Michelle Malkin has called The Storykillers ”a stopcommoncore must-read.”
It is a must-read. It’s interesting and important. It’s packed full of understanding about the Common Core English standards, which are ruining the love of learning as they distort what it means to be educated.
The book pits logic and common sense against the theories, deceptions and absurdities of the Common Core. It cuts through the Common Core’s wordiness and plainly states this truth: that Common Core is stunting and killing both the classic literature stories themselves and The Great American Story of liberty and self-government, stories that our children and our country cannot do without.
In The Story Killers: a Common Sense Case Against Common Core, Dr. Terrence Moore tells us that the restoration of legitimate, time-tested classic literature –“the best that has been thought and said and done and discovered“– can solve America’s educational decline. The faulty theories of Common Core can not.
If you don’t read book, please remember Dr. Moore’s most important point: We Must Fight For Our Stories– which Common Core is stealing.
The great stories are not disposable! Who persuaded us that they were? Losing them means losing, piece by piece, what it means –or meant– to be us. No amount of supposed career prep info-texts can pretend to make up for that.
Good readers, regardless of what they did after they grew up, developed the love of reading/learning by reading stories. Young and old need stories to process life. Great learners fall in love with learning not because of manuals, articles, and informational texts but because of fascinating stories. Classic works of literature are being neglected, shortened, misinterpreted and replaced, under Common Core. And THE Great American Story– the story of freedom – is being undermined along with the other classics that Common Core neglects. The book explains exactly how this is happening, using the standards themselves as its centerpiece.
We must fight for our stories.
Dr. Moore’s book asks questions like this one: Why does the new Common Core edition of the American literature textbook, The American Experience, by Pearson/Prentice Hall 2012, contain sections on government forms, and an EPA report? Is this the new and “more rigorous” literature that will prepare our children for college? Or is it an attempt to “keep the nation’s children from reading stories, particularly traditional stories that run counter to the political ideology” of the authors of Common Core?
Dr. Moore points out that a widespread, fraudulent adoption of Common Core brought us the fraudulent reading (and math) theories upon which Common Core Standards rest. Common Core was never pilot tested as it should have been, before virtually the whole country adopted it.
“You know how long it takes for a new drug to get on the market before it receives approval from the FDA,” he writes, “Yet here is the educational medicine, so to speak, that all the nation’s children will be taking every day, seven hours a day– and no clinical trials have been done.”
Dr. Moore points out, too, that “most of the money that funded the original writing of the standards came from the deep pockets of Bill Gates. Perhaps related to this fact, the Common Core will have students working far more with computers… the people behind the Common Core also have a hand in running the tests and stand to gain financially…. the other people who stand to make out like bandits are the textbook publishers. If that’s not enough to get one wondering, it turns out that the actual writing of the standards was done in complete secrecy.“
(Shocking! Terrible! And true. Yet how many people know these facts in the face of so many ceaseless Common Core marketing lies being put out by the likes of Exxon, Harvard, Jeb Bush, the National Governors’ Association and even the National PTA, all of whom were paid by Bill Gates to say what they say about Common Core. Don’t listen to them! They are financially bound to say what they say. Listen to people like Dr. Moore, who do not accept money from the Gates club.)
In his book, Dr. Moore talks a lot about what is NOT in the English standards as well as what’s there.
The traditional aims of education– to pursue truth, to find true happiness, to be good, to love the beautiful, to know the great stories of our American tradition– are not the designs of Common Core, he says. The Common Core is a program that kills stories in order to direct people to “be preoccupied with only the functional aspects of human existence and to have almost no interest in the higher aims of life.”
Dr. Moore reminds us that controlling stories (or the lack of stories) is the same thing as controlling people: ”Plato pointed out in his Republic– a book never read in today’s high schools, nor usually even in college– whoever writes the stories shapes –or controls– the minds of the people in any given regime.”
