February 17, 2014

"It’s bizarre... New York is in some interesting company, right up with the reddest of the red states."

"And you worry that there will be bleed-over from New York to other states."

48 comments:

Henry said...

I have seen an enormous amount of opposition to Common Core from liberal friends in New York and Rhode Island.

Here in Massachusetts I haven't seen anything to complain about, but that may reflect the quality of our local school district.

Michael said...

I don't see left or righty wing ideology her but I do see NEA ideology.

Hagar said...

I believe there is such a thing as a "common core of knowledge," but I would never dream of having my idea of what that common core is imposed on every school kid in the nation.

Why on earth would I then consent to have Mr. Duncan's ideas about the "common core" imposed on them?

Henry said...

Michael J. Petrilli, source of the quote, is surprised that parents want input in the way their local schools are run.

To him, objections to top-down mandates is "reddest of the red state" thinking.

It is telling how the mandarins think.

Lyssa said...

I don't trust the folks pushing common core in the least, but, quite frankly, I've never seen criticisms of it that don't boil down to either 1) it's hard, or 2) I don't like standardized tests.

So, I'm not convinced that it's really the problem. I think that some set of standards and challenges is good (though, again, I hardly trust the gov't not to screw it up). I could stand to do more research, though.

Fen said...

I've never seen criticisms of it that don't boil down to either -

I've seen video of significantly misrepresenting the constitution and basic American history. Essentially more Indoctrination stuff. Will try to locate the vid for you.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

I saw one video on Facebook (courtesy of a New York Liberal Friend) in which a woman challenged her local school board for the strange time-consuming way they were teaching division.

This was presented, Upworthy-style, as a killer argument against common core. But what it seemed to me was a difference in goals. The tedious common-core exercise was trying to teach a concept. The fact that the solution was readily available to anyone who memorized the times tables was beside the point.

It immediately brought to mind Richard Feynman's critique of New Math. Feynman pointed out that there's nothing wrong with teaching kids set theory. Set theory is a useful mathematical concept. What is wrong, and stupid, is to force kids to apply set theory to problems that don't need it.

Here's one small snippet:

I'll give you an example: They would talk about different bases of numbers -- five, six, and so on -- to show the possibilities. That would be interesting for a kid who could understand base ten -- something to entertain his mind. But what they turned it into, in these books, was that every child had to learn another base! And then the usual horror would come: "Translate these numbers, which are written in base seven, to base five." Translating from one base to another is an utterly useless thing. If you can do it, maybe it's entertaining; if you can't do it, forget it. There's no point to it.

Birches said...

I haven't really bought into this whole Common Core debate. I'm very happy with my child's school curriculum (Core Knowledge) which is supposed to be very compatible with Common Core (at least the website says it is).

I agree with Lydia; I think most of it comes down to being anti testing. I'm not sure I understand that line of thinking. To me, its not the tests, it's how the tests are approached. My daughter started having tests in kindergarten. She's in 2nd grade now and all of the teachers have buy in to the educational model. This means that the teachers don't make a fuss about tests and the kids don't either. (The parents on the other hand can be a problem.) There is no test anxiety, but the school tests really, really well and sends kids off to college better prepared for a rigorous major than many other schools.

However, if your teacher starts out by hating the idea of testing (or has some anxiety about it) that is going to affect the kids. That's probably why its a good idea to have things implemented locally. It's easier to get buy in.

AReasonableMan said...

The parents whining about common core in NY, some of whom I know, are idiots. Our kids now have to compete in a global workplace and these parents are complaining that school is too hard. They are undermining their own children's future. Wait until their precious darlings get out into the real world where they have to compete with foreign educated children. I doubt they will get many thanks from their own kids for dumbing down their school curricula.

Birches said...

Ahh, I see that the school in the article that seems to enjoy Common Core standards is using Core Knowledge for the implementation. That explains a lot.

Core Knowledge is fantastic and one of the most conservative educational philosophies around (just don't tell the author that).

Henry said...

Birches wrote: To me, its not the tests, it's how the tests are approached. My daughter started having tests in kindergarten. She's in 2nd grade now and all of the teachers have buy in to the educational model. This means that the teachers don't make a fuss about tests and the kids don't either. (The parents on the other hand can be a problem.) There is no test anxiety, but the school tests really, really well and sends kids off to college better prepared for a rigorous major than many other schools.

I think your last sentence is key. When my kids when to a poor urban school, there was huge anxiety about testing. Even though our elementary school tested better than the state average, the overall scores for the district were awful. The teachers and administrators were under tremendous pressure to improve them. My son's third grade teacher essentially taught to the test the whole year.

When we switched states and moved to the excellent school district our kids now attend, all that pressure vanished.

Now some of this may reflect the perennial screwup that is the Rhode Island executive, but I also think there's a combination of top-down curriculum push and perverse NCLB incentives creates testing problems on a district level.

