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What the Bill Gates Crew Wants 8th Graders to Read

Publication Date: 2010-08-23

For background on the Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project, see The Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project: Bill Gates' Victory Part 1


The Common Core Curriculum Mapping Project: Bill Gates' Victory Part 2

Here is a complete list of what the Mappers want 8th graders to do.

NOTE: Although Bill Gates is financing both the Common Core Standards and this effort, the Commonn Core Curriculum Mapping Project, what you will read below is not from the Common Core Standards group, though this Mapping effort would like you to think otherwise. View this as the first in what will be a deluge of curriculum efforts springing from the Common Core Standards.

The fact remains: Bill Gates is spreading his money in several directions to establish a national curriculum.
Date: December 2009
Purpose: to develop K-10 ELA curriculum aligned to the Common Core standards under development by CCSSO and NGA
Amount: $550,844
Term: 1 year and 1 month
Topic: High Schools
Region Served: North America, Global
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Grantee Web site: http://www.commoncore.org

As Kenneth Saltman points out in The Gift of Education: Public Education and Venture Philanthropy, these are diverted public funds. So-called philanthropies get huge tax breaks. This means that as taxpayers you and I are subsidizing these absurd reading lists from the curricululm mappers.

Put "Barbara Byrd-Bennett" into a search on this site. You will find that she is chief academic officer in Detroit and had quite a career before that. She is a trustee of this Curriculum Mapping project. Another trustee, Juan Rangel, wrote this on Huffington Post, 1/21/10: "President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan's Race to the Top grant program is the most promising education initiative in decades, giving the nation an opportunity to take a hard look at raising standards and closing achievement gaps in public education." Rangel is CEO of United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) in Chicago, which received $98 million in stimulus funds for his charter operation. (Huffington Post,6/11/09)

Lynne Munson, the president of this outfit was a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute 1993-2001. And so on. They even brought Bill Honig out of the woodwork.

Bill Gates thinks this is the team to deliver the national curriculum.

by Susan Ohanian

Map: a representation, usually on a flat surface, as of the features of an area of the earth or a portion of the heavens, showing them in their respective forms, sizes, and relationships according to some convention of representation.

I am a longtime 7-8th grade teacher. The Common Core Curricululm maps do not offer a representation of any area of a classroom I have seen or would want anyone I care about to be a part of.

Little Women posited as an exemplary text for 8th graders provides a useful snapshot of what is wrong with these Common Core Curriculum maps. I consider myself a good teacher but I can't imagine trying to pull any 13-year-old through this book. I still have the copy of Little Women that I read and loved eons ago--many years before I was in 8th grade. My father and I started it together. His bookmark remains in Chapter 3. He never got any further. Even I wouldn't have tolerated the book as an 8th grader. Take a look at the text for yourself.

Apologies Needed

From the outdated to the bizarre, James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is recommended for "advanced" 8th graders. Here's how it begins:

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo

His father told him that story: his father looked at him through a glass: he had a hairy face.

He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.

O, the wild rose blossoms
On the little green place.

He sang that song. That was his song.

O, the green wothe botheth.

When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell.

His mother had a nicer smell than his father. She played on the piano the sailor's hornpipe for him to dance. He danced:

Tralala lala,
Tralala tralaladdy,
Tralala lala,
Tralala lala.

Uncle Charles and Dante clapped. They were older than his father and mother but uncle Charles was older than Dante.

Dante had two brushes in her press. The brush with the maroon velvet back was for Michael Davitt and the brush with the green velvet back was for Parnell. Dante gave him a cachou every time he brought her a piece of tissue paper.

The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were Eileen's father and mother. When they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen. He hid under the table. His mother said:

-- O, Stephen will apologize.

Dante said:

-- O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.--

Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes.

Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes,

Assuming that Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, and New York Times editorial writer Brent Staples would qualify as "advanced 8th graders," I'd like to see them read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and then do the activities/assessments on John Merrow's Learning Matters.

Determine an author's point of view in a text, compare it with an artist's perspective in a work of art, and discuss the impact perspective has on what was created.
Discuss how the use of literary techniques, such as humor or point of view, helps engage readers with the text.
Compare and contrast authors' and artists' motivations for creativity.

NOTE: The New Yorker puts this book on its recommended list for people in their 20ies (not for 13-year-olds).

Call the Lawyers

School administrators, call your lawyers. Are you prepared for parent reaction when James Joyce and J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye appear on the recommended reading list for 8th graders?

