professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Here's the pitch!

I was reading through the status updates on Facebook this morning when I saw a piece posted by Kim McCollum-Clark. I followed the link and landed here eventually ( At Facebook, there was quite a discussion among FB friends like Paul Hankins, Kim, Cindy Minnich, and others. I must admit the title of this piece, Christians Should Reject David Coleman’s Common Core Charm Offensive, is what drew me in. I was expecting something of the same posting as I have seen on the far right anti-Common Core blogs (i.e., Glenn Beck) that are calling for an end to CCSS because it infringes on state's rights and makes for a federal curriculum (and there is, of course, a kernel of truth to that assertion). Instead, what I learned was this:

1. Coleman had met with a select group of Christian leaders to let them know that CCSS was perfect for them as Christians. Here is the quote: "According to Mr. Coleman, students "educated" under Common Core will be better readers and better able to understand Scripture, and thus will enjoy deeper and more satisfying spiritual lives."

Wow. I was happy I had not sipped my coffee at that moment as it might have gone spewing and hit one of the cats. I made some sort of strangled noise of disbelief. This pitch reminded me of one I saw a few years ago from AR (who is already "aligned" with CCSS) that asserted using AR reduced discipline problems in schools in addition to raising test scores and creating readers (none of which it really does, but that is for another post).

2. More importantly, I learned that this writer was someone who is questioning CCSS and its pedagogy. This careful and reflective analysis is well written, even in tone (I should learn from this), and raises some interesting questions. Among the questions is this: "What is Coleman’s evidence that switching focus from classic literature to nonfiction (including Federal Reserve documents and the EPA’s "Recommended Levels of Insulation") will create better readers?"

The writer, Jane Robbins, goes on to discuss the fact that the reading of Scripture requires some close reading, of course, but it also needs that reading to be done in context and with some background information. I encourage you to read the entire piece to see the reasoned response to someone pitching curriculum as "aligned" with Christianity.

And, of course, now I wonder how many other meetings such as this one took place. Other religions? Other groups with special interests? I wonder how Coleman pitched CCSS to different groups? I think there are some parodies out there waiting to be written that show Coleman speaking to other groups, altering his pitch, making CCSS seem as it if is indeed THE answer, the magic bullet, the panacea for all our fears (and the fears are mostly those he has created himself).

What I have yet to hear is a pitch for the kids themselves. I wonder how that would go? "Hey kids, want to FINALLY see teachers doing a dog and pony show? Aching for standards that will make you feel like failures? Ready for even MORE tests? Have I got a answer for you: CCSS! Everything you have grown to hate in school but MORE and BIGGER and MEANER."

Now, back to some reading that requires me to go beyond the four corners, the BOX Coleman would like to put around me and books and reading. Not. Gonna. Happen.
Tags: ccss, close reading, coleman, religion
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