Is despising the Constitution and the men who made it one of the new “standards” in the Common Core State Standards that prevail over the curriculum and testing of public schools in forty-five states in the nation? A candid look at the documents of the Common Core will reveal that whatever the professed “standards,” there is a clear political agenda behind the façade of school reform.
A casual reader of the Common Core English Standards will note that parts of the Constitution are recommended at the middle-school level and again in the high school. Under the 6th-8th-grade range for History/Social Studies, the document states “United States. Preamble and First Amendment to the United States Constitution (1787,1791).” For the 11th-12th-grade range under the category of English Language Arts one finds “United States. The Bill of Rights (Amendments One through Ten of the United States Constitution).” Here the questions ought to begin. Why do “standards” ostensibly for English dictate what gets done in a history class? Why is only the First Amendment read in middle school? Why not the Second? Why not the Tenth? Will the Constitution ever be read in its entirety? Why would you ever read the Constitution (or parts of it) in an English class? Will not junior and senior English be taken up with really long novels, great plays, and maybe even an epic or two? How would there be time?
There are answers to these questions that would require us to dive into the mysterious workings of the Common Core. Suffice it to say that there is something quirky about the way the Constitution is presented in the list of recommended readings. Unfortunately, at the moment most state legislators simply see the words “Constitution,” “Bill of Rights,” “History/Social Studies,” and “English Language Arts,” and are satisfied. They sing the tired refrain that the Common Core is only a “base,” and promise that the bureaucratic wizards in their own state departments of education will do wonders in erecting a model curriculum on this foundation.
Legislators and citizens and self-professed school reformers should read a little more into the document. An inch and a half below the listing of the Preamble and First Amendment for the middle school, we find recommended “Monk, Linda R. Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution.” That leads us to page 95 of Appendix B of the Common Core English Standards (available online), where we find this selection from Monk: