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Common Core: A Lesson Plan for Raising Up Compliant, Non-Thinking Citizens

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From http://www.flickr.com/photos/47873224@N06/8443765523/: 6 - The U.S. Civil Rights Movement
6 - The U.S. Civil Rights Movement by U.S. Embassy The Hague

"A fool with a tool is still a fool.  A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool."--Michael Fullan, international school reform authority, on the powerful "tool" that is Common Core

As I point out in my new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there are several methods for controlling a population. You can intimidate the citizenry into obedience through force, relying on military strength and weaponry such as SWAT team raids, militarized police, and a vast array of lethal and nonlethal weapons. You can manipulate them into marching in lockstep with your dictates through the use of propaganda and carefully timed fear tactics about threats to their safety, whether through the phantom menace of terrorist attacks or shooting sprees by solitary gunmen.  Or you can indoctrinate them into compliance from an early age through the schools, discouraging them from thinking for themselves while rewarding them for regurgitating whatever the government, through its so-called educational standards, dictates they should be taught.

Those who founded America believed that an educated citizenry knowledgeable about their rights was the surest means of preserving freedom. If so, then the inverse should also hold true: that the surest way for a government to maintain its power and keep the citizenry in line is by rendering them ignorant of their rights and unable to think for themselves.

When viewed in light of the government's ongoing attempts to amass power at great cost to Americans--in terms of free speech rights, privacy, due process, etc.--the debate over Common Core State Standards, which would transform and nationalize school curriculum from kindergarten through 12th grade, becomes that much more critical. 

Essentially, these standards, which were developed through a partnership between big government and corporations, in the absence of any real input from parents or educators with practical, hands-on classroom experience, and are being rolled out in 45 states and the District of Columbia, will create a generation of test-takers capable of little else, molded and shaped by the federal government and its corporate allies into what it considers to be ideal citizens.

Moreover, as Valerie Strauss reports for the Washington Post: "The costs of the tests, which have multiple pieces throughout the year plus the computer platforms needed to administer and score them, will be enormous and will come at the expense of more important things. The plunging scores will be used as an excuse to close more public schools and open more privatized charters and voucher schools, especially in poor communities of color. If, as proposed, the Common Core's "college and career ready' performance level becomes the standard for high school graduation, it will push more kids out of high school than it will prepare for college."

With so much money to be made and so many questionable agendas at work, it is little wonder, then, that attempts are being made to squelch any and all opposition to these standards. For example, at a recent public forum to discuss the implementation of these standards in Baltimore County public schools, one parent, 46-year-old Robert Small, found himself "pulled out of the meeting, arrested and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer" simply for daring to voice his discontent with the standards during a Q&A session with the superintendent.

Even calling this event a forum is disingenuous, given that attendees were not allowed to stand and ask questions. Instead, attendees were instructed to write their questions on a piece of paper, which the superintendent would then read and members of a panel would answer. In other words, there would be no time or room for debate, just a one-sided discussion. And this is what life in our so-called republic of the United States has been reduced to, a one-sided monologue by government officials who neither care about what "we the people" have to say, nor are they inclined to hear us out, just so long as we pay their taxes and abide by their laws. 

"Don't stand for this. You are sitting here like cattle," shouted Robert Small to his fellow attendees as he was being dragged out of the "forum" on the Common Core standards. "Is this America?"

No, Mr. Small, this is no longer America. This is, instead, fascism with a smile, sold to us by our so-called representatives, calculating corporations, and an educational system that is marching in lockstep with the government's agenda.

In this way, we are being conditioned to be slaves without knowing it. That way, we are easier to control. "A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude," writes Aldous Huxley. "To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers."

The purpose of a pre-university education in early America was not to prepare young people to be doctors or lawyers but, as Thomas Jefferson believed, to make citizens knowledgeable about "their rights, interests, and duties as men and citizens." As Jefferson observed, "I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves: and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is, not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."

Yet that's where the problem arises for us today. Most citizens have little, if any, knowledge about their basic rights, largely due to an educational system that does a poor job of teaching the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

Many studies confirm this. For instance, when Newsweek asked 1,000 adult U.S. citizens to take America's official citizenship test, 29% of respondents couldn't name the current vice president of the United States. Seventy-three percent couldn't correctly say why America fought the Cold War. More critically, 44% were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6% couldn't even circle Independence Day (the Fourth of July) on a calendar.

A survey of American adults by the American Civic Literacy Program resulted in some equally disheartening findings. Seventy-one percent failed the test. Moreover, having a college education does very little to increase civic knowledge, as demonstrated by the abysmal 32% pass rate of people holding not just a bachelor's degree but some sort of graduate-level degree.

