Common Core = political agenda?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jerseygirlteach, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I don't mean for this post to be a political debate, but I did want to hear some thoughts on this. In your opinion, does the following worksheet promote a political agenda? The following article currently appears on Foxnews.com. Yes, I know the source has a perceived bias, but is there any truth here? They claim that the worksheet (linked below) has a liberal bias. To me, it's simply a cross-curricular activity but maybe I'm missing something. See the article below and the link to the worksheet attached. What do you think?

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/interactive/2013/11/06/hold-flag-high-student-worksheet/


    Common Core lessons blasted for sneaking politics into elementary classrooms


    It's exactly what critics of the Common Core school curriculum warned about: Partisan political statements masquerading as English lessons finding their way into elementary school classrooms.

    Teaching materials aligned with the controversial national educational standards ask fifth-graders to edit such sentences as “(The president) makes sure the laws of the country are fair,” “The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation” and “the commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.” The sentences, which appear in worksheets published by New Jersey-based Pearson Education, are presented not only for their substance, but also to teach children how to streamline bulky writing.

    “We are doing a terrible disservice to this generation and the next if we only present them with one side of the argument and bombard them with ideas contrary to the American ideal."

    - Glyn Wright, Eagle Forum

    “Parents should insist on reviewing their children’s school assignments,” said Glyn Wright, executive director of the Eagle Forum, a think tank that opposes implementation of Common Core. “Many parents will be shocked to find that some ‘Common Core-approved’ curriculum is full of inappropriate left-wing notions, disinformation, and fails to teach the truth of American exceptionalism and opportunity.”

    The politically charged lesson appears in a worksheet titled “Hold the Flag High,” in which students are taught about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. The assignment asks students to make examples of sentences; “less wordy by replacing the underlined words with a possessive noun phrase.” They are then presented with a half-dozen sentences describing the job duties of a U.S. president.

    But if the lessons are meant as a primer on the Constitution, there's another problem, note critics. The job of making sure laws are fair is not the president's, but the judicial branch's. The executive branch's duty is to administer laws. And the example that places the well-being of the nation above the "wants of an individual" appears to run counter to the basic principles of the Bill of Rights.

    “We are doing a terrible disservice to this generation and the next if we only present them with one side of the argument and bombard them with ideas contrary to the American ideal," Wright said. "In doing so, we allow our children to be indoctrinated instead of educated.”

    A Pearson spokesperson told FoxNews.com the “Hold the Flag High” worksheet will undergo some editing of its own, based on issues raised by critics, including Education Action Group Foundation.

    “These particular questions appear in a fifth-grade unit of Pearson’s Reading Street, an English Language Arts program,” the Pearson official said. “They accompany a selection about soldiers during the Civil War, and they attempt to make a connection between that passage and language skills. As with all our curricular materials, they underwent a thorough development and review process. Still, we are always open to improving our work … Based on this feedback, we will be modifying the worksheet to clarify these questions.”

    The Common Core State Standards Initiative was devised by an association of the nation's governors and backed by the Obama administration in 2009 with the goal of setting a uniform standard for grades K-12 nationwide. Some 45 states, in many cases enticed by federal grants, have signed on and testing of students in grades 3-8 and once in high school is scheduled to begin next year.

    Critics of the initiative say that school districts will devise curriculums to maximize their students' performance on the national exams; some in fact, have already done so. The same critics also claim that Common Core math standards barely cover basic geometry or second-year algebra and that the classics are all but ignored in English classes.

    While Common Core has plenty of defenders -- and may prove beneficial -- critics maintain that it is not the federal government's job to impose educational standards.
     
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  3. raynepoe

    raynepoe Companion

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    That is the reading basal we are using, we have passed that story (used that worksheet) and I did not think of it as biased at all.......
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Doesn't the common core encourage students to look at an issue from different perspectives? That's what I've read...

    Also, since when does one example of one activity from one company reflect that the common core has a political agenda? Don't they mean that Pearson has a political agenda?

    I'm just so sick of rich people whining about public education.
     
  5. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Nov 6, 2013

    I may be in the minority, but I think MOST of the worksheets shown are just fine.

    I do agree somewhat with the article regarding the DVD 76 page (Possessive Nouns). I feel that those sentences would probably have been less volatile if they were facts instead of opinions, particularly #6.

    "The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation."

    While the patriot in me agrees with this, I can see where the opponents feel this is somewhat an indoctrination of sorts. It's clearly an opinion (as are some of the other sentences). Who is to say what is "important" and what isn't? Quite subjective in my eyes (which, ironically enough, is also an opinion!) ;)

    I think they could have accomplished the task "shortening sentences by using possessive nouns" by using other sentences that would be harder to target and/or attack.

    "The speeches of Abraham Lincoln are often studied and memorized by many students of various colleges."

    "Abraham Lincoln's speeches are often studied and memorized by many college students."

    Just an example.

    Again... I'm sure I'm in the minority. :)

    Interesting read, Jerseygirlteach. Thanks for sharing it! :)
     
  6. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    If it's any consolation, I'm far from rich and I often whine about the state of public education! :lol:
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    I have a problem with the worksheet "Hold the Flag High" for the very reasons stated in the article posted by OP. The president does not make sure laws are fair. Individual freedoms are at the heart of the Bill of Rights. The idea that a government official can command a citizen to do something is not in line with the Constitution. We have laws that we must follow, but a government official can't command someone to do something.

