As the mouthpiece for the right wing, "fair & balanced" Fox News never wastes an opportunity to bash the public school system and teacher's unions as well as promote school vouchers. Usually, the point person for smearing public education is Kyle Olson who is head of a right wing group committed to privatizing public education. But today, alleged "news" host Megyn Kelly brought in a fresh, new face. She spoke to former mainstream media reporter, Bob Bowdon who is now head of Choice Media, "an education reform news service" and the director of a movie that slammed New Jersey public education. In a totally "fair & balanced" piece (not) she allowed Bowdon to present a one-sided analysis of the "Common Core" curriculum which just happens to be the newest, hottest anti-government conspiracy theory for the right wing, especially Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin. And while Bowdon didn't go quite that far, the agenda was still out there and Kelly did her due diligence in validating it.
Kelly reported that there are "new worries" about "what our children are taught in school." (Be scared, folks). She explained that nine states are "having second thoughts" about the "common core curriculum" which 45 states have signed on to. She then played the requisite right wing paranoia card with her comment that folks are concerned "that the feds might use this program to data mine our students and our families." She introduced Bowdon as "an education analyst" and director of "The Cartel," a documentary that received mixed reviews regarding its use of data. It is also connected to the right wing Moving Picture Institute.
Bowdon said that the curriculum is an attempt to make educational standards consistent throughout the country. Sounds good so far. But, on cue, Kelly reflected that "it's not all rainbows and unicorns as we are setting up to be" and asked where the "controversy" comes from. Bowdon praised Kelly for setting up the back story of the "nascent pushback." (There you have it folks, Kelly gets plaudits for teeing up the agitprop!) Bowdon said that the concern is that, in the future, the government will dictate what kind of textbooks and reading lists to be used and, as such, this is the "camel nose under the tent of federal involvement." He praised charter schools and vouchers for awesome schools that teach "specialized curriculums." (Creationism?) He cited fears of a "top down, federalized ministry of education." Kelly provided validation: "one size fits all."
After the break, Bowdon got into conspiracy territory with his question about how information on children's academic achievement ("Data Mining") "will be used later." He claimed "at the risk of controversy, that Google had a contest for children that asked for social security numbers. Pursing her lips, Kelly said "unbelievable" and asked "how much sharing do we want to do with the federal government at such a young age."
Kelly then got into Fox bullshit territory: "We've done so many stories on school curricula, we had the test question that suggested the United States is responsible for bringing 9-11 on itself. We had teachers encouraging the students, asking female students to cover up in burqas and use the term freedom fighters when discussing terrorists, that's not part of a common core curricula but it's controversial. That's the danger in putting the decision and learning in the hands of one central authority."
Reality Check - Students at a Texas school were told that they could don burqas, voluntarily, as part of a lesson on Islam. Fox's coverage was from the perspective of a student's mother who was "outraged" about the lesson. According to the school superintendent, the students were being taught that definitions, like "terrorist" or "freedom fighter" depend on perspectives. Kelly's claim that a text question "suggested" that the US brought on 9-11 is part of a complaint lodged by a right wing GOP parent against a Texas curriculum. She was interviewed on Fox & Friends and America Live where she was validated by Megyn Kelly. The question was "why" the US "might" be a target for terrorism. The correct answer was that "decisions made by the US have negative affects on people elsewhere" which, in the real world, is valid; but in Foxworld it's framed as "blaming" the US.
Just a reminder - Megyn Kelly's show is officially part of the alleged "fair & balanced" Fox "news" line-up.
The very fact that a discussion has emerged on the need for a core curriculum (for or against is irrelevant IMO) cannot but throw a light on why USA students rank so low in crucial subjects when compared to Europeans, Canadians and even some emerging countries especially in Asia. And that’s including the supposedly smarter kids from the private schools.
Far too many Americans continue to wallow in a state of wilful ignorance that encourages them to look on education as being somehow threatening, dangerous, even un-American. The rising popularity of home-schooling is a product of their “can’t-have-my kids-learn-anything-that-might-get-’em-thinking” attitude.
BTW, most recent outburst of rage against so-called “liberal rudeness” might be attributable at least in part to a sense of inferiority whenever the faithful are invited to respond using facts and logic. Whereas most liberals make an attempt to understand the other side (witness the popularity of this blog), the faithful reject anything and everything using spurious statistics produced by people who want to keep them ignorant.
Seems Bemused has gotten on her high horse this morning but playing around with words is just so much fun and this is the only place that seems to understand me. Thanx to all for simply being here.
First, thanks for the coverage.
Second, you may find Common Core to be harder to force fit into the traditional left-right, Democrat-Republican, familiar political bifurcation then your piece implies. At least I do.
Why? Because Common Core is supported by both Barack Obama and Jeb Bush. By Governors Jerry Brown (D- CA) and Nathan Deal (R-GA). By both Deval Patrick (D-MA) and Chris Christie (R-NJ).
As your readers would expect, there is opposition from libertarian groups like the Cato Institute. But what they might not expect, even the most well-known teachers union boss in the country, Randi Weingarten, recently felt the need to call for a “moratorium” on Common Core teacher accountability provisions. Clearly, the unionized rank and file is growing nervous. (For the record, Weingarten still says she supports Common Core generally, just not any consequences for teachers who fail to implement it.)
To me, it felt like you were presenting Common Core as a traditional party line issue. Far from it.
— Bob Bowdon