Catholic scholars oppose Common Core

More than 100 Catholic scholars have signed a letter to the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops urging church leaders to reject Common Core Standards for Catholic schools, reports Education Week. Gerard V. Bradley, a Notre Dame law professor, wrote the letter.

More than 100 dioceses and archdioceses have adopted the new standards, reports Ed Week.

Common Core expects too little of students, charges the letter. The “bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education . . . shortchanges the central goals of all sound education and surely those of Catholic education: to grow in the virtues necessary to know, love, and serve the Lord, to mature into a responsible, flourishing adult, and to contribute as a citizen to the process of responsible democratic self government.”

Bradley spoke at a Common Core conference at Notre Dame along with other critics such as James Milgram, a Stanford professor emeritus, and Sandra Stotsky, a University of Arkansas professor. Milgram believes the standards don’t prepare students for college math, especially if they plan math or science majors. Stotsky, who played a leading role in writing Massachusetts’ standards, opposes Common Core’s emphasis on nonfiction.

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Comments

  1. I think their criticism is pretty valid. From the study the article links to: “students whose last high school mathematics course was Algebra II have less than a 40 percent chance of obtaining a four- year college degree.”

    That’s about as clear a statement as you can get. Clearly, making it easy for kids to cut off at Algebra II is making it easy for them to fail to get a college degree.

    It’s just my opinion, but I think it’s hopeless to expect to get an engineering degree unless you start with a pretty firm grip on trigonometry. Lots of the early courses require it.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      Don’t most kids going into engineering programs need at least Calc AB to start? I mean, sure, you take calc when you get there, but it’s a lot easier to pass if you had it in HS first!

      I have some engineering-leaning kids, and I plan to make sure they all have Calc in HS (we homeschool) to keep their options open.

      • Deirdre,

        Any decent Engineering Program (4 year) which is certified by a nationally recognized board will not admit a student who hasn’t taken (or is taking) Calculus I (or a higher math class).

        The standard course of study when I went to high school for college bound students was:

        English (3 to 4 years, including Literature and Composition)
        Science (3 years, 2 of which were lab sciences)
        History/Government (2 years)
        Math (3 to 4 years, including Algebra/Geometry and
        Algebra II/Trig or pre-calc).

        The other required courses included 2 years of phys ed., half year of health education, 9 weeks of driver’s ed, and 9 weeks of career orientation, plus electives

        • Mark Roulo says:

          “Any decent Engineering Program (4 year) which is certified by a nationally recognized board will not admit a student who hasn’t taken (or is taking) Calculus I (or a higher math class).”

           

          I dont’ think this is correct.
          The UCSB Electrical Engineering course sequence starts with Math 3A in the first quarter of freshman year. Math 3A is “the first course of a two quarter sequence in Differential and Integral Calculus.”

           

          And the UCSB ECE department is pretty highly ranked: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UCSB_Department_of_Electrical_and_Computer_Engineering

           

          And the 4-year course sequence is here: http://www.ece.ucsb.edu/academics/undergrad/curriculum/coe-gear-2013-14-p51.pdf

           

          Are you claiming that they require the typical freshman to have already taken the equivalent of Math 3A to be admitted (and then they expect the kid to take it again)? Or that UCSB’s engineering program isn’t decent? Or something else?

      • It’s absolutely better to have calculus, but you could make it without it. I was saying I don’t think you can make it at all without trig.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Rob. I suppose it depends on the government’s promise.
      “If you pass the Common Core minimum, you can get into any college and complete any degree. Period.”
      Or maybe not.
      CC does not forbid further math, afaict, but the question is what the minimun standard is supposed to do for a kid. If that’s overstated, a lot of kids are going to be cheated and their counselors would be smart to recommend further math. Which will probably open them up to some kind of Bad Looks from the admin for not hewing to the CC.
      Catholics aren’t the only ones to be wary of near-porn, as well.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      It is certainly true that, ““students whose last high school mathematics course was Algebra II have less than a 40 percent chance of obtaining a four- year college degree.” It is also true that, “students who did not play on their high school basketball team have less than a 40 percent chance of being six feet tall.”

      However, it would be ridiculous to expect people to get taller by trying out for basketball. People whose last math course was algebra II are in general less smart, less ambitious, and less academically oriented than people who go on. Making them take another math course isn’t going to magically change them. Any more than playing basketball is going to make them taller.

      • Florida resident says:

        Hello, Mr. Sweeny !
        1. I agree 100% with your statements above.
        *
        2. About two months ago you mentioned your intent to look at the book
        “Bad Students, not Bad Schools” by Robert Weissberg.
        Any luck in that direction ?
        Your F.r.

      • Mr Sweeny: I disagree, to a small degree. Lots of capable high school kids are also lazy (I speak from experience). Without someone driving them to complete all the math they are capable of, they just might take a short cut and screw themselves out of a degree.

        I’d much prefer we ran it the other way: all kids are expected to reach a certain high standard and we will make exceptions as warranted. Saying instead, “our standard is low, but hope many kids will not stop at the minimum, but instead excel past it” is a much weaker stand.

      • cranberry says:

        “People whose last math course was algebra II are in general less smart, less ambitious, and less academically oriented than people who go on.”

        That’s true, as long as the high school offers further math courses. The combination of a Common Core which does not set high math standards, and pressure to get as many students as possible up to the minimum, would place enormous pressure on schools to aim low.

        Why should a school put resources into educating the 5 students who might profit from Trig, when they could use the same teacher time to teach a class of 25 students Algebra II (for the second time?)

        Also, you transpose causation in your example. People who play basketball at pro levels are almost universally tall. People who go on to thrive in competitive colleges almost universally take advanced math in high school. However, many of those students drop math like a hot potato as soon as possible. Our system has set up math, in particular Calculus, as a gatekeeping mechanism to separate the academic from the non-academic.

        That’s true of foreign language study as well. I value foreign languages, and would require students to take them, if I had the power. However, the correlation between foreign language study and college completion rates are due to many selective colleges requiring the “college prep curriculum” of applicants.