If you really want to hear about it, new educational standards now approved in 46 out of 50 states mandate that nonfiction books constitute at least 70 per cent of the texts high-school students read.
As a result, The Telegraph reports, literature classics such as The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee are about to be replaced by insulation manuals and dated dispatches from the Federal Reserve.
Common Core State Standards call for the new, notably nonfiction-heavy reading regime to be fully in place by 2014. English teachers nationwide have about a year to decide which novels, short stories and poems to eliminate, according to the Washington Post.
Great novels will be largely replaced by “informational texts.” Examples include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and “FedViews” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009).
The suggested nonfiction list includes undeniably important works as well, such as the Declaration of Independence and Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America.”
However, there’s also “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management,” a publication of the General Services Administration.
A host of big shots in politics and education have thrown their support behind the new educational standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
A grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided considerable funding.
Proponents of the new regulations assert that students need to read much more nonfiction, says The Telegraph. Nonfiction promotes competence in concise, factual writing, supporters say, and that’s a much more vital skill in today’s workplace than literary expertise.
However, the new educational standards have plenty of detractors, too.
“We read literature because it’s good for our souls,” emphasizes one critic, Caity Doyle of Technapex, a provider of education technology news. “Connecting to a work of fiction is an experience that transcends a 20 page reading assignment, an English class, or even a school.”