Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Topic: An Opinion about National Standards by the NCTE President

10-second review: Kylene Beers, president of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) fulminates against the appearance of national standards in English created by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in collaboration with the College Board, National Governors and ACHIEVE. She is furious that organizations like the NCTE were not consulted in creating these recently published standards.

Title: “The Sound of Silence.” Kylene Beers, NCTE President. Council Chronicle (September 2009), 14-16.

Quote: “I was told that one Board member [of the Texas Board of Education] tossed [my] letter in the trash without even reading it, dismissing me, my credentials and this national organization with a telling remark: ‘I don’t need some teacher telling me what needs to happen in a school. I went to school and I got good grades because my teachers demanded I learn how to diagram sentences. Now teachers don’t even care if students learn to spell.’ ”

Comment: “Make your blood boil? Well, I should say” [cf. The Music Man].  How do you deal with that kind of simplistic statement? Tell him to put in writing. That’s what I did when a woman stood up in a school board meeting and praised the old days of grammar and diagramming sans writing. I was able to demonstrate that her “old-school” training wasn’t very good because her writing was shot full of grammatical errors.

On the other hand, I like these recent national standards in English. I have been providing them for my readers in my blog, “English Updates” []. I’m afraid that the standards produced by the IRA [International Reading Association] and the NCTE when published several years ago were not very well written or organized. Those standards were criticized by the New York Times, ridiculed by the reporter for the way they were expressed. She said something like, “If that’s the way English teachers write, no wonder our students can’t speak or write English.” RayS.

Check out these latest national standards at “CCSSI (Common Core State Standards Initiative) for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies and Science.” March 2010. You will find the standards at

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