The book’s title describes the killing of two important types of stories:
“The great stories are, first, the works of literature that have long been considered great by any standard of literary judgment and, second, what we might call the Great American Story of people longing to be free and happy under their own self-government. The Common Core will kill these stories by a deadly combination of neglect, amputation, misinterpretation…”
“On the ruins of the old canon of literary and historical classics will be erected a new canon of post-modern literature and progressive political doctrine. Simultaneous to this change, fewer and fewer works of literature will be read on the whole. Great literature will be replaced with ‘information’ masquerading as essential ‘workforce training’.”
Moore explains that the proponents of Common Core hold up “the illusion of reform” while continuing to “gut the school curriculum” and to remove its humanity. He points to page five of the introduction to the Common Core where this chart appears for English readings:
So our little children under Common Core aligned school books won’t get more than 50% of their reading from stories. And our high school seniors won’t get more than 30% of their reading from stories. The bulky 70% of what they read must be informational text: not poetry, not plays, not novels, not the books that move our souls. In English class.
“Thus literature is on the wane in public schools,” Dr. Moore writes, and traditional literature classes are being eroded, despite the fact that the Common Core proponents aim to deceive us and make the “public believe that they are requiring more rigor in reading.”
Dr. Moore calls us to fight for our children’s access to the great stories.
“There has never been a great people without great stories. And the great stories of great peoples often dwell on the subject of greatness. They dwell on the subject of plain goodness as well: the goodness that is to be found in love, marriage, duty, the creation of noble and beautiful things. It is patently obvious that they authors of the Common Core are uncomfortable with these great stories of the great and the good. They are plainly uncomfortable with great literature. And they are even more uncomfortable with what might be called the Great American Story.”
Read much of what the so-called education reformers are speaking about lately, and you’ll see it: they call for sameness, common-ness, for the forced redistribution of teachers and funds, and above all, for equality of results. Not greatness. Not the ability for a single student or school to soar above the rest. No exceptionalism allowed. (Anyone ever read Harrison Bergeron?)
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Obama advisor Linda Darling-Hammond, the testing companies, the Common Core copyright holding groups– the reformers seem to avoid the concepts of goodness and greatness in favor of a twisted version of “social justice” equality, which is, frankly, theft, along with being as foolish as the reasoning behind the society of Harrison Bergeron, which is in no way truly fair, or truly helpful.
“…They fully expect us to shrug with thoughtless indifference. Do not be fooled. The fate of our stories is the fate of the nation,” writes Dr. Moore.
Dr. Moore does the unthinkable: he subjects the Common Core Standards to actual critical thinking (which they claim to promote).
“Since everyone loves the expression ‘critical thinking’ these days, let us subject these standards to a little critical thinking.“
He questions the Common Core Initiative’s obsession with technology and testing.
“Computers are a lot more like televisions than anyone is willing to admit… it is true that art teachers can now much more easily show their classes great paintings and sculptures by using the internet. It is likewise true that history teachers can employ actual speeches of Churchill or Reagan using videos found on the web. Ninety percent of the time, though, that is not how the computer is being used… The arch-testers of the Common Core champion the use of the technological elixir that cures all illnesses and heals all wounds without even pausing to warn us of the potential side effects… we are not invited to consider how much technology is compromising the old literacy. Least of all are we supposed to realize that the remedy for our growing twenty-first-century illiteracy is traditional, nineteenth-century education.”
He asks us to re-examine the assumption that because technology has changed so much, schooling should also change so much. “Does schooling belong in that class of things that does not get ‘updated’ every week… human institutions and relations for which we must be initiated into certain permanent ways of thinking, lest we be cast adrift on a sea of moral, cultural, and political uncertainty?”
He points out that education should not be confused with job training and that “going to college” is not the same thing as gaining knowledge; and that the authors of Common Core are ”lumping college readiness and career readiness together” without stopping to explain what either means nor how either will be affected by the lumping.
He points out that while the standards claim to wield the power to prepare children for “the twenty-first-century global economy,” that claim is based on nothing. It’s just a claim. And we have had economies to worry about since the beginning of time, none of which would have succeeded by taking away stories and classics, the very core that made people in the not too distant past far more literate than we are today.
