Comment from a reader:


I’ve been rereading FAHRENHEIT 451 and in 1951 Ray Bradbury saw today coming. He has his protagonist’s boss say, “Give the people contests they win by remembering….names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data….and facts….. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking….And they’ll be happy because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. …..” He goes on to point out that thinking critically leads to unhappiness because critical thinking leads to conflicting theory and thought. No Utopian society is possible unless everyone is happy and thinking alike.

Gads. Doesn’t that sound like common core? Make all the round pegs fit in the square holes. There is only one correct answer to a MC question. Grade the essay by the number and length of words and the number of mechanical errors. Doesn’t matter if kids are required by law to have accommodations. Doesn’t matter if they just moved to this country and never had a day of education anywhere. Doesn’t matter if a kid sees something new in a book and defends it with evidence from the text.

Teachers should be capos: we tune the student’s mind like a metal bar across a guitar fret changes the key of a song. Capo teachers know their students, recognize that what works for one will not work for another. Capo teachers know that one child’s sculpture can represent the deepest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, while another student may write a poem, or even write an essay which also expresses their deep level understanding. But both CCSS and standardized testing are trying to make teachers into KAPOs, a Nazi concentration camp prisoner who was given privileges if they would supervise work gangs.

I will not be a Kapo. I will endeavor on a daily basis to convince my students that they are far more than a data point on a chart, that they and their parents should have a voice in how education continues in this wonderful country of ours.

My hat is off to all the Badass Teachers who stand up for their students. Yes, I need my job as much as the next person, maybe more, as I am my sole support. But I will not be forced into becoming a child abuser through the guise of “rigor” (mortis). The deformers, like Gates and Walton, Rhee and ALEC and Broad have manipulated facts and used scare-tactic rhetoric to mold the public mind for their own financial well being.

I am reminded in the scene in SCHINDLER’s LIST where the older gentleman is registering for the ghetto. The Nazi officer tags him as nonessential. As Stern leads him away to safety, the older man says, “Nonessential? I don’t think he knows what the word means. I am a teacher of history and philosophy”.

I already lost most of my family to the Holocaust. I will not go down this time without a fight.