Well no longer – the government now wants to kill those skills off.
The adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative in more than 40 states around the country since 2010 has wrought two major changes: (1) a notable decrease in the use of fiction and literature in America’s reading and English classes and (2) lower reading and math scores on the U.S. Department of Education-mandated National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The Common Core standards — now instituted in more than 40 states — mandate that nonfiction books constitute at least 70 percent of the texts read by high school students.
The nonfiction-heavy reading regime has forced English teachers nationwide to ditch short stories, poetry and literary classics such as “Huckleberry Finn” and “The Great Gatsby” in favor of dry how-to manuals and dated dispatches from the Federal Reserve.Common Core “is having an impact on the content of reading instruction, moving from the dominance of fiction over nonfiction to near parity in emphasis,” Brookings Institution education policy analyst Tom Loveless wrote last week.
Loveless notes that there is little evidence that the shift toward nonfiction has had any positive effect on the collective reading ability of America’s public school students.
“Reading more nonfiction does not necessarily mean that students will be reading higher quality texts,” Loveless notes.
A list of suggested “informational texts” which have replaced world-class literature in public schools under Common Core includes “Recommended Levels of Insulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency” and “FedViews” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
There’s also “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management,” a publication of the General Services Administration.*
In 2009, about 36 percent of the material America’s fourth graders were reading was nonfiction. About 25 percent of the material America’s eighth graders were reading was nonfiction. In 2015, under Common Core, the percentages of nonfiction reading material have climbed to 45 percent for fourth graders and 32 percent for eighth graders, according to the Brookings Institution.
As far as test scores, scores under the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have failed to increase — and possibly decreased — since the implementation of Common Core.
Practice may not make perfect, but it can improve skills. Instilling a love of reading in (admittedly, “some”) students will encourage them to spend more time reading and therefore, practicing. As for writing skills, the color and forcefulness of words is learned by reading what skillful writers do with them: As Mark Twain wrote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug”.
Today’s students will have no longer heard of Twain, let alone read him.
(b) implement within the agency environmental management systems (EMS) at all appropriate organizational levels to ensure (i) use of EMS as the primary management approach for addressing environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, including environmental aspects of energy and transportation functions, (ii) establishment of agency objectives and targets to ensure implementation of this order, and (iii) collection, analysis, and reporting of information to measure performance in the implementation of this order;