COLLEGE PROFESSOR: COMMON CORE DESTROYING A GENERATION OF ILLITERATE AMERICANS
Posted on February 20, 2014 by PatriotsBillboard
College professor says Common Core will create a generation of culturally illiterate Americans
Ben Velderman 2-20-14 America’s ongoing and growing debate about Common Core has largely revolved around the immediate effects of the new learning standards – namely how they will impact students’ data privacy, teachers’ job evaluations and states’ constitutional rights to control public education.
And when the discussion turns the learning standards themselves, it’s the math standards that get the lion’s share of attention. That’s because Common Core’s nonsensical approach to math instruction has parents and students – and even some teachers – throwing up their hands in frustration.
Precious little time has been spent examining how Common Core’s English standards are changing what American students are learning about their nation’s history, identity and culture. Even less has been said about the long-term effects these changes will have on “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Hillsdale history professor Terrence Moore is trying to kick-start that discussion with the recent release of his book, “The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core.”
In his book, Moore argues that the stories Americans are taught in school are of the upmost importance because they help shape the values and ideals which influence the way future generations view the world. That worldview, in turn, will impact the way our future leaders, parents and voters approach politics and economics, as well as family and moral issues.Moore bases his theory on an observation from the ancient philosopher Plato: Whoever controls a nation’s poets and storytellers ultimately controls the government.
That’s why Moore is so alarmed that Common Core de-emphasizes the role of classic literature and classic authors – and the traditional American and western values they represent – and replaces them with “informational texts” and post-modern, multi-cultural literature that is steeped in a left-wing worldview.
“The Common Core, at least as far as the English standards are concerned … is the attempt to take away the great stories of the American people and replace them with the stories that fit the progressive, liberal narrative of the world,” Moore said in a recent speech. “As such, the architects of the Common Core are nothing less than story-killers. … They’re deliberately killing the greatest stories of the greatest nation in history.”
Less literature, more diversity
Such talk will make Common Core defenders howl in protest, but they’ll have to concede many of the points on which Moore makes his claim.
The first is that Common Core slowly but surely removes serious literature from the classroom. That’s self-evident from the standards’ requirement that “informational texts” comprise a greater and greater percentage of students’ reading as they go through school.
In fact, by the time students reach their final two years of high school, 70 percent of their reading assignments will come from non-fiction, information-based texts.
Moore describes this shift as putting contemporary journalism on par with Shakespeare.
While the world of “informational texts” is pretty wide-open and not necessarily a left-wing stronghold, Moore believes most school district leaders will not select the readings themselves to ensure a proper balance, but will simply purchase a “class in a box” curriculum from a major textbook publisher.
Moore contends that most textbook editors are so ideological that “progressivism seems natural to them.” That means students will likely encounter “informational” readings that are critical of capitalism, sympathetic toward socialism, and misleading or incomplete in their presentation of U.S. history and constitutional principles.
Even with this shift toward non-fiction, Moore acknowledges that some literature will still be taught in classrooms, but warns the type of stories presented to students will be changing. He bases that on language found in Appendix B to Common Core’s English standards that exhorts teachers to present students with “a range” of authors.
“What do they mean by a range of authors?” Moore asked during his recent speech. “Well, for the most part, they mean post-modern authors, multi-cultural authors – in other words, other than traditional authors. Because they want a lot of these put in the curriculum every year of the class.
“So if you were trying to spend an entire year on the classics in the freshman year and then another year on British literature in the sophomore year, or something like that, you’d be violating one of the fundamental principles of Common Core, which says you always have to have a range of authors.”
Moore says Common Core’s effort to nudge America’s great literature out of classrooms is also evident in the English standards’ Appendix B, which offers a list of “exemplar texts” to provide educators with “guideposts” of the kinds of texts that fit best with Common Core.
According to the history professor, the model reading assignments contain “an overwhelming number of post-modern authors” and completely lack works that are either directly or indirectly inspired by religion.
The list also ignores classroom reading staples such as Aesop’s fables, classic fairy tales, the “tall tales” of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, Hans Christian Anderson, Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and Charles Dickens.
Those omissions represent a significant change from the reading assignments of yesteryear.
“We used to speak of our culture in terms of being descended from two parents: Athens on the one hand, Jerusalem on the other,” Moore said, referring to classic Western literature and Bible-inspired readings such as “Paradise Lost” by John Milton.
“What’s going on in the Common Core standards is they’ve killed off one of the parents – that’s Jerusalem – and the other is ailing. So pretty soon we’ll be cultural orphans.”
Moore warns that even if some great American literature makes it into classrooms, the selections will presented in a “drive-by” fashion to prepare students for the way the texts will appear on a Common Core-aligned standardized test. He calls this the “practice of practicing for standardized exams.”
Since students won’t be asked to read an entire novel during such a test, most teachers won’t ask kids to read one for class. Instead, students will be given anthologies that contain brief excerpts of great books – such as Moby Dick – that will leave them with only a superficial understanding of the works.
A pre-emptive response to critics
Common Core supporters have responded to similar criticisms by noting that the standards are merely the overall concepts schools must teach students, and that schools are free to use whichever lessons, books and instructional materials they want to meet those standards.
Balderdash, says Moore.
Because teachers’ job evaluations will be linked to their students’ standardized test scores, Moore believes educators will only teach to the Common Core-aligned assessments. That means the tests will become “the hammer” that ensures schools teach multi-cultural, post-modern stories and authors instead of the time-honored American classics.
As Moore put it in his recent speech, “Whoever controls the testing controls the curriculum – period.”
Despite the progressives’ crafty plans to “control the storytelling” in our nation’s classrooms, Moore doesn’t believe all hope is lost. He says the Common Core architects didn’t expect Americans to fight for their stories, which help develop the minds and souls of the nation’s youth.
Nor did they expect moms would push back against the education overhaul because of the negative effect it’s having on their children’s “heart and happiness.”
Moore summed it up this way in his January speech:
“There’s nothing a suburban mom – or any mom, for that matter – cares more about than the heart and the happiness of her children. And when that comes into danger, suburban moms who vote and who know how to organize themselves … they will mobilize people and they will take action. And state legislators will have to listen. …
“This is a fight over our schools, and ultimately the souls and minds of our nation’s young people. This is the time to take our stories back. Then after we do that, we can take our schools back. And once we have our schools back, we’re on the road to taking our nation back.”