Sex, Lies and Common Core

I am working on another post related to the opposition of Common Core…but decided to put it aside after I got the email embedded below on Monday.

Common Core should be a boon to education in this country. It will set some standards on student achievement that make sense for math and English…the only two subjects currently involved. The State of Wisconsin decided to adopt Common Core some years ago without any fanfare or backlash. But recently it has garnered a lot of attention from the far right and the tea party and I am not quite sure why.

But let me preface this next bit with a few high level attributes about Common Core. It is NOT a federal program…it was developed by a consortium of the states. It is NOT mandated in anyway…the states can choose to adopt them if they so desire. The only input from the Feds is they will accept Common Core principles and achievement testing as part of the Race to the Top federal education initiative. Common Core does NOT prescribe any particular curriculum or text book or teaching method. That is all left up to the local school districts…the nonsense about loss of local control is in fact utter nonsense.

So…now we come to the email that I received on Monday evening. It is pure disgusting vile lies about the Common Core initiative. The discussion is so heinous that I find it hard to believe that anyone even can take this seriously. Yet there it is in living color. Now you can see why there are people so vehemently opposed to Common Core…I would be too if any of this were even remotely close to accurate. Yet people are sharing this back and forth and taking it as fact…where do we stop this crap? Why has common sense become such a rare commodity? My goodness…

Now, I never have ever listened to Vicki McKenna who is prominently quoted in this email. I don’t know if this is even realistic for her show. I don’t know if she actually said any of these things. But if she did, I can’t imagine that anyone listening can take this for fact and not think it’s a parody of tea party philosophy.

Well, I couldn’t believe that lies this blatant would even be considered fit for any media…talk radio included. So I reached out the program director at WISN for comment…and have not had any response. If I do get a response I will update this post.

But here is the email…yes from someone I know. When I paste it here it will lose the formatting…so I will let you know that the font and font size vary through out…as if cut and pasted from more than one source plus additional commentary from the sender. I have not corrected any grammar or spelling nor have I waded into it to append the appropriate (sic):

Catch any of the Vicki McKenna talk radio show on Friday if you live near Milwaukee? She got her hands on some

of the Common Core curriculum and text books that will be used in WI schools if the legislature

agrees to implement the federally run program which essentially turns the state’s education system over

to fed control. Core supporters say it’s the only way to guarantee that all education is the same for everyone

across the country.

One of the reading exercises contained in the curriculum for fourth graders (10 year olds) instructs kids that they should learn how to masturbate if they don’t already know how saying it’s good for them and even if their religious beliefs say that it’s sinful …. pay no attention to that …. much better you should masturbate than get pregnant or get a veneral disease. The lesson plan is complete with handouts of pictures (not sure if they’re photos or drawings) and closeups of 10-year-old boys and girls’ genitals pointing out the most sensitive spots along with very explicit how-to instructions. The descriptions are so vivid that McKenna could not read them on the air and had to paraphrase what was said or she would have been in violation of FCC rules.

Let’s see: you can’t read this to a bunch of adults listening to the radio without being in violation of the law but perfectly fine for 10 year olds to read. And if you think this is just for public schools ….. think again ….. it applies to all education …. public, private, parochial and even home schoolers would be required to present these lesson plans…. thus the name Common Core.

What a country …..a kid can’t bring an asprin to school, point his finger at someone like it was a gun, would be labeled a sexual predator for the rest of their lives if he or she innocently kissed someone in his or her class …… But, hey, go ahead and masturbate. Surprised they don’t have a “hands-on” lab so the kids can try out their newly learned skills. Know anyone with young children …. you may want to pass it along before it’s too late and this garbage is implemented in Wis. Going national, too, so it’s not just here. Also teaching the kids that the Presidency is the most important branch of the government.

Very heated debate going on in the state legislature as we speak. All part of the plan ….. once you’ve got control of the kids, you own the culture. Parochial schools and home schoolers were standing in the way of making that happen ….. so now we take away all other options and force the curriculum down the throats of mostly unaware citizens. But you won’t be reading about any of this in the local lefty paper or see any stories on TV news.

Not the fourth grade I remember.

There is room in this country and certainly in this state for a serious discussion on education. We have not done a very good job on this front in recent memory. But this kind of blatant ignorant diatribe with absolutely no basis in fact has to stop. And stop now!


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14 thoughts on “Sex, Lies and Common Core

  1. Hah – what timing. I’ll admit I haven’t followed the Common Core stuff very closely. I have a brother who taught for 7 or 8 years & is now in administration – overall, he’s been positive of both Act 10 (though reluctantly, with reservations on that) and Common Core. So between what I’ve heard from him & my superficial understanding of it (that it’s backed by good research, that it aims to increase the standards & consistency while still providing flexibility, etc) it seems good to me.

