"Controversy is brewing over new Common Core State Standards in English that call on public schools to emphasize the reading of “information text” instead of fictional literature. According to the Washington Post, English teachers across the country are upset by what they consider the governments effort “to drive literature out of the classroom.”
"English teachers are right to be upset, but they shouldn’t take it personally. The government has nothing much against literature, per se. Rather, this initiative is driven in large part by the desire to promote political propaganda in the classroom. The study of literature is being downgraded in the process, but for a good cause.
Consider that one of the “informational texts” recommended as a replacement for, say, Great Expectations is “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.” Students would thus study government propaganda in English class (this Executive Order was issued under President Bush, but it is still propaganda — a political sop to the environmental left, as Stanley Kurtz shows).
Another Common Core’s non-fiction exemplar is an excerpt from a 2009 New Yorker essay by Atul Gawande on health care. This too is propaganda – an effort to show that Obamacare is wise policy.
Proponents of downgrading the teaching of literature claim that their goal is to make sure U.S. students can read and understand complicated texts. But there are plenty of complicated texts that don’t amount to political propaganda, much less propaganda relating to current hot-button policy issues in which the Obama administration is heavily invested. If teaching students how to read such texts were the only goal here, the list of exemplar tests wouldn’t include one-sided political tracts about health care and the environment.
Consider also where the Common Core comes from? The Washington Post tries to make it appear that the new curriculum percolated up from the states. But at the back end of its story we find that “the Obama administration kicked the notion into high gear when it required states to adopt the common standards — or an equivalent — in order to compete for Race to the Top grant funds.” (emphasis added).
The Common Core, then, should be viewed, at least in part, as an attempt by the Obama administration to gain control of what is taught in public schools for the purpose of indoctrination. As Stanley Kurtz puts it, “Obama has managed to press direct support for his most cherished and controversial policy initiative onto your local school district.”