Friday, December 07, 2012

American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014.

"American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014."
"A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

Books such as JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by "informational texts" approved by the Common Core State Standards.

Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council."

Scoop's note: OK, the link is both funny and scary, I grant, but something about this does not pass the smell test. Did The Telegraph get punk'd?

First of all, I checked out the Common Core State Standards web page and could find nothing to support any of these assertions. In fact, many of the other claims on the Telegraph page seem to be explicitly contradicted by the Core Standards page. For example, they are certainly not proposing to eliminate or reduce the study of Shakespeare. The site specifically states, "In English‐language arts, the Standards require certain critical content for all students, including: classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s Founding Documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare."

Second, the Telegraph cites no sources for its various claims about the new curriculum. Where exactly did they get these specifics? From The Onion? I did find a recommended reading list from one school system that included "California Invasive Plant Council. Invasive Plant Inventory," but that system recommends it for 6th graders (!!), so it is certainly not a substitute for Catcher in the Rye. Personally, I found their list to be a completely appropriate one for 6th to 8th graders, and fail to sense the problems suggested by the Telegraph article.

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