    So to the timing thing. I just went to parent-teacher conferences for my 6th grader last night. There was an optional presentation by our District Administrator. It was supposed to be an overview of the district philosophy, goals & that sort of thing. Maybe 20% of it involved Common Core. It was a fiasco. Certainly eye opening. Normally I’d consider that a good thing, but in this case, not so much. First thing I said to my wife when I came home was that I had no idea we had so many F-ing crazy people in our town. I hope the people speaking up were just a very vocal minority, but man the conspiracy theories these people were spouting out. Federal tax dollars requiring schools to install video cameras so they could do facial recognition, that sort of thing.

  2. Every time I see some right wing nut diatribe like this I’m reminded of the best movie I’ve seen in the last year or so, Scott’s “The Counselor.” In it, Brad Pitt’s character warns Fassbender’s character about the drug dealers of Mexico, “You may think there are things these people are not capable of, but there are not.”

  3. It is not only teahadists that are against common core. The development was controlled by big business-Pearson, ACT, Gates, Students First, Fordham Institute. It is part of privatizing public ed. Thanks to Arne Duncan and Race to the Top we have Effective educator, new SLD laws, Common Core and Smarter Balance ALL AT ONCE. Time to swarm!!

  4. Ed, great post but I was wondering who sent this email. The tea party loons in Wi have doubled down on common core crazy. I argued that the fact that the tea party “leaders” in WI sent that letter to Walker argung against CCSS is proof that we desperately need them!

    Hey Locke and CK, hope all is well!

  5. I’m well Jeff, thanks for asking. Best wishes to you as well. I’ve been busy with work & family & just get burned out on politics sometimes – I’ve discovered that disengaging for a bit is good for the sanity.

    I think many of the initial principles & ideals of the tea party movement were good ones. But I guess, as “leaderless” movements tend to do, things fall apart. Power hungry hacks step up into the vacuum & a lack of focus leads to a meandering mess as anything & everything gets thrown at the wall to see what (if anything) sticks. And ultimately it’s been mostly co-opted by the fringe. To be honest, it seems pretty analogous to OWS.

    But back to the coo coo for cocoa puffs folks railing against Common Core…I don’t doubt that there are some elements where reasonable people can disagree. Most endeavors of any sort of magnitude & ambition will. But the complaints I heard had no reasonableness to them – just off the deep end stuff. That conspiracy nuts exist isn’t news to me. Heck, I often enjoy the genre when it comes to “popcorn movies” & (fictional) books. But at least locally in my small town school district, I hadn’t seen these folks & just want them to stay the hell out of how my kids’ schools are run.

  6. W/R/T the tea party, there’s strong agreement with liberals on three issues, prosecuting Wall Street, ending the foreign occupations, and legalizing marijuana. Those three issues point to where the 1% invest, Wall Street, military-industrial-complex, and Big Pharma.

    Back to Common Core, agree that the corporatization of education is a really bad thing. Think C.P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” is critical for understanding the challenges facing education.

    The ever-increasing levels of specialization within all discipline put a premium in inter-disciplinary communication. It’s not just that that Chemistry department can’t communicate with the Physics, Biology, Math. It’s that disciplines within those broad departments can’t communicate with each other.

    Bill Gates didn’t invent the gui (graphical user interface) Windows, he stole it from the engineers at Xerox who didn’t understand what they had. Gates knew a lot more folks would use computers if they didn’t have to learn DOS.

    Steve Jobs didn’t invent any new technology in the iPhone. His genius was taking existing technologies and integrating them into a single unit.

    AFAIK, computer assisted education, “bricks and clicks,” will be dominated by who controls/owns the copyright to the digital “learning objects,” and the tests.

    1. John, Gates didn’t even invent DOS, he got most of that from IBM, who didn’t want to go into the personal computer business. Jobs at Apple and Adari began development on the Wisiwig and Gates new he had to get on board, so his buddies at Harvard gave him a boost with the Xerox research.
      It’s my speculation that Harvard similarly assisted facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and Dell founder, Michael Dell, as Stanford assisted Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. That’s how brains behind the U.S.’s digital global strategy was composed. Such a loosely connected operation as the U.S.’s was bound to sprout leaks and thus we have the NSA trying to protect it–and every nation on earth resenting it. This is among th reasons we have to be involved in Kyoko and TTIP–to maintain some global democratic principles.

  7. See my blog post (URL below) at DailyKos regarding this issue in Wisconsin. While there are legitimate (and not just hysterical tea party-based) concerns over the methodology and main focus of Common Core, the Republican reaction in Wisconsin, Walker-led and transformed into a “reform” bill now racing through the legislature, would be far worse than Common Core. The Walker prescription amounts to a further takeover by the state of public education, grabbing yet more control from local school districts, boards, teachers and parents. See:

  8. Cat Kin: John Casper is right.

    1. Gates acquired all, not most of DOS, but not from IBM. He sold licenses *to* IBM after buying all rights to DOS from its developer, a sole-proprietor programmer, for just $50K. Then Gates conned IBM into letting him license it for the IBM-PC, instead of buying it from him outright, as he himself did. Big mistake by IBM. Brilliant business move by Gates, but not a shred of computer-science smarts involved. IBM’s marketroids thought they were the smarter guys in the room and got taken; that’s all.

