Common Core: The Good, The Bad, and The Reality

Last year, I wrote the post “How Common Core is Slowly Changing My Child.”  It struck a nerve with parents and teachers across the country as we all were adjusting to the new Common Core State Standards. I wrote it on a night where everything went wrong and homework was a nightmare for my then third grade son. That day had also been particularly difficult at work as I had begun to teach the first common core module unit to my ninth graders. After the kids went to bed, I wrote. By morning, the response was overwhelming. Two weeks later, I still had parents commenting on the change they had seen in their children due to school.

A year later, almost to the date, the post is making its way onto people’s newsfeed again and I’m getting the same comments from concerned parents and teachers.  It’s been a year since I sat on my couch on that October night, angry at New York State for implementing these standards so hastily, but my thoughts are still the same.

Let me be clear:  I am just one teacher. Just one mom. I am not speaking on behalf of every teacher across the country, nor am I speaking on behalf of every mom of school aged children. But I do think we have a lot in common, and my experience over the past year speaking with teachers and parents across the country is that there is more harm than good that is happening with the implementation of common core.  The standards, in essence, have good intentions. Who can argue that raising the bar and giving all kids in every state a fair shot at these higher standards is a bad thing?  Like I said, the intentions are good.

However, the rushed implementation of these standards and the educational practice that has been going along with them has been nothing short of a disaster.

My experience with common core is first as an educator:  I teach it in my classroom at the high school level, and second as a mother: I see what my children are doing at the middle and elementary level. A line that I wrote in my first post that I did not articulate clearly enough addressed high school teachers and our role in common core: “But let’s work backwards: our high school teachers signed up for this. We can get our kids college and career ready and if we don’t, shame on us.”  High school teachers were angry at that, but what I meant is that since choosing to teach secondary education our goal has always been to prepare our students for the post-secondary education world, whether it be entering the workforce or entering college. Making our students “college and career ready”, the whole basis of common core, is nothing new to us.

What I did not know at the start of the common core implementation, was how common core would look in an elementary classroom, nor was I prepared for what it would do to my children.

The implementation of these standards has also introduced a new curriculum that many schools across New York State have adopted: modules. These modules can be found on the engageNY website, and from what I understand, schools in various states are also using the engageNY modules. Suddenly, rather than allowing teachers to use their expertise, experience, and knowledge to create units aligned to the new standards, teachers were now being handed scripted units to use instead.  Units that were not created by teachers, but rather large businesses that did not take into account the different demographics or needs of each district. These modules have taken the creativity away from the teacher. They have taken hands on activities out of the classroom and replaced them instead with close reads and textual evidence lesson after lesson. Our English teachers are now becoming Social Studies and economics teachers. One of the ninth grade modules had me teaching about hedge funds, Ponzi schemes, leveraged money and Bernie Madoff—to fourteen year olds. The modules I work with are age inappropriate, redundant, and boring.  I am doing the best I can to make them engaging and fun. Every teacher I know who is teaching using the modules, is doing the best they can with the materials they have.

The modules my children are using are no better.  The ELA modules at the elementary level are much the same that I see at the ninth grade level. Passages, close reads, annotating, writing using textual evidence. There is value in that skill. Being an active reader and providing textual evidence is an important skill that is integrated into all subject areas.  But where is the funYes, the fun.  Elementary school should be equal parts challenging and fun.  Our elementary school teachers are creating lifetime learners who love to learn. Taking the fun out of school is taking the love out of school. These ELA modules have replaced fun with “rigor.” The math modules are so complex that parents can no longer effectively help their children with homework.  We are working on homework for hours.   Last week, my husband and I spent an hour on the engageNY website learning a seventh grade math module lesson, arguing over how to solve for x and y and where to substitute k .  We are highly educated adults, not twelve year olds. How does this translate in an average seventh grade math class?  My guess?  Not well. I can tell you from the anger and frustration on my son’s face as we sat trying to force this concept on him that it has been a unit full of frustration. The same goes for our fourth grade son as well. Homework time at our house is usually met with tears and more often than not, broken pencils and frustrated foot stomping up the stairs to bed.

The concepts are simple. The lengthy process to prove the children understand the concept is not. The reasoning behind the in depth (sometimes six extra steps to solve a simple multiplication problem) is so the children have a better understanding of numbers and how they work. What parents and children are so frustrated about, however, is that our kids know the answer. But after six steps there is more room for error and more room for confusion. Which all leads to more room for frustration.

I stand by my statement that these challenges don’t make our kids feel like they are on the road to being college and career ready in fourth grade.  It makes them feel like failures. Why?  Because even though they know that 6×5=30, they still got the answer wrong on the test because they weren’t able to “decompose” the problem properly.

A year later, I still see a change in my son. My older son is rolling right along.  I wouldn’t say he is enjoying it, he complains about the module packets and the nonstop close reads, but he is faring well. My younger son is still struggling. He lost his love for school that he had in kindergarten, first, and second grade. He’s active in sports and participates in the school band which helps us motivate him to get on the bus but his attitude toward learning is negative. He believes he’s stupid even though we tell him otherwise and even though he is not.  We can’t get back these years with him.