Everybody knows that many readers, particularly boys, much prefer nonfiction, so why are they left with the choices referred to here as "informational text?" The selection here is very heavy on biographies of children's book illustrators while good science writing is miminal. That said, we must not start offering up our booklists. The whole concept of prescribed book lists for every classroom in America is wrongheaded and dangerous.

When I started teaching in New York City--quite literally in the middle of someone else's lesson plan, I complained to my department chair that one 9th grader refused to read the prescribed Johnny Tremain. "Then find a book he will read," he advised me.

And I did.

This remains the best advice I ever received about teaching: Find books they will read became my mantra. I added read and savor.

Make no mistake about it, what is "recommended" here will become the law of the land. Bill Gates carries a bucket of money and a big stick.

Money and big stick be damned: What's going on here amounts to grand theft. It should be declared a felony. Elitists with rear-view mirrors permanently attached to their foreheads are stealing from children their right to an appropriate, exciting, and joyful education.

I wonder how eighth graders will endure the six units to which they are to be subjected:

* Unit 1 Urban Settings in America: "It Happened in the City"
* Unit 2 Rural Settings in North America: âIt Happened in the Country"
* Unit 3 Looking Back on America
* Unit 4 Authors and Artists
* Unit 5 Dramatically Speaking
* Unit 6 "The Road Not Taken"

NOTE: E refers to Exemplar text. It doesn't seem to be employed with any consistency.

Unit 1 Urban Settings in America: "It Happened in the City"

Literary Texts

* "Chicago" (Carl Sandburg) (E)
* "O Captain! My Captain!" (Walt Whitman) (E)
* Stone Bench in an Empty Park (Paul Janeczko)
* Technically, It's Not My Fault (John Grandits)

Short Stories

(Note: These are used again in unit 2.)

* American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults (Lori Carlson)
* America Street: A Multicultural Anthology of Stories (Anne Mazer)
* Join In: Multiethnic Short Stories (Donald R. Gallo)


* The Great Fire (Jim Murphy) (E)
* KiKi Strike: Inside the Shadow City (Kirsten Miller)
* The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
* All of the Above (Shelley Pearsall)
* A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories (Richard Peck) [easy to read]
* Bag in the Wind (Ted Kooser and Barry Root) (easier)
* The King of Dragons (Carol Fenner) (easier)

Picture Books (Introductory Material)

* City By Numbers (Stephen T. Johnson)

Informational Text

* The Building of Manhattan (Donald Mackay) (E)
* Skyscraper (Lynn Curlee)
* The New York Subways (Great Building Featsseries) (Lesley DuTemple)
* New York (This Land is Your Land series) (Ann Heinrichs)
* September 11, 2001: Attack on New York City: Interviews and Accounts (Wilborn Hampton)
* September 11, 2001 (Cornerstones of Freedom, Second Series) (Andrew Santella)
* "The Evolution of the Grocery Bag" (American Scholar Magazine, Autumn 2003) (Henry Petroski) (E)
* Americaâs Top 10 Cities (Jenny E. Tesar)
* An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (Jim Murphy) (EA)

Art, Music, and Media

* Video footage from September 11, 2001

Unit 2 Rural Settings in North America: "It Happened in the Country"


Rural United States

* Travels with Charley: In Search of America (John Steinbeck) (E)
* This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie (Elizabeth Partridge) (E)
* The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain) (E)
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor) (E)
* The Land (Mildred D. Taylor)
* Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)
* The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper)
* Shane (Jack Schaefer)
* The Daybreakers (The Sackett series) (Louis L'Amour)

Rural North America

* Barrio Boy (Ernesto Galarza)
* The Incredible Journey (Sheila Burnford)


* âThe Railway Trainâ (Emily Dickinson) (E)
* âMending Wallâ (Robert Frost) (EA)
* My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States (Lee Bennett Hopkins)
* You Hear Me?: Poems and Writing by Teenage Boys (Betsy Franco)

Short Stories

(Note: These were also used in unit 1.)

