So far, the 2012-13 school year looks like a banner year for controversy. Stories keep surfacing about all manner of what would appear to be instructional misconduct.
The Texas CSCOPE "curriculum management" system came under another of many attacks when a Lumberton High School teacher had the girls wearing burqas as part of a lesson on Islam. In economics, it portrayed capitalism as a lower, self-centered step to the highest ideal, communism. A civics unit equated conservatism with fascism and Nazism.
In April, several other stories broke. Parents in Williamson County, Tenn., found a section in an Advanced Placement high school class that seemed to put acts of terrorism against Jewish youth on a level comparable to Jewish military actions against Palestinians. A fourth-grader in Jacksonville, Fla., came home with a sentence written in crayon saying that he was willing to give up constitutional rights for the sake of safety. An eighth-grade class in Racine, Wis., was given a vocabulary crossword that defined conservatism as "restricting personal freedoms" but liberalism as supporting "equality and personal freedom."
All of these stories demonstrate genuinely serious problems in those school districts, but not with teachers as much as with what and how teachers were expected to teach. American education, and therefore American families, face a much more dangerous threat than bad teachers or local education bureaucracies. A powerful and aggressive campaign for federal control of subject matter and teaching practices is in full conquest mode.
For generations, since John Dewey, the crusade by progressives to use children for social change has continued almost unchallenged. It is only natural that as educators and parents were wooed into accepting the classroom as a child-molding partner with family, the tentacles of experts and politicians would sink deeper into our kids. Delivering society's utopian dream to its supposed destiny through book bags and tennis shoes became a mission.
The next logical outcome of this quiet revolution was initiated in 2009 with the establishment of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiative. The initiative to regiment curriculum nationally was formed by governors and public school administrators. In defiance of three federal laws, it was partially funded through the Department of Education using legal loopholes. It was rolled out with little research to back it up or public input to vet it.
Right now 10 states including Michigan have begun to re-examine their involvement. Under CCSS, local and state control of our classrooms will be a thing of the past. It has been estimated that this sacrifice of yet another freedom will cost families approximately $16 billion. On top of that, experts who have been able to study the standards say that CCSS's lower standards will deaden innovation.
There is no better time than now for parents to get serious about what is happening to their children in the classroom. It is of utmost importance that we begin to hold questionable teaching tactics and the educational enterprise itself to task. Parents (and grandparents), it is your problem.