True False Alarm

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Mary Anne Zak

Mary Anne Zak

The false alarm in Hawaii sounded a real alarm nationwide. Accompanied by vulgar terms, it deepened our national communications crisis.

Science and technology are addressing appropriate issues. A stressed population is struggling toward truth.

 Our senior population learned how to read by decoding letters of the alphabet to form words. As we acquired words, we harvested information and ideas. Along with basic reading, we learned writing skills.

 Life and truth require more complex skills now. Younger generations must learn not only to read but also how to think objectively and analytically. Reading and thinking skills can discover truth by identifying and analyzing fact, opinion and related components. School systems teach such skills to prepare students to succeed in college and career. Citizenship must be added to college and career goals because the communication crisis threatens citizenship.

 Work has been done to meet the burgeoning problem.

In a study nearly a decade ago, The New York Times evaluated the teaching of reading and searching for truth. Assisted by selected academic institutions, the Times discovered that nationwide few citizens were aware of differences between fact and opinion, news and commentary.

 The Times also found that few school systems nationwide taught the skills necessary for recognizing such differences. Just as disturbing, the Times found that few teachers had critical reading skills or knew how to teach them.

 Educators in 42 states and the District of Columbia identified needed skills and incorporated them in core curricula for their individual states.

 Governors and education officials, however, saw a need for a nationwide Core Curriculum to address the nationwide problem. They stirred confusion and controversy as school systems worked on curriculum. With systems now in place, we see the wisdom of leaders’ foresight: citizenship requires ongoing work, study, preparation and responsibility.

 Common Core State Standards described nationwide, preparation as “1.) regular practice with complex texts and their academic language; 2.) reading, writing and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both literary and informational; and 3.) building knowledge through content- rich nonfiction.”

Suffield Public Schools have identified Language Arts skills needed to implement these goals in the 21st century. From Kindergarten through Grade 12, Suffield’s curriculum extends through Language Arts, Maths, Music and Science. Bruce Hendrickson, Suffield Public Schools curriculum director, says that he, his co- leaders and teams “…are proud to show off …” their core standard, “…and now more than ever, their obligation to teach.” They would be pleased to meet with interested citizens and members of book clubs.

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