change agent book

Many Catholic parents and grandparents are mystified that their children’s/grandchildren’s parochial education is increasingly identical to public education school Common Core Standards and curriculum.  This 2013 article provides research on why this is occurring: How Alinskyianism entered Catholic parishes (and intersects with “Common Core” standards):

Recently, while preparing an article on Common Core national standards, someone suggested that I might be interested in the “open letters” written by a group called Catholics for Truth in Education operating in Illinois from 1974 into the 90s.  Interestingly enough, a set of these “open letters” just happened to have been sitting on my bookshelf for over a decade, waiting to be examined.

The article chronicles how the intent to change the focus of the Church and education began long before 2009 when the Common Core State Standards Initiative was unveiled and governors, state commissioners and state board members signed onto them even before they were written.  As you read how the emphasis of the Church was changing in the 1970’s, think about how this same shift was occurring in the public schools via the progressive curriculum from the schools of education:

The first “open letter” examines a 1977 planning document titled the “Position Paper on Networks of Regional Parishes for Corporate Reconstruction” written by the (since deceased) industrial/organizational psychologist Dr. Robert R. Newsome.[ii]
Newsome was on the cutting edge of “parish renewal.”  To pioneer various renewal strategies and incubate a reformed Church, he conceived of an “alliance” of Chicago parishes, the Parish Corporate Renewal Network, which would operate unmolested until other structures replaced it.    A 1977 request grant request for the network wrote that “the project faces a challenge of dramatically changing the way Catholic parishes serve themselves and the secular community of which they are a part.  Heretofore, parishes have principally focused upon the salvation and grace of their members.  The purpose of this project is to unleash the capacity of parishes to be apostolic organizations with a new vision, mission, and capability for developing the greatness and well-being of mankind.” [iii]
For a Catholic to separate “the greatness and well-being of mankind” from “salvation and grace” is quite extraordinary but Newsome proposed to accomplish it in three phases.  The first targeted parish staff and created five teams of laity for re-education and training.
Once properly prepared, they would function like a virus inside the parish community, moving with “a clear, shared vision and mission” but anticipating “rejection.” (page 5) Small faith communities with the unappealing title of “Corporate Reflection Centers” were to be formed throughout each parish during this next (second) phase and each would model the new vision: “This vision of corporate man is one in which unity in diversity rather than uniformity is values.”


You might think the author was a bit conspiratorial by referring to Alinskyianisms in the Catholic Church but she documents that the hierarchy was involved with Saul Alinksky and supportive of his message:

 Then, there was Msgr. John (Jack) Egan – who not only served on Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation board but co-chaired the 1976 Call to Action conference’s plenary sessions –and who also served on the Board of Advisers for the Parish Corporate Renewal Network.  Incarnate in Father Egan, the elements of organized Church dissent, organized secular political activism, and a reorganized parish were intrinsically related to one another.  Easy enough to see in hindsight.


Here is the tie in to Common Core:
Letter #5 takes the reader on a romping survey of the most exciting liberationist activity at the time – which is where, oddly enough, it intersects with contemporary Common Core national standards (and why, I suspect, I was encouraged to read the “open letters”).  In the middle of discussion about theological movements in Latin America and their challenges to Church teaching, the reader is introduced to a process for controlling groups of people called “Management by Objectives.”  (MBO)
MBO had initially been introduced into the business world as an accounting system.  Like education reform pedagogy called “mastery learning” – later called “outcome based education” and still later reintroduced through the Common Core national standards – or psychology’s value clarification techniques, MBO was a systematic attempt to reprogram the individual’s values and actions.  Simply stated, the process begins with predetermined goals (or standards) to which the individual is held accountable.  Of concern to Catholics for Truth in Education, several dioceses around the country were using MBO strategies as part of their pastoral planning for renewal.

 Almost prescient for a time that predated a global Internet and cell phones, Catholics for Truth in Education worried about computerized data collection schemes that supported MBO aims.  What must have seemed paranoid to most readers then has an air of prophesy to a generation that lives with the reality of government monitoring of citizens.  The people who recoiled from Huxley’s Brave New World couldn’t have fathomed the level of invasiveness that would become possible and tolerated.