    Yes, I feel that the worksheet is biased. It is not accurate. It is more than just showing another political side as someone else pointed out. It is factually incorrect. I don't have a problem with different viewpoints being studied regarding a topic, but the presentation of a viewpoint and items stated as fact that are inaccurate in an English assignment is not an assignment that leads to discussing different viewpoints.
     
  8. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Seriously? I don't think kids are going to be influenced by these sentences in the least bit. They will do the worksheet and then forget exactly what was on it. As long as they get the concept, who really cares what the sentence says.

    I also heard today that Fox News used a recent episode of Spongebob to say that cartoons are now influencing kids in politics.
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    If this worksheet was being used to cross-curricular to teach language arts and social studies and the sentences were being taught as truth then I would agree with you; however, in my opinion it just seems to be assessing a language arts concept.
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    This worksheet does not encourage a student to look at an issue from a different perspective. It includes information that is not factual and opinions, but it doesn't encourage discussion. Anything that doesn't allow for discussion is not looking at something from a different perspective put presenting a viewpoint as fact.

    I don't see this article as blaming common core, but the curriculum that was created for the common core standards. Some warned that when the curriculums are created for the standards that political bias would be put into the new curriculums created to support the standards. The article did say that Pearson created this curriculum.

    I think people should keep an eye on public education. It is mandated and children are in school for much of their life. What happens there has a significant impact on society. It is not the only impact on society, but it is still significant. The easiest way to change a society is change what is taught to the children of the society.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    As just an English assignment this is biased.

    I disagree. Students will not be looking at exactly what the sentences are saying, just how to write it correctly or any other ELA concepts being taught.


    For some reason my computer isn't letting me quote tonight.
     
  12. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Isn't it possible, however, that some students will read what's being said and internalizing it?

    Maybe not all... but some?

    Just like SOME may read this sentence on a worksheet:

    Directions: Capitalize the proper nouns in the following sentence:

    1. There are many people in the united states who believe that christians follow an imaginary being called god.

    You can be darned sure that I'd take issue with that, regardless of the view that "Most students won't even read it. They'll just find the proper nouns and capitalize them."

    Just as if I were an atheist and read the following:

    2. Everybody knows that jesus is the son of the living god.

    I would imagine many atheists may have some discussions with a principal about that.

    I guess I believe that we, as teachers, have a responsibility what we present to our students...even if it's in a grammatical worksheet. Because while not ALL students will read/internalize the sentences... some will. *shrug*
     
  13. BookReader813

    BookReader813 Companion

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    You said everything I wanted to say. The sentences are very suggestive of the opinions of a few. It would be easy for Pearson to edit the worksheet.

    When I saw the part about the president's job to make the laws fair, I had to scratch my head. I'm pretty sure that's not his job!
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    :thumb:

    How about "Teachers were more intelligent 50 years ago.", "Women are helpless and need protection by men.", or "Pink is a feminine color."

    Yes, the sentence does matter. Anytime someone reads something it gets stored in the brain somewhere. Some kids have photographic memories. Some read everything for meaning. Some plow through like a previous poster said and don't care what it says, but not all.
     
  15. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Nov 6, 2013

    My class is reading The Mysterious Benedict Society, which is based on an evil man trying to influence society by spreading subtle messages through media. So maybe I'm a bit paranoid, but I can totally see where the article is coming from.

    I think this should be examined as a single case instance, and not as a Common Core instance (how many other crazy ideas have seen in textbooks that aren't Common Core??), but yeah-I can see where they are coming from.

    I do wish everything didn't have to be such an us vs. them issue. Why does EVERYTHING have to boil down to the Christian Right and Obama. Why can't we just look at something and say 'you know, I think we need to fix this' without dragging a side into it. I feel like I can't even tell people my opinion on things because I will be boxed into a side, and then I will either be trying to socialize the world or baptize them. I wish the reporter could have approached this from a different angle.
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    These sentences have problems, all right, but I'd hesitate to attribute to bias what can more accurately be pegged as tin-eared carelessness in writing.
     
  17. KinderCowgirl

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    Did you read the title of it?

    I've seen a lot of FB posts recently slamming materials kids are bringing home-they are saying Common Core is bad because of it. The fact is those are materials published by a publishing company-maybe based on core objectives, but certainly not the fault of Commmon Core.

    I do think there are political agendas at play, but it has nothing to do with those worksheets.
     
  18. EdEd

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    I don't find those worksheets to be politically motivated in that material is skewed from truth to present an agenda of one particular political party. However, I do think history is often skewed with certain viewpoints being left out. This, to me, has nothing to do with CCSS though. Every set of standards runs the risk of this. The materials presented about the flag are in no way evidence that CCSS falls into this trap. Perhaps there is other evidence out there?
     
  19. a2z

    a2z Phenom

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    I agree it is not the fault of common core. I disagree that there are not political agendas at play with the worksheet in question. I don't think that it is a higher-level agenda, but I do believe that it is an agenda at the lower level (personal political agenda) unless the writers and reviewers are just incompetent.
     
  20. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Of course, playing devil's advocate...

    Some may say that us guiding the students daily to say the Pledge of Allegiance is a form of indoctrination and/or a political agenda, let alone having the Christian deity's name being tossed in there!

    But that's fodder for another thread! ;)
     
  21. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Many schools around me don't even say the pledge anymore. Of course, when we did, it was always optional. We just had to be quiet. We had kids of certain religions who were not supposed to say the pledge.
     

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