Bishop David Zubik said that Common Core -- the national educational standards that many public and Catholic schools have adopted -- won't be coming to Catholic schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Common Core was put together by representatives of various state, educational and other private organizations, trying to develop standard baselines for what students should be learning nationwide. In addition to critics who say it shoehorns a one-size-fits-all approach to public schools, some in Catholic circles have opposed using standards other than those that start with a Catholic model.
Bishop Zubik wrote that even if Pennsylvania were to adopt the Core standards for the public schools, they would not be mandated for parochial ones.
"The Common Core is a set of minimum standards, intended to help public schools with their effort to prepare students for higher education and the workforce. Schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh have always set higher standards, and we continue to challenge students to exceed those standards.
"A number of parents have raised questions about Common Core-related resource materials that conflict with Catholic teaching and have expressed concern about Common Core requirements to collect and report student data in a way that might violate the privacy of students. Be assured that our Catholic identity is the core of our curriculum. Our Catholic faith guides the selection of all curricula, goals, textbooks and other resources. Furthermore, schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh do not share data on individual students with any state or federal databases."
At the same time, Bishop Zubik maintained the diocese's cooperation with the National Catholic Educational Association, which has helped other dioceses to implement the Core standards. The association is having a national convention here in Pittsburgh next month, and it has been helping Catholic school systems adapt to the standard. That, Bishop Zubik said, "has no bearing on education in the Diocese of Pittsburgh."
"We've always used a secular standard as our academic benchmark," a California Catholic educator said. "Then our job as Catholic educators is to make sure the faith is infused and the Catholic identity of our schools is strong. That's always been something that we've had to do."