But we can fight for him.

aiden cc 2

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About Mrs Momblog

Mom of 3, wife of 1, teacher of 103. Sarcastic always.
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63 Responses to Common Core: The Good, The Bad, and The Reality

  1. Rachael says:

    My daughter is only two and I have heard nothing but horror stories about this. It has caused me to rethink the idea of home school and I really don’t want to do that. I am disheartened that teachers have no say any longer, that it is so frustrating for the children and the teachers and the parents. I sure hope this changes. I hope it either improves or is removed. This is becoming ridiculous.

    • mimsmithfaro says:

      I have been teaching for over 20 years. Trends in education do seem to swing on a pendulum. I am hoping we have reached the extreme of this craziness and will start to move back towards a more appropriate school climate. Maybe by the time your daughter starts school, the culture of test, test, test will start breaking down. Let’s hope this is the case.

  2. I have recently read your initial post from last year and wrote on your FB timeline about it. You have read my mind and you are literally living in my shoes! Every night….broken pencils, tears, screams of ” I’m stupid and I’ll never get it”. Now I’m paying hefty private school fees in hopes of a better learning experience. I don’t know if this is the solution, but we are desperate and don’t want to witness the downfall any further. My son is smart!!! The fact that he thinks he is stupid kills me!! What can we do about this?? Educators cannot continue with this one size fits all learning! Yes, my other kids are fine…they fit into the box…..the very small, confined box that teachers are stuck teaching in. But what about all the other children whose esteem is in the toilet thanks to this system? Where do they end up in the future? The most ironic part? My son who is struggling is the one with the most creative, unique mind! He is the one who I always envisioned doing great things in life. We are destroying some of the greatest minds!! This is horrifying to me……

    • Kat Scott says:

      “… the one struggling is the one with the most creative, unique mind….” This is so frighteningly true. We are losing our best and brightest children to small minds and rigid standards, and our country- our world cannot afford this any longer! I watched my children struggle with the system years ago and am watching it decimate my grandson today.

  3. Reblogged this on Knit and Crochet and commented:
    Nothing to do with knitting, but certainly has a lot to do with why I don’t have time to knit….or why I knit to stay sane LOL!

  4. What you say is what I have been saying. Common Core is like No Child Left Behind in that its heart is in the right place but that it is an implementational nightmare

    The problem with both is in the premise: that all children have the same ability/capacity to learn AND that all children are college material. They don’t and they aren’t. We, as a society, need to be okay with that.

    When the people pushing CC and NCLB shift away from that and realize that we teach PEOPLE, then both have the potential to be effective.

    The way that CC and NCLB must, by law, be implemented right now, is sucking the life out of teaching and the joy out of learning

    And that’s unfortunate

    • voiceontheleft says:

      CC was really a money grab appropriation of the content of NCLB. NCLB was what put the test-test-test model into place, without spelling out what those tests would be. Pearson Corporation got the contract to write the tests, and then wrote the CC curriculum. The books they publish teach the methods that are tested on the standardized tests. The books–and therefore the methods that are the content for the books–are copyrighted by Pearson. Therefore, you wind up with a single company that is writing the tests that the schools will be assessed by, designed the curriculum that he tests will measure, and sells the only text books that teach that curriculum. And if your school can’t afford to get all new text books from K-12 (what school can?), they will let you enter into a subscription service to get materials to teach with, but of course, those aren’t free either.

      Common Core is not an education reform movement. It is, however, a perfect business model if you want to take well-intentioned (if flawed) legislation and turn it into a license to print your own money backed by tax-payer dollars. It’s a nightmare for what it is doing to schools, teachers, students, and education in this country, and someone needs to start fighting back in a massive, organized manner, before the beast is impossible to control.

  5. Sarah says:

    It sounds to me like the problem isn’t the standards but the modules and the tests. I’ve been happily teaching to common core standards in brooklyn for 3 years and have yet to read an engage NY module. I’ll do my best to avoid them at all costs! I would really like people to focus on the exact part of the misery. It’s not the standards, it’s the test and the attempt to turn teachers into robots through a scripted curriculum which they are not allowed to alter.

    • heidi0523 says:

      Sarah I have 5 kids – 3 bio, 1 adopted, 1 foster. The foster adopted and 1 bio kid go to public school. The other 2 are homeschooled. When I read through the standards, I often think, what is the problem here. The books are great, the skills are great. BUT when implemented I see my young children 2 first graders and 2 nd grader in this continual test model at school. Now, these 3 don’t know school to be anything but constant testing. But I just don’t like it. AS you said, the standards may be fine, but how they are done are not.

  6. It is truly heartbreaking to read story after story about the trauma done to children and families by these ill-thought through policies. From my copious reading, I believe that there can never be an adequate implementation of the Common Core Standards because the premises behind them are pedagogically unsound. It’s not by chance that no early childhood authorities, special ed teachers, educators of second language learners, or developmental psychologists were included in the drafting of the standards. David Coleman’s admiration of Close Reading has been scorned by Robert D. Shepherd as amateurish and deliberately dismissive of 50 years of actual research on how children learn a first and second language and develop literacy. To force kindergartners to feel like failures if they aren’t reading, and to force 1st graders to do a close reading of random passages is educational malpractice and child abuse. Parents and teachers must speak out and restore education to sanity.

