Core-aligned lesson: Obey government

In the rush to align curriculum to the Common Core, Pearson came up with a real doozie: A third-grade lesson tells students that “the commands of government officials must be obeyed by all,” and that “the wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation,” reports EAG News, which links to MinutemenNews.
lady liberty in shock
The unit on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War – “Hold the Flag High” – doubles as an English assignment on possessive nouns. Students are told to make sentences “less wordy by replacing the underlined words with a possessive noun phrase.”

All six sentences are about the president.

It starts: “The job of a president is not easy.”

Students are supposed to write: “The president’s job is not easy.”

Problems start with the fourth sentence: “(The president) makes sure the laws of the country are fair.”

That’s the judicial branch’s job, notes EAG News.

The president – as head of the executive branch of our government – is only charged with administering the laws passed by Congress, the legislative branch.

The Pearson Education lesson leaves students with the mistaken idea that American presidents have king-like powers, a concept our Founding Fathers would find abhorrent.

The indoctrination continues with sentence five: “The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.”

That’s a chilling concept, one that any constitutional attorney would be quick to take issue with.

Sentence six states: “The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation.”

Perhaps Mr. Spock would agree, but a constitutional lawyer might wonder what happened to the Bill of Rights.

Report: Textbooks boost Islam

Islam is presented positively — and inaccurately — in U.S. textbooks, charges a report by ACT! for America Education. It’s more “indoctrination than education,” says Brigitte Gabriel, the group’s president.

The report provides happy-think quotes from textbooks:

“The Quran granted women spiritual and social equality with men.”

ACT! responds:  The Quran does not grant “social equality” to women. “Muslim women cannot divorce except in limited circumstance—men can divorce at any time for any reason—and the testimony of one man equals that of two women in legal proceedings.”

“In Medina, Muhammad…fashioned an agreement that joined his own people with the Arabs and Jews…These groups accepted Muhammad as a political leader.”

Response:  The Jews did not accept Muhammad as a leader. He “expelled two of the Jewish tribes and destroyed the third, beheading the men and selling the women and children into slavery.”

“Shari’a law requires Muslim leaders to extend religious tolerance to Christians and Jews.”

Response: “Shari’a law imposes a litany of burdens and restrictions on Christians and Jews, both in their daily lives and in the practice of their religions.”

“In the early eighth century, Islam became popular in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent.”

Response: Islam spread through conquest.

In addition, textbooks spend many pages on European slave traders, ignoring the role of Islamic slave traders, the report charges.

Textbook writers hate controversy. I’m sure they accentuate the positive when writing about any religion — but not to this extent.

Kindergarteners chant paean to Obama

As part of a Black History Month program, kindergarteners at Tipps Elemementary School in Houston were sent home with lyrics to a chant lauding Barack Obama, reports The Blaze. It includes “Barack Obama is the man” and “He’s our man, yes we can!” A note to teachers said students would be “required” to learn the chant, though the school claims only some students were chosen for the evening program and parents could refuse to sign a permission  form.

Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, a syndicated radio host, publicized the chant after receiving a complaint from a parent. It’s fine to be proud that Obama is the first black president, but children shouldn’t be forced to “genuflect” before him, the radio host wrote in a letter to the principal.

“The Barack Obama Song,” which prioritizes rhyme over substance, does have a sort of North Korean enthusiasm for every aspect of our president’s life.

Who is our 44th President?
Obama is our 44th President
Who is a DC resident?
Obama is a DC resident
Resident, President

Who’s favorite team is the Chicago White Sox?
Obama’s favorite team is the Chicago White Sox
Who really thinks outside the box?
Obama really thinks outside the box
Outside the box, Chicago White Sox
Resident, President

Who really likes to play basketball?
Obama really likes to play basketball
Who’s gonna answer our every call?
Every Call, Basketball
Outside the box, Chicago White Sox
Resident, President

Who’s famous slogan is Yes we can?
Obams’s famous slogan is Yes we can
Who do we know is the man?
Barack Obama is the man
He’s our man, Yes we can!

And it goes on and on. I wonder how they get little kids to learn all that, even with a teacher doing the first line of every stanza.

