Caffeinated Carolina posted on South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s support of a bill that would reverse the common core state standards from being implemented in her state.  She sent a letter of support to the sponsor of that bill, State Senator Mike Fair (R-Greenville).

I’m glad that Governor Haley is willing to take a stand on something my Governor seems to be jumping into, happily I might add, with both feet.

One of the complaints about the common core state standards lies with the literacy standards.   They no longer require students to read a list of the classics.  Instead 70% of the reading is informational texts which have the potential to indoctrinate, not educate.  In the AP article written about Fair’s bill those standards are discussed. The defense of using information texts is maddening:

Opponents of the standards derided the shift, for example, from reading literature to more informational texts.

But Hawkins said that’s a good thing: “If we want students to be college and career ready, we don’t need to spend hours reading the classics.”

It’s just too time consuming to have students read the classics is basically what she is saying.  Let’s not read the original instead let’s read somebody’s interpretation of it.  It would be like me saying I’m going to no longer read the Bible, but instead I’m going to just read commentaries.  Those commentaries may be good, but some may not be.

This is maddening.  There is such an over emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) that we are seeing literacy standards get dumbed down.  Having worked with kids a good number of years I have seen a growing inability to write.  What helps writing skills?  Reading good writing.  Also classical literature helps shape our knowledge of our culture.

Reading and writing is foundational to everything else that is taught so why would we want to short change this?  To say we don’t have time to do this is absurd.  Cut out electives if you must, but don’t subject our kids to someone else’s interpretation of classical literature.  Let them read it for themselves!  Otherwise we will end up kids who may know science, but don’t know how to write and are culturally illiterate.

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4 comments
  1. “There is such an over emphasis on STEM
    (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) that we are seeing
    literacy standards get dumbed down.  Having worked with kids a good
    number of years I have seen a growing inability to write.”  YES. Exactly.

  2. In regard to classical literature, I always loved it.  When I was in high school, it seemed as though many of my classmates liked modern literature better, but I was rather old-fashioned.  Having said that, though, I do believe that a lot of English teachers end up making students–especially boys–hate reading for life by forcing certain choices upon them.  I guess the way I see it, students should have to read the classics, but should not have to read them exclusively.  As for informational texts/commentaries, those sound like a bunch of garbage.  🙂  I’d say just let the kids pick some modern literature, including even well-written science fiction, to satisfy some of their reading requirements instead.


    1. To some degree. But what helps writing skills the most is probably practice, practice, practice–not watching MTV or playing video games for hours. ;)”  Totally true, I didn’t mean to imply that was the silver bullet.

      1. Totally true, I didn’t mean to imply that was the silver bullet.

        Oh, certainly–you did have a good point.  After all. you do have to know what good English is before you can write it.  😉

        I also just remembered an interesting article written a year ago by a columnist named Jim Mullen titled “Banning Might Be Better.”  The whole article is good, but here is one of his best points:

        Making kids read books they are not mature enough to understand makes them hate reading for the rest of their lives.

        I think the most important thing English teachers can do is give kids the joy of reading, which is not that easy to achieve IMO.

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