Sunday, March 1, 2015

The PARCC and the Pope

"When he listens to his conscience,
the prudent man can hear God speaking."

I'm a fallen-by-the-wayside Catholic with misgivings. I miss Confession and Communion, and there's still the hint of fear of eternal damnation--one does not easily escape the clutches of Sister Barbara Mary, even almost a half century later. Heck, I studied Latin.

If folks ask me now about Catholicism, I get a hazy warmth recalling its better aspects--it encourages fearless activism for social justice, it is a deep part of my Irish-American culture, and walking out into the sunshine after confession lit up my limbus.

But then there's the power thing--too few folks dictating deciding what's right for too many people. "The Judgment of Conscience" matters, of course, and for me it would be the heart of The Church, should I return, but in day-to-day living, culture trumps conscience. We hide in our unconsciousness.

A student asked me what I thought about the PARCC exams this week--our schedule has been bent out of shape, and will be for 5 more weeks later this year, and the kids are getting hammered taking an officious test that may (or may not) count.

The question is a loaded one, of course, especially for one charged with carrying out the will of the state--I am, after all, a government agent. Still, I promised my lambs I would not lie to them in a world where most adults do just that, so I answered.

The gist of the "new" standards, when viewed from a step or two back, are not awful--we want children to be able to figure things out through analysis of available evidence using the tools of language, logic, and mathematics. We all want that (so long as it, um, complements our magical views of capitalism). Who sitting in the pews could have a problem with article 1777?

But the The Church steps in with a few (mostly) white, (mostly) male, (mostly) pale power players, and Article 6 gets treated like a mouse nibbling on the Host in the Tabernacle.

Look at the folks who run Achieve, the National Governor's Association, the original players who wrote NGSS, and the money men at Pearson pushing the product. They'd fit right in at the Vatican.

Pope Glen Moreno, Chairman of Pearson
Oh, I'm sure there are a lot of good people with good intentions (with concomitant good salaries) doing what they believe is in the interest of the economy children, but while I'll buy their faith, I'm going to look hard before dropping a nickel on the collection basket.

"It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience.
This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection:
Return to your conscience, question it. . . . Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1779

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