The Right Opinion

Rotten to the Core (Part 2): Readin', Writin' and Deconstructionism

By Michelle Malkin · Jan. 25, 2013

(This is the second part of an ongoing series on federal “Common Core” education standards and the corruption of academic excellence.)

The Washington, D.C., board of education earned widespread mockery this week when it proposed allowing high school students – in the nation's own capital – to skip a basic U.S. government course to graduate. But this is fiddlesticks compared to what the federal government is doing to eliminate American children's core knowledge base in English, language arts and history.

Thanks to the “Common Core” regime, funded with President Obama's stimulus dollars and bolstered by duped Republican governors and business groups, deconstructionism is back in style. Traditional literature is under fire. Moral relativism is increasingly the norm. “Standards” is Orwell-speak for subjectivity and lowest common denominator pedagogy.

Take the Common Core literacy “standards.” Please. As literature professors, writers, humanities scholars, secondary educators and parents have warned over the past three years, the new achievement goals actually set American students back by de-emphasizing great literary works for “informational texts.” Challenging students to digest and dissect difficult poems and novels is becoming passe. Utilitarianism uber ales.

The Common Core English/language arts criteria call for students to spend only half of their class time studying literature, and only 30 percent of their class time by their junior and senior years in high school.

Under Common Core, classics such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” are of no more academic value than the pages of the Federal Register or the Federal Reserve archives – or a pro-Obamacare opinion essay in The New Yorker. Audio and video transcripts, along with “alternative literacies” that are more “relevant” to today's students (pop song lyrics, for example), are on par with Shakespeare.

English professor Mary Grabar describes Common Core training exercises that tell teachers “to read Lincoln's Gettysburg Address without emotion and without providing any historical context. Common Core reduces all 'texts' to one level: the Gettysburg Address to the EPA's Recommended Levels of Insulation.” Indeed, in my own research, I found one Common Core “exemplar” on teaching the Gettysburg Address that instructs educators to “refrain from giving background context or substantial instructional guidance at the outset.”

Another exercise devised by Common Core promoters features the Gettysburg Address as a word cloud. Yes, a word cloud. Teachers use the jumble of letters, devoid of historical context and truths, to help students chart, decode and “deconstruct” Lincoln's speech.

Deconstructionism, of course, is the faddish leftwing school of thought popularized by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1970s. Writer Robert Locke described the nihilistic movement best: “It is based on the proposition that the apparently real world is in fact a vast social construct and that the way to knowledge lies in taking apart in one's mind this thing society has built. Taken to its logical conclusion, it supposes that there is at the end of the day no actual reality, just a series of appearances stitched together by social constructs into what we all agree to call reality.”

Literature and history are all about competing ideological narratives, in other words. One story or “text” is no better than another. Common Core's literature-lite literacy standards are aimed not at increasing “college readiness” or raising academic expectations. Just the opposite. They help pave the way for more creeping political indoctrination under the guise of increasing access to “information.”

As University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, an unrelenting whistleblower who witnessed the Common Core sausage-making process firsthand, concluded: “An English curriculum overloaded with advocacy journalism or with 'informational' articles chosen for their topical and/or political nature should raise serious concerns among parents, school leaders, and policymakers. Common Core's standards not only present a serious threat to state and local education authority, but also put academic quality at risk. Pushing fatally flawed education standards into America's schools is not the way to improve education for America's students.”

Bipartisan Common Core defenders claim their standards are merely “recommendations.” But the standards, “rubrics” and “exemplars” are tied to tests and textbooks. The textbooks and tests are tied to money and power. Federally funded and federally championed nationalized standards lead inexorably to de facto mandates. Any way you slice it, dice it or word-cloud it, Common Core is a mandate for mediocrity.

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13 Comments

rab in jo,mo said:

More "dumbing down" of our children in Gummint Skools. All part of the Marxist plan.

Anyone who has had to plod through the writings of Melville learned a lot more than if they had simply read a fishing story out of "Field and Stream".

Want to understand how Odumbo got reelected? Those "low information" voters are essentially illiterate. Oh yes, they can read & write enough to get by and know all the texting acronyms, but they can't tell you where the Gettysburg Address was first given (or why).

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:02 AM

PB in Texas replied:

Where it was given and why?? ... Most I've met don't even know it's a speech. They ask, "Gettysburg Address?.. where's it at?.... who lived there?"