In my kindergarten days, we’d never be asked to learn more than four lines. And our parents would have complained about a program in which public school students proclaimed:

We like Ike.
He took Allied Forces on a European hike.
He likes to play golf, but doesn’t bike.
Ike, hike, bike
We like Ike.

We did learn: “If your Mommy is a Commie, then you gotta turn her in,” but not in class.

Teaching students to argue about politics

Students should learn how to discuss controversial political ideas in class, says Diana Hess, a teacher turned University of Wisconsin education professor, in Discussions That Drive Democracy.

“A lot of parents want schools to reflect their own ideological views,” Hess tells The Cap Times.

“I argue that parents shouldn’t want that. If they do, they need to rethink why they have their kids in school.”

. . . “It’s not to suggest schools should be working against parents’ values,” she continues, “but we want schools to be ideologically diverse places. That’s how we educate citizens.”

“Many teachers I have watched are good at getting kids to listen to viewpoints that are different from theirs, and that’s a good thing,” she says. Young people tend to be open to new ideas.

Will teachers develop students’ minds? Or indoctrinate students in liberal ideology? asks Ann Althouse, a UW law professor.

. . .  it was specifically teachers who were at the core of the Wisconsin protests, vilifying conservatives.

And as for parents needing “to rethink why they have their kids in school.” Let’s be clear: Schooling is compulsory. . . . Teachers should never forget that they have their students trapped in their classroom by the force of law.

We want students to learn how to discuss “controversial issues, support their arguments, and listen to divergent opinions respectfully and critically,” Althouse concedes.

But it takes a certain level of trust — which is in short supply.

Backlash

“We have to destroy education in order to save it,” writes Zombie on PJ Media after attending a San Francisco rally in which teachers and their students demanded more funding.  (Yes, it was a school day.) Update: But the rally didn’t start till 4 pm.

He includes photos of the Los Angeles protest by Ringo of Ringo’s Pictures.

• As you can see in the many photos illustrating this essay, their demands for more money were accompanied by many ancillary leftist slogans like “Tax the Rich!” and “Workers’ Power!” and “Cutting Education Is Class War” and so on. So this wasn’t just about requesting more funding for education: The content of the rally itself revealed that increasing school funding is just a component of a larger leftist agenda — school funding is being used as a lever to penalize the rich, increase power for unions, and so forth.

Teachers aren’t supposed to be indoctrinators, Zombie writes.

United Teachers of Los Angeles carried signs with green Che Guevera stickers.

Parents get annoyed when teachers co-opt students for political campaigns, even if it’s presented as supporting education. Throw in Che Guevera and they get very annoyed.

Dressed as zombies, coincidentally, University of Wisconsin students protesting budget cuts disrupted an event for Special Olympians because Gov. Scott Walker was speaking. Bad manners and really bad PR, writes Ann Althouse.

Teacher ed: Dump the American dream

Future teachers will be required to repudiate the American dream — “the idea that in this country, hardworking people of every race, color and creed can get ahead on their own merits” == at University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, writes Katherine Kersten in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

According to a task force’s proposal, American dreamers will not be recommended for licensure on the grounds they lack “cultural competence” to teach non-white students.

The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the “overarching framework” for all teaching courses at the U.

. . . The first step toward “cultural competence,” says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize — and confess — their own bigotry.

The task group recommends requiring prospective teachers to prepare a report on their prejudices and stereotypes with points for admitting to bias.

The goal of these exercises, in the task group’s words, is to ensure that “future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.”

. . . In particular, aspiring teachers must be able “to explain how institutional racism works in schools.”

Finally, future teachers would be required to analyze the “myth of meritocracy in the United States,” the “history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values, [and] history of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology.”

Those who resist would be subject to a “remediation plan.”

I envision prospective teachers who think students of all colors, creeds, classes and sexual orientations are capable of learning, if they’re taught well and do the work. But the time they might have spent learning how to teach reading, writing, math, science or history has been devoted to faddish drivel.

