CC Secrecy and Bringing Back the Culture War

July 10, 2014


Paul the psychic octopus sez: “Toldja so!”

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

It’s not just the enemies list, with innocent people who don’t toe the CC line being ruthlessly destroyed. Another clear sign of CC’s illegitimacy – and (as a result of its illegitimacy) the inevitability of its failure – is its secrecy.

Stanley Kurtz writes in The Corner that a complete model AP history exam, showing what the exams will cover now that they’re part of the CC monolith, has been distributed to AP history teachers nationwide, but they can’t disclose it on pain of “severe penalties.”

Kurtz asserts that the CC monolith is a deliberately crafted illegal conspiracy to seize control of history classes nationwide and force them to teach left-wing, socialist agitprop.

His rhetoric is inflammatory and conspiratorial, but thereby hangs a tale.

Some comments:

  1. With AP exams being distributed secretly to AP teachers as part of the CC monolith, is anyone still prepared to claim that CC is only monopolizing standards and is not also monopolizing curriculum? Could someone please wake me up when we get past that?
  2. CC backers have no complaint coming that Kurtz’s rhetoric is inflammatory and conspiratorial. If you operate by pure power – secrecy and bribery and threats and enemies lists, and sneering at anyone who asks you to explain and justify what you’re doing – people are entitled to assume you’re up to no good. And they will. You have no one to blame but yourself.
  3. Nationalizing education reignites the culture war in the worst, nastiest possible way? You may be surprised, but Paul the psychic octopus isn’t.

Memo to Gadfly: History Failure Is a Historical Problem

October 21, 2008

“Okay, Mr. Hancock, if you’re so smart, how many of the freedoms protected in the Magna Carta can YOU name?”

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

The new Gadfly includes a guest editorial lamenting that our students don’t know civics, history, geography, etc. The editorial claims social studies is being “squeezed out” by accountability programs and that we should be “reinserting history and related subjects back into the curriculum.”

All this assumes that the failure of public schools to teach social studies effectively and the resulting colossal student ignorance of civics is a new phenomenon. Otherwise, the claim that social studies is being “squeezed out” and the call to “reinsert” it would make no sense.

But in fact this is not a new phenomenon. The catastrophic failure of social studies education in public schools is a subject with a long history. So what does that do to the story that social studies is being “squeezed out”?

Let me be clear: if I thought it were true that social studies was being squeezed out, but I also thought this would result in a change to our 70% national graduation rate (50% urban) and rampant illiteracy and innumeracy even among those who “graudate,” I would consider that a price well worth paying – and I say that as a social scientist. But the evidence that social studies is being squeezed out is not in fact convincing.

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