February 20, 2015, Prescott-
There has come out of Phoenix, over the past several months, a concern with Common Core- the Federally-initiated set of loose education standards, which are intended to be tweaked to the needs of states and localities. Because the Federal guidelines are so general, Common Core has appeared, to the average person, as a mishmash of convoluted lesson plans and circumlocution.
In most instances, Common Core has been fit to the state levels by panels of local educators. The overriding concern, however, has been the mere fact that it is a byproduct of FEDERAL initiative. There has been a fair amount of obfuscation and deliberate taking things out of context, so as to change education back to- “Heck, I don’t know. Just make it something patriotic, adulatory of the Founding Fathers, pro-sports, useful for getting minimum-wage jobs, keeping the riff-raff in their place, and making Might the Master of Right.”
The only move the critics of Common Core have made thus far, here in the Grand Canyon State, is to institute a mandatory Civics Test, for those wanting to graduate high school. That’s fair enough. People who master Civics are less likely to be bamboozled. All the same, there is nothing in Common Core that forbids or discourages mastery of Civics, or of any other subject. We had a few years ago, in the Dysart Unified School District, in Surprise, AZ, west of Phoenix, something called Core Learning. There were, in the social studies classes in which I taught, off and on, specific units on which it was felt everyone should focus: The War for Independence, Slavery, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Great Depression. I filled in the gaps, though it was discouraged by the administrators. Several students, though, were more than glad to examine the Industrial Revolution, Gilded Age, the Spanish-American War and the Dust Bowl.
My point is that Common Core is a basic framework, not United Nations mandated indoctrination. There are frivolous, off-center lesson plans being advanced in its name, but these have occurred in the names of any of its predecessors, from “A Nation At Risk” to “The First Days of School”, as well as “No Child Left Behind”. Arcaneness is a peculiarly American aspect of education, more reflective of our freedom of expression, than of any Globo-stomp, Monolithic control of what kids learn.
I had these thoughts as I supervised groups of middle school students, who were working on learning somewhat arcane computer design applications, during the course of today.