Do you know that WYPR receives much of its funding from corporations and corporate foundations that are pushing public school privatization? Is it in the public interest when most US citizens do not want their schools as businesses?
Did you know that KIPP is a national chain charter business that uses the designation of 'public' school to garner public funding while being allowed to hide details of its business model and student demographics and achievements? I spoke with a WYPR Board member that invested in this business. Do you know that across the country KIPP is being found to skew data and are found to do no better than public schools in performance when actual data is reviewed?
This policy of tying a business charter to a public university simply tries to legitamize what we all know is bad education policy and it feeds the profits of a charter business heavily invested here in Balt. The American people have overwhelmingly said NO to school privatization so we want Hopkins and school privatizers like O'Malley/Rawlings-Blake to stop building charter structures!
What is happening are these charter businesses are selecting students that are higher performing and these charters are selectively receiving increased private donations making them better resourced in the short term with the idea that these charter businesses that look good with skewed data will replace public schools! MARYLAND LEADS IN THIS PUSH WITH JOHNS HOPKINS AND O'MALLEY AT THE HELM!
North Baltimore Guy...as a lifelong educator working nationallty against this reform I know the goal of this reform and it has nothing to do with providing quality education to the poor and students with special needs. It only has to do with creating a pipeline to vocational training for most US students that are tied to business interests and will leave most people with tracking into poverty jobs. The poor need the schools in their own neighborhoods funded and resourced with teachers and aides in the classroom ......period. Baltimore allowed the school system to decay for these few decades of white flight and we do not want this movement to rebuild the city to have neighborhoods lose their schools and parents having to bus their children to these selectively funded charters. It is dismantling the entire system of public schools equally resourced .....which is the point.
When you put Lipstick on a Pig you make all kinds of policy that circumvents public scrutiny. Any public school would be doing what KIPP is doing if they could select their students and allow private donations to boost resources. I never want to say that all charters are bad because some do good things. What I am saying is that the goal of this charter policy is bad because it is market-based and intends to take away public ability to control their own community schools!
A chant resembling a rally at a college stadium rang from a first-grade classroom at the Baltimore charter school KIPP Harmony Academy. "M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D," the children sang, pumping their fists. "Maryland will win!"
Unique partnership builds college pipeline for Baltimore students College Park joins network of colleges to sign on to recruit KIPP charter students
A chant resembling a rally at a college stadium rang from a first-grade classroom at the Baltimore charter school KIPP Harmony Academy. "M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D," the children sang, pumping their fists. "Maryland will win!"
Sound like Chinese students and their nationalistic chants! Absolutely!
This week's activity helped introduce the 5- and 6-year-olds to a new school year at KIPP, where conversations about "climbing the mountain to college" begin in kindergarten and classrooms take on the identity of colleges and universities that children can aspire to attend.
For the dozens of students in the designated University of Maryland classroom, where red and black don the walls and pencil holders are labeled "Comcast Center" and "Tydings Hall," the exercise could become a glimpse of the future under a unique partnership announced Thursday.
The University of Maryland, College Park is the latest to enter a formal agreement with the national Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter-school network, committing to actively recruit qualified alumni from KIPP's Baltimore and Washington programs and provide them with academic, financial and social support.
Maryland is the 39th higher education institution — and the first in the state — to join a growing list of college and universities, including Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania, in partnering with the high-profile charter-school organization. For 18 years, KIPP has worked to carve paths to college for poor and minority students across the country.
"We highly value having a diverse student population on our campus, and this meets our own goals and priorities," said Donna Hamilton, Maryland's associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies. "In order to have a strong program, you need to find talent from everywhere. And wherever we can find highly talented, high-achieving students, we want them to come to Maryland."
Under the agreement, Maryland would pursue eight to 12 students per year and help address their full financial need by helping them tap various funding sources, including scholarships. The university also committed to providing social resources, mentoring and other support KIPP students may need.
The promise of the pact already is resonating with Baltimore students and their parents.
Latasha Lee, whose first-grader is in the Maryland classroom, said her son can now aspire to attend Maryland for reasons besides liking the turtle mascot.
"He feels like he has a destined place to go after his regular schooling, a place that wants him," Lee said.
And just two weeks before fall semester classes start at Maryland, Jasmine Drummond still is wrapping her mind around the fact that she will be attending College Park.
She is one of two KIPP Baltimore students who received a full scholarship to Maryland under the new partnership this year.
