Two Moms vs. Obama’s Common Core

Heather Crossin, Emmett McGroarty, and Erin Tuttle

Heather Crossin, Emmett McGroarty, and Erin Tuttle

Indiana has become the first state to retreat from the Common Core standards, as Governor Mike Pence has just signed a bill suspending their implementation.

A great deal has been written and spoken about Common Core, but it is worth rehearsing the outlines again. Common Core is a set of math and English standards developed largely with Gates Foundation money and pushed by the Obama administration and the National Governors Association. The standards define what every schoolchild should learn each year, from first grade through twelfth, and the package includes teacher evaluations tied to federally funded tests designed to ensure that schools teach to Common Core.

Over 40 states hurriedly adopted Common Core, some before the standards were even written, in response to the Obama administration’s making more than $4 billion in federal grants conditional on their doing so. Only Texas, Alaska, Virginia, and Nebraska declined. (Minnesota adopted the English but not the math standards.)

Here is my prediction: Indiana is the start of something big.

Just a year ago Common Core was untouchable in Indiana, as in most other places. Common Core had been promoted by conservative governor Mitch Daniels, and the state superintendent of public schools, Tony Bennett, was a rising GOP education star.

How did the bipartisan Common Core “consensus” collapse?

It collapsed because some parents saw that Common Core was actually lowering standards in their children’s schools. And because advocates for Common Core could not answer the questions these parents raised.

In Indiana, the story starts with two Indianapolis moms, Heather Crossin and her friend Erin Tuttle.

In September 2011, Heather suddenly noticed a sharp decline in the math homework her eight-year-old daughter was bringing home from Catholic school.

“Instead of many arithmetic problems, the homework would contain only three or four questions, and two of those would be ‘explain your answer,’” Heather told me. “Like, ‘One bridge is 412 feet long and the other bridge is 206 feet long. Which bridge is longer? How do you know?’”

She found she could not help her daughter answer the latter question: The “right” answer involved heavy quotation from Common Core language. A program designed to encourage thought had ended up encouraging rote memorization not of math but of scripts about math.

Heather was noticing on the ground some of the same things that caused Stanford mathematics professor R. James Milgram to withhold his approval from the Common Core math standards.

Professor Milgram was the only math content expert on the Validation Committee reviewing the standards, and he concluded that the Common Core standards are, as he told the Texas state legislature, “in large measure a political document that . . . is written at a very low level and does not adequately reflect our current understanding of why the math programs in the high-achieving countries give dramatically better results.”

The Common Core math standards deemphasize performing procedures (solving many similar problems) in favor of attempting to push a deeper cognitive understanding — e.g., asking questions like “How do you know?”

In fact, according to a scholarly 2011 content analysis published in Education Researcher by Andrew Porter and colleagues, the Common Core math standards bear little resemblance to the national curriculum standards in countries with high-achieving math students: “Top-achieving countries for which we had content standards,” these scholars note, “put a greater emphasis on [the category] ‘perform procedures’ than do the U.S. Common Core standards.”

So why was this new, unvalidated math approach suddenly appearing in Heather’s little corner of the world, and at a Catholic school?

Heather was not alone in questioning the new approach. So many parents at the school complained that the principal convened a meeting. He brought in the saleswoman from the Pearson textbook company to sell the parents. “She told us we were all so very, very lucky, because our children were using one of the very first Common Core–aligned textbooks in the country,” says Heather.

But the parents weren’t buying what the Pearson lady was selling.

“Eventually,” Heather recalled, “our principal just threw his hands up in the air and said, ‘I know parents don’t like this type of math but we have to teach it that way, because the new state assessment tests are going to use these standards.’”

That’s the first time Heather had heard that Indiana had replaced its well-regarded state tests, ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress–Plus) in favor of a brand-new federally funded set of assessments keyed to Common Core. “I thought I was a fairly informed person, and I was shocked that a big shift in control had happened and I hadn’t the slightest idea,” she says.

Erin Tuttle says she noticed the change in the math homework at about the same time as Heather, and she also noticed that her child was bringing home a lot fewer novels and more “Time magazine for kids” — a reflection of the English standards’ emphasis on “informational texts” rather than literature.

These standards are designed not to produce well-educated citizens but to prepare students to enter community colleges and lower-level jobs. All students, not just non-college-material students, are going to be taught to this lower standard.

