Classic American Literature on the Chopping Block

U.S. schools are dropping classic books from curriculum in favor of "informational texts."


I can remember the feeling of my world expanding as a student when I sat in a bright classroom and read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. 

The discussions that unfolded about the wrongs of discrimination stayed with me to this day. Scout became my hero and my heart yearned to one day marry a man with the moral integrity of Atticus Finch. 

Young people today will no longer be given the opportunity to learn from the trial of Tom Robinson. To Kill a Mockingbird, and other American literature classics such as The Catcher in the Rye, are being dropped from classrooms to be replaced by manuals and plant inventories by the year 2014. 

Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council.

According to an article published by The Telegraph, a new school curriculum, which will affect 46 out of 50 states, will make it compulsory for at least 70 percent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

The move was pushed by the Common Core Standards Initiative, which, according to its website, is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It's being partly funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The initiative aims to establish a shared set of clear educational standards for English language arts and mathematics. How? By focusing on what has been determined relevant to the real world. The standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that students are competitive in the emerging global marketplace.

The news has stirred up quite a debate. Many parents worry that too much imagination and creativity is being to be removed from US classrooms. Proponents of the initiative argue that non-fiction promotes competence which is more applicable in today’s workplace than literary proficiency.

Georgia is one of the 46 states that has adopted the Common Core Standards Initiative which will bring many changes to the classroom for our students in 2014.

To learn more about the Common Core Standards Initiative, visit the FAQ page and read for yourself how the intitiative will affect Georgia classrooms.

If you find yourslef in a tizzy about the removal of these books and want to raise a stink, there is a petition parents can sign.

Do you think that classic American literature is an important part of classroom curriculum or do you think that a focus on non-fiction books will make a student more marketable? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Marne M December 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM
If nothing else, it's a good reminder as to how important it is for parents to be involved with what their children are learning. My six-year-old loves non-fiction, and I am certainly happy to have her read as much of it as possible. However, I think that it is equally important, as she grows up, that she be exposed to excellent works of literature (and not just American Literature, but World Literature). If she doesn't get that at school, then it's my job to make sure she gets it at home. Of course, I have a Masters Degree in English Literature. There's a chance I could be biased. :-) I do also want her to have a strong background in history, science and math.
Racer X December 13, 2012 at 01:57 PM
GGY- You are exactly right. I could not have said it better myself.
Michael Robinson December 13, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I've talked to people all around the planet for most of my life on the Internet. It's only gotten easier for kids to do that. And classic literature isn't the sole source of ideas. People write new literature all the time. Most classic literature is legally available for free online if it's important to you.
Tammy Osier December 13, 2012 at 10:28 PM
To Kill a Mockingbird teaches empathy and is a story that shows that during the time when blacks were treated as second class citizens, that there were people who cared, who didn't bow to public pressure to conform to the norm, but took a stand for the concept that all men are created equal. Strange that in today's social climate that we would throw out a book like that. Especially when history is being rewritten at every turn. A good teacher would excite kids to read the story before they ever picked the book up. I had such a teacher. It was not just an assignment - we discussed the meaning of the story from the get go and couldn't wait to find out how it turned out.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew December 17, 2012 at 02:32 AM
But insulation is GREEN...


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