PCA and Common Core

If you are passionate about education, then the phrase “Common Core” is probably not a new one to you.  There is a lot being written about Common Core these days, and depending on whom you are listening to, it can sound like either the best thing or the worst thing ever to happen to schools across the U.S.  So what is Common Core, and, more importantly, how does it affect education at Pinnacle Classical Academy? Let’s tackle that second question first.

Common Core has absolutely no influence or authority regarding education at Pinnacle Classical Academy. That’s right. Because PCA is 100% privately funded by tuition and gifts, we are under no obligation at any state or federal level to adapt or conform our curriculum to the Common Core standards.  The same cannot be said for public schools, charter schools or any school that accepts government funds.

Some forward thinking individuals will point out that if Common Core gains more influence over time, that eventually standardized tests (such as the Stanford-9 and SAT) will be geared toward information emphasized in the Common Core curriculum. Moreover, they suggest that such emphasis may have an adverse effect on students’ ability to perform well on these tests if they have been educated outside of Common Core controlled schools.

At PCA we like to think of ourselves as being even more forward thinking than that- that is, with our sights set on nothing lower than Christ’s eternal kingdom, we attest along with I Timothy 4:8 that “godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Our educational standards are rigorous, and our moral and intellectual compass is tuned to the Bible. Earthly standards will come and go, but PCA has never been primarily concerned with the applause of men. Our vision has always been to “graduate students instilled with a lifelong love of learning, equipped for service in love to God and man.” And, we suspect that even if standardized tests change over time that PCA educated students will continue to excel on them. More importantly, though, we aim for them to excel in living a life in obedience and love to the Maker of Everything.

But back to that first question, what exactly is Common Core? We’ll let you decide for yourself in the end, but as the very name “Common Core” implies, it is at its core an attempt to standardize curriculum across all K-12 schools in the U.S. Why was it undertaken? Largely because of the general consensus that many public schools are failing our children. Though it may have initially begun as a consortium of states attempting to adopt similar standards for their public schools, Common Core is now incentivized with federal “Race to the Top” government dollars. And this raises several important questions: if the federal government is going to influence curriculum at every institution of K-12 public education, then who will determine that curriculum, how rigorous will it be, what will be the dominant worldview taught through that curriculum and to what ultimate purpose will the curriculum be crafted?

To say that Common Core is an issue that has potentially far-reaching consequences is a bold understatement, and we encourage everyone interested in K-12 education to learn more about it.

To hear praise of the Common Core from its official website, click here.

To hear criticisms of the Common Core from a group of concerned mothers, click here.

We also recommend the following for more information about the classical, Christian approach to education. What indeed is the goal of education?

Why Classical Education? -by Luke Nieuwsma

The Classical Education of the Founding Fathers  -by Martin Cothran

 

PCA’s Fall 2014 Newsletter

Check out PCA’s Fall 2014 Newsletter for details regarding our upcoming Fall Informational Meeting!  Join us for this fact filled evening Thursday, November 13th at 6:30 PM at the school.

Our special guest speaker will be Lori Jill Keeler, Head of Lower Schools at the Westminster School at Oak Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama. You will not want to miss this!

 

Fall Field Trip 2013

On October 25th, the students at PCA had the opportunity to do some hands-on (and ears-on) learning.

WooPigSooie? Kindergarten, first, and second grade students bundled up and ventured to Pinnacle Mountain State Park where they examined different aspects of the world around us: from birds and trees, to the skull of a razorback. As a park ranger guided them through a wildlife tour at Pinnacle Mountain, the children had the chance to experience nature first-hand. What an excellent occasion for PCA students to engage God’s creation and learn about the life cycle of creatures through a biblical lens! At PCA, we value those moments where classroom learning can be joined to real-life application. Students, teachers, and parents alike thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be so close to the world that God created. It is needless to say that a great time was had by all.

 

Kindergarten-Second Grade Field Trip

 

SymphonyWarmingUpWhile the younger students were delighting in God’s creation at Pinnacle Mountain, the third through eighth grades visited the Robinson Center – they were immersed in the world of music: courtesy of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.OutsidetheRobinsonCenter
During their trip they heard pieces from several different time periods and composers, for example: Vivaldi, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, John Williams, and Danny Elfman. The pieces that were performed were specially selected to highlight “the musical superheroes of the orchestra,” with specific pieces for the tuba and the piccolo. This highlighting allowed the students to take particular note of some of the less heralded instruments as well, such as the oboe, bassoon, viola, and xylophone. Students also gained a further appreciation for the work that the conductor performs in leading the symphony. Geoffrey Robson both led and introduced the orchestra, and his enthusiasm as he worked was thoroughly enjoyed. After the symphony concluded, the group spent a short time at War Memorial Park for a picnic lunch on a beautiful fall afternoon.

Whether outside in nature or indoors listening to a symphony, the brilliance of God can be seen, heard, and marveled at by us.  As we realize that every tree, leaf, animal and stone, each music note, harmony and melody comes from the Lord, it brings us to worship and share with one another how to glory in all that God does and has done.

LunchAtWarMemorialPark

PCA Family Night

What’s the best part of Family Night? The dessert table, of course! Well, perhaps the children would say that, but Mr. Bailey’s overview of what has been accomplished so far this year left the dessert table as merely icing on the cake. He delivered a presentation that was insightful, engaging, and fun. Paralleling the evening with the start of a school day, we sang “Psalm 1,” which the children sang in assembly at the beginning of the year. Parents were updated on the school’s financial status, the goals of education, and growing the children in grace and truth. For parents who were interested in learning more about Pinnacle Classical Academy, there was a brief overview of classical education, followed by a synopsis of how that particularly plays out at Pinnacle.

Emmie&Grace-FamilyNight

 

And naturally, there were coloring pages to keep the children occupied. Taking every opportunity to reinforce what they are learning, Mr. Bailey put out coloring pages of the literature they have been studying: The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland; The Adventures of Robin Hood; and The Hobbit.

 

 

At the close of the presentation, there was some time for students to show their parents around each of their rooms, and for parents to visit with teachers. The children love their new school facility, and especially enjoy all of the room for running about and playing!  We hope that each of the parents are equally as impressed as the staff is with the space Covenant has generously shared with PCA.

AlainaJacksonNathan&Jasmine-FamilyNight

By the end of the evening’s festivities, it was clear that Family Night at PCA is more than another school function, and that Pinnacle Classical is more than simply a school – it is a family.  The candidness and camaraderie amongst parents, teachers, and children makes PCA a special and unique place where the children love to learn and learn to love.