In a letter to the university president, FIRE argues the plan — which includes denying admission to applicants with the wrong beliefs — is unconstitutional, “a severe affront to liberty and a disservice to the very ideal of a liberating education.” Here’s FIRE’s analysis.

Obama in LA public schools

At two of LA’s lowest scoring high schools, Crenshaw and Dorsey, a former Obama campaign manager has organized the Barack Obama Digital Media Team and the Obama Chefs, reports NBC Los Angeles.  The digital media students wrote video letters asking the president to invite them to the White House, as well as a Journey to the White House theme song. The cooking students “prepared nutritious lunches for Obama volunteers during the stretch run of the presidential campaign last year.” (Why were they using class time and public resources to work for the Obama campaign?)

“I use President Obama’s inspiration and his digital media savvy as inpiration in the classroom pretty much every day,” (Obama organizer Daphne) Bradford said. “He is our 21st Century president.”

I think it’s possible to use Obama’s success to inspire minority students without teaching them to brown nose the powerful and without exploiting them for political purposes.

Students sing praises of president

Combining cute with creepy, a multi-racial class of second graders sing the praises of “Barack Hussein Obama” and his policies on a YouTube video that’s raised again all the brainwashing fears. Parents at B. Bernice Young Elementary in Burlington, N.J. aren’t pleased, reports Fox.

One song that the children were taught quotes directly from the spiritual “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” though Jesus’ name is replaced with Obama’s: “He said red, yellow, black or white/All are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama.”

Here are the words of the two songs — one seems to be sung to the tune of John Brown’s Body.

Song 1:
Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight. . . .

Song 2:
Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say “hooray!”

Hooray, Mr. President! You’re number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country’s economy number one again! , , ,

Apparently, children learned the songs for a celebration of February holidays, including Presidents’ Day. They also sang songs praising Washington and Lincoln. You’d think the teacher would understand the difference between a president who’s in the political arena and presidents who are not. (Because they’re dead.)

Update: Here’s a slightly older class of students in an unknown school singing about Obama as our first African-American president. It’s a very bland song that doesn’t endorse Obama’s policies. And the kids sing a lot better. Plus they have a cowbell!

In 2006, a private charity called Katrina’s Kids got young hurricane evacuees invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll, where they sang a song praising “Congress, Bush and FEMA” for helping in the rebuilding.  Not so much creepy as weird, I’d say.

Dems attacked Bush's school speech

In 1991, President George H. W. Bush broadcast a speech from a D.C. junior high, reports NewsBusters. Democratic Rep. Dick Gephardt, then House majority leader, complained it was “paid political advertising” improperly funded by the Department of Education. I believe the elder Bush came out for kids getting a good education.

Via Jim Miller.

A number of school districts have announced they won’t air President Obama’s speech live. Some have explained to parents how to watch with their kids at home. I’ll be interested to see what percentage of schools carry the speech live. Not that high, I’d bet — for logistical reasons as well as flak-avoidance reasons.

Update: Jim Lindgren at Volokh has more on the coverage of the 1991 speech, which was carried live on CNN, PBS, and Mutual radio.

The Secretary of Education sent a letter urging schools to have their students watch, but I didn’t find any evidence of how many schools followed that recommendation. And most striking: Bush laid out goals — to increase the graduation rate, improve student competency and better prepare students for entering school — and said, “Let me know how you’re doing. Write me a letter. I’m serious about this one. Write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals.”

Of course, there was no fear of a George H.W. Bush personality cult.

Not so sinister

What’s So Sinister About a Presidential Back-to-School Speech? I ask the question on Pajamas Media and many, many people have an answer.

As I write in a response to commenters, I think the abuse heaped on President George W. Bush, including “Chimpy Bushhitler,” has “normalized a very nasty, paranoid style of political discourse. We need to relearn how to disagree with political opponents without demonizing them.”

The teachers’ guide that alarmed so many people has been modified, points out Jim Geraghty. Instead of suggesting that students write letters about how they can “help the president,” the new version suggest students write letters on how they can achieve their education goals.  Someone heard the criticism.

Also on PJ Media, Barbara Curtis issues a “call to arms,” urging parents to get involved in their children’s schools, find out what’s being taught and express their concerns.