Common Core. Rutgers and Condi Rice. Brandeis and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Smith College and Christine LaGarde. Glenn Beck, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie.
Amid all the swirling controversies over campus commencement speakers, seemingly in a separate corner of the political universe another controversy swirls over Common Core. In fact? They are the same controversy. Not to mention the battle for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. You could, in fact, call Common Core Obamacare for Education.
Let’s start with an appearance on the O’Reilly show the other night by Glenn Beck. Holding up an exercise on “Possessive Nouns” Beck read the problems a third grade grammar school student had to solve as a homework assignment. The exercise involved making “each sentence less wordy by replacing words with a possessive noun phrase.”
Possessive nouns. Simple and uncontroversial enough, yes? Here are the six sentences, the “wordy” sentence first and the grammatically correct version second, exactly as sequentially presented by Common Core.
1. The job of a president is not easy.
A president’s job is not easy.
2. The people of a nation do not always agree.
A nation’s people do not always agree.
3. The choices of the president affect everyone.
The president’s choices affect everyone.
4. He makes sure the laws of the country are fair.
He makes sure the country’s laws are fair.
5. The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.
Government officials’ commands must be obeyed by all.
6. The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation.
An individual’s wants are less important than the nation’s well-being.
So in the course of a simple exercise in grammar, third grade kids are being told, to quote again, that “Government official’s commands must be obeyed by all” and that “An individual’s wants are less important than the nation’s well-being.” As Beck then noted, Common Core “is about taking our kids and molding them into good little citizens, however the state wants those good little citizens.”
Another example of how this works is found in this Common Core story over at the Daily Caller. The headline:
Common Core MATH lesson plans attack Reagan, list Lincoln’s religion as ‘liberal’
The DC story says in part:
Math teachers using this lesson are supposed to begin by engaging their math students “in a discussion about the Presidents of the United States” including party affiliation.
The lesson plan then offers three websites for obtaining information about American presidents. The “recommended” site is a page entitled “Presidents” at the website Infoplease.com.
The page links to a biography of each president and provides some key facts about each president including their home states, their ages at inauguration and their religions.
Abraham Lincoln’s religion is listed as “Liberal.” (Infoplease.com changed this statement after The Daily Caller exposed the webpage.)
Any math student who surfs over to the Infoplease.com biography of Ronald Reagan is in for a treat. The page duly explains that Reagan’s “‘supply side’ economic program” of “tax cuts and sharp reductions in government spending” led to “the worst recession in 40 years” and a “constantly growing budget deficit.” The roaring economy and the huge plunge in both inflation and unemployment that ensued rate nary a mention.
The InfoPlease biography of Reagan recommended by Common Core to — say again, math students — begins:
Ronald Wilson Reagan rode to the presidency in 1980 on a tide of resurgent right-wing sentiment among an electorate longing for a distant, simpler era…. In the 1980 election battle against Jimmy Carter, Reagan broadened his appeal by espousing moderate policies, gaining much of his support from disaffected Democrats and blue-collar workers.
In other words, Reagan was elected because America suddenly wanted to go backwards to a “distant, simpler era” and to get elected the most famously conservative politician of the day began “espousing moderate policies” because, don’t you know, the country can’t elect a conservative unless they moderate themselves. Having, as they say, been there and done that in the Reagan White House, I have no recollection of the President looking sternly over his reading glasses and saying that “we’re going to take America back to a distant, simpler era, just like I promised in the campaign.”
Contrast this with the same site’s bio of Barack Obama.
After a historic and bruising 22-month long campaign, Sen. Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Nov. 4, 2008. He prevailed over Sen. John McCain in what was probably the most pivotal US election since World War II….
The bio goes on to refer to “the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison.”
While Reagan’s economic policies are presented as a failure, with, as the DC notes, Reagan’s “roaring economy and the huge plunge in both inflation and unemployment that ensued” rating “nary a mention” there is nothing similar in the Obama bio, which blandly notes that “the recovery from the 2008 recession had stalled with job growth continuing to come up short…” No word on this being the worst recovery of modern times is to be found, the 92 million Americans not working, the surge in Americans now dependent on food stamps and so on.
Take note of something else in that DC article. There are “Common Core aligned lessons” at a website called Illuminations, which is “an outfit created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and financially supported by the Verizon Foundation.” The NCTM, reports the DC with a sly humor, is “heavily focused on the newly mathematical concept of social justice.” Yes, that’s right, a trip to the website of this group of math teachers connected to Common Core reveals an obsession with the far left catechism of “social justice.”
