Should "Pimps" and "Mobstaz" Be Required Fourth Grade Reading?
Pimps and Mobstaz are in the curriculum in the fourth grade at a Louisiana school.
This isn't an enlightened approach to sex ed or a student-directed update of Shakespeare's text. Rather, it is an "authentic" reading passage in a required homework assignment.
The new Common Core standards call for students to read real word texts in their original forms. As a former high school history teacher, I thought this meant not clarifying or altering historical documents, literary passages, infographics, news stories, informational texts, advertising copy, instruction manuals, and the like. I never imagined it would mean using any old text without regard to the appropriateness of the material.
Parents were outraged that their children were reading about pimps and mobstaz and seeing non-standard spellings as part of a school assignment. Can a nine year old really understand when it is contextually appropriate to write that his mobstaz be in the hizzouse?
The superintendent pointed out that the text was listed as an age-appropriate reading on a "Common Core-affiliated website" and added that ideas about what is controversial shifts over time. It is also important to note that the Pimps and Mobstaz in question are names of performing artists and albums, rather than a description of those dubious activities.
As true as that all may be, I think we've drifted far from the original intent behind including "real world" texts in the Common Core. I suspect a lot of it has to do with copyright permissions and the hasty introduction of high stakes Common Core-based exams. The superintendent even referenced the abysmal scores recently published in New York. This is the result when we focus more on test scores than on student learning.
What do you think? Is this inappropriate at this age? Or, is it a "real world" text, probably much tamer than the kids hear on the playground, so parents should just get over it?