The Common Core Train Wreck: Part One

Several years ago, a group of lobbyists and business owners got together and decided to take advantage of the ‘free money‘ out there (via the stimulus) and with the rubber stamp approval of a collection of Governors, they formed a new national standard for education: The Common Core.

The Common Core has quickly proven to be rotten to the core.

Michelle Malkin writes:

Top-down federalized “Common Core” standards are now sweeping the country. It’s important to remember that while teachers-union control freaks are on board with the Common Core regime, untold numbers of rank-and-file educators are just as angered and frustrated as parents about the Big Ed power grab. The program was concocted not at the grassroots level, but by a bipartisan cabal of nonprofits (led by lobbyists for the liberal Bill Gates Foundation), statist business groups and hoodwinked Republican governors. As I’ve reported previously, this scheme, enabled by the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” funding mechanism, usurps local autonomy in favor of lesson content and pedagogical methods.

Read the whole thing, it gets worse.

As Malkin noted, parents are not the only ones outraged and upset with the implementation of these core standards, which are largely untested and just years after the first implementation are proving to be an unmitigated nightmare for everyone involved.

Diane Ravitch, via The Washington Post, has come out opposing the Common Core:

I have decided that I cannot support them. In this post, I will explain why.

I have long advocated for voluntary national standards, believing that it would be helpful to states and districts to have general guidelines about what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school. Such standards, I believe, should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government; before implemented widely, they should be thoroughly tested to see how they work in real classrooms; and they should be free of any mandates that tell teachers how to teach because there are many ways to be a good teacher, not just one.

I envision standards not as a demand for compliance by teachers, but as an aspiration defining what states and districts are expected to do. They should serve as a promise that schools will provide all students the opportunity and resources to learn reading and mathematics, the sciences, the arts, history, literature, civics, geography, and physical education, taught by well-qualified teachers, in schools led by experienced and competent educators.

​For the past two years, I have steadfastly insisted that I was neither for nor against the Common Core standards. I was agnostic. I wanted to see how they worked in practice. I wanted to know, based on evidence, whether or not they improve education and whether they reduce or increase the achievement gaps among different racial and ethnic groups.

After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t wait five or ten years to find out whether test scores go up or down, whether or not schools improve, and whether the kids now far behind are worse off than they are today.

I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.

To sum up – yet another set of bad policies put in place on a national level and tied to federal funding to keep the yoke in place or at least make it very hard to get out of it. In essence, we are experimenting on our children and you are paying for it.

Teachers have also started to come out against the Common Core, via Huffington Post:

According to Gotsch, fourth graders will be expected to form algebraic equations from multi-step problems and calculate geometric angles at a level “too high for fourth-graders to complete,” the Watertown Daily Times reports.

“I had an advanced eighth-grade student take the test. The student could not get through the first two questions,” Gotsch told the paper.

This pushing of advanced studies onto a lower grade level is not limited to just the Fourth grade and math. Kindergarteners, who should be learning to print their names, cut and paste and enjoy the learning process are having their childhood beaten out of them with tasks clearly meant for students many years ahead of them. The NY Post reports:

Kindergarten has come a long way, baby — too far, some say.

Way beyond the ABCs, crayons and building blocks, the city Department of Education now wants 4- and 5-year-olds to write “informative/explanatory reports” and demonstrate “algebraic thinking.”

Children who barely know how to write the alphabet or add 2 and 2 are expected to write topic sentences and use diagrams to illustrate math equations.

“For the most part, it’s way over their heads,” a Brooklyn teacher said. “It’s too much for them. They’re babies!”

In a kindergarten class in Red Hook, Brooklyn, three children broke down and sobbed on separate days last week, another teacher told The Post.

