Summer reading: Ornell, ‘The Great Gypsy’


The Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has

The Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has more than 30 errors, including misspellings of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ David McCullough and Frederick Douglass.

George Ornell, Emily Bonte and F. Scott Fizgerald’s The Great Gypsy are on the error-riddled summer reading list of Hempstead Public Schools, reports Newsday. The Long Island newspaper found more than 30 mistakes, including misspellings of authors’ names and book titles.

The full reading list  is “coordinated according to the New York State Common Core Learning Standards by grade level,” the intro proclaims. The writer’s excessive fondness for commas also mars the writing.

I note that ninth and 10th graders are encouraged to read The Witch of Blackbird by Elizabeth George Apeare over the summer. I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare in third or fourth grade. The School Library Journal says it’s written for grades 5 to 8.

Eleventh and 12th graders are urged to read the Declaration of Independence by R. Conrad Stein. You thought it was by Thomas Jefferson? This is a book about the Declaration written for kids in grades 3 to 5.

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Comments

  1. K-12 education: just another government institution that has completely lost the confidence and trust of average Americans.

    New examples like this just hammer home the message.

  2. Please – PLEASE – tell me they have since fixed it. Here, Joanne, right here, is where I lose faith in our system of education. Right. Here.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      “Please – PLEASE – tell me they have since fixed it.”
      Not as of this morning.
      You can check yourself using the link Joanne provided to the district PDF file.

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    The mistakes are embarrassing, but they are understandable in a way. The person who made this list obviously isn’t a careful person with a deep background in literature, otherwise these sorts of mistakes would seem to jump off the page. It was probably someone copying a list in a hurry and using a lot of spellcheck and autocorrect, while waiting for the Spanish translation of the cover letter to arrive so that he or she could get it out of the door by the deadline. Mistakes happen.

    So in that sense, it’s not a big deal. But what is a big deal is that the person *in charge* of putting this list together also wasn’t careful, wasn’t well-read, or both. That seems a little unsettling.

    Also: The Declaration of Independence is on there twice — once for grades 5-6 (Conrad Stein) and once for grades 11-12 (R. Conrad Stein). I assume that these are the same book.

    But at least it’s consistent with the Common Core. That means it’s good, right?

  4. Mark Roulo says:

    “I note that ninth and 10th graders are encouraged to read The Witch of Blackbird by Elizabeth George Apeare over the summer. I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare in third or fourth grade. The School Library Journal says it’s written for grades 5 to 8.”

     

    You, Joanne, were almost certainly an above average reader for your age. The student population at Hempstead Senior Academy (Hempstead High School was recently renamed …) are, on average, below grade level. From Newsday:

    Hempstead, which has nearly 6,000 students, is consistently one of the lowest-performing districts on Long Island. Its graduation rate in 2011-12 was 38 percent, the lowest among the Island’s 124 public school districts.
    http://www.newsday.com/long-island/towns/hempstead-schools-change-failing-grades-1.5591109

    There is some merit in suggesting books that the kids can actually read over the summer. And note that the list does include tougher ones (e.g. Animal Farm, The Odyssey, Hamlet, Jane Eyre, The Scarlett Letter, Crime and Punishment).

    • Well, Animal Farm isn’t really that tough, from a reading level perspective (I think I read it the first time in 4th grade, expecting it to be like the ‘Freddie” books.)

      The allegory is better when you have some historical background, but even a young kid can appreciate the overall fable….

      But yes to the others—

      However, I’m still disturbed that whatever English teacher typed up this list couldn’t self-edit. There may be a reason kids at this school are so far behind!

      And I totally didn’t catch that “The Great Gypsy” was Gatsby misspelled until Joanne pointed it out. I thought “Weird. It must be an obscure essay of his….”

    • Michael E. Lopez says:

      I agree that Joanne was probably precocious… but Witch of Blackbird Pond is really a grade 5-6 level book in terms of its difficulty — in terms of syntax, anyway.

      Here’s the issue with classifying it as 5-8, though: you *could* give WoBbP to an eighth grade class that was reading below ability, but such a class is unlikely to be able to connect with the setting and themes in that particular book in a meaningful way, given that classwide reading deficits are often accompanied by a certain cultural occlusion.

      I think you’d be better off with something like Number the Stars or The Twenty One Balloons, which are both thematically and setting-wise more straightforwardly accessible (note that I am not saying they are more “relevant”!) to students.

      • Well, The Witch of Blackbird Pond does have a strong romance element, so even though I read it in elementary school, I reread it in Jr. High and High School. So girls reading below grade level might enjoy it for the romance….

  5. Foobarista says:

    It’s all very Ornellian…

  6. >Please – PLEASE – tell me they have since fixed it.

    Nope, not as of 5PM Eastern.

    As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon!”

  7. GoogleMaster says:

    Perhaps the person who typed up the list is a graduate of the Hempstead Public Schools.