From Terrence Moore and A Textbook That Should Live in Infamy: The Common Core Assaults World War II:
Saturday the 7th of December will mark the seventy-second anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The commemoration of that “date which will live in infamy” brings up memories of more than Pearl Harbor but of the entire American effort in World War II: of the phenomenal production of planes and tanks and munitions by American industry; of millions of young men enlisting (with thousands lying about their age to get into the service); of the men who led the war, then and now seeming larger than life—Churchill and F.D.R., Eisenhower and MacArthur, Monty and Patton; and of the battles themselves in which uncommon valor was a common virtue: Midway, D-Day, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima, to name only a few. Most of us today do not know those events directly but have encountered them in history books. And when we think of World War II, the people who come to mind first are our grandparents: the men and women of the Greatest Generation who are our surest link to the past.
One of the most vital questions for us—grandchildren of the Greatest Generation—is how we will preserve their memory. Ours is the much easier but still important task of making sure that subsequent generations understand the heroism and sacrifice needed to keep America—and indeed the world—safe, prosperous, and free during the grave crisis that was the Second World War. Presumably these lessons not only honor our forebears, who passed on a free and great nation to us, but they also set the example of how we must meet the challenges and crises of our own time. A glance at one of the nation’s leading high-school literature textbooks—Prentice Hall’s The American Experience, which has been aligned to the Common Core—will tell us how we are doing on that front.
The opening page of the slim chapter devoted to World War II called “War Shock” features a photograph of a woman inspecting a large stockpile of thousand-pound bomb castings. The notes in the margins of the Teacher’s Edition set the tone:
In this section, nonfiction prose and a single stark poem etch into a reader’s mind the dehumanizing horror of world war. . . .
The editors of the textbook script the question teachers are supposed to ask students in light of the photograph as well as provide the answer:
Ask: What dominant impression do you take away from this photograph?
Possible response: Students may say that the piled rows of giant munitions give a strong impression of America’s power of mass production and the bombs’ potential for mass destruction.
Translation: Americans made lots of big bombs that killed lots of people.
Read more here.
If you want to understand Common Core aligned curriculum in action, Moore deconstructs the method of close reading and how American history is now taught to students:
There is more than a little sophistry taking place here: an alarming superficiality and political bias that pervades all the Common Core textbooks (as I have illustrated in my book The Story-Killers: A Common Sense Case Against the Common Core). There is no reading in this chapter ostensibly devoted to World War II that tells why America entered the war. There is no document on Pearl Harbor or the Rape of Nanking or the atrocities committed against the Jews or the bombing of Britain. The book contains no speech of Winston Churchill or F.D.R. even though the reading of high-caliber “informational texts” is the new priority set by the Common Core, and great rhetoric has always been the province of an English class. There is not a single account of a battle or of American losses or of the liberation of Europe. The editors do not balance Jarrell’s poem with the much more famous war song “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” that ends with the line, “And we’ll all stay free!” The rest of this chapter consists in a poster of a junk rally to gather metals for the making of munitions, a New York Times editorial, and a political cartoon penned by Dr. Seuss (who supported the war). There is not a single document or sentence in the chapter that would make a young reader consider the Axis Powers anything other than “enemies” in quotes.Essentially, all of World War II has been reduced to dropping the bomb and consequently, we are led to believe, America’s inhumanity. In short, the entire presentation of the Second World War is not an exercise in critical thinking; nor will it make students “college and career ready.” This is not teaching. It is programming, pure and simple.
Parents and grandparents, review the curriculum that your children are reading. Request a seat at the curriculum committee in your school. Request that your school’s curriculum is posted on the school website for your review. With the celebration of technology, this should be a breeze for your school to publish.
The House Education Chairman in Missouri apparently doesn’t believe that Common Core adoption and implementation is such a problem. Representative Steve Cookson wrote a disappointing and alarming letter to the House Speaker containing one paragraph about citizen concern about the standards. From his House Interim Committee report (pdf is embedded here), he summed up the meetings in 11 areas around the state, hearing from constituents, and their concern about Common Core:
Common Core standards and assessments.
The most heated testimony heard by the committee concerned the Common Core state standards initiative. It was apparent that a disconnect has occurred in two areas-the first, between some districts and some of their patrons, and the second, between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the average Missouri parent. The Missouri Constitution gives oversight of education to the State Board of Education, not to the General Assembly, although the General Assembly is charged with funding education. DESE has been open about their standards process, but this information has not always filtered out of the educational world to the general public. In some instances when it has, it has not been accurately portrayed. The Committee remains concerned over the issue and will be watchful to protect the openness of all processes related to it, especially the statutory protection for curriculum as a local decision (160.514, subsection 3). (MEW bolded)
We will be detailing in later posts on points of contention with Representative Cookson’s statement on DESE’s authority vs the General Assembly, but we can unequivocally state that DESE has been anything but open on its standards process. Parents and taxpayers, as well as districts and local schools, have been kept largely uninformed on standards written by priate organizations and the initiative’s funding streams in the future.
I agree that when information actually has been “filtered out of the educational world to the general public, in some instances when it has, it has not been accurately portrayed.” This might explain why the Commissioner can state at the beginning of talking about standards that they are “higher” and then in the latest House hearing in October 2013, she admits they are “the floor”.
The most heated testimony in the state was about Common Core and the citizens are patted on the head and we are told that local districts have statutory protection for curriculum, so we should not worry. If Representative Cookson is “concerned about the issue and will be watchful to protect the openness of all processes related to it, especially the statutory protection for curriculum as a local decision”, he needs to understand how Common Core standards are constructed and the emphasis on close reading. Does he not understand that regardless of the curriculum, the process demands a reading process that does not avail itself to understand the historical context of why Pearl Harbor even occurred? Does he not understand why a close reading of the Gettysburg Address does little to impart historical knowledge?
If you are in Missouri, please send the Townhall article to Representative Cookson and all members of the House Committee. If you are in another state, you may want to forward to your representatives. If they support such revisionist history and the process by which it is allowed, they should be voted out of office.
My father as a World War II veteran deserves better. I can’t believe he laid communication lines and put his life in danger for this Common Core aligned curriculum nonsense that doesn’t lay a foundation for how and why Pearl Harbor occurred. I am incensed our children are not being taught critical thinking in the least. Close reading indeed. It just leads to dumb children and a society that does not bode well for free thinkers.
If Representative Cookson would attend some Common Core conferences various organizations have held in Missouri throughout the state detailing these issues, perhaps he would be more concerned about the educational direction Missouri children find themselves traveling. He is welcomed (and has been invited) to attend any conference the citizens have scheduled. We will be happy to travel to his district at anytime to fit his time constraints to present the facts (not pro Common Core talking points by Federally funded organizations) about Common Core standards.