Two years ago, Drummond was hauling her belongings with her to school, unsure where she and her family were sleeping at day’s end.
"It's something that you don't get over," said Drummond, beaming one recent day in Maryland's McKeldin Library. "I wake up every day and say, 'Wow, I'm going to college for free.' And it’s mindblowing, every day."
KIPP educates about 1,200 students on its Northwest Baltimore campus. KIPP Harmony serves kindergarten through fourth grade; KIPP Ujima Village Academy serves grades five through eight.
There is no KIPP high school in the city, but under its model, a counselor is assigned to students throughout their educational careers. The university agreement applies to all students who matriculated from KIPP schools.
Through the pact, Maryland admitted Drummond and her classmate Nebreyia Scott to its Incentive Awards Program, which specifically supports students from challenging backgrounds. The program and a $250,000 donation from Chuck Daggs, a KIPP board member and Maryland alumnus, secured the girls' tuitions, meals, books and housing for the next four years.
"This opportunity is so valuable because most people consider your intelligence, your athletic ability, but sometimes it seems like no one considers your struggle," Drummond said. "It's a blessing."
Scott said she believes it's no coincidence that the next phase of her life is linked to KIPP.
Charter School Philanthropy Revisited
by Ken Hirsh, at 3:49 pm
Overall, the total amount of philanthropic contributions for the 58 schools was $25,511,490. The total enrollment was 17,680. This comes out to a per pupil calculation of $1,443 (as compared to $1,175 for my 990-based 2006-07 calculation). The average school philanthropy per pupil was $1,654 (as compared to $1,366). The median school was $1,081 (as compared to $697).
July 15, 2013
A new round of segregation plays out in charter schools By Sarah Butrymowicz
This story also appeared at: Hechingers
He also finds that the certainty with which the report attributes the effect of KIPP on higher-order reasoning skills is not borne out by evidence – and that that topic “requires additional empirical work to provide greater clarity.”
Contact: William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058, firstname.lastname@example.org Gregory Camilli, (303) 492 8391, email@example.com
This is great,.....as the education privatizers try to make it look like charters and choice are helping with civil rights we all know here in Baltimore it is all about making a market for profit!
Key flaw in market-based school reform: a misunderstanding of the civil rights struggle
By Valerie Strauss, Published: August 5 at 4:00 am
There is a timely new book out with a succinct title that pretty much says it all: “Public Education Under Siege,” edited by University of Pennsylvania historian Michael B. Katz and UCLA education scholar Mike Rose. The book is divided into three parts: the first about the problems with technocratic educational reform; the second about the intersection of education, race, and poverty; and the third, alternatives of modern school reform. It’s worth your time.
Here is a version of one of the book’s essays, by Janelle Scott, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education and African American Studies Department at the University of California at Berkeley.
By Janelle Scott
For at least two decades, conservatives have argued that school choice was the last unachieved civil right. In 2010, some powerful moderate voices echoed their view and invoked the name of Rosa Parks to support it. At an early screening of the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” which claims charters are the solution for the persistent failure of urban public schools, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that the film signaled a “Rosa Parks moment” that would initiate a new movement for school choice.
Other adherents—philanthropists, policy advocates, and leading pundits— have echoed Duncan’s association of Rosa Parks and the broader Civil Rights Movement with market-based school choice. In so doing, they have reduced the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott to a single act by one brave woman. In fact, that pivotal event was the work of thousands of African Americans and their supporters who struggled for nearly thirteen months to desegregate public transportation in Alabama’s capital after Parks’s refusal to give up her seat to a white customer. In addition, Parks and many of her fellow activists engaged in intensive preparation at the Highlander Center to be ready to risk their lives in acts of civil disobedience. Moreover, the concerns of these civil rights activists extended far beyond transportation; they were fighting to end America’s version of apartheid and achieve the full rights of citizenship. As the movement grew, it also advocated the end of poverty and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam.
This misunderstanding of the history of the civil rights struggle reveals one of the key flaws in the push for market-based educational solutions. The top-down, managerial, approaches pursued by leading school reformers ignores the vital, grassroots efforts underway in low-income communities, many of which directly challenge the market approach to schools that embraces competition, choice without equity provisions, and privatization. These local activists are deeply concerned with a range of problems that prevent public schools from giving poor and working-class children a good education: rampant unemployment, the lack of affordable housing, environmental degradation, and a flawed immigration policy. They want the state to distribute equitable and sufficient resources across communities, not simply to individual schools and parents. And they worry that choice stands to further stratify communities by race and poverty. These issues are especially being articulated in the wake of mass school closings and teacher terminations in cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia.
