In keeping with the mission of the Lowrie Center to provide a forum for innovation, research and the enduring ideas the center would like to open a dialogue regarding the Common Core State Standards.

Consider the mission of the Common Core State Standards:

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

Is this mission compatible with the mission of Christian schools? There is no question that it is our desire to "fully prepare" our students for the future. The Christian worldview views "fully prepared" in a radically different way from the writers of the Common Core. The inclusion of the Truth through the study and integration of God's word is critical to living life both skillfully and fruitfully. We educate based upon the enduring idea that God's word provides the cohearance factor for curriculum and that apart from Truth you cannot be prepared for an eternal future.

The idea that there are core outcomes for each discipline has value. It is unlikely however that the outcomes will address dispositions (values, beliefs, and attitudes) since these are so centered on cultural and worldview beliefs. Can there be a common core in a pluralistic society?

What are the common core dispositions of a Christian school education? What are the common core standards related to the study of God's word? Are we willing or even interested in developing a common core or will each school work independently to develop its spiritual outcomes? In light of our common "text" and values that seems impractical. Can we envision a day when we become a Kingdom Education system, a movement where we operate under God's view of the fully educated individual?

Two Suggestions:

1) Lets begin a dialogue concerning the Common Core. What questions do you have? What are the issues? How are you addressing the Common Core? Post your questions and comments
2) Lets begin to think about Common Core Bible and Spiritual Formation Standards. Post one or two Standards for a specific grade level. Once we get the ball rolling, the Lowrie Center will begin to organize your recommendations into a K-12 Common Core. This will not be possible without your involvement so I urge you to join in this dialogue and effort.

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Comment by Pam Horneck on November 12, 2013 at 10:32am

This is a wonderful idea, having Common Core Bible standards. Before coming to NorthStar, I taught in another Christian school for 17 years, and while we 'bragged' that we had a Christian school, we didn't have a single biblical standard that we were focusing on bringing in to our lessons. We have plans of doing this in our Bible department this year, and would love to participate in this discussion here in the forum.

I have 2 concerns with Common Core. First are the Christian parents who are getting on the bandwagon and assuming the Common Core are evil without reading them.  They tend to get involved in the political agenda that others might have and assume that the standards themselves are bad.

Secondly, while I don't have a problem with the language arts and math standards at least, I am concerned about the language arts common core textbooks that are coming out. Their idea of good informative text that young people need to read in order to meet the common core standards can be vastly different than our ideas. It appears that while we can adopt the language arts common core, we will not be able to adopt the textbooks.

Comment by Milton V. Uecker on November 12, 2013 at 11:47am

Thank you Pam and welcome to the Lowrie Center.  I was particularly interested in your two concerns and want to respond to them.  Your first concern is not unlike the problems that we have faced for decades.  When Christian school educators first started talking about the need for critical thinking within Christian school classrooms the response was that it is "humanistic" and "soft on content" etc.  Now ten years later there is a major emphasis on Critical Thinking within Christian schools.  I also recall a delegate's comment following a Christian school presentation (late 80's) where I referred to outcomes.  I was told that if I was going to have a future in Christian schools that I would have to understand that outcomes are not an appropriate topic (never mind that the Bible is filled with expected outcomes).  I think it all boils down to "having zeal without knowledge" in reference to contemporary educational issues.  We need to examine issues against the word of God.  Jesus, for example, was the greatest critical thinker that ever lived and the Bereans were praised for the fact that they were always questioning / examining  to determine if what was being said aligned with the word of God.  They were thinking critically.  If we do find fault with common core we must justify the fault and then replace with truth as opposed to rejecting the idea of the need for a core.  A common core for Christian educators has a truly common core---the Bible.  Can we take the concept and develop a common core for Christian schools?  In so doing we must likewise recognize the truths that are within the Common Core and embrace them rather than reject them.  

Your second point is an example of the process.  We examine carefully in order to accept the truth and reject what is in error.  Often a contemporary trend finds its worthiness based upon the philosophical position or worldview of the user.  Your example of the substitution of textbooks rests upon your worldview regarding values etc.  It is decisions like this that can produce a truly biblical common core and the means through which it is to be accomplished.

I too hope that others will join our discussion. 

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