Sound of Silence Blares of Pornographic Condoning!

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Crickets…. yes, that is what most would say my inbox sounds like right now! However, due to the content of the email I sent to each member of Wyoming’s State School Board, the non-responses are a deafening silence that blares of pornographic condoning!

I recently discovered some extremely concerning information dealing with a book that is suggested in the Common Core English Language Standards as an exemplar for use in teaching complex language to 11th graders. You can read the graphic details in both Politichicks and at TheBlaze.

After researching exactly where our state stands I decided to send an email to each State School Board Member for the Wyoming Department of Education. I also included our new Director of Education Richard Crandall and State Superintendent Cindy Hill. Here is the email I sent:

My name is Christy Hooley, I recently taught 5th and 6th grade in Green River, for Sweetwater School District #2. I attended a training for the Common Core State Standards in July of 2012 with instructors from the Wyoming Department of Education.

The document, “2011 Wyoming Language Arts Content Performance Standards” states:

“After careful consideration, and with support from members of the English Language Arts Standards Review Committee, the Wyoming State Board of Education approved for consideration the 2011 Wyoming Content and Performance Standards, which include the Common Core State Standards.

After reviewing the panel that approved this change, I noticed there was not one representative from my school district on either the English Language Arts or the Math Standards Review Committee. This concerns me as a local teacher and a parent of school age children in SWCSD#2

My understanding is the WDE decided to officially adopt Common Core, in its entirety. The WDE website states:

“In June 2012, Wyoming adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as its newest standards in English/Language Arts and Math under the name “Wyoming Content and Performance Standards.” No amendments were made to the original Common Core State Standards.”

A major concern that I have is that the Common Core ELA standards lists exemplar texts to use when teaching to a specific standards. When you look at Appendix B (pg. 152) in the document published by CCSSO and NGA you will find a brief excerpt from the book, “Bluest Eyes” by Morrison. It is considered as a piece of text with complex language.

I am aware that our local school board will determine what actual curriculum is used. However, there are two things to consider.

The first is that our school district has yet to purchase or adopt curriculum that will be used to help teach our students these new standards. Until that time, WDE Common Core instructors suggested during the training I attended, to use the exemplars that Common Core outlines. This is greatly concerning, as “The Bluest Eye,” contains graphically, vividly narrated sex crimes of a child molester in first person.

You can read some of the sexually graphic language here (warning, it is explicit) http://politichicks.tv/column/warning-graphic-common-core-approved-child-pornography/

It is made clear at the official Common Core website: “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.”

Is this what our state is approving for use in our schools? The documents I have found from our department of education, and I quoted above, suggest that is the case.

My second concern involves the upcoming state assessment and changes that are occurring with them. What kinds of “literature” may appear on the Common Core test that Wyoming students will be exposed to this year, and especially next year, when our state uses the test created by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium instead of PAWS? 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.

As a teacher I have felt compelled to teach with those items suggested to give my students the best possible skills and chance to be successful on the end of the year assessments. I am concerned that aligning all of our materials and curriculum limits the choices our local school boards will have to provide to our teachers.

As a parent I’m highly concerned that this type of book has been seemingly approved for use in teaching 11th graders in our state.

I would appreciate a response to my concerns.

To be fair, I did send this out yesterday (Thursday) and to expect an email before they head off for the Labor Day weekend may be unfair. I did receive a response from Cindy Hill. In fact, she showed deep concern and true desire to give me her support. She asked that I call her and discuss this AND what she would go on to describe as the lack of concern I’ll most likely encounter from those board members! How sad, but it is true!! Even though the State School Board members say their mission is to advocate on behalf of students, teachers, and parents, they have no direct accountability to us because they are appointed by our Governor. As long as people sit idly by and not hold Mr. Mead accountable, he is free to do things to take away our voice and the power of our local governing boards as well. See my previous post about Cindy Hill.

If the possibility of “The Bluest Eye” or something similar being on the National Test, created by Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, that is due to be in all of our schools next year concerns you, please do something about it! I am for FREE SPEECH and I am not advocating banning this book! However, that is not something that represents what my values and beliefs are  nor should it be forced upon our children.

If anything…OPT YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF THE TESTING (click here for the form)! Yes! You have a right to do that!

I’ll update you if and when I hear from or State Board Members….chirp, chirp, chirp!

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