“Step away from the book!

Schools in America are to drop classic books such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye from their curriculum in favour of ‘informational texts’. American literature classics are to be replaced by insulation manuals and plant inventories in US classrooms by 2014.

A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace. Books such as JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by “informational texts” approved by the Common Core State Standards. 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.

Ha! And you thought little Johnny has a bad case of ADD now!

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Supporters of the directive argue that it will help pupils to develop the ability to write concisely and factually, which will be more useful in the workplace than a knowledge of Shakespeare.

Seriously, I’m holding out hope that this some kind of sick joke.

  1. Uncle Patso says:


    * No link to original article
    * Only link in article points to non-existent page in dvorak.org (404 error)

    Can fix, please?

  2. deowll says:

    It’s the PC thing to do. Sooner or later they’re going to ban C. Columbus and George Washington. They both are reported to have prayed and they both did things which aren’t PC according to Liberals/atheists/Marxists thus they can’t be allowed. It would corrupt the kiddies minds.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      Yea, JD Salinger is part of the religious freedoms that liberal elites are trying suppress in Texas.

    • McCullough says:

      While Columbus shouldn’t be banned since he is a part of American History, the real truth about him should be told.

      Columbus didn’t “discover” the Americas, not even for the Europeons. And he doesn’t deserve a Wal-Mart Sale event.

      • ± says:

        Nice pic from the movie. That scene exemplifies the self-effacing character of Atticus. As does the entire movie actually.

  3. JimD says:

    If they ban FICTION they must get rid of the Bible as well !!!

    • msbpodcast says:

      The fundies would argue that all physics books should be banned since they are about things like the Theory of Relativity or the Theory of Gravity as if there was any doubt about it, and if there is any doubt about it, you can’t teach it,

      Give the kids something to study where there is absolutely no doubt: history and religious studies. (Bwahahahaha! I kill myself. :-))

      The libraries will be filled with wonderful technical tomes like: Engineering Weights and Measures or Structure and Construction of Cantilever Bridges Over Running Fresh Water.

      Stuff that nobody will have the skill to criticize, or even read

  4. moss says:

    Doubt if Salinger is allowed in public school libraries in Texas, now. Had a friend with a bookstore raided in TX and they took away copies of Pope John’s Pacem en Terris. Book banning has always been a conservative hobby in the U.S. Trying to blame anyone left of Ron Paul is a red herring.

    Republicans own the “think of the children” gambit – though they stole it from the fundies.

  5. Mark says:

    Myth: The Standards don’t have enough emphasis on fiction/literature.

    Fact: The Standards require certain critical content for all students, including: classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s Founding Documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare. Appropriately, the remaining crucial decisions about what content should be taught are left to state and local determination. In addition to content coverage, the Standards require that students systematically acquire knowledge in literature and other disciplines through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

  6. Mextli says:

    You lotus-eaters obviously have no idea how interesting “Recommended Levels of Insulation” can be.

    • msbpodcast says:

      I found the sequel, R-Values Of Construction Materiel Combined and Layered In Laminates As Used In Farm Outbuildings, to be a real page-turner.

      I won’t give any spoilers, but the section on essential venting of porcine stall effluent through sluicing was just riveting.

      Manuals akin to those were required reading when I consulted for the Canadian Egg marketing board. (Did you know that chicken sexing was a good paying job, until the development of scanning cameras capable of sufficient resolution. Human eyes just can’t meet the volume of chickens to be sexed. :-))

  7. moss says:

    Just for shits and giggles I figured I’d track down how many degrees of separation there really was between the premise of the article – and the Gates Foundation:

    Their grant to a body separate from the CCCSS group was for a program to “produce a common metadata schema to identify learning resources that complement Common Core State Standards”.

    Gasp. How frightening. Ab’t 4 degrees of separation.

  8. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    Hell, I graduated school without ever having to read either of those two books. Couldn’t dodge “War and Peace” though.

  9. Gildersleeve says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Training for the workplace? For what jobs?!? They’ll all be in Asia by the next generation.

  10. So what says:

    Top 100 banned or challenged books, yep they’re on there. The more things change the more they stay the same.

    1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
    2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
    5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
    6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
    9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
    12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
    13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    16. Forever, by Judy Blume
    17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
    18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
    19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
    20. King and King, by Linda de Haan
    21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
    24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
    25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan
    26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier
    28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
    29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney
    30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
    31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson
    34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
    35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
    36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris
    38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles
    39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
    40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank
    41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
    42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi
    43. Blubber, by Judy Blume
    44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
    45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly
    46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
    47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby: The First Graphic Novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the creators of Captain Underpants, by Dav Pilkey
    48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez
    49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
    50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan
    52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
    53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco
    54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole
    55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green
    56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester
    57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause
    58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going
    59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
    60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
    61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle
    62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
    63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney
    64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park
    65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
    66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor
    67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
    68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
    69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
    70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen
    71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park
    72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
    73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras
    74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
    75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry
    76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
    77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert
    78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein
    79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
    80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
    81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright
    82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill
    83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds
    84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins
    85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher
    86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick
    87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
    88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
    89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger
    90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle
    91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
    92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
    93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
    94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
    95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix
    96. Grendel, by John Gardner
    97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
    98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte
    99. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
    100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank


  11. ± says:

    “A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle”

    WTF? What possible reason to block this book?

