In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 14, 2013/ 6 Tammuz, 5773

'Common Core': Corruption and Correction

By Suzanne Fields

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It's the season of Pomp and Circumstance, flavored with dashes of parental pride, as a rising generation in cap and gown marches solemnly into its future. They're glowing with the beauty of youth, eager to take on the world. But what have we taught these young men and women, and will what they have learned lead them to become good citizens with productive and satisfying jobs?

A high school diploma is only the first rung of the ladder to a complete education and career with the freedom (and hope) to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We hold these truths to be self-evident. Or we did once. But many of these truths now come stippled with asterisks. We haven't actually come very far in achieving excellence in our public schools over the 30 years since Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education published its report with the provocative title: "A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform." It diagnosed the public schools as suffering from "a rising tide of mediocrity."

Remedies followed that promised that no child would be left behind and every child could race to the top, but mediocrity continues to rise on a dark tide of peril. Many young Americans can't even identify the decade in which North and South fought the Civil War, or whom we fought as enemies in World War II. Public school students continue to do poorly on competitive tests in math and reading, falling farther behind those in other industrialized countries.

The latest and best idea to fix all that is called "Common Core Standards," which have been adopted by 45 states. This time, reform comes from the bottom up. The standards are largely the creation of the nation's governors, with disciplined analysis of content drawn from lists of "cultural literacy," with funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The standards are questioned and debated from different directions, and the debate is making unusual allies and adversaries, as if characters in the Netflix television series "House of Cards." Tea party conservatives call Common Core "core corruption," "leftist indoctrination" and government tyranny at work in the schools. Other conservatives counter that it's a "core correction," "content enrichment," knowledge based on standards to make America competitive across the globe.

In defense of the Common Core standards, Mike Huckabee, the conservative former governor of Arkansas and a reliable conservative Republican, says it's a program America should embrace because it enhances local control. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and another conservative Republican advocate, argues that the standards create increased incentives for innovation in the classroom and "less regulation." The Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, describes it as a more rigorous and cohesive approach to education than most states now use.

I've read through the literary and informational guidelines to the point of numbness, checking out every lesson plan, with its demands to "contrast and compare," "determine the central idea" and "cite evidence to support argument," and found Common Core to be a rigorously structured program to improve math and reading standards over the hodgepodge of "learning" that now afflicts public education in America.

The Common Core is not perfect, but the core content offers a floor on which to build. It includes the study of fundamental documents, such as the Gettysburg Address, the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, as well as the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. "Tom Sawyer" is in the guidelines, and "Huckleberry Finn" is not, but an imaginative teacher could assign both. An emphasis on non-fiction will increase reasoning capacity and teach precision of language.

Like any guideline, the teacher is the most important element, and a student's learning depends on proficient guidance. Evaluations of teachers as well as students will determine the ultimate success.

Imperfect as they may be, Common Core standards are a necessary start to restoring public education. What is as troubling as the dismal test scores is a lack of a cohesive approach to shaping moral character, guiding a young person to take on responsibilities in a free society. That's more difficult to achieve.

"Every successful civilization must possess a means for passing on its basic values to each new generation," Donald Kagan, the Sterling professor of classics and history at Yale, said in his recent valedictory lecture. "When it no longer does, its days are numbered."

The imparting of such values should start in the public schools, and this requires an informed understanding of traditions and institutions and an appreciation of what makes America special. But we not only lack a shared belief, but confidence in who we are. Common Core can't change that, but with it we could make a start.

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