DALLAS, Texas — Brazoria County is home to Alvin ISD where ABC-13 was among the local TV news outlets that reported on parents outraged by a sixth grade assignment on the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). At the time that these students were given the homework to write a one-page paper, only American journalist James Foley had been butchered by ISIS barbarians. It should also be disconcerting to parents that in the non-Common Core state of Texas, the assignment links back to the Common Core website Teaching the Core.
Alvin ISD sixth-graders were asked to read the two-page document, What is Isis? an article sourced to MTV News. According to ABC 13, the second line of the informational text “explains to the 11 year-olds the terrorist group takes credit for beheading an American journalist.”
Although the district claimed that only two parents complained about the homework, the local ABC affiliate spoke with other parents who expressed many more concerns about youngsters seeing a graphic beheading video that accompanied the assignment. Russell Pharris was one of the parents who told the news outlet that he thought this content was a bit much for an 11 year-old. “They’re still going to the playground.”
Parent David McLendon was quoted as being concerned that sixth graders were learning the brutal and gory details and then had to write about beheadings by heinous Middle Eastern terrorists.
In a post 9/11 social media cyber world, youngsters are exposed to all sorts of unimaginable information and it becomes harder to shield it from their screens. This is not to suggest students should not learn about life’s atrocities.
Alvin ISD issued a statement: “The sad reality is that Jr. High students are confronted with and are aware of the details related to ISIS.”It also stated “Our teachers strive to find the appropriate balance when teaching students about troubling world events while taking into consideration their age and maturity level.”
The focus of the news media story has been about the homework itself and on the unconscionable ISIS beheadings but the situation begs the question how to teach such harsh realities to 11 year-olds in some semblance of fact-based and non-Common Core downloaded assignments in the Texas public school setting. The assignment is identical to the one on Teaching the Core.
Teaching the Core was created by Michigan teacher Dave Stuart Jr., who “advocates a non-freaked out, focused approach to literacy and character, and his approach perfectly aligns with everything from the Common Core,” which he equates to “common sense.”
Some of Teaching the Core’s many other articles for Common Core classroom consumption include Six Ways to Strengthen Your Willpower Muscle, which asks the conformity question of the day “Would you rather be intelligent or disciplined?”
The article’s Social and Emotional (SEL) messages included “Monitor your behavior,” “Control your environment” and “Make contracts to avoid arguing with yourself” all in a two-page how-to achieve balance in life. It’s followed with response questions. One of them poses, “This article is written for adults – how could you rewrite one or more of these tips for your age group?”
Nearly 1,000 Colorado Students Protest A Conservative Call To Change Their History Curriculum is another article that can be used as an assignment from Teaching the Core. It’s the Huffington Post’s progressive telling of the ongoing Jefferson County, Colorado AP US History battle against Common Core architect and College Board president David Coleman’s revisionist redo on AP US History (APUSH).
This article trashes the conservative board members trying to preserve American history, depicting them as trying to white-wash history. In reality, the redesigned APUSH has been criticized by education experts and policy makers for gutting pivotal people, events, institutions, and time periods from American history and shedding a less than favorable light on the United States.
The College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) frenzy is covered in yet another Teaching the Core article: Here’s how much your high school grades predict your future salary from the Washington Post. This one includes the Common Core assessment rubrics and CCRS influencer Graff and Birkenstein-Graff’s They Say/I Say Common Core methodology to “annotate the article purposefully” and read for meaning before writing a 250 word response-to-non-fiction.
It is unknown how the Alvin ISD assignment was completed, although the Common Core three-step instructions are at the top of the homework followed by possible response questions. Breitbart Texas attempted to contact Alvin ISD. They did not return any phone calls.
However, in the school district’s response statement they also said, “The goal of Alvin ISD is to ensure that students are provided appropriate opportunities to gain a factual understanding in the context of classroom-learning environment.”
Factual understanding, though, may well require more than just one pop-culture primary source document laundered through a Common Core aligned website for final delivery into Texas classrooms.
Follow Merrill Hope, an original member of the Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.