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Re: Morality Education

At 5:42 PM -0700 2/1/02, L. Cirincione wrote:
I agree with you. You should check out the "K12" "curriculum" that William
Bennett developed & is pushing by getting states to offer it as an online
charter school. (See www.k12.com.) I signed my son up for the COlorado
Virtual Academy this year to try it out. I stopped doing all Lang. Arts &
History lessons weeks ago because of the religious content & "morals"-based
educational approach.

Those of us who followed Bill Me Later Bennett for years are not
surprised by this development. What is surprising is how brazen he
has become with this nonsense. Character education is simply a
vehicle for religious proselytizing in public schools. Most, though
not all, the people behind the character education fad are moralizing
religious conservatives and self-proclaimed anti-Kohlbergians. There
is a lot more to all this nonsense than meets the eye--not just
morality and character education, but the phonics vs. whole language
rhetoric, opposition to "fuzzy" math, anti-teacher-union stance,
charter schools, rigid "high" standards, tests, privatization and
state takeovers of private schools, vouchers, grade inflation,
opposition to affirmative action, etc. All of this is part of a
concerted, coordinated effort to drive any hint of progressivism or
liberalism out of the country. The roots go back to the 50s when many
top neo-conservatives believe that they lost the edge thanks in part
to McCarty and the general cold war climate and in part to lack of
conservative intellectual base. It took them forty years to rebuild
the Great Western Civilization advocates, recruit enough minority
sycophants, such as Clarence Thomas, Linda Chavez (who is really no
minority of any kind), Elaine Chao (married to one of the top-ranking
neo-conservatives) and others, and regain control of the press, which
actually began to believe in the myth of its own impartiality for a
while. They were not ready when Reagan took office, but they made up
for it by placing many ideologically appropriate grunts at top
positions. Ed Meese, for example, was no intellectual,
neo-conservative or otherwise, but he brought along Lynne Cheney and
Bill Bennett and many others. By 2000, this group felt confident
enough to be able to regain control that they made a do-or-die bet on
electing a puppet by borrowing a name from the past. One look at the
list of new Cabinet and sub-Cabinet appointments, plus the staffers
in Labor and Education (and probably many others) should be enough to
recognize all the usual suspects from the Heritage Foundation depth
chart. Some are puppets and fronts, like Paige, Mineta and Christine
Todd Whitman, while others, like Ashcroft, Cheney and Ridge have been
there for a long time and know exactly what is going on.

BTW- these are a * PUBLIC * school choice in Colo.It's too bad COVA chose to
use K12. The concept has potential & the people who run the school are
really nice & well-intentioned. I just don't think they went into the
curriculum in enough depth.

They probably got a grant from Bennett's organization. How come no
one filed a suit against them? Whatever charter schools are, they are
not meant to cross the line on separation of church and state--just
look at the scandal in California last week, where a charter school
in Fresno was found to operate parochial satellites in the area. If
someone actually makes the effort to complain to the state, the front
will come down and they should be forced to revise the curriculum.

Now they seem to be too committed to it.
I should also mention that the Lang. books used are at too high a level for
the average to below average kids & the science emphasis on metric terms &
devices is unreasonable for kids at this age. ie. the reader series offers
books at level 2 for "Grades 1 - 3" & level 3 for "Grades 2 - 4".

There is a reason for that that may not sinister. In some ways, they
are running an underground experiment, betting that most students CAN
handle the material. There seems to be too much emphasis placed in a
lot of child-centered efforts on developmental appropriateness. This
is well intentioned, however it is largely based on a bad misreading
of Piaget. Stages may be biologically based, but they are not age
bound, so "developmental appropriateness" should be more of an
individually based term than one that refers to all students.
Unfortunately, this is not the way it has been interpreted by
developmental and educational organizations. I find most educational
materials written far below the appropriate level--in some sense,
they are targeting the bottom student, rather than the average or
slightly above-average one. What you reap is what you sow--if you
place low expectations on the students, that's where many of them
will stay. This is not characteristic of child-centered or
progressive curricula--all American curricula going back 120 years
are like that.

K12 uses
the level 3 books for the beginning of 2nd grade. ie. The very 1st science
lesson required the use of a "balance" to measure "mass" in "grams" & a
"graduated cylinder" to measure "volume" in "milli-liters" - & we had to
insure that our children learned these terms properly(!). They also covered
length in "meters" with a "metric ruler" & "temperature" in "degrees

I am not sure about using millimeters, but there is nothing wrong
with using metrics at that level--the rest of the world does just
that, we are the only ones left. Millimeters and milliliters are a
different issue--there are two problems with using these measure.
First, the units are physically too small for children to manipulate
them and to read the measurement accurately. Second, because of their
relatively small size, they require counts that are beyond children's
initial capacity. Nor can they use conversion factors easily--1 meter
is 100 centimeters (if you use both) and it is hard for kids to work
with that many units or even imagine what it is like. On the other
hand, I would encourage the use of centimeter rulers (and ban all
inch rulers) in school--this is the only way to catch up with the
rest of the world.

You don't have much choice with grams since other conversions would
be too complicated. Ounces do not provide any benefit because of the
counts involved--we may be used to ounces and pounds, but the
conversion between them is not at all convenient at the early levels.
It is actually better to use consistent metric units to reinforce the
decimal numeric notation. I know that many "experts" would prefer to
see the common units, but that is only so that parents would be
comfortable and has nothing to do with children's ability. Your
discomfort with the units precludes you from teaching them adequately
to your child--it may be as simple as that.

There were even little "flashcards for us to print out & cut up.
What ever happened to using common household items that young children are
familiar with like a measuring cup & ounces or a bathroom scale to measure

Measuring cups are generally marked in metric units as well these
days and the scales kids maybe even more familiar are the ones in the
doctor's office, which are predominantly metric.

Remember, these are kids only just starting the 2nd grade!
The entire program is totally unsuitable to most special ed kids.

Sans your objection to the metrics, I agree with you.

(Or to
parents who don't have 4 hours per day to sit at a pc reading lessons off
the screen, printing, answering questions like "Did your child answer ques.
1 correctly?" - click on yes or no, then the arrow to the next page..... or
who don't think teachers should merely be parrots or missionaries for the
religious right.)

It sounds awfully prescriptive and inflexible, which is what you
would expect from this group. Lockstep curriculum breeds compliant
drones. As for having time, you should have expected that when you
got into homeschooling--it is not for parents who think they lack the


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