Ask any college freshman what he knows about communism and he will likely engage in a word association game.
“The red scare, McCarthyism,” he will blurt out, displaying lessons well-learned from his textbooks and teachers.
One way to go beyond the idea of communism as evidence of paranoia, though, is to recall George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” will be the phrase students recall. Students seem to get that “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” never works out in reality from this fictional work.
This novel shows how literature can sometimes demonstrate historical realities better than many textbooks.
But with the Obama administration’s unconstitutional program of nationalizing education, students will not likely be able to experience the insights and pleasures of novels, like Orwell’s. In 2009, during the economic “crisis,” states were offered part of the $4.35 billion in stimulus funds in a hurried contest called Race to the Top. After the initial application, they were told that they would have to adhere to national standards and testing called Common Core, sight unseen, and without any legislative input. Forty-eight states signed on initially; today, 45 states are committed to CC—although citizens and teachers are organizing against it.
The standards, now in place for math and English, emphasize “work and career readiness”--that is for workers who see themselves as global citizens unacquainted with their national and cultural heritage. This became apparent as I read the recent article, “Teachers Get Help with Common Core Lessons Through (sic) CPALMS,” at the NPR site. This was also because one of the CPALMS lessons for English/Language Arts was on Animal Farm.
The article explained that as Common-Core aligned assessments and textbooks are being written, the state of Florida is using a federal Race to the Top grant from the Department of Education to develop a site of resources for teachers who are scrambling to adhere to the new standards.
Pinnellas County School Superintendant Mike Grego recently told the Florida State Board of Education that there is “no resistance” to Common Core. At the same time, Florida’s new state superintendant, Tony Bennett, is steamrolling in the curriculum. Bennett, by the way, lost reelection in Indiana, many believe, because of his support for Common Core.