I want to pause and highlight the significance of Heather and Erin’s testimony. Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle did not get involved in opposing Common Core because of anything Michelle Malkin or Glenn Beck said to rile them up, but because of what they saw happening in their own children’s Catholic school. When experts or politicians said that Common Core would not lead to a surrender of local control over curriculum, Heather and Erin knew better. (Ironically, the leverage in Indiana was Tony Bennett’s school-choice program, which made state vouchers available to religious schools, but only if they adopted state tests — which were later quietly switched from ISTEP to the untried Common Core assessments.)

A STEALTH CAMPAIGN TO BYPASS PARENTS

At first Heather thought maybe her ignorance of Common Core was her fault. Maybe, with her kids (as she imagined) safely ensconced in good Catholic schools, she hadn’t paid attention.

That’s when she and Erin started contacting people — “and we found out something more shocking: Nobody had any idea,” Heather told me.

A friend of Heather’s who is a former reporter for a state newspaper and now a teacher didn’t know. Nor did her state senator, Scott Schneider, even though he sat on the state senate’s Education Committee. (In Indiana, as in most states, Common Core was adopted by the Board of Education without consulting the legislature.) Nor, evidently, did the state’s education reporters — Heather could find literally no press coverage of the key moment when Indiana’s Board of Education abandoned its fine state standards and well-regarded state tests in favor of Common Core.

“They brought in David Coleman, the architect of the standards, to give a presentation, they asked a few questions, there was no debate, no cost analysis, just a sales job, and everybody rubber-stamped it,” Heather said.

So began an 18-month journey in which these two mothers probably changed education history.

One reason the media ignored the implementation of Common Core is that the Indiana education debate was dominated by Governor Daniels’s high-profile effort to expand school choice. But as my colleague at the American Principles Project (APP) Emmett McGroarty pointed out to me, nationalizing curriculum standards quietly knifes the school-choice movement in the back. As McGroarty puts it, “What difference does it make if you fund different schools if they all teach the same basic curriculum the same basic way?”

Common Core advocates continue to insist that Common Core does not usurp local control of curriculum, but in practice high-stakes tests keyed to the Common Core standards ensure that curriculum will follow.

Emmett McGroarty turns out to have been a very important person in the journey that Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle made to take down Common Core.

Heather and Erin were helped by many people and groups along the way, including the Pioneer Institute’s Jamie Gass, the Hoover Institution’s Bill Evers, and the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke. Many Indiana organizations played key roles, beginning with the indispensable leadership of the Indiana Tea Party. Other natural allies Heather and Erin contacted and educated in order to build the movement include the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Indiana Family Institute, and the Indiana Association of Home Educators.

But Heather told me that what McGroarty and his colleague Jane Robbins at the American Principles Project did was unique. “I call him the General of this movement,” Heather says. “He strategizes with people in every state. Day or night, Saturday or Sunday, Emmett’s there if you need him.”

The 2012 white paper, co-sponsored by the American Principles Project and the Pioneer Institute, that urged the American Legislative Exchange Council to oppose Common Core became Heather and Erin’s bible. “That white paper is the most important summary; we gave copies to people and said, ‘Read this. If you can’t read the whole thing, read the executive summary.’ Because it covered all the bases, from the quality of the standards to the illegitimate federal data collection to the federal government’s involvement in promoting Common Core,” Heather told me.

But even more influential than its message development was APP’s willingness to give in-depth, hands-on, intensive help whenever Heather and Erin requested it. “Usually you call up a national organization, and they are really nice, they say they are with you, and they send you some helpful research and say, ‘Good luck with that,’” Heather explained. But APP did much more. “All along the way APP has been the greatest source of support mentally, emotionally, and with research that a grassroots organization could have had.”

A big break came in June 2012, when the local tea-party council asked Heather and Erin to develop a flyer that it could use to spread the word to tea-party meetings all across the state; the two women turned to Emmett and Jane to help draft it. The first time Heather and Erin were asked to appear on a local radio show (something they had never done before), they asked Emmett if he would fly in and do the show with them. APP staff would fly out to attend rallies, do local radio shows with Heather and Erin, help them prepare to meet with editorial boards, and act as sounding boards and strategists each step of the way as the grassroots movement grew.

THE FIRST TIME FAILED

In 2012, it looked as if Heather and Erin had failed: Prodded by Governor Daniels, the Indiana legislature voted down a bill to withdraw from Common Core.

Heather was ready to give up. Without hands-on support, she told me, “For sure, I would have given up. But Emmett told me this was just the beginning.”

So Senator Schneider agreed to introduce the bill again, and Heather and Erin went to work crisscrossing the state that summer for rallies and meetings that drew large crowds. The media reluctantly began to take notice.

And then something magical intervened: an election.