Bob R said...

The red and blue states may have different reasons for doubting the ability of educational bureaucracies to design and implement a national education program, but all the reasons are probably correct.

David said...

This is the usual lazy bullshit reporting.

It's mostly about the politics of the issue not why Common Core might not be a good program. They don't report on that because it would require the editors and the reporter to really dig into a complex matter and report on it lucidly.

That is too hard for the New York Times, it seems.

MadisonMan said...

The problem -- in all states -- is too many administrators.

Any administrator is going to have to tinker with the curriculum -- otherwise how can they justify having a job? So they take things that work perfectly well, and change them for the worse (in the name of "progress") so they can tell their boss that they're "doing something" to justify their 6-figure salary.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...perverse NCLB incentives creates testing problems on a district level.

My son's school ( usually very good ) failed to meet NCLB standards one year when they did poorly on the state assessment test. The problem was not a lack of quality teachers, or a lack of understanding on the part of the students. It was a lack of bagels.

You see, in the past the school would provide bagels and other (healthy) snackish stuff in the mornings before the test. This year, they did not, due to budget cuts. In response, the students took a dive on the tests.

Misaligned incentives. The tests mean a great deal to the school, but nothing to the students.

Michael said...

ARM: I believe that "Everyday Math" is central to the mathematics program in Common Core. The choice of this approach to maths should be enough to cause anyone to be suspicious of the program. Everyday Math teaches children, tries to teach children, to cram a two step math problem into ten steps.

Levi Starks said...

So funny, Conservatives hate it because of what the children learn, Liberals hate it because it forces the children to learn something.

paminwi said...

Birches:you are so lucky to have your children using "Core Knowledge" (NOT "COMMON CORE") as the basis for your child's education. it is truly one of the few true tested and evaluated educational programs out there.

I don't know if your children are in the program at the Verona Public Schools but I was there back when that particular school was being formed and know how hard it was to get up and running. The liberals in Verona had their underwear in a bundle trying to fight it. I actually had the superintendant of schools poke me in the nose with his finger as he was pointing at me arguing with him over the formation of this school and how the enrollment process was to be handled. You knew how badly they didn't want this prgram to go forward with bahvior like that. All it said to the original organizers how great this program was if it made educational theorists behave so nastily.

Now, the teachers in what we call the regular school, are recommending to parents who have children with behavioral issues to try to get theri kids into the program. Of course, many do this to try to get rid of kids with issues but what many find is that the methodology used is postive for many of those children.

I know you will never be disappointed with making the decision you did.

Michael K said...

"Our kids now have to compete in a global workplace and these parents are complaining that school is too hard."

Once again the left tries to teach content to first graders who need to learn to read first.

"Myra Wenger applied her new curriculum in a lesson on ancient Athens, asking her second graders why the city adopted Athena, not Poseidon, in naming itself."

It sounds good but what are the reading scores of that school ?

Freeman Hunt said...

I homeschool and use a Core Knowledge compatible history program. It is fantastic.

chrisnavin.com said...

Many problems are structural, not cosmetic.

More political top-down solutions keep coming but they can't necessarily prop up some of the rot and old wood.

May we be able to keep some kind of reasonable egalitarianism and equality of opportunity going..and have a buy-in of all the people who have the resources, time, money and education into a non-European tiered system.

In the meantime, I hope we let the home-schoolers, religious, charter schools and anyone else have some leeway to experiment and take responsiblity for themselves and figure problems and solutions out locally.

As to progressive ideology, just because I've seen it up close:

Life in the great collective kindergarten would involve Unions, radically individulistic but creepily totalitarian pedagogies full of multicultural pablum, pc nonsense, and green bs.

Cradle to grave equality and abysmal standards. Soul-crushing boredom.

Chronically over-budget, wasteful and unaccountable, the bureaucratic, behemoth would serve fewer and fewer people but swallow more and more of everyone's time, money and hope.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Any administrator is going to have to tinker with the curriculum -- otherwise how can they justify having a job? So they take things that work perfectly well, and change them for the worse (in the name of "progress") so they can tell their boss that they're "doing something" to justify their 6-figure salary."

I think this must be a large part of the problem. There are excellent, fairly simple to implement programs that are compatible with Common Core, yet I keep seeing news of schools adopting outrageously complicated programs that require teachers and parents to learn reams of new edu-speak terminology. Silliness.

Freeman Hunt said...

A friend's son just entered second grade public school. He learned about global warming on the first day. Why? What scientific background do most second graders have that would allow them to engage on that topic in any meaningful way?

I am endlessly thankful that I don't have to deal with the bureaucracy that public school has become.

MadisonMan said...

I don't know what system they teach at West (where my son goes), but he did just tweet that he got a 250-question problem set for calculus.

Yesssss!!!!! :)

AReasonableMan said...

