Campus Watch 6

 Treacherous Professors blame U.S. for terrorism and they are
brainwashing your Children - It's Your Money, if you don't give it, they don't work

--
-- Feds say: Parents and public schools don't mix - 1/14/15
-- Liberal Students Have a Funny Definition of 'Diversity' - 2/21/14
-- Race-Baiting 101 - 1/13/14
-- Obama Administration Mandates Racism in Schools - 1/17/14

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 Feds say: Parents and public schools don't mix

Jan 14, 2015     By One News Now.com

It's becoming more and more commonplace: parents being ushered out the door of their children's educational life. But a Virginia-based nonprofit is working on legislation to counter that trend.

Other than dropping their kids off at school and purchasing their school supplies, parents' roles in their children's education is becoming marginalized to the point where their input on curriculum, assistance in homework, and ability to opt them out of offensive curriculum is overstepping their authority over students – which the federal government says belongs to them.

Becoming more apparent than ever under the federal government's Common Core, parents of publicly schooled children are deemed unfit to have any say in their children's education, which is something to be left up to the "experts," according to ParentalRights.org, a Christian nonprofit organization based in Purcellville, Virginia, dedicated to protecting children by empowering parents.

"It is no accident, no coincidence … and it's not just your imagination," insists Michael Ramey, director of communications and research for ParentalRights.org. "There really is a steady trend by the government and the courts to remove the influence of parents from the public schools."

Disarming those believing that this warning is some kind of right-wing conspiracy theory, Ramey argues that the complete government takeover of public schools and the children they train has arrived, and it's no secret with the implementation of the federally imposed Common Core and fairly recent court decisions from the government's judicial branch.

"I'm not saying your child's teacher or principal, or even your local school board, is out to get you … Nor am I suggesting some giant system-wide conspiracy, where some shadow organization is secretly working through all different channels to rob you of your rights," Ramey assures. "It is something bigger and more dangerous than that."

According to officials funded by the tax dollars they pay, parents don't have their children's best interest at heart when it comes to their education.

"What we are witnessing is the rise of an ideology, a statist mindset that actually believes that 'expert' agents of the state can make better decisions for your child than you can," Ramey declares.

Good ruling from the past, grueling rulings from the present

Ramey says courtroom decisions affirming parental authority over their children's education from decades ago are a thing of the past.

"In 1979, the Supreme Court held, 'The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition' (Parham v. J.R., 1979)," Ramey informs. "Unfortunately, a growing, powerful minority no longer finds that idea repugnant today."

In an alleged ruse to gain full control of children and instruct them with whatever indoctrination tools they see fit, government officials over education are declaring parents irrelevant and incompetent when it comes to training children to become productive members of society.

"Instead, they argue that because not all parents are experts in education, parents should not be trusted with educational decisions for their child," Ramey continues. "[They say] education is far too important; it must be kept in the hands of the experts."

Evidence for this evolution in thinking when it comes to parental involvement in education comes from landmark court decisions within the past decade.

"This trend is seen in court cases such as Fields v. Palmdale (2005), which held that parents have no say in what, when or how their children are taught about controversial subjects in the public schools," Ramey explains. "[A]nd Parker v. Hurley (2007) … held that parents have no right to opt their children out of objectionable material, even if it does not involve a core curricular subject."

Even more recent machinations by lawmakers have targeted parents who want to withdraw their children from the overreaching public school system, ruling that their tax dollars collected for public education cannot be used to instruct their children outside the state-run schools.

"It is also seen in legislative action, such as Congress' 2009 defunding of a voucher program in DC that allowed low-income families to make school choices for their children." Ramey points out. "And that perfectly parallels a lawsuit brought in 2013 by the federal government against the state of Louisiana in an attempt to end a similar educational choice program in that state."

Ramey emphasizes the fact that he covered all three branches of the federal government – judicial, legislative and executive – which have had their hand in removing the hands of parents from their children's education.

