Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Dec. 5 – Mission Breakfast – St. John Bosco Schools (K-8)

December 1st, 2013, Promulgated by b a

UPDATE: Note the change from from the 4th to the 5th.

There will be a Mission Breakfast on December 5 8:30-9:30AM, so invite anyone you know who would appreciate the truth, goodness, and beauty that blesses St. John Bosco Schools.

Catholic Classical education is something special and is seeing a grassroots revival all across the nation. These folks in East Rochester are at the very heart of it and are doing incredible work. If you missed them on the Radio back in May, you can hear Colleen Richards and Beth Sullivan talk about Classical Liberal Arts Curriculum here:


Here’s some reasons why you should be at least a little concerned about Common Core: – Common Core Is Curriculum, Contrary to Advocates’ Claims – Common Core Goes Global – Common Core Commotion: Is New Curriculum Catholic-School Friendly?


8 Responses to “Dec. 5 – Mission Breakfast – St. John Bosco Schools (K-8)”

  1. y2kscotty says:

    From one of the links, that great mathematics educator, Phyllis Schafly (pardon the sarcasm), says that “Euclidean geometry has been abandoned.” Well, yes, to some extent – well before Common Core. And, although I liked a lot of the “old” axiom-theorem-proof of geometry back in 1950’s high school, it is not necessarily the best way to teach and learn geometry. (Your skilled tool-and-die maker and carpenter and construction craftsman know a lot of geometry) Somehow to rant about this in the context of Catholic education is a misplaced concern. One quote from Denver is that the Catholic schools there meet the standards “and more”. Which says to me, “What’s the problem?” I am NOT a defender of Common Core, but I just don’t see how it is undermining our Faith. What I have read in the links provided simply doesn’t convince me that it’s some evil Obama-driven, brain-washing approach. No-Child-Left-Behind (a Bush-driven program – and is it insidious, evil, etc.?)has not been the panacea. The bad thing about CC is the testing, incessant testing using the standards that haven’t been implemented yet. I remember the day when the only testing standard was the NY State Regents Exams. That was enough – and it was sufficient to produce people who were responsible for a lot of the greatness of our country. It’s not the Common Core to be concerned about – it’s Common Sense (G.K., where are you?). And I suppose we could be having huge debates about that. Back in Bishop McQuaid’s day, the big problem was the Protestant infusion in the public school curriculum. And, someday we may have to face the infusion of “Islamic values” in the name of diversity. That is a bigger issue, in my opinion, than CC.
    And – sigh – I am out of breath now – I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and did NOT shop on that day.

  2. sydwynd says:

    I think the common core standards are the least of the worries of Catholic schools. Just speaking for myself and my family, my wife is a product of K-12 Catholic schools and I attended public school through 8th grade and then Catholic high school. We both agreed that we were not sending our children to Catholic schools. Why? First, we both beleived that the quality of the education and educational opportunities were much greater in the public schools. I can say with certainty that had our boys been in Catholic schools, they would not had the opportunities they currently enjoy in their school.

    Second, we didn’t feel the high cost of such an education was worth the benefit of their getting a “religious” education in the school. We both felt our boys could get as good, if not a better, education on their faith with us as their primary teachers instead of the school. Again, our backgrounds in the Catholic “system” showed us that the cost of the Catholic education far exceeded the marginal benefit of a more “detailed” faith based education.

    The sad thing is that we’re not alone in this judgement. I have many friends that are committed Catholics that send their children to public schools for reasons similar to ours. This is not to say that the parents that make the financial sacrifice to send their children to Catholic schools are wrong, just that for our family, my wife and I did see the value.

    If you really want to make a difference in Catholic schools, crack that nut, not whether or not the Common Core is a concern to Catholic education. Just my 2 cents.

  3. Ben Anderson says:

    I won’t argue with that assessment other than that SJBS is radically different from your typical Catholic school – the religious benefit is more than marginal and is a complete game changer. And believe me, quality of education is a high priority of mine as well and I honestly believe these classical systems exceed in that regard.

  4. sydwynd says:


    Very interesting. I must say I hadn’t heard of them before but then again my kids were already in Middle School when it opened so I wouldn’t have been paying close attention. It does indeed sound unique.

  5. Nerina says:

    Second, we didn’t feel the high cost of such an education was worth the benefit of their getting a “religious” education in the school. We both felt our boys could get as good, if not a better, education on their faith with us as their primary teachers instead of the school. Again, our backgrounds in the Catholic “system” showed us that the cost of the Catholic education far exceeded the marginal benefit of a more “detailed” faith based education.

