We librarians have realized that communication had moved beyond alpha-numeric delivery to information products which convey inference, require extrapolation, and visual messages that require deep content knowledge to uncover and discover messages. However, our CCSS authors want us to insure that we have a literate generation who can write when they need to....And, yes, that is of utmost importance.
To understand the rational behind the definition of classroom text to be alpha-characters, you'll need to read Appendix A, page 4 paragraph 2. "text-free or text-light sources, such as video, podcasts, and tweets. These sources, while not without value, cannot capture the nuance, subtlety, depth, or breadth of ideas developed through complex text."
Let's compare and contrast:
Rich Text: Lexile 9-10th grade band
Susan B. Anthony: “Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen's rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny....”
Cheap Text: Ellen DeGeneres Commencement Speech, Tulane 2009:
Thank you, President Cowan, Mrs. President Cowen; distinguished guests, undistinguished guests - you know who you are, honored faculty and creepy Spanish teacher. And thank you to all the graduating class of 2009, I realize most of you are hungover and have splitting headaches and haven't slept since Fat Tuesday, but you can't graduate 'til I finish, so listen up. When I was asked to make the commencement speech, I immediately said yes. Then I went to look up what commencement meant. … So I had to break the word down myself, to find out the meaning. Commencement: common, and cement. Common cement. You commonly see cement on sidewalks. Sidewalks have cracks, and if you step on a crack, you break your mother's back. So there's that. But I'm honored that you've asked me here to speak at your common cement. I thought that you had to be a famous alumnus - alumini - aluminum - alumis - you had to graduate from this school. And I didn't go to college here, and I don't know if President Cowan knows, I didn't go to any college at all. Any college. And I'm not saying you wasted your time, or money, but look at me, I"m a huge celebrity. Although I did graduate from the school of hard knocks.... [http://www.hark.com/clips/wfxbjlpnnh-ellen-degeneres-commencement-speech-at-tulane-university]
These graphic texts are actually embraced as "knowledge product" suggestions in the writing standards. Math standards also embrace extrapolation of data,relationships and modeling which could be "stretched" to create infographics which picture relationships, cause and effects, ratios, and more.
The words "graphic texts" do NOT appear in the CCSS at all. There are 98 instances of the words "graph" in them in the math standards, but most of those relate to mathematical functions-- not as vehicle to communicate and share knowledge in diverse formats for diverse audiences.
The very act of summarizing and picturing information, proves the content has been assimilated, digested, reformatted, and probably committed to long-term memory.
So the moral of the story is: Teach with rich Text, graphic text should be used as knowledge products. Thus saith the Common Core.