By Ben Velderman
INDIANAPOLIS – Common Core hasn’t been fully implemented yet, but it’s already making it easier for teachers to inject their political preferences into their lesson plans.
That’s the case in Indianapolis’ Cathedral High School, where English teacher Melinda Bundy bumped King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table from her curriculum in favor of a unit on President John F. Kennedy and the 1960s.
Bundy told NPR.org the change was made because one of the new national learning standards – known as Common Core – requires students to analyze a historical document.
That gave Bundy license to choose a topic she found worthwhile.
“I didn’t want to teach the Constitution, I didn’t want to teach the Declaration of Independence,” Bundy told NPR.org. “Then (Kennedy’s) inauguration speech came up under (recommended) historical documents. I adored JFK. I lived through his administration. I sat glued to the TV and watched everything about his assassination.”
Bundy had students watch a video of Kennedy’s inauguration, read the speech, analyze the content, and discuss it in class.
She then had her English students “research the ‘60s and find out what was actually going on in the U.S. as well as the world during Kennedy’s administration,” reports NPR.org.
Bundy’s students were then required to choose one event, issue, or problem and relate it to President Kennedy. The “space race,” the civil rights movement and the Cuban missile crisis were some of the topics covered.
There’s no indication that Bundy used the JFK unit to shill for her political views, whatever they may be.
But given that Common Core requires 70 percent of high school reading assignments to be based on nonfiction and historical texts, it’s reasonable to assume that many other English educators will use the “historical text” standard to bring their political causes into the classroom.
That’s already been happening, of course. EAGnews routinely reports on teachers who use their classrooms to promote (usually) left-wing political causes.
But under Common Core, those activist teachers will be able to excuse their behavior by simply saying, “Common Core made me do it.”
Indiana lawmakers have prudently hit the “pause” button on further implementation of Common Core. They’re going to take the next year or so to examine these obvious flaws in the new learning standards.
Legislators in Wisconsin have followed suit, and Michigan lawmakers are expected to de-fund Common Core until an impact study can be completed.