‘Common Core’ curriculum a mandate for mediocrity
by Michelle Malkin
January 28, 2013 12:28 AM | 5005 views | 2 2 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michelle Malkin
Michelle Malkin
The Washington, D.C., board of education earned widespread mockery last week when it proposed allowing high school students — in the nation’s own capital — to skip a basic U.S. government course to graduate. But this is fiddlesticks compared to what the federal government is doing to eliminate American children’s core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.

Thanks to the “Common Core” regime, funded with President Obama’s stimulus dollars and bolstered by duped Republican governors and business groups, deconstructionism is back in style. Traditional literature is under fire. Moral relativism is increasingly the norm. “Standards” is Orwell-speak for subjectivity and lowest common denominator pedagogy.

Take the Common Core literacy “standards.” Please. As literature professors, writers, humanities scholars, secondary educators and parents have warned over the past three years, the new achievement goals actually set American students back by de-emphasizing great literary works for “informational texts.” Challenging students to digest and dissect difficult poems and novels is becoming passe. Utilitarianism uber alles.

The Common Core English/language arts criteria call for students to spend only half of their class time studying literature, and only 30 percent of their class time by their junior and senior years in high school.

Under Common Core, classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” are of no more academic value than the pages of the Federal Register or the Federal Reserve archives — or a pro-Obamacare opinion essay in The New Yorker.

Audio and video transcripts, along with “alternative literacies” that are more “relevant” to today’s students (pop song lyrics, for example), are on par with Shakespeare.

English professor Dr. Mary Grabar of Atlanta describes Common Core training exercises that tell teachers “to read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address without emotion and without providing any historical context. Common Core reduces all ‘texts’ to one level: the Gettysburg Address to the EPA’s Recommended Levels of Insulation.” Indeed, in my own research, I found one Common Core “exemplar” on teaching the Gettysburg Address that instructs educators to “refrain from giving background context or substantial instructional guidance at the outset.”

Another exercise devised by Common Core promoters features the Gettysburg Address as a word cloud. Yes, a word cloud. Teachers use the jumble of letters, devoid of historical context and truths, to help students chart, decode and “deconstruct” Lincoln’s speech.

Deconstructionism, of course, is the faddish leftwing school of thought popularized by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1970s. Writer Robert Locke described the nihilistic movement best: “It is based on the proposition that the apparently real world is in fact a vast social construct and that the way to knowledge lies in taking apart in one’s mind this thing society has built.

Taken to its logical conclusion, it supposes that there is at the end of the day no actual reality, just a series of appearances stitched together by social constructs into what we all agree to call reality.”

Literature and history are all about competing ideological narratives, in other words. One story or “text” is no better than another. Common Core’s literature-lite literacy standards are aimed not at increasing “college readiness” or raising academic expectations. Just the opposite. They help pave the way for more creeping political indoctrination under the guise of increasing access to “information.”

As University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, an unrelenting whistleblower who witnessed the Common Core sausage-making process firsthand, concluded: “An English curriculum overloaded with advocacy journalism or with ‘informational’ articles chosen for their topical and/or political nature should raise serious concerns among parents, school leaders, and policymakers. Common Core’s standards not only present a serious threat to state and local education authority, but also put academic quality at risk. Pushing fatally flawed education standards into America’s schools is not the way to improve education for America’s students.”

Bipartisan Common Core defenders claim their standards are merely “recommendations.” But the standards, “rubrics” and “exemplars” are tied to tests and textbooks. The textbooks and tests are tied to money and power. Federally funded and federally championed nationalized standards lead inexorably to de facto mandates.

Any way you slice it, dice it or word-cloud it, Common Core is a mandate for mediocrity.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010).
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Laura in Athens
February 27, 2013
Well said Michelle. Thank you for your clarity, unlike the common core outlines, which as a parent I've tried to read and determine what my child is actually reading. Well said.

It is a sad day when LBJ, who is a pre-cursor-President to Obama-care, is the President shared with 3rd graders, leaving out Presidents like Lincoln, only to separate out the Emancipation Proclamation, as tho it were the only thought he had during his whole life. Flawed as all men are, he was a tremendous example to youth of our day, losing his own mother at the age of 9, burying her in a coffin he built, which no 9 year old of today, save the homeschooled child, might even remotely have the first clue how to build. It is a disgrace that truly revised American History, again, full of flawed people, is not shared with even those who sit virtually on the steps of its capitol city. Of course there are the limited smatterings of 'word clouds' including the names of these individuals who founded a unique and amazing country, but often only in a brief vocabulary list, abstract as it is. Schools still bear the fingerprints of those individual teachers who are employed are often passionate about their subject, however, common core will slowly but surely become the downfall portal, not the building block to greatness. It is a millstone disguised. The teachers who wish to share a vision will continue to adjust it's rope around their necks until they are tired and will pass it on to the youths educated by their 1/2 life presentation of the former generation of teachers.
ashamed of MM
January 29, 2013
this article is based on lies. there is no connection at all between the common core and "deconstructionism"--in fact, deconstruction was primarily obsessed with literature with a capital L. the common core is promoting more technical texts because a high tech and scientific culture demands that kind of literacy. this article is more concerned with fighting bogey men (President Obama) than it is with facts...i.e., there are specific common core standards that demand students to make historical connections with text. Perhaps Michelle Malkin needs to return to school--the common core would do her poor critical skills some good.
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