Tony Bennett’s reelection as state superintendent of public schools was supposed to be a slam dunk. His opponent, Glenda Ritz, was a Democrat in a deeply Republican state, and she had no name recognition and almost no money; she ended up being outspent by more than 5 to 1 as Bennett’s war chest swelled to $1.5 million with major gifts from Michael Bloomberg’s PAC, Walmart heiress Alice Walton, and other national players.

But Bennett was also the highest-profile public defender of Common Core, while Ritz was raising concerns about it.

When the dust had settled on election day, Bennett had lost, badly. It was the upset of the year.

When Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (which backs Common Core), found out late on election night that Bennett had been unseated by the unknown, underfunded underdog Glenda Ritz, he wasn’t happy: “Tony Bennett! Sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t,” Petrilli told Huffington Post writer Joy Resmovits. “You can quote me on that.”

Well, something had clearly hit the fan.

Bennett’s defeat marked a decisive turning point, making every Indiana politician aware how deep voter discontent over Common Core was.

In Indiana, as elsewhere, Common Core proponents have responded to public criticism by accusing the parents of being stupid and uninformed or possibly lying. Common Core, they say, is not a curriculum; it is not being driven by the federal government; it will not interfere with local control of schools.

A few days before Senator Schneider’s anti–Common Core bill passed, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce (which had spent more than $100,000 in ads opposing the bill) lashed out in frustration at the outsized effect Heather and Erin had had on the legislature: “Two moms from Indianapolis, a handful of their friends and a couple dozen small but vocal Tea Party groups. That’s the entire Indiana movement that is advocating for a halt to the Common Core State Standards,” the Chamber of Commerce fumed.

This is not accurate, given the opposition by many education experts, including Professor Milgram, Professor Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas, Professor Diane Ravitch of New York University, Professor Chris Tienken of Seton Hall, and former assistant education secretary Williamson Evers at Hoover.

But never underestimate the power of a mother, especially one who is defending her own child’s future.

What started in Indiana is not staying in Indiana.

Legislation opposing Common Core has been introduced in at least seven other states, and large crowds are turning out at public panels and rallies in states from Tennessee to Idaho. Last month the Michigan state house voted to withhold implementation funding, despite Republican governor Rick Snyder’s support for Common Core; the Missouri senate this week approved a bill calling for statewide hearings on Common Core.

In April the RNC passed a resolution opposing Common Core as “inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children.”

On April 20, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R., Mo.) sent a letter — co-signed by 33 other congressmen — to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, asking for a detailed accounting of changes in student-privacy policies associated with the new national database the Obama administration is building as part of its Common Core support. The letter pointed out that the Education Department had already made regulatory changes — without consulting Congress — that appear to circumvent the 1974 law that limits the disclosure to third parties of any data collected on students.

“The Common Core places inappropriate limitations on the influence of states and localities, while burdening them with additional, unfunded expenses,” Representative Luetkemeyer told me via e-mail.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is taking the lead nationally in shining light on the Obama administration’s key role in promoting Common Core. On April 16, Grassley was joined by seven other GOP senators (including major presidential contenders Ted Cruz and Rand Paul), who signed a letter calling on their colleagues to stop funding the implementation of Common Core, which, they point out, appears to violate federal laws that explicitly forbid the Education Department to influence curriculum or assemble a national database. “I voted against the Economic Stimulus Bill that essentially gave the Department of Education a blank check that was used for Race to the Top, and I have been very critical of how the Department of Education used those funds to push a specific education policy agenda from Washington on the states without specific input from Congress,” Senator Grassley told me via e-mail.

The recent announcement by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, that the AFT wants to delay implementation of the Common Core tests in New York put a bipartisan nail in the coffin of consensus.

And more moms are following the trail Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle blazed.

One major objection to the Common Core standards is that they are not evidence-based. Their effect on academic achievement is simply unknown, because they have not been field-tested anywhere in the world.

But moms have a more elemental objection: The whole operation is a federal power grab over their children’s education. Once a state adopts Common Core, its curriculum goals and assessments are effectively nationalized. And the national standards are effectively privatized, because they are written, owned, and copyrighted by two private trade organizations.

“Legislators are incredulous when they learn the standards and assessments are written by two private trade organizations — the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. This creates concern why public education is now controlled by two private organizations,” says Gretchen Logue, a Missouri education activist and one of the co-founders of Truth in American Education, a network of activists and organizations opposing Common Core. “They also don’t like that the standards and assessments are copyrighted and cannot be changed or modified by the states.”