* * *
Advocates for market-based reforms are disconnected from such grassroots concerns. In searching for spokespeople—exemplars of struggling parents and students to represent the need for market-based reform--they neglect the vibrant efforts of those working for educational equity for entire communities.
A good example of inequity concerns the huge gap between funding for urban and suburban school districts. In 2011, a broad swath of entrepreneurial school reformers, pundits, and even some from the civil rights community compared two African American women—Kelley Williams-Bolar from Akron, Ohio, and Tanya McDowell from Norwalk, Connecticut—to Rosa Parks after they were arrested for falsifying their address so their children might gain access to schools with more resources outside their urban neighborhoods. Comparisons to Parks were widespread—a Google search of “Williams-Bolar Rosa Parks” yields over twelve thousand results. For example, in a February 2011 post, Kyle Olson, a blogger for “Big Government,” appealed to education reformers to take advantage of the “human face” Williams-Bolar had provided to advocate for an expression of school choice. His post juxtaposed the classic photograph of Parks being fingerprinted by Montgomery police officers with Williams-Bolar being handcuffed in Akron.
Olson and his fellow market advocates might have thought to ask Williams-Bolar how she saw herself, and why, if charter schools were the salvation, she had bypassed the six community schools (as charters are known in Ohio) operating in Akron. While she acknowledged that the Copely-Fairlawn school district—the suburban district she had sought out—had higher performing schools, she wanted to send her daughters there so that they could go to their grandfather’s home nearby after school while she had to be at work. The girls were too young to be at home alone. In fact, on February 3, 2011, she told the Akron Beacon Journal in an article entitled, “Center to File Mother’s Appeal:”
I’m not perfect and I’m not a Rosa Parks. I’m just a mom looking out for her kids.
Although better schooling was one issue for Williams-Bolar, safety and security for her daughters, given her need to work and support them, was a key motivation for her breaking the law. For her and many who seek safer, better schools, there is no real choice.
* * *
The problem in part lies in the rigid boundaries decreed by courts, beginning in the 1970s, which effectively exempted suburban schools from the requirement to take part in metropolitan desegregation plans. With suburban schools off-limits, school choice largely operates inside urban school districts, and market advocates who decried Williams-Bolar’s treatment did not call for a movement to eradicate district attendance boundaries. Some choice plans, such as magnet schools, mean to facilitate desegregation on a voluntary basis and do, on the whole, promote integration. Others, such as charter schools and vouchers, offer few ways to promote equality of opportunity beyond individual parental empowerment. Many urban parents do avail themselves of these latter options. But this amounts to choosing between problematic traditional public schools and alternatives they have had little role in shaping; they may be participating in an individual moment of empowerment, but their choice making is not part of a broader movement for equality of opportunity for all students.
Contemporary school reformers have not helped matters by undercutting democratic processes. Most favor abolishing elected school boards and local school councils. Yet, the latter were hard won by community control activists frustrated by earlier eras of school reform featuring centralized, managerial leadership dominated by white men inattentive to the needs of poor students and students of color. Both Chicago and New York City recently did away with their elected boards of education and put mayors in charge of their schools. In many cities, private organizations have been given the power to set up and expand charter schools.
And the making of urban educational policy is shaped by unprecedented amounts of private money. For example, under Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools, several foundations, including the Walton Family Foundation and the Robertson Foundation, pledged millions of dollars to underwrite school reform, money contingent on implementation of the reforms. This practice, increasingly common in cash-starved school districts, stands to distort the policy process and limit the influence of local community movements that have long fought for voice and control under more traditional school governance forms.
Because most elite reformers are disconnected from local struggles, they do not engage the issue of socioeconomic and racial inequality, even as the United States is experiencing the most profound wealth gap since the 1920s. Parents cannot be solely focused on securing better schools for their children as long as so many are unemployed or underemployed and have neither safe nor affordable housing or access to health care.
Civil rights organizations such as the NAACP have long opposed market-based educational policies that do nothing to address racial segregation and class stratification in minority communities. This stance brings them into coalition with teachers’ unions, which are portrayed as the prime villains in the accounts of school reformers. But, in fact, teachers’ unions—often with African American members in the lead—have consistently supported lawsuits to desegregate schools and bring about fiscal equity between urban and suburban districts.