Overreaching to the Core

The federal government isn't the only entity that has had its hand in public education and shown a vested interest in America's youth. It has recently joined hands with the private business sector to grab more control of children through "educational" polices and materials administered through the Common Core – a federal instructional program that all states must adopt … or surrender their eligibility for millions in federally issued education funds.

"Perhaps the greatest example of this intrusive statist mindset, however, has been the push to adopt the Common Core State Standards," Ramey explains. "Conceived by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and fleshed out by trade unions in DC, the Common Core includes 'curriculum standards' that all states must adopt in order to be eligible for federal 'Race to the Top' education dollars."

As if parents didn't think their control over their children's education wasn't usurped enough by teachers, school districts and the departments of education, a higher authority is now claiming its stake as the chief controller over children's education – and it's using the Common Core as tool to do it.

"Under Common Core, local school districts and even state departments of education are losing authority over education decisions to a smaller and more centralized group of 'experts' who are further away from and less accountable to the real experts – the parents and local school teachers who know those children and work to meet their needs every day," Ramey asserts.

For progressives not believing the Common Core is overreaching enough, it works hand-in-hand with a high-maintenance (and high-priced) digital information system that tracks children – a system through which world governments have all the data they need on those within its system.

"Common Core is also coupled with a scheme to create a national database of American students," Ramey notes. "Proponents claim it will allow educators to tailor curriculum to the individual student's needs – but critics see it as a ploy to help big businesses exploit student data for advertising revenue."

And just how many states already ascribe to the federal government's Common Core? Currently 42 states plus the District of Columbia are fully on board with the Common Core. The initial number was 45, but Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina withdrew their allegiance after seeing its detrimental effects on student learning and development. Minnesota has partially adopted with the Common Core minus Math standards. The four states that have never adopted the Common Core are Texas, Virginia, Nebraska and Alaska. All the remaining states have completely signed on, but some are having second thoughts.

"Fortunately, parents have started to push back," Ramey shares. "Several states that adopted the Common Core have since reversed that decision; five states declined to adopt it in the first place. And other states where Common Core was implemented this school year are still seeing parents and lawmakers pushing to retake control of education from the centralized federal powers behind this program."

Fighting back

Instead of sitting back and watching or lamenting over the landslide of parental rights in the public school system, ParentalRights.org is working on legislation this year to usher children back under the control of their parents when it comes to education.

"The ultimate way to push back … will come in 2015 with [ParentalRights.org's] newly concerted effort to push the Parental Rights Amendment through the U.S. Congress," Ramey says. "This Amendment to the Constitution will secure the 'fundamental right' of parents 'to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children,' including 'the right to choose public, private, religious or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one's child.'"

Ramey says that rulings such as Fields and Parker that usurp parental authority to make choices in the children's education should not be left uncontested and that the Parental Rights Amendment will help ensure that parents will no longer experience the inability to influence the culture and teachings in their children's educational environment.

"Your tax dollars pay for the public schools," he contends. "Yet elitist bureaucrats are making them unsafe for parental rights while pushing their own statist worldview. And anywhere unsafe for parents is unsafe for children."

Ramey insists that by standing up for the fundamental rights of parents to have a say in their children's education, the government takeover can stop dead in its tracks.

"Together, we [must] reverse this trend and restore the rights of parents in the education of their children," Ramey exhorts parents and freedom-loving Americans.

Copyright OneNewsNow.com. Reprinted with permission.

gopusa.comhttp://www.gopusa.com/freshink/2015/01/14/feds-parents-public-schools-dont-mix/
 


 Liberal Students Have a Funny Definition of 'Diversity'