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 4:51 PM

wjm in Colorado said:

Public Education is the ultimate in Child Abuse. Just Marxist Indoctrination disguised as education for producing useful idiots. What is the result of Public Education, an individual qualified only to collect welfare, not capable nor qualified for any real productive work. Why did ditches or clean hotel rooms when the government supplies every need?

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Robert in NEW Mexico said:

I get it. The informational texts are left-wing infomercials. Unfortunately, my ultraconservative wife, who teaches 5th grade, is being slowly and insidiously indoctrinated by the same leftist informational texts she is forced to teach.

She readily admits that she doesn't know what is factual or true anymore, except that 1+1 =2.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Jayve in ABQ, NM replied:

My once conservative sister is the same way. Teaching in an all girls school, she has become one of the "I am woman, hear me ROAR!" crowd. When she gets together with my liberal aunt (who is also a teacher) they go on and on and on.... I just end up being my usual smart ass self when I am around them just to piss them off and lo and behold it works, best feeling I get of the day when around them!

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

I worked as a Circulation Manager for a local newspaper and was responsible for hiring drivers. I was amazed at how many of those I interviewed were high school graduates who had problems filling out a simple job application. My wife taught English for 11 years and by the time she got fed up and quit, the kids were only interested in socializing and asking her to give them handouts so they didn't have to use their brains. Lord, and please don't ask them to read anything. Our education system has been dumbed down so far that most high school students know absolutely nothing about our history, except for the revised crap, nothing at all about how the govt works, but could tell you who has the latest rap hit, which movie star is pregnant, and what is happening on Honey Boo Boo or any other so-called "reality" show.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Orf in Pittsburgh said:

This is all part of the Closing of the American Mind, published by a college professor many years ago. We are now seeing the concluding chapters playing out in Dumbing Down Amerika, aka Common Core. What better way to create more sheeple who can be easily controlled and will vote in the one party system. It reminds you of the good old USSR where indoctrinated people went to the polls to vote for the only possible candidate, good ol' boy Joe Stalin, the greatest mass murderer in history.

I wonder if some day, perhaps in the not too distant future, Obutthead will be able to overtake Stalin's record slaughter. After all you can't expect the anointed leader to tolerate those dissenters who still believe we live in a republic and have a Constitution.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 3:31 PM

India in GA said:

I homeschool my grammar school-aged boys through an online public school. The curriculum is fantastic. However, just this year, our school has implemented some additional courses to meet Common Core standards.

Common Core *sucks*, to put it bluntly. My sister is a first-grade teacher--she agrees with me.

Keep up the good work, Michelle.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 4:23 PM

George Rogers Clark in Ohio said:

Great article, Michelle. Thank you. This morning WJM commented,
"Public Education is the ultimate in Child Abuse." I second his wise words. It should be a crime, literally, to diminish our children's futures and that of America, with education policies and procedures so detrimental to the purpose of education.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 8:43 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming said:

Anyone know which section of the Constitution authorizes a Dept. of Education? I am not hanging by my thumbs waiting for a state to tell the Dept. of Education to get lost.

Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 12:10 AM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Here's my list of required reading: The Holy Bible, The Wealth of Nations,The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, The Constitution, Basic Writings of George Washington, and Heroes Proved, by Oliver North.

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 7:13 AM

Robert of Prague in Foothills of the Rockies said:

I've been saying it for my 30 years in the US that the limo-libs & their cohorts do to our kids, to us & to the country abominable things the commies themselves didn't do. (And the sheeple let'em get away w/ it).
The Soviets & their satellites learned quickly (after seizing total control) that a nation of idiots is useless to the almighty State. They wanted smart slaves. Except history & politics, the academic requirements were tough & strict. In Prague in the 1960's kids that didn't behave and/or performed were kicked out (pick up the shovel). E.g., getting a B.S. in geology required the study of all earth sciences & writing of a dissertation (each student's had a different assignment; no cheating!). The curriculum also included humanities. The only bummer were the mandatory Russian & pol-science (dialectic materialism & Marxism). There were no multiple answers, etc. When I looked into my daughter's HS papers in MN, I could figure out the correct answers just from the choices and I ain't no genius.
All the loony notions from the US (W-EU) salon-left including PC are - as I put it - vomits from the anteroom of Hell. The fascist EPA declares CO2 (we exhale) a hazardous substance & the sheeple yawn! Lenin was right saying in the 1920's that the West will hang itself on a rope the comrades will sell to it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Kurt.S in Missouri said:

Thank you, Lord for allowing me to complete my formal education before the teachers unionized and stopped teaching.

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 12:06 PM