So why are so many good conservatives, from Jeb Bush to Rick Snyder, supporting Common Core? Many conservatives signed on to a clever strategy that asked them to endorse, not the specific standards, but the idea of high “internationally benchmarked” national standards. It is a principle of psychological persuasion that, once you act, in however small a manner, you will feel cognitively compelled to justify your action. Many business leaders with no experience or expertise in education reform have come on board.

This is as good an explanation as any for why so many conservatives are aggressively promoting a set of national standards about which we know, for sure, four things:

a) They are not internationally benchmarked. In fact, for math in particular, they are exactly contrary to the kind of national standards used in high-performing countries.

b) The two major experts on content who were on the Validation Committee reviewing the standards backed out and repudiated them when they saw what the standards actually are.

c) State legislatures and parents were cut out of the loop in evaluating the standards themselves or the cost of implementing them.

d) The Common Core standards are owned by private trade organizations, which parents cannot influence.

These objections, among others, led Diane Ravitch to call on her blog for backing out of Common Core, as the standards were “flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.”

Ravitch went on: “The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of the nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.”

I asked Heather how she felt on that historic day she saw the very first anti–Common Core bill in the nation pass. “I was elated!” she told me. “We were up against so many powerful groups with so much money. We fought against all odds, tons of money, a slew of paid lobbyists. All we had was the truth, the facts, and a passion to protect the future of our children. Our victory is proof that our American system of government still works.”

 

This article was originally published at National Review Online.

By

Maggie Gallagher is a fellow at the American Principles Project. Her work can be read at MaggieGallagher.com.

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  • klossg

    I love Indian more and more as I get older. Thank God for these ladies. Government usually lowers the curve when it comes to education.

  • Rosemary58

    This is one of the most satisfying articles I have read in a very long time. This Common Core is all about control of the electorate-to-come, our kids. Also, the consummate hubris of Bennett to presume that he knows best is typical of those corrupted by big money. So happy he lost!
    Thank you, Maggie, for your hard work on this. I am keeping it to show our school superintendent.

  • terBear

    Way to go, ladies! I applaud your efforts.

  • rouxdsla

    It’s all about the money…. There is big money in high stakes testing, specially when it is mandated by law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryan.booth3 Ryan Booth

    I’m really shocked that Diane Ravitch is presented as a neutral “expert” in this article. She started her career working for the New Leader, an openly and proudly socialist magazine. She opposes Common Core for the same reason that Bill Ayers opposes testing and standards: standards and standardized testing reduce the opportunities for liberal teachers to indoctrinate children.

    The sad truth is that some kids had a bad teacher and/or textbook and blamed that on Common Core. The answer to that problem is 412>206. Common Core doesn’t require any crazy explanation. Here’s the standard: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/2/NBT/A/4

    Anything and everything wrong with education is now falsely being blamed on Common Core. Opposition to Common Core is based on hysteria and not the standards themselves. If you want to read the truth about why conservatives should support Common Core, please read my essay: http://thehayride.com/2013/05/a-conservative-defense-of-common-core/

  • http://twitter.com/ryple Renee

    Okay, Ryan. I tried to read the standards. They look okay, but in all honesty, I’m not educated enough to interpret them. I am, however a mom enough to know if my kids come home with homework that changes a standard to which I have become accustomed. I have 6 kids. They go through Catholic elementary and middle and progress to a local underperforming public HS. My oldest daughter just got a full ride NROTC scholarship to join the University of Notre Dame’s ROTC unit. (segments of our underperforming school perform just fine, as evidenced by their success on AP tests) But I’m seeing curriculums change. I can’t attribute this to Common Core because I just don’t know. But these mom’s did know. I would know if my kids came home with less homework. I would know if they weren’t being taught to think critically, or to practice material. I feel overwhelmed with everything I have to watch like a hawk. I just hope the rug doesn’t get pulled out from beneath us all. I just want my kids to be exposed to opportunities to learn, read, grow, think critically, and choose their paths based on their inherent ability and hard rewarding work. I do really think that’s an every shrinking segment, and maybe Common Core, while possible well meaning, is a function of that.

  • another mom

    Wow! I do like Common Core. It is not an Obama thing. It has been in the
    planning stages for many many years. Is any set of standards..can any be
    perfect? no. They came about from experts in business, education and
    people who know how people learn. I use my own understanding of math..I
    don’t understand it, I was taught using the regular algorithms and did not
    know why. The kids will be better off learning the common core, which
    eventually lead to the good old algorithms. The standards go deeper instead
    of wider and shallow. There is a much better understanding of the concepts.
    The people that developed the CC looked at it from K through 12 and worked
    backwards.
    Plus it makes it more standard across the US. A kindergartener that moves
    from here to NY will be learning the same things. Is that all they learn,
    the standards? nope. If they are smarter and need to learn more they can
    learn the next set of standards..ack.
    So I guess I disagree with the two moms. Now ask me about testing and I
    have different opinions. Does that help? I can go into more detail if you
    need me to.