* American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults (Lori Carlson)
* America Street: A Multicultural Anthology of Stories (Anne Mazer)
* Join In: Multiethnic Short Stories (Donald R. Gallo)

Picture Books (Introductory Material)

* A Mountain Alphabet (Margriet Ruurs)
* B is for Big Sky Country: A Montana Alphabet (Sneed B. Collard, III and Joanna Yardley)
* P is for Piñata: A Mexico Alphabet (Tony Johnston)

Informational Texts

Rural United States

* The Alamo (Cornerstones of Freedom, Second Series) (Tom McGowen)
* African-Americans in the Old West (Cornerstones of Freedom series) (Tom McGowen)
* Trail of Tears (Cornerstones of Freedom series) (R. Conrad Stein)
* Wild Horses I Have Known (Hope Ryden)
* Wildflowers Around the Year (Hope Ryden)

American Science/Technical Subjects

* California Invasive Plant Council (Invasive Plant Inventory) (E)
* Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet out of Idaho (Jon Katz) (E)
* âThe Marginal Worldâ (1955) in The Edge of the Sea (Rachel Carson)

North America

* Never Cry Wolf: The Amazing True Story of Life Among Arctic Wolves (Farley Mowat)
* One Hundred & One Beautiful Small Towns in Mexico (Guillermo Garcia Oropeza and Cristobal Garcia Sanchez)

Additional Resources

* History of Landscape Painting

Art, Music, and Media

* Grant Wood, American Gothic (1930)

Unit 3 Looking Back on America
Literary Texts

* "Paul Revere's Ride" (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) (E)
* âI, Too, Sing Americaâ (Langston Hughes) (E)
* âI Know Why the Caged Bird Singsâ (Maya Angelou)
* Hour of Freedom: American History in Poetry (Milton Meltzer)

Stories (Historical Fiction, From Some Non-Traditional Perspectives)

* George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides (Rosalyn Schanzer)
* 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (I Am American) (Catherine O"Neill Grace)
* Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South (Great Episodes) (Ann Rinaldi)
* 33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History: From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the E.R.A. (Tonya Bolden)
* Good Women of a Well-Blessed Land: Women's Lives in Colonial America (Brandon Marie Mailler)
* Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (Sarah L. Delaney and A. Elizabeth Delany)
* We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History (Phillip M. Hoose)
* The Boysâ War: Confederate and Union Soldiers Talk About the Civil War (Jim Murphy) (EA)
* Girls: A History of Growing Up Female in America (Penny Colman)
* Johnny Tremain (Esther Forbes) (easier to read)
* Americaâs Paul Revere (Esther Forbes and Lynd Ward) (easier to read)
* Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two (Joseph Bruchac) (easier to read)
* The Year of the Hangman (Gary Blackwood) (easier to read)

Informational Texts
Picture Books (Introductory Material)

* We the People (Peter Spier)

Informational Text

* "Letter on Thomas Jefferson" (John Adams) (E)
* Preamble to the United States Constitution (1787) (E)
* First Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791) (E)
* The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution (Linda R. Monk) (E)
* Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Russell Freedman) (E)
* The Real Revolution: The Global Story of American Independence (Marc Aronson)
* The American Revolutionaries: A History in Their Own Words 1750-1800 (Milton Meltzer)
* Lincoln: A Photobiography (Russell Freedman)
* We Shall Not Be Moved: The Women's Factory Strike of 1909 (Joan Dash)
* Day of Infamy, 60th Anniversary: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor (Walter Lord) (EA)
* The Making Of America (Robert D. Johnston)


* George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War (Thomas B. Allen)
* Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America (Tonya Bolden)
* The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence (Dennis Brindell Fradin)

Art, Music, and Media


* Grant Wood, Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (1931)

Unit 4 Authors and Artists
Literary Texts

* From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)
* Leaving Eldorado (Joann Mazzio)
* Talking With Tebe: Clementine Hunter, Memory Artist (Mary E. Lyons) (easier)
* A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce) (advanced)


* Is This Forever, or What?: Poems & Paintings from Texas (Naomi Shihab Nye)

Picture Books (Introductory Material)

* Museum ABC (NY Metropolitan Museum of Art)
* Museum Shapes (NY Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Informational Texts


* Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art (Eric Carle, Mitsumasa Anno, and Quentin Blake)
* Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist (Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan) (E)
* Book of Black Heroes: Great Women in the Struggle (Tayomi Igus)
* Norman Rockwell: Storyteller with a Brush (Beverly Gherman)
* Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz (Beverly Gherman)
* Andy Warhol, Prince of Pop (Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan)
* A Caldecott Celebration: Seven Artists and their Paths to the Caldecott Medal (Leonard S. Marcus)
* Marc Chagall (Artists in Their Time series) (Jude Welton)
* Mary Cassatt: Portrait of an American Impressionist (Tom Streissguth)
* Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Smart About Art series) (Brad Buck and Joan Holub) [easier to read]
* Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors (Smart About Art series) (Jane O'Connor and Jessie Hartland) [easier to read]
* Pablo Picasso: Breaking All the Rules (Smart About Art series) (True Kelley) [easier to read]
* The Lives of the Artists (Giorgio Vasari), excerpt on Michelangelo or Leonardo [advanced readers]


