Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Join the Resistance

My “inner blogger,” which I discovered six years ago when Linda Salzman started this blog, is now in full flower at the Huffington Post.  Since September I’ve tried to post twice a week.  My initial mission was to add my two cents to the national discussion on education.  But a second mission has emerged—to shed light for the general public on our genre, children’s nonfiction literature.  To that end I’ve requested that my colleagues send me their most recent books.  I read them and write posts that show a book’s timeliness to current events or where it fits into the curriculum.  I am not a book reviewer as all of my posts are unabashed cheers for the brilliance of these authors.  As an author, myself, there is a conflict of interest for me to act as a critic.  But I have no problem endorsing the creativity and insights of my fellow authors. 

The adoption of the Common Core State Standards has created an opening for public awareness of our genre.  It has helped to create a readership for this blog.  When I first read the CCS standards, I saw them as an opportunity for teachers and educators to bring their own passions and creativity to classrooms through, among other things, the use of our books.  Children need to know there are many voices out there so they can develop voices of their own.  But this opening for diversity has been hi-jacked by standardized testing and the demand that teachers constantly document how they are meeting the CCSS—yet another chore that competes with instructional time.  One of the more absurd examples of the implementation of the CCSS is the lesson on close reading of the Gettysburg Address by focusing on text only, with no background knowledge of the Civil War.  

Diane Ravitch is leading a movement against the CCSS.  I’ve been a faithful subscriber to her amazing blog (she posts 5,6,7 times a day!) and she and her followers are gaining traction.  Meanwhile, NY State, for example has a huge contract with Pearson for their textbooks and their texts.   Granted, they and McGraw Hill and other textbook publishers are buying rights to our books to excerpt in their publications (and/or in the tests themselves) along with lesson plans making nice, convenient packages for harried teachers and furthering the notion that their books are the only books kids need to read to pass the tests, although their ethics in this are currently being questioned (in the example I've linked above).

My intent through my Huff Post blog is to join Diane's fight against the huge corporations that have dominated classroom reading for many years, the standardized teaching and testing and their ties to teacher evaluation.  Instead of emphasizing the horrors of turning teachers in to robots, all teaching the same page at the same time, I want to show the exciting alternatives that our genre offers. So I invite the readership of this blog to join me.  This means you need to use social media to spread the word. So "follow," "tweet," "share," and "like." It's the way business is being done these days.  So many people out there are still unaware of our existence.  This is one positive way we can all  help save public education.

I’m showing you the covers of the books I've given a shout-out to, so far.  The titles below the images are links to my posts.  Please join the "resistance" and spread the word. 

Arousing a Sense of Wonder
In the post that went live last Thursday (Here Come the HUMPBACKS!), I featured April’s three recent picture books.  I gave a shout-out to all of us who write for this blog and on the iNK website.  Keep those (virtual) cards and letters coming!!!

No comments: