Since the publication of our report on the NWEA last week, we have received a very strong response from Catholics all across the country. Some emails have informed us that their diocese is confirmed as partners of NWEA, some have forwarded us responses they’ve received from their diocesan directors of Catholic Schools, and some just wrote to thank us for our work and to encourage us to keep it up.
Incidentally, we are NOT assigning any kind of blame on any diocese, administrators, or educators for what we discovered regarding NWEA. The promotion of LGBTQ ideologies was not front-and-center in NWEA’s promotional materials, and it is very likely that dioceses and administrators deciding to use NWEA for their assessments were unaware of the organization’s agenda. That having been said, those administrators who are now aware of the situation have an obligation to seek alternatives.
Through the responses we’ve received from our readers, we can confirm the following dioceses (in addition to the 45 already identified in our initial article):
One of our readers sent us a response received from a representative of their diocesan Catholic schools. This is what the respondent wrote:
“We thank you for reaching out to us directly to express your concern. When we received the information regarding the report, we immediately reached out to NWEA for clarification regarding the article recently released by the Lepanto Institute.
NWEA recently held a meeting with several Catholic School Superintendents and the leaders of NCEA (National Catholic Educators Association) to address the concerns that you shared in your email. Upon speaking with our NWEA representative last Friday, we were assured of the following regarding the content of the testing items that our students are reading:
Regarding our assessments, we do not have any LGBTQ+ related test items….our assessments include fiction and nonfiction passages written by authors of diverse backgrounds, informational passages by experts in their fields, and passages from various historical periods.
In addition, we were assured that these passages were vetted upon request by Catholic Diocese leaders and that if the company were to begin to include “identity affirming reading passages” that Catholic and Christian partners would have the option to remove these passages from the tests given in their schools.
We will work with NCEA to monitor this and to have convened a committee to evaluate this situation and determine our next available steps, including switching our testing platform. We value our primary purpose: to form disciples in our faith through appropriate content and materials which align with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
It is very promising indeed to see that Catholic schools are working with NCEA to determine what the next steps should be and that they are even considering the possibility of going elsewhere for student evaluation testing. However, NWEA’s assurances that “LGBTQ+ related items” are not in the evaluation assessments for Catholic school students, and the promise to allow Catholic schools to remove any pro-LGBTQ materials from future tests are not good enough. NWEA is now on the record as an ideologically driven organization with a stated intention of changing school policies and promoting homosexual and transgender ideologies. Furthermore, every assessment test and every resource purchased from NWEA will now be dollars and cents helping to further build the LGBTQ agenda.
In short we have to ask, “Why should Catholic schools partner with an entity that is directly attacking Catholic moral teaching and scandalizing children?”
And now, there is a new wrinkle in the situation. Shortly after we published our report, we discovered that NWEA was purchased by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), the education textbook publishing company.
In its press release on the acquisition, HMH wrote:
“Upon closing, NWEA will operate as a division of HMH, with its current offerings, including its flagship assessment—MAP Growth—remaining under the NWEA brand. NWEA assessment solutions will be integrated with HMH curriculum on HMH’s platform to create a combined offering that links interim assessment to instruction.”
So, NWEA is now a division of HMH, which means that any paid partnerships with NWEA fall directly under the corporate headship of HMH. What’s more is that we discovered that HMH has a long-standing relationship with the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and even caters to Catholic schools. As will soon be illustrated, this is highly problematic.
In 2013, HMH announced that it had developed what it called:
“Journeys Common Core: Catholic Identity Edition, the only Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned reading program for grades K-6 naturally infused with Catholic values and principles.”
While we didn’t find anything objectionable about the program itself, what is evident is that in 2013, HMH was making inroads into Catholic schools by catering to Catholic education. In fact, in 2017, HMH wrote an article about its 80-year tradition of attending the NCEA’s annual conference. In the article, HMH wrote:
For 80 years, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has proudly participated in the National Catholic Educational Association’s annual conference—now the largest private-education association gathering in the nation. This year’s event is marking a special occasion—the return of the NCEA to St. Louis, MO, where NCEA traces its official beginnings all the way back to 1904.
NCEA participants represent all aspects of Catholic and faith-based education from pre-school, elementary, secondary, adult education, colleges and universities, to local parish pastors, priests, and more. NCEA 2017 is a time to celebrate, to acquire new knowledge, and to renew the spirit.
This year, HMH invites you to attend professional learning sessions led by HMH authors Bill McBride, Doug Becker, and others.
And just to be clear, HMH participated in NCEA 2022 as well.
On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be anything necessarily wrong with the materials HMH has provided to Catholic schools, yet, but there is a very serious problem in using this company. Having gone through HMH’s resources, blog posts, and social media, what is clear is that HMH has completely taken to promoting homosexual and transgender ideologies, publishes and sells distinctly anti-Catholic material, publishes and sells blatantly pro-socialist material, and even sells material promoting Critical Race Theory. In short, any money being used by Catholic schools to purchase materials from HMH are feeding an anti-Catholic machine indoctrinating OTHER children in immoral and wicked ideologies.
