“It means taking out some of the things that aren’t really important.” Like what? “[W]hether or not kids should read Shakespeare. Most of the studies say Shakespeare is not critical.” That’s Chris Minnich, director of standards at the Council of Chief State School Officers, talking about the English/language arts content being drafted for the ‘common core’ state standards initiative. The CCSSO’s one of the two primary organizers of the standards initiative.
I spoke at the AFT’s QuEST conference earlier this week on a panel that included Bill Schmidt from Michigan State and Dane Linn, executive director of the education division at the National Governors Association, the other force behind the common core initiative. I was cautiously optimistic – suggesting that the common core initiative could strengthen the presence of the liberal arts and sciences in the classroom and help ensure that each student receives the kind of education we believe is so important.
So we’re stunned that the common core effort is looking to throw out possibly the brightest star of our literary heritage and replace it with … well, we don’t yet know. But Minnich’s comment isn’t encouraging. Of course, in a few years the loss will hardly be noticed, as someone wise once pointed out: “He that is robb’d, not wanting what is stolen, / Let him not know ‘t, and he’s not robb’d at all.” (Othello, Act III, scene 3)