* Maya Angelou (Just the Facts Biographies) (L. Patricia Kite)
* Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women (Cornelia Meigs)
* Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon (Leonard S. Marcus)
* Mark Twain (Just the Facts Biographies) (Susan Bivin Aller)
* Bram Stoker: The Man Who Wrote Dracula (Great Life Stories) (Steven Otfinoski)
* Aung San Suu Kyi: Fearless Voice of Burma (Whitney Stewart)

Informational Text


* A Short Walk Around the Pyramids & Through the World of Art (Philip M. Isaacson) (E)
* Smithsonian Q&A: American Art and Artists: The Ultimate Question & Answer Book (Tricia Wright)

Pictorial History

* Buffalo Hunt (Russell Freedman) (EA)
* The Buffalo and the Indians: A Shared Destiny (Dorothy Hinshaw Patent)

Art, Music, and Media

Prompt: How do painters use perspective to engage viewers in their work?

* Edouard Manet, Dead Toreador (1864)
* Andrea Mantegna, Lamentation over the Dead Christ (1480)
* Michaelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus (1601)
* Paul Cézanne, The Card Players (1890-92)
* Paolo Uccello, Niccolo Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano (1438-40)
* Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (1503-04)
* Chuck Close, Fanny/Fingerpainting (1985)
* Sylvia Plimack Mangold, The Linden Tree (1988)

Unit 5 Dramatically Speaking

Literary Texts

* Sorry, Wrong Number (Lucille Fletcher) (E)
* A Midsummer Night's Dream (William Shakespeare; adapted by Diana Stewart and illustrated by Charles Shaw)
* Zora Neale Hurston: Collected Plays (Zora Neale Hurston)
* The Colored Museum (George C. Wolfe)
* Famous Americans: 22 Short Plays for the Classroom, Grades 4-8 (Liza Schafter, ed.)


* "The Banking Crisis" (First Fireside Chat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt) (March 12, 1933)
* Keynote Address to the Democratic National Convention (Barbara Jordan) (July 12, 1976)


* "A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long" in Acolytes: Poems by Nikki Giovanni (Nikki Giovanni) (E)
* "The Book of Questions" (Pablo Neruda) (E)
* "Macavity" (T.S. Eliot)

Music Lyrics

* "Macavity," from Cats (Andrew Lloyd Webber)


* King of Shadows (Susan Cooper) (EA)

Informational Texts


* Sorrow's Kitchen: The Life and Folklore of Zora Neale Hurston (Great Achievers series) (Mary E. Lyons)
* The Play's the Thing: A Story About William Shakespeare (Creative Minds Biographies) (Ruth Turk)
* Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews(Alfred Hitchcock)

Public Figures

* Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Russell Freedman)
* Barbara Jordan: Voice of Democracy (Book Report Biography) (Lisa Renee Rhodes)


* Memoirs (Pablo Neruda)
* âT. S. Eliotâ (Wikipedia)


* Spirit to Spirit: Nikki Giovanni (1988)

Art, Music, and Media

* Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
* Dial M for Murder (1954)
* A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
* Cats (PBS Great Performances) (1998)

Unit 6 "The Road Not Taken"
Literary Texts

* "The Road Not Taken" (Robert Frost) (E)
* Things I Have To Tell You: Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls (Betsy Franco)
* Night Is Gone, Day Is Still Coming: Stories and Poems by American Indian Teens and Young Adults (Annette Piña Ochoa, Betsy Franco, and Traci L. Gourdine)


* Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) (E)
* I, Juan De Pareja (Elizabeth Borton de Trevino)
* Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
* The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway)
* Gulliverâs Travels (Jonathan Swift)
* The Sea-Wolf (Oxford World's Classics Edition) (Jack London)
* Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)
* American Dragons: Twenty-Five Asian American Voices (Laurence Yep) (EA)
* The Color of My Words (Lynn Joseph) (easier)
* Children of the River (Linda Crew) (easier)
* Amos Fortune, Free Man (Elizabeth Yates) (easier)
* The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) (easier)

Informational Texts
Science/Technical Subjects

* z'Trek 7, The Fractal Pond Racezz' (from Math Trek: Adventures in the Math Zone) (Ivars Peterson and Nancy Henderson) (E)

Art, Music, and Media

* Little Women (1949)
* Little Women (1994)
* Lord of the Flies (1990)
* The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
* The Old Man and the Sea (1990)
* Gulliver's Travels (1996)
* The Sea Wolf (1941)


* Diego Velazquez, Juan de Pareja (1650)

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