HMH publishes and sells an anti-Catholic book titled, “God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World.”
The negative portrayal of the Catholic Church in the description of the book is bad. It says:
“For understandable reasons, no one at the Vatican these days refers to the Congregation as “the Inquisition” except ironically. The members of the papal curia are famously tone-deaf when it comes to public relations—these are men who in recent years have invited a Holocaust-denying bishop to return to the Church, have tried to persuade Africans that the use of condoms will make the AIDS crisis worse, and have told the indigenous peoples of Latin America that their religious beliefs are “a step backward”—but even the curia came to appreciate that the term had outlived its usefulness, although it took a few centuries.”
Writing for the Catholic World Report, Fr. Brian Van Hove, SJ reviewed “God’s Jury,” calling it a “conspiracy-fiction narrative.” His take on the entire book can be summed in the following paragraph:
“This is really a book which denounces Church authority at every turn. For Murphy, the exercise of ecclesiastical authority is to blame for everything. When Hans Küng’s missio canonica is discussed on page 110, there is no mention of why Cardinal Šeper was obliged to remove the missio from Küng. Never are two sides treated equally and with fairness, even when we know that “ideas rule the world.”
Another book published and sold by HMH is titled, “Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes.”
Despite the fact that Rose Pastor Stokes was a socialist and later founding member of the Communist Party of America, and despite the fact that she was founding member of Margaret Sanger’s National Birth Control League who loudly advocated for abortion, HMH describes the book with glowing favor of Stokes and her activism:
“From the best-selling author of King Leopold’s Ghost and Spain in Our Hearts comes the astonishing but forgotten story of an immigrant sweatshop worker who married an heir to a great American fortune and became one of the most charismatic radical leaders of her time.
Rose Pastor arrived in New York City in 1903, a Jewish refugee from Russia who had worked in cigar factories since the age of eleven. Two years later, she captured headlines across the globe when she married James Graham Phelps Stokes, scion of one of the legendary 400 families of New York high society. Together, this unusual couple joined the burgeoning Socialist Party and, over the next dozen years, moved among the liveliest group of activists and dreamers this country has ever seen. Their friends and houseguests included Emma Goldman, Big Bill Haywood, Eugene V. Debs, John Reed, Margaret Sanger, Jack London, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Rose stirred audiences to tears and led strikes of restaurant waiters and garment workers. She campaigned alongside the country’s earliest feminists to publicly defy laws against distributing information about birth control, earning her notoriety as “one of the dangerous influences of the country” from President Woodrow Wilson. But in a way no one foresaw, her too-short life would end in the same abject poverty with which it began.
By a master of narrative nonfiction, Rebel Cinderella unearths the rich, overlooked life of a social justice campaigner who was truly ahead of her time.”
In addition to this, HMH sells a book advancing Critical Race Theory (a Marxist ideology) titled, “All Students Must Thrive.”
The description of the book makes it clear that CRT is an essential component:
“So how can we ensure that all students thrive? By building and sustaining the critical wellness approach shared in All Students Must Thrive. This book brings together three theoretical frameworks relevant for equity in schools – wellness, critical pedagogy, and critical race theory – providing a structure through which to apply the authors’ strategies and approaches.”
We found quite a few publications from HMH that were either soft on socialism or openly favorable to it. For instance, this sample chapter from a geography textbook complains that the socialist Salvador Allende was forced out of office by “the wealthy and powerful in Chile,” despite the fact that he had been “democratically elected.”
This sample text for a homeschool study guide on the Industrial Age gives a glowing wash of Socialist founders of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Eugene Debs and Mother Jones.
We found other materials along the same lines, but the point is simply this: HMH is peddling materials to and for children that are ideologically opposed to Catholic moral and social teaching. But by far the worst material we discovered was in promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism.
On September 14, 2020, HMH let slip that “Issues of inclusion are core to our values at HMH and this includes LGBTQ+ representation, which we’re working to expand throughout our programs.” This bold admission puts everything that follows into perspective. In short, HMH intends to integrate homosexual and transgender ideologies into the very identity of the company, itself.
HMH publishes and sells a pro-LGBT book titled, “It’s Not Over: Getting Beyond Tolerance, Defeating Homophobia, and Winning True Equality.”
The description of the book speaks for itself:
“From the author of the groundbreaking bestseller Queer in America, a myth-shattering look at the present and future of gay rights
Marriage equality has surged across the country. Closet doors have burst open in business, entertainment, and even major league sports. But as longtime advocate Michelangelo Signorile argues in his most provocative book yet, the excitement of such breathless change makes this moment more dangerous than ever. Puncturing the illusion that victory is now inevitable, Signorile marshals stinging evidence that an age-old hatred, homophobia, is still a basic fact of American life. He exposes the bigotry of the brewing religious conservative backlash against LGBT rights and challenges the complacency and hypocrisy of supposed allies in Washington, the media, and Hollywood.
Not just a wake-up call, It’s Not Over is also a battle plan for the fights to come in the march toward equality. Signorile tells the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans who have refused to be merely tolerated, or worse, and are demanding full acceptance. And he documents signs of hope in schools and communities finding new ways to combat ignorance, bullying, and fear. Urgent and empowering, It’s Not Over is a necessary book from one of our most electrifying voices.”
