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Chicago Activist Teacher Group Circulates Two-Week ‘Lesson Plan’ on School Closures

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Is this what Common Core-compliant school lessons are going to look like?

Activists with the Chicago group “Teachers for Social Justice” have produced a two-week lesson plan to teach students about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close 54 schools in the city.

While the lesson plan will supposedly be balanced in the way it addresses the issue, it was produced by activists staunchly opposed to any school closures, regardless of the validity of the reason. Does anyone really expect a group that has been at the forefront of the effort to stop school closures to give students a lesson that isn’t politically-charged?

A statement from TSJ reads:

“Teachers & Educators: Have your students learn about school closings and implement a related service-learning project! This is a two-week, work-in-progress curriculum to get our students to better understand some of the issues related to school closings and then make their voices heard.

“Whether you are a HS teacher or not - this curriculum is really important because it not only serves as a model of how to prepare young people to understand and change their world, but it also shows what teachers can do inside the classroom as well as outside! It's a great model and we urge ALL teachers to try to do similar work to what [curriculum author J.] Cyriac [Mathew] is doing.”

According to the overview, the two-week lesson is Common Core State Standards compliant.

It falls under “History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects” for grades 6-12, as well as “History/Social Studies reading” for grades 9-12.

The lesson’s “overarching and topical essential questions” include:

-Why is the Chicago Board of Education seeking to close 54 elementary schools?

-Why are some teachers, parents, students, and community members opposed to the closings?

-How will school closings affect students in the short- and long-term?

-What is my responsibility in relation to the school closings as a Chicago resident and CPS student?

Those sound balanced and unbiased, don’t they?

A photo on the Teachers for Social Justice website features a banner that reads: “Closings = Profiteering & Racism.”

Nothing biased or ideologically-charged about that!

In a school district with a woeful 54 percent graduation rate and 8th grade proficiency in reading and math hovering around 20 percent, taking two weeks to address the political grievances of activist teachers may not be the wisest use of classroom time.

But who cares? Students may not learn how to read or calculate a budget, but they’ll sure know who to “blame” for the school closings.

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