The “letters” written throughout the 1980s[ix] drown the reader with descriptions of specific programs, practitioners, and tactics.  So many Catholics were dancing behind the Pied Piper of “change” with little curiosity about where he was leading.   Catholics for Truth in Education examined dozens of re-education programs in the Chicago Archdiocese – among them the once ubiquitous RENEW[x] – and explained the relationship of each to Call to Action dissent and a socialistic world view.

The end product, however, was never about the Church, not really, but about society.  The Church had to be transformed so that it wouldn’t be an obstacle to transforming society.  Catholics for Truth in Education harangues about Marxist infiltration and apostasy are easy to dismiss as alarmist but, after decades of chaos, the Church in the U.S. faces serious persecution for holding on to the last shreds of Catholic integrity.  The old, bureaucratic liberals, who still push their un-Catholic agendas – JustFaith and Nuns on the Bus, Alinskyian organizers and New Agers, I’m looking at you – are comfortable with that.

 Historical facts are hard to dispute – and they have led to the results that are very much what Catholics for Truth in Education feared: too many Catholics who reject Church teaching.  After her death, the son of Catholics for Truth in Education’s founding president, Mary Catherine Davis, wrote, “The more that time passes the more things big and small I see my mother was right about.”

 Yes, she was.


Revisit this line: The end product, however, was never about the Church, not really, but about society.  The changes in attitudes, values and beliefs are also necessary for the transformation into a MBO or Return on Investment (ROI) version of education, whether parochial or secular.  Like the Church, the Public School system had to be transformed from local/state control to centralized/nationalized standards and assessments so that it wouldn’t be an obstacle to transforming society to one shared vision.  You can’t have fifty states directing/developing education and expect a universal agreement on desired outcomes so the plan becomes the Aliskyianism of the schools.


You can read the above referenced letters in Block’s books available on Amazon.  All the reviews are excellent except for one.  Who was the ‘poor’ review from?  It is from Frank Pierson (previous employment with the Alinsky founded Industrial Areas Foundation) who was involved in Alinskying a candidate for sheriff via a billboard with a comment taken out of context next to a Hispanic family:


alinsky billboard
Here’s more on Pierson and the billboard incident, aptly titled Billboard Bullies Have an Alinsky Method to Their Madness:


In an online search, Frank Pierson turns up as lead organizer of Arizona Interfaith Network according to an article in the New York Times, and Supervising Organizer, Arizona and New Mexico of the Industrial Areas Foundation. One thing about Alinsky organizations, they have a million different names, but they’re all tied to the same political machine.


Kazda and he are listed together on a State of Arizona political contributions list, and Pierson has his occupation listed as Organizer, IEF (this may be a variation on a group known as Intermountain Expansion). Needless to say, he and Kazda are as slick as they come.  In an article about the incident:

Kazda denied that its message accuses anyone of racism.  Instead, she proclaims the message is designed to be “provocative in a friendly way and not in a hurtful way.”


Pierson can’t cover up that pesky affiliation with the Catholic-hating atheist Alinsky. Did I mention that Pierson claims to be Roman Catholic, and that his Arizona Interfaith Network (IAF) has a prominent place on the Catholic Diocese of Tucson’s Social Justice Page? What don’t these social justice do-gooders not understand about working for an organization whose founder couldn’t stand the faith they proclaim?


They went on to say they “look forward” to having a dialogue with the Sheriff who they agree with most of the time. If they agreed with him so much, why would they falsely represent something he said by taking it out of context?

These two might appear to be whack jobs, but they’re crazy like foxes.


It’s no wonder that Pierson doesn’t like the light shining on how the Catholic Church has been Alinskyed.  This book (according to the reviews) provides data on the methodical transformation of the Catholic Church that was dismissed by many in the 1970’s as tin foil hat theories.  Here is one response to Pierson’s negative review and the others may be found here:

Alinsky response

Not only has Alinsky thought invaded the Catholic Church and public education, it’s probably also touched your faith denomination as well.  This may be the best explanation of how/why Catholic (and other faith based) schools have aligned themselves to the Common Core State Standards.



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