I’ve Had It With Common Core
Like most reasonable people who aren’t vying for federal education funds, I don’t like Common Core.
I find the very idea of a federally-planned education repugnant. I believe it violates the 1st Amendment; that it is the de-facto imposition of a government-approved world view and a secular religion upon the People. I believe in the separation of school and state.
You’ve heard the old saying: Garbage in, garbage out. Garbage or not, control what people are taught and you can supplant their religion.
Control what they are taught and you can obviate freedom of speech.
Control what they are taught, and the free press will voluntarily parrot state-approved positions.
Control the narrative of history, and you can control the people politically, spiritually, and even physically.
No supposed benefit can possibly be worth this threat to the very foundation of Liberty.
So you could say I am now biased against Common Core. But until recently I hadn’t been directly affected by the reality of this curriculum. My two children are in their twenty’s and thirty’s, graduated before this curriculum really took hold.
Now I have two grandchildren, both boys, one in 10th grade and one in 3rd. They live with us for reasons I won’t go into. They both started in private schools, but are now in public school.
I should say, the older boy is not in public school to get an education per se; at least, not the one the school thinks he is getting. Growing up in a conservative household, he can learn more reading one issue of Imprimus than he will learn in a whole semester of “Global Issues” class.
Why are they teaching Global Issues to a 9th grader when they don’t first teach him the Constitution, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, or Western History? How is a student supposed to have any context in which to role-play as Secretary of State in a meeting with an Egyptian ambassador?
And since when are the “essential questions” for a 10th grade English class:
What does it mean to be an individual and a member of society?
What is our responsibility to society?
What factors support or destroy a society’s fabric?
I might be old-fashioned, but I always thought the essential purpose of an English class was to learn to read and write; to learn grammar, composition, presentation, and the like.
The way it works is 1) he goes to school, 2) he’s taught stuff, 3) he comes home, 4) he gets debriefed, and we compensate with additional instruction. These days, he can spot politically-correct bullshit a mile away. He makes fun of it, and so do I, so we’re on the same page.
This approach bolsters his ability to think critically, supports his ability to defend his point of view, and helps him to know when he’s being punked by an institution. “Most people don’t think twice about what they think,” he told me the other day.
As far as I can tell, Common Core hasn’t affected high school algebra, geometry, chemistry or music; so at least there’s that.
But for my 3rd grader, there is one real problem – Common Core math.
They don’t call it Common Core in Arizona – it’s called the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards; but it’s still Common Core. Like most of you, I had heard stories about the ridiculous methods of math instruction foisted on our kids, but I didn’t expect it to infect the 3rd grade curriculum to this extent.
With Common Core math “there is a much stronger focus placed on students developing more in depth conceptual understandings with math concepts.” That’s a direct quote from my kid’s teacher. I’m sure she cut and pasted it from some manual like How To Respond To Annoying Parental Objections.
I had emailed her to ask about the curriculum. I was surprised they moved so quickly into division when it seemed they had hardly begun learning multiplication. There was no development of basic multiplication skills such as learning and practicing multiplication tables. Homework involved things like multiplying 8 x 5 by drawing 5 boxes of 8 hatch-marks, and counting by 8 five times to 40.
I didn’t mind this kind of thing at first, but I expected it to be only a conceptual introduction, not the entire study of multiplication. When they subsequently moved into division, I became alarmed.
Here’s how they were taught to divide:
They call this repeated subtraction. They start with the result, subtract repeatedly to zero, then count the number of subtractions. Here’s his cheat-sheet:
Multiplication is the opposite:
So at this point, I was starting to freak out. This is not just an introduction to multiplication and division – it’s how they teach it! My kid was drawing more pictures than solving math problems. They go from this right solving word problems, again by drawing pictures.
I know the teacher has no control over this, but I emailed her anyway to register my disgust. I told her that “in depth conceptual understanding,” as she put it, comes with maturity; but right now I just wanted my kid to learn to do MATH.
So, I told her, I’m enrolling him in Kumon, an after-school math program for kids that develops and exercises math skills in a methodical way. It starts with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
I had enrolled my older grandson in Kumon the summer before 3rd grade, not so much because I thought he needed remediation, but for the discipline of the daily work.
It takes about 10 minutes per day, with the student doing about 100 math problems. They go to a Kumon class for about a half hour once a week for review and to get their next assignments. It costs about $100/month.
It was so great I kept him in it for about two years. It helped keep him in good math stead all the way through basic algebra, and the problem-solving discipline he developed serves to this day.
David began Kumon this week. He’s proud of his work. My threat level is reduced because I know we’re back on the right track. At least we have a way through this.
Even though our schools are among the best public schools available, they are still clearly a failure in a lot of ways.
Don’t ever think that you can rely on the state to educate your children. Don’t ever turn that responsibility over to the state. It won’t work out well. Education is our baby, not the state’s.
First published at SavingOurFuture.com
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