Educational materials must be age-appropriate

Common Core curriculum is now being used in 45 states. In New York, schools also use modules, prewritten mandated instruction materials for ELA and math, that are not chosen by our educators through EngageNY.

Last week, my third-grader read the book “Nasreen’s Secret School” by Jeanette Winter through a module learning system. This book tells a story of Nasreen in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan whose father is tied up and dragged from her home at gunpoint never to be seen again. Her mother goes looking for him and is never seen again. Nasreen becomes emotionally distraught and she is unable to speak. Her grandmother helps her by enrolling her in a secret school where she can learn. A Taliban solider shows up with a rifle and knife to scare the girls and they hide their work under the Quran. In the end she makes a friend and finds her voice again, but never her parents. There are graphic illustrations depicting the story throughout the book.

When age-inappropriate material is used I feel we must ask, “Where do we draw the line with the Common Core?” Our children don’t watch the news about wars or the Taliban regime. We didn’t go into detail regarding the Sandy Hook massacre. We teach our children that school is a safe place and they can go there without being persecuted. The homework asked: “According to the story why did Nasreen stop speaking and smiling?” – forcing a discussion of serious issues for a young child.

Schools must use Common Core, however, it should not be at the expense of emotionally traumatizing children with age-inappropriate content. Now is the time for parents to become involved more than ever.

Samara Hutcheson