When I saw, both in a Politichicks article and in a Blaze article, that it was on the recommended reading list of Common Core for 11th grade students to read “The Bluest Eye,” a book that graphically, vividly narrates sex crimes of a child molester in first person, I found it hard to believe that this would be approved in my state.
I wrote to my state school board member.
“Dixie, please tell me that in Utah, we have not approved “The Bluest Eye” for our students’ English reading which is on the Common Core’s list of approved readings. Please tell me that our curriculum committee is more selective. This is disgusting child pornography.
Thank you for finding out the answer.”
She wrote back after consulting with someone at the Office of Education with an assurance that although it was recommended by Common Core, it was not recommended by the Utah State Office of Education. Here is that letter:
“I hope this helps-was what I thought but wanted to be sure.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: “Dickson, Sydnee”
Date: Aug 25, 2013 10:43 AM
Subject: RE: Common Core approved reading: The Bluest Eye
To: “Allen, Dixie”
Cc: “Hales, Brenda”
You are correct in that there are no prescribed texts for the Common Core. There are examples of texts that could be used for text complexity by grade level but this is certainly not one of them in Utah. When you go to our Appendix A and look at the suggestions for 11th grade, you will not find Bluest Eyes listed http://schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartelem/Core-Standards/ELA-Color-Standards-8-12-13.aspx. When you look at Appendix B (pg. 154) in the document published by CCSSO and NGA you will find the following brief excerpt from Bluest Eyes considered as a piece of text with complex language. This is not a recommended book but a section of brief text from the book.
[Excerpt was shared here from Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”]
We have not recommended this excerpt nor is it published in our Core ELA Standards documents. Because the Common Core is NOT a prescribed curriculum, districts, schools, and teachers are free to use texts and materials that comply with their district policies. This is not a book or text that would be likely be approved by schools in Utah. Also, we are developing digital texts by teachers for teachers and have started with 6-8. Those can be found at http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/langartsec/Digital-Books.aspx. Last, and most importantly, we have the RIMS review process that is conducted by a commission of appointed community leaders, parents, and educators. They create a list of published materials that are recommended, recommended with reservation, or not recommended. That list can be found at http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/imc/RIMs-Search.aspx. You will not find Bluest Eyes on that list as it has not been requested to be reviewed by either a publisher or a school/district.”
For a moment, I was relieved. Utah students were off the pedophilia-literature hook, it seemed.
But then the wheels started turning in my head again. Ms. Dickson had written that the book was not recommended reading in Utah. But we know that Utah’s teachers must follow the national Common Core to prepare children for a nationally-aligned Common Core test (AIR test) this year.
It would seem that an excerpt from this book or any Common Core approved book could be used on Utah’s AIR test, since AIR writes the test to Common Core alignment. Since I wasn’t completely sure whether AIR writes to Utah’s recommended reading list or to Common Core’s recommended readings, I asked Dixie to find out for me. I’m waiting very anxiously to hear back.
Meanwhile, I fact-checked the Blaze article’s statement that said that the Common Core expected students to read the whole texts, not just excerpts. Sadly, that was correct!
At the official Common Core website, it says: “When excerpts appear, they serve only as stand-ins for the full text. The Standards require that students engage with appropriately complex literary and informational works; such complexity is best found in whole texts rather than passages from such texts.”
So, “improving college and career readiness” and “rigor” means, to the architects of Common Core, exposing 11th graders to the literature of pedophilia.
I’m worried about what kinds of “literature” may appear on the Common Core test that Utah students will be exposed to this year. I’m also worried about their exposure to the new version of the ACT/SAT –since David Coleman has both led the creation of Common Core and is now the College Board president. He’s said he’s altering college entrance exams to match his vision of what college and career readiness means. I do not like and do not trust that man.
Then there’s this:
In Utah, there’s a law that 15 parents will be chosen to serve on a test watching committee. These 15 can see the test questions for the new Common Core AIR tests. I applied to be on the 15 parent panel. (I hope many, many Utah parents apply.) The state wrote back to say they received my application, and that I should know that there is a confidentiality agreement. So if any parent serving on this committee sees anything we find unacceptable like this, we can not speak out and specify what we saw. This seems to defeat the purpose of having the committee.
All of this makes me despise the Common Core Initiative, it’s nontransparent testing and nonrepresentative decision making, more and more and more.