Monday, September 2, 2013

POISON PILL: Common Core's Pornography Push?

I recently received an email from activists concerned about Utah's implementation of Common Core standards in our public schools.  In the email, there was a claim that the recommended reading list for high school students included offensive and "pornographic" material.

This seemed like a serious allegation so I decided to check it out.  What I found shocked me.  While the material turns out not to be "recommended" by the state of Utah it does appear in the Appendices of USOE's Core Standards for English Language Arts as an example of material that complies with Common Core standards.

Here is an excerpt from the Utah State Office of Education PDF outlining example reading materials for our students.  I have excerpted the front page and page 145 from the appendix linked above:

The book in question is written by Toni Morrison, an honored African-American author, called The Bluest Eye,

It turns out that national Common Core standards include this book for its "complex" language style.   Shockingly, what high school students get instead is a graphic experience of incest, rape, and child molestation from the first-person perspective of the perpetrator!

I could barely get through the excerpts.  They are highly disturbing and will ruin your day so feel free to trust me and move on.  If you feel compelled to read them, they have been distilled from the book by the Politichicks blog:   

So if this isn't on Utah's official "recommended" list, why is this even an issue to bring up?  The concern arises because some Utah School teachers are bypassing the State recommend lists and instead using the national text example list (see page 152) to flesh out their curriculum.  Why would they do this?  Because the Common Core standardized tests are correlated to the national Common Core standards and recommendations not necessarily the State's recommendations.

Hence, the 15% variation that Common Core affords the States in their standards does not necessarily mean that the States' variances will show up on the standardized tests.  I am speculating, but this might explain why the variances permitted were so small.  Nevertheless, the appearance of poisonous material on the example literature list shows negligence on the part of national Common Core staffers or worse.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this example illustrates the risks of depending on an unaccountable interstate entity to do our bidding.  The alarm has been rung and our senses are now heightened.  In the quest for efficiency and academic homogeneity, we need to be careful of what we wish for.  Caveat Emptor.

Update 9/13/13:  Today yet another book on the USOE and Consortium list of exemplar texts surfaces.  People must finally be reading through these books.  Today's sultry title is Dreaming In Cuban which happens to immediately follow The Bluest Eyes in the table of contents of USOE's example texts.  In this book, the kids get exposure to rough sex.  You can read the lurid excerpts here:


  1. No minor should have such graphic reading material assigned. What's being done to keep teachers from using these kinds of books in the classroom?

  2. Beware of prosperity 2020 as it is common cores funding partnership through the state, although Lt. Bell said they have no relationship. He should have done his homework. They are very sneaky and need to be exposed.

  3. I am not at all comfortable with Common Core. I intensely dislike the idea of our children being taught based on federal guidelines with financial strings attached, to pass standardized tests. Real education meets the needs of individual children, not the needs of an exam someplace, and these federal strings deny us control over what our children are taught. Seeing pornography on the reading lists is simply another reason for us to shun Common Core.

  4. I am against Common Core for several reasons, the main one being that there is no reason we should give up ANY of our autonomy. Education should be local and under as much control of the parents as possible. Already difficult at the state level, this becomes next to impossible at the national level. That's my principled stance.

    The problem you highlight here could also become a problem at the state level, but it is much easier to resolve.

    Thanks for your vigilance!

  5. This is very concerning to me as a parent! What's just as concerning, though, is the lack of general public knowledge/concern over this. I have asked around in my community, speaking with engaged, intelligent mothers about this, and they know very little about common core, accepting it without question. I believe that's the kind of behavior the federal government is banking on, in order to get away with this. Our communities need to wake up and realize what's happening!

    1. Amen Rachelle! I will try to spread the word around here too.

  6. Thank you so much for taking a stand on this issue regarding CC! We need more prinicpled leaders who are willing to do their homework. Parents do not know what is going on, and when they discover it, they are invalidated. Our students should NEVER BE EXPOSED to this kind of garbage, especially in our schools. Can you imagine if I gave this to a child on the street? I would be arrested. Thank you!


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