. Do you think that once our Archdiocese starts to suckle money from Uncle Sam’s bosom, that the Archdiocese will bite the hand that feeds? What happens when new changes to Common Core that may contradict our Faith are introduced? It has nothing to do with remaining competitive. Archbishop Listecki contradicts himself by saying we need Common Core to remain competitive:

We live in a demanding world where competition is fierce. So, as archbishop, I am concerned that we provide the best Catholic education possible, in an environment that is compatible with learning and that our students are not in any way placed at a disadvantage in their competition with fellow students from the public schools.

And then immediately following says:

Currently, Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee provides a quality education that is not only academically sound – our schools perform at a higher standard on college testing than our public counterparts – but also value laden with the best of the Gospel mandates respecting the dignity of the person fashioned by God.

So, please remind me how competitiveness has anything to do with it.

A group of concerned parents and parishioners had planned on attending a discussion at St. John the Evangelist’s Church Hall put on by Catholics United for the Faith, but were quickly banned from using the property by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. When A.P. Szews, a president of Catholics United for the Faith, contacted the Archdiocese, he received this response from none other than Superintendent Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.

I discouraged having him speak at St. John’s because it’s my understanding that he has shared views in other places, which are contrary to the good faith efforts of St. John the Evangelist School and the entire Archdiocesan Schools program which attempts to provide the strongest academic program possible for our students.

Read more here.

Read that carefully and you will start to see the message… because your discussion might contradict the wishes of the leadership of the Archdiocese, you are being shut down.

Ok. So besides the fact that we can’t talk about Common Core, what is the big deal anyway? Supporters fervently claim Common Core is not a curriculum. I read a pretty disturbing article in The Washington Post that finds otherwise. Let’s start with a math problem from a curriculum derived from Common Core – I am a math guy and I was confused.

3. Sally did some counting. Look at her work. Explain why you think Sally counted this way.

177, 178,179,180, 190,200, 210, 211,212,213,214.

What? This is a second-grade math question?

So, where did that come from anyway? Turns out the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been quietly funding the development of a Common Core curriculum since before the Common Core standards were released to the public. Sounds pretty shady. In the article by Gigante and Archbold linked above, they write:

Despite the overlap between corporate branding, mission, funding and leadership, Common Core Inc. claims that it is ‘not affiliated with the Common Core Standards’.

The Washington Post summarizes the article well:

The article suggests that although some advocates of the Common Core claim that they want to only nationalize standards, their true intent is to nationalize a still experimental curriculum. Despite repeated attempts, Common Core Inc. has not responded to their inquiries.

It turns out that Bill Gates has had this in mind from the start. He said:

When the [standardized] tests are aligned to the common [core] standards, the curriculum will line up as well.

Full text here.

We should all be asking ourselves, at a national level and especially at a local Catholic level, is this completely experimental, un-vetted program a good idea for our children? Do we really want Uncle Sam’s shoe in the front door of our precious private education establishments? At every turn, supporters of Common Core resort to ad hominem, ad populum, red herring and straw man tactics to discredit its critics. Something needs to be done. I would urge you to, at the very least, sign this petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/176/132/362/end-common-core-in-the-milwaukee-archdiocese/

Then decide what you can do next. Call the Archdiocese and complain, write a letter, get involved. I am incredibly disappointed in the Archdiocese leadership for selling out like this. The money just isn’t worth it.

I am happy to report that we have some sensible leaders in other parts of the state. Thanks to Badger Catholic for the information below. (This list has been updated to reflect the positions of the La Crosse and Superior dioceses.)

So tentatively, this is what Wisconsin looks like – This only applies to diocesan schools, the independent classical style Catholic schools can continue to use the tried and true method of Catholic education.

Madison – Diocesan
Green Bay – Diocesan
Superior – Diocesan
La Crosse – Diocesan
Milwaukee – Common Core

Finally, here is a link to the full second grade common core curriculum in New York. http://www.engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/g2-m3-full-module.pdf