At the beginning of December, I wrote to the Common Core Academic Standards Review Commission. I wrote a separate note asking about their funding being granted, which is included in the response I received and of which I have published below my original letter.
I would encourage other parents to reach out to this commission as I did.
Dear Ms. Metcalf and Mr. Peek,
Please share this email with the entire commission.
My name is Andrea Dillon.
I am a mom of a student in Wake County.
I hold a degree in Psychology from Syracuse University with a concentration in early childhood and early adolescent psychology.
I am and have been opposed to Common Core for a long time.
I am also a blogger in North Carolina and the founder of LadyLiberty1885.com.
I also have written at StopCommonCoreNC.org.
I testified before the NC General Assembly when they held open comment. You can watch my testimony here. I have attached my comments made at that hearing for your review.
I have noted that the December agenda for the Academic Standards Review Commission (ASRC) seems to include an evaluation of the presentations made by DPI on the two Common Core subjects of Math and ELA.
I am sure that probably the lack of funding is what is limiting the scope of evaluation thus far, as no experts like Former Common Core Validation committee members like Dr. Sandra Stotsky or Dr. James Milgram have been brought in or scheduled to appear yet. Once funding is enacted, it is imperative these two individuals be brought in.
I also noted the section called “Parent Impact”. Since no parents have yet been called to testify before the ASRC yet, perhaps I can offer some “parent impact” for your template.
I will speak from the experience of having a son in second grade in Wake County schools. I have witnessed Common Core for two and half school years to date.
Luckily for my son, I am pretty much homeschooling him everyday when he gets home. Actually, it is more like deprogramming. Parents who have to work and can’t be as engaged — I feel for them and their kids.
The Math, to be blunt, is overly convoluted and ridiculous.
My main issues:
1. The pushing of algebraic functions and themes into k-3 is age and developmentally inappropriate.
2. The forced usage of ‘multiple’ strategies is confusing, frustrating and unfair to the kids.
3. “Explain your thinking”This year in second grade, as an example of both above issues, I’ve watched my son grapple with three part word problems. These problems were complicated and many involved both addition and subtraction in a single problem. Adding to the stress, a good number of the questions used vocabulary words above his grade level. Some may say this is an ‘implementation’ problem, but I would point out these materials were developed by Wake County Schools. It’s not the materials, it’s the age and developmentally inappropriate tasks being asked of these kids.
The forced written explanations (“Explain your thinking”) of mathematical concepts at these ages levels is not only confusing and frustrating to the kids. All of this blending of writing into the math is a waste of time that could be spent mastering foundational math skills, which is something that is NOT happening with a lot of these kids. The kids are indeed forced to learn multiple strategies on which a score is given to them on how well they do them. It doesn’t matter if that strategy works for the child or not, they have to do it or they are marked off.
I cannot tell you how many times my son has melted down at our kitchen table because he cannot do it the way that makes sense to him by just writing the algorithm but instead, he has to do it a certain other way — the Common Core way. The words, ‘I am not allowed to do it that way‘ are uttered weekly in some fashion.
His teacher has told me that his is assessed weekly on these strategies and given a score. That score is then put into Pearson’s Powerschool. The score is put together with multiple others for the term and his final score is produced.
Dr. Atkinson has insisted there are no tests with Common Core. I think she’s misleading on that.
These weekly assessments are tests and they are making up my kid’s grade.
I have evidence of these assessments as well as examples of the “Blackline Master Common Core” documents my son brings home daily. These materials are all stamped with “Wake County Schools”. I would be happy to share this documentation with the commission.
I urge the commission to allow parents to bring materials to one of the meetings and to let parents comment. To date, parents have been shut out of discussion, in many cases have been demonized for speaking out where we are able to and we’re very frustrated.
Here is a link to the Math “homework helper” sheets they started giving out to parents. This is second grade math and they have to give parents resources to help?? Please, common sense should tell you something is wrong here. Dr. Scheik’s comments about the average person being able to navigate these standards are spot on. They are like a labyrinth.
In Kindergarten, my son was bringing home writing assignment such as writing personal opinion pieces in the first two quarters of school. No, I am not kidding. These are kids who are the average age of five. Many of them are still learning the alphabet and how to read very basic, one sentence per page texts.
I had to teach my child how to write on lined paper myself, including capitalization and letter structures. Yet, he was expected to write full sentences on his own with little prompting and support in class. He struggled and so did his classmates as I saw first-hand when I volunteered in his room.
As he shifted into first grade, opinion pieces were exchanged for ‘persuasive writing’. In first grade, he was asked to read a book, then on his own, write an opening statement, three supporting statements and a closing statement based on that text. Again, he struggled even with prompting. Most of his class did as well. I watched them learn how to pattern these writing pieces after a template. Kids are very good at mimicking things and this is what they ended up doing. It wasn’t learning to write, it was learning to fill in a template they memorized.
These kind of writing tasks in Kindergarten and first grade were meant for a child older than him. One who has a strong abstract thought formation developing. Also worth noting – Thelexile score of the directions for many of these assignment (including math) were that of 5th grade and higher.
My biggest concern with the ELA, beyond what I have already stated is the lack of mastery of reading and word recognition being done in Kindergarten and First grade is going to impact kids for the rest of their careers. Luckily, my son was a strong reader to start with. Many kids are not. I watched kids last year, in First grade, struggle with extremely basic reading material. They then had to turn around and write about what they struggled to read. There is a serious problem here. Common Core’s emphasis on writing over reading in these foundational learning years is fundamentally flawed.
I hope the commission will consider allowing parents to come speak to them; to tell you and show you what we are seeing.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
One of Da Tech Guy’s Magnificent 7 Writers
Panel Member – Glenn Beck’s We Will Not Conform
Dear Ms. Dillon,
Thank you for taking the time to provide us with your thoughtful input. Parent voices are crucial to the commission’s work and outcomes. I will share your input with the commission. We’ve begun to receive parent input and we will be directly soliciting more parent engagement as we proceed with the work.
I appreciate that you’ve read through our preliminary materials for the December meeting. We are still in the process of finalizing the agenda so some agenda items and times are subject to modification.
You questioned the evaluation template and its intended use. The evaluation template is intended to be a living document to be used to help us to collect and keep our thoughts organized. So this first pass will help the commission organize and communicate our thoughts on what we’ve heard so far. As we proceed we fully intend to engage our parents and other stakeholders. We will continue to be completely transparent and inclusive in our process and thinking as we continue to progress the work.
Regarding the budget, we’ve met with the leadership now have the General Assembly’s commitment to fully fund the work. Procedurally, this will require a formal vote which will occur as soon as the legislature is back in session.
Thank you for lending your voice to this important work.
Co-Chair, Academic Standards Review Commission
State of North Carolina