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A Little Touchy About the Common Core

August 12, 2013

I tend to have spells in which I am not able to write much. I usually see them coming, but my silence the last couple of weeks has come at an inopportune time. When I don’t have the time to research and link evidence to my posts, I just prefer not to write at all.

I wish Superintendent Barresi had the same filter.

The Tulsa World reported this weekend that at a public forum on the Common Core State Standards resulted in tough questions for Barresi:

Barresi said Saturday that while Common Core state standards for English and math have been adopted in Oklahoma, standards in other subjects including science and social studies “were laced with very liberal principles,” prompting an ongoing revision process to make Oklahoma’s standards align with state values.

While the Oklahoma Academic Standards are being designed to provide a framework to prepare state students for college, career and citizenship, Barresi said it is the local districts that determine curricula as teachers design their own instruction for their classrooms.

“I don’t tell teachers how to teach a standard,” Barresi told the crowd that assembled on Saturday. “It’s impossible for me to tell a teacher how to teach something.”

She recalled an encounter she had as a parent with a teacher who taught students that President Ronald Reagan was a criminal due to the Iran/Contra affair and should have been impeached.

No matter what the standards are, liberal teachers will teach what they want unless a local school board intervenes, she said.

With that as a backdrop, Barresi encouraged audience members to “prayerfully” consider running for their local school boards and also to give teachers ideas about how standards can be taught.

On one hand, she is right. No set of printed standards can control how teachers instruct students. She is also right about the fact that we as humans view very little in this world through a neutral lens. On the other hand, Barresi fails to mention that the development of Oklahoma’s social studies standards were developed with the guidance of WallBuilders founder David Barton. Surely, none of the Oklahoma Academic Standards (just another name for the Common Core) were developed through that ultra-conservative lens.

When it comes to developing new science standards, the Oklahoma State Department of Education has sat on the sidelines. Rather than sending a delegation to participate in the development, we sat on the sidelines and plan to adopt a modified version of what other states developed. Basically, we’ll be cutting out all of the liberal content that was developed with the financial support of noted left-wing groups such as General Electric and DuPont.

I’m not in a position to say that Barresi’s encounter with a liberal teacher who thought President Reagan should have been impeached is being misrepresented. That’s the nature of anecdotes. They’re great for campaign sound bites, and you can’t confirm or disconfirm them very easily. The truth is that Barresi is 100 percent for the implementation of the Common Core. Look at every speech she has ever given on standards.

Now, however, she is in for the political fight of her life. She will face a formidable challenge in the primary. If she survives that, who knows what she will have left for the general election in November 2014?

It’s just politics. Brand the other side and pretend you were never on it.

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