2/21/2014 Jonah Goldberg

Cancel the philosophy courses, people. Oh, and we're going to be
shuttering the political science, religion and pre-law departments too.
We'll keep some of the English and history folks on for a while longer,
but they should probably keep their resumes handy.<br><br>
Because, you see, they are of no use anymore. We have the answers to
the big questions, so why keep pretending there's anything left to
discuss?<br><br>
At least that's where Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College,
seems to be coming down. Her school invited a famous left-wing Princeton
professor, Cornel West, and a famous right-wing Princeton professor,
Robert George, to have a debate. The two men are friends, and by all
accounts they had an utterly civil exchange of ideas. But that only made
the whole thing even more outrageous.<br><br>
&quot;What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts
college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion,&quot; Ching told the
Daily Gazette, the school's newspaper. &quot;I don't think we should be
tolerating [George's] conservative views because that dominant culture
embeds these deep inequalities in our society.&quot;<br><br>
Swarthmore must be so proud.<br><br>
Over at Harvard, another young lady has similar views. Harvard Crimson
editorial writer Sandra Y.L. Korn recently called for getting rid of
academic freedom in favor of something called &quot;academic justice.&quot;<br><br>
&quot;If our university community opposes racism, sexism and heterosexism,
why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the
name of 'academic freedom'?&quot; Korn asks.<br><br>
Helpfully, she answers her own question: &quot;When an academic community
observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure
that this research does not continue.&quot;<br><br>
One could easily dismiss these students as part of that long and
glorious American tradition of smart young people saying stupid things. As
Oscar Wilde remarked, &quot;In America the young are always ready to give to
those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their
inexperience.&quot;<br><br>
But we all know that this nonsense didn't spring ex nihilo from their
imaginations. As Allan Bloom showed a quarter century ago in &quot;The Closing
of the American Mind,&quot; these ideas are taught.<br><br>
Indeed, we are now up to our knees in this Orwellian bilge. Diversity
means conformity.<br><br>
Let me invoke personal privilege by citing a slightly dated example.
When the Los Angeles Times picked me up as a columnist in 2005, Barbra
Streisand publicly canceled her subscription in protest (I'm proud to
say). You see, Streisand's friend, iconic left-wing columnist Robert
Scheer, had been let go. And I was one of the new columnists brought on
board. This was an outrage.<br><br>
&quot;The greater Southern California community is one that not only proudly
embraces its diversity, but demands it,&quot; Streisand wrote to the Times in a
syntactically impaired rant that read a bit like one of those letters I
occasionally get from prison inmates who've memorized words from a
thesaurus without fully understanding what they mean. &quot;Your publisher's
decision to fire Robert Scheer is a great disservice to the spirit of our
community. ... So although the number of contributors to your op-ed pages
may have increased, in firing Robert Sheer [sic] and putting Jonah
Goldberg in his place, the gamut of voices has undeniably been diluted.
...&quot;<br><br>
Nearly a decade later, I still don't know what it means to dilute a
gamut of voices. But I do know what she meant by &quot;diversity.&quot; It means:
&quot;people who agree with me.&quot; It's lazy and insipid shorthand for &quot;left
wing.&quot; After all, by the normal metrics of identity politics -- race,
religion, gender -- Scheer and I are largely interchangeable. Where we
differ is ideology. And ideological diversity is the only kind of
diversity the left finds offensive.<br><br>
Which brings us back to the sages of Swarthmore and Harvard. They at
least understand that ideological diversity is actually, like, you know, a
thing. They just think it's a bad thing.<br><br>
More pernicious, however, is that they believe the question of justice
is a settled matter. We know what justice is, so why let serious people
debate it anymore? The millennia-old dialogue between Aristotle, Plato,
St. Augustine, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Rawls, Rorty, Hayek et al.? Shut it
down, people. Or at least if the conversation heads in a direction where
the Korns, Chings and Streisands smell &quot;oppression&quot; -- as defined solely
by the left -- then it must not be &quot;put up with.&quot; Diversity demands that
diversity of opinion not be tolerated anymore.

Credit: Townhall.com

 Obama Administration Mandates Racism in Schools

1/17/2014 - Mona Charen

The Departments of Education and Justice have teamed up to make the lives of students in tough neighborhoods even tougher. Framed as a measure to combat discrimination against black and Hispanic children, the guidelines issued by the Obama administration about school discipline will actually encourage racial discrimination, undermine the learning environments of classrooms and contribute to an unjust race-consciousness in meting out discipline.

