Fourth Grade Common Core Reading: ‘Who’s the Baby Daddy?’

A fourth grade class assignment left parents in Pasodale Elementary stunned. A worksheet that was assigned in class came home only because some of the students did not finish the assignment. It was not a typical fourth grade worksheet. 

One of the students in the class was the 10 year-old daughter of Ursula Silverstein, who told reporters that her child's teacher asked the students to read a series of paragraphs, and then answer questions, explaining about what each situation meant through inference, according to KTSM-NBC El Paso.

Among the vignettes, were paragraphs about death and adultery.

According to the transcript, the assignment and questions included:

Ruby sat on the bed she shared with her husband holding a hairclip. There was something mysterious and powerful about the cheaply manufactured neon clip that she was fondling suspiciously. She didn't recognize the hairclip. It was too big to be their daughter's, and Ruby was sure that it wasn't hers. She hadn't had friends over in weeks but there was this hairclip, little and green with a few long black hair strands caught in it. Ruby ran her fingers through her own blonde hair. She had just been vacuuming when she noticed this small, bright green object under the bed. Now their life would never be the same. She would wait here until Mike returned home.

Why is Ruby so affected by the hairclip?  and How has the hairclip affected Ruby's relationship?

"Tommy!" Mom called out as she walked in the front door. "Tommy," she continued shouting, "I sure could use some help with these groceries. There was still no reply. Mom walked into the kitchen to put the grocery bags down on the counter when she noticed shattered glass from the picture window all over the living room floor and a baseball not far from there. "I'm going to kill you, Tommy!" Mom yelled to herself as she realized that Tommy's shoes were gone.

What happened to the window? and Why did Tommy leave?

Valerie opened up the letter from the military department. She felt the pit of her stomach drop to the bottom of the earth before she even opened it. She knew it was news about John. As she read the first line, she thought of all of the lunches she had packed him and all the nights she tucked him in his bed and warded off the nighttime monsters. The man carrying the flag put his hand on her shoulder. She thought of the day that John signed up for the military. Her tears wet the letter. She stopped reading after the first line.

What does the letter say?  and What is Valerie's relationship to John?

Silverstein told KTSM that she thought such delicate life situations "should be taught at home, not at school." Other class parents also questioned the inappropriate assignment. 

Breitbart Texas also covered this type of assignment in the article Orwellian Newspeak Coming to Common Core Classrooms Everywhere. It's a reading and response writing genre popping up in classrooms labeled contemporary realistic fiction.  It is a Common Core style of reading and writing prompt. In Common Core circles it is also known as life problems fiction.

This identical, inappropriate assignment made the rounds many months ago on Stop Common Core affiliated websites and Facebook pages.  It should raise eyebrows that a Common Core assignment that may not be at all aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) content standards was used in a Texas classroom.

The Breitbart Texas article stated, in part:

"The Pearson generated...Characteristics of Good Realistic Fiction, informs us that this new literary form "deals with many complex problems and situations from understanding sexual orientation to dealing with family problems."  ... a good, realistic, fiction novel is about people, their problems, and their challenges.

Apparently, the Berenstain Bears Learn about Strangers wasn't meeting the realistic contemporary fiction rigor requirement for kindergartners.  So instead, Pearson and Scholastic load the literature up with personal experience narratives, character-problem solution stories and all the age-inappropriate details you can find."

Now, worksheets are coming home from the primary grades with such new kid classics as "Daddy's having an affair" and "The Big D," Divorce--because daddy had an affair, and "Who's the baby daddy?" These and more have been posted online by outraged parents."

Since the incident, the Ysleta Independent School District issued a statement, according to the news report:

"YISD administration is aware of an unacceptable assignment that was given to a 4th- grade class at Pasodale Elementary. We apologize to the students and the parents who received this assignment. Campus administration has addressed the issue with the teacher, and has taken decisive measures to assure that future assignments are aligned to the curriculum and are of the highest instructional caliber."

Teachers at Pasodale Elementary have to submit lesson plans for approval, but a district spokesperson said not all assignments are reviewed, the transcript noted, also stating that the district advised this was an isolated case.  Administrators were addressing the matter with the teacher involved.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom


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