Common Core-aligned lesson about fairness turns into an homage to Cesar Chavez, Big Labor

October 21, 2013

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Kyle Olson Kyle Olson

Kyle founded Education Action Group in 2007.
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MUSKEGON, Mich. – Schools in more than 40 states have begun teaching students according to the new Common Core math and English standards.

scales of fairnessBecause of the new standards, thousands of school districts have replaced their previous curriculum with new, Common Core-ready textbooks and teaching materials.

We at EAGnews wanted to find out what kinds of lessons American school children will be taught under the new standards.

We also wanted to find out what kind of values and ideological perspectives are incorporated in those lessons, as they will help shape the next generation of Americans.

To that end, we purchased a collection of Common Core-aligned teacher guides produced by the Zaner-Bloser company.

We discovered a series of lessons for very small children that are very political in nature, and are designed to promote a Big Labor perspective. Is that by accident or design?

The guides are for 1st through 6th grades, and they provide teachers with week-long lessons that are built around various Common Core-aligned texts.

The Zaner-Bloser company groups these English language arts lessons according to themes. For example, there are teacher guides that address the topics of giving, making choices and solving community problems.

One particular collection of lessons geared for 2nd graders has the theme of “equality.”

Unbalanced ‘Scales of Fairness’  

It’s no surprise that one of the “equality” lessons deals with union organizer Cesar Chavez. America’s government schools have virtually deified Chavez, and Zaner-Bloser has, too.

For those unfamiliar with Chavez, he was one of the founders of the United Farm Workers union. He’s also credited with originating the slogan “Si se puede” which is translated as “Yes, we can!”

Sound familiar?

So as you can see, Chavez is a major icon for the labor unions and progressives. Which brings us back to this teaching guide.

Second-grade teachers who use the Zaner-Bloser guide take a week to read and digest “Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez.”

The book is a convenient way for the curriculum producers to introduce seven- and eight-year olds to what they call the “Scales of Fairness.”

After the kids read the book, they’re asked to list the living conditions of the farm workers on one side of the scale.

The living conditions of the land owners – or business owners – go on the opposite.

Teachers are instructed to tell students, “Fairness and equality exist when the scales are balanced” and that “unfairness and inequality exist when the scales are weighted heavily to one side and are out of balance.”

The guide then instructs teachers to ask students, “Do you think both sides are equal?”

And in case the teacher isn’t too bright, the guide puts the correct answer in parentheses: “No.”

Teachers are then instructed to have students explain their answers.

Again, the guide provides a correct sample answer: “It is not fair when workers can’t make enough money to buy food.”

Why are we teaching organized labor lessons to young children?  Isn’t there a simpler way to teach about fairness, like saying it’s not fair if Johnny works all day and gets one piece of candy while Jimmy plays video games all day and gets the same piece of candy?

That’s a sound lesson in fairness that skips the political part. You don’t suppose the lesson creators truly meant to get political – and start indoctrinating – children that young, do you?

Remember, this lesson is geared for seven- and eight-year-olds. These kids don’t have any understanding about economics or property rights.

And they won’t understand that most first-generation Americans came to this country with very little except the hope to one day escape poverty through hard work and give their children a better life than they had. And many of them found better lives.

That’s what makes America exceptional and a destination for millions of people each year. But the Zaner-Bloser company doesn’t tell that side of the story with its Common Core-aligned lessons.

They’re too busy training young elementary-age kids to view their country as mean and unfair and unequal, so they will vote appropriately when they’re old enough.

And it all comes with the Common Core seal of approval.

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