NORTH BELLMORE, N.Y. – Gwendolynn Britt isn’t pleased that her daughter’s fifth-grade class is spending several weeks on its study of the United Nations and human rights, but she’s especially wary of the information students might be taught as part of the unit.
Those concerns were legitimized Tuesday when Britt reviewed a vocabulary assignment her daughter received in her class at Saw Mill Road Elementary School, which is part of New York’s North Bellmore School District.
In one of the assigned questions, students were instructed to use vocabulary words to explain, “What are human rights?”
Britt’s daughter offered the following answer, probably based on what she was taught in class:
“Human rights are rights articulated by the government to uphold this country in shape. These rules are inalienable. They protect our country. The human rights are one of the most important rights ever. I think they hold this country together.”
To Britt’s surprise, the teacher gave full credit for that answer, which contradicts the Declaration of Independence, which states that individual rights derive from God, not government.
Britt clarified the origins of human rights for her daughter and plans to do the same with her teacher.
“Human rights are natural rights or God-given rights because you exist, not because they were doled out to you by your government,” Britt tells EAGnews. “The government works for you – it does not determine your humanity.”
The assignment comes from a Human Rights Vocabulary and Common Prefixes unit produced by Expeditionary Learning. This lesson and other Common Core-aligned exercises are being disseminated on EngageNY.org, a website maintained by the New York State Department of Education.
A one-week series of similar lessons, reviewed by EAGnews, reveals that students will be directed to focus heavily on the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
These types of lessons will do nothing to alleviate the fears of many that Common Core’s emphasis on “informational texts” will be used to promote liberal, anti-religious political philosophies to children.
EAGnews is seeking a response from Saw Mill Elementary officials regarding the assignment, and will publish their comments if and when they become available.