Michael said...
ARM: I believe that "Everyday Math" is central to the mathematics program in Common Core. The choice of this approach to maths should be enough to cause anyone to be suspicious of the program. Everyday Math teaches children, tries to teach children, to cram a two step math problem into ten steps.

You are right that Everyday Math is bullshit. You are wrong that it is part of Common Core.

We send our daughter to supplemental maths classes each weekend taught by a bunch of Russians who banded together to teach math and other subjects because they were so appalled by US academic standards. That's telling you something right there. And, before we start blaming the teachers and the unions, let's be clear that where I live at least the biggest problem is the parents. They just seem to be clueless about what a rigorous education in math might look like. It is genuinely sad because their kids, at seven and eight, are probably already locked out of most STEM careers. Not the end of the world but not good for either the kids or the country.

Freeman Hunt said...

"And, before we start blaming the teachers and the unions, let's be clear that where I live at least the biggest problem is the parents. They just seem to be clueless about what a rigorous education in math might look like."

I agree with you completely that most parents have no idea what a rigorous math education looks like, but I would say the same is true of almost all teachers and administrators too.

Are you in a math circle? (That's what it sounded like.) I was going to start one here, but luckily the University did last November, so I don't have to.

Titus said...

Mass has like the best schools in the country....natch.

Michael said...

ARM: Every Day Math is in "alignment" with Common Core, whatever that means.

We had a system of teaching math that commenced with learning, by rote, certain tables and formulas. As I remember, we sent people to the moon and created a fairly robust economy using that old-fashioned approach.

Everyday Math was concocted by the Education Dept. (not, repeat not, the Math Dept.) at the University of Chicago to make things easier. Not working out.

AReasonableMan said...

Freeman Hunt said...
Are you in a math circle? (That's what it sounded like.) I was going to start one here, but luckily the University did last November, so I don't have to.


Our classes are also located on the local university but are not directly sponsored by the university. There are several very smart educators involved who seem to have decided to make the math course as challenging as possible and see what happens. It is a genuinely interesting experiment. One of my older sons has a degree in pure math so I am familiar with what a talented kid can do in this area but what is impressive in this case is that they seem to be able to push average kids with no particular interest in math towards a very high level of competency. They introduce relatively advanced topics like algebra at a very early age. I have always considered Math a difficult topic to teach in schools because there is a broad range of abilities even within a group of relatively smart kids. I am starting to think that much of that variation simply reflects home backgrounds and how comfortable different parents are with math as a second language.

AReasonableMan said...

Michael said...
ARM: Every Day Math is in "alignment" with Common Core, whatever that means.

Everyday Math was concocted by the Education Dept. (not, repeat not, the Math Dept.) at the University of Chicago to make things easier. Not working out.


You can't criticize Everyday Math enough as far as I am concerned but it doesn't have any direct connection to Common Core. As far as I can tell it is antithetical to Common Core since at least in our district it dumbed down an already dumb math curricula.

Scott M said...

Just had parent/teacher conferences last week. Not too much about Common Core with the kindergartner (honestly...if we're going to borrow German words, can we stick to those who's length is about that of ja?).

The 4th-grader's teacher was up in arms about it. Not from an ideological point of view, but from a teaching point of view. She said the requirements were ridiculous and made the classroom environment hard to manage.

Scott M said...

Our kids now have to compete in a global workplace and these parents are complaining that school is too hard.

I want school to be tough, but some of the examples our local teachers have shown me are just ludicrous. The way they are teaching kids to arrive at math solutions smacks of doing something different and more complicated simply for the sake of doing it differently and more complicated.

Simply lining up 3-digit addition problems and solving columns of numbers, moving right to left and carrying, isn't good enough anymore.

Freeman Hunt said...

Common Core is a list of standards. There are many math programs available to meet these standards. Some are horrible, some are wonderful.

cassandra lite said...

Apparently the people who dreamed up Common Core didn't know much about what should be a Common Core subject: Hegel.

AReasonableMan said...

Freeman Hunt said...
I agree with you completely that most parents have no idea what a rigorous math education looks like, but I would say the same is true of almost all teachers and administrators too.


I am in partial agreement here with respect to grade-school teachers. Their problem is that they get push-back from parents when they attempt to raise the difficulty level, as we are now seeing with common core.

If my kid failed a common core exam I would look in the mirror and ask what am I doing wrong and what is the school district doing wrong because these standards are meant to be floors for academic achievement not achievements in themselves. But, at least where I live, there has been a tendency to blame the messenger (test scores) rather than deal with the message (the kids aren't reaching reasonable international education standards).

It is clearly a very difficult problem to drag up the standards in any education system and I don't want to seem too critical on anyone involved. But, the focus is too often on the individual student and not sufficiently on the global education environment in which the students have to ultimately compete.

The Godfather said...

