E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s book, “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know,” was published March 1, 1987. So it was probably in March of that year when, sitting at a dining room table in an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, my host — a publishing executive, friend, and fellow West Virginian — said he’d just bought the book, says Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author. He hadn’t read it yet, but wondered how Hirsch’s list of 5,000 things he thought every American should know differed from a list we Appalachians might write. I don’t remember what I said, but it was probably some version of what I’ve long taken for granted: Most people think that whatever they and the people they like happen to know, everybody else should be required to know. In education, of course, what it’s assumed that everybody should be required to know is called “the core.” Responsibility for teaching the core is divvied up between teachers of math, science, language arts, and social studies. Variously motivated corporate interests, arguing that the core was being sloppily taught, organized a behind-the-scenes campaign to super-standardize it. They named their handiwork the Common Core State Standards to hide the fact that it was driven by policymakers in Washington D.C., who have thus far shoved it into every state except Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia…

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