And people who do not get this distinction are idiots.
You know I am having a harder and harder time taking anyone in the media seriously these days. The entire left wing of the media keeps repeating bullshit that history and economics and common sense and experience have disproved a million times over. But now the right wing is getting equally stupid. Namely in the fact of their anti-Common Core crusade to insanity.
There are so many preposterous points I don’t where to start.
But let’s start with the oh so repeated line of “One size education doesn’t fit all.” It’s the idea that having standards will destroy any and all freedom in education. Bullshit. That’s the nicest I can treat that sentiment. Bullshit. You are an absolute idiot if you believe that having a minimum standard in any way, shape or form ruins a teacher’s ability to teach. Now initially as with any raising of the bar, teachers at the high grades will have trouble getting all the standards in because their lower grade counterparts never bothered to meet any standard and that will, for a few years take up a good deal of their time…but I fail to see how that will be any different from the present when I’m having to teach Seniors how to use a comma, who Julius Caesar was, or what a platypus is (these are not random things I thought of, these are all real moments from my high school Senior English course). Yes the transition might be difficult, but it will be worth it, because at the end of the transition student will be coming into my class knowing the basics and having the skill to discuss Shakespeare and Aristotle and allowing me to teach them how to analyze a paper (or better a news article or a politician’s) to find the truth rather than how to write a simple sentence. Please tell me how that restricts my freedom as a
teacher? Further saying that a minimum standard impedes freedom is saying that your students have a right not to learn anything. No. There should a bare minimum in reading, writing and math that students know at certain grade levels. And nothing in the Common Core standards (please actually read them) is too far ahead of the abilities of an average student, even a below average student. Or do you think that
“Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic” is too much for a 4th grade student (if you do think that’s too much for that age, you clearly have never heard a child expound on the near graduate level knowledge they all seem to possess about dinosaurs). Or if you think that “Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quan11tity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent” is too much for a 6th grader…then you clearly needed the Common Core standards when you were growing up because you never learned the basics of math. I’m sorry there is nothing in the Common Core standards that is too high for any grade level. In fact, before Jim DeMint sold the soul of the Heritage Foundation to populists, the Heritage Foundation’s complaint about Common Core wasn’t that it was too hard, or a one size fits all lie, or new math or anything like that…no back in early 2012 before Heritage’s education department became dependent on clueless pundits, Heritage complained that the standards weren’t high enough (which is still an invalid complaint because the standards are higher than what most states had before). You can’t complain that standards aren’t high enough but that standards are bad for education at the same time without being a hypocrite…and DeMint’s Heritage (which still has not sold out on economic and foreign policy, but is beginning to lack everywhere else) is just that.
Having standards sets the lower end but any teacher is allowed and encouraged to go beyond that minimum bar in any way they feel best. Granted to meet and exceed this minimum bar we will need better teachers across the board, but we had to start somewhere because to have good teachers you need a minimum standard to judge them by, and to have a minimum standard you need good teachers. So either we could get into an endless chicken and the egg debate of which we should do first, or we could just pick on, which we did.
Then of course there are the media outlets, like the Daily Caller which quoted a study as showing that Common Core doesn’t work:
The study, conducted by the Brookings Institution, compared standardized test scores for all 50 states over the last five years. It found that states using education standards that are most dissimilar to Common Core tended to score the highest on math.
Actually the report was (A) talking about how far the state standards were from Common Core in 2009 and how they were doing now, and (B) the states with 2009 standards least like CCSS showed the most improvement over the 4 years since switching over…which would suggest that switching led to better growth. But, even that is going to far as the study actually said:
Table 3-2 reveals no systematic relationship between the states’ MSU ratings and changes in NAEP from 2009–2013. Indeed, states with standards most different from the CCSS (rated 1) gained the most on NAEP (2.25). States with standards most like the CCSS scored the next largest gains (1.94);
The report also makes the statement (in big bold letters):
States that more aggressively implemented the CCSS registered larger gains from 2009–2013.
But again, I won’t claim that this report highly endorses Common Core. It doesn’t. It claims that with very little data on hand only a minimal amount of growth can be shown or even expected. It further questions if this growth is worth all the money and effort going into putting Common Core into place. It however does not say what the Daily Caller claims. And I’ll admit that this is a high cost for minimal gains…at first. But this is the first step in having real across the board minimum standards to actually preventing students from falling behind. This is the first step of many that need to occur, the first step to culling bad teachers and bad schools from the system. The first step to making sure students are held back to ensure they understand before being promoted to the next level. The gains we see from this one single step are minimal, but they are an investment on a system of reform that will pay vast dividends. And when your opposition, as the Daily Caller as clearly put itself in the Anti-Common Core camp, has to blatantly lie about a study showed to make it’s point, you have to question whether or not the anti-Common Core line has any validity.
Oh but then there’s the new math. Common Core is teaching new math and that’s terrible (but remember thinking one size fits all is also terrible, so if you’re utterly confused on the exactly what the anti-Common Core people are arguing for, don’t worry, that only means you have a brain). So let’s first forget that there have been new math programs for decades and that this is nothing new. Let’s also forget that Common Core is just standards and does not require any of this. Now like a good anti-Common Core person we’ve forgotten reality let’s deal with the evil Common Core Math.