* * *
Grassroots activists have also opposed the larger attempt to put private agencies in charge of setting up and managing schools. For at least a decade, organizers across the country have fought against school privatization in San Francisco, New York City, Philadelphia, and other cities. Charter schools managed by charter management organizations have expanded in New York City, bypassing the need for parents in existing schools to vote for conversion by starting new schools altogether. These schools have expended significant resources to market themselves to parents, and, indeed, many of them have been in high demand from parents given the deplorable state of many local schools. Yet opposition also exists. More recently, organizers have pushed back against the growth of charter schools in Harlem and the privatization and state takeover of schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Not surprisingly, market reformers have been highly critical of these opposition efforts. For example, Dennis Walcott, chancellor of New York City schools, accused the NAACP and teachers’ union of playing the “race card” when, in June 2011, they filed suit to stop charter schools from taking up space in existing schools. Walcott and his supporters dismissed the overcrowding and inequitable distribution of scarce resources by accusing his critics of racial manipulation.
Yet such detractors, who would otherwise lend their support solely to the expansion of market-based schooling options, miss a vital opportunity to collaborate with organizations that are seeking to increase educational opportunity for all students. Groups like Rethinking Schools, as well as other organizations such as the Education Opportunity Network, Parents Across America, Class Size Matters, New York Collective of Radical Educators, Forum for Education and Democracy, Coalition for Essential Schools, and A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education are examples of organizations advocating for an alternative vision of good public education. These organizations promote public schools that are open, nested in communities, have excellent teachers and school leaders, and are well resourced, diverse, and democratic. Despite a lack of funding and political support, they have the potential to reorient current efforts toward more democratic, high-quality, and representative public education. Their task is to build networks that bridge communities, as the civil rights movement did decades ago.
* * *
The current generation of school reformers is motivated by good intentions, and they are no doubt sincere in their stated desire to emulate the goals and heroes of the Civil Rights movement. And there do exist high-quality and equity-minded charter schools that resist market framing of their schools and students. But tensions persist over the advocacy of school choice as the prevailing civil rights issue when its focus is frequently on individual parental empowerment. We see this focus in the attempt to make “National School Choice Week,” first launched January 2011, an event in which parent and student stories of struggle and triumph in relation to market policies are featured in national and local news media. The message is that individual rights equate a mass movement. It is clear that leading school reformers seem to largely view the great civil rights struggle as the work of atomized individuals and consistently denigrate contemporary activists whose ideas of how fix urban schools clash with their own.
Certainly, the liberty and dignity of each individual were key tenets of the civil rights movement. But freedom activists kept their eyes on the prize of benefits for entire communities and worked to democratize schools and other institutions so they would not continue to be ruled by those who already enjoyed the privileges of wealth and a place at or near the top of the racial hierarchy. Today, when the economic crisis has eroded the gains of the black and Latino middle classes and deepened the poverty of other Americans of color, and when the Supreme Court recently vacated a key provision of the seminal Voting Rights Act, school reformers continue to insist that poverty, disenfranchisement, and unemployment are “no excuse” for not performing well on standardized tests and deride critics of the privatizing and segregating effects of some choice policies as being defenders of an unequal status quo. In fact, these market critics seek a much more equitable schooling system that would disrupt what Jonathon Kozol famously termed, in the title of his popular 1991 book, “Savage Inequalities.”
Can we imagine Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Ella Baker, or Rosa Parks marching on Washington to secure the right for parents to compete in lotteries for spaces in free-market schools? Rather than these figures, the managers of such reforms in fact seem to be emulating another iconic cultural figure: Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning libertarian economist whose 1962 best-selling book was entitled “Free to Choose.”
Cuomo and O'Malley are both allowed to run for President as neo-liberals because of their slavish commitment to handing all that is public over to Wall Street interests!
THIS EDUCATION REFORM IS NOTHING BUT POLICY TO CREATE A MARKET FOR EDUCATION BUSINESSES....WE ALL KNOW HOW STRONG EDUCATION WAS IN THE 1950-1970S WHEN SIMPLE CLASSROOMS WITH RIGOR AND RESOURCES GRADUATED PEOPLE WHO BECAME INDUSTRY LEADERS!
Alan Singer Social studies educator, Hofstra University
Cuomo, Common Core and Pearson-for-Profit
Posted: 02/28/2012 4:19 pm It will probably take more than a billion dollars in the bank to run for President of the United States in 2016. It looks like New York State Governor is already lining up corporate support. My concern is that he will sell out the education of New York State's children to for-profit companies, particularly Pearson, to position himself for the run.
