Good afternoon, John.
At your suggestion, the afternoon of 1-19-16, I took a look at the above program. Jim Virrell,
Director of Curriculum, and Karly Fox, Academic Coach, joined together to make an impressive
presentation re: the Kyrene reading program.
I made a cursory review of several First Grade textbooks and was impressed. They seem to
be close to the old McGuffey Readers of the past in skill demand.
A quick look at some of the books recommended for use at the Eighth Grade level
took me by surprise. One of the books which is proposed for use is Pygmalion. I didn't
skim the book for content, but I didn't study that one until I was in college. This was mentioned
to Mr. Virrell and he said the students are being pushed hard re: higher learning. Frankly,
it may be a bit ambitious to ask an eighth grader to read and understand such literature.
One must ask "What is the point?" Is it appropriate for a thirteen-year old to be reading
about a sculpture who falls in love with a statue he sculpted?
Also, I learned that fifth graders are reading the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. This concerns me. I asked Mrs. Fox about it and was given an unacceptable answer,
but I didn't pursue the topic with her in that the debate would still be in progress.
As I understand it, this "Declaration of Human Rights" is the UN version of our Constitution's
Bill of Rights. Further, it was not accepted by any of the Muslim nations. They chose to
make up their own declaration of human rights which follows the teachings of the Koran.
Of course, the Muslim "Declaration of Human Rights" is in direct opposition to human
rights standards of the Christian or Jewish nations. Generally speaking, it promotes
a clash of cultures.
All in all, I have mixed feelings about some of the ideas which are behind the new reading
program, but the rigorous standards are definitely there.