  7. Scifan says:

    I struggle with 2 of my 3 kids hating school at this point – and at least a part of that has to do with the curriculum…

  8. Maureen M. Kellman says:

    Just retired after twenty years of teaching fourth grade… The last two years were hellish because of this NCLB/Common Core insanity. My husband wanted me out because he feared for my health. It was so hard to spend so much of my outside of the classroom time asking myself how I could be part of a national educational system that was so far from what children need as to be malpractice. When I wasn’t plaguing myself with that question, I was thinking and acting about how to lesson the effects on students, parents and the rest of my school community. The life had been sucked out of all of us, including wonderful teachers. In several heart-to-hearts over the copiers, a number of my junior colleagues told me that they envied my upcoming retirement and that they, too, would be leaving if not for… I’m out, happy and relieved, but my heart is still with teaching and learning, my passions in life. I’m working to reform “reform”.

    You parents see what’s happening with the children. I’d take another look at the children you think are coping, though. What is it doing to them to be in classes with children who are clinically anxious, often upset, etc.? Are they upset for their classmates? Are they becoming little elitists? Are they learning to appreciate learning differences? Are they being given chances to develop their creativity? Are they being stretched in positive ways? Are their teachers pushing them too much to raise the test score average because other children can’t? Are they getting a fair share of teacher attention? They could be missing out because teachers may be out of their classes for meetings on how to help struggling students, professional development, etc. There are many ways the chances to grow and to learn are being limited for these adaptable children. sorry for the bad news!

    I appreciate writers who say that the “reformers” were well-intentioned. We Americans are an idealistic people and surely there were idealists among the authors of the legislation. However, there were also those who were out to further their own interests, their own political agendas. Former U.S. assistant secretary of education, Diane Ravitch, has recanted her belief in NCLB and more. Reign of Error and The Death and Life of the Great American School System are two of her books and are the ones which will give you the Big Picture!

    Parents, take heart. And let your legislators know what you think!

  9. I’ve had MANY friends share your original post. Thank you for writing it.

    I just want to share my concern with your statement, in this piece, that “the standards have good intentions.” I’m not quite sure what this means. Is it that the people who created the standards had good intentions? Well, there was a front page article that described how a McKinsey consultant named David Coleman convinced Bill Gates to fund the Common Core and, voila, here we are. Neither of them have children affected by the Common Core. Do we still want to say that they had good intentions?

    Or do we want to say that the standards are really higher? Diane Ravitch, Carol Burris, Sandra Stotsky, James Milgram and other curriculum experts disagree. I would not concede that point to Common Core proponents.

    Why does this matter? Because I just spoke with a Regent who said that the idea of the Common Core is great but the implementation has been terrible. His solution is to invest more in training teachers, refining the modules, and, in general, giving the whole thing time.

    If we want to stop the Common Core, we need to say that the standards must be replaced and/or that America should recommit to the principle of local education control.

  10. Thanks to refer me to this article (I made a comment in your previous article on How Common Core Slowly Change My Kids). It gives me a clear idea on what has been happening after we left the U.S.

    I have a fundamental concern instead of the practical ones:
    I have concern with common understanding that going to school is to making students career or college ready.
    For me, education is about a learning process and an effort to humanize human being. I believe that the previous curriculum strength lies in its ability to develop student’s critical and comprehensive thinking, yet it probably needs some improvements in Maths and Sciences to keep up with other countries. It is the fact that most of elementary students who have relocated to Asian countries have to go to a grade lower than their actual grade in the U.S., based on the entrance exam for both subjects.
    However, when you talk about module, it seems that education is now turning into a “training” and indoctrination (refer to the Maths problem solving you wrote above). It sounds more like education is a 12 years process of producing a market-ready labors instead of cultivating civilized and democratic generations.

  11. Lynn says:

    I am one of those mothers who found your blog last year when my daughters were in the second grade. Last year one of them in particular changed from a child who loved school to a girl who “hated math” and homework became a stressful time in my house. Many of the math homework questions became fodder for my facebook page because of how moronic and ambiguous they were. This school year is young but the math and homework is ruining my home life with my children. It is very hard to try to deal with hours of crying over the math. When I try to help and explain questions to them I have to hold in my discust . The people who wrote the questions are probally PhD’s who never met a child in their life. On Friday my daughter started her math homework, within minutes she was crying and yelling, “I hate Math” “I hate school” . I looked at the question that started it so I could help her. The question was something like “Tom has a pipe 18 meters long, he has to cut it into 3 pieces, how many meters long is each piece? When I started to prompt her into figuring out that the 3 has to be divided into 18 she replied…”I know that Mom, BUT WHAT IS A METER? ……”

  12. A. Mom says:

    HOW are you “fighting for him”? And how are you suggesting other parents “fight the common core fight.” While I relate to your story, I frown upon rabble rousing without constructive suggestions. Lets not make this concern harder on parents by adding to the anger and frustration without at least suggesting one constructive step to take. One. Lets be part of the solution, shall we?

