Author Biographies

Brian White is a professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, where he teaches courses in pedagogy, literature, and critical theory. Much of his recent scholarship has focused on the ideas and influence of John Dewey.

Lindsy Matteoni is a graduate student at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She previously taught in the Kalamazoo Public Schools.


A major, stated goal of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for the English Language Arts (ELA) is to provide equal, quality education in literacy for all students in order to reduce opportunity gaps and to prepare high school graduates of all backgrounds and all levels of ability for the demands of college and career. The authors of the CCSS claim that the ELA Standards raise the literacy bar for all students without either constituting a literacy curriculum or dictating literacy pedagogy. However, in both their publications and their public presentations, the CCSS authors have consistently denigrated certain teaching strategies and promoted other pedagogical approaches that, in their view, are far more likely to help a broader spectrum of students to achieve the ELA Standards. In this paper, we argue that some of the CCSS authors’ preferred approaches to instruction in literature run counter to decades of reliable research. Indeed, we argue that, far from leveling the playing field, the authors’ curricular and pedagogical recipes are likely to maintain and even exacerbate existing opportunity gaps, especially for our most vulnerable and at-risk students.

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