That Americans are constitutionally illiterate is not a mere oversight on the part of government educators. And things will only get worse under Common Core, which as the Washington Post reports, is a not-so-subtle attempt "to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum." One principal, a former proponent who is now leading the charge against Common Core, quickly realized that Common Core was not about educational reform as President Obama would have us believe. Rather, it's about pushing a curriculum wrapped around incessant pre-testing, testing and test prep that teaches students how to take tests but not how to think, analyze or learn. 

As with most "bright ideas" coming out of the federal government, once you follow the money trail, it all makes sense. And those who stand to profit are the companies creating both the tests that will drive the school curriculum, as well as the preparatory test materials, the computer and software industries, and the states, which will receive federal funds in exchange for their cooperation.

Putting aside the profit-driven motives of the corporations and the power-driven motives of the government, there is also an inherent arrogance in the implementation of these Common Core standards that speaks to the government's view that parents essentially forfeit their rights when they send their children to a public school, and should have little to no say in what their kids are taught and how they are treated by school officials. This is evident in the transformation of the schools into quasi-prisons, complete with metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, and surveillance cameras. Equally arrogant are school zero tolerance policies that punish serious offenders of a school weapons policy the same as a child who draws a picture of a gun, no matter what the parents or students have to say about the matter. The result is a generation of young people browbeaten into believing that they have no true rights, while government authorities have total power and can violate constitutional rights whenever they see fit.