Pearson is one of the most aggressive companies seeking to profit from what they and others euphemistically call educational reform, but which teachers from groups like Rethinking Schools and FairTest see as an effort to sell, sell, sell substandard remedial education programs seamlessly aligned with the high stakes standardized tests for students and teacher assessments they are also selling. Pearson reported revenues of approximately $9 billion in 2010 and generated approximately $3 billion on just digital revenues in 2011.
If it has its way, Pearson will soon be determining what gets taught in schools across the United States with little or no parental or educational oversight. Pearson standardized exams will assess how well teachers implement Pearson instruction modules and Pearson's common core standards, but not what students really learn or whether students are actually learning things that are important to know. Pearson is already creating teacher certification exams for eighteen states including New York, organizing staff development workshops to promote Pearson products, and providing school district Pearson assessment tools. In New York, Pearson Education currently has a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state test and provides other "testing services" to the State Education Department. It also recently received a share of a federal Race to the Top grant to create what the company calls the "next-generation" of online assessments.
Pearson, which claims to be the "world's leading learning company," is in the process of designing mind-numbing "multimedia textbooks... designed for pre-schoolers, school students and learners of all ages" for use on Apple's iPad so school systems will have more products to purchase instead of investing in quality teaching and instruction. In case you are not already worried about children seating dazed in front of computer screens for hours on end, Pearson promises its "respected learning content" will be "brought to life with video, audio, assessment, interactive images and 3D animations."
According to the New York Times, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is "investigating whether the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of one of the nation's largest educational publishers, acted improperly to influence state education officials by paying for overseas trips and other perks." Imagine....an Attorney General actually working in the public interest.....Since 2008, state education officials have been treated to trips to London, Helsinki, Finland, Singapore, and Rio de Janeiro.
From February 9-11, Pearson organized a National Summit in Orlando, Florida to promote its concept of "Best Practices in School Improvement" and to sell its programs for integrating Common Core State Standards into curriculum, instruction and assessment. These include providing "struggling and successful schools alike with professional development and consultative services that have helped their leaders transform instruction in the classroom and raise students' achievement levels." The company brags that senior America's Choice fellows Sally Hampton and Phil Daro, employees of a Pearson sub-division, "not only led the development of the Common Core Standards, but also helped design Pearson's CCSS services, helping us tailor our professional development, district level consultative services, job-embedded coaching, learning teams for building capacity, and even whole school CCSS implementation services in order to meet your specific needs and interests as you align curriculum content and practices to the standards."
In September, Pearson cemented its ties with the New York State governor and the State Education Department when David Wakelyn was appointed Deputy Secretary for Education. Governor Cuomo claimed "With his extensive experience in improving the performance of schools all across the nation, David Wakelyn is the right person to help turn around our schools. He is an expert in state policy for education, and together we will deliver results for students and families in New York." However, Wakelyn's resume shows that after briefly working as a teacher as part of the Teach for America program, he moved into educational policy and decision making, primarily as a Senior Associate for America's Choice School Design, which is now a leading Pearson sub-division.
Of course, Wakelyn is not the only corporate representative to move into a government position where they can sell products produced by their former (and future?) employer. Karen Cator, the Director of the federal Department of Education 's educational technology section previously was an executive at Apple Computers for eight years.
As Maryland and Baltimore moves towards instituting Common Core we know that what might be good for the STEM courses like science and technology......are an anathema to democratic humanities and we are seeing no limit to Common Core in this regard!
What's Missing From Common Core Is Education for Democracy
Posted: 07/30/2013 11:21 Alan Singer Social studies educator, Hofstra University
This is my third post in a series "Reclaiming the Conversation on Education." In the first "reclaiming" post I discussed what schools and education should be like in a democratic society drawing on ideas developed by the philosopher John Dewey in the early decades of the 20th century. The second "reclaiming" post responded to critics of Schools of Education. These critics promote mechanical scripted instruction and reject the idea that teachers need to have a broader understanding of the nature of our society and how children learn. In this post I examine the importance of education for democracy as fundamental for achieving and maintaining a democratic society.
Something is missing in Common Core's single-minded focus on skill acquisition, education for democracy, and this is a serious lapse.
According to its mission statement,
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy. Common Core standards are supposed to "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn" and be "relevant to the real world." But "real world" expectations are defined as preparing students for "success in college and careers" and "to compete successfully in the global economy." As best as I can ascertain, in the entire document, there is no real discussion of life in a democratic society and the role of education in promoting democratic processes and democratic values.
