Two Ways of Educating

Education - Indoctrination Center        by  Diane Rufino, December 24, 2013

At some schools, usually independent (not accepting federal dollars) and religious, students read old books, including Plato’s Republic.  In the Republic, they read the story of Gyges’ ring that makes the wearer of it invisible.  One of Socrates’ conversants in the Republic, a young man named Glaucon (who happened to be Plato’s older brother; both were students of Socrates), raises the question: ‘Why would a man in possession of such a ring not use it to do and obtain whatever he wishes?  Why would he not use the ring’s powers, for instance, to become a tyrant?’  In response, Socrates turns the discussion to another question: ‘What is the right way for a man to live?  What is just by nature and what is unjust?’

In parochial schools, such as John Paul II Catholic High School (where I teach), students are also regularly guided by the teachings of the Bible. With respect to the teachings of Jesus, it was Jesus himself who boiled the lessons down to two commandments. When asked by a teacher of law which of God’s laws are most important (Mark 12:28-31), Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  As with books like the Republic, the teachings of the Bible emphasize the proper way for a man to live.  They establish a value system of love, compassion, and charity.  They teach that individuals should use their talents, their abilities, their powers to do good, and not just for themselves but for others as well.

These Socratic questions were once at the center or core of education. But in American education as a whole, and thanks in great part to policies directed by the federal government, these questions have been abandoned. Teaching ‘morality,’ as it turns out, is too offensive.  Even sadder is the tacit denial that such a focus in education serves no sound social purpose.  Thankfully, these Socratic and Socratic-type questions remain at the center or core of education at many institutions that believe that a proper education includes an emphasis on morality and ethics.

At John Paul II Catholic High School, St. Peter’s, and other parochial schools, and perhaps some charter schools as well, there is often a core group of course that all students, regardless of their path, are required to take. This core has a unifying principle, as explained above, such as the idea that there is a right way to live.

Compare this to the “core” that defines the latest bright idea of the education establishment – Common Core.  At its core is the imposition of national one-size-fits-all, copyrighted and licensed educational standards on American public schools all across the country for top-down universal control over the teaching of our children. When one looks into Common Core, it becomes clear that it has no unifying principle, such as I have described above.

Absent the kind of questions posed by Socrates in the Republic or the lessons of community found in the Bible, or in the plays of Shakespeare that pit good versus evil/right versus wrong, modern educators treat students chiefly as factors of production, as moldable young adults to be trained for productive jobs, as dictated by the economy at the time.  And although we all wish productive jobs for our children, as parents we know that they are not chiefly job-seekers or factors of production. “After all, how many of us, if we were given the choice between having our children earn a lot of money and being bad, or struggling economically and being good, would choose the former?”

Another example of the turn taken by modern education is exemplified by a passage from the Teacher’s Guide for Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition, published in 1991 by the College Board – the influential organization that, among other things, administers the SAT exam. It was written by an English professor from Agnes Scott College in Georgia:

“AP teachers are implementing the best of the new pedagogies that have influenced leading institutions of higher learning. Perhaps most importantly, as Arthur Applebee explains, ‘objectivity’ and ‘factuality’ have lost preeminence.  Instruction has become ‘less a matter of transmittal of an objective and culturally sanctioned body of knowledge,’ and more a matter of helping individuals learn to construct their own realities.  This moves English courses away from the concept of subject matter to be memorized and toward ‘a body of knowledge, skills, and strategies that must be constructed by the learner out of experiences and interactions within the social context of the classroom.’  Emphasis is on the processes of language and thought, ‘processes that are shaped by a given cultural community and which also help students become part of the cultural community.’  Contemporary educators no doubt hope students will shape values and ethical systems as they engage in these interactions, acquiring principles that will help them live in a mad, mad world.”

Thomas Jefferson, perhaps one of our more prolific Founding Fathers, wrote or had his hand directly in at least four of the five organic laws that provide the ideological and legal foundation of our country. He wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, gave direction to James Madison in his drafting of the US Constitution, and provided the voice of reason and conscience to Madison again when it came time to add a Bill of Rights.  The Northwest Ordinance, adopted in 1787, and passed again in 1789, contains the following beautiful sentence: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary for good government and the happiness of mankind, the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”  Accordingly, Congress proceeded to give 1/36th of the land in the vast Northwest Territory – including Michigan and four other states – as an endowment, controlled by the states, to support education in each township.

