Stanley Kurtz: Centralized Control of Curriculum Leads to Tyranny

Stanley Kurtz writing at National Review noted that parents are starting to wake up over the push for a national curriculum:

Why does President Obama want your child to read “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management” in school? It’s not the business of a president to shape your local school’s reading assignments. The Constitution and several federal laws prohibit it. Yet by conditioning federal education aid and regulatory waivers on state acceptance of the “Common Core,” Obama has managed to manipulate the states into adopting what is fast becoming a de facto national K–12 curriculum.

Parents across the country are just now waking up to the fact that President Obama has forced what is in effect a new curriculum on their local schools. This immensely important change ought to have been fully reported and debated during Obama’s first term. It’s a disgrace that the Democrat-controlled media never allowed that debate to happen…

…Early in the 20th century, progressive educators eager to transform society pushed to drastically reduce the place of classic literature in the curriculum and put in “socially useful” non-fiction readings instead. The movement culminated in the 1930s, when educators who believed that capitalism was on the way out succeeded in limiting the reading of classic literature and inserting a very left-leaning social studies curriculum in many schools. So while even literature can be taught in politically biased ways, those seeking to politicize the K–12 curriculum have long sought to pare back classic fiction and substitute non-fiction treating contemporary issues.

This is why the Founders kept control of the schools out of federal hands. No one party or force should be able to shape the entire nation’s school curriculum. There lies the way to tyranny.

The Common Core exemplars are only recommendations, yet many schools will simply adopt them as the path of least resistance. In any case, these examples serve to illustrate the mind-set of the creators of the Common Core, and warn of the many abuses sure to come when the largely left-leaning profession of teaching is given license to substitute political readings on current events for Tom Sawyer. Yes, the Common Core still includes suggested readings from literature, but the overall thrust of the changes is to greatly pare all that back in favor of easily politicized readings from “informational texts.”

Read the rest.