  13. MC says:

    As you so eloquently point out, Common Core has take the fun out of learning. We have made the difficult decision to homeschool our child. We did this in order to restore her sense of discovery and wonderment in the pursuit of knowledge which the Common Core had essentially suppressed.

  14. Rosemary McNeil says:

    I think your negative attitude is being reflected in your children.

  15. DGS says:

    You are spot on in everything you stated. I have the same situation..a middle schooler rolling along, not liking it but faring well (his basis in education was NON-common core), and I have a 3rd grader who mirrors your son exactly who gets plummeted with homework hours long each night and weekends. When does the madness end? 2nd and 3rd grade are the worst years in Common Core in my opinion. The sequence in teaching, especially the Mathematics is so backwards that it clearly goes against everything we know about cognitive, linguistic, and problem-solving (higher level brain functions) development. Parents need to know in their gut that this is wrong and speak up, like you did, to act on their gut rather than wait for someone else to do it.

  16. This is one of the reasons we’re killing our family budget to put our son in a private school. They teach saxon math and he’s getting it. He loves school, loves his education, and feels like he’s accomplishing something. Every time we start thinking about putting him in a public school I see a frustrated post from a parent about what Common Core is doing to their child – and we’re reminded to keep on trekking through the tight budget to get him an education that works for him.
    Sadly, I know this isn’t an option for everyone. I’ve shared this, to help the fight for other parents. Thanks for being so eloquent… (even without learning through Common Core English, what a concept!)

  17. I have homeschooled my girls from 1997 – 2014. My last, I just sent off to high school this year. One thing I have learned is that each child learns differently and at different paces. How I taught one daughter (specifically in math) was completely different in the way I taught the others. My oldest had graduated from high school before Common Core was implemented (she recently graduated from college), but my middle child and youngest child were not so fortunate. What I have seen with Common Core is that it takes the joy out of learning and probably the joy out of teaching for some teachers. What I see my girls learning is to study to pass the tests and not learning to understand. They have school all day then homework all night (most nights) along with extra-curricular activities. This makes for a LONG day. But as the saying goes, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.

  18. I’m beginning to accept common core as the new reality and here’s why: Like yours, my son doesn’t seem to take much joy in school any longer. When he was in kindergarten, he had an uncanny grasp of math. He could add two digit numbers, basically in his head. Now–in third grade–he can envision groups for multiplication, so he has never had to memorize the tables. He just sees them in his head. We don’t know why he can do this. His older sisters had good memories at that age too, and did well in math, but it was nothing like what my son can do. Of course, this kind of gifted-ness means little with the common core system. Even if he knows the answer to 26+15 or 7 X 8 right off the bat, he still needs to write it out in steps, which he finds rather difficult. What he is learning is that even if something comes naturally, in the real world (either the workplace or college or whatever path he chooses) you must persevere, even if it’s hard, even if there are some silly hoops to go through. You must not give up when solving a problem and if one way doesn’t work, there is another option out there somewhere that will. I don’t think anyone can argue that this is a valuable lesson.
    Look, I feel your pain about time spent doing homework. It must be horrible to have to deal with common core at work AND at home…and you’re probably right about the implementation being thrown together and rushed. The schools are always strapped for cash and time. But I’d argue that most of the parents’ (parents, mind you, not teachers) objections are as a result of their natural rebellion to change. They are bashing common core because it’s different from what they grew up with and–although educated–they haven’t remembered the fundamental goal of their own educations which should’ve been to foster critical yet open minds. Another part of it might be that their kids’ grades have lowered since the implementation of the more demanding common core coursework. That gripe is a result of the cultural obsession with putting kids’ grades up on pedestals, which has resulted in taking the ACTs and SATs five million times until they get their desired score. Everyone wants their children to achieve success, but staying competitive in the real world means that even lower grades should be accepted if they reflect a comprehension of more difficult material.
    Maybe this isn’t the right change, and I’m honestly hoping the standards will evolve into something better down the line, but there is no doubt in my mind that our schools need to embrace change to catch up with a world that’s drastically different from the one even twenty years ago. In my state–and a lot of others– our schools follow a schedule determined by the harvest, instituted back when there were ample farms–like fifty or sixty years ago! That is a perfect illustration of our obsessive reluctance to change anything in the education system. So if elementary school kids are feeling like failures, we should explain to them that there is a new program being implemented during their school years–it just happened to work out that way through no fault of their own–and that it’s perfectly normal for there to be glitches when a new program starts out. We should make it clear to the kids that this is common in education–and every realm of life–and even with all these obstacles, we are confident that they have it in their power to understand this new curriculum–because they’re young and their minds are limitless–and also because the teachers are there to help them every step of the way. Then we should do everything we possibly can to support our students and our teachers in this new endeavor. (By that I don’t mean constantly talking about how wrong it is and how backwards and how difficult it’s making everyone’s lives.) Common core is a state mandate now and if anyone wants it changed, I would assume the route would be approaching legislators with another option or with a list of specific changes and then going through the long, tedious process of getting the new legislature approved. Either way, we have a lot of work ahead of us and complaining about it isn’t really going to help matters.

