Archive for May 16, 2022

Photo by 2y.kang on Unsplash

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – In shocking, absolutely SHOCKING news, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports that “Only 43% of kindergarten students read on grade level, 54% of first graders, 56% of second graders and 53% of third graders.”

(Insert sarcasm).

Seriously, who didn’t see that one coming?

After teaching ELA at the high school level for twenty-five years, I am not at all shocked by these numbers; in fact, I’m surprised they aren’t worse.

One of the main reasons I left the classroom when I did, rather than get my thirty years in, was because of the terrible Louisiana Believes ELA curriculum. When the program rolled out, I ranted and raved and went into fits of depression. There were tears shed over this curriculum at the time by gifted ELA teachers I worked with who knew this program was terrible yet were powerless to change anything. All reading for pleasure was removed from the curriculum. Most fiction was stripped out. And while I’m a nonfiction fan, the nonfiction pieces my 10th graders had to read were the dullest, driest, most soul crushing texts you can imagine.

I’m all for challenging a student. That wasn’t what was happening.

The word “rigor” became code for all we loathed about the reading materials. Teachers were expected to embrace the new “rigorous texts” and lead students through multiple, yes, multiple readings of them; and students were expected to read these eight page speeches or scientific articles multiple times while annotating, highlighting, examining, discussing, and writing.

No tenth grader I’ve ever met is going to get excited about reading Carrie Chapman Catt’s speech on women’s suffrage.

Teachers were given this curriculum and the accompanying prepared slides, and a script, and we were expected to follow it “with fidelity.”

Meanwhile, students mentally checked out.

When I tell you that there was ZERO fiction, I’m not kidding. And the ELA supervisor at the time told me that if kids want to read for pleasure, they will do it on their own.

That was about six years ago. Each year since then the curriculum has been loosened a bit, and a bit more each year. Teachers were given a little more flexibility but not much.

To combat the growing apathy toward English from my students, I brought in a classroom library and man was the excitement back in the classroom! Kids clamored for books they wanted to read.

But by then, my own future was sealed. I had to leave the classroom because I had lost faith in the program. Trust was broken. Teachers lost all voice, all input, all creativity and freedom over their classes. I could not in good conscience lead students through material that crushed their desire to read and learn; and for the record, the great test scores the admins were looking for never happened. They started to rise a bit once the bonds loosened, but this new curriculum did not solve the ills of literacy.

And, based on what I’m reading today, it still hasn’t.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

There has been a lot written about the rise (?) and fall of CNN+ but of all the words written the most interesting to me was this bit from the Wall Street Journal that I found via Insty

Interviews with more than a dozen people involved in CNN+ describe a culture where excitement over what one top producer described as CNN’s “Apollo Mission”—a reference to the program that successfully landed the first humans on the moon—gave way to the realization that failure was arriving swiftly and mercilessly. Many employees of the streaming service started in the past six months or even just a few weeks before the service launched. Several said they left stable jobs or freelancing gigs.

emphasis mine

Now anyone on the right knowing the CNN ratings numbers could see that there was no prayer that they would get people to pay for the damn thing, as Daniel Greenberg put it last year (again via insty)

CNN President Jeff Zucker billed CNN+ as being for “CNN superfans, news junkies and fans of quality non-fiction programming.”

The existence of CNN superfans is as improbable as Bigfoot and UFOs. No one has ever spotted a CNN superfan in the wild and not even the most exotic zoos have them in stock.

Those same ratings number were available to folks outside the right as well as inside them but to those people who live in the MSM bubble no information that reflects badly on the left is real unless some MSM outlet reports on it.

If you’re rich enough or connected enough as a lot of the high level network “talent” is that reality doesn’t matter. Like runaway inflation you shrug it off and wonder why the plebs aren’t still ecstatic over the departure of the Great Maga King.

But if you are a regular person in the real world that loss of job in a bad economy that you gave up a good position for is going to have consequences that will pop your bubble faster than you can say “Chris Wallace”.

And CNN+ on your resume is not going to look all that impressive either will it?