Monday, March 24, 2014

Parents, Teachers, And Students In Common Cause Against Common Core

When a 3rd grade student became confused and left a question on his Common Core-aligned homework blank, his teacher responded with a red question mark. His father then replied on his behalf:

Common Core Frustrated Parent

In case you can't read it, I've transcribed the key part here:

Dear Jack, Don't feel bad. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics Engineering which included extensive study in differential equations and other higher math applications. Even I cannot explain the Common Core Mathematics approach, nor get the answer correct. In the real world, simplification is valued over complication . . .

This is not an aberration as students, parents, and teachers across the country are becoming increasingly outraged by the disaster that is the Obama Administration's "Common Core State Standards," a vanity project more or less bought and paid for by Bill Gates via the Gates Foundation. 

Here is part of a letter from a frustrated teacher published yesterday on Diane Ravitch's Blog:

Last year during the first year of the Common Core testing, I had students who were crying because they did not understand the questions, did not have time to finish under the allotted time, or were just simply overwhelmed by the complexity of the test. Is that why I became a teacher? No, it is not! I teach because I want to see my students learn, but as more and more pressure comes down on us as teachers so too does it on our students . . . There has to be a time when we stop thinking about the race to the top and start thinking about the children we are supposed to be encouraging to want to learn! The only thing we are doing with these common core state tests is setting them up for failure and in the same process making teachers look like they are not doing their jobs . . . I'm tired of people who have never stepped foot into a classroom telling me that I am not "effective" because my 8 year old student can't pass a test that even a college graduate as difficulty completing!

And then there is this, a brilliant, concise exposition on everything that is wrong with Common Core, from a student. The Chair of the school board refused to give him an extra minute, so he had to speak fast, but man does he speak well:

Mr. Ye's comparison to the Chinese school system is an apt one. For years, students and parents in China have complained about how the extreme pressures of their drill-and-kill system has left children burnt out, with no joy for learning, clinically depressed, and at a greatly elevated risk for suicide. This seems to be the model our government, both political parties, and their corporate partners are pursuing.

Parents, teachers, and students are pushing back against the monied and powerful who are treating children as guinea pigs in their cruel experiment in "shock doctrine" capitalism. Alone, they can treat us with the cool dismissiveness this school board did Mr. Ye, but together . . . Well, I don't have a crystal ball, but at least we have a chance.

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RobynHeud said...

I had a friend on facebook post about this just yesterday. Her son got every question correct on a math test, but was marked wrong on all of them because he didn't use this new method to get the answers. Another friend responded that as a teacher, we should be looking to encourage children to use whatever way they understand, and as long as the logic is true, we should not be penalizing them. My dad understood this twenty years ago when he pulled my sister from her math class because the teacher thought there was only one right way to find the answer, and as parents and educators, we should be encouraging lateral and dynamic thinking, not drill and kill and rote memorization.

Also, someone else on that thread postulated that the reason common core is being taught this way is deliberate in order to create lower test scores for kids who truly do understand, then later, it will be taught the way it has always been and magically, all test scores will go up, "proving" that our kids were really dumb before and common core has made them smarter. So ridiculous, it might be true.


What Robyn says above greatly concerns me - it is good to teach kids that there are lots of ways to think about the same math problem, but troubling to give the correct answer and get marked wrong because you didn't follow the process. What about the children who already know the answers without doing all of those extra steps?


What Robyn says above greatly concerns me - it is one thing to teach that there are multiple paths to arrive at the same answer, but something else entirely to mark a student wrong when they get the correct answer without following some arbitrary process. What about the child who already knows the answer - why should he have to go through the extra steps to "discover" what he already understands?

Rhonda B said...

Did you see the article today about Indiana quitting Common Core?

I'm hoping to see many other states follow suit.

Jennifer said...

I have an engineering background and I can't figure out some of the work I've seen posted - I usually hope that it's because it's not the way I was taught and I don't have the full background info being taught to know where the teacher is coming from. I don't have kids in school yet, but in the fall of 2015 I will. The part I am struggling with is what exactly to do for my son and school. I'm terrified of public school because of all of the negative common core articles I keep reading (and the positive ones don't help much), private school would really only work if I go back to work and put my youngest son and any future kids in daycare and hire a nanny for after school and dinner (not what we want to do as a family), and I don't feel homeschooling is for me. I want to be a positive and encouraging parent for both my son and the teachers and the school, and will do so to the best of my ability, but I'm already feeling overwhelmed!

mathdancing said...

I usually love reading your blog, but I'm really disappointed in this post. I could write at length about this, but other math educators already have, so I'll just leave this here:

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