Catcher in the Rye dropped from US school curriculum - Telegraph

This kind of (horrible) reporting and rhetoric feels like a translation of the math wars for English language arts. I'm not very knowledgeable about the Common Core State Standards for ELA, but I know there is an increased emphasis on reading informational texts in history, social studies, science, and technical subjects. (Which sounds great to me, as I'm not a fan of reading fiction.) A quick glance at shows that the standards themselves don't specify many specific readings beyond things like "at least one work of Shakespeare" and using Federalist No. 10 as an example of a historical text.

How this is being reported, of course, is that students will no longer read fiction (and, of course, they specifically mention a great work like Catcher in the Rye) because they instead are forced to read instructional manuals like Recommended Levels of Insulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection agency. This is every bit as exaggerated as the "Traditional math is endless drill of facts!" versus "Reform teaches nothing but calculator use!" accusations of the math wars.

I imagine the authors of the article used the "exemplar" texts mentioned in Appendix B for the ELA standards and conveniently ignored these other great options for high school students under the "Informational Texts: Science, Mathematics, and Technical Subjects" category:

  • Keith Devlin's Life by the Numbers
  • Joy Hakim's The Story of Science: Newton at the Center
  • John Allen Paulos's Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences
  • Malcom Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson's Gravity in Reverse: The Tale of Albert Einstein's 'Greatest Blunder'
  • Calishain and Dornfest's Google Hacks: Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching, 2nd Edition
  • Ray Kurzweil's The Coming Merger of Mind and Machine

And while I didn't see Salinger in the list, I imagine he'd fit right in with many of the authors that are on the exemplar list: Homer, Kafka, Steinbeck, Bradbury, Harper Lee, Chaucer, Austen, Poe, Hawthorne, Dostoevsky, Melville, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway Toni Morrison, Wilde, and Wilder. Yes, To Kill a Mockingbird is on the list, even though the Telegraph specifically says it will be replaced. Horrible journalism, indeed.

(For the record, I've never read Catcher in the Rye and, given the choice, I might prefer to read about building insulation. I'm weird, I know.)