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#1 The Ugly Heart of the Common Core Monster
09-21-2013, 10:13 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
Jeb Bush is backing this crap now.
The Ugly Heart of the Common Core Monster
Today I was in a professional development session for my school district. Our school system has swallowed the Common Core curriculum whole. Why wouldn't they? The federal system has said that it is "voluntary", but "voluntary" means that the district gets cut off from major federal funding if it does not adopt the standards, so "voluntary" is subjective...Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a "common set of K-12 standards" matching the description of the Common Core....
...Here, I am going to provide you with a concrete example that shows the ugly heart of the Common Core. There is something deeply dark and offensive in this lesson created to support Common Core. It is a lesson designed to corrupt essential human decency.
The unit – sorry "module" – that I am using as an example is centered around To Kill a Mockingbird with the theme of "How individuals demonstrate individuality in the face of outside pressures." At the beginning of all of this, it looks good. I love the book; it is a great American classic and I have taught it many times. The module includes 30 days of lessons associated with the novel and multiple additional short reading assignments. However, as I looked this module over, I became more and more concerned. For me to break down the many problems with this module in detail would take quite a while, so I am going to show you an example of one lesson on one short reading assignment that left me speechless with horror.
This assignment in the module includes a short story by Guy de Maupassant, 19th century writer famous for The Necklace. Again, this seems rather innocent; this story is often included in high school texts, but not this particular story and, more importantly, not with this particular writing assignment.
The short story is The Mother of Monsters. A quick summary of the story is that a gentleman on vacation is introduced to the Mother of Monsters, a local oddity described as a "peasant" and the "Devil". Her story is that she finds herself pregnant while she is working as a simple serving girl. She binds her body with boards and cords to hide her growing belly. Her child is born horribly deformed. She takes care of the child, but resents it, until a sideshow man comes along and offers to buy the "thing" and to pay a yearly stipend for its use. Once she realizes how much money she can make, she repeats her pregnancy pattern by birthing monster after monster after monster of intentionally deformed children to sell to showmen. She lives a "bourgeois" life as a result (note the stab at the bourgeois here).
The narrator is reminded of this "Devil" when he later sees a popular "Parissiane" strolling on a beach followed by admirers. Her three children are also all deformed because she wants to maintain her trim figure throughout her pregnancies, so she keeps her corset tightly cinched. Peasant and lady; different, yet the same. Both the Mother of Monsters. Both display a level of selfish evil that most humans would revile.
Now as a high school story, this story may have a lot of meat to chew on for discussion…for maybe 11th or 12thgraders, but this is a story assigned to incoming 9th graders, students who are 13 or 14 years old. Students this age are not ready to handle the truly disturbing elements of a story which reveals some of the most perverse sides of human nature. That is bad enough; however, it gets worse. You may wonder what this story has to do with To Kill a Mockingbird and the theme of individuality. Here is the writing assignment associated with this story:
Write an essay that compares the cultural experience reflected in To Kill a Mockingbird and The Mother of Monsters and explain how this experience helped a character demonstrate individuality in the face of outside pressure.
Individuality! Outside Pressure! These women chose to deform their children for their own selfish gains or selfish vanity! The first pregnancy of the peasant woman we might forgive out of mercy, but the purposeful birthing of the rest of the 11 children that she intentionally deformed is unconscionable and unforgivable. The same holds with the Parisienne.
To judge these women as demonstrating their INDIVIDUALITY in the face of outside pressure is absurd and defies human decency. It is like insisting Jeffery Dahmer was expressing his individuality through cannibalistic murder. Additionally, it is not a major leap to conclude that if deforming your children in order to express your own individuality is acceptable, then killing your children to protect your individuality (or selfish inhumanity) is perfectly fine too. This is obviously a pro-abortion message. This story paired with this assignment is a repulsive perversion of the concept of "lesson"; it is a corruption of anything descent and good.
There is something deeply repulsive in this lesson, especially as it is aimed at students as young as 13. I have been told that I must teach this module. I can make some adjustments, but not too many. I am struggling to find a way to NOT perpetuate the ugliness found here. I am certainly NOT going to teach this story, though I may find myself in trouble with the system as a result. Some things are worth refusing to do even if there is a cost....