  • Dbom

    “Opposition to Common Core is based on hysteria”

    Of course…

    In the meantime, please check out the guy behind Common Core, David Coleman, who was recently rewarded by TPTB with the Presidency of the College Board.

    This is all about control of what our kids learn. Not voted on locally, or Statewide, not even by the Federal Government, but determined by the Gates Foundation and other elites who want to tell ALL OF US how to live and learn.

  • CRS

    Yeah…. College math professors will disagree with you, as do I. English professors will disagree with you, too. I listened to my college math professor complain about how unprepared college students were for College Mathematics because of low public school standards. He had to reteach basic arithmetic! I also witnessed many college students struggling to understand basic English sentence construction. Most couldn’t write a basic essay, let alone a college essay. Having said that, I’ve seen the Common Core books and I speak to the kids learning Common Core on a daily basis. It’s bad, and it needs to go. As for my kids, we are home schooling (which, by the way, can be taken anywhere, will move easily, and can be done any time.)

  • Philip Mackin

    That is not good if Indiana and schools were not communicative about their curricular changes and disregarded their previous standards.

    As a public school teacher, I can say this did not happen in PA. Though Common Core was adopted, it does not supersede our already high standards. We did not abandon our state standards because they were more rigorous than Common Core.

    The article makes a gross generalization/assumption: Common Core is the reason for the bad implementation. That is like blaming Vatican II for the current state of the Church.

    I am not a full advocate for Common Core but I also don’t like misrepresentations. The Common Core does not emphasize informational text over literature. Look at the standards yourself and see.

    I also think calling this Obama’s Common Core is too loaded of phrase, though I do see that these were tied Race to the Top.

  • mhall46184

    The connection between a certain unnamed offshore publisher and state legislators in Indiana and other states really does need to be investigated.

  • Cassie5292

    This is wonderful news. I applaud these Moms. Several of us Moms here in PA are trying to educate our Catholic school parents about Commom Core. No one has any idea what is coming. I just met with the school principal of one of our Catholic School sand I said to her, “Do you know that Bill and Melinda Gates are behind the Common Core Standards? That should be a red flag.” She said, “I had no idea!” I said, “Do you know that literature is going to be directed toward populaton control and responsible reproduction (a.k.a. birth control and Planned Parenthood of which the Gates support heavily.)?” She said, “I had no idea, that is wrong and will not happen in a Catholic Schoo.” I said, “Are you sure about that?” This is daibolical and we need to stop Common Core.

  • catholicmomoftwo

    This is completely the opposite of my experience. Perhaps the textbooks and teachers at your school are to blame. At my school in SW FL, I am amazed with Common Core. In second grade kids have to read one 70-90 pg book each week at home in addition to things at school. Our school has many Common Core workshops and the information is astounding. Clearly the textbooks are not appropriate but that’s determined byvthe local school and not by Common Core.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grammar.nahtzi Grammar Nahtzi

    They designed Common Core on purpose so that parents don’t know what is
    going on. They do not want parents to help their children because they
    feel it gives those children an unfair advantage. Common Core is a
    transparent attempt to try and bridge the gap between students. It will
    backfire just like every other moronic liberal social experiment.

  • valorie frondorf

    I am not a proponent of CC, however it does seem that language arts at the elementary level is indeed, more rigorous. It is difficult as a parent to present a convincing argument in regards to “rigor”, to educators and administrators that are more versed in the pedagogy of education. It doesn’t meant that there isn’t an argument to be had there, however. A lot of the concerns with rigor seem to be at the high school level, especially in math, where the lack of foundation provided to students in elementary and secondary school will catch up to them. This article doesn’t go too heavily into the tracking system that was a mandatory side note to accepting CC, by ALL STATES. Privacy laws were changed, (FERPA) to accommodate this Standard. It’s not hysteria. Check page 4 of FERPA law, it’s there in black and white. Do you know what Biometric information refers too? If you do, than you’re should be getting anxious about now. Stop reading this and pull up FERPA. Your state just gave away your kids privacy, and parental consent has been made OPTIONAL (Federal Register). Check page 20 of this same FERPA law to see WHO can have this information. It’s more than just a change in standards. This is a Trojan horse.