    These are mine and my husband’s thoughts too. We have a 1st grader, though,about whom we are concerned given the common core and the awful curriculum that accompanies the standards. A Classical Liberal Arts curriculum sounds more and more enticing.

    As Scotty notes above, the testing associated with CC is insane. And I was not a big believer in NCLB either. I can’t speak to the catholic school/CC issue, but I have many concerns about CC as I see it being implemented in our school (I am particularly concerned for my 7th grader who will bear the brunt of implementation and the subsequent “tweaking” of curriculum). I fear she will not fare nearly as well as my older kids.

    Also, for those with kids who will be looking at college in a few years, the College Board has explicitly stated that the SAT and the ACT will be rewritten to conform to CC. To fully appreciate how lackluster the standards are, one has to really look into what children are learning at their school. Find out about “modules” in the ELA curriculum to get just a taste. Look at any “Common Core aligned” math book. My husband feel like we have to supplement everything my 7th grader is learning. We will most likely spend breaks and summer reteaching everything from basic writing to basic math. Fortunately, science doesn’t yet appear affected by CC (though my daughter spent the first month in AP Bio talking about man-made global warming as a fact).

    Finally, this:

    And, someday we may have to face the infusion of “Islamic values” in the name of diversity. That is a bigger issue, in my opinion, than CC.

    is already happening.

  6. crichards says:

    There is so much here to comment on… where to begin?

    First, y2kscotty expresses the idea that these standards aren’t much different from previous standards. This was initially my reaction as well, as a teacher in diocesan and independent schools for 16 years, having worked with New York State standards since they were first issued. But not all standards are created equal. I recently attended the conference on Catholic Concerns about the Common Core in New Jersey, where one of the speakers was Dr. Sandra Stotsky. Dr. Stotsky has been credited with the “Massachusetts Miracle”, in which a great set of educational standards brought about improved student performance statewide. Dr. Stotsky was also a member of the Common Core Validation Committee. She was one of 29 members, of which only three were educators with any kind of qualification for writing or evaluating educational standards. She and another of those three educators, Dr. James Milgram, reviewed the standards, worked with the committee to rectify their flaws, and finally both refused to validate the Common Core Standards. Their assessments of Common Core are widely available on the web.

    The link below is excellent. I highly recommend it for those who have worked with educational standards, especially the Annotated Common Core standards. You will find links both for and against Common Core at this site.

    It was actually the history of the Common Core’s acceptance and development that alarmed me the most. To learn that federal money was offered to states only if they would accept the Common Core, before it was available for anyone to read, study, and evaluate, makes me more than a little concerned.

    At the conference I mentioned, there were many principals and Catholic school superintendents (about 40 were in attendance), who were being told they must use the Common Core. At their schools they are being told to use certain modules of instruction. Teachers are following the modules to prepare students for the tests. The conversations they told us about, the stress on the teachers, their focus on these assessments for their students and themselves–these things, by necessity, drive the mission out of the school. Why? Because we are finite creatures. We can’t do everything. If we don’t have time to spend focusing on the mission of the school, we will lose it. Afterward I felt two very strong emotions: gratitude for the freedom to focus on beauty, goodness, and truth; and pity for those educators who want the best for their students but have to do this instead.

    One local mother visited our school last month; she told me, “I’m a mathematician, but I don’t understand the math my 4th grader is doing.” She is not alone in feeling disconnected from her child’s education. A quote that stuck with me from a Common Core advocate was that it “levels the playing field.” My question is this: Since many children do not have someone at home to help them, are we leveling the playing field by taking the parents’ help away from those who have it? Just asking…

    At St. John Bosco School, where I am headmaster, the children excel. They all have different abilities, but they love to learn. They enjoy their classes. They love their teachers. They have fun, and they also know true joy.

    Reading a family member’s report card from a highly ranked public school, I saw it was an accumulation of data. Even the personal comments (about a 1st grader) were canned remarks that could have been put on the report cards of half the class. I wonder, where is the humanity? The same child brings home books from the school library about punk-rock farm animals screaming out Old MacDonald’s Farm. Why provide that to a child? A book, the pictures, the words, the tone, the characters, all these form the imagination of that child, form the soul of that child. That child is someone I care about, and she deserves better. She is a daughter of Almighty God, and her soul ought to be nurtured with things that are beautiful, good, and true. Every child deserves to be educated as the son or daughter of the King.

    If you’d like more information about our school, go to: Come to the Mission Breakfast Thursday morning. Most people who come are enthused and encouraged by what they hear!

    God bless you!

  7. Ben Anderson says:

    Thank you, crichards!

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