The Core is Rotten: Three Reasons Why Common Core Should Not Be Accepted

The_core_is_rotten_common_core-286x300 The Core is Rotten: Three Reasons Why Common Core Should Not Be AcceptedAll across the nation, parents are reacting to a new educational program called Common Core. Under this program, national standards and testing are being set up for students which will eventually give rise to a core curriculum that will fundamentally change the way American children are educated.

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Many states and dioceses have adopted the Common Core standards that have been proposed by the government without significant public commentary. It behooves everyone to take a look at what Common Cores is and why it should not be accepted.

There are many reasons that could be cited.

However, this article will present considerations based on the ideas of my book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go. The three reasons given here focus on how this unpopular program goes against the core concepts of what true education should be.


The reasons are:

a. Common Core takes from parents their primary God-given right regarding the education of their children.
God communicates the principle of fecundity directly to the family. It would make no sense for God to give this fecundity without providing the means to perfect its fruit, the children. Thus, God gives parents the means by which the child develops toward its end, which is found in the principle of education together with the principle of discipline based on parental authority.

“Nature intends not merely the generation of the offspring,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “but also its development and advance to the perfection of man considered as man, that is, to the state of virtue.”1

Pius XI explains the role of the family quite strongly in his encyclical on education: “TheReading_Together-200x300 The Core is Rotten: Three Reasons Why Common Core Should Not Be Accepted family therefore holds directly from the Creator the mission and hence the right to educate the offspring, a right inalienable because inseparably joined to the strict obligation, a right anterior to any right whatever of civil society and of the State, and therefore inviolable on the part of any power on earth.”2

That is to say, the parents have the obligation to see to the proper upbringing of their children, which includes their religious, moral, intellectual and physical education.

By imposing universal and standardized testing upon students, Common Core ultimately determines the content of what is to be tested. Some of this content reflects politically correct positions and sexual attitudes. Since the program imposes national standards in education, parents have no say in contrast to the voice they now have with local school boards.

Many parents have already found objectionable content in Common Core materials that they feel endangers their children’s morals, innocence and intellectual development. However, there are no mechanisms in place by which parents might voice objections to and ultimately change this content (especially in those most important matters dealing with sexual morality). Moreover, even homeschoolers will be indirectly affected by the initiative since it will influence college admissions expectation and standardized tests, all of which are being revised to meet Common Core standards.

The role of the State in education should be to assist not suppress the family’s responsibility to form their children and preserve their innocence. Common Core would, in effect, silence the voices who must speak out. It would place children at risk and expose them to the dangers of standards, which contain the deadly poison of impiety and impurity.

b. Common Core Frustrates the Purpose of Education: The Primary Goal of Education is not Making Students “Career and College Ready”
Common Core shows a fundamental denial of the purpose of education. One of its primary goals is to make children “career and college ready.” It proposes to do this by filling children with testable information. The program mistakes storing information for education.

It happens that the primary goal of education is not making children “career and college ready.”

While education does involve the learning of information, that is not its principal function. The primary goal of education is the building of character which prepares one for what one will become in life. Education involves the training of the mind, the formation of lasting habits and the cultivation of the imagination. All of this results in the development of those unique and unfathomable riches found inside each soul. Education should convey meaning to the human experience and since the object of education is the search for truth, a search should eventually direct the individual to his final end in God and salvation.

“In fact,” continues Pius XI, “since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man’s last end.”3

Common core frustrates the purpose of education by reducing education to purely get_the_Latest_andGreatest The Core is Rotten: Three Reasons Why Common Core Should Not Be Acceptedmaterialistic and economic terms. In fact, the very subjects that should fortify the formation of character are diminished. Literary or historical texts are replaced by “informational” texts. The teaching of the classics is reduced to the minimum while mathematics is highlighted. Everything must be quantifiable and generic standards aimed at the purely economic goal of job placement.

It must be admitted that economic goals in education are very important goals but they are not the most important ones. There is another side of man that is spiritual and superior.

As noted in the book, Return to Order: “This superior side of man’s nature is what makes every person unique and establishes their dignity. This gives rise to political, social, cultural, and religious activities and sciences that tower above mere material economic sustenance and deal more directly with our spiritual needs and ultimately our eternal salvation.”4

The cultivation of this spiritual side of man is the essence of education and the building of character. Thus, the proper appreciation of literature, history, culture and art provides a spiritual platform that enriches the individual and points him in the direction of God and salvation.