As a parent with a child in this grade, I can tell you that the NY Post report is spot on. I’ve witnessed this with my own child and have complained only to be told that it’s my child that is deficient in the skills and not the skills being too much for them – despite being told that my child is reading and doing math above grade level, participating actively, has friends, is social and a joy to have in class. By the way, my husband and I take a good deal of the credit for our kid’s advancement. We’ve read every night with our child and worked on math with them as well. I’ve made it my business to implement additional educational activities. Thank God I did and can, but what about those families who can’t?

An example of homework recently given was to ‘write an opinion pieces about how it makes you feel to go to the beach or pool.’ No, ‘pieces’ is not a typo on my part. I typed that right off the homework sheet –  that, in and of itself, is not confidence inspiring.

Shouldn’t these kids be learning to write clearly with proper spacing and possibly some punctuation first?  Apparently not, but instead should be writing little books about personal experiences and “retelling” the narratives of their favorite books. I kid you not.

There was even a meeting or two to discuss getting him additional resources and testing because my child wasn’t meeting ‘abstract concept’ benchmarks set by the Common Core without an additional prompt. Abstract concepts?? The child is six for crying out loud. That additional prompt? Hi, that’s called teaching.

Like a lot of parents, I started to get rather frustrated. Not for myself but for my child. If I was finding this stuff confusing, imagine what my kid was going through? I set out to learn more about Common Core and what little of substance I found on the Common Core site is what brought me to the level of panic I am currently at now.

The Common Core Site is a very bright and well-ordered site – with no links of real use in quick navigation. I found myself having to leave the site and Google for the answers I was seeking. Answers to simple questions like, “What does the Common Core Curriculum include?”  I wanted a real lesson plan of how the stereo instruction-like documentation on the Common Core site was implemented.  Trying to find an actual lesson plan is nearly impossible.  Think I’m kidding about the CC Site reading like stereo instructions? Try reading the English Language Arts Standards for Kindergarten.

More about the Agenda behind Common Core, the Funding and cast of characters experimenting on our kids from Daily Censored:

The  Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) promotes a video From the Page to the Classroom: Implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts and Literacy that purports to supply the background for the Common Core State (sic) Standards.  There’s no mention that The Council of Great City Schools has, so far, received $8,496,854 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote these standards.

In delivering on its mission, the 52-minute CGCS video features the usual suspects—Common Core architect and now head of the College Board David Coleman, David Liben  and Sandra Alberti of Student Achievement Partners, a group co-founded by David Coleman and heftily funded by  the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($6,533,350) and the General Electric Foundation ($18,000,000) , and Michael Casserly, Executive Director of CGCS. Professor of education at the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley,  Lily Wong Filmore makes a brief appearance to explain the rationale for a kindergarten on complex text. More about this later.

Further down:

They want us to believe we have the Common Core as a result of grassroots agitation. No mention of  the hundreds of millions dumped in by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The plan has been from the get-go that if you state a lie loudly enough and often enough, people will believe it.

This Standardisto script highlights Three Important Shifts:

Shift 1: Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and Informational Test: In K-5 CCSS demands a 50-50 balance between nonfiction and fiction. This is right from CCSS emperor David Coleman’s lips and is repeated by the script reader.

Shift 2: Reading and writing must be  grounded in evidence from the text and there must be a shift away from narrative writing. No opinions allowed.

Shift 3:  Regular practice with complex texts and its academic vocabulary

Shift is the Big Word with the Common Core State (sic) Standards brigade. Just remove the ‘f’ and you’ve got my condensed critique.

I concur with this critique. I would add that the Common Core seems more focused on fairness than it is on actual actual knowledge acquisition and retention. Please– Read the whole thing, it will not be a waste of your time. It should be clear, however, that the Common Core Standards are a waste of time.

Dozens of States have already woken up to this reality and are attempting to extricate themselves before more damage is done.  Truth In Education has been documenting the various stages and states of withdrawing:

There will be more to come in a post to follow about Common Core and its implementation in my state, North Carolina.

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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1 Response to The Common Core Train Wreck: Part One

  1. Pingback: Common Core Train Wreck (Part II): North Carolina & Beyond | Lady Liberty 1885

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