    • A. Mom says:

      Thank you. I think you are exactly right. When you work in the corporate world there are ground shifting changes all the time and you have to learn to adapt, not whine. It is a good life skill to learn and its never too early to learn that one. I do not think that Common Core math method is developmentally appropriate for 3rd graders, but I also don’t think it is the demon that parents make it out to be simply because it is unfamiliar to them. I like your realistic take on this because it is the only productive attitude to take in this uncomfortable reality. By the time we could make any legislative change (which I’m not 100% sure yet is the right way to go) my 3rd grader will be well into middle school or beyond and be going along as smoothly as my 5th grader is now. I also don’t feel deeply disturbed by the change in grades. I understand that it is a temporary reflection of the learning curve. And if many kids are getting lower grades, which it seems like they are, it is a good indicator to the school about what needs to be done. I certainly don’t think it reflects negatively upon my child, nor upon me or my family. It is my opinion that if a child is feeling badly about himself for getting poorer grades during this transition then the parent isn’t doing a good job of communicating that the lower grades are just a natural phase of learning a new skill. Nobody is ever good at something new right away. I do think the schools are making a mistake in grading this transition phase the same way they graded the old math, however, when it is clear that it is sending a negative message to students who are to young to really get what’s happening with the math curriculum. That said, it is unlikely that any of these guinea pig kids are going to fail 3rd grade because of all of this so parents should calm down for their kids’ sake and lighten up about this lower grades issue for a while so the kids won’t get the panicked message from the parents that they are failing somehow. My school had the foresight to suspend state testing during this introductory year, which was wise.

      • Lisa says:

        The purpose of educating children should not be to teach them how to survive the problems of corporate careers. And it is hard to lighten up on the matter when kids who loved learning are learning to hate it because it is so frustrating and confusing. And are you okay with these third graders being guinea pigs?

    • stephanie says:

      yes!! this is how i’ve felt all along as well.

  19. Yes, I agree completely with your take on it, A. Mom. And I don’t mean to sound like a cheerleader for Common Core. I thought it was evil at first too, and then I made a conscious effort to change my perspective (by playing the devil’s advocate) and I saw there could be benefits. Of course, there needs to be parent support–or I guess I mean parent engagement, since some parents will probably never get completely on board with Common Core. It’s okay–and desirable–for those same parents to act as watchdogs. The effects of the new curriculum–for better or worse–will take a while to show up. The best we can do as parents is stay involved, voice opinions at school board meetings and parent conferences, work as a team with teachers to advocate for the kids. Even if Common Core is the dismal failure many predict (which I don’t think it will be, since education was definitely on a downward spiral over the past five years or so, anyway), it can still be approached as a learning experience for all involved…if only to convey to us that we need to try something else. In the meantime, suspending state testing is a great idea to help ease the transition. Unfortunately, our school system didn’t opt for that.

    • Lisa says:

      I just don’t understand these comments. Do you see what you are saying? “Even if Common Core is the dismal failure many predict, it can still be approached as a learning experience for all involved…” How is this okay for the kids that were educated during this time? They will be the ones to suffer the most, and they have no choice in the matter. They don’t matter as long as we all learn from this great national experiment?

      • Mrs Momblog says:

        Thank you. I had someone on my FB page say we just had to wait five-ten years to see if it works. Um, no?

      • A. Mom says:

        With respect, your misreading of our comments is exactly what some of us can see that Common Core promises to teach, closer reading of the material so students understand it correctly then use it to make text based statements. You quoted Jennifer as saying, “Even if Common Core is the dismal failure many predict, it can still be approached as a learning experience for all involved…” Then you leapt to the conclusion that she meant, “Oh well.” What she actually said was, “Even if Common Core is the dismal failure many predict (which I don’t think it will be, since education was definitely on a downward spiral over the past five years or so, anyway), it can still be approached as a learning experience for all involved…if only to convey to us that we need to try something else.” Which, as you can see, has completely different meaning than you represented. Taking her full quote in context she meant something more like, “Our educators are trying to improve thinking. Some people think this method will fail. I tend to think it will not fail, but even if it does we should take what we can that’s positive from it in the meantime because it doesn’t seem so bad to me.” To be honest, I encounter many many adults (most visibly on the internet) who misread articles and comments in this way and then reply to their misreading in exactly this same way. It is these situations that make me more and more certain that Common Core is really onto something, that “academic reading” and “critical thinking” skills really need to be bolstered in all schools, not just for Humanities department majors in college. I’m sorry to be so brazen as to use your own comments as an example. I’m really not trying to troll. It is just that you presented such an excellent case in point. I hope you can see it as well.

      • Lisa says:

        Where in this specific quote is she saying that “Our educators are trying to improve thinking…”? If we find out that it does not work well, then of course it will convey that we need to try something else. This shouldn’t be at the expense of every public schooled child in the country. That’s not okay. It would have been wise to try out these standards, and the testing intended to go along with it, in smaller areas. Smaller areas where teachers and parents agreed to try it out. I remain firm in my opinion that the way CCSS have been implemented is wrong.

