“While we respectfully understand that other private and Catholic schools may discern to adapt or adopt the standards for these and other reasons,” Marquette Bishop John Doerfler said in a statement, “we do not believe that such actions would benefit the mission, Catholic identity or academic excellence of our schools.”
The diocese began implementing the new curriculum in the last school year, and reports are that the schools are very pleased about the positive changes they have seen and enthusiastic about what the future of classical, liberal education holds.
Michigan’s legislature is currently considering two bills that would repeal and replace Common Core in government-run school districts.
“It is time to end the disastrous national experiment that is Common Core and let Michigan manage its own destiny to achieve excellence in our education system,” State Senator Phil Pavlov, a Republican opponent of Common Core, said in a statement. “This bill sets quality, Michigan-controlled standards that give our schools consistency for the future and give local communities a voice in their children’s education.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests Michiganders wholly agree with Pavlov’s assessment of the national standards.
Zach Good, provost at the Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Rapids, worked with the Marquette Diocese to transition to a classical curriculum, and received strong support from the community.
“Sacred Heart had around 60 students, and the number was declining significantly every year,” Good told the Heartland Institute. “There had been permission to close the school from the bishop. Financially, that would have been the wisest thing to do, but the parish priest suggested a radical re-founding of the school with a Catholic curriculum. We just finished up our third year as a classical academy, and when we open in the fall, we will have 300 students.”
Dan Guernsey, the director of the Cardinal Newman Society’s K-12 programs, told Heartland that the demand for liberal education is only growing in the face of Common Core’s cold “college-and-career-ready” standards.
“I think there’s a market for classical [education], because there’s an elite, unique, attractive element to it,” he said. “The liberal arts understanding, which animates classical schools and schools that are like classical schools, is that knowledge is pursued for its own sake, and the function of the schools is to develop a fully functioning, flourishing human person.”
As the Common Core debate rages in Michigan, and across the country, success stories like Sacred Heart in Grand Rapids and the Diocese of Marquette will reinforce the merits of liberal education in contrast to the pitfalls of national “college-and-career-ready” standards imposed from on high.
Michael Lucchese works for the American Principles Project.