November 4, 2011

The war on education (and reading): David Coleman's common core of nonsense

Susan Ohanion, Daily Censored - Common Core Curriculum Standards entrepreneur David Coleman is barnstorming the country claiming that schools need to deemphasize fiction and obliterate any semblance of reader response. No feelings, no imaginations, no speculations: Just the facts, kid.

What children need, asserts Coleman, is a close reading of “informational text.” That’s what he calls non-fiction. No opinion, no flights of fancy. No creation of new worlds. The teacher’s job is to make sure kids stick just to the text. Informational text, pronounces Coleman, is what will give students the world knowledge necessary to compete as workers in the Global Economy...

Coleman insists that informational text is what gives readers “world knowledge.”

Susan Ohanian, Substance News - “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.” Thus, Common Core Standards architect David Coleman delivered [1] the core pedagogy of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to educators gathered at the New York State Department of Education in April 2011. Listen to a few more of Coleman’s proclamations and you have to ask yourself if this is a man of deep experience and rectitude or just a cuckoo bird let loose on a hapless bunch of educrats who don’t know how to voice dissent. Coleman was on stage one hour 59 minutes in Chancellor’s Hall decreeing the new reality of teaching in public schools across America. No one in the audience challenged his bizarre declarations.

Coleman is billed as “a leading author and architect of the CCSS, and our professional organizations have already caved in on the Common Core — without a shot being fired. As premier standards entrepreneur, Coleman is a busy man, having already co-written the Common Core State Curriculum Standards and the Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literac.

Coleman insists that teachers must train students to be workers in the Global Economy. In his words, “It is rare in a working environment that someone says, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.” Translation to the classroom: No more primary grade essays about lost teeth or middle school essays about prepubescent angst. Instead, students must provide critical analysis of the “Allegory of the Cave” from Plato’s Republic, listed as an “exemplary informational text” in the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts. If that’s judged as over the top for 12-year-olds, there’s always Ronald Reagan’s 1988 “Address to Students at Moscow State University.”

As though literacy is to prepare children only for a working environment. And as though personal opinion isn’t vital in a working environment.

Coleman is on a mission to slash both the amount of personal narrative in writing and the amount of fiction in reading. This is based not on any experience teaching –except at the University of London–but because, he insists, readers gain “world knowledge” through nonfiction, which he calls “informational text.”

Standardisto David Coleman doesn't give a shit about what children have long enjoyed about reading fiction and poetry, since he wants to make schools a boot camp for the global economy via the "Common Core Standards" he is helping the U.S. Department of Education push like crack cocaine across the USA. Ironically, schools like Sidwell Friends in Washington, D.C. (where the children of Barack Obama go to school) and the University of Chicago Lab School (where the children of former White House Chief of Staff and now Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel go to school) reject straight jackets like the "Common Core" and promote the reading of children, young adult, and real literature .Skeptics who might doubt that replacing Brown Bear, Brown Bear with a Wikipedia entry on Ursus arctos will stave off our nation’s economic woes might wonder: Why, if fiction is no more vital than leftover turnips, is there a Nobel Prize in Literature and not in lawyers’ briefs or material from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Web site (listed as a Common Core exemplary text)?...

The Common Core State Standards exist because the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wanted them. To help their aide-de-camps, the president and the U. S. Secretary of Education, pretend that these are state and not national standards, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sent buckets of money to the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers to act as sponsors. More tons of money to the National PTA to spread the good word and so on. As I revealed in an article in Extra![ix] very few media have pointed to the money source. Of course very few media even bother to mention anything about the Common Core...

With David Coleman as their spokesman out on the stump, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the U. S. Department of Education, acting in concert with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, prescribe a very pale, sickly shade of green future for our vibrant and deliciously messy classrooms. Certainly, Lobel’s moral, Without a doubt, there is such a thing as too much order, applies even more to the classroom than it does to wallpaper. And letting our corporate school reformers steamroll our schools into a neat and tidy standardized product puts our children in great peril.

2 comments:

Kevin Carson said...

If nobody else gives a shit about what I think, that means I should pay all the more attention to what I think. Anyone who thinks the only important thing in life is to find out what people in authority want so they can program themselves to do it is a despicable fucking Nazi.

Did Coleman ever stop to think that, if it weren't for the publik skools obsequiously processing "human resources" to order for giant corporate employers, maybe the balance of power would be just a little more even when it came to negotiations between employers and would-be employees on the terms of the relationship?

Kevin Carson said...

P.S. If--as Coleman admits--those in charge of the workplace don't give a shit about us, then defining the mission of the state school system in terms of shaping human personalities and characters to suit the needs of employers who view them as disposable production inputs like coal is morally equivalent to loading people on boxcars to Auschwitz.

Reminds me of that Reba McIntyre song about the poor woman who dresses her daughter up all nice and then coaches her on how to please the men she pimps her out to.

God damn Coleman and Bill and Melinda Gates to hell.