Book of the Month

Back to January 2014 Ed Reporter

Book of the Month

The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core, Terrence O. Moore, CreateSpace, 2013, $15.00.

The Story-Killers describes the numerous flaws of Common Core in an exposé of the central planners’ prescription for American education. Common Core favors buzzwords and has used fear tactics to scare and bribe the nation into adopting the standards and subsequent tests, using terms like “career and college readiness” and “twenty-first century global competition.” They foment the idea that we must adopt Common Core or else American students will fall farther behind. They promote “job training” and “workforce preparation.” But education is not only about getting a job, nor is it about attending college. Education is meant to prepare individuals for life as well-informed, independent, and analytical thinkers.

Moore states that the “crisis in literacy has been the result of schools not teaching students to read properly since about 1960.” He continues, “as schools have experimented with the way children learn to read,” each “new, untested, outlandish” experiment has been a “disaster.” Great literature, which he calls “the study of humanity,” has been replaced by informational texts and recent works that have no value aside from an occasional multicultural component.

Modern curricula, and Common Core in particular, prevent students from reading great poetry, stories, and speeches. The author fears that it is so nihilistic and trite that “it could very well turn [students] off of life.” When a valuable literary work slips in, the “story-killers” ruin it for students by making them tear it apart with boring “compare and contrast” exercises and other dissections “in a lifeless, mechanical way,” including those based on race, sex, or other political or social provocations.

Moore’s prescription for righting American education is “a traditional, classical, liberal education,” which he outlines in detail. He has the advantage over the writers, promoters, and subsidizers of Common Core in that he has actually operated a successful school. His high school curriculum embraces “not so much the past but the permanent”: classics “without the interference of the post-modern purveyors of perversity, pettiness, and ennui.” Students read primary sources and original documents, from authors of “the best that has been thought and said and done and discovered.”

While Common Core students read “a history of the grocery bag while they could be reading Homer or Shakespeare or Dickens,” (yes, that is an actual CC Appendix B text exemplar), Dr. Moore has offered real solutions aimed at student achievement. Every citizen should read The Story-Killers and then do everything they can to stop Common Core.