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Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant

Common Core: What’s Behind the Curtain?


Friday, September 13, 2013
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Although it appears the author of “An Idiot’s Guide to the Common Core” seemed to approach his work with an unbiased opinion, it is unfortunate so many facts about the Common Core Standards were left out of the article. School administrators and political leaders are conveniently leaving several things out of the discussion. Could it be because these facts would awaken the sleeping giant, aka concerned parents?

One fact is that teachers and parents are completely unaware of the runaway freight train that is about to hit 46 states come the 2014-15 school year. Most teachers are in a pre-Common Core euphoria. Who wouldn’t be? These new standards offer the opportunity to get out of the unrealistic goals set by No Child Left Behind while encouraging them to teach critical thinking and a deeper understanding of learning in their classrooms. What they don’t know is Common Core is No Child Left Behind on steroids. Teacher’s evaluations and pay will now be tied to assessment tests that have so far failed miserably in New York and Kentucky, leaving children in tears, teachers shocked and confused, and parents frustrated.

The article failed to mention that Common Core math standards push algebra 1 to the 9th grade rather that the 8th grade, where it is today, and pushes calculus out of the equation completely for high school students. The standard’s method of geometry was tested 50 years ago in the Soviet Union and was quickly thrown out, never to be tried anywhere else in the world. That is until now. The Common Core standards are said to prescribe improved methods of teaching; for example, it calls for teaching similar and congruent triangles using “rigid method,” an experimental teaching method that has never been successfully used in K-12 education. I don’t know about you, but I am not okay with our children being used as guinea pigs.

The article also failed to mention that handwriting is being taken out of the curriculum as there is so much critical thinking to do there will be no time to teach it. Who needs to learn cursive anyway with all the technology literally at our children’s fingertips? Forget all the studies that have shown that handwriting is critical to the production of creative and well-written text and enhancement of ideas, composition, and expression.

Are parents aware that the English Language Arts standards are changing the balance of classic literature to the extent that only 30 percent of required reading in high school will be classic literature and 70 percent will be informational text? I encourage parents, especially parents of high school students, to take a look at the Common Core reading list. One particular book assigned to 11th graders has many parents in Colorado outraged. The Bluest Eye contains graphic sex scenes that would make most adults blush. Out with Huck Finn, in with pornography.

Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a member of the Institution’s Koret Task Force on K-12 Education who also served on the California State Academic Standards Commission, calls Common Core “a monumental disaster.”

And legislators have failed to mention that Common Core is going to cost California taxpayers $2 billion and counting; albeit, they have figured out how to keep it from affecting you. The state has approved bonds that will extend the tax burden to the next generation of taxpayers, who ironically are the children we are trying to help, if I am not mistaken.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As a concerned mom, I encourage everyone to do his or her own “homework”. You won’t have to go much further than your state and federal boards of education and government websites. Commoncorefacts.com is also a great resource for more information.

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What will the university academics do if they can't come up with new, expensive, top-down, education models for all schools and students to follow. Obviously every student will conform because we are all the same right? God forbid that the teachers, who spend all day with the kids, suggest what works and what doesn't for each individual child.

Whether it's common core, or standardized testing, or state standards, or whatever you want to call it, when academics in their ivory towers come up with "new improved systems" it never makes any difference because it doesn't change the teacher student relationship where real learning occurs.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
September 13, 2013 at 10:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"What will the university academics do if they can't come up with new, expensive, top-down, education models for all schools and students to follow."

Answer: They will run out of reasons to justify their jobs. Also remember, these wizards of the academic realm are all-knowing, and we have no right to question them. After all, they keep telling us how "complex" the issues are so they must be right.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 5:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So "The Bluest Eyes" is pornographic? Did you even read the book? It deals with racism, rape and incest. Sadly, to say an 11th grader is not mature enough to handle these subjects is downplaying their level of maturity. Besides, let's keep Huck Finn on the shelves and let the N-word show up constantly and yet do nothing about educating our youth on more relevant, contemporary issues.
Perhaps the Bible would be a good choice. There students can read about rape, incest and murder, all with the blessing of God...

joppermann (anonymous profile)
September 28, 2013 at 7:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

agree with much, georgy, and especially your belief that whatever the academics devise it can't be too vital "because it doesn't change the teacher student relationship where real learning occurs." However, the elephant in this room is the seldom-discussed student-teacher ratio: class sizes have been rising (with some exceptions here in Calif., in lower elementary school) for a long time. In her new book, Diane Ravitch stresses that reducing the student-teacher ratio [class size] is crucial: "REIGN OF ERROR: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement" (Knopf, 2013, at Chaucer's and Granada books).
Many posters on these threads seem to think the capitalist model of "competition" is the way to go in education, that charter schools are somehow far better, AND many have supported cramming technology into the schools -- e.g. the completely screwed-up iPad rollout at LA Unified. Check the LA Times letters section today full of eloquent screams about that disastrous tech rollout, its many problems (duh -- administrators didn't imagine the students would hack their iPads!), its colossal expense. Boycott private charter schools.
When will we realize that top education countries like Finland have very few gizmos and laptops and iPads [all sold to us by Apple Corp.] and tests, yet their students learn well and fast and at end of 12th grade outscore almost every other country on earth? Is Dave Cash reading this? Redirect the iPad rollout monies for the 4 local schools into hiring great young teachers: this isn't rocket science.
Poverty of the family -- 23% of American kids are in the poverty level -- and huge class sizes are massive impediments to true education today. As an elementary school [independent] teacher for 34 years I assure you that with class sizes running over 32/35 you are burning out most of the great teachers we have. We need effective teachers, not great gizmos, and we need to reduce class sizes.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 29, 2013 at 2:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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