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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.

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