This site is written by Christel Lane Swasey. In the main photo on this blog, I’m the one on the left.
I met Renee Braddy (middle) and Alisa Ellis (right) after I saw their school board presentation on educational freedom, which is the fight against Common core. It is on YouTube: Two Moms Against Common Core. http://youtu.be/Mk0D16mNbp4
Then we became Three Moms Against Common Core. (Actually, there are thousands now, even just in our state.)
We have been together at Utah State School Board meetings, local Wasatch County school board meetings, have spoken often on the local radio station and some other Utah stations, have had meetings with legislators and with our Governor, and have even made a little YouTube, video http://youtu.be/5XBsbxYJHms. We work hard because we are convinced we must.
We love high quality, real education and local control and local freedom –as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
So, about me: I’ve been teaching and writing all my life.
I have a B.A. degree in English and a M.A. degree in Communications, both from Brigham Young University. I earned my teaching credential at California State University San Bernardino. I have a Utah Cactus I.D. and my level II, 1st grade-through-postsecondary Utah teaching credential is valid and up-to-date.
I am home schooling a fourth grader and a two year old right now. I absolutely love home school and see that it’s made a huge positive difference in my fourth grader’s happiness and in his dramatically rapid academic growth. My teenager is in the public high school, and is unfortunately experiencing Common Core up close. It’s not fun. But her other school experiences (sports and other extracurricular activities) are fun, so she’s decided to stay in school for now. I also have a wonderful husband and two stepchildren who visit as often as they can.
I taught Basic Composition and Freshman English at Utah Valley University as an adjunct professor (two years), worked as a full time grant writer for a consortium of Utah Valley charter schools (one year); taught third grade at Renaissance Academy in Lehi, Utah, and at Odyssey Charter School in American Fork, Utah (two years) and taught high school English and drama at Colton High School in Colton, California (five years).
The topic of my Master’s thesis, Ethnographic Literary Journalism, which I presented at the International Association of Literary Journalism Studies Conference in 2009 at Northwestern University, Illinois, is relevant to this site and to the Common Core Initiative. (Full text of thesis is available here: http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ETD/id/1888 )
Common Core mandates that English classes teach no more than 50% classic literature, making room for informational texts in elementary grades; and by twelfth grade, the percentage of allowable classic literature is further reduced to only 30%.
Informational text does not belong in English; it belongs in journalism classes, history, science, or other classes.
Since my bachelor’s degree is in English literature and my master’s degree in Communications focused on informational texts (ethnographic literary journalism) I am uniquely qualified to understand the usefulness of both. I value both. I see the need for both. Still, I emphatically state that the Common Core Initiative’s cutting out of classic literature is a huge mistake.Classic literature is sacred. Its removal from American schools is an affront to our humanity.
We need classic literature. We become human by passing on our stories. Souls are enlarged by their exposure to the characters, the imagery, the rich vocabulary, and the endless forms of the battle between good and evil, that happen in all classic literature.
While there are equally serious affonts by the Common Core to students in the diminishment of high quality math, my special passion is English and that’s why I mention it particularly here.
Classic stories create a love for books and reading that cannot be acquired in any other way. Dickens, Shakespeare, Hugo, Orwell, Dickinson, Whitman, Dostoevsky, Rand, O’Connor, Dahl, Carroll, Marquez, Cisneros, Faulkner, Fitzgerald– where would we be without the gifts of these great writers and their writings?
The sly and subtle change to education made by the Common Core Initiative, that cuts out so much classic literature to make room for informational texts, will have the same effect on our educational system and on our children as if Common Core had mandated the destruction of a certain percentage of all classic literature. How much does this differ from book burning in its ultimate effects?
And that’s why I’ve made this website.