MANCHESTER, N.H. – Here’s a defense of Common Core that we haven’t heard before: American schools need the nationalized learning standards so minority students can learn to read as well as white students.
In other words, supporting the experimental learning standards is a matter of social justice.
That view was articulated by teacher David Pook during a recent Common Core debate that occurred at a New Hampshire college, according to Examiner.com.
When Pook, who teaches history at the private and pricey Derryfield School, explained his position, it elicited laughs, groans and jeers from the audience:
“The reason why I helped write the standards and the reason why I am here today is that as a white male in society, I’ve been given a lot of privilege that I didn’t earn. … I think it’s really important that all kids have an equal opportunity to learn how to read. I think I had decided advantages as a result of who I was, not because of any (inaudible).
“And when I walk into places like Roberto Clemente High School on the west side of Chicago, I think it’s really important those kids learn how to read just as well as I had the opportunity to read. And in creating an equitable educational opportunity for all kids, I think this is actually the greatest civics lesson we could teach our kids.”
Kimberly Morin, author of the Examiner.com article, takes Pook to task for claiming to help write the Common Core standards.
“What he really means is he probably commented on the standards when they were finally available,” Morin writes. “If he did write anything, that is yet another reason to end Common Core immediately.”
Pook was part of a six-member panel that debated the quality and appropriateness of the Common Core standards on Monday night.
Pook’s support of Common Core strikes some as a tad hypocritical, since he teaches at a private school that reportedly doesn’t use the one-size-fits-all standards.
“Dr. Pook doesn’t have to work under the oppressive conditions that he advocates for public school teachers,” Morin writes. “He doesn’t have to teach to standards that teachers, licensed child psychologists and parents now see as developmentally inappropriate for their children.”
Pook, however, insisted during the debate that his private school does, in fact, align its teaching practices to the nationalized standards.
A writer for StopCommonCoreNH.org summed up the confusion this way:
“We have Derryfield (School) telling parents who are trying to escape Common Core in their public schools that they do not follow Common Core. We then have a teacher from Derryfield saying the Common Core Standards are being taught. … Derryfield seems to be selling one thing but doing another thing in (its) classrooms.”
Regardless, the main point of all this is that Pook thinks Common Core is a way to counteract the white privilege that is ingrained in public education – so minority kids can learn “how to read just as well” as their white peers.
That’s a laughable position considering the Common Core standards were never field-tested in an actual school before they were foisted onto public schools in 44 states. The reality is nobody knows for certain how Common Core is going affect student learning overall (though a number of reputable education experts have serious misgivings about the standards).
Pook’s position is also ridiculous because it is easily disproven by the countless number of boys and girls of all races who’ve become proficient readers at a public school over the past number of decades. If millions of children learned how to read under (allegedly) antiquated and non-rigorous pre-Common Core learning standards, then Pook’s argument doesn’t hold water.
That sad thing is that Pook – a teacher at a prestigious private school – thought he was being profound when he confessed to experiencing white “privilege” – and then using that as a defense of the untested Common Core standards.
If that’s what passes for deep thought in a private school that charges parents $28,535 a year in tuition, then the problems facing America’s education system are far deeper and more serious than anyone realizes.