Because of its secular origins and materialistic focus, Common Core does not recognize this spiritual platform and certainly does not point students even in the general direction of their final end in God and salvation.

c. Common Core Does Not Correspond to Human Nature: It is Education Without a Soul
There is an obsession in modern society to solve problems with huge process and standardized programs. Such “solutions” resemble huge organizational machines that reduce everything to mass production. In the case of modern education, it is as if students are components of this machine and not actual human beings. That is to say, life’s processes are very different from mechanical processes. To put in place a massive educational machine fails to recognize the organic nature of man. It takes the soul out of education.

Young people cannot be treated as cogs in a machine since they are living and unique 995095_573868279332230_722956284_n-300x175 The Core is Rotten: Three Reasons Why Common Core Should Not Be Acceptedbeings. When the element of life that enters into the equation, everything becomes more complex and unpredictable. Any system of education must consider that life brings with it pondered choices, unending creativity, and varied rhythms. The lives of students are full of spontaneity, unpredictability, and individuality that bring to education a rich and immense variety of possible human actions. The drama of the classroom, that makes teaching so attractive, is the fact that it is full of vitality and moods, meaning and nuance, poetry and passion.

As Return to Order claims: “From the exuberant element of life, there springs forth unique systems of art, styles of life, socio-political institutions, and economic models that differ from the rigid and soulless central planning and one-size-fits-all solutions so prized by socialists and bureaucrats.”5

In this way, the teacher cooperates with the educational work of the loving parent, who, Subscription11 The Core is Rotten: Three Reasons Why Common Core Should Not Be Accepted“following certain moral principles, strongly guide, nurture, protect, and cultivate their children’s growth differently according to their aptitudes and the circumstances.” Teachers, like parents, “must not determine, force, or program the free will of their students since this is contrary to their nature.”6

Common Core by its standardized teaching and testing seeks to create a massive machine of education. The student is processed through this machine, which churns out college and career-ready units. The teacher becomes a technician and not a person with a noble profession and vocation. Success becomes measured by statistics and not by how it instills character in students. Catholics should especially be alerted since such methods do not direct students toward their final end in God and salvation.

* * *

What is wrong with Common Core is not only its untested standards or its standardized testing. Its errors are so fundamental that it cannot be tweaked, modified or adapted. As has been shown, its whole concept of education is flawed. The concerns of the parents are disregarded. Its primary focus frustrates the purpose of education. The program’s methods run contrary to human nature. What is wrong with Common Core is its core. It is rotten and must be discarded.


1 Suppl. S. Th. 3; p. Q. 41, a. 1

2 Pope Pius XI, Encyclical on Christian Education, December 31, 1929

3 Ibid.

4 John Horvat II, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go, York Press, Hanover, Pa., 2013, 128.

5 Ibid., 143.

6 Ibid., 149.

  • Don Jr Max

    the common core was implemented without basically any say from the parents of the millions of students that are going to use it. There was no board- to discuss what it is about. It is like a Trojan Horse to the millions of students. There was no discussion- nothing. This Common core came from basically a couple of people- who are they?, funded by the Gates, why is it being shoved everyone’s throat??..Thank God for the kids in Texas.

  • I’m so glad you brought up this topic, Mr. Horvat. You are absolutely correct. And in fact, there is enough wrong with Common Core that I’m sure you could have written an entire book on the subject. As civic-minded citizens, we must begin pushing back against these misguided programs, or be doomed to become an increasingly disfunctional population, and damned as an increasingly ungodly nation. God save us

  • Cole

    I have two things to say. Common core is doing what most states already are doing with standardized testing just making it, well, common. The other thing is that you say it is the parents right to educate their children, yet you lament that schools are not teaching morals. Shouldn’t it be up to parents to teach their kids morals and not schools since individuals morals may differ? I know if I had children I wouldn’t want a school teaching morals that differ from the morals that I want to pass down.

    • John Horvat II

      I think we need to make a distinction between religion and
      morals. Morals involve whether human actions are right or wrong. This is
      generally found in a code of ethics that is contained in natural law and which is
      valid for all times and all peoples. Lying, cheating and stealing, for example,
      are always wrong and the order of society depends upon upholding this
      condemnation. Education constantly involves moral decisions of all kinds. They cannot
      be separated from the educating process.

      • Cole

        I agree that there are certain morals that come from natural law but there are also “morals” being taught in schools that are the matter of a political agenda such as teaching students that excluding gays from marriage is discrimination. I think this is probably where morals cross religious boundaries but I think you see my point. I do agree though that education should just be more than math and science and reading and writing. I also agree that we need to move beyond just standards testing but on the flip side, no one has ever presented me an alternative. As someone with a master’s in education, I understand that assessment is necessary to gauge how much was learned and how necessary it is. But until someone presents a plan to supplement standards testing, the common core isn’t the evil that so many are making it out to be. It’s simply standardizing what just about every state has already been doing.

