Apparently, the United States Department of "Education" is behind a move to require that half of reading in English class--and 70% for high school seniors--needs to be "informational texts" like Federal Reserve documents, IRS forms, and Executive Order 13423. No, I am NOT KIDDING, and apparently many states are already behind this.
Now, I'll agree that informational reading is important, and I'll even confess that as an engineer who has done a lot of work on military contracting, I'm pretty good at it, too. However, it apparently has escaped the notice of the bureaucrats at the D.o.Ed. (so to speak) that schools are filled with "informational reading"--that being of course the other five or six classes that students take each day. So if a child is actually learning in that 85% of his school day, he is going to be learning the art of informational reading.
Worse yet, can you imagine the despair in English class when asked to read and appreciate the instructions for IRS form 8812 or Executive order 13423? We're talking suicides here, folks. Doesn't the 8th Amendment prohibit this sort of thing?
(well, I guess I've had to read IRS forms, so clearly the courts do not adhere to my common sense interpretation of the Eighth Amendment! Might as well inflict 'em on the kiddos!)
But even that isn't the worst of it; can you imagine what will happen to the quality of American thinking and writing when Mr. Clemens is replaced with the EPA statement on carbon emissions and global climate change? The despair will not be confined to English class, but will go throughout society.
The one bright thing I can think of from teaching students from the IRS Manual of Style is that a quorum of want-to-be writers of romance novels might bring the delights of the Instructions for Schedule B to that genre and kill it off in the same way Don Quixote killed off the genre of the tales of knights-errant.
That said, if people at the Department of "Education" can't figure out that this is a colossally bad idea, I'd suggest that they're not exactly adding much to the process, and our nation can safely cut well over $68 billion from the federal budget (plus "mandatory" spending in the same department) without any harm being done.
But please, don't read it. Just pick up something by Mr. Clemens, or Shakespeare, or Homer, or Tolstoy, or Goethe instead. It's the rebuke Arne Duncan, architect of a sixth grade reading level among Chicago Public graduates (and 40% don't graduate at all--guess how Obama gets elected!), desperately needs.
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