  • Chris Behme

    My son brought home TIME magazine for kids and worksheets with questions about the material to be answered by the kids.
    Topics:
    Obama’s appointments of Jack Lew and John Kerry and how cute Mr. Lew’s juvenile signature is.
    Global warming. The second most dangerous enemy we face.
    MyPlate, the food groups, and eating vegetables. The greatest threat we face: childhood malnutrition/ obesity. What kid isn’t fascinated by being lectured about broccoli?
    Starving Kenyans. I guess they don’t have MyPlate in Kenya.

    That’s a sampling of the leftist claptrap in obamacore.

    I can’t wait for the TIME for kids holiday issue.
    Kwanzaa, Ramadan and Festivus.

    This is horsesh!t. Obamacore, like obamacare and Obama himself, needs to go into the garbage. This is socialist indoctrination. Period.

  • Chris Behme

    Common core is for dumbing down the masses.
    I have a Ph.D. In organic chemistry, so I’ve had experience with education.
    This is dumbed down social justice bilge. My kids hate it.
    Food groups, Obama worship, and global warming- useless nonsense.
    What ever happened to reading, writing and arithmetic?
    Well when you have an all powerful socialist system, what the little people think is not important. In fact, better not to think at all – the smart people in government will do all the thinking for you.

    Common core is not about education.
    Obamacare is not about healthcare.

    It’s about control over your life by faceless uncaring bureaucrats- for your own good of course.

  • Meg

    This is the most ridiculous article I have ever read in my life. The Common Core is focused on helping students have a deeper understanding instead of just rote memorization. If you know WHY a math concept works, you will always know how to do it. You won’t have to depend on memorizing an algorithm that you don’t even understand for the rest of your life. It’s better to do three problems well and fully understand, then just repeat 20 problems by memorizing the “tricks.” We are teaching our students to be discoverers of knowledge instead of just memorizing and spitting out facts. What it comes down to is that people can’t stand change, even if it’s for the better.

  • enness

    Meg, the question is inappropriately, unnecessarily abstract for an eight-year-old child. I have a bachelor’s in music education and was required to study educational psychology so I’m not a complete layperson. I also remember being eight years old; it would have given me a massive headache even trying to understand why they asked me that. I wouldn’t begin to know what they expected me to say.

  • enness

    That is like a high school or college-length assignment. In ONE subject, mind you. When exactly are they supposed to have time to be children?

  • HuskerID

    Good grief. I love most of Catholic Exchange but when it engages in right-wing paranoia, it does get annoying. Common Core is almost NONE of those things this writer talks about. It was formulated and approved by people of both parties including many conservative Republican governors. This is not a credible article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002141648862 Lou Tompkins

    Anyone that thinks it is good that the Federal Govt gets involved in local state issues of education, health and welfare are idiots or Facists at their common core. Even the name sounds like a collective. Education should vary widely according to student interests and ability. There is no one good way to do this for everyone. It does though tend to create good dumbed down govt workers.

  • Annonymus

    Yes it does. I learned it at a PTO meeting run by the superintendent. Please reread and you will see that it does require more nonfiction.

  • Samantha

    The main problem with Common Core is the high-stakes testing attached to it. It forces teachers to narrow the curriculum in order to help students be successful. Then throw in a flawed test and scoring process (that teachers aren’t allowed to even talk about) and you have frustrated, stressed teachers who are forced to be more concerned about their job than the reasons they became a teacher in the first place. Students are the real losers, because the standards — no matter how great they may sound to some of us on paper — just end up being a set of “to dos” for teachers so they do not lose their job. We need to get rid of the high-stakes testing.

  • kb2b

    obama core;is anyone surprised when a dictator does dictator things. he has to teach you how to think. come on cows , get in the chute.

  • Educator

    OMG this is such propaganda and full of conspiracy theory… Common Core was WELL before Obama. It allows students the chance to go beyond learn how to take a test mentality. The Depth of Knowledge that has students thinking again is exactly what we need for the future. Obviously, people feeding others with such fear over this needed more deep thinking skills and less surface level fear based conspiracy thinking. GEEZ …

  • kephacantor

    This almost reads like a Frank Pereti novel, The way it was implemented, very underhanded, and stealth-like for something that is supposed to be “Good for you”

