Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute wrote a great op/ed entitled “Schoolkids missing the Twain” for the Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette that paints a picture of how the Common Core State Standards disproportionate use of informational texts will impact school kids.
Mark Twain’s greatest achievement was “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” a tale about the title character, the abused backwoods son of an alcoholic, and Jim, a Negro slave fleeing captivity. The story chronicles their journey together down the Mississippi. Twain not only uses Jim’s humanity and heroism to help Huck unlearn his own racism, but to illustrate the moral and societal failure of slavery and racial discrimination.
According to Twain scholar Jocelyn Chadwick:
“The book’s pivotal moment is when Huck awakens to hear Jim ‘moaning and mourning.’ Jim’s been crying for his family, and Huck says some of the most significant words I’ve ever read in fiction: ‘I do believe he cared just as much for his people as white folks does there’n. It don’t seem natural, but I reckon it’s so.’ ”
No less of an authority than Ernest Hemingway wrote, “All modern American literature comes from … “Huckleberry Finn”… There has been nothing as good since.”
Sadly, students in Massachusetts and across most of the country may soon have to seek out “Huckleberry Finn” on their own, because it isn’t included in national K-12 education standards that have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia.
Twain’s masterpiece isn’t the only casualty of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s decision to adopt weaker national standards known as “Common Core.” These new English standards include less than half as much classic literature and poetry than the Massachusetts standards they will replace.