What Are We Doing To Our Children?

Fox News posted a story today about some of the lessons given to fourth grade students at Pasodale Elementary School in El Paso, Texas. One of the lessons cited was the story of a wife finding a strange hairclip under her bed with a different color hair in it than her hair. The second lesson deals with a mother learning about the death of her son. In the second lesson, the entire situation does not even accurately describe how the military brings the news to the family of a fallen hero. These are not age-appropriate subjects for fourth grade students.

The article reports:

Today on Your World, parenting expert Dr. Deb Gilboa said she was “shocked” by the material.

She said, “This teacher either didn’t read the assignment before handing it out, or had not enough life experience to realize that there’s no correct answer to these questions.”

Last year in Arizona, FoxNews.com reported that students at Playa Del Rey Elementary School were asked to read the same passages. In that instance, the teacher hadn’t read the assignment and immediately apologized.

Dr. Gilboa noted that kids already see messages they’re not old enough to comprehend, but parents shouldn’t have to worry about that coming from a school.

The article does not state this, but I strongly suspect that the material is part of the suggested lessons included in the Common Core.  There are a number of textbooks that have been written to be compatible with the Common Core curriculum. The best thing that could happen for American students would be for the Common Core curriculum to be thrown out and states be allowed to set their own standards. Hopefully the textbooks adopted after the demise of Common Core will not include the kind of fourth grade lessons shown above. These lessons should be categorized as child abuse.

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Learning About The Politics Of My New Home State

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have recently moved from Southeastern Massachusetts to Coastal North Carolina. Obviously the politics are a little different, and I am spending some of my time learning about some of the groups that share my political philosophy. (I’ll probably never get the language down, but the climate and politics I love!)

Today I had the privilege of sitting down with Hal James, Chairman of the Watchdog Committee of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). I asked Mr. James to list some of the current concerns of the Watchdog Committee.

Mr. James began by mentioning his concerns about the Common Core curriculum which is being introduced into North Carolina and other states around the nation.  He stated that the Common Core curriculum is a federal intrusion on education, and is thus unconstitutional (in violation of the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution). The Common Core curriculum is an attempt to influence the values of young people in a direction not consistent with the traditional values of America. The CCTA is currently working to make parents and voters aware of the things in the Common Core curriculum.

The general goal of the Watchdog Committee is the hold elected officials accountable to the people who elected them.  Members of the Watchdog Committee attend meetings of various city and county boards and legislative meetings. Their goal is to become informed so that they can share information that may not be included in the news in order to make voters more aware of what their government is doing. Watchdog Committee members study the county budget and read the audits. North Carolina law requires every governmental agency to have an independent audit of its books. Those audits are made public, and members of the CCTA Watchdog Committee read them.  Reading the audits will reveal such things as unfunded liabilities that might not be obvious in simply reading the budget.

We are currently entering into the budget process. Department heads in Craven County will be submitting budgets to the County Manager. After review by the County Manager, the budget will be submitted to the Board of Commissioners. There will be public meetings in the county during this process.

Mr. James pointed out that the Board of Commissioners has recently been studying the idea of privatization of home hospice care in Craven County. That move would be a cost cutting move for the county and would save taxpayers money.

Mr. James also pointed out that Carolina East Hospital, which is run by a private corporation, is built on county land. The hospital pays no rent (or taxes) for the use of the land. Originally this occurred because it assured the area of having a local hospital. As the area has grown, other hospitals have been built, and it is time to seek a new arrangement with Carolina East.

Mr. James also addressed the claim by the Board of Commissioners that they have reduced real estate taxes in the county two years in a row. It is true that real estate taxes have been reduced, but somehow they failed to mention that the reduction was about $10 on an average-size home.

If you are interested in learning more about the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, their website is www.cctaxpayers.com.  The organization is very welcoming and always willing to share the results of their research on various issues.

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A Very Interesting Afternoon

Yesterday afternoon I was privileged to attend a meeting between North Carolina Department of Public Instruction State Superintendent, Dr. June Atkinson, Karyn Dickerson, the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Jen Currin, the North Carolina Virtual Teacher of the Year, and some of the leadership of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss concerns about the Common Core standards for education that are coming to North Carolina. The meeting was very cordial, and both sides of the discussion were genuinely interested in providing the best possible education for children and young adults in the North Carolina schools.

There was, however, some very basic disagreement on the value of the Common Core standards and curriculum. One example of inaccurate teaching of history was found in Prentice Hall’s The American Experience, a textbook which has been aligned to the Common Core.

Townhall.com posted a story about this textbook, citing the chapter in the book about World War II:

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.

As the daughter of an Army veteran who landed on Utah Beach on D-Day, I am offended by this. As an American, I am offended by this.

I admire Dr. Atkinson’s desire to bring quality education to the children of North Carolina. I just feel that she has not examined the Common Core curriculum closely enough to realize that the Common Core curriculum will not give her the quality education for the students in North Carolina that she desires.

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What Are We Teaching Our Children About America?

The Examiner is reporting today on one of the lessons included in the sixth-grade class assignments of the Common Core curriculum.

The article reports:

The assignment made the assumption that the United States government has determined that the Bill of Rights “is outdated and may not remain in its current form any longer.”

The children were to assume the persona of “experts on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights” in their aim to ensure that “the pursuit of happiness remains guarded in the 21st century,” despite the fact that the phrase “pursuit of happiness” exists in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

There is nothing in the lesson that explains how the Constitution is amended, and the mother of the child said that the child did not think the word amended had been used in the lesson. Wouldn’t it be better to teach the children the value of the Bill of Rights, how unique it was for its time, and how unique America is because of the Bill of Rights? If we continue to undermine the respect our children have for America, we will raise a generation that will not understand or work to preserve our freedom.


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Exciting News For The Students Of Today

The Washington Post reported on December 7th that the new Common Core standards for Curriculum, which will be put in place in 46 states, will require that by graduation in 2014, 70 percent of all books studied have to be nonfiction.

The article reports:

Some suggested texts include “FedViews” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council.

Wow. Won’t that encourage our children to read.

The article further reports:

The people behind the core have sought to defend it, saying that this was not meant to supplant literature. This increased emphasis on nonfiction would not be a concern if the core worked the way it was supposed to, with teachers in other disciplines like math and science assigning the hard technical texts that went along with their subjects. But teachers worry that this will not happen. Principals seem to be having trouble comprehending the requirement themselves. Besides, the other teachers are too busy, well, teaching their subjects to inflict technical manuals on their students too, and  they may expect the English department to pick up the slack. And hence the great Purge of Literature.

What kind of children are we planning on raising? Anyone can order a government pamphlet and read it. There is no reason to waste time in high school reading how to insulate a house (unless you are training for construction). Reading literature helps students understand the challenges of those who have gone before them. It also (possibly) gives them an appreciation of the ease of the lives they live.

My favorite talk show host is Bill Bennett. I enjoy listening to him because he is the product of a Classical Catholic education. He talks as easily about Shakespeare as he does about recent events on Capitol Hill. His perspective is framed by his education in the classics of literature–not by what plants he can bring into California.

The Common Core Standards is one of the dumbest ideas to come along in  a long time. I hope teachers will reject it quickly so that the students can actually learn to appreciate literature.

NOTE: I posted a similar article on December 7th. I am posting this article because I think it contains more detail on what is actually planned.

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