It is astounding that your local public-school curriculum coordinator terms the nationalized Common Core K-12 standards “rigorous and complex” because they will require students to read far more informational texts and far less classic literature in English classes. (“Adoption of Common Core standards for Montana schools raises the bar,” March 25.)
One of the big publishing companies hoping to reap a financial windfall from the one-size-fits-all Common Core already is producing brochures, catalogs, and menus as some of the informational reading soon to be mandatory for all classrooms. How, pray tell, will such material be more beneficial to young minds than reading (depending on age) such classic works as Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” E.B. White’s modern masterpiece “Charlotte’s Web,” Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea,” or the poetry of Robert Frost (to cite only a small sampling)?
Indeed, if evidence were needed that literature stretches young minds far more than utilitarian manuals, the New York Times reported in a March 17 article on research in which brain scans showed that reading rich descriptions such as “evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters” actually stimulates the brain and hones real-life social skills.
It is disingenuous of your education officials to assert that it’s OK for a Washington-based consortium of “experts” to dictate academic content because local folks still will decide how to implement the prescribed regimen. When you add the federally financed Common Core testing to the mix, there will be nothing of importance to decide locally. Big Brother’s control of the little red schoolhouse will be complete (a reality students might grasp if they read Orwell’s “1984.“)
Senior Fellow for Education Policy,
The Heartland Institute,