HMH also publishes and sells a transgender propaganda book titled, “What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation.”
The description of that book reads (in part) as follows:
“A mother’s memoir of her transgender child’s odyssey, and her journey outside the boundaries of the faith and culture that shaped her.
From the age of two-and-a-half, Jacob, born “Em,” adamantly told his family he was a boy. While his mother Mimi struggled to understand and come to terms with the fact that her child may be transgender, she experienced a sense of déjà vu—the journey to uncover the source of her child’s inner turmoil unearthed ghosts from Mimi’s past and her own struggle to live an authentic life.”
In June of 2019, HMH published an article titled, “How HMH Author Jan Morris Made History With a Memoir About Being Transgender.” The article is about the book, “Conundrum,” which was a first-person account of HMH author James Morris deciding to take the name “Jan” and live as a woman. The book was published in 1974 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, which later became Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), and was heavily promoted at that time by the publishing company. With this article, HMH resurrected the book from the archives and celebrated it as a part of its own pro-LGBTQ history.
HMH’s promotion of sexual perversion goes beyond its publications. For instance, HMH has a “Supplier Diversity Program” which it describes as HMH’s commitment:
“to partnering with suppliers who represent the diverse perspectives of our employees and customers around the world. Through our Supplier Diversity Program, we seek to foster a more inclusive marketplace by creating a culture that embraces small and diverse suppliers and addresses barriers to inclusion.”
Among the categories of businesses recognized by HMH in the Supplier Diversity Program are “LGBTQ+ owned businesses.”
On January 27 of 2022, HMH was recognized by the same-sex “marriage” advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign as among “the best places to work for LGBTQ+ equality.”
In June of 2021, HMH published an article titled, “LGBTQ+ Educational Resources for Teachers.” The article opens with the call to action:
“This Pride Month, prioritize making your classroom or school inclusive for all students, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
HMH then tells educators that they should “avoid reinforcing the gender binary” by using more gender inclusive or neutral terms. HMH even suggests that teachers should take a “Pronoun Survey” of students so as to avoid using non-preferred pronouns. The HMH article then points to various other pro-LGBTQ articles written and published by HMH, such as:
- Interview: LGBTQ+ Support in Schools
- A Look at LGBTQ+ Books and Authors in History
- Fostering Safe Spaces: How to Start a GSA in Your High School
There are quite a few other articles on HMH’s website promoting homosexual and transgender ideologies and activism, but these examples are sufficient to illustrate that the problem. But if these materials and articles aren’t bad enough, HMH is actively promoting homosexuality and transgenderism on social media. Here are a few examples:
From November 2018:
In March 2019, HMH celebrated the “Transgender Day of Invisibility,” saying, “Learn what it means to be transgender and the challenges the community faces. Many other great resources found on HRC’s website, including inspiring videos.”
In April 2019, HMH celebrated the repeal of a law that restricted public school teachers from discussing homosexual relationships in health class.
In June of 2019, HMH published a collage of “LGBTQ+ Role Models” for kids.
In August of 2019, HMH celebrated the efforts of West Michigan educators to create support programs for LGBTQ students.
In October 2019, HMH celebrated LGBTQ History Month by sharing an article about the high school teacher who started it.
That same month, HMH promoted an article encouraging the normalization of transgenderism in the classroom.
On June 21, 2021 HMH tweeted a video it produced in honor of “Pride Month.”
A few days later, on June 28, HMH celebrated “Pride Month” by saying, “When the culture is inclusive, the end result is stronger.”
We need to reiterate that we are not blaming Catholic schools or dioceses for using NWEA or Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for school testing or textbooks. It is possible that schools and dioceses were ignorant of the overt and very public promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism engaged in by these two (now one) companies.
That having been said, it is clear that these two companies are ideologically driven and pose a clear and present danger to the good morals of young children. NWEA, as we pointed out in our previous article, is deeply committed to the promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism to children as young as preschool. And now that it is a division of HMH, which has stated that “NWEA assessment solutions will be integrated with HMH curriculum,” and HMH materials most certainly promote socialism, homosexuality, transgenderism, anti-Catholic bigotry, and even champions of communism and abortion, there is simply no way any Catholic institution should be turning to them for goods or services. In the first place, because of their ideological attachments to grave immorality and poisonous ideologies, NWEA and HMH pose the threat of scandal to children. Secondly, every dime sent to NWEA or HMH for the purchase of their goods or services will absolutely go toward producing and spreading the ideological poisons these organizations are peddling throughout the country.
For those looking for an alternative company to use for student testing, we’ve examined a company called Educational Records Bureau (ERB). While we are not experts in testing services, we feel confident in recommending ERB’s Comprehensive Testing Program as a possible alternative. We’ve examined the company and found nothing in any of its public record to be concerning. We also recommend Classical Learning Test (CLT), which (as a result of our investigation of NWEA) is soon to be offering test assessments for grades 3-6.