Archive for the ‘Slashing classic literature’ Tag

Stop Common Core Rally Report   6 comments

A REPORT ON THIS WEEK’S  STOP COMMON CORE  RALLIES

This week, and especially Tuesday night, the Common Core Initiative took some tough hits.  All on the same night,  Florida had a newsmaking Common Core protest while Missouri had its Stop Common Core event,  while here in Utah about 600 people gathered at the Capitol; on Wednesday, South Carolina was up to bat.   More and more, people are taking a stand for local control:  for the end of any involvement with Common Core.

Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reporters attended the Utah rally; read their reports here  and here.

Here’s my shorter version of the events: photos first.

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Siri Davidson, a Utah mother who began to home school her children because of  Common Core math

a rallyVolunteers explained to attendees how to opt out of Common Core tests.

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Attendance was strong at Salt Lake City’s rally to Stop Common Core on Tuesday night

rally feb 2014 with me judge and pytt

Judge Norman Jackson, who gave the prayer, in this photo is on the front row, left.

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After a prayer and a song, the rally began with Representative Brian Greene speaking about fairness and transparency in state school board elections.  His new bill –if it gets a chance to be heard– creates it: House Bill 228.   He asked Utahns to please write to the representatives and ask them to help push that bill out of committee so legislators may vote on it.

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Representative Dana Layton spoke about her bill to restore local control of education, House Bill 342.    She quoted Diane Ravitch’s words about Common Core from the speech/article “Everything You Need To Know About Common Core.”

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State Senator Margaret Dayton spoke about the need for informed citizens and for a return to local control and away from Common Core.

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Psychotherapist Joan Landes spoke about the psychological devastation that the age-inappropriate Common Core and its experimental testing wreaks on students.

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Three essay winners read their essays and won boxes of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s chocolates:  Brian Halladay, a member of the Alpine School Board; Amy Mullins, a teacher; and Cami Isle, a teacher.  All the essays that were entered into the contest will be posted at Utahns Against Common Core.

I got to introduce these three writers, and got to explain why we held the essay contest.  In the spirit of restoring legitimate learning and the joy of reading and writing, Utahns Against Common Core aimed to model the practice of written human conversation and critical thought –which happens in personal essays.

Common Core doesn’t encourage personal writing.  It prefers technical writing and info-texts.  In fact, David Coleman, lead architect of Common Core, explained why he ditched personal writing:  ““As you grow up in this world you realize that people really don’t give a !% #*^ about what you feel or what you think… it is rare in a working environment that someone says, ‘Johnson I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.’ ”    Coleman mocks personal writing and slashed it, as he also slashed the allowable amounts of classic literature, starting in elementary grades at just 50%  but cutting more and more– until, as high school seniors, students must devote 70% of their readings to informational texts, allowing only 30% to be fictional stories, the stuff that makes us love reading in the first place.  (Excuse me while I pull out my hair and scream.)  So.  Since Coleman mocks the personal essay and  works to incrementally delete classical literature,  we must work to restore them.

This is why we held the essay contest.

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After the essay readings, teacher and author Sinhue Noriega spoke about Common Core being much more than just standards, and also being –despite proponents’ claims to the contrary– a curriculum; and he spoke about the unconstitutionality of the Common Core.

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Attorney Ed Flint spoke about the Common Core-related law suit in which he is involved.  Details here.  

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Radio host Rod Arquette spoke passionately, telling the story of how the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl this year in part because of the athlete who often asked the team, as his father had often asked him, “Why not you?  Why not us?”  Arquette turned the question to the audience.  Why can’t we change the course of the Common Core?  Why not us?

Representatives from the Left-Right Alliance, Libertas Institute, Utahns Against Common Core, FreedomWorks, and several other organizations spoke for just one minute apiece.

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Dad Oak Norton and Mom Alisa Ellis closed the meeting with calls to action.

The words that stayed in my mind more than anything else from the evening were the words of retired Judge Norman Jackson’s opening prayer. These deserve to be remembered and pondered.

Judge Jackson prayed:

Dear God and Father of us all,

We express our Gratitude for the time, means and opportunity to gather this day at the seat of our Government. We acknowledge our firm reliance on Thy Divine protection and guidance in all the affairs of life. And ask Thy forgiveness of our trespasses as we forgive those of others.  Enable us to live with charity for all.