Claiming that African-American and Hispanic students are more harshly disciplined than whites for the same infractions, the Obama administration now advises that any disciplinary rule that results in a "disparate impact" on these groups will be challenged by the government.

"Disparate impact" analysis, as we've seen in employment law, does not require any intentional discrimination. It means, for example, that if an employer asks job seekers to take a test, and a larger percentage of one ethnic group fails the test than another, that the test is de facto discriminatory because it has a "disparate impact."

In the school context, the federal government is now arguing that if a disciplinary rule results in more black, Hispanic or special education kids being suspended or otherwise sanctioned, the rule must be suspect. The "Dear Colleague" letter explains that a disciplinary policy can be unlawful discrimination, even if the rule is "neutral on its face ... and is administered in an evenhanded manner," if it has a "disparate impact" on certain ethnic and other groups.

The inclusion of special education students is particularly perverse, as special ed students frequently get that designation because their emotional disturbances cause them to misbehave in various ways. So if a rule against, say, knocking over desks, is found to be violated more frequently by special ed than regular ed students, then the rule must be questioned? That's circular.

As the CATO Institute's Walter Olson notes, the federal guidelines pass over one example of disparate impact with no comment -- namely the dramatically more males than females who face disciplinary action nationwide. If we are to judge a rule's lawfulness by the disparate impact on males, no rule would survive the inquiry. Is it possible that more boys misbehave in the classroom than girls? To ask this question is to venture into an area the federal government would have us avoid. Actual infractions by individuals are not the issue. We must have group justice, not individual justice.

We've actually been down this road many times before. Various state and federal agencies have raised concerns about the large numbers of black and Hispanic students facing disciplinary action. Such concerns helped to generate the rigid "zero tolerance" policies the administration now condemns. Zero tolerance is a brainless approach to a subject that requires considerable finesse and deliberation, but the disparate impact rule is even more pernicious.

Under the new dispensation, teachers, principals and other officials will have to pause before they discipline, say, the fourth black student in a month. "How will this look to the feds?" they'll ask themselves. Will the student's family be able to sue us? A variety of solutions to the federally created problem will present themselves. School officials can search out offenses by white and Asian students to make the numbers come out right. Asian students are disciplined at rates far below any other ethnic group. Is this due to pro-Asian bias in our schools, or is it because Asians commit many fewer infractions? Oops, there we go into territory forbidden by the federal guidelines.

Another solution will be to ignore misbehavior by blacks and Hispanics. For classes with large numbers of minority students, this guarantees that the learning environment for the kids who actually want to learn will be impaired as teachers -- reluctant to remove troublesome students -- expend precious time on kids who are rude, threatening, loud or otherwise disruptive. Every minute of the school day taken up by bad kids is taken away from good kids. It's a true zero-sum game.

So the Obama administration's pursuit of group justice actually leads to injustice to individual students. Whites and Asians will be disciplined more than they merit it by their conduct, and fewer students of all groups will get the kind of classroom atmosphere that is conducive to learning. Even the students who get a pass on their bad conduct are disserved, as they will not have learned that disrespectful language, tardiness and even violence are unacceptable in society.

Everyone loses. Obama strikes again.

 Race-Baiting 101 -  The Common Core on Civil Rights

1/13/2014     By Terrence Moore    TownHall. com

The progressive takeover of the public schools—dreamed up by John Dewey and put into practice over the course of at least the last sixty years—has produced nothing other than absurdity, superficiality, and political bias in the nation’s classrooms. So utterly impoverished has become the quality of schooling and the nation’s conversation about it, that whenever a so-called “reform” comes into existence—engineered by the same folks who brought us school failure in the first place—we can hardly recognize it for the shell game that it is and the continued decline that it will produce.

