By Dean Kalahar
Common Core, the new federal education standards, may look delicious; but before you take a bite out of the apple, it might be a good idea to know a razor is inside.
Like all Orwellian euphemisms, “Common Core” is not about innocent ideas like the word “common” or the term “core.” The phrase “Common Core” is used to hide the real aspects of an education policy which if articulated openly would never be taken seriously, let alone be implemented.
Common Core is being driven by an amalgam of overt/covert actions, apathy, and Progressive passions, where their ends justify any means. Some people cheering Common Core seem to be unwittingly going along out of good intentions and laziness. While some on the bandwagon are motivated by the usual suspects of money and power, others have just been duped.
These varying alliances seem to be focused on the fact that Common Core’s “lead architect,” David Coleman, says he believes in the value of a liberal-arts education. The problem is nobody asked what a liberal-arts education means to Mr. Coleman. Reading his background puts new meaning to the word “liberal” in liberal arts.
David Coleman lives in trendy Greenwich Village, has never been a classroom teacher and wants to replace traditional subjects with broad learning. He believes there is “a massive social injustice in this country” and that education is “the engine of social justice.” Coleman’s leadership is questionable as he uses profanity (“s–t, f–k, bulls-t, a–) in speeches regarding Common Core. He graduated from liberal Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge universities and is a founding partner of Student Achievement Partners, and the Grow Network, acquired by textbook publisher McGraw-Hill. He is on the board of directors of The Equity Project Charter School, a middle school in New York City that paid $125,000 salaries to teachers yet had a 31.3% passing rate in English in 2010-11. His alliance with unions includes praise for “organizations like the UFT in New York City and the AFT statewide.”
The foundational philosophy of Common Core is to create students ready for social action so they can force a social-justice agenda. Common Core is not about students who actually have a grasp of the intricate facts of a true set of what E.D. Hirsch would call “core knowledge.” Common Core is about, as David Feith would say “an obsession with race, class, gender, and sexuality as the forces of history and political identity.” Nationalizing education via Common Core is about promoting an agenda of Anti-capitalism, sustainability, white guilt, global citizenship, self-esteem, affective math, and culture sensitive spelling and language. This is done in the name of consciousness raising, moral relativity, fairness, diversity, and multiculturalism.
And David Coleman’s upbringing is in line with this Progressive worldview. His mother and greatest influence, Elizabeth Coleman, president of Bennington College in Vermont, does not like the idea of “expertise” or “neutrality (as) a condition of academic integrity” and “wants to “make the political-social challenges themselves the organizers of the curriculum.” She emphasizes an “action-oriented curriculum” where “students continuously move outside the classroom to engage the world directly.” In short: indoctrination through propaganda in education as the vehicle for social transformation.
Mrs. Coleman founded a social justice initiative: the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (she called it a “secular church”) “which invites students to put the world’s most pressing problems at the center of their education.” She was a professor of humanities at the far left New School for Social Research, which was begun by progressives in 1932 and modeled itself after the neo-Marxist social theory of the Frankfurt School. She fights for “social values,” and a “secular democracy,” saying “fundamentalist …values (are) the absolutes of a theocracy.”