We thank Thee for the endowment of unalienable rights – including life, liberty and the education of our children.  May our land, schools and homes be places of light, liberty and learning.  Bless us and all citizens with the desire to be governed by correct principles. Bless those who govern with that same desire.

Protect parents, children and teachers from the designs of conspiring men and women. And from the pretensions of those who occupy high places. Preserve the sanctity of our homes from the decay of individual responsibility and religion. Stay the hands of those who would harm and offend our children. Grant us and all citizens the strength to be eternally vigilant in this great cause.

Bless the proceedings and participants of this gathering with Thy guiding influence and sustaining care.  Bless us and our children with Thy holy light – we humbly pray in the name of Thy Son Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Amen.

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Give Your Children Dickens For Christmas – They Won’t Be Reading Dickens in High School   Leave a comment

I love Charles Dickens.

— Love his hilarious, witty words; love his vivid, unforgettable descriptions of people and places; love his improbable plot twists; love the Christian soul of his stories.

The Colton High School English Department, under the old, higher-than-common-core English standards, used to teach Dickens’ “Great Expectations” year after year to ninth graders at Colton High school –when I was a brand new teacher there in the 1990s.  I hadn’t read the novel before I taught it.   It was, unfortunately, not on the recommended reading list of the high school I’d attended in Florida.

But reading and re-reading “Great Expectations” so many times, as I taught the novel, I really fell in love with the book.  This love I gained also persuaded some students, mostly against their will at first, to love that novel, too.  It was fun.

But now, that seems to be over.

According to Pioneer Institute, the Boston-based thinktank, Charles Dickens literature is going away.  High school literature reading lists for Common Core standards allow for very few British writers.  Shakespeare’s on.  Dickens is off.  Why?  There’s no room when you have to make room for informational texts that include Presidential Executive Orders and Insulation manuals. Dickens, gone from US education?  It’s beyond ridiculous.

Jamie Gass and Charles Chieppo, of Pioneer Institute, have written an article on this very subject in this week’s Worchester Telegram & Gazette:  http://www.telegram.com/article/20121219/NEWS/112199945/1020/opinion&Template=printart

Gass and Chieppo write:

“While the brilliance of Dickens’ novels… will live on, they’re on the endangered list in America’s public schools….  Shakespeare is one of the very few British writers named in the nationalized English standards… [W]atching “A Christmas Carol” on television may be kids’ only exposure to the magic of Dickens’ characters.

… Dickens’ works have instructed generations of novelists and schoolchildren around the world. His characters capture the spectrum of vices and virtues found in human nature: Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble, Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, David Copperfield… many of these cleverly named characters speak the most enduring lines in the English language… Our children must read Dickens to grasp the universality of the human condition, compassion for human suffering, and the reality of human heroism… When the Ghost of Christmas Present comes to visit Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” he shows Scrooge two destitute children.

“This boy is Ignorance,” the Ghost says. “This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased…”
Could there be a clearer Dickensian omen for the price our country will pay if American public education turns its back on great literature?”

http://www.telegram.com/article/20121219/NEWS/112199945/1020/opinion&Template=printart
Postscript–
Well, I haven’t been back to Colton High school for many years.  But I have read “Great Expectations” on my own again.
I learned that there’s a new sign outside Colton High School today.  It looks like this:
I’m assuming that “Commited To High Standards” means bamboozled by Common Core, which doesn’t actually give high standards at all, but which dumps classic literature by the wayside in favor of informational texts, and which dumps cursive, and which dumps traditional math in favor of fuzzy math, and which does not allow any parent, teacher or principal to alter the national standards in any way.  (Why? Because the NGA/CCSSO copyrighted the standards and the US Dept. of Education hijacked them; Obama now claims he persuaded states to adopt them.)
When Dickens gets dropped because it’s not on the “rigorous high standards” train, the concept of what makes “high standards” has become fuzzy indeed.
Please, take your children to see “A Christmas Carol”.  Stuff a copy of a Dickens novel or an audio book into a Christmas stocking. Keep Charles Dickens alive in the hearts of American children.
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