I am a high school English teacher. I became a teacher because I believe that literacy, which goes beyond just reading the words on the page, is an absolute necessity for maintaining our Republic. Proof of that is found in the many laws against reading certain texts, or against reading altogether, that have been passed down by every tyrant since literacy became available to the general population. A few examples of such tyrannical laws are the Taliban banning reading for any female or laws against teaching slaves to read or the Soviet Union’s banning of such books as A Wrinkle in Time, Where’s Waldo, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The communist Khmer Rogue in Cambodia so hated literacy that just wearing glasses was cause for execution. Literacy leads to freedom and tyrants know it.
I have been teaching for over twenty years. Generally, I have been given either no curriculum or curriculum that was focused on skills, not specific texts. I would have to get those skills taught in whatever way I wanted to get there. Sometimes I was given more direction and that direction was generally pretty good including texts, key terms, supplemental stories, and suggested writing assignments. These directions were created at a school level by the teachers in the school. I helped write some myself. Mostly, I have had a lot of freedom in how I could achieve the learning goals.
Today I was in a professional development session for my school district. Our school system has swallowed the Common Core curriculum whole. Why wouldn’t they? The federal system has said that it is “voluntary”, but “voluntary” means that the district gets cut off from major federal funding if it does not adopt the standards, so “voluntary” is subjective. Here is what the Washington Post reported Sen. Charles Grassley has to say about Common Core:
Current federal law makes clear that the U.S. Department of Education may not be involved in setting specific content standards or determining the content of state assessments. Nevertheless, the selection criteria designed by the U.S. Department of Education for the Race to the Top Program provided that for a state to have any chance to compete for funding, it must commit to adopting a “common set of K-12 standards” matching the description of the Common Core.
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