Follow one of the 130 links to “social justice” at a site supposedly all about math and you come up with “mathematical” concepts like this about “social justice mathematics”:
Educators increasingly recognize the important role that mathematics teaching plays in helping students to understand and overcome social injustice and inequality.
So one of the major communications companies in America has joined together with the NCTM to push the leftist agenda of “social justice” on America’s kids — through Common Core.
Let’s go back to all these college commencement controversies. To Brandeis, which rejected Ayaan Hirsi Ali because “we cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” And one of those core values? Says Brandeis on its website: “The concern with social justice speaks to the core educational commitments of Brandeis.” What about Rutgers? Yes, the school whose faculty and students caused such a ruckus over former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Rice decided to withdraw also is big on teaching “social justice.” Like Brandeis, Rutgers wants its graduates to go forth into the world viewing social justice as an important value. Says the school in its description of “Social Justice 904”:
The social justice minor is designed to introduce students to the complexity of social justice issue, cultivate their capacity to identify key determinants of structural inequities, familiarize them with various social justice practices and strategies, and prepare them for advocacy and activism to address these pressing issues.
Last but not least here is Smith College. Which just did the same thing to International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde as Brandeis and Rutgers did to Hirsi Ali and Condi Rice. A fuss was raised that Lagarde was using the IMF for “the strengthening of imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.”
Smith, by the way, features “the Program for the Study of Women and Gender” that “requires inquiry into the construction and operation of power relations, social inequalities and resistances to them in both national and transnational contexts.”
Let’s go back to Common Core and Glenn Beck’s point on Common Core: Common Core, he said, is all about “control and conform.”
But how? How does one accomplish this?
The answer, and there’s no newsflash here, is that liberalism runs academia and the American Education Industrial Complex. There is no better example of “control and conform” than Brandeis, Rutgers, and Smith. Sheep-like, students at these three institutions are routinely and casually indoctrinated in the Ways of the Left. Social justice being but one. This has been going on for ages in academia.
The real reason Common Core is inducing such visceral reaction is because an increasing number of Americans see it as nationalizing leftist education. As the examples cited above illustrate, when the math teachers are focused on teaching “social justice mathematics” and the kids are sent to presidential biographies that paint Ronald Reagan as a crazed right-winger who only won the presidency because Americans wanted to go backwards to a “distant and simpler era” — but Barack Obama is lionized for “a historic and bruising 22-month long campaign” that would end the “infamous” Guantanamo prison for terrorists — this isn’t education. It’s indoctrination.
Which brings finally to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s insistent support for Common Core, and ditto that of New Jersey’s Chris Christie. Bush appeared in New York the other day and defended Common Core. Saying, among other things, that America must have a “wholesale transformation of our educational system.”
Well aside that this makes Bush sound like Obama — the President having campaigned on a platform to “transform” America. Bush is either uncaring or uncomprehending of the reality left-wing politics plays in the day-to-day of American education, a tie illustrated with Common Core, Verizon, and the left-leaning NCTM’s push for social justice mathematics. Bush gave a talk awhile back at the Excellence in Education’s 2013 National Summit on Education Reform in Boston. In which he derided opposition to Common Core as “conspiracy theories” and dismissed federalism in education as “the hodgepodge of dumbed-down state standards that have created mediocrity in our schools.” If ever there were a slam at the very concept of limited government, federalism and states as “laboratories of democracy,” that remark is it. The import of what Bush is saying is that the federal government knows best. And if liberals are indoctrinating kids through agenda-driven lessons on possessive nouns or social justice mathematics or slanted presidential bios, with the assistance of corporations like Verizon — hey, no big deal. The entire country should be indoctrinated like this, one kid at a time.
In fact, this kind of thing has been going since long before Common Core. How do you think all those kids at Brandeis, Rutgers, and Smith (not to mention their professors) came to think — in uniform — the way they do? There’s no “conspiracy” here. To suggest this as Bush does is another example of the Progressive Republican mimicking Obama, in this case with the use of a straw man that any sensible person knows is perfectly untrue if not silly. The heart of the issue here is about a left-wing educational culture that needs no prompting or secret meetings to teach social justice math or illustrate possessive nouns with sentences that laud the idea that “an individual’s wants are less important than the nation’s well-being” and that “government officials’ commands must be obeyed by all.”
By the time the Republican Party gets to 2016, candidates like Bush and Christie — Common Core supporters both — are going to have to explain to the party’s base just why it would be a good idea to do to education what Obamacare has done to health care.
It will be a pretty tough sell.