Yet as Richard Dreyfuss, Oscar-winning actor and civics education activist, warns: "Unless we teach the ideas that make America a miracle of government, it will go away in your kids' lifetimes, and we will be a fable. You have to find the time and creativity to teach it in schools, and if you don't, you will lose it. You will lose it to the darkness, and what this country represents is a tiny twinkle of light in a history of oppression and darkness and cruelty. If it lasts for more than our lifetime, for more than our kids' lifetime, it is only because we put some effort into teaching what it is, the ideas of America: the idea of opportunity, mobility, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly."
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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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I doubt Civics classes are being taught in middle ... by Judy Swindler on Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 2:44:04 PM
They are still teaching civics in high school, and... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:45:41 PM
Prussian style indoctrination centers is what we g... by Darren Wolfe on Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 7:39:33 PM
Fund things locally.  HC would need to be not... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:23:39 AM
Not paying taxes is what cavemen did, as far as I ... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:47:28 PM
PROGRESSIVE taxation would be nice.  Tax thos... by Jill Herendeen on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 3:54:43 PM
Spending it sensibly would be nice too. As in... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 5:01:25 PM
Why yes, also as in most developed countries--most... by Jill Herendeen on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:21:40 PM
Dealing with each other by force is what cavemen d... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:40:53 PM
Many Native Americans would be happy with this.&nb... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 11:04:14 AM
For almost 2 decades have wanted New England to sa... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 3:29:44 PM
Common  standards  are the only way for ... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:01:50 AM
You want common standards and that is the only way... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:31:07 AM
Good morning Bill Johnson. You wrote:"Let educatio... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:51:18 PM
I would let the results be the judge. Simple as th... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 1:05:29 PM
Results can't judge. People judge results. Who wil... by Adam Smith on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 4:50:29 PM
Let the parents judge as well as their elected sch... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 5:16:00 PM
Bill wrote: "The schools and teachers work for us.... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:20:52 PM
Well. I think you have a point there Bill. About t... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:10:30 PM
Lets fund things locally with public city or state... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 3:33:40 PM
'We are not yet a communist country and we do not ... by 911TRUTH on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 12:41:13 AM
We need to get local and learn to share the land a... by Michael Dewey on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 8:19:01 AM
"A fool with a tool is still a fool.  A fool ... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:17:38 AM
Those who founded America believed that an educate... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:26:29 AM
Did you know... there is another angle to this. Ba... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 10:37:42 AM
That figures.... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:03:08 AM
If you so respect "historical facts," why not decl... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:47:22 PM
Found it interesting when Johnson mentioned the pa... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 1:10:08 PM
You are welcome to your opinion, but Southerners s... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 1:10:35 PM
Opinions aren't the issue when you're affirming "f... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:23:46 PM
Again, you are welcome to your opinion and interpr... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:54:37 PM
[the North] "did everything they could to prevent ... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:27:48 PM
No rebuttal, notable by its absence. The south IMO... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 11:07:29 AM
Actually, Yankee by many versions is a condescendi... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:24:04 PM
What, no comment or acknowledgement? I wonder... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:36:04 PM
Most history books in today's school curriculum co... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:15:58 AM
LOLI'm accustomed to the "War of Northern Aggressi... by Julian Lobato on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 12:16:29 PM
Losers will fall over themselves to turn their man... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 1:30:25 PM
" I am a member of a historical organization- a So... by J. Edward Tremlett on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:24:41 PM
I don't agree with much of your diatribe, but I wi... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:31:52 PM
Explain how the "south" wasn't "free" before 1861,... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:37:53 PM
The colonies weren't oppressed before 1776, only e... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 3:54:25 PM
Agree not much is objective aside from gravity and... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:07:33 PM
Similarly, Lincoln could have taken the non-violen... by Maxwell on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:20:25 AM
I don't think the world needs a super power, but r... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:26:30 AM
I think that somehow the South region of what was ... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 11:30:04 PM
The Pennamite-Yankee War of 1769 pit residents of ... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:38:44 AM
I believe that We The People, in all Our Cultural ... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:37:19 PM
It is the same old game of divide and conquer alon... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:44:31 AM
I am not angry here- there is no way to be angry a... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:03:15 AM
And what are you a product of? A communist country... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:45:36 AM
To Mark Sashine: Is this "stupid noise" to you:How... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 11:55:22 AM
As I said, everything can be abused... US is espec... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:10:06 PM
Gee Mark,I think the point of the article is that ... by Jonathan Dickau on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:10:45 PM
Not thinking the same- having the same curriculum.... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:26:58 PM
It is useful to emphasize that while states certai... by Robert S. Becker on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 12:54:58 PM
Becker said: "Losers lose history when they lose w... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 5:38:16 PM
So we all lost the wars and now you get to run thi... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 5:39:45 PM
Had to be complicated times when Jackson started t... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 6:27:05 PM
I really do wonder what you are teaching your chil... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 9:22:59 PM
The land was stolen from the Cherokee first and th... by Bill Johnson on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 9:46:29 PM
Thank you for the references and links, Bill. I wi... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:44:28 AM
There were also Northern volunteers from every Con... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:51:48 AM
Well said this.... by Daniel Penisten on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 8:41:50 PM
 Sir,  I wish you explained to everybody... by Ad Du on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 8:37:54 AM
There may not be one right answer in physics but t... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 1:00:40 PM
I'm no expert in education but I think it's well e... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 1:04:00 PM
let's not forget that many schools, particularly c... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:54:05 AM
Good work. I like and appreciate the article, exce... by E. J. N. on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:16:54 PM
Every now and then, a teacher actually finds some ... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:57:36 PM
Professor Granovsky, the famous Russian historian ... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 6:25:19 PM
I am sorry for being so harsh  but whenever&n... by Mark Sashine on Tuesday, Sep 24, 2013 at 6:41:10 PM
America is the land of the dolts.  We are cru... by Lester Shepherd on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:25:55 AM
I see this. Parasites do seem to die, after they h... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:51:30 AM
Daniel:I'm sure u will find that it is money, youn... by Lester Shepherd on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 2:49:50 PM
The problem most recognized with common core is th... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 4:03:42 PM
Surely the smarter kids can be given additional ed... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 11:48:58 PM
  Sir,  I hope Mr. Johnson wouldn't mind... by Ad Du on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 8:09:16 AM
Wasting my chance to keep my mouth shut ... M... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:18:23 PM
(So, yes, as Mr. Sashine said, university entrance... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:24:00 PM
 Did you notice the talk about a 68-question... by Ad Du on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 10:02:44 PM
OEN.org should be discussed in all social classes ... by Michael Dewey on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 2:17:43 PM
What happened to the great southern wordsmith? &n... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 4:21:36 PM
I would ask that you read the orders of secession ... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:01:55 PM
***Please read this first sentence below very care... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:03:41 PM
The States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Conne... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:05:12 PM
By consolidating their strength, they have placed ... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:06:21 PM
And, finally, by the combined sectional vote of th... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:07:44 PM
By the secession of six of the slave-holding State... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:08:26 PM
For the record I do not believe in nor support sla... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:15:53 PM
Part IThanks for the elaborate but largely irrelev... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 6:10:26 PM
Part IIYes, the South was a minority and more so o... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 6:25:15 PM
Part III I make no defense of all Northerners, nor... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 6:35:41 PM
I second this.  I would also like to mention ... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 7:07:56 PM
Yes, the "southern" war for "independence" had the... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:36:07 PM
The South had/has a distinct, robust ideology, mai... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:58:31 PM
Thank you Bill Johnson. For finding and sharing th... by Daniel Penisten on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 1:07:21 PM
I am thinking both of you dismiss way too easily e... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 8:56:03 PM
This is moralistic claptrap IMO as no one here def... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:10:00 PM
I see. So Native Indians were not victims and can ... by Bill Johnson on Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:34:59 PM
"I see. So Native Indians were not victims and can... by J. Edward Tremlett on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 7:57:28 AM
  Sir,  I'd brag I did. I even met one o... by Ad Du on Thursday, Sep 26, 2013 at 8:28:35 AM
interesting to know, and thanks for the insight. B... by J. Edward Tremlett on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 12:05:13 AM
Good morning Ad Du. You wrote: "Perhaps for my own... by Daniel Penisten on Friday, Sep 27, 2013 at 1:22:33 PM
Mind Control through the organized, well planned, ... by thepiffler on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 1:27:44 PM
Mind Control through the organized, well planned, ... by thepiffler on Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013 at 1:28:21 PM