Parent Arrested from Common Core Meeting for speaking out
Last edited by Elspeth; 09-21-2013 at 10:32 PM.
09-21-2013, 10:24 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
Myth . Common Core (CC) was a state-led initiative.
Fact . The CC standards were initiated by private interests in Washington, DC, without any representation from the states. Eventually the creators realized the need to present a façade of state involvement and therefore enlisted the National Governors Association (NGA) (a trade association that doesn’t include all governors) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), another DC-based trade association. Neither of these groups had a grant of authority from any particular state or states to write the standards. The bulk of the creative work was done by Achieve, Inc., a DC-based nonprofit that includes many progressive education reformers who have been advocating national standards and curriculum for decades. Massive funding for all this came from private interests such as the Gates Foundation.
Myth. The federal government is not involved in the Common Core scheme.
Fact . The US Department of Education (USED) was deeply involved in the meetings that led to creation of Common Core. Moreover, it has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the two consortia that are creating the national tests that will align with CC. USED is acting as the enforcer to herd states into the scheme (see next myth).
Myth. States that adopted CC did so voluntarily, without federal coercion.
Fact. Most states that adopted CC did so to be eligible to compete for federal Race to the Top funding. To have a chance at that money, recession-racked states agreed to adopt the CC standards and the aligned national tests sight unseen. In addition, the Obama Administration tied No Child Left Behind waivers to CC adoption, making it very difficult for a state to obtain a waiver without agreeing to accept CC.
Myth . Under Common Core, the states will still control their standards.
Fact. A state that adopts CC must accept the standards word for word. It may not change or delete anything, and may allow only a small amount of additional content (which won’t be covered on the national tests).
Myth . Common Core is only a set of standards, not curriculum; states will still control their curriculum.
Fact . The point of standards is to drive curriculum. Ultimately, all the CC states will be teaching pretty much the same curriculum. In fact, the testing consortia being funded by USED admitted in their grant applications that they would use the money to develop curriculum models.
Myth. The Common Core standards are rigorous and will make our children “college-ready.”
Fact . Even the Fordham Institute, a proponent of CC, admits that several states had standards superior to CC and that many states had standards at least as good. CC has been described as a “race to the middle.” And as admitted by one drafter of the CC math standards, CC is designed to prepare students for a nonselective two-year community college, not a four-year university.
The only mathematician on the CC Validation Committee said that the CC math standards will place our students about two years behind their counterparts in high-performing countries. An expert in English education said that CC’s English language arts standards consist of “empty skill sets . . . [that] weaken the basis of literary and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework.” She also suspects from her analysis of work done so far on the standards that the reading level deemed sufficient for high-school graduation will be at about the 7th-grade level. And CC revamps the American model of classical education to resemble a European model, which de-emphasizes the study of creative literature and places students on “tracks” (college vs. vocational) at an early age.
Myth . The Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked.”
Fact . No information was presented to the Validation Committee to show how CC stacked up against standards of other high-achieving countries. In fact, the CC establishment no longer claims that the standards are “internationally benchmarked” – the website now states that they are “informed by” the standards of other countries. There is no definition of “informed by.”
Myth . We need common standards to be able to compare our students’ performance to that of students in other states.
Fact. If we want to do that, we already can. In the elementary/middle school years we have the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test; in high school we have the SAT and ACT.
Myth. We need common standards to help students who move from state to state.
Fact. The percentage of students who fit that description is vanishingly small (much less than 2%); most families move, if at all, within states, not to other states. It is nonsensical to bind our entire education system in a straightjacket to benefit such a small number of students.
09-21-2013, 10:45 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
09-22-2013, 11:53 AM
It sounds to me like the character demonstrating individuality against outside pressures in The Mother of Monsters is actually the narrator, as it certainly isn't the Parisienne or the maid, both of whom damaged their infants through excessive efforts at conformity. However, expecting 9th Graders to figure that out is insanely optimistic.
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
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