Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why Are We Being Forced to Teach This C_ _ _?

The highly acclaimed school standards called Common Core are becoming so unpopular that they may soon be politically untouchable. The critics are piling on from Glenn Beck to the Wall Street Journal, with senior academics and activist parents in between.
The latest is a detailed criticism of the mathematics standards by a prize-winning math professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Marina Ratner. It is refreshing that her criticisms are very specific and include examples of assignments that parents can see are ridiculous.
Professor Ratner was alerted to the stupidity of Common Core by looking at the homework assigned to her grandson in 6th grade Berkeley middle school. Fractions are taught by having the kids draw pictures of everything such as 6 divided by 8, and 4 divided by 2/7, and also by creating fictional stories for such things as 2/3 divided by 3/4. A student who gives the correct answer right away and doesn't draw a picture or make up a story loses points.
Ms. Ratner concluded that Common Core is making simple math concepts "artificially intricate and complex with the pretense of being deeper, while the actual content taught was primitive." The bottom line is that Common Core is inferior to the current good California standards, and the $15.8 billion spent nationally to develop and adopt Common Core was a gigantic waste.
College ready? That's another deceit. Math experts are saying that Common Core standards are not preparing students for colleges to which most parents aspire to send their children.
This is what I think: Common Core is not a carefully planned conspiracy to turn our children into democracy haters or business designed human robots. It is just a stupid impractical way of teaching math and English to our children.
It is stupid because it was designed by a bunch of intellectual elites who believe that children should all be taught the way they as college educated elites think is cool. These developers of CCSS may be smart but they know almost nothing about teaching children. The problem is that many children don't need to understand the underlying basis of most math operations and most kids don't need to develop the techniques of "close reading" mandated by Common Core to be properly educated.
Common Core is also stupid because it is being sold as a silver bullet for improving education that will make our students smarter, close the achievement gap, and prepare all students for college. Nothing could be further from the truth. The early results in states like New York is that the achievement gap is being widened and that many students are being turned off by some of the reading and math assignments required by CCSS. By placing all our emphasis on what I consider an education fad that will have little or no impact on student achievement, we will be neglecting the really big problems that are holding some of our students back. 
Poverty and the many disadvantages and handicaps that students who come from poverty backgrounds bring to school are so devastating that they need to be tackled more directly with the huge resources that are being wasted on Common Core and standardized testing. Major emphasis needs to be put on early childhood education, proper nutrition and medical care, the development of safe and nurturing living and learning environments and improving stability in the lives of thousands of children who are now being neglected. Focusing so much emphasis and resources on Common Core is preventing us from working on the real problems.

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Jeremy said...

No, I don't think it's a carefully planned conspiracy either, but I do think it has been carefully lined up to make a lot of people a lot of money. I wish there was a clear flow chart type diagram that showed an exact line of money. It would probably be absolutely massive, but definitely interesting.

How much longer before this CC movement goes away and we can get back to making sure kids KNOW the basics like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in order to figure up a percent? You know...something that they'll actually need in the real world. I figure that we'll head back that way in less than 5 years, as it seems more and more people are reaching the tipping point.

Michael Deshotels said...

Thanks Jeremy. Please watch for my next post. I finally got part of the information I requested about the Common Core related testing that was done this Spring and the story is not pretty! It should be posted Sunday or Monday after I finish checking my calculations and those submitted by Herb Bassett.