When education reforms are attacked by both the Left and Right, maybe both sides have a good point. “Looking at the language of Common Core, you find that it contains a lot of weasel-speak,” Daniel D. Hade of Penn State said at the Modern Language Association’s annual meeting in Chicago last week.
Indeed, it should be noted that the drafters of the Common Core State Standards on English Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects claim to be “internationally benchmarked.” How can you “internationally benchmark” something that by definition is tied inextricably to a particular language?
The Obama Administration’s point man promoting Common Core, U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, never taught, Hade pointed out in the MLA panel on “Children’s Literature and the Common Core.”
Common Core advocates claim they are “Preparing America’s Students for College & Career.” Hade calls it “education for cubicles.”
It turns out that the Common Core crafters even try to weasel out of their own pronouncements. “They developed a publisher’s guide even though they say they are leaving it up to the teacher,” Kristin McIlhagga of Michigan State University pointed out on that same panel.
In a webinar on Common Core, Amy Cox of Capstone claimed that “Every book is a Common Core book.” Yet and still, she averred that picking every book on the Common Core list is “irresponsible data collection.”
Sarah Minslow of the University of North Carolina observed that 70 percent of the recommended readings are made of informational text. Though the standards emphasize “career readiness,” Minslow argues that “jobs will change when these kids graduate.” Maybe the Common Core artists should have talked to a few newspaper reporters, or fax machine mechanics.
Nonetheless, don’t imagine that the antipathy academics are showing for Common Core is signaling a shift to the right on their part. They are not likely to show up at TEA party rallies anytime soon. “We need to form alliances with progressive groups to resist Common Core,” Hade said.
“Imagination provides something vital to progressive society,” Minslow said. “Students need to be solutions-oriented rather than problem-oriented.” She teaches a “human rights-related course” on “war and genocide in children’s literature.”
Michelle Holley Martin of the University of South Carolina, says “I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt.”
She remembered that “one of my evaluations at my last university read, ‘I appreciate all this multicultural literature but can we read real literature too?’”