      • jascott

        Watching a rebroadcast of Women of Grace, the guest, Mary Jo Anderson, in discussing Common Core said they will no longer be teaching cursive writing (everything is digitized). So, if you can’t write cursive you can’t read cursive and will have no way to tell if original documents have been copied accurately. Scary thought!

    • That’s the problem. Schools do not teach ethical behavior, they teach tolerance of perversion, freedom of choice, anything goes, do it if it feels good,. Is that what your children should be saturated with every day? With Common Core, it is Planned Parenthood writing the script for your children to be sexually active as early as possible, to solve problem pregnancies with no fault abortion and to reject moral teachings of parents as being old people’s rules.

  • cher

    Isn’t education suppose to teach our children the basic needs to survive in the world? I don’t think we need to add more or take away from that basic principle, we haven’t evolved so much that we need to change anything within the structure of teaching. As I see it…education has been lagging in it’s standards for some time now, test results and statistics show a drop in knowledge over the pass fifty years. I don’t think children need anything that confuses them or is made more difficult but, I do wish children went to school even when the snows up to their behinds…those days taught me perseverance~

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that

    counts.” Winston Churchill

  • Jenn


  • albertbryson

    Thank you for your position on the common core. Catholic schools should be teaching better than what common core is. Common core teaches to lowest denominator. Catholic school education which I am product of in late 50th and 60ths was demanding and hard. Then, Catholic schools used textbooks published by Catholic publishers. Now, they get textbooks supplied by the government. I would encourage our Catholic schools to stop using the textbooks they get from the state and get some Catholic publishers in business doing textbooks for our Catholic schools which would be better than textbooks being produced now.

  • Tyler Tracey

    The principles of the common core are an attempt to create an equitable education for students across the country. The hope is that a student from Maine will get an education similar to the student from Idaho or California. The standards are not bad, they are benchmarks and hold teachers accountable in their classrooms. I’m a conservative and the standards movement was started by conservatives and implemented firstly by conservatives under the Bush administration. The reason common core was created by the National Governors Association was to address the failure of the No Child Left Behind Act which deteriorated under a privatized testing culture. It is an attempt to remedy that. This article is unfair in its treatment of the common core simply because it does not address the common core itself. It only addresses people’s fears and does not examine any of the standards. What is so awful about

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.1Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

    I had my student read parts of the Odyssey and we went through the personification of virtue and vice in the characters, such as Odysseus’ cunning and wisdom. Is that really “soulless?”

    I tend to think that many would find the book list in Appendix B of the common core very refreshing:

    Keep in mind that these are exemplars so the teacher is not bound to these books, they are suggestions as examples for content and complexity!

    You could create a liberal arts program out of the common core standards if you wanted to, that is what I have been doing with my students. I have found that I have quite a bit of freedom in my curriculum design and that the standards are easy to meet when the curriculum is designed well. I find that most people don’t have a problem with the common core, but with how many states have attempted to implement it. States and school systems end up buying programs that are “common core certified” This means that the program has been designed to meet the all the standards, but that doesn’t mean it is a good program. And these programs are what most people are finding a problem with, not the common core itself. If you have a problem with these programs then get on school councils and address these issues and advocate for your students.

    As for education not supposed to be career and work oriented, I agree. Education, as such, is ordered to the formation of the whole person which takes place most properly in the family. Education is more than just going to school. Learning is the disposition of the mind which flourishes within the virtuous person. But education for college preparation and a career is also essential in the life of students, especially from the perspective of vocation. If students do not participate in the life of the mind with their peers they may not gain access to educational assets, like guidance counselors, scholarships, internships, and professional relationships, then they will be opening themselves up to economic vulnerability down the road when they are ready to get married or enter religious life.

    For those of you who are frustrated with education please get involved with your student’s academic life. Statistically, the more parents are involved the higher success rate their students will have. Be thoughtful about your involvement, however. Just because you know what is best for your child, does not mean you know how to teach math, science, or history better than a trained educator. Discuss the curriculum and understand what is being taught. Also, read the standards. They are out there for you to read and you have a right to know what is being taught to your students. But also remember that students come across different ideas that you may not agree with. Prepare your child for these interactions and give them the tools necessary to state their opinion thoughtfully and convincingly and that it is ok if people disagree with them and vica versa.

  • GabiZ

    To joys of totalitaristic though – forced, public education. If the governments would have none power over childrenthere would be no problem at all. The only way to solve this, is a privatisation of educational services.

  • Sister Mary Grace

    I agree that the Common Core is rotten to the core, but I didn’t find this article particularly convincing. Can you give some specific examples of the Common Core curriculum including immoral content?