Such is now the case with the Common Core, whose effects on the teaching of English are fivefold: a continuation of the mind-numbing ways of teaching literature that have plagued the schools for the last four or five decades; the further erosion of great literature by chopping up any remaining classics into slim excerpts almost hidden in the monstrous anthologized textbooks; the transparent promotion of post-modern and multicultural authors who paint a bleak, anti-heroic view of human life and of this country; the introduction of so-called “informational texts” (non-fiction works, often recently written) frequently lacking in literary value and whose purpose is outright political indoctrination; and the wholesale misinterpretation of American principles and what is generally called the good. We see the effects of this story-killing combination when we bother to look into actual textbooks—which essentially control the lessons of the public schools.

Last week I showed that the Common Core documents offer a model of how outside scholars might be deployed to offer slanted, erroneous views of foundational documents such as the Constitution. Now I should like to show how that same technique can be effected even more dramatically in a school textbook. Case in point: Sojourner Truth’s “An Account of an Experience With Discrimination,” featured in Pearson/Prentice Hall’s The American Experience, volume one, which deals with Truth’s efforts to end discrimination on street cars in Washington, D.C. It should be noted first that the actual selection of Sojourner Truth’s account is right around 300 words, which could easily fit on half a page. Yet it takes the editors eight pages to present the selection due to the inclusion of comments by a modern scholar, two additional introductions to the selection, some really hokey preparatory material that almost exceeds the selection in length, a full-page portrait of Truth (in addition to her photograph that appears on another page), and a page and a half of more hokey questions following the selection, under titles such as “Critical Reading” and “Literary Analysis.” In short, in a more economical textbook such as the Norton Anthologies used in colleges, those eight pages could have had seven more pages of Sojourner Truth’s actual words. Thus, your tax dollars are paying for a lot less actual literature (or primary sources) than the size and cost of these hulking literature textbooks suggest.

Any number of questions arise. Why should outside scholars be brought in to offer “interpretations” (and to promote their writings)? That sort of thing did not happen when I was in school. Why should so much space be devoted to prompt questions before and after the reading? Is it not the province of competent teachers to come up with their own set of questions? Unless . . . (No, we’ll consider the question of teacher competence at a later time). How hokey are these questions? Here is a true/false question that appears under the heading “Vocabulary Acquisition and Use”: “Someone who experiences an assault will have positive feelings.” Answer [provided in the margins of the Teacher’s Edition]: “False. An assault is a violent attack, so someone who experiences an assault will probably experience fear or anger.” (This is for a class of high-school juniors.) Finally, would not this selection be better placed in a history class since it is really not a literary work: neither part of Truth’s original Narrative nor one of her famous speeches?

The mystery of why more space is not given to Sojourner Truth’s own words is solved when we actually read her. She was utterly clear on where her ideas of equality came from. In a speech to the Michigan State Sabbath School convention, she said this:

Does not God love colored children as well as white children? And did not the same Saviour die to save the one as well as the other? If so, white children must know that if they go to Heaven, they must go there without their prejudices against color, for in Heaven black and white are one in the love of Jesus.

In perhaps her most famous and powerful speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” she drew upon the same source:

That little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!

Further, in a famous encounter at an abolitionist rally before the Civil War, Frederick Douglass ended his address on a depressing note. Sojourner Truth stood up and asked, “Frederick, is God dead?” Despite faith in God being the chief source of her inspiration and in her speeches God being omnipresent, in this selection there is no mention of God. Perhaps this is just an accident, yet the glaring omission or misinterpretation of religion is something I have found again and again in the Common Core. In this case, we simply do not get the whole truth about Truth.

We begin to see the real point of the selection more clearly when we read what Nell Irvin Painter, a “well-known” and “award-winning” historian and former director of the African American Studies program at Princeton, and a leading scholar on Truth, writes in her introduction. At first glance, it does not appear that anything Professor Painter states is particularly incendiary. She writes of the discrimination Sojourner Truth experienced and how other black people faced similar treatment on public transportation up through the middle of the twentieth century, both being true statements. More subtly, however, Professor Painter tells us that there were “Two American Histories” at work:

Truth’s experience of discrimination in public transportation belongs to two American histories . . . The first history is that of Washington, D.C., a Southern city. The second history is that of discrimination against African Americans throughout the United States.

