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In Natick, a Classical Education Provides Compelling Alternative to Common Core

St. Benedict Elementary School. Courtesy
St. Benedict Elementary School. Courtesy

Last week, Rasmussen Reports released a new survey indicating that support for Common Core among Americans with school-aged children had plummeted 18 percent during the last nine months. As more parents learn about the newly adopted standards, almost half now oppose them.  

“Common Core’s Standards were adopted hastily, without adequate review, and now parents are catching on: they’ve been sold an expensive bill of goods about the appropriate goals for their children’s education,” states Sandra Stotsky, professor emerita at the University of Arkansas and the chief architect of the celebrated Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Framework.  “This country has seen so many dead-end educational fads over the last forty years.  Many parents—and teachers too—want to return to an educational model that provides a solid foundation in writing, literature, history and math.  A curriculum guided by Common Core’s standards fails to provide that foundation.” 

With parochial schools in many dioceses adopting a curriculum addressing Common Core alongside public schools, parents are looking for alternatives for their children.

Several hundred classical schools have cropped up around the country, designed to restore a model of education that is centuries-old and time-tested. The American Founders were all classically educated, as were the grandparents of this generation’s K-6 parents.  But the new classical schools are very much in the modern world, and often boast far higher test scores than their competition.

A new classical school, St. Benedict Elementary, opened its doors in South Natick last fall. Expecting to double enrollment for September 2014, the K-6 classical school in the Catholic tradition “seeks to cultivate intellectual and moral virtue in pursuit of academic excellence.”  

The school’s classical curriculum mirrors those of other classical schools around the country, providing a distinct alternative to the Common Core-based curriculum, with a course of study that is literature- and history-rich and language-intensive. The new school also uses Saxon and Singapore Math.

Stotsky, who serves on the Advisory Board of St. Benedict Elementary, writes that “Schools like SBE provide young students with a breadth and depth of learning unheard of in Common Core schools by putting them in conversation with admired and enduring characters in literature and history—those that have shaped Western Civilization and the Western moral imagination. By steeping students in the works of the great intellectual, moral, and artistic leaders in world history, they have models to emulate:  models of fine reasoning and writing but also often of fine character. This is precisely what young children need today.”

Submitted by St. Benedict Elementary School.

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