Education questions

Chris Baker, Minot

Thank you to all who voted for me. Since one speech is hardly a campaign I told my family I’d be happy if I got six votes. Boy was I surprised. While I was not elected my concern for the education of our children continues and so should yours.

Check out the books and resources at your local school, if you have children look at the materials for their next year as well. Attend their public performances, not just the sports games. If you have a skill or talent to share volunteer it. Ask questions and expect answers that make sense. Attend school board meetings.

Learn just what Common Core, which changes names as its reputation catches up to it, is and is not. There are many ways of meeting a standard and, unfortunately, “teaching the test,” that is presenting and emphasizing only that material known to be on the test, is the easiest and is very seductive because everyone wins that way in the short run. The students lose big time in the long run because while they know which answer to mark on the test they do not know why the answer is right or why knowing it is important.

A greater danger of Common Core, one that you can help pull, like a weed, is the presentation of political agendas, especially those that run counter to the values that founded and built America, not as lessons in government or politics or, even, social studies, but rather as the text for reading lessons or in the “story problems” for math. You’ve probably all sung the “99 bottles of beer” song at some time, but is that an appropriate teaching tool for math? Though I haven’t seen that exact situation, it is the sort of dangerous presentation that is normalized.

Be aware that Common Core standards make almost anything fair game for the permanent student database. That is a database that is designed to be shared with other Common Core states, the federal agencies and entities developing curricula and testing. It is a database that, in their ideal world, will include the answers to questions like “Does daddy have a gun?”; “Do you know where he keeps it?” asked conversationally by people “just trying to help.” Such a database is a treasure trove for a wide range of hoodlums and ne’er-do-wells, and they are better at hacking than most of us are at protecting.

Keep in mind that the miracle of technology is a two-edged sword. While the Internet provides rapid access to information, that information may not be very reliable and accessing it may provide a trail for the provider to follow. And kids are on-line, without parental supervision, sometimes in school, sometimes on a smart phone, sometimes at a buddy’s house. Some schools even have kids keep on-line journals (diaries) as a way of practicing writing and English. Yeah, it’s great for that, but sometimes what kids reveal in journals can allow their exploitation, and therefore does not belong on-line, especially without direct parental supervision.