Common Core May Suck, But It's Unfairly Blamed for Politicized Public School Lessons

Common CoreCommon Core, the controversial
set of new national education standards touted by the by the
National Governors Association and the Chief Council of State
School Officers, with
significant federal encouragement
, is in the news again. This
time, it’s being called out for promoting politicized lessons
spoon-fed to the captive audience of kiddies in the public schools.
But this is an unfair charge. Common Core
has a lot wrong with it
, high-pressure included, but it doesn’t
specify lesson-plans or politicized content. The real problem is
the much older one of schools controlled by government
officials.

The specific complaint this time is about fifth-grade English
worksheets which ask students to edit sentences including:
“Government officials’ commands must be obeyed by all” and “An
individual’s wants are less important than the nation’s
well-being.” The sentences are a small part of a
larger worksheet
(PDF) called “Hold the Flag High” linked to
the Civil War.

Politicized lessons

But what a part. Way to go, oh bait-the-critics educators! You
walked into it with those loaded sentences. Even teachers are
debating
the propriety of this stuff now
.

But Pearson
Education
tells Fox
News
that this worksheet was copyrighted in 2007 and has been
in use ever sinceā€”predating Common Core. And Pearson is far from
the only curriculum vendor out there. Besides, controversy over
politicized education started far before Common Core came along to
cause a fuss.

In 1996, New York State mandated the teaching of the Irish
potato famine as an
act of genocide
by the British government against the Irish, no
other interpretations allowed. The Tucson Unified School District
in Arizona has managed a
heated, years-long battle over race-infused “culturally relevant”
classes
without any input from Common Core. Control over
textbooks has long been a political prize in Texas, with
conservatives in recent years sculpting the lessons
delivered
to students there and, given the size of the market and the cost of
printing multiple editions, elsewhere. And the use of liberal
pundit Paul Krugman’s
Keynes-centric economics texts
in high schools has raised a few
hackles, too.

The problem isn’t Common Core, it’s that government officials
control so many schools, even in the age of expanding choice, and
schools are a handy delivery system for pet ideas to (presumably)
receptive young minds.

There’s plenty to object to about Common Core. But dumping the
new standards won’t solve the problem of politicized curriculum so
long as government officials control schools and get to force-feed
their messages to the children of people with very different
ideas.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/07/common-core-may-suck-but-its-unfairly-bl
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