See how both of these “two histories” reflect poorly on the United States and her people? Why is neither one of these “two histories” the story of liberty? If we are to adopt the view that there were two American histories, would it not be more accurate to say that one of those histories was the stubbornness of human depravity that clung to the kinds of oppression and discrimination that had existed in the world for thousands of years—and the other was Americans’ centuries-long struggle to achieve liberty and justice, in other words, to make good on the principles of the Declaration of Independence? Did freedom in this country just appear out of nowhere with the civil rights movement? That is the impression given by Professor Painter’s “Themes Across Centuries: Scholar’s Insights,” phrases that have the Common Core seal stamped right next to them.

The reason for, or at least the effect of, the three introductions to Sojourner Truth’s 300-word account must now seem a little clearer. Students are told four different times that there was a lot of prejudice throughout America even after the Civil War. So much editorial warm-up in fact makes the actual selection, in which a streetcar conductor tries to prevent Truth from riding on his car, seem almost anti-climactic. Furthermore, so much emphasis is put upon the actions of the conductor that the company president’s firing of his employee and recommendation that he be tried for assault do not seem to count for much. So Truth (both the woman and the ideal) prevailed in this case. An instance of business and citizens and the law working in favor of liberty and equality, however, would not be a part of the “two histories” of America being presented here. So the glass must remain half empty.

Yet I think that the actual encounter of Sojourner Truth or learning anything about her great life is not the real purpose of this assignment. If the purpose were to learn about Sojourner Truth, at least one of her famous speeches in its entirety would be printed, as well as a much richer selection from her Narrative. No, the real purpose is to find something in her life that allows the textbook editors to paint the view of the world they want young people to have. That purpose we discover in a dialogue that unfolds under the headings “Critical Reading” in the students’ edition and “Critical Thinking” in the Teacher’s Edition adjacent Professor Painter’s introduction:

2. Key Ideas and Details (b) Speculate: Why do you think discrimination persisted in both the North and the South even after slavery ended?

Possible response [in Teacher’s Edition]: Discrimination persisted because it was deeply embedded in American traditions and because slavery had to be ended forcibly rather than voluntarily.

“Deeply embedded in American traditions”: that phrasing does not make “American traditions” sound terribly noble or desirable. Was not the striving for freedom and equality also a deeply embedded American tradition? The dialogue continues:

3. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Identify two ways in which Painter’s commentary helps you better understand Sojourner Truth’s experiences and reactions.

Possible response [in Teacher’s Edition]: Painter’s commentary shows how the incidents Truth relates are similar to events in our own time. . . .

Really? Professor Painter did not actually refer to discrimination in “our own time,” but rather implied that such things largely ceased after “the middle of the twentieth century.”

4. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Decide what an individual who experiences or witnesses discrimination should do.

Possible response [i.e. the response the teacher is supposed to program into the students]: Individuals experiencing or witnessing discrimination should record the name of the person doing the discriminating and report the incident as soon as possible. Witnesses should also do their best to take care of the victims if there is physical injury. They should also make it clear that they saw what happened and that it will be reported.

The lesson: since racism is so embedded in American traditions, and there is still plenty of racism out there, you teenagers (who are sensitive and emotional and easily provoked) need to go out looking for the slightest hint of racism and report it wherever you see it.

Here’s a question for “critical reading and thinking”: Is this lesson teaching American literature or community organizing via the public schools?

http://townhall.com/columnists/terrencemoore/2014/01/13/racebaiting-101-the-common-core-on-civil-rights-n1777289/page/full

The progressive takeover of the public schools—dreamed up by John Dewey and put into practice over the course of at least the last sixty years—has produced nothing other than absurdity, superficiality, and political bias in the nation’s classrooms. So utterly impoverished has become the quality of schooling and the nation’s conversation about it, that whenever a so-called “reform” comes into existence—engineered by the same folks who brought us school failure in the first place—we can hardly recognize it for the shell game that it is and the continued decline that it will produce.

