Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 9.39.22 AMDuchess Harris’s new textbook Black Lives Matter (Special Reports) is an example of what is wrong with Common Core.  Many, like Larry Elder on Fox And Friends, decry the book as indoctrination. This may be true, but most education is indoctrination. The battle has always been over who’s worldview gets to be taught.

In Harris’s world view, blacks are victims who need to rise up in revolutionary defiance of their perceived oppression. The Daily Caller says the book explains how “black people have been killed with impunity’ ‘since time immemorial’ in a way that is not ’emotionally overwhelming 6-12th graders who are learning about the movement, and its inheritance, for the first time.’ ”

Full Disclosure:  I have not read the book. It will not be available for purchase until November of this year.  I have included two sources who appear to have at least skimmed it and found it undesirable. You will have to decide whether you think the book is good or bad yourself. The purpose of this post is to show how this book fits into the new system put into place by the CCSSI, a system that will railroad the ideology of those who scream the loudest or those who want to claim the greatest oppression into our classrooms.
For starters, the book claims to be aligned to Common Core. That statement actually doesn’t say much since all that is required to make that claim is for the author to point to a single ELA standard like “Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text,” and say that the book can be used to teach that standard. This is not a claim that the factual content of the book is aligned with the ideology of Common Core writers or pushers. It is akin to the marketing claim that “This bag of rice is now gluten free.”
Second, there is no body currently operating to vet such claims. This can and does create confusion in the market as districts look for material that is current and relates to the “real world.”  It is up to the districts to determine if such material is relevant, appropriate and effective. Districts considering this particular book should note the recent Rasmusssen poll which shows that 64% of blacks agree that the statement “All  lives matter” more closely aligns with their own view, and 76% of other minority voters identify more with this statement than with “Black lives matter.” If this textbook is relevant to current events, it is as an example of how the misguided  viewpoint of the few could affect public policy for all.
Districts have been told that they are in charge of curriculum choices. They can choose this book because it is co-authored by a Missouri children’s stories writer, Susan Bradford Edwards. They can choose it because it is tied to current events. They can choose it because they want to appear sympathetic to a particular cause.  It can be chosen by a few curriculum directors who want to prove that they are open minded. The local community may have no say. Their elected representatives on the school board may have no say in curriculum choices, having been taught to leave such things to “the experts.”
Or a district can reject it because it is too full of opinion and does not give a balanced presentation of facts. They can reject it because it does not match the values of the local community.  At some point those values will come to the fore, as they did at Brandon High School in Mississippi, where the Friday night football crowd started singing “How Great Thou Art” because their band was barred from playing it on the field as part of their half time show. The prohibition against the hymn came as the result of a lawsuit brought by a single student who sued the district over a series of Christian meetings that had been held on school property. A judge ruled that the district was “enjoined from including prayer, religious sermons or activities in any school sponsored event including but not limited to assemblies, graduations, award ceremonies, athletic events and any other school event.”  Clearly, the community values religious expression in greater numbers and will not be silenced by the whines of a single child and liberal judge.
If a local district chooses this textbook for their curriculum, there are a few things that parents can do to protest its use, but at the end of the day the book might still be used because in the new Common Core system it is more important that everyone be indoctrinated the same way. The new system laid the tracks that will drive books like Harris’s and others into our classrooms.
Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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