AZ School District Pulls Sexually Explicit Book Recommended by Common Core Standards

An Arizona school district has pulled from its reading list a sexually explicit novel that is recommended as an "exemplar text" in the Common Core Standards. Parents and community members at Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona expressed concern about the novel Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia.

According to the Sierra Vista Herald, school district curriculum director Terri Romo informed the school board Tuesday that she contacted the Arizona Department of Education to find out how the book came to be placed on the list of Common Core recommendations. Romo said she was told the "exemplar texts" are intended to show the correct reading level and are not recommendations for purchase.

Conservative grass-roots consultants Voices Empower, founded by Alice Linahan, reported that one Buena High School mother sent the following email:

Below is a picture and an excerpt out of the book Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia.

This is a 10th grade literature book that was used in my son’s class at Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The whole class read this book out loud during class. Everyone in the class had a copy of this book.

On the Voices Empower website, the parent provides screen shots of the book, showing the Buena High School bar code on the cover and page 80 of the book that contains the following excerpt [Note: Caution advised - graphic text follows]:

Hugo and Felicia stripped in their room, dissolving easily into one another, and made love against the whitewashed walls. Hugo bit Felicia’s breast and left purplish bands of bruises on her upper thighs. He knelt before her in the tub and massaged black Spanish soap between her legs. He entered her repeatedly from behind.

Felicia learned what pleased him. She tied his arms above his head with their underclothing and slapping him sharply when he asked.

“You’re my bitch,” Hugo said, groaning.

In the morning he left, promising to return in the summer.

Education activist Donna Garner provides the following commentary:

Yes, Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia is indeed recommended in the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects.

Because the Common Core Standards Initiative ties teachers’ evaluations to the scores their students make on the Common Core assessments, teachers are pressured to teach the Common Core Text Exemplars and Sample Performance Tasks (Appendix B). 

Alice Linahan spoke to Donna Garner on the Women On The Wall radio show regarding the book recommendation by the Common Core Standards:

The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science And Technical Subjects provides “text samples primarily to serve to exemplify the level of complexity and quality that the Standards require all students in a given grade band to engage with.” The Standards state that the text samples “are suggestive of the breadth of texts that students should encounter in the text types required by the Standards.”

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia is listed as a Grades 11-CCR Text Exemplar on page 140 of the Standards. Other text exemplars for that grade band include Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Cervantes’ Don Quixote: The Ormsby Translation, and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Standards state that it is highly recommended, though not mandatory, that students read the entire text and not simply the sample text provided in the Standards. The sample text of Dreaming in Cuban, on page 152, as presented in the Standards, is not sexually explicit in nature.

The recommendation from the Standards:

When excerpts appear, they serve only as stand-ins for the full text. The Standards require that students engage with appropriately complex literary and informational works; such complexity is best found in whole texts rather passages from such texts.

Garner continues:

Along with this information in Appendix B is a link to which teachers and students are to refer: Media Text — Portal to selected interviews with author Cristina García:

http://www.cristinagarcianovelist.com/index.php?page=selectedinterviews

By directing teachers and students to the interview with Cristina Garcia, it is easy to see that Common Core becomes basically a marketing tool to launch Cristina Garcia’s latest book, King of Cuba.

According to Garner, such books are highly offensive to those who hold traditional values such as belief in personal responsibility, self-discipline, and respect for other people. In addition:

…they also serve a purpose for those who are trying to indoctrinate this and future generations to hate America and to trash American exceptionalism. A steady diet of portraying ethnic/racial characters always as victims and saturating these books with gutter language is bound to warp students’ minds.

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