May 18, 2021

Sue Kingery Woltanski: “The War Will Be Won in Education”

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Sue Woltanski is a retired pediatrician and public school advocate; she’s part of the blogging team at Accountabaloney that keeps track of education policy shenanigans in Florida. In a recent post she looks at a speech given at hard right conservative Christian Hillsdale College. In the speech, Corcoran makes it clear that he sees education as a major tool in the battle between the left and the right. As she shows, some of the most revealing material comes in the Q and A session at the end. Here’s just one example:

The next question (at 33:30) is regarding curriculum and the state’s role in oversight of local curriculum. The woman tells a story of dressing up like Pilgrims for Thanksgiving and two young guests (ages 8 and 10 years old) put a damper on the feast by not knowing the name of the Mayflower, referring to “Indians” as “Indigenous People” and suggesting the Pilgrims “came to kill” them. She suggested that the children’s school (described as “very progressive” by their mother) was indoctrinating them. “All of these years our children have been reading books, being taught books, that present things a certain way and I bet you that a good majority of parents are totally unaware.” She also suggested that “Critical Race Theory has permeated our curriculum” and asked “Who decides what books are going to be used in instruction?”  Corcoran responded:

“That’s a great question. So we’ve fought that battle and we still fight it on a daily basis. And there’s multiple ways you can fight it. First we rewrote all our standards. We’re on a 5 year book adoption… so we disrupted the whole book adoption because we rewrote our whole standards. And we rewrote them with the Science of Reading, we have the first in the nation – a Civics reading list from Kindergarten all the way to 12th grade, we have a reading list for all other courses, its content rich and the quick answer… is content matters, that’s the vocabulary matters as much as the decoding. So we rewrote all of our standards, we did all of that stuff and then we do a book adoption… and now all the publishers – and the publishers are just infested with liberals – so we would have to say to them in our bid specs: we’re not going to approve your bid unless you have…a certain percent of our reading list has to be in your text. You can have no Whole Language or Blended Literacy or anything. It has to be the Science of Reading. And we went through a whole criterion and, then, when the books came in we evaluate the books on the criterion we set … so now the books have come back and… of course Covid came in and I got a little distracted… but I didn’t think to say “okay and keep all of the crazy liberal stuff out” and so now we literally have them, and they hide it in “social emotional learning” so it doesn’t SAY “Critical Race Theory” but you could definitely have a teacher who teaches Critical Race Theory so now we have to go back and say, if it’s electronic, we want it out and, on top of that, we’re passing a rule this coming month that says, for the 185,000 teachers, you can’t indoctrinate students with stuff that’s not based on our standards, the new B.E.S.T. standards…

But you have to police it on a daily basis, it’s 185,000 teachers in a classroom with anywhere from 18-25 kids and it you’re not physically there in the classroom. I will tell you it’s working in the universities and it’s starting to work in… I’ve censored or fired or terminated numerous teachers for doing that. I’m getting sued right now in Duval County … because it was an entire classroom memorialized to Black Lives Matter… we made sure she was terminated and now we’re being sued by every one of the liberal left groups for “freedom of speech” issues and I say to them … “look let’s not even talk about whether it’s right or true or good what you have there… my issue is, when you’re a third grade teacher and only 42%… of your kids are on grade level … why don’t you do me a favor, get them on grade level and then we’ll have that discussion. Make them at least be able to read and understand it first.” To try to not act like I’m radical right or whatever they want to call me. But it’s a constant vigil and fight. It’s a terrible battle.

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