After reading the following selection, which title do you think the author would choose for this piece?





E. All of the above

By Gregory Queen

To understand the social world, I think that an analysis of capitalism is crucial. Simply put, the tendency in capitalism is a concentration of wealth into a few hands. Hence, creating an elite that lines the forces of the state to protect its privileged position. Historically, the elite have attempted to "eternalize" a version of truth that diverts attention away from their privilege. For example, the dominant belief during the European Middle Ages was the idea that the earth is the center of the universe. The Catholic Church, supported by and supporting the Kings of the time, killed and excommunicated people who said otherwise. The motive of the Church and the Kings (the elite) was to stop the forces that undermined their overarching authority. Another fine example was McCarthyism. People in public schools, universities, and workplaces were fired, harassed, and labeled for criticizing the policies and dominant ideas of the period. It is clear that Joe McCarthy had an agenda: to allow the elite in the United States to proceed in domestic and foreign repression of the people's desire for a more just and equal society. In foreign policy, the repression is illustrated in the US involvement in Iran and Guatemala during the 1950's. Domestically, the repression is illustrated during the Civil Rights movement The MEAP is very similar. I intend illustrate this by asking a few question about the people who wrote the MEAP and the objectives they allegedly assesses.

Do the people who want a MEAP, who created the MEAP, and who evaluate MEAP "answers" have the same understanding of the way the world works as myself, the students I teach, the community in which I work, the community in which I live, the managers of the school, my colleagues and/or the managers of my union? They may or they may not. It may appear that "we are all in the same boat," but I do not think we are. Do the people who live in Detroit, Warren, Roseville or Redford have the same interest as those on Lakeshore Drive or in Bloomfield Hills? Are the kids more intelligent in those latter communities causing them to perform better on the MEAP test, or is it because they have more money for the education process? Do the people who construct the MEAP objectives and tests have the same ideas as those working class communities or the ruling class communities? Is it possible that the cause for the differences in the scores on MEAP test is the idea that ones material world shapes ones ideas and concepts of truth? Would a person who lived in Bloomfield Hills be intelligent enough to live and survive in a crack infested community? I asked my students why they think their performance on the MEAP tests tended to be not as "proficient" as more wealthy communities and their response was that they must be more stupid than them. From my experience, the kids I teach are not stupid. In fact, I am consistently amazed at the concepts that they are able to grasp. However, the MEAP says otherwise. Why? 

To illustrate the point that the "suggested core curriuclum that the state tests has a particular agenda, I will raise a few illustrative questions.

One objective for the middle school social studies students is to "explain how the rule of law protects individual rights and serves the common good." What is the "common good?" Would Martin Luther King and all the people in the Civil Rights Movement have thought that segregation laws were there to protect the "common good?" Does common good mean not striking for better pay and working conditions or its opposite? Is the law that more severely restricts a teachers unions' right to strike protect the common good? What if the state started to pay school districts less money which impacted the students right to an education? Should the teachers obey the law and not strike because it would not be for the common good? 

Another objective says students should be able to "describe means used by the United States to resolve international conflict?" Does this mean that as a teacher I should teach how the Untied States Government passed laws for the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians to Indian territory which later became Oklahoma? Does this mean that I should teach that the United States had the right to intervene in Vietnam killing two to six million Vietnamese and severely destroying their natural environment through chemical weapons?

An economic objective states that kids should be able to "compare the historical record of market economies in solving the problem of scarcity." Does this mean that I should discuss how some farmers dispose of produce or do not produce an abundance of products even though we have people in this country (and in the world) who do not have enough to eat as evidenced by our free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs? How do capitalist explain the fact that the number of demands placed on soup kitchens has increased despite "great" economic statistics?

"Use historical biographies to explain how events from the past affected the lives of individuals and how some individuals influenced the course of history" is an objective in the historical perspective of the state standards. Does this objective mean that I should focus on Karl Marx and how his critique of capitalism has influenced and promoted many liberation struggles for freedom and equality throughout the world?

I only pose these questions to show that the people who wrote the objectives probably did not have in mind these ideas when writing the objectives. Their ideas of knowledge and truth are probably not the same as mine. In fact, I think that they want to exclude mine and many other "dissenting" ideas from public institutions. The same type of people who wrote the objectives also construct the questions for the MEAP social studies test. Therefore, if what I believe is true is reflected in my organization and presentation of the social studies, which it is, not only for me but for all teachers (even the people who claim it is not), then my students may not see the world exactly as the MEAP creators do. 

My point is that the MEAP is regulated knowledge. It has a particular agenda. It appears to support critical thinking as long as this thinking stays within established boundaries. How does a society "progress" or grow when it must stay within established boundaries? The State of Michigan and most of the people who support regulated knowledge say that they are doing it because they think that it will improve education. However, if you go beyond the appearance of things and look at its essence, it is an external tool used to increase the power of those who already have too much power. Through the MEAP, the state of Michigan is controlling curriculum (and schools).

In conclusion, I think that the government during these times of increased economic inequality reflects the interest of the capitalist elite. Therefore, the capitalist elite dominate the debate and policies of primary institutions like education. But it does not have to be that way.


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