Such is now the case with the Common Core, whose effects on the teaching of English are fivefold: a continuation of the mind-numbing ways of teaching literature that have plagued the schools for the last four or five decades; the further erosion of great literature by chopping up any remaining classics into slim excerpts almost hidden in the monstrous anthologized textbooks; the transparent promotion of post-modern and multicultural authors who paint a bleak, anti-heroic view of human life and of this country; the introduction of so-called “informational texts” (non-fiction works, often recently written) frequently lacking in literary value and whose purpose is outright political indoctrination; and the wholesale misinterpretation of American principles and what is generally called the good. We see the effects of this story-killing combination when we bother to look into actual textbooks—which essentially control the lessons of the public schools.

Last week I showed that the Common Core documents offer a model of how outside scholars might be deployed to offer slanted, erroneous views of foundational documents such as the Constitution. Now I should like to show how that same technique can be effected even more dramatically in a school textbook. Case in point: Sojourner Truth’s “An Account of an Experience With Discrimination,” featured in Pearson/Prentice Hall’s The American Experience, volume one, which deals with Truth’s efforts to end discrimination on street cars in Washington, D.C. It should be noted first that the actual selection of Sojourner Truth’s account is right around 300 words, which could easily fit on half a page. Yet it takes the editors eight pages to present the selection due to the inclusion of comments by a modern scholar, two additional introductions to the selection, some really hokey preparatory material that almost exceeds the selection in length, a full-page portrait of Truth (in addition to her photograph that appears on another page), and a page and a half of more hokey questions following the selection, under titles such as “Critical Reading” and “Literary Analysis.” In short, in a more economical textbook such as the Norton Anthologies used in colleges, those eight pages could have had seven more pages of Sojourner Truth’s actual words. Thus, your tax dollars are paying for a lot less actual literature (or primary sources) than the size and cost of these hulking literature textbooks suggest.

Any number of questions arise. Why should outside scholars be brought in to offer “interpretations” (and to promote their writings)? That sort of thing did not happen when I was in school. Why should so much space be devoted to prompt questions before and after the reading? Is it not the province of competent teachers to come up with their own set of questions? Unless . . . (No, we’ll consider the question of teacher competence at a later time). How hokey are these questions? Here is a true/false question that appears under the heading “Vocabulary Acquisition and Use”: “Someone who experiences an assault will have positive feelings.” Answer [provided in the margins of the Teacher’s Edition]: “False. An assault is a violent attack, so someone who experiences an assault will probably experience fear or anger.” (This is for a class of high-school juniors.) Finally, would not this selection be better placed in a history class since it is really not a literary work: neither part of Truth’s original Narrative nor one of her famous speeches?

The mystery of why more space is not given to Sojourner Truth’s own words is solved when we actually read her. She was utterly clear on where her ideas of equality came from. In a speech to the Michigan State Sabbath School convention, she said this:

Does not God love colored children as well as white children? And did not the same Saviour die to save the one as well as the other? If so, white children must know that if they go to Heaven, they must go there without their prejudices against color, for in Heaven black and white are one in the love of Jesus.

In perhaps her most famous and powerful speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” she drew upon the same source:

That little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!

Further, in a famous encounter at an abolitionist rally before the Civil War, Frederick Douglass ended his address on a depressing note. Sojourner Truth stood up and asked, “Frederick, is God dead?” Despite faith in God being the chief source of her inspiration and in her speeches God being omnipresent, in this selection there is no mention of God. Perhaps this is just an accident, yet the glaring omission or misinterpretation of religion is something I have found again and again in the Common Core. In this case, we simply do not get the whole truth about Truth.

