I know, shocking, right? But there is a way, and I’m so confident that it WON’T happen, that I need not actually see this through.
I was thinking about some rather light topics this weekend, racism, sexism, poverty, all of that. Actually, what got me going was the news that a window at a Denver Obama campaign headquarters was shot out… by a bullet. A lot of scum out there.
Whatever you think about the President’s policies, it’s a damn shame the way we’ve treated our first executive of color. Calls for birth certificates, disrespect during the State of the Union, unheard of obstructionism and filibusters by the opposition in Congress. And lest we forget all of the racist dog whistles thrown around.
I lamented the fact that we sure have a lot of ignorant and stupid people to go around. Few understand basic science to the extent that even something as universal as evolution is challenged. We can’t even have a serious discussion about climate change because there are regular citizens and even political leaders who are so hopelessly ignorant.
In any event, I wondered why our education system, why our teachers, aren’t trying very hard to do something about that. Are they trying very hard to quash ignorance, racism, sexism, homophobia, and the rest? That, I don’t hear too much about.
Let’s say for a moment, which I don’t think is true, that teachers will all of a sudden teach like they’ve always wanted to teach. Let us also say for the sake of argument that the Common Core finally permits educators to do just that for the first time since passage of NCLB. Fine. Oh, let us also conclusively assume that the “new” assessments will give us something damn good to teach to in the process. All dubious assumptions, but let’s continue.
I would be willing, as God as my witness, to stand by the CCSS, not the testing of them, but the standards if I knew that teachers would bring to the table fantastic readings, texts, artwork, music, literature, poetry, and plays or musicals that would challenge racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and the like. I would support it, or at least swallow more of it, if students were going to perform “close readings” or whatever of texts that emphasize social justice, of equality and freedom, of anti-bullying or sexual harassment, all the good stuff we hope education would do to create a better world.
I would support a CCSS if teachers took it upon themselves to read texts critical of our food system, of GMOs, corn gluts, food deserts, food safety, immigrant labor. I would support a CCSS if the complex texts students were reading were ripped straight from the Zinn History Project or Rethinking Schools.
I have a sinking suspicion that they’re not going to be. Improving equality and fighting for social justice are, alas and alack, not part of the mantra “college and career ready.” No one gives a sh#t what you think, as the Coleman quote goes. I suspect that students will still read what they’ve been reading for the last decade or more: basal readers, boring text sets, and, one after another, disjointed stories and passages that don’t connect or ever add up to anything meaningful.
You know, we could use the CCSS as a weapon against neo-liberal interests. Work their techniques, use their strategies, but do so in a way that we develop young radicals and activists. Get them to read about white privilege or patriarchy. Get them to read about, very closely as the CCSS suggests, about the exploitation of migrant laborers or the truth about Christopher Columbus.
We have a President who has been castigated for being a former community organizer. So, I’m sure that means social justice, equality, all of those lofty pro-democratic goals, are not what folks have in mind when they say “college and career ready.” I’m also damn sure that the texts aren’t going to change much either.