Sunday, May 11, 2014

Newark Teacher to Southern Poverty Law Center

Totalitarianism is never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within. .... Hannah Arendt 1951

Dear Southern Poverty Law Center,

I am neither a right wing Christian, nor a Tea Party supporter. In fact, I am a left of center Jew who has spent the vast majority of her life thus far in northern New Jersey.  Despite not exactly fitting your profile, I am an ardent opponent of Common Core, which by the way contrary to your contentions was bought and paid for by billionaire Bill Gates.

As a teacher, I have tried to tether my lesson planning to the vague, confusing and overlapping Common Core ELA standards. There are separate standards for literary and information texts. Which standard should I use, for example, for a lesson on distinguishing between fact and opinion? In my view, the previous New Jersey standards were far better tailored to the instruction of elementary school children.

Are the Common Core standards totalitarian in nature? A case could be made that the standards are being used for the purpose of "dominating and terrorizing human beings from within." Earlier this school term, I was told by an administrator that I was not to use any instructional materials that were not Common Core aligned. There is an element of an attempt at totalitarian control of thought in this type of top down management. So I with more years of teaching experience than I would like to admit would lack the requisite skills to select texts for my students? There are broader totalitarian impulses in the desire to have every child and teacher in the country marching in curricular lockstep. The beauty of our country lies in the cultural patchwork we as a nation have stitched together.

I would recommend that the
Southern  Poverty Law Center diversify its lunatic fringe category to include Yankee individualists marching to the beat of a different drummer like me. Forgive me, but how is the Common Core debate intertwined with Southern Poverty legal matters?

A Newark Teacher

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