    Never mind.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      Or Captain Underpants?

    • Anonymous Coward says:

      Somewhere in the Wrinkle in Time series the protagonists visited and resisted a world of government/social compliance where everybody did the exact same thing at the exact same time. The item I remember was where there was one kid in the driveway of every house in the neighborhood bouncing a ball in sync, with the one kid who botched the action it looking horrified at his non-compliance.

      Reason enough for Authoritarians to want it banned as an example of what they strive to achieve.

    • GregAllen says:

      Those books aren’t blocked. No books are blocked by the Common Core.

      This is just another alarmist Dvorak entry. It’s driving me away from the site.

  12. Anonymous Coward says:

    The school district I went to never inflicted Catcher in the Rye on us as a requirement, and a number of the books were presented to us on TVs in video format from movies and made for TV dramas.

    Some of the traditional “classic” literature’s only real value today is not the story, but the window into the past that they depict in general terms some of the mindsets and life styles, and generally how Life Was Back Then.

  13. MikeN says:

    Trying to blame this on Bill Gates is foolish. It is the Obama Administration that is pushing the Common Core on states, despite federal law to the contrary. What the article misses is that one of the replacement texts is an executive order issued by Obama. I am not making this up.

    • Grey Bird says:

      Oh yes you are making it up. I just looked and none of Obama’s executive orders do this. You really shouldn’t make things up that are so easy to check.

      • MikeN says:

        No silly, it’s not Obama’s executive order that put this into place, Obama’s executive order is the new recommended literature that school kids should be reading!

  14. Ah_Yea says:

    46 out of 50. I wonder who the 4 states are who told them to stuff it.

    • JCD's Love Child says:

      Not the good, people loving Democrats of California. They’d rather have kids read about “facts” than great literature that shaped the country. And book burning is a Republican thing, eh? Damn those backwards Republicans that run the state of California! Oh wait…

    • GregAllen says:

      Texas is one. Alaska is another.

      That’s enough reason to support CCS.

  15. MartinJJ says:

    Probably Mein Kampf as ‘informational texts’. Or Agenda 21?

  16. Supreme Ultrahuman (I see the comment system is still designed for retards.) says:

    “Columbus didn’t “discover” the Americas, not even for the Europeons. And he doesn’t deserve a Wal-Mart Sale event.”

    Yes, he does. He may not have discovered America, but he set off the chain of events that led to the formation of the greatest nation mankind has ever seen. A nation, that for a while, showed the rest of the world the right way to live and pointed mankind in the right direction. Not so much now, of course, since the nation is slowly being unmade and de-evolved.

  17. GregAllen says:

    I get so tired of the alarmist entries on Dvorak Uncensored. McCullough is one of the worst.

    I’m a school librarians and well-aware of the Common Core Standards.

    It is true that the CCS puts an strong emphasis on reading and understanding information materials but this is not a ban on literature.

    Unless there is a physical shelf-space problem, no fiction will need to be removed. For starters, much informational materials is electronic.

    I, personally, think that an emphasis on reading for information is long overdue.

    Although I have my concerns about the new standards, Catcher in the Rye is safe.

    • Jamie says:

      You’re a school librarians? If true, your grammar and spelling are atrocious.

      Point made.

    • McCullough says:

      GregAllen – Is it totally lost on you that I don’t write the articles that I post and then link to?

  18. JackOShyte says:

    Well, our educational system is shot, anyway. This can’t make it any worse.

    But – to ready them for the workplace? What workplace? How about this?

    Lawn Mowing
    House Cleaning
    Burger Flipping
    Basic Chinese

  19. George says:

    These are all novels, all about people that never existed, the people that read them it makes them unhappy with their own lives. Makes them want to live in other ways they can never really be.

    • Alex says:

      These novels help kids develop a sense of themselves, something that informational textbooks can never do. They give insight to a person’s mind that is not your own and force you to question the way you think, thus helping you grow mentally. To Kill a Mockingbird shows how prevalent and disgusting racism was in the first part of the 20th century, and it does this better than any history book could. Catcher in the Rye is something that is not necessary but still it gives insight to teenage angst and helps a lot of kids understand they are not alone in how they feel. Taking fiction books out of curriculum will be the biggest mistake in education since No Child Left Behind. This is coming from a High School English Teacher.

  20. American2 says:

    Private education gets a shot in the arm? Or Americans get even duller.

  21. smartalix says:

    Stupid people are easier to manipulate.

  22. Benjamin says:

    Makes sense to have more real world text that people would encounter at work. However, this shouldn’t replace classic literature. It basically removes the soul from reading and create a lack of knowledge about American and English literature.

    Let’s learn about racism in the south through Harper Lee’s only novel and let’s read about totalitarian governments through 1984 and Brave New World. Knowledge of Animal Farm would have made everyone predict what would happen with this Arab Spring the Left was excited about.

    We need literature to keep us alive and impart a common culture. R-values of insualation will turn us in to boring people. Instead, to add non-fiction to our reading, let’s learn more about the lives of famous Americans like George Washington Carver, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Tesla and Edison. Let’s find ways to teach their virtues and learn from their vices.

    Is there no time to teach about Insulation and Invasive Plants? We could find the time. Maybe they could fit it into the school day if they didn’t teach children to put condoms on bananas or sing hymns to Barack Obama. There is plenty of time in the school day to teach informational text without sacrificing English and American literature.


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