        Mrs Momblog, thank you for writing about this topic. I agree with much of what you say. I currently homeschool my children, and some of my children’s former teachers and some of my former teachers have told me that they do not agree with the standards. They are scared to speak up publicly. You have a lot of courage! I hope that other teachers who feel as you do can gain the courage to stand up to it as well.

  20. Terry Warren says:

    All legislators have been to school, so presumably, they know best how to instruct children. I feel so fortunate to have retired following a 38-year career as an educator just after Common Core began to take siege. I periodically rant, rave, and otherwise vent my diatribes regarding educational issues at You are invited to follow and comment.

  21. Mark Brockman says:

    The single biggest problem with edcation today is that every new PHD in education brings someone who has to reinvent the wheel. It seems as though schools these days feel the need to take simple ideas and make them as complex as possible. I may be a little dated but learning the times tables by rote memory has served me very well over the years. What does the educational community expect when the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic are no longer taught in our schools. I am really surprised that anyone even wants to be a teacher anymore, as they are demonized, threatened, and receive little support from administrations whose only aim is to produce numbers on standadized tests in order to make the next pay grade. I really feel sorry for all the dedicated teachers trying to make a difference in a childs life but whose enthusiasm for teaching is throttled by by the quest for ever higher numbers on standardized tests.

  22. Sue krogsdale says:

    Common core is a horrible idea and teachers know this but we are powerless, another frustration is the us is falling farther behind in math, while we continue to cut music and art and hands on classes like wood shop. All of these so called arts use math I believe the cause and effect is obvious, but no one is fighting for electives any more

  23. cdmd1023 says:

    Let me tell you, common core math is horrible! nothing has caused more tears and family fights in this house, ever! I don’t understand the language they or using or why. I shouldn’t have to study new math facts each night to complete 4th grade work. what a shame!

    • A. Mom says:

      I am not here to defend common core. I just offer to you that you shouldn’t have to know anything about math at all for your 4th grader to complete his/her homework. It isn’t your homework. Homework should be to reinforce concepts that the child already learned that day and the child should be able to complete it independently. I’m willing to bet it even explicitly says that in your school district’s homework policy. If your child is unable to complete the homework or doesn’t understand it, there is a problem with the teacher that needs to be addressed. That’s where you should focus your attention, on the teacher’s efficacy in teaching the skills. You don’t need to understand the work, common core or otherwise. You already went to the 4th grade. This isn’t your 4th grade material to understand or even learn unless you want to. If only we could get rid of homework in elementary school all together, then we’d be making some progress. It is such a pointless time suck that takes away from more enriching child and family pursuits.

  24. zenandtruth says:

    I find it ridiculous to think that confusing our kids on the concepts of math will help them in the future. The various states are buying into this nonsense, but it is those that govern the states that need more understanding. They need someone to sit them down and explain how a “Teacher is supposed to work”. If we can allow our teachers to shape our children by meeting them where they are and building them from there, our children will be fine. The same basic arithmetic was used to build this country, who decided that 2+2 = 4 was too simplistic to grow our children academically? I’m horrified!

  25. Pure Grace says:

    Amen! Amen! Amen!!! I couldn’t agree with you more!!! Common core seems to put kids in a box and teachers in a box! I believe we aren’t really getting children who have really learned things and want to learn and love to learn- we are getting kids who just do what others tell them to do and kids who are just rushing through their education! Is that what we want? Wake up parents and educators!!!

  26. I was unsure about the Common Core standards before reading this post, but now I think I’ve made my decision, and my decision is that the Common Core is doing more harm than good for teachers and students in an already broken education system. Thank you for your post.

  27. I, too, am constantly fighting the Common Core. I teach high school language arts, and I feel as if the Common Core pulls away from the literary fundamentals. It is depressing. My sons, one in 4th grade and the other in 7th, have struggled with the Common Core (especially the backwards way math is being taught). I just hope someone in Washington will really start exploring the extreme fundamental problems with the CC.

    • Mrs Momblog says:

      I teach 9th grade English and feel like all I do is teach research based writing. Textual evidence!

      • A. Mom says:

        I dont understand why that is bad. I cant tell you how often I’m frustrated by adults who can’t back up there opinions with “textual evidence” from any source at all. That’s because most people do not have experience with a liberal arts upper secondary education that teaches big picture thinking and critical thinking skills. You’re helping a whole generation of kids learn how to back up the things they say with actual fact. I think it’s a tremendous relief.

      • I can completely relate. I feel like I say that 1000 times a day!

      • Mrs Momblog says:

        A. Mom,
        Textual evidence is important and it’s always been taught. We teach the importance of evidence through research papers, analysis essays, presentations and debates. The CCSS has brought with it six ELA shifts and in those shifts are a very heavy amount of nonfiction and text based writing: file:///C:/Users/sstyles/Downloads/common-core-shifts.pdf

        Textual evidence is extremely important, don’t get me wrong. It’s just taken the place of literature and personal responses which are valid in an high school English classroom. However, as David Coleman, the president of the College Board and one of the key figures in the creation of CCSS said in 2011: “The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with these two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people don’t really give a **** about what you feel or think.” You can read that here:

        In terms of research based writing, he’s right. But we’re still talking about high school kids, and in my case 14-year-olds. To take away their voice is doing them a disservice.

