The Columbus Dispatch reports State School Board President Debe Terhar has spoken out against the inclusion of “The Bluest Eye” on the Common Core list of exemplar texts for 11th graders. The OLC post, “Warning: Your 11th Grader May Read A Common Core Assigned Text” provides background on this issue and links to an article that contains excerpts from the book so that readers can understand the highly graphic and disturbing nature of this text. Ms. Terhar was supported in her statement by fellow school board member Mark Smith.
The OLC appreciates Terhar and Smith speaking out on this issue, but unfortunately we cannot say the same for the Ohio Department of Education. The Dispatch quotes ODE spokesman John Charlton as saying that the “The Bluest Eyes” is “not part of the new learning standards in Ohio and it’s not required of any school or teacher. Local school districts make their own decisions.”
By “new learning standards”, Mr. Charlton is referring to the Common Core standards which the ODE has imposed on the state of Ohio with much fanfare. Despite Mr. Charlton’s assertion, “The Bluest Eye” is listed as a Common Core model text for 11th graders as indicated on the ODE’s website. See “English Language Arts – Appendix B”, page 152 at this link.
Now that a tangible concern has been raised over Common Core, the ODE refuses to accept responsibility and admit their costly error – binding Ohio to a set of educational standards written by unknown and unaccountable non-profit employees.
Mr. Charlton also asserts in the Dispatch article,
“It’s not the position of the board that the book, or any book, be banned.”
The ODE does not seem to understand the difference between banning a book and determining whether a book is appropriate for a child. Society makes decisions to keep inappropriate reading and viewing material away from children everyday, thus the rating systems which are in place. Expecting the same level of care from the State School Board and the ODE is not too much to ask.
The bottom line for parents: now that the Kasich administration has hitched Ohio’s star to a set of educational standards over which Ohioans have no control, parents need to pay close attention to what their children are learning at school. Whether material is found that is inappropriate, propaganda, or just simply pointless – Ohio children are going to need their parent’s watchful eye now more than ever.