Gates-Funded Group Targets Catholic Organization Over Common Core

Gates foundationThe Cardinal Newman Society reports that they are being targeted by a Gates-funded lobbying group over their “Catholic is our Core” initiative.

They write:

Sara Pruzin, a state operations associate for the Council for a Strong America (CSA) and former communications intern for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, unwittingly contacted a Cardinal Newman Society leader to rally Catholic support for the Common Core.  She sent an email on August 28 to Dr. Daniel Guernsey, director of the Newman Society’s K-12 Education Programs, at his office at Ave Maria University in Florida, asking him to consider writing op-eds and letters to the editor in support of the Common Core.

“We are concerned about the strident attacks coming from parts of the Catholic community, which we believe are inaccurate and meant more to divide than to inform,” Pruzin wrote.  “We feel that it is important to respond to the negative statements about the Common Core, rather than let them go unanswered.”

Pruzin later confirmed that her criticisms were aimed at The Cardinal Newman Society, and her email was part of a major effort to build support among Catholic educators.  She said the Gates Foundation grantee has reached out to about 50 Catholic educators and leaders, including superintendents in a dozen states and officials at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)—which is also a recipient of Gates funding to promote the Common Core.

CSA received $1.7 million from the Gates Foundation in July 2013 “to educate and engage stakeholders about the Common Core and teacher development through a range of communications activities”.  These have included rallying retired military officers, police officers, business leaders and others to advocate Common Core in many states.

But the Council’s new initiative moves from the realm of public policy to the Catholic Church, which has sponsored or inspired education that significantly outperforms public schools.  Catholic schools have none of the pressures for reform and are ineligible for the federal funding that motivated many state superintendents to embrace the Common Core.

Read the rest.

Engaging in public policy debates is one thing, but to target a group because they started a “Catholic Is Our Core” Initiative for Catholic schools is absolutely over the top.  This isn’t the only time Gates has meddled with Catholic education.  Gates has provided funding for the National Catholic Education Association.  Catholic schools which have promoted classical education for years and years have a solid track record for producing high-performing students.  It just seems like Gates wants to wipe out competition that would make Common Core look even worse than it already does.

How to Fight the Common Core

It seems like fighting the Common Core is a David vs. Goliath proposition.  It’s even more frustrating when the Common Core was approved behind closed doors and implemented without public knowledge.  It’s frustrating when the media hardly discusses it, and when they do it’s typically slanted in favor of the Common Core.  It’s disheartening to see all of the big money lining up behind the Common Core.  Today I had a parent in Arkansas contact me.  Arkansas, like my home state of Iowa, has adopted the Common Core with zero public input and is currently doing nothing about it.

She writes:

I am a concerned parent who lives in Jonesboro, Ark. I have been following your posts for several days after doing some investigating into Common Core. It is already being implemented in Arkansas and in the school where my child goes. Although nothing has ever been publically announced to the parents concerning the implementation which I understand began last (school) year. Just wondering what info or advise you have concerning states or schools where we were not aware of Common Core until it was already a done deal. Others who I have recently talked to said they felt it was too big to fight.

It does seem like it is too big of a fight!  But may I remind you that the outcome of David’s fight with Goliath, scrappy little David, who was a just a lowly shepherd, became King and Goliath lost his head.

Even big fights against overwhelming odds can be won.  Here are some steps to get started.

  1. Educate yourself on the issue.  Read the standards.  Know the myths vs. facts.  There are several strikes against the Common Core: they are subpar standards, the implementation of them will likely be more costly than anticipated, and most importantly they are unconstitutional.   Also be sure to check out our resources.
  2. Start small.  Social media is a powerful tool, share what you’re learning with your friends and family.  Email articles of interest to people you know.  Talk about this issue whenever you get the chance. Begin to educate others.
  3. Letters to the editor:  The media may not be saying much about the Common Core, but that doesn’t mean you can’t express your opinion.
  4. Be the “media” voice:  Perhaps you may have to start your own state-oriented blog if you can’t get the media on board.  Some examples of blogs covering the Common Core at the State Level would be Utahns Against the Common Core, Missouri Education Watchdog, Hoosiers Against Common Core, and Iowans for Local Control.  We have a list of blogs that you can check out.  If there isn’t one in your state maybe it’s time to start one.  Not sure how?  Feel free to contact me.  I would encourage you if you do this to try to keep your material as focused on your state as possible.  Be a resource for your state.
  5. Engage friendly new media… not every blog will want to focus on education, but some may be interested in writing about it from time to time.  Outside of Truth In American Education I blog about the Common Core on occasion at Caffeinated Thoughts.  If I didn’t do that there would be little written in Iowa on the subject.  There are other blogs like mine in other states.  You need to find out who they are and reach out.
  6. Bring the Common Core up with your school board.  It is likely they won’t be able to do anything about them, but you’re at least making the topic public and bringing a level of transparency that didn’t exist before.
  7. Contact your legislators… contact all your state’s legislators.  Do not assume they know what is going on.  Encourage others to do the same.
  8. Find likeminded groups.  The anti-Common Core bill that passed last week in the Indiana Senate was the result of two moms getting involved in the process and they mobilized their local tea party groups.  Also remember that this is a bipartisan issue… Critics of the Common Core may have different reasons for objecting, it matters not.

Just remember when you start this fight in your state that giants can very well be slayed.

What other ideas would you suggest?