Kay McSpadden, a high school English teacher in York, S.C., was told by school officials that English classes would have to stop teaching literature due to the new Common Core standards. She knows that isn’t true, and David Coleman (“the architect of the Common Core standards”) has said it isn’t true. But the word reaching the field is that informational text is supposed to replace literature.

For no good reason, the Common Core standards decree that the balance between literature and informational text in elementary school should be 50-50, and in the upper grades it should be 70% informational text and 30% literature.

This is nutty on its face. First of all, the ratios have no rhyme or reason (oops, forget the reference to rhyme, that’s literary!). Since the National Assessment of Educational Progress uses these ratios as instruction to test developers, that is somehow holy writ. But it is not. The ratios were never intended to dictate what is taught.

Second, if you add up all the reading that students encounter across science, mathematics, history, and other subjects, English teachers could teach no informational text at all, and the student would still get at least 70% informational text. (Heaven forbid that a history class should read The Grapes of Wrath to learn about the Depression!). In short, there is no reason, NO REASON, for any English teacher to stop teaching literature.

But what David Coleman meant and what is being told to schools across America are not the same thing. Teachers and textbook publishers are not hearing what he said.

David, I think you need to revise the Common Core standards and loudly proclaim that you are personally canceling out the 50-50, 70-30 ratios. It was all a terrible misunderstanding.