  • towin4lifemom

    GOOD for Indiana!! The Common Core INDOCTRINATION is exactly “why” so very many families are opting OUT all across the NATION and choosing to home school, or private CHRISTIAN school their children!! I’ve heard sooner than later Obama will “also” be attempting to stick his nose into “the HOME SCHOOLING,” area also!! THAT in and of itself SHOULD speak “VOLUMES,” to unsuspecting parents who pay absolutely NO attention to what down RIGHT lies are printed in the common core text books, which are of course directly linked to George Soros and the Arabs!! GET READY FOLKS… states who “opted into RACE TO THE TOP,” especially before even knowing the DETAILS, will be LEAVING EVERY SINGLE CHILD IN THOSE STATES far, far, far BEHIND!!
    P.S. Did Michelle get elected to PATROL school lunch rooms, when Barack was elected, also? hum…………………

  • towin4lifemom

    at the very least socialist. . . boarding and teetering on COMMUNISM!!! OUTRAGEOUS, and how many un-suspect “parents,” actually haven’t a clue about the material these children are being FORCE FEED, daily!! Atrocious and Criminal. . . but then again, the Obamama’s “girls,” are PRIVATE SCHOOLED, Oh now we see, ………… it really doesn’t effect “theirs,” does it??? SICK, sick, and SICKER!!! BO MO AND JO!!

  • 2boysiluv

    and INDOCTRINATION… lest we NEVER forget how Adolph H WON!!

  • Mathias Bjorkman

    I wish Bobby Jindal would change his mind of kick common core brainwashing corriculum out of the state.

  • Melanie Nelson

    Oh well, by all means, if your local school Superintendent and the PTO says so, it must be. (MAJOR eye-rolling) This is pure- hysteria being whipped up by conservatives who would oppose anything that ever comes out of the current Administration. Read the standards. It is exactly what this country needs, some responsibility towards education…no one is trying to indoctrinate your kids, you Tea-publicans do too good of a job at that already.

  • Appwitch

    Common Core ignores a great deal of educational research and research on child development.

  • Gregory Morrison

    This article is full of misleading information. The common core does not lower standards, it moved some standards around, some standards going up to higher grades, some coming down from higher grades to lower grades. It is designed to help students move from one state to another without missing anything. In fact the common core standards raise the stakes from wrote memorization to the students having to defend their answers and understand what they are doing.
    I am a math teacher and I have never given my students massive amounts of homework. That would be bad teaching. I am glad to hear that the teacher was only giving a few problems and the student had to explain the answers. Education research has shown no benefit in students doing 50 of the same problems. if a student does not understand, and they make the same mistake over and over, it is much more difficult to Un-teach them what they are doing wrong. It looks as if the mother did not understand the math well enough to defend her answer either. To many children do math wrong and do not have the number sense to recognize wrong answers. That is one of the things the Common Core is trying to correct.
    The Common core is failing because of the Tea Party hates anything that looks like it is from the federal government. The states do have the ability to make modifications to the standards as well. While the standards are very similar each state has the ability to modify them to the depth of rigor that they want.

  • H

    Maybe you all ought to go look up the common core standards. Are you aware that there are already state standards in place? Are you aware that the standards don’t dictate how the standard is taught, but rather, that the child is exposed to the standard and attempts mastery of it? Common core is no different. I’ve looked at them and they are just about exactly the same as the standards I used to teach. Perhaps the method of delivery is different, ie: novels vs. informational texts, but they’re pretty much the same. Also, teachers teach in units, so perhaps that was the informational text unit. Ever think to wait awhile? Also, while I agree about “math scripts” not being good, the way to find out if a child knows what they are doing is to ask: “How do you know?” Sure, they can multiply, but do they have any clue why 2×2=4? The why is very important and should not be brushed off.

  • Jennifer Hannon Cunningham

    Fabulous job ladies! Common Core just started at our school with NO transition, and there are so many “A” students who are now getting “Fs” in multiple classes. I am disgusted!

  • Lee Barrios

    Ridiculous:Origin of RIDICULOUS

    Latin ridiculosus (from ridiculum jest, from neuter of ridiculus) or ridiculus, literally, laughable, from ridēre to laugh
    First Known Use: 1550

    This seems to be the descriptor of choice for those of you criticizing opposition to CCSS. Well I’m not laughing. This opposition is well researched and thought out. Maybe that’s why that aspect of CC opposition is not being challenged. Al’s that left to say by those who promote these unresearched and practiced standards is Ridiculous. Try explaining your position rather than laughing at theirs.