Consider the current text of the North Carolina state constitution (the constitution of 1971; see below), which sets forth government’s obligations in the state. Article I, Sec. 15 (Education”) provides:  “The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.”  Article IX, Sec. 1 deals specifically with Education in the state.  That section (“Education encouraged”) reads: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Could the difference be more stark between the older and newer goals of education?  Between leading students toward an understanding of the right way to live in a comprehensible world, and telling them they must shape their own values and make their own reality in a world gone mad?  And why aren’t more states, like my state of North Carolina which has vowed to guard and maintain its right to provide education to its citizens (and to promote morality), rejecting Common Core?

So, what is the right way for a man and a woman to live?

Do we trust that question to a government that has vowed to remain neutral on religion and on morality (tipping clearly towards immorality) and conducts itself in every instance without ethics?  Or do we reflect on that question in our own states and ask ourselves what we would like to expect from our own citizens?  Ultimately, parents want to be proud of their children.

 

[Note: The NC state constitution has been amended several times. The original constitution, adopted in 1776 by the general assembly (no input from the people) created the government for the new state; the constitution of 1868 was adopted and submitted to the US Congress for approval as required for re-admission to the Union after the Civil War (later amended to end discrimination against African Americans); and the constitution of 1971, which reorganized the entire state government in light of the requirements of the modern economy and society (more of a reorganization rather than adding anything new)].

 

**  [This short article is based on an article by Larry P. Arnn, Hillsdale College, Dec. 2013, Vol. 42, No. 12.]

 

RESOLUTION OPPOSING COMMON CORE

I wrote the following resolution to adopt in my legislative district which would then be passed on to our state Board of Education members and to our legislators who continue to support Common Core in North Carolina –

I hope others can use this Resolution as well, even if just a starting point, to organize opposition and help pause or halt implementation of Common Core in their state

Diane Rufino

 

RESOLUTION OPPOSING COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS

WHEREAS, Common Core (CC) is a set of (math and English language arts) academic standards, created by two private membership organizations, the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and promoted as a “State Standards initiative” and as a method for conforming American students to uniform “internationally-benchmarked” achievement goals to make them more competitive in a global marketplace (1), and

WHEREAS, Common Core is being promoted as a “state initiative,” that description is merely offered to give the public the illusion that the agenda is “state-led.” Common Core standards were actually initiated by private interests in Washington DC and not by state lawmakers. Both the NGA and the CCSSO are both DC-based trade associations (organizations founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry) which used ACHIEVE, Inc. to do the creative work. ACHIEVE, Inc. is a progressive non-profit group based out of DC which has received much of its funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

WHEREAS, Common Core is a top down, one-size-fits-all government takeover of our education system. It uses a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching and assumes the same in learning. The CC standards were founded on a severely flawed idea – that every child can learn the same way and at the same pace. It assumes that every child across America will “be on the same page at the same time”; and

WHEREAS, the federal government is bribing the states with federal funds in order to get them to assent blindly to the government’s education agenda. Even though Federal Law prohibits the federalizing of curriculum (2), the Obama Administration accepted the CC plan and used 2009 Stimulus Bill money to reward the states that were most committed to the President’s CC agenda; but, they failed to give states, their legislatures and their citizens time to evaluate the CC before having to commit to them (the old “bait and switch”), and

WHEREAS, the NGA and CCSSO in concert with the same corporations developing the CC ‘assessments’ have created new textbooks, digital media and other teaching materials aligned to the standards which must be purchased and adopted by local school districts in order that students may effectively compete on CC ‘assessments,’ and

WHEREAS, under the “one-size-fits-all” CC standards provided by the NGA and CCSSO and with the testing that the government will provide, teachers will rely less on creativity in order to teach, will be forced to stress rote memorization, and will end up “teaching to the test” (which means the government not only sets the standards but will also direct the curriculum); and

WHEREAS, up until forty years ago, this nation had the best system of education – both K-12 and colleges and universities – in the world. One of the traits that made American education great was its diversity. Elementary and secondary school students can choose among private, parochial, public, technical charter, virtual and home schools for their particular ‘flavor’ in curriculum. Yet uniformity (and NOT diversity) is what CC is all about; and

WHEREAS, in many cases, the CC standards are lower than already existing state standards; and

WHEREAS, instead of teaching critical thinking and problem solving, CC stresses the lowest common denominator, punishes achievement, and forces all students to conform to government standard;  and

WHEREAS, the curriculum will replace the study of classic literature in favor of reading so-called ‘informational texts,’ such as government documents, court opinions, and technical manuals; and

