op-ed

Bias Embedded In The Classroom

While the antics of anti-Trump teachers, such as the recent viral video of a Southern California teacher beating a President Trump piñata, make headlines, classroom bias is much more deeply embedded, especially in the Common Core curriculum.

When the Obama administration pushed states to adopt the Common Core national education standards, states then adopted curricula aligned to those standards. Bias in Common Core-aligned curricula has become a critical problem.

Take, for example, the Common Core English standards.

Common Core mandated a 50/50 division between literary texts and so-called “informational” texts at every grade level.

The use of these “informational” texts has opened a huge avenue for states, school districts, and teachers to push ideological agendas under the guise of English and reading comprehension.

A substitute teacher in California recently showed me a fifth-grade lesson for the reading-comprehension component of her class that was based on an “informational” text that was clearly biased and one-sided.

The lesson focused on global warming, its effects, and who’s to blame.

According to the lesson, the Arctic is warming, and “scientists blame global warming for the Arctic thaw” and “predict that half the summer sea ice in the Arctic will melt by the end of this century.”  Seals, polar bears and native Inuit people will be the first victims.

Who is to blame for global warming? The lesson says: “Scientists say human activity is to blame for global warming.” Burning fossil fuels, “gives off gases that trap heat from the sun and add to the overheating of the Earth.” According to the lesson, “scientists say people need to limit their use of fossil fuels.”

Among the questions students are asked to answer after reading this “informational” text: “How could your life change if global warming continues as scientists think it will.”

Yet, despite the certainty of the lesson’s scientific declarations, the empirical evidence is much less clear.

It so happens that a federal court case is currently underway where oil companies are being sued over issues involving emissions regulations. In an interesting development, Judge William Alsup asked for tutorials on climate change to be submitted for his edification.

Last month, Princeton physics professor William Happer, a former director of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy under President George H.W. Bush, NYU scientist Steven Koonin, a former undersecretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy under President Obama, and MIT professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen submitted a comprehensive data-based tutorial for the judge.

According to these three eminent scientists, “The climate is always changing; changes like those of the past half-century are common in the geologic record, driven by powerful natural phenomena.” Indeed, they point out, “much of the alarming rise [in temperature] in the last few years is due to an El Niño condition.”

Further, say the scientists, human influences on the climate are a small 1 percent factor in the changes to the energy flows of Earth’s climate system. And, they note, “It is not possible to tell how much of the recent warming can be ascribed to human influences.”

Finally, the scientists conclude, “Contrary to the impression from media reporting and political discussions, the historical data . . . do not convey any sense that weather extremes are becoming more common globally.” Therefore, “today’s projections of future changes are highly uncertain.”

Although the fifth-grade lesson claims that humans and their use of fossil fuels cause global warming, these top scientists show that the evidence undercuts these claims.

The bottom line for parents and their children is that under Common Core, so-called “informational” texts are being used in English and reading lessons to push particular ideological points of view, without any concern for fairness and balance.

After reviewing the fifth-grade lesson on global warming, a California legislative staffer with extensive education policy experience termed the lesson “indoctrination” meant to “frighten children and turn them into committed leftwing activists.”  Such indoctrination demonstrates why parents should have school-choice tools that allow them to avoid public-school indoctrination and choose private schools that better meet the needs of their children.

Lance Izumi is Koret senior fellow in education studies and senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute.  He is the author of the 2017 PRI book “The Corrupt Classroom.”


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.