What Are We Teaching Our Children?

First of all, I would like to bring to your attention an article about a Dedham, Massachusetts, coach who was fired for

Second of all, The John Locke Foundation posted an article today about the new proposed social studies standards in North Carolina.

The article notes:

  • America’s public schools have a duty to ensure that they cultivate active, knowledgeable, and discerning citizens
  • Studies suggest that many citizens have a negligible understanding of history, economics, and government
  • The proposed social studies standards for North Carolina public schools fail to provide a framework for ensuring that children possess a satisfactory understanding of our social, political, and economic systems

The article continues:

The fact that any American, let alone a voting-age adult, cannot recall basic facts about the nation’s political system is an indictment of the institution responsible for educating them: public schools. Taxpayers assume that the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the American public school system will produce active, knowledgeable, and discerning citizens. And yet only 15% of eighth-grade students were deemed proficient on the 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) U.S. history test. Around one in four students scored at or above proficient on the NAEP civics and geography tests administered the same year.

In North Carolina, the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction are responsible for ensuring that our public schools produce high school graduates equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to be productive citizens. And those formative efforts primarily occur in public school social studies classes. So when state officials began their periodic review of state social studies standards in 2019, it was an opportunity to strengthen standards that had not been revised in a decade.

While teachers ultimately retain control of day-to-day instructional matters, state standards lay the foundation for what children will learn in the classroom. More importantly, they provide children a framework for helping them understand the ideals embodied in the American experiment.

Unfortunately, members of the State Board of Education railroaded the social studies standards adoption process last year, asking Department of Public Instruction staff to infuse the standards with language that reflected their left-wing ideology. The tone of the standards was changed dramatically. The previous version tried to strike a balance between competing visions of the nation. It highlighted groups’ struggles without abandoning the hope that those struggles could become exceptions in our history and not the rule. Critically, the new version of the standards sought to convey one vision, clumsily placing race, class, and gender conflicts at the center of the story at the expense of seeking to ensure children possess a satisfactory understanding of our social, political, and economic systems.

Some members of the State Board of Education have disagreed with these changes. Dr. Olivia Oxendine, Amy White, Todd Chasteen, and most recently Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson have been the most outspoken opponents of the revised standards. Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt identified critical shortcomings in the standards and requested additional time to review them. To accommodate her request, the State Board of Education called a special meeting on January 27, a week before the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Truitt proposed three revisions to the social studies standards and a plan for developing additional resources to support implementation. The word “systemic” would be removed from the terms “systemic racism” and “systemic discrimination.” In addition, the term “gender identity” would be changed to “identity.” Supporting documents developed over the next seven months would include a glossary and other resources for social studies teachers.

The article concludes:

North Carolina needs social studies standards focused on civic literacy and dedicated to providing students a balanced perspective of American history. A balanced view does not attempt to conceal the nation’s mistakes. Instead, it gives equal weight to failures and successes. It identifies errors and facts. It affirms our ideals, even as we work to create a society that honors them.

This perspective is shared by the 26,000+ North Carolinians who have signed Robinson’s petition opposing the draft under consideration. The State Board of Education should delay their scheduled vote on their standards this week to consider the concerns of the thousands of citizens who signed the petition and countless others who corresponded directly with the board members.

The consensus of America’s founders is that a free nation requires an informed citizenry. As James Madison declared, “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” Given that our schools have abandoned the advancement and diffusion of knowledge in favor of leftist indoctrination, it’s remarkable that we have any liberty left.

Even if you don’t have children in school, the decisions made regarding this program will impact your life. America and its freedom will not be defended by those who have no understanding of it.

North Carolina Parents And Grandparents Continue To Fight Common Core

Breitbart.com posted an article yesterday about a grassroots group in North Carolina called the North Carolina Academic Freedom Alliance. The group was formed to fight Common Core standards in North Carolina and to suggest the North Carolina Plan as an alternative to the government and big business controlled standards of Common Core.

