California Educator

March 2013

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OPINIONS < & LETTERS COMMENTS Your opinions and letters are welcome. So, too, are your photos of teaching, learning and association activities. There is a 250-word limit on letters and all letters will be edited. Photo identifications and permissions are required. All materials submitted must include your name, address, daytime telephone number and email address. E-mail to LOVE 'OUR CALIFORNIA' ARTWORK! A thousand thanks for the joyful [February] cover and the Read Across America poster by gifted artist Rafael López! It had been a hectic week with our sixth-graders running a Greek Olympics, working our way through persuasive essays, surviving the Valentine's Day sugar rush and participating in a drill for code red. Then your cover reminded me of the simple reason I was drawn to teaching and go back each day: a great story, someone to share it with, and a safe place to grow. Kelly Kim I hear and see no awareness by teachers that they realize this is about to descend on them. Does anyone really believe Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the bean-counting micromanager who despises teachers and most students, will do anything to implement real education and real teaching, when he has built his empire on ECLB and RTTB? What will CTA and the NEA do about this impending dilemma? Or is it sufficient to write pretty positive articles? I would like to think that we can all work together so that this time educational "reform" can be done by us, not to us. Cupertino Education Association MaryMelissa Grafflin COMMON CORE — REALIZE WHAT IT MEANS? It is distressing to read [in the February Educator] about the advent of these excellent, long overdue standards and the superior, far more professional level of teaching they require, and then see the statement that this will not do anything to lift the dreadful destructive burdens created by Every Child Left Behind and Race to the Bottom. (I cannot call either of these by their euphemistic titles.) So the obsessional drill-and-kill teaching and testing is supposed to continue, operating concurrently with the Common Core? These are antagonistic to each other, and this is an impossible combination. At what point will districts invest in the massive staff development and purchase of richer instructional materials essential to making the Common Core and its craft and art of real teaching possible? United Educators of San Francisco (retired) Editor's Note: Common Core will be explored in the next several issues of the Educator. See the article on page 36. COMMON CORE ENGLISH STANDARDS INCLUDE ALL ACADEMIC CLASSES I appreciate the background on the Common Core in the February magazine. I was dismayed to read the new standards will shift so that by high school students are reading 75 percent informational text and 25 percent narrative text, implying this reading will be completed solely in their ELA classes. The shift includes all academic classes. The standards set requirements not only for English-language arts (ELA), but also for literacy in his- tory/social studies, science, and technical subjects. While informational text "meets the CCSS requirements and adds depth to students' experience of the texts" (Center for Learning), narrative literature is valuable to teach students to connect with other cultures, to identify common issues they may experience, and to connect motive and consequence through literary role models, both fictional and real-life. As pointed out, students will be responding to "text-based questions" that will require "evidence from reading to support their answers." English teachers are already doing this, regardless of the genre of literature. We teach students to infer a character's motives, often relying on references to nonfiction, as well as the student's own observations and experiences. Sherri Hicks Klamath-Trinity Teachers Association RESPONSE TO 'NOT A VALID EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY' I agree if Dave Brodkey (letters, February) is not comfortable celebrating holidays with his students, he probably shouldn't. I also agree the focus on just Christian holidays is too narrow and can lead to many kids feeling left out. Focusing on the commercial icons is OK for younger audiences, but limited in usefulness. I disagree that other cultures do not celebrate holidays. Almost every culture and religion celebrates major events to commemorate their history and beliefs — and uses them as opportunities to teach important values. Many are associated with important calendar events. Some examples are: the winter solstice (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Goru, Native American story-telling festivals, Chawmos, Yule, etc.), the summer solstice (Jani, Tigegan, Midsummer, Ivan Kupala Day, Saint Jonas' Day, the Fourth of July), the spring and fall equinoxes (Easter, Passover, Naw-rúz, Sham El-Nessim, Mother's Day, harvest festivals, Día de los Muertos, Halloween, Jashne Mihragan, Chuseoko, Native American Pine Nut and Corn festivals, Thanksgiving) — to name but a few. Please note that this does not exhaust the list. These should be opportunities to bring the heritage and family traditions March 2013 7

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