Doubling Down on Doublespeak

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This past week, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by William Bennett, author of The Book of Virtues and once chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in which he defended Common Core as a conservative approach to school reform—allowing, he claimed, the preservation of our civic and cultural literary heritage.  Several days earlier, Politico published a blog in which David Coleman, now president of the College Board and widely acknowledged as the chief “architect” of Common Core’s English language arts standards, is quoted as claiming that Common Core had been inspired by the work of E.D. Hirsch, Jr., founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia. All of this rightly sounded bewildering to those familiar with The Book of Virtues and the Core Knowledge curriculum—and with Common Core’s ELA standards.

Hirsch has consistently advocated for a content-oriented curriculum, while Common Core’s standards are chiefly content-free (and poorly written) skills.  Bennett has long advocated for a curriculum that includes highlights from our civic and cultural literary heritage, a heritage almost nowhere required or encouraged by Common Core’s standards or in the tests based on them. (Sorry, sidebars and footnotes don’t count.)

Not surprising. We have simply become the victims of a confusing propaganda war now being conducted by the Gates Foundation and its funded friends. The public is regularly told that black is white, freedom is slavery, and war is peace. Why? Mainly to portray Gates’s national standards as the victim of critics who are filled with misinformation and myths about what Common Core is and could do for the nation’s children if we only give Jaws a chance to show how well-intentioned the great white shark really is.

For reasons best known to the Gates Foundation and to public relations firms like DCI Group that it helps to fund “to craft the right messages” (a firm Bennett acknowledged paid for his op-ed), they have decided that the English language is the chief problem accounting for Common Core’s nosedive in public opinion. Whether written or oral, words are, they finally realized, intended to mean something. For a list of commonly-used vocabulary items whose meanings are being changed 180 degrees—that is, to their opposite by Common Core propagandists, see http://truthinamericaneducation.com/uncategorized/a-vocabulary-lesson/

Most parents don’t need help in understanding the Gates Foundation’s new lexicon for defending the indefensible (Common Core’s mediocre standards, as well as the curriculum and tests based on them).  Enough parents can still read the Common Core-aligned lessons their children are being asked to do in school and have drawn their own conclusions about their worth—and intentions. Enough parents have also read the grade-level lists of specified literary works in the Core Knowledge literature curriculum, as well as the topics to be studied in other subjects. Because they have had eyes to see with, they can see that these literary works and subject area topics are in no way specified in Common Core’s ELA standards or the tests based on them.

Unfortunately for the Gates Foundation, lessons have had to be written down if teachers are to remember exactly what they are to do for the purpose of evaluation. So, when David Coleman claims he was inspired by the Core Knowledge curriculum, parents understand the Orwellian game that is being played on them.  So do teachers.  Many are leaving the profession after reading what they are to teach and teach to.

3 replies
  1. worldhistoryteacher
    worldhistoryteacher says:

    It would seem the author hasn’t considered Appendix B.
    The suggested texts of CC.
    Appendix B reads like the Table of Contents page of The Book of Virtues.
    For example: Grades 6–8 Text Exemplars……………………………………. 77
    Stories………………………………………………………………………………………. 77
    Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women………………………………………………….. 77
    Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer…………………………………. 77
    L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time…………………………………………… 79
    Cooper, Susan. The Dark Is Rising……………………………………………….. 79
    Yep, Laurence. Dragonwings…………………………………………………….80
    Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry…………………………..80
    Hamilton, Virginia. “The People Could Fly.”…………………………………80
    Paterson, Katherine. The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks…………………. 81
    Cisneros, Sandra. “Eleven.”………………………………………………………. 81
    Sutcliff, Rosemary. Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad….. 81

    I would bet at least two or three of the above are in The Book of Virtues in one form or another. And all, or nearly all could have been in it.

  2. worldhistoryteacher
    worldhistoryteacher says:

    Would the following fall right in line with Core Knowledge? YES!!!

    Informational Texts: English Language Arts………………………122
    Henry, Patrick. “Speech to the Second Virginia Convention.”……….122
    Washington, George. “Farewell Address.” ……………………………….123
    Lincoln, Abraham. “Gettysburg Address.” ………………………………..123
    Lincoln, Abraham. “Second Inaugural Address.” ………………………124
    Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. “State of the Union Address.” ………..124
    Hand, Learned. “I Am an American Day Address.” ………………………………………..125
    Smith, Margaret Chase. “Remarks to the Senate in Support
    of a Declaration of Conscience.” …………………………………….125
    King, Jr., Martin Luther. “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”……………………127
    King, Jr., Martin Luther. “I Have a Dream: Address Delivered at the
    March on Washington, D.C., for Civil Rights on August 28, 1963.”………….127
    Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings…………………….128
    Wiesel, Elie. “Hope, Despair and Memory.”………………………………..128
    Reagan, Ronald. “Address to Students at Moscow State University.”…..128
    Quindlen, Anna. “A Quilt of a Country.”…………………………………………..129

    At the same grade:

    Informational Texts: History/Social Studies……………………………….. 130

    Brown, Dee. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee:
    An Indian History of the American West………………………. 130

    Connell, Evan S. Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn….. 130
    Gombrich, E. H. The Story of Art, 16th Edition……………………………131
    Kurlansky, Mark. Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World……131
    Haskins, Jim. Black, Blue and Gray: African Americans in the Civil War………131
    Dash, Joan. The Longitude Prize……………………………………………..132
    Thompson, Wendy. The Illustrated Book of Great Composers……….132
    Mann, Charles C. Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491…………..133
    And I haven’t even shared what’s in drama, poetry, stories and science.
    Also the CC suggests that these books be read completely, not in excerpt (except where noted [rarely]).

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