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NCLB Outrages

Axes in Literature

Despite all efforts by the U. S. Department of Education, literature lives.

by Kathy Richman

In my first-grade class, we are now reading a Spanish translation of the Wizard of Oz, having finished Charlotte's Web and two Ramona books. However, I still am required to use Houghton-Mifflin, and I do, although not in the manner or to the extent it's intended to be used. About once a week we do a few workbook pages in class, and that's what we were doing today after reading the chapter where Dorothy melts the Wicked Witch of the East by throwing water at her.

The page dealt with words beginning with h, and there was a picture of an axe. I asked the kids if they knew what it was called, and they immediately said "hacha." They also hastened to cite three literary references--the woodcutter's axe in Little Red Riding Hood, the axe that Fern's father was planning to use to kill Wilbur in Charlotte's Web, and the Tin Woodman's axe in the Wizard of Oz. Enough to warm the heart of this English major! Literature rules, despite Reading First's best attempts.

I heard Daniel Ellsburg speak at Cal State Monterey Bay last night, and while much of what he had to say regarding the government was chilling, it was an inspiration to be in the same room with the man who had copied 7000 pages of the Pentagon Papers and given them to the New York Times, knowing that he could have gone to prison for a very long time.

— Kathy Richman
personal communication


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