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These books give you the foundation of the political problem in the schools and an idea of what to expect in any common curriculum. Actually, things are much worse since most of these were written. They don't include the elements of Islamic promotion that have become increasingly common.

Do you ever wonder how so many things have gone awry in American education? Or how to fight for what is best?
Knowing your enemy will save you a few useless battles and conserve your strength for the real war. We are David against Goliath and we cannot win using the weapons of our opponents. They have more money and more media all the time.
These books will help you orient yourself to what is going on.

E. D. Hirsch
    Cultural Literacy preceded Common Core as a well-spoken plea for a common culture. It is marred, however, by Hirsch's own blinders. He isn't a Christian and he doesn't understand why Christianity should have any kind of emphasis. This flaw makes itself deeply felt when he cooperates with public school teachers to write curriculum guides. Everyone should learn The Night Before Christmas, as common culture, but Luke, chapter 1-2, the actual story of Christmas is nowhere in sight. 
    Culture isn't something that people agree upon in a board room according to principles laid down in the courts. Culture is something that grows because people are growing; it suffocates when they suffocate; and it dies when they give up the spiritual battle.  
    Still, a thought-provoking book; get it from the library sometime. Find out what the curriculum goals are "out there" and begin asking yourself; what do I really want my kids to know, and why? If you don't ask, you will face others' answers — too late.
What Every First [Second, Third etc.] Grader Should Know. E.D. Hirsch. Same author; same interests; same flaws. For a cheap and readily available curriculum guide, this is a good start; libraries have it, so it's free, and he is moderately serious about math and science, much more so than the schools. He just has no concept of culture.

Anita Hoge
    Educating for the New World Order explains who is (or was) doing what, and how, in order to direct American Education in ways that are full of darkness. From Halcyon House, a division of Educational Research Associates, Portland, Oregon. 1991. This is not conspiracy theory and not merely rhetoric; it is the documentation that you need. The misguidance of American education has a source. Basically, the Common Core curriculum is the same stuff, and it's interesting to see that it's not new. I don't know the best book on Common Core.

David Owen
None of the Above: Behind the Myth of Scholastic Aptitude by David Owen Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1985
This biting research on the essentially hokey character of ETS, the Princeton Educational Testing Service (which has nothing to do with Princeton University except to share the town mailbox). I scored 4 out of 5 on the reading test reproduced in the middle of the book. Note: the reading selection itself was not given; only the multiple choice questions. Of course I knew — politically — what had to be in the selection. You can get 5 out of 5.
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DisciplineWhere are we? How did we get here?Where do we need to go?

What we have on our side is Truth, which, in its purity, is at once our strength, our goal and our weapon. This is why you need to think about the nature of education.

Laura Berquist
How to Develop Your Own Classical Catholic Curriculum by Laura Berquist
This is the original competition for Hirsch. Comprehensive and well thought out, based on large family experience and lots of counseling with other families. Well done; weak on the natural sciences because she regards them as merely informative, not formative. 

John Senior
The Restoration of Christian Culture by John Senior is a seminal, thoughtful and witty essay on what needs to be done to restore culture, including the necessity of prayer.

By the way, what is discipline for? As school testing increases, we need to ask ourselves what purpose it really fulfills? Of course we would like to know what works and who is doing well, but how much time is being soaked up in instruments of comparison that interfere with education itself. 

Alfie Kohn
Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
The title says it all: are we teaching kids to work for bribes? Or for curiosity, joy, and the other things that allow culture to grow?
Where do we need to go?
Where are we? How did we get here?
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