He opposes this ”pedestrian preoccupation with what will happen when children turn nineteen” because it “undermines the powers of imagination and of observation,” powers which are too important to ignore. Think about it: imagination makes children read and helps them to love books. No little child is motivated to read because he/she is concerned about college and career, years from now. The child reads because the story is interesting. Period.
Dr. Moore also points out that the history of successful literacy shows a very different path from the one Common Core is leading America to follow.
Historically, what created the highest literacy rates? Dr. Moore points out that it was high church attendance, combined with emphasis on the Bible, and schooling with an emphasis on traditional learning! (And the Bible is composed mostly of stories and lyrical language, not of “rigorous informational texts.”)
Dr. Moore points out that Colonial Massachusetts and 18th-century Scotland had nearly universal literacy. Newspapers in the 18th century were written at a far higher level than the journalism of today (which is written at the sixth-grade level.)
“Yet the authors of Common Core insist that students should read far more recently written, informational texts, such as newspaper articles… Ergo, the literacy for the twenty-first-century global economy will be built upon the cracking foundation of our present semi-literacy. Was there not once a famous story-teller who said something about not building a house upon sand?”
He asks us to remember that the careful reading of stories enables us to “learn about good taste and manners. We learn all the the individual virtues and vices… human emotions… Through this vicarious activity, we are compelled to examine ourselves and thereby attain what used to be called self-government… What is a better study of ambition leading to ruin than Macbeth? Wat is a better study of indecision and imprudence than Hamlet? What is a better example of adolescent love and passion in their raw state than Romeo and Juliet? What is a better model of command than Henry V?… We hang onto these stories… that teach us who we are and who we ought to be. The study of human character through great literature, then, teaches us how to live.”
In the book’s last chapter, Moore explains that what is permanently valuable to students does not change very much. He writes that a genuine common core would have included a group of magnificent books that each truly educated person would have read, at the very least. Under THE Common Core, however, mostly informational, unproven texts and text excerpts are listed –and there is no set core of classic books. He writes, ”Had the Common Core English Standards held up just a few great books, college professors could finally know what their incoming students had actually read. Heck, even advertisers and comedians could know what jokes they could tell about literary characters” Moore says that ”the Holy Grail of school reform” is the set of ”great books of our tradition.”
He recommends that students would read –PRIOR to high school– titles such as The Tempest, Animal Farm, A Christmas Carol, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Then Dr. Moore lists a classical high school curriculum (which he says has been working in the schools in which he has helped to implement it):
Homer’s Iliad (The whole thing, not a drive-by excerpt); the WHOLE of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth; the WHOLE U.S. Constitution; Le Morte D’Arthur, Pride and Prejudice, Plutarch’s Lives; Moby Dick; Huckleberry Finn, 1984; A Tale of Two Cities; Crime and Punishment; The Scarlet Letter, The Mayflower Compact; Uncle Tom’s Cabin The Prince; Confessions of Augustine; poetry by Frost, Longfellow, Dickinson, Poe, Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Shakespeare; biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, speeches by Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan; and so on and so on.
Despite everything that is being taken away from the American English curriculum because of Common Core, despite the damage that is being done to children’s love of learning by removing the thing that makes people love to read and become great readers– stories– despite all else he exposes about the Common Core, Dr. Moore’s bottom line remains this one:
“Anyone who thinks I have travelled too far afield or have jumped to conclusions about the true aims of the Common Core should read one further phrase found on the opening page of the English standards. That phrase is more alarming and more revelaing than all the jargon about a new literacy and college and career readiness. ‘The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.’ …The authors of the Core are forecasting that their program will change over the next ten, twenty, forty years… but the same people will be in charge. What will be the new and better evidence that emerges? Who will get to decide what constitutes better evidence? Who will do the revising?”
I have only scratched the surface of this important book here. I hope you will buy copies for your friends, your school board, your legislator, your governor, and especially for your favorite English teacher. This book is a powerful tool in the fight to reclaim legitimate K-12 and college education in this country.