Un-common Core: The Continued Mis-Education Of African Americans
Carter G. Woodson penned a timeless classic on mis-education
Common Core State Standards created by the Council of State School Officers and the National Governors Association are inadequate for all American school children. Now adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia and four territories, the Standards are demeaning and particularly unacceptable for students of African descent.
While there is presently considerable dissent among states, parents, educators and even students, with regard to the suitability of the standards for all students, those states which reverse their adoption of the Standards risk their eligibility for Race to the Top funds. Yet, in spite of pressure from the White House for national acceptance of the Standards, the State of New York Assembly and Senate, for example, have recently introduced a bill to "discontinue implementation of the Common Core State Standards".
In the interest of students of color, it is important that Black and Latino legislators support the bill to end the government required Common Core State Standards in New York State.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D. Harvard, wrote in his classic book, The Mis-education of the Negro (1933), that education in America was intended purposefully to make people of African descent feel inferior and people of European descent appear superior. That white supremacist purpose was then and is now still manifested in teacher training, in curriculum, in instruction, in books, newspapers, broadcasting, films and, most importantly, in public discourse, philosophy and institutionalized in public policy.
Criticism of the Common Core State Standards: Common Core State Standards are untruthful about the United States' history. CCSS assume an American population embodied with a similar history of freedom and cultural “neutrality” or “universality”. That assumption is incorrect with regard to the history and present experience of students of African descent whose ancestors bore the scars of physical and mental chains of enslavement, and who themselves, whether they recognize it or not, are still victimized by a white supremacist culture and school curriculum.
No other culture came to America in chains to be eradicated or suppressed and vilified by Americans of European descent who have historically and presently been accorded unearned special privileges because of their skin color and heritage (despite the class differences among them).
Claims of the new standards: Although the new standards claim that no specific curriculum materials are being advocated, in several areas that specify common standards in English Language Arts, and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, and technical subjects, the "sample" of illustrative texts rarely contains any books or writings by Black authors, and, for that matter any writings by Hispanic/Latino, Native American or Asian writers. The "illustrative" texts for student readings in the formative grades K-5 contain no readings identifiable as written by authors of color.
The CCSS claim these are only recommendations, not required readings. Presumably states are free to choose their own readings. Then how can these readings be considered Common Core? The State of Texas, for example, has decided to remove such illustrious Americans as President Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from its textbooks and curriculum.
Major Criticisms of CCSS: There are no recommendations for truthful readings or discussions that will help all students of whatever ethnicity or gender to become divested of cultural, racial, gender or sexual biases.
Such divestment is critical, not only for American born and educated students, but particularly for incoming immigrants who often bring with them their own biases and racial impressions of Americans of African descent.
In the areas of mathematics and science, a failed curriculum relies heavily on rote memorization for high stakes tests, rather than inquiry based learning of math, science and technology. This is coupled with inadequately educated mathematics and science teachers who have to rely on the textbook industry to tell them what and how to teach.
Moreover, continuing to omit the historical foundations of science as originating in Africa often results in Black students not seeing themselves as mathematicians or scientists.
The current “education” of African American students is an ongoing process of "Educational Genocide", the deliberate dumbing down of a people while erasing or distorting their history to benefit other ethnic groups.
Without a truthful history of its founding, how it acquired enormous wealth and power on the backs of enslaved Africans, the United States will continue to remain a segmented nation, one which in several decades will find white Americans the new minority, but still in control of the nation's major resources, primarily through the deliberate "Mis-education of the Negro".
For our more detailed critique of the Common Core State Standards and our National Black Education Agenda recommendations, go to- www.blackeducationnow.org/id17.html
Donald H. Smith, Ph.D: Former Chair, the New York City Board of Education's Commission on Students of African Descent
Founding Member of The National Black Education Agenda
Sam Anderson, Ph.D: Retired Mathematics and Black History Professor
Founding Member of The National Black Education Agenda