  28. Storm Chaser says:

    I agree with you completely. I have an even bigger challenge. I have a 14 year old with special needs. The problem is, he is an ‘in between’ kid. Doesn’t need full blown special ed, but can’t keep up with or emotionally handle regular classes. I know they say common core is for career readiness as well as college prep, but I can’t see how a lot of the common core requirements will help them for the real working world. As much as I would love him to, I have resigned myself to the fact that my son probably will not go to college. I am praying that he makes it to high school graduation, but he feels so defeated every day. I wish they would allow kids like my son to take functional math instead of common core. Teach them how to balance a checkbook and manage a budget. All kids are different, they learn differently and they will live differently…..they shouldn’t have to be expected to learn based on a script.

  29. Son and Sun says:

    Thank you for this article! CC began this year in the Los Angeles Unified School District and it has been difficult. My son went from being in classes with students who moved at a faster pace academically to being in a classroom with children who have a mixture of learning styles. He tried the “mentor” approach where he helped other kids by explaining concepts at the request of his teachers. He frequently expressed his frustration that he wasn’t being challenged enough. But after being behind in the curriculum for a month in an Algebra 2 class of 46 with one teacher trying to bring all the students up-to-date, there was an opening in the magnet program and we jumped on it. That’s great for my son, but I am still concerned about the other kids who are becoming frustrated with the CC. And I see the teachers struggling to keep them from falling between the cracks and adapt to the change. One way the school is helping is by providing information sessions so parents can help their children adjust to CC as well as more tutoring for students.


  30. tmariadm says:

    I recently returned from working in Beijing, China as an ESL teacher and a curriculum developer, using Common Core as a basis to begin teaching second language speakers English…the content is quite complicated and the amount of close reads within a lesson increased almost 50% in our curriculum, the amount of children benefiting from the Common Core maintained in its percentage and even increased 2%, BUT our students’ love for learning the language dropped noticeably…which is hard to maintain even with regular curriculum! Our teachers had to work extra hard to maintain their interest. And I believe the only reason why it increased that small 2% was because our teachers stayed after school and added school programs to try an balance things out. All of this to say: I have seen it first hand and have had to work harder to keep the horror at bay.

  31. I have wondered how Common Core is playing out the classroom. Thank you for your blog.

  32. The Bravest Bear says:

    You might as well have talking monkeys teaching the kids, what is the point in having a teaching degree at that point? My mother is a reading teacher K-12 and she does not like the Common Core. What are we turning children into? People that will nit understand challenge and not question things? I’m worried about my younger generation, my little brothers and sisters 😦

  33. I find the variety of experiences with the common core fascinating. With a 2nd and 6th grader we have never had any issues with the standard. The only issues we’ve had is with teachers or districts being inflexible with the curriculum, which is a local decision, which may be based on the curriculum that has been chose, but is not mandated by the common core. The curriculum is only meant to be used as a guide. Anxious teachers and/or administrators are the one who are responsible for being inflexible. The other issues we’ve seen are around the implications of high stakes testing. We see the benefits of the new math, which actually predates the common core, the attention to using evidence in writing, and intermingling of subjects.

    I struggle to see how off this system can be when plenty of kids are doing very well with it.

    • A. Mom says:

      I’m relieved to hear your explanation of the curriculum versus the standard. I’m in a similar situation to what you have described and was having trouble understanding what other parents were describingregarding their frustration with the curriculum. Our school has abstained from testing this year and the teachers are spending the year using a variety of materials that they feel are useful, effective, and meet the standard. Our curriculum may change some by next year, but the idea is it will be improved. My third grader had a rocky start to math this year but he is already improving and I’m very impressed by the concepts that he casually talks about having learned in “language arts”. I think you are right. It is not the common core that is the big villain in some schools. The villain is the lack of freedom and creativity the teachers are being allowed to practice in those schools. But it is early days yet. We will see how I feel by the end of this school year. But my intuition is telling me that good things are coming.

  34. dover1952 says:

    Three things:

    1) I would like to know that you are not a racist who dislikes Common Core just because our President is black.

    2) I would like to know that you are not a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical who believes Common Core is a United Nations plot devised by Satan to pave the way for worldwide rule by the Anti-Christ.

