Writing in the early 1900s, sociologist Max Weber depicted the coming modern world as an “iron cage” in which a caste of functionaries and civil servants monopolize power over the lives of citizens. He warned that the emerging bureaucracies would concentrate large amounts of power in a small number of people-creating a technically ordered, rigid, dehumanized society-eventually trapping all individuals in systems based on efficiency, rational calculation and control.
Weber’s warnings are helpful to recall when considering the response by parents to the federal implementation of the Common Core in the nation’s schools. Since Crisis began alerting parents of Catholic school children that more than 100 dioceses across the country have implemented the Common Core, parents have mobilized-forming Facebook groups, creating advocacy organizations, contacting their parish priests, their bishops, and their diocesan school superintendents-in an attempt to learn more about these new standards that will be driving the curriculum at their children’s schools. Yet, as Weber would have predicted, many of these parents feel powerless in the face of what has become a huge bureaucracy in Catholic K-12 education.