WHEREAS, Common Core will require “Data Mining,” which is a huge invasion of an individual’s right to privacy. States who have adopted CC to continue being eligible for Obama’s “Race to the Top” federal funding will be obliged to implement a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) used to track students. They will track students by obtaining personally identifiable information, including such intimate details as the SS# of parents, mother’s maiden name, political affiliation or beliefs of the student and parents, mental and psychological problems of the child and family, sex behavior or attitudes, a history of personal behavior (including illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, and demeaning behavior), special relationships (with lawyers, physicians, ministers, etc), religious beliefs and affiliations, and income;  and

WHEREAS, Common Core changes the fundamental role of education – from teaching HOW to think and process information to WHAT to think. Common Core teaches for job placement. The emphasis that Common Core puts on “job placement” puts the focus of our education system primarily on the economy and not on the well-being of our children; and

WHEREASCommon Core will not only apply to all public schools, but it will affect charter schools, private schools, Christian schools and homeschooling as well. Recent statements from the College Board make clear that they are making the move to changing the SAT to reflect the CC as well (encouraged to accept only students who have an education based on CC). If the SAT is based on one curriculum, private school and home school curriculum may be forced to conform; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core standards are copyrighted by the NGA and CCSSO and therefore protected by intellectual property. Hence states are issued licenses to use them and forbidden, for the most part, from making any changes to them. In other words, Common Core, if fully enacted, will end the historical and legal rights of our communities to determine what our children are taught and how the material will be taught; and

WHEREAS, Common Core is being promoted as being “standards-based,” the truth is that educators have always had standards, guidelines, or benchmarks to guide curriculum? What is different all of sudden is that government is sliding towards a socialist agenda where it seeks a “one-size-fits-all” centralized scheme in regulating the lives of citizens; and

WHEREAS, the promoters of the CC standards claim they are based in research, the truth is that the creators were not researchers or educators or otherwise qualified to write the standards; and

WHEREAS, Common Core is an “untested” curriculum, which has not been field-tested anywhere, and which comes with a potential human price tag (requiring experimenting on our precious children), and which interferes with parental control and parental choice in the upbringing of their children; and

WHEREAS, our future depends on the next generation being able to solve the serious problems we face, and sub-standard government run education will only make things worse;

WHEREAS, Common Core comes with an enormous price tag (independent estimates put the cost at $14-16 billion over 7 years) yet that cost is not built in anywhere; and

WHEREAS, at its “core,” Common Core is essentially a social engineering experiment; and

WHEREAS, Common Core is a nationalized federal government takeover of our Education system which runs afoul of the Tenth Amendment, as education is a right reserved to the States.  The government certainly doesn’t have the power to create a one-size-fits-all take-over of education on all levels yet it uses its power of conditional spending to achieve the same purpose (an end-run around the Constitution). If the federal government has enough money to bribe the states to adopt its policies with taxpayer money, then the government is clearly overtaxing the American people. It should tax less and allow the states to tax more so at least the states can use its people’s money to serve their interests; and

WHEREAS, Common Core will force consistency and uniformity across the nation. As long as the States are bribed and coerced into adopting a national one-size-fits-all education scheme, then education in general will suffer severely because the states, as 50 independent laboratories of experimentation, will be precluded from trying to innovate and improve education and find solutions to the problems that plague our current education system (in other words, this imposed uniformity will stifle the innovation that federalism fosters).

Therefore, let it be –

RESOLVED, that the _______________________ (name of group) demands that the state Board of Education and our state legislators acknowledge and address the criticisms of the CC standards; and

RESOLVED, that the _______________________ (name of group) rejects thecollection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state, and

RESOLVED, that the _______________________ (name of group) emphatically urges NC state officials to repeal the numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools, and

RESOLVED, that the _______________________ (name of group) urges our Legislators to get further involved in the current debate over Common Core, to halt implementation of the standards while a state initiative is pursued to do due diligence and perhaps take an independent state-based approach to the improvement of our education system, and to eventually introduce legislation to remove this system permanently from our schools in North Carolina.

References:

1.  www.corestandards.org

2.  Federal Law 20 USC 1232a-Sec. 1232a. and The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Pub.L. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27, 20 US.C. ch. 70.  http://us-code.vlex.com/vid/prohibition-against-federal-control-19195093

3.  Diane Rufino, “‘Common Core or ‘Rotten to the Core’ – You Decide,” For Love of God and Country, May 11, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://www.forloveofgodandcountry.com

4.  Common Core Terms of Use – http://www.corestandards.org/terms-of-use