    3) I hear your frustration. I struggled with math in my K-12 years. One of the reason for my struggling was that numbers made no sense to me. Our math teachers emphasized memorization of mathematical operations and repetition with math exercises. No one taught us why we were doing the operations and the thinking behind them. In short, we were not being taught how to think with math. Math is a language that can be used to describe the world and evaluate what you see in the world. You can create with it, just like in writing a poem or short story with English or French. You can manipulate things with it and test realities with it. The engineers in India, China, Japan, Russia, and Germany are beating the economic snot out of us because they know that and teach their students how to think with math. There is one catch though. Understanding math as language and learning how to think with it in complex terms requires a high IQ and a brain naturally wired for understanding math in this way. They cheat by finding and selectively teaching those students who are biologically and mentally equipped to do it. The American educational system has always operated on the mantra that “EVERY STUDENT” should be provided with as much education and as wide-ranging an education as he or she can absorb using the natural gifts God gave them. The problem is that not all students have the same abilities and gifts. Your child may not be wired for using math as a language, but he might be wired to be Poet Laurette of the United States. So sure, he is going to be miserable trying to learn math as a language. The so-called “Crisis in American Education” really boils down to something very simple. We are creating a technological culture where only people with high IQs and natural technological inclinations will be able to survive and thrive. That culture will require untold millions of workers—very large numbers who can function with ease in that culture. The crisis is that most human beings have IQs and natural abilities that wire them for driving taxis, digging ditches, nailing Board A to Board B, and pressure-washing your house. Look at a bell curve sometime. Politicians and some educators think the big challenge in overcoming this crisis is to somehow find a way to make people like janitors (IQ 100) earn a Ph. D in biological engineering—and thereby save us. It is a fool’s errand and any sensible person understands that fact. The only real answer to a problem like that is to biologically engineer new children with the desired abilities—and in very large numbers. Your child (and you) are suffering because someone is trying to force your square peg child into a round math hole. Most people would be unable to learn how to use math as a language to describe and think about the world above the level of simple. daily arithmetic. Anything above that requires a very high IQ, brain wiring, and the brain chemicals necessary to support it—and much of that boils down to genetics and protein chemistry on an individual basis.

    • Mrs Momblog says:

      Haha! I am a very open minded, pretty left-winged thirty something year old woman who grew up correcting people when they said, “the black guy/girl” and I would say “you mean the guy? Does it matter that he’s black?” My family still brings that up! I am the atypical opponent to CC.

  35. A. Mom says:

    There’s one more thing that I’m learning is confusing this whole debate. There are the Common Core Standards and the Common Core Curriculum. Your school can be adopting and meeting the standards without fully using the whole curriculum. It is my understanding that some schools take the curriculum straight off the shelf and apply it with no modification. Our school isn’t doing that. Our teachers are developing a lot of their own curriculum that meets the standards, and only using portions of the CC curriculum. That could be making a big difference in my perception of “Common Core”. To me “Common Core” represents a philosophy that seems pretty good so far. To others “Common Core” may represent nuts and bolts curriculum that doesn’t seem to work for their kids. I wish the Standards and the Curriculum had different names so we could clarify the terms in this debate and avoid the confusion of conflating terms.

  36. MomOf3 says:

    As a stay-at-home mom of 3 that are currently in HS, middle school and elementary, the transition to CC has been o.k. for 2-out-of 3 of my kids…the 2 that have decently strong verbal and math skills. It has been very frustrating for my middle kid who has strong math skills but has always been a reluctant reader. In elementary school, math was the one subject that came easily to him, he excelled at, and kept him liking school (with the help of PE and recess). Then, he kind of was hit with a double-whammy in 7th grade…having math get more abstract in algebra and much more verbal with the switch to the CC curriculum (could the word problems for 12-yr-olds at least be about shopping at the mall and the score of the football game instead of mortgage rate principal and interest and the half-life decay of radioactive materials?!). He is hanging in there in math with a lot of extra support from home, but it has been and continues to be a struggle, and the daily battles/frustration have negatively impacted his love of math, his confidence in his abilities, and our home environment. At a time when we are complaining that the US is falling behind in math and science, I am afraid that the CC math curriculum may discourage some numbers-oriented kids from pursuing their natural talent in those areas. At a time when there is concern about primary/secondary education meeting the needs of girls more than boys, I am afraid that the CC curriculum may result in more boys being labeled and labeling themselves as “bad at reading” if their later-developing verbal skills don’t match those on the CC timetable. We need to find a way to keep a love for learning as our top priority, or we may end up with a lot of disengaged, burned-out, or drop-out students that never come close to achieving their potential…

  37. GinaS says:

    My 5 year old son is very intelligent. The fact that he already HATES school in Kindergarten has me distraught. His vocabulary is off the charts for a 5 year old, however his teacher said, that is not a standard that shows on the testing.
    His only problem is handwriting which was a problem in Pre-K. But his Pediatrician told me his motor skills were not developed completely yet and not to worry. I even have researched this and not all 5 year olds can hold a pencil properly. He can now but they pushed passed printing on to sentences and paragraphs. Meanwhile his teacher puts his work up against his classmates with almost perfect handwriting to show him how bad his is…..When did they stop teaching handwriting and worry about who the illustrator is in books? My nephew is in Kindergarten in another state without CC and my sister can not believe what my son is doing. (creative story writing, informational story writing, opinion stories) (breaking up words (consonant, vowel, consonant). Much more but I’m too sleepy to think of it.
    He is doing good in everything but the printing. I just do not know why they are forcing these kids into more advanced work without being sure they can write. Plus 5 year old boys that get no play are going to act up. He has problems keeping still, so now it is also like he is the bad kid in class.
    I may just move.

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