Common Core State Standards force removal of two classic American novels?

Yeah Common Core:

Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum

Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favour of ‘informational texts’.

JD Salinger's novel Catcher in the Rye is to be replaced by 'informational texts' on the US curriculum.

JD Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye is to be replaced by ‘informational texts’ on the US curriculum.  Photo: Rex Features

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.

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Jamie Highfill, a teacher at Woodland Junior High School in Arkansas, told the Times that the directive was bad for a well-rounded education.

“I’m afraid we are taking out all imaginative reading and creativity in our English classes.

“In the end, education has to be about more than simply ensuring that kids can get a job. Isn’t it supposed to be about making well-rounded citizens?”

Supporters of the directive argue that it will help pupils to develop the ability to write concisely and factually, which will be more useful in the workplace than a knowledge of Shakespeare.

I’ll offer my Holden Caulfield”esque” critique: this fucking sucks.


19 thoughts on “Common Core State Standards force removal of two classic American novels?

  1. BG

    read the appendix. mockingbird is still listed for grades 9-10.
    and the informational text includes such “horrible” reads as:

    common sense
    the bill of rights
    the declaration of independence
    the i have a dream speech
    the gettysburg address

    core won’t destroy our education system. Bush and NCLB act already did. it’s time to un-do it.

  2. fsjenner

    To read or not to read; that is the question. Whether t’is nobler to understand R-values than to question one’s place in the world,…

    Oh, hell–reading Catcher in class would have completely spoiled it for me.

      1. fsjenner

        Hey, I was reading Catcher in 1964. I cannot imagine having that book parsed by some of the English teachers of that era. Scary.

  3. This story isn’t true. The 70% figure simply describes total reading across the entire curriculum, which includes history, science, and math, and so on. It basically does no more than to describe the status quo.

    This story has been sold in this fashion since at least 2007, but it’s not true. Check snopes if you don’t believe me.

  4. Seriously, John, the article is sensationalist nonsense. The idea that Catcher has been “dropped” is malarkey, as Joe Biden would say. Let’s fact-check by taking a look at the primary document, Appendix B. Start with this:

    The following text samples primarily serve to exemplify the level of complexity and quality that the Standards require all students in a given grade band to engage with. Additionally, they are suggestive of the breadth of texts that students should encounter in the text types required by the Standards. The choices should serve as useful guideposts in helping educators select texts of similar complexity, quality, and range for their own classrooms. They expressly do not represent a partial or complete reading list.

    There’s nothing wrong with requiring 70% informational text, as long as they add it to other classes and don’t take anything away from ELA classes. Like I said before, it’s all in the local implementation.

    Instead of tsk-tsking over how awful it all is, any educators who read this article and disapprove of the (false) premise, should get busy helping to create their own CCSS-compliant reading lists. If you want to use a particular book, I think there is a simple process for validating it for CCSS (based on text complexity). I’m sure somebody else has already done that for Catcher.

  5. John Young

    Mike, I could not disagree more with you. Again, it is 100% indicative of the new world order of narrowing the curriculum. there is no evidence that the sensibility that what we teach and the ability of educators to freely select texts is anything other than severely constrained by CCSS.

    I would double down on the tsk-tsking before I would just turn my head an look the other way and pretend the CCSS are not a threat to a robust curriculum.

  6. John Young

    Mike, do the CCSS writers offer any evidence on the efficacy of 70% informational text? Please, show me. I yearn to learn.

  7. John, it would be unfortunate if educators start assuming books are forbidden or “dropped.” I have to believe our teachers are smarter than that.

    On the other hand, it might be better to teach Catcher if everyone thinks it’s forbidden 🙂

    1. John Young

      For me it’s not an issue of what is technically forbidden but rather the sentiment created.our teachers are under duress.period

  8. ” any evidence on the efficacy of 70% informational text? ”

    I’m willing to try, as long is the informational text is “in addition” and not “instead of.” There may or may not be some research out there (I don’t know), but to me it has the ring of truth that more and broader reading is better.

  9. John Young

    in addition and not instead of would mean, to me, that the 70% number gets violated in all reason, if the fiction number were where it ought to be.

  10. Pencadermom

    I can’t think of a better book, that might turn around a kid who hates reading, than Catcher in the Rye.
    the bill of rights
    the declaration of independence
    the i have a dream speech
    the gettysburg address
    are already part of all middle school reading, right?? Please say yes!!

  11. Arthur

    the bill of rights
    the declaration of independence
    the i have a dream speech
    the gettysburg address

    i cant imagine the time commitment to read these texts…one class period? I would say i am interested in seeing how this generation (current grades 4-8) make out writing in 20 years. Their tech language has left them nearly illiterate. Will schools soon be translating texts for students understanding:

    4 scre n 7 yers ago R fathers brgth 4th on this continent a new nation…

    and what do we need To Kill A Mockingbird for? It was only voted, what, 6 times the greatest novel of all time? Truly a transformative book.

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