We begin to see the real point of the selection more clearly when we read what Nell Irvin Painter, a “well-known” and “award-winning” historian and former director of the African American Studies program at Princeton, and a leading scholar on Truth, writes in her introduction. At first glance, it does not appear that anything Professor Painter states is particularly incendiary. She writes of the discrimination Sojourner Truth experienced and how other black people faced similar treatment on public transportation up through the middle of the twentieth century, both being true statements. More subtly, however, Professor Painter tells us that there were “Two American Histories” at work:

Truth’s experience of discrimination in public transportation belongs to two American histories . . .
The first history is that of Washington, D.C., a Southern city.
The second history is that of discrimination against African Americans throughout the United States.

See how both of these “two histories” reflect poorly on the United States and her people? Why is neither one of these “two histories” the story of liberty? If we are to adopt the view that there were two American histories, would it not be more accurate to say that one of those histories was the stubbornness of human depravity that clung to the kinds of oppression and discrimination that had existed in the world for thousands of years—and the other was Americans’ centuries-long struggle to achieve liberty and justice, in other words, to make good on the principles of the Declaration of Independence? Did freedom in this country just appear out of nowhere with the civil rights movement? That is the impression given by Professor Painter’s “Themes Across Centuries: Scholar’s Insights,” phrases that have the Common Core seal stamped right next to them.

The reason for, or at least the effect of, the three introductions to Sojourner Truth’s 300-word account must now seem a little clearer. Students are told four different times that there was a lot of prejudice throughout America even after the Civil War. So much editorial warm-up in fact makes the actual selection, in which a streetcar conductor tries to prevent Truth from riding on his car, seem almost anti-climactic. Furthermore, so much emphasis is put upon the actions of the conductor that the company president’s firing of his employee and recommendation that he be tried for assault do not seem to count for much. So Truth (both the woman and the ideal) prevailed in this case. An instance of business and citizens and the law working in favor of liberty and equality, however, would not be a part of the “two histories” of America being presented here. So the glass must remain half empty.

Yet I think that the actual encounter of Sojourner Truth or learning anything about her great life is not the real purpose of this assignment. If the purpose were to learn about Sojourner Truth, at least one of her famous speeches in its entirety would be printed, as well as a much richer selection from her Narrative. No, the real purpose is to find something in her life that allows the textbook editors to paint the view of the world they want young people to have. That purpose we discover in a dialogue that unfolds under the headings “Critical Reading” in the students’ edition and “Critical Thinking” in the Teacher’s Edition adjacent Professor Painter’s introduction:

2. Key Ideas and Details (b) Speculate: Why do you think discrimination persisted in both the North and the South even after slavery ended?

Possible response [in Teacher’s Edition]: Discrimination persisted because it was deeply embedded in American traditions and because slavery had to be ended forcibly rather than voluntarily.

“Deeply embedded in American traditions”: that phrasing does not make “American traditions” sound terribly noble or desirable. Was not the striving for freedom and equality also a deeply embedded American tradition? The dialogue continues:

3. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Identify two ways in which Painter’s commentary helps you better understand Sojourner Truth’s experiences and reactions.

Possible response [in Teacher’s Edition]: Painter’s commentary shows how the incidents Truth relates are similar to events in our own time. . . .

Really? Professor Painter did not actually refer to discrimination in “our own time,” but rather implied that such things largely ceased after “the middle of the twentieth century.”

4. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Decide what an individual who experiences or witnesses discrimination should do.

Possible response [i.e. the response the teacher is supposed to program into the students]: Individuals experiencing or witnessing discrimination should record the name of the person doing the discriminating and report the incident as soon as possible. Witnesses should also do their best to take care of the victims if there is physical injury. They should also make it clear that they saw what happened and that it will be reported.

The lesson: since racism is so embedded in American traditions, and there is still plenty of racism out there, you teenagers (who are sensitive and emotional and easily provoked) need to go out looking for the slightest hint of racism and report it wherever you see it.

Here’s a question for “critical reading and thinking”: Is this lesson teaching American literature or community organizing via the public schools?

http://townhall.com/columnists/terrencemoore/2014/01/13/racebaiting-101-the-common-core-on-civil-rights-n1777289/page/full