I wasn't aware that the Common Core State Standards had anything to with homosexuality or religion, but Alabama Tea Party leader Dr. Terry Bratton seems convinced the new education measure has a specific and radical agenda. By the way, even though I teach at a private school, we do follow state curriculum standards, so I am quite familiar with Common Core, so I have been following this debate on the news. However, an article on the Huffington Post pointed out Bratton's lunatic rant about the Common Core.
Bratton spoke to the state Senate Education Committee about his fears on the Common Core at a public hearing Tuesday. The committee was considering, and eventually approved, a bill that allows school districts to opt out of the Common Core, according to Right Wing Watch.
In case you don't know, the Common Core is a set of new education standards that have been adopted in more than 40 states, including Alabama, in an effort to make sure students around the country are being held to the same benchmarks. While the Common Core Standards are designed to emphasize critical thinking and deeper learning and aim to better prepare students for college and careers, they do not take a stance on homosexuality or religion.
Nevertheless, a video of Bratton shows him accusing the Standards of promoting "acceptance of homosexuality, alternate lifestyles, radical feminism, abortion, illegal immigration and the redistribution of wealth."
"Alabama places a priority on family and Christian values. We don't want our kids to be taught to be anti-Christian and anti-Catholic and anti-America," said Bratton. "We don't want our kids to lose their innocence, beginning in preschool and kindergarten, told that homosexuality is okay and should be experienced at an early age."
Bratton also railed against what he called ideas of "social justice" woven into the Standards. He said such teachings are "contrary to traditional American notions of justice in the United States Constitution" and claimed they teach kids that "America is an unjust and oppressive society that should be changed."
However, when asked by Alabama outlet The Anniston Star where he found such ideas in the Standards, he said they were in the "reading lists" associated with the Core's English standards. According to the Common Core website, the reading lists are meant to "serve as useful guideposts in helping educators select texts of similar complexity, quality, and range for their own classrooms," but teachers are not required to teach these suggested texts.
Finally, Bratton told the state senators that voting against the opt-out bill could impact them for all eternity.
"Do you want this on your record when you come to the End of Days, knowing the Master Teacher said, 'As much as you've done to the little ones, you've done it unto me?'" he asked of the meeting's attendees.
While the bill passed the Education Committee, Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) told local outlet Montgomery Advisor that he did not think it would have enough votes to pass the Senate floor. Honestly, there is very little chance that it will pass. The Alabama Education Association, the state teacher's union and advocacy group is against Beason's bill. The AEA is probably one of, if not the strongest and wealthiest lobbying organization in Alabama. When they want a bill dead, even the Republican majority legislature can't stop them, because all Alabama legislatures have their price and the AEA knows it.
And as a fellow teacher told me at lunch yesterday when discussing allowing local Alabama school boards to choose to use Common Core or not, "Well, we all know how good Alabama is at education decisions." Alabama is ranked 46th in education, according to Education Week. At least we are no longer at the very bottom, but it shows that Alabama is not very good at the whole education business. If you want my honest opinion, there are two main reasons for it, (1) white legislatures do not want to fund education for minority students and (2) the AEA safeguards a lot of teachers who are quite honestly only qualified to teach on paper, but have no business in the classroom.
Although the Common Core State Standards have increasingly faced backlash as states begin the implementation process, a majority of Americans still do not know what they are. According to a recent poll from education reform advocacy group 50CAN, 58 percent of those surveyed did not know what the Common Core was, while 31 percent supported the Standards and 12 percent opposed them.