I don't know much about this. My 10-year-old granddaughter proudly showed my how she could do division. It was much more complicated than how I learned long division, more steps, but she came up with the right answer. I suppose the method was supposed to help her understand why the answer was what it was.

Is this what others are seeing? This was in NC BTW.

Michael said...

The Godfather: Yes, that is the objective of that method of teaching math. No one has ever troubled to see if the kids can explain why the right answer is the right answer since the method only focuses on the method. My child knew both conventional techniques and the EveryDay Math technique. If he made the mistake of getting the right answer in the wrong, non-everyday math, method he was marked wrong. It is meant to make math easier for lazy and stupid children.

madAsHell said...

Good students are born that way.
They aren't created by teachers.
Any new curriculum is just a way to justify administrative jobs.

MadisonMan said...

Maybe I've told this story before.

My son is pretty good at math. In second grade, whatever curriculum they had required that the student explain how they got the answer. Well, the son looked at math problems, looked off into space, and then wrote down the right answer. (To this day, I don't know what he did to get the right answer) He's never been particularly verbal, so having him explain something -- in second grade when he would barely ever talk -- especially to adults? That just wasn't going to happen.

I'm grateful that his teacher recognized my son's abilities and shortcomings, and didn't try to press the point. Who knows what kind of damage that would have done, both to his love of math and his love of that teacher!

Does a curriculum that is based on achieving a certain score on a test take such innate abilities into account? I'd like to think it does, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't.

Michael said...

MadisonMan: I had a guy that worked for me who could do internal rate of return calculations within ten basis points. In his head. He would have gotten F after F in EveryDayMath

Darrell said...

Common Core isn't about standards. They have never published standards and say they aren't promoting them in their literature. The con here is that people THINK it is about standards and they are all for them. It's all about meeting those UN guidelines to remove nationalism for every country's education system and incorporating other Leftist bullshit and creating perfect "New World Order" citizen bees. Low-information citizens of the future. Note the substitution of training manuals for literature in "English" class. Note the dumbing down of the math program to about the old 7th-grade level, even for high schoolers. Note how it came out of nowhere and became a certainty overnight.

n.n said...

The color spectrum is from blue to red, which corresponds to a political spectrum from right to left. When was the association shifted? Marxism and derivative philosophies are labeled with a red color in order to identify them with killing fields, intelligent design failures, abortion clinics, etc.

Revenant said...

I've never seen criticisms of it that don't boil down to either 1) it's hard, or 2) I don't like standardized tests.

Well, yes, those ARE the main criticisms. If you think testing should be standardized across the nation, and think academic standards should be harder than they have been, then most of the objections to Common Core won't appeal to you.

But I would describe the standards, as they exist today, as designed for failure. Students were struggling to meet the old standards. Think of it as a fat guy trying to lose weight. He struggles to jog a couple of hundred yards. Then his insurance company informs him that he'll be expected to jog a mile a day if he wants to keep his insurance.

Recipe for disaster? Yep. Effective way to encourage weight loss? Nnnnnope!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Students were struggling to meet the old standards.

Do you have any evidence of this? From what I have heard from the teachers that I know, the ones who are not meeting the standards are the ones who are not making an effort. No struggling involved.

Birches said...

I'm so glad most of you also hate Everyday Math. That's one of the reasons we didn't send our daughter to the neighborhood school. Everyday math presents real problems early on (like parents not being able to help their kids do their homework), but the real travesty comes later when the student is faced with a world (junior high, high school, university) that does not operate on Everyday Math principles. Many math competent children in our area have had to go down to remedial math because they could not handle the change in languages. The ones that didn't usually experience a very stressful and harried first semester trying to relearn everything they've already learned.

Yet for some reason, the neighborhood school keeps plugging along with neighborhood math. . .

Freeman touched on the other reason our daughter does not attend our neighborhood school. When we went on a tour, the school officials could tell us all about how our kids would learn about being good environmental stewards and have good interpersonal skills, but they couldn't tell us any actual skills they would learn in Kindergarten. Our current school gave us a sheet of paper that listed everything they expected a Kindergartner to learn by the end of the year. It really wasn't a fair contest in that respect.

AReasonableMan said...

So this is interesting. Everyday math is a product of he Cold War developed by a strident anti-communist.

"Everyday Math was born in 1983, a product of Cold War competition, said Zalman Usiskin, one of the four founders of the project and the director of the university's School Math Project. Soviet children were beating American kids hands down in math and scores were at the lowest point in decades.

University mathematician Izaak Wirszup, whom Usiskin described as a Holocaust survivor and ardent anti-communist, got the Amoco Corp. to give the university $6.4 million to create a new curriculum that could make the U.S. competitive on the world stage."

Michael said...

ARM. Fascinating. Idea was picked up by the Dept of Education at the University of Chicago and perfected for the American market, ever eager for a way to dumb it down.