The view of education promoted in Common Core, devoid of substance and disconnected from life in a democratic society, was endorsed by President Barack Obama at a meeting with United States governors in 2010 and is at the heart of the federal Race to the Top program. Unfortunately, President Obama seems unaware of the consequences of this type of narrowly focused education.
Democracy is hard to build as we are witnessing around the world. It requires a sense of shared community, respect for democratic values such as minority rights, concerns for the well being of others, freedom of expression, and the right to be actively involved in the political process. It requires a sense of being part of an inclusive and diverse body politic, of citizenship. White man's democracy supported by the enslavement of Africans broke down in the United States in the 1850s and led to civil war. Despite the collapse of communism, the countries that emerged from the former Soviet Union remain far from democratic. In India, which calls itself a democracy, government is largely corrupt and most of the population is impoverished. China, the most populous country in the world, is more capitalist than communist, but it still has an authoritarian state.
Without a sense of shared community based on democratic values, democratic processes can be meaningless. In 1933, Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany and the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany through constitutional means. In Egypt today, as happened in Iran in the 1980s, a religious party without a commitment to a broader sense of community and democratic values that respect the rights of minorities and an open exchange of ideas, used democratic processes to achieve power and then used power to suppress the rights of others. In Libya and Syria, without a sense of national community and shared democratic values, the collapse of dictatorships brought civil war, not democracy, and the rise of anti-democratic forces.
Although President Bush promised to export freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan when the United States invaded those countries, and that they would become democratic models for the entire Middle East, anti-democratic forces either control them or are on the verge of acquiring power.
Meanwhile, in Washington DC, the democratic process is stalemated by a lack of commitment to democratic values by the Republican Party, which would rather bring the whole house of cards down than compromise. The Republican Party, which has a voting majority in the House of Representatives, under the so called Hastert Rule refuses to even allow proposed laws to be discussed and voted on unless a majority of the Republicans agree to the proposal in advance. This allows 118 House Republicans from Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri to veto any action no matter what a majority of the House wants. It is a Republican Party dominated by a more rural, more White, South and West, so the wishes of the rest of the country, more urban, more diverse, and more populated, are completely ignored while the country plunges deeper and deeper into economic malaise and social decay.
The national Common Core Standards are NOT responsible for current and future civil wars in Egypt, Syria, and Afghanistan. They are NOT responsible for the political stalemate in Washington DC that has virtually incapacitated the Obama administration, preventing it from dealing with pressing economic, environmental, and social issues. But Common Core does share something with disasters overseas and at home. They all have roots in a mistaken concept of what it means to live in a democratic society.
The sad thing is that citizenship, democratic values, and preparation for an active role in a democratic society are at the core of many earlier state standards and are prominent in the curriculum goals of the National Council for the Social Studies. But these are being ignored in the Common Core push for higher test scores on math and reading exams.
The New York State curriculum standards being shunted aside by Common Core stressed citizenship throughout K-12 education with a Participation in Government class typically taken by students in the senior year of high school. This class was designed "to increase the student's awareness of their rights and responsibilities as a citizen" and "to engage students in the analysis of public policies and issues that are relevant to individual students."
Preparation for citizenship in a democratic society was a "major aim of education in the State of New York." Starting in Kindergarten students learned how the Constitutions of New York State and the United States and the Bill of Rights are the basis for democratic values in the United States. "This civic mission" was "based on the democratic idea that active citizenship in the form of political participation is essential to the health and well-being of both the person and the polity."
The National Council for the Social Studies took a similar stance in a 2001 task force report on revitalizing Citizenship Education.
According to the report
"National Council for the Social Studies believes that a primary goal of public education is to prepare students to be engaged and effective citizens. NCSS has defined an effective citizen as one who has the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to assume the "office of citizen" in our democratic republic . . . For our democracy to survive in this challenging environment, we must educate our students to understand, respect, and uphold the values enshrined in our founding documents. Our students should leave school with a clear sense of their rights and responsibilities as citizens. They should also be prepared to challenge injustice and to promote the common good." The report specifically called on students to "embraces core democratic values and strives to live by them" while accepting "responsibility for the well-being of oneself, one's family, and the community" and to actively participate in civic and community life.
Democracy requires that Americans see themselves as citizens, not just consumers or employees. Common Core, by ignoring the fundamental values that make democracy possible, does education and the United States a tremendous disservice.