(Donna Garner is a columnist, lecturer, lobbyist and longtime educator, teacher and advocate for better public education. She has often appeared as a guest on KGAB's Morning Zone Program and is a regular columnist on kgab.com.)

~~~~~Donna Garner~~~~10.19.12~~~Bottom line:  Jay Mathews of The Washington Post wrote a piece on 10.17.12 that delved into the opposition to the Obama administration’s Common Core Standards (article posted below).  This concern revolves around the Common Core’s emphasis on non-fiction over fiction.

It is my belief that the Common Core Standards are meant to indoctrinate children’s minds into the social justice agenda – not to raise children’s academic achievement and build their basic core knowledge.  

Therefore, the  best way for the Common Core to achieve its goal of indoctrination is to limit children’s reading of the great classics, particularly those from the Western civilization because so many of them came from a strong Judeo-Christian belief system.  

In their place, the Common Core plans to substitute pieces of nonfiction that emphasize environmental extremism, multiculturalism, political correctness, diversity, sexualization, and the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) agenda.

As a person who was taught as a young child to read by sounding out words to automaticity and then practicing those skills by reading the great fiction classics, I developed higher-level reading skills that transferred to my being able later in life to digest the content of complicated non-fiction selections. 

The proof occurred when I was chosen by the President of the United States to serve as one of his appointees to a national commission.  In that position, I was required to read and analyze reports, legal briefs, long-and-involved government reports, spreadsheets, and other higher-level non-fiction text.  My reading skills and educational background served me well during those years; and I was able to interact successfully with the press, members of Congress, government agencies, and policymakers from across the nation.

By my reading time-honored fiction classics during my childhood, I also developed a great love and respect for our American heritage. I came to understand the historical record that documented our country’s development.  The traditional pieces of literary fiction upon which I feasted as an elementary student helped me to identity with the heroes and heroines who founded our country as I studied their personal stories. I soaked in the panorama of history and came to understand why and how America developed into an exceptional nation.  I learned about the struggles of the countless immigrants who came to this country, and I marveled at their abilities to meld together to establish the greatest nation on earth.

The Common Core Standards do not even achieve the most basic educational goal:  to teach young children to sound out words with ease and then to build on that foundation by introducing them to the time-honored pieces of classic fiction that will enhance their love of reading.

For Common Core to tell elementary teachers that they should only allow 4th graders 50% of the time for fiction and 50% for non-fiction is a limitation that is conceived out of an ulterior purpose; and I believe that purpose is to keep children from soaking in the classics which do take time and concentration to read but from which children will reap great educational rewards later on.

Such an edict from Common Core is deliberately intended to drive our schools away from exposing our nation’s children to the time-honored classics of Western civilization, thus leaving our children devoid of a moral compass, a love for our country, and an inability to connect with past generations.  – Donna Garner]


To read Jay Mathews' article in the Washington Post, please go to:

Fiction vs. nonfiction smackdown

By Jay Mathews, Published: October 17

Donna Garner