    2. It was Jobs, not Gates, who appropriated Xerox developments in graphical user interfaces and the mouse pointing device — almost at the invitation of Xerox executives, who (like IBM) had little clue regarding the value of what their engineers had devised. Much of Apple’s following development was overseen not by Jobs but by original partner, computer whiz Steve Wozniak. Note that the GUI idea became conventional wisdom in a hurry. Within months of the Mac’s introduction, the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST both sported GUIs — color in the Amiga’s case and both machines arguably equal or superior to the Macs of that era. The Mac eventually won out only because Apple’s marketing operation was far biggest and far more ruthless — until Microsoft went it one better.

    3. After enticing Jobs to show him the Mac in advance and getting his hands on a prototype (ostensibly so he could develop MS Office for it), Gates got his team to reverse-engineer some of the Apple GUI concepts into the first very crude version of Windows, then over the next decade almost ran Apple into the ground, despite selling an inferior product. Again, not much in the way of smarts required, mostly just chutzpah.

    Much of the above is documented in a fine HBO movie from a decade ago entitled, “Pirates of Silicon Valley.” Neither Gates nor Jobs benefited much from university computer-science research. I doubt Zuckerberg did, either, beyond the basics. They were geeks and/or showmen, fiercely focused on making money off computers any way possible. Not a genius or original thinker among them, Wozniak the lone exception. The rest were mainly money-grubbing capitalists who succeeded because they were driven and very clever marketeers. Gates, after all, was a business major who never finished his degree although he could program a bit in BASIC, and Jobs was an early college drop-out. Jobs simply knew a good thing when he saw one. Couldn’t solder a circuit board or write a line of code if his life depended on it. Arguably, they were Renaissance men, at least of a sort, and likewise they were extremely lucky.

    No one should use them as unassailable examples of how to succeed in school, much less how to improve education.

    1. Ah, a fellow fan of tech history. Cringely’s Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can’t Get a Date is my favorite. (Just can’t help myself, I always have to go with the full name:)

      I’d pick a few nits though. I think you’re a little tough on Gates & Jobs. While certainly both made their fortunes on business/marketing acumen (and borrowing, stealing, manipulating others) they were both capable programmers in their day. Any great tech manager needs to have at least enough knowledge to be able to identify exceptional work from others.

      I think it’s very unfair to say they weren’t original thinkers & were driven by money. Though certainly that was a factor especially during the middle part of their careers, Jobs in particular was a visionary in terms of seeing how the world could be better & striving to make it so. Those early years were driven by love for discovery, of making electronics & software do cool new things. Nobody really had any clue whether a market would actually develop & make them rich. Though no denying it did come later.

      I grew up an Apple fan & Microsoft hater. That said, I think the comparisons of Gates as a modern day Rockefeller or Carnegie are good ones. For all the cutthroat, monopolist practices he did to make his billions, I think his philanthropy through his later years will make the world substantially better. Well over a billion dollars to fight AIDS, TB & malaria.


      then over the next decade almost ran Apple into the ground, despite selling an inferior product.

      Agreed, but Apple certainly did it’s part to help.

    2. Thanks, Ron!

      I’ve caught snippets of this over the many years since I bought my first IBM computer back in ’87 along with DOS 5, Ventura Publisher and Word Perfect. Was told I had to buy a mouse for Ventura and an HP laser printer. All told my 10 MB hard drive and peripherals cost almost $13,000 and most of my reading time for a few months.

      The thing about Gates, Wozniac, Brin and Page, is that I found in my relationships with the University set is that they have a pretty good handle on all the science talent across the country. Think football or basketball recruiting.

      Academia is also involved heavily with government research in every social aspect of this country which dissects every aspect of marketing and financials. Ever hear of a government grant on the meaning of the number ‘4’? This stuff is seeded of course by private businesses and corporations seeking to maintain market shares–or dominance.

      And then there is the “executive intuition” also a part of decision theory. Jobs is the best example of this as he was forced out of Apple, probably due to his poor standing academically. And of course we all know how the Apple almost folded in the late 80s and early nineties before they brought him back in.

      Gates, however, was always supported, and was able to call on unlimited marketing support to develop a free browser and defeat numerous law suits as he incorporated digital program after program into Windows.

      So NSA leaks has always been rather old news to me. The U.S. Government and academia have never had any trust in the private citizen that they couldn’t control. But we still need to get Citizen’s United repealed, or the Government and academia are going to lose all control to the international corporation.

  9. Can anyone tell me where I can attend a pro-Common Core informational meeting?? Have attended the aforementioned meeting but would like to get the other side of the issue.

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