The article reports:

According to team leader Jerry Egolf of the North Carolina Academic Freedom Alliance, the North Carolina Plan is a set of academic standards that were “chosen from the very best alternatives to Common Core, exceeding those standards by significant measures and having been proven by testing results.”

Egolf informed Breitbart News that he and math standards lead Kathy Young and English Language Arts (ELA) lead Linda Harper developed the Plan over the past five years to meet “critical thinking standards.”

Their research involved reviewing some 3,000 pages of standards to find the “best of the best.” The final product consists of a remodeling of the Minnesota math standards and the 2001 Massachusetts ELA standards.

The article further reports:

“Best of all, the North Carolina Plan is a grassroots development effort that comes at no cost to the schools of our state,” Egolf said. “Other grassroots organizations are welcome to examine our Plan and see if it might fit their needs.”

Egolf admits the North Carolina Plan will need the help of the General Assembly, and notes the opposition “has a lot of money to throw at stopping us.”

The Plan, however, debuted on March 7 at a forum sponsored by the North Carolina Academic Freedom Alliance in New Bern. The event, titled “An Educational Forum for the Replacement of Common Core,” was attended by Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, and the John Locke Foundation.

The North Carolina Plan would be the best option for education in North Carolina. The problems with Common Core are too numerous to list here, but they include intrusive information gathering on students and their families, extensive testing that stresses out our children and does not accomplish anything, and material that is not age appropriate for the children. The North Carolina Plan does not have any of these problems and will encourage students to practice critical thinking after they graduate from school, making them more informed and more productive citizens.

Sometimes The Solution Is Worse Than The Problem

In November of this year, North Carolina voters will be asked to vote on an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would allow a person to forgo their right to a Superior Court trial by jury. At first glace this sounds like a great idea–it would help loosen the log jam that is in our courts and it would keep the flow of cases in our court system moving quickly. But what would it do to the rights of North Carolina residents?

The Sun Journal posted an article about this amendment on March 23. The article pointed out that State Representative Michael Speciale, R-Craven, was the only member of the North Carolina House of Representatives to vote against putting this on the ballot.

The article lists some of Representative Speciale’s reasons for his vote:

The question on the ballot, for which voters will pick “yes” or “no,” will read: “Constitutional amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the state is not seeking a sentence of death in Superior Court may, in writing or on the record in court and with the consent of the trial judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.”

He said “The title of the bill SB399 is ‘An act to amend the constitution to provide that a person accused of any criminal offense in Superior Court for which the state is not seeking a sentence of death may waive the right to trial by jury and instead be tried by a judge.’”

…Speciale said, “The government is already taking our rights away; the last thing we need to do is give them up willingly. There is nothing good about it for the American citizen. A person could be coerced into signing by being held in nastier circumstances or being told that ‘if you don’t sign, a jury is going to convict you and send you a way for a long time.’”

He added: “This was one of the last bills passed in a flurry of bills and I’ve talked to people at a couple of organizations — Civitas and John Locke Foundation — who weren’t aware of it. They are looking at it and will get back to me. I just want to get word out that this is coming.”

What are the unintended consequences of passing this bill? Unfortunately this bill will result in a two-tiered justice system. Most of us ordinary citizens do not have an in-depth understanding of how our justice system works (I include myself in that category). Most of us do not have a high-powered lawyer that we can call if we are ever accused of a serious crime–we would have to rely on a public defender. Chances are that the public defender would ask us to waive our right to a jury trial–it would help with the overload of court cases and it would help with his workload. It is also quite possible that we might be under pressure from the court to waive the right to a jury trial. If we were in a high income bracket, we would have a different story–our high-powered lawyer would take us to trial and probably win the case. So what this bill will actually do is create a quickie justice system for the average American that may or may not be fair and a more precise justice system for the wealthier than average American. That is absolutely not what America is about.

Please keep your eyes open for more about SB399. I suspect that as we near the November election more information about this amendment will come out and people will begin to see the problems with it. Meanwhile, Michael Speciale will be making the rounds to do his part in informing the voters of North Carolina what this amendment would mean to all of us.

Enhanced by Zemanta