Common Core standards, requirements, and regulations raise a specter over the current education system and educational debates. As a private school, although freed from the necessity of adherence to Common Core, The Academy of Classical Christian Studies is nonetheless in a context which demands a consideration of the potential influence.
It is not my goal here to respond to all the myriad specifics of Common Core, but, I hope, to reaffirm a vision of our educational goals and cast (or recast) a framework true to that vision in which we can understand, appreciate, and appropriately respond to Common Core.
First, as much as Common Core currently provides pressure upon educational establishments, mandates to those receiving federal funding (among whom we are not), and social and political pressure upon all others (among whom we are), Common Core is not the end of education. It is the latest iteration of a progressive education system which has, indeed, wreaked much havoc upon the basic structures of education in the past century.
Within this new context, our mandate is (still) to be faithful to the call of Jesus Christ to teach and train covenant children. We seek to see Him raise up Kingdom citizens who will in life, word, and action provide two profitable correctives: 1) Citizens who are exemplars of what a faithful Christian education has as its means and ends, 2) Citizens who are proponents of a renewed vision of an education shaping students’ affections for the true benefit of man, not a social program, and the glory of Jesus Christ—personally, politically, socially, and relationally.
Second, we must not let Common Core dictate the education we provide. In this, I believe, we are unified. However, there are two means it could do so. One is if we strictly adhere to Common Core standards. This is certainly the wide and easy road, not only to federal funds and social acceptance, but to ease of objective design and metrics.
The other means is less obvious. If we seek to strictly avoid adhering to Common Core standards, we seem to follow a narrow path, but in reality the illusion hides a path just as wide: we allow Common Core to become the dictate, driving force, and standard of measurement just as much as if we were to adopt Common Core standards. We would seek to define ourselves by negation and, in so doing, cease to pursue Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, cease shaping students affections towards those goals and ends; instead, we would merely pursue the avoidance of falsehood, or even the appearance of falsehood. We would follow the path of the Pharisees and to the same end.
We would also follow the path of Christian schools who strive to be rigorously “Christian,” passing all curriculum (including teachers) through a theological strainer: anything that might have the taint of a secular (or even disagreeable yet Christian) worldview must be avoided; only those sources, often with little reference to quality (again, including teachers), be used. The end of education, then, becomes less the pursuit of God as revealed in the manifold ways of His creation and work in the world through human action and agency and more about ensuring they are distinct from a particular formation of the world.