The Free Press reported (“Dinner at 1600", Feb. 23) that as President Barack Obama was offering a toast before a four-course dinner at the White House, he acknowledged a tuxedo-clad Governor Douglas as “an extraordinary partner with this White House.” He was referring to
the work of the National Governors Association on the Common Core Standards in math and
The New York Times called this national standards effort “a bipartisan project at variance with the highly polarized political mood in Washington." I call it a unilateral policy leaving out
teachers, students, and parents.
For starters, I'd like to ask Governor Douglas if has read As I Lay Dying, with its 15 narrators, offered, along with Pride and Prejudice as Exemplar Text for 11th graders
And how about Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800), presented as an Exemplar Text, for 9th graders? When I grappled with Wordsworth's great principle of emotion recollected in tranquility as a grad student, I figured I had only myself to blame. After all, I’d chosen to study English literature. But who’s there to protect the 14-year-old from this pretense at academic rigor?
Does Governor Douglas think 14-year-olds will embrace Wordsworth's declarations about the source of the sexual appetite, and all the passions connected with it? And if not, perhaps our Chief State School Officer might offer some ideas for differentiated teaching strategies. After all, he Council of Chief State School Officers were co-conspirators in the production of the Common Core document.
Things are just as dicey for younger students. Here are two selections the National Governors Association and the Chief State School Officers offer as Exemplar Narratives for 6-8 graders:
"Allegory of the Cave" from The Republic by Plato (380 BCE) and "Address to Students at Moscow State University" by Ronald Reagan (1988).
According to the Free Press account, both Obama and Douglas offered toasts with glasses of water. One can only wonder what the people devising the Common Core were drinking.
In order to qualify for the pots of money President Obama is eager to hand out, states must accept 100 percent of the Standards document. They cannot pick and choose. Exercising any judgment based on what teachers know about kids is forbidden. To get the Obama bribe, state politicos must promise that schoolchildren will be forced to swallow ALL the Kool-Aid.
The governors, the chief state school officers, and President Obama insist these are
"high-quality education standards," drawing on “the most important international models as well as research and input from numerous sources, including scholars, assessment developers, professional organizations, and educators from kindergarten through college. In their design and content, the Standards represent a synthesis of the best elements of standards-related work
to date and an important advance over that previous work.”