Friday, May 9, 2014

Libido Redux

House Concurrent Resolution, HCR 0011, approved Common Core as the standards for Michigan math & English, last fall. How is the Core faring in other States? I have read that a Newburgh New York school district pulled a ninth grade book considered by teachers to be “pornographic.”  An Arizona mother launched an storm of protest that forced Arizona schools to pull an eleventh grade book portraying teens in a sado-masochistic relationship.  A Catholic school administrator admitted there were two first grade books about families— The Family Book and Who’s in a Family—that included pictures of homosexual pairs—listed on the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative website. The books were removed from the website after parental protest.

Perusing the anti -Common Core social media reveals that across the U.S., in public and Catholic schools, parents and teachers have found sexually inappropriate materials in the examples recommended by Common Core State Standards .  In some cases the offending material is removed. In others, parents are offered “opt out” choices for their children.  However, the question that looms large is, why has so much disturbing material been systematically built into the CCSS recommended texts?   Should a small band of unelected ideologues have nationwide power to decide that American first graders should be exposed to homosexual “families,” or, that ninth graders be given pornography under the fa├žade of literature? 
Under New York State’s Common Core requirements, portions of the book, Black Swan Green, are required reading for high school freshmen. The book features a 13-year-old boy as the narrator who graphically describes his father’s genitals and a sex act. 
An English teacher in the district pointed out that “At least three of the books listed on the modules [curriculums] contain passages using inappropriate language and visual imagery that most people would consider pornographic.” Other teachers noted that this and similar situations are an example of systemic flaws in the Common Core aligned curriculums.  The school district hopes to return a $6,000 shipment of the books.
The most disturbing CCSS selection is the novel, The Bluest Eye, by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Toni Morrison, an explicit portrayal of rape, incest, sexual violence and pedophilia.  The pedophile, named Soaphead Church, claims God as his inspiration, “I work only through the Lord. He sometimes uses me to help people.” The book is written with sympathy for the pedophile, so that the reader becomes a “co-conspirator” with the pedophile.  She took pains to make sure she never portrayed the actions as wrong in order to show how everyone has their own problems. The author even goes as far as to describe the pedophilia, rape, and incest ‘friendly,’ ‘innocent,’ and ‘tender.”
The Common Core State Standards website tells how these works are selected:
Selecting Text Exemplars
The following text samples primarily serve to exemplify the level of complexity and quality that the Standards require all students in a given grade band to engage with. Additionally, they are suggestive of the breadth of texts that students should encounter in the text types required by the Standards. The choices should serve as useful guideposts in helping educators select texts of similar complexity, quality, and range for their own classrooms.

Of course, no parent or teacher group should oppose reading material that includes complexity and quality. The issue with the Common Core selected exemplars concerns “range” and age appropriate material, as well as proper context.
A high school in Sierra Vista, Arizona, acknowledged parental pressure and removed the sexually explicit novel, Dreaming in Cuban, which includes teen sado-masochism passages. These happenings are occurring at a time when we read of the increased reports of teacher student sex and the effect such erotic “educational” material may have on students. Nevertheless, education officials defend the choice as part of a “broad” literary foundation intended to introduce students to Nobel Prize winners (Morrison) or multicultural perspectives (Latino and Black)….