Common Core creates educational ‘iron cage’

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STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Many parents are feeling powerless in resisting the implementation of Common Core in Catholic schools, according to a recent article in Crisis Magazine by Anne Hendershott, a professor of sociology at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Iron CageHendershott recalls sociologist Max Weber’s warnings from the early 1900s, where he described a dystopian future where a “caste of functionaries and civil servants monopolize power over the lives of citizens.” The resulting bureaucracies “would concentrate large amounts of power in a small number of people—creating a technically ordered, rigid, dehumanized society—eventually trapping all individuals in systems based on efficiency, rational calculation and control.”  As he termed it, society would become an “iron cage.”

This disturbing scenario sounds all too familiar to Hendershott when it comes to Common Core whose goals differ greatly from the goals traditionally held by Catholic schools.  As Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly recently pointed out, Catholic schools are meant to “nurture students’ souls and teach them the critical skills needed to maintain a vibrant culture.”

Parents are organizing against Common Core by “forming Facebook groups, creating advocacy organizations, contacting their parish priest, their bishop, and their diocesan school superintendents,” but their voices don’t seem to be heard against the “bureaucracy in Catholic K-12 education,” according to Hendershott’s Crisis column…

The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) has tried to reassure parents that Common Core is not a curriculum, but Hendershott points out that “standards drive curriculum.”

In fact, Catholic Education Daily recently revealed in anarticle that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent more than $10 million to create Common Core-compliant curricula, and that this demonstrates “the foundation’s intent to reach far beyond broad educational standards…to remake America’s schools.”

Hendershott argues that the “first educators” of children—the parents—should be heard.  Instead, parents are batting against their own Catholic school leaders.  She stated:

[The parents] might have expected a bureaucratic response from the federal government, but few would have expected such inflexibility from their own Catholic school leaders.  Now, as the nation is moving to a predictable, efficient, and reliable form of delivering educational “products” through the federalization of K-12 education, we can expect—as Weber promised us—that such extreme rationality may result in the “disenchantment” of our Catholic schools also.

Franciscan University of Steubenville, where Anne Hendershott is a professor, is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

Authored by Kelly Conroy

Originally published by Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society.

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