Now with most of the examples you see on the internet they’ll show you one worksheet where you can’t see if there were more worksheets that explained it in greater detail, or even what publisher they’re from. I’ll wager most of these evil worksheets are from minor text book publishers or that their idiocy predates Common Core…
But I was happy to see one worksheet that’s making the rounds that actually does have a copyright in the corner. The anti-Common Core people made a mistake in including the copyright information in the corner because it shows them to be a bunch of idiots and liars.
Now initially looking at this sheet you’d think someone had just gone insane and why can’t we just go back to the old way of learning math. However, if you type the name Donna Boucher (which who copyrighted this) into a search-engine you come up with her website Math Coach’s Corner where you find that worksheets like the one you see there are probably not meant as a first round of teaching but designed to help students find alternate avenues to doing the same problems if the traditional approach doesn’t work—because as the anti-Common Core folk like to correctly state one size fits all does not work for everyone, but strangely when you try not to go with one size fits all methods you get yelled at, because the hypocrisy of the anit-Common Core bunch knows no bounds. Pick a side anti-Common Core people. Now if a teacher started with Boucher’s methods that would probably be foolish, but as there is no context for the worksheet as it is shown on any site I’ve seen it on, nor any of the background of the lesson showing how to use it there is no way to tell if this is a teacher doing this on the first go around or merely showing their students another way of doing things. Further, ever since the day I taught in a lecture on Romantic poets that “The Romantic poets of early 1800’s England viewed the character of Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost as a heroic figure” and then got accused by a parent the next day of “teaching students to worship the Devil,” I tend to take parent’s statements that no other information was offered with just a grain of salt. I’m sure there are idiot teachers out teaching math incorrectly, (but that has nothing to do with Common Core), there always have been, however I’m also sure that there are teachers out there that are using things like Boucher’s worksheets because they understand ‘not one size fits all’ and are trying to expose their students to different ways of doing things. Without context it’s hard to tell when and where this worksheet was used and if it was done in the correct context or an incorrect one. But any way you want to look at it, Common Core isn’t to blame. So just because a worksheet doesn’t seem to make much sense remember there are probably more worksheets that explain things, and there was probably a lesson to go with it.
I would also point out that some of these new math worksheets have made me going “Oh, thank God, I thought I was the only one who did it in their head that way!” While a few other of these ways that I have seen on videos get explained so fast you’re not sure if you’re watching an Abbott and Costello routine…but when I’ve listened to them I find myself thinking, “That’s genius!”* Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad. The proof will be if it actually helps students. Yeah, there are some dumb methods out there too, and quite a few of these worksheets I can’t figure out what they’re getting at. But NONE OF THIS IS REQUIRED BY COMMON CORE and some of it may be simply be a lack of context.
Then of course there are all the complaints about the fact that textbooks have been changed to meet Common Core and thus they now have terrible information. But if you actually read the standards or the very limited material that has actually been put out by the people who actually wrote the standards, the incorrect stuff doesn’t appear anywhere in the real standards. I suspect that it’s more likely the anti-common core bunch found a few idiotic textbooks and are claiming that it is representative of all of common core because Common Core has made them so terrible. Also fun fact. All those common core textbooks you hate? Did you know that a study was done comparing those new textbooks to the old pre-Common Core textbooks. Guess what, the textbook publishers just took the old textbooks and slapped Common Core stickers on it. They’re the same—same text, same problems, same answers, same process. Why didn’t you complain about them before since there was no difference? Oh that’s right, you don’t really care about education, you were just told to hate this by some pundit and dutifully and blindly followed.
Then of course there is the problem that a lot of things that are actually part of Obama’s idiotic Race to the Top program are being called Common Core. People will say “Well this teacher, or that union, or such and such school board said that this terrible plan was part of Common Core.” So? What do I care what idiots say. Morons say that the Constitution says that guns aren’t an individual right…but amazingly I don’t listen to morons I actually go and read the Constitution and see that no, the 2nd Amendment clearly states it as a “right of the people.” With Common Core I don’t care what the morons say is Common Core, I have a brain and can actually go and read the Common Core Standards and see, nope that idiocy isn’t there. And if I were talking to those teachers/unions/schools I would chide them for their complete and utter inability to read and point out that this is why we need the standards so we can see who doesn’t meet the standards as teachers…and then fire them. If you play their game here that all these things that have nothing to do with Common Core are Common Core just because idiots believe it’s Common Core, then you have to agree that Obamacare is Constitutional because 5 corrupts pieces of scum in black robes said it was when it isn’t, or that when Obama says he supports capitalism you have to agree to that because most of the country was dumb enough to buy it. You can play that game. I’ll be over here in reality where word have meaning and facts are things you should go by.
I could go on about how I am really bothered by the liberal/populist/socialist argument that because big business was involved thus it must be evil permeates every anti-Common Core debate…or how parents never seem to be complaining that schools (or parents) aren’t teaching children how to learn from failure or how to pick themselves up, only that “Common Core made my halfwit child cry!” (Okay maybe I added the halfwit part, but it’s accurate.) I could go on on all of these things, but they all come back to there has yet to be a single valid critique of the actual Common Core standards.
And this all culminates in the problem that I’m now having trouble taking just about any problem aside from the ones I already know about seriously (the economy and foreign policy) because I just can’t trust that anyone is doing even the slightest amount of research.
*If anyone wants me to I’ll go over the video I’m thinking about and showing how the math process they show as being terrible is actually quite ingenious…however this blog was getting long as it is.