  • Lee Barrios

    With all due respect Philip. You should probably do more than just a quick look at the standards. They do, in fact e mph aside informational text over literature and make quite a lengthy argument to support that. In part see this from the CCSS website:

    There is also evidence that current standards, curriculum, and instructional practice have not done enough to foster the independent reading of complex texts so crucial for college and career readiness, particularly in the case of infor- national texts. K–12 students are, in general, given considerable scaffolding—assistance from teachers, class discus- sions, and the texts themselves (in such forms as summaries, glossaries, and other text features)—with reading that is already less complex overall than that typically required of students prior to 1962.3 What is more, students today are asked to read very little expository text—as little as 7 and 15 percent of elementary and middle school instructional reading, for example, is expository (Hoffman, Sabo, Bliss, & Hoy, 1994; Moss & Newton, 2002; Yopp & Yopp, 2006)— yet much research supports the conclusion that such text is harder for most students to read than is narrative text (Bowen & Roth, 1999; Bowen, Roth, & McGinn, 1999, 2002; Heller & Greenleaf, 2007; Shanahan & Shanahan, 2008), that students need sustained exposure to expository text to develop important reading strategies (Afflerbach, Pear- son, & Paris, 2008; Kintsch, 1998, 2009; McNamara, Graesser, & Louwerse, in press; Perfetti, Landi, & Oakhill, 2005; van den Broek, Lorch, Linderholm, & Gustafson, 2001; van den Broek, Risden, & Husebye-Hartmann, 1995), and that expository text makes up the vast majority of the required reading in college and the workplace (Achieve, Inc., 2007). Worse still, what little expository reading students are asked to do is too often of the superficial variety that involves skimming and scanning for particular, discrete pieces of information; such reading is unlikely to prepare students for the cognitive demand of true understanding of complex text.

    Figure 4: The Progression of Reading Standard 10

    Grade(s)

    Reading Standard 10 (individual text types omitted)

    K

    Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

    1

    With prompting and support, read prose and poetry [informational texts] of appropriate complexity for grade 1.

    2

    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature [informational texts] in the grades 2–3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    3

    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature [informational texts] at the high end of the grades 2–3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    4

    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature [informational texts] in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    5

    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature [informational texts] at the high end of the grades 4–5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    6

    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature [informational texts, history/social studies texts, science/technical texts] in the grades 6–8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    7

    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature [informational texts, history/social studies texts, science/technical texts] in the grades 6–8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    8

    By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature [informational texts, history/social studies texts, science/technical texts] at the high end of the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    9–10

    By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature [informational texts, history/social studies texts, science/technical texts] in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature [informational texts, history/social studies texts, science/technical texts] at the high end of the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    11–12

    By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literature [informational texts, history/social studies texts, science/technical texts] in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literature [informational texts, history/social studies texts, science/technical texts] at the high end of the grades 11–CCR text complexity band indepen- dently and proficiently.

    Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT
    I am not a conservative Republican

  • Y

    I am very interested to know what is the problem with adding more informational texts? And, knowing how to analyze them, and read them critically? I find it is almost impossible to have thoughtful conversations with folks over controversial subjects (common core being one of many of them) because people are relying on television, Facebook posts and opinionated blog posts to get their information instead of going to sources.

    I find that 90% of the books I read are, indeed, informational. Shouldn’t kids be able to analyze an informational text, and be able to not only understand what the writer is saying, but be able to see any biases the writer may have? I for one, was taught this way starting in seventh grade (Iowa schools) and feel it benefited my critical reading skills.

    And, to expose my biases, I am thrilled that my current state, Louisiana, has implemented the Common Core standards. I have a son in first grade and was very concerned about his schooling as Louisiana’s previous standards were much lower (I’ve seen side by side comparisons). So, this is definitely a step up for us.

    Anyway, just want to know the problem with additional information texts? (Since, you appear to be someone who has actually done research into the matter.)

  • Y

    The books in second grade are a bit less complex than in college, dear. My first grader read a 60 some page book out loud to me last night, but it had simple repetative words and just a few sentences on each page. I’m sure a second grader can handle 60- 90 of those pages in a week with no trouble.

  • IActuallyRead

    This article is very misleading. Indiana has not pulled out of using the common core standards. Those have been implemented and are in place. Check it out for yourself! They have only pulled out from working with other states to develop tests based on those standards. Two very different things.

  • Lee Barrios

    The problem is setting an artificial ratio which CCSS has and I believe it is 70% 30% in high school. You can check the standards website yourself for more detail. The assumption that teachers don’t use “enough” informational texts is manufactured. Every textbook I ever saw had plenty of info texts in addition to that used as background info for novel study. For instance all the historical data behind To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the points of studying literature is a study of its place in society, history, culture. It is far more engaging to combine the two than isolate info papers. This us teacher pedagogy stuff and I wouldn’t expect or be able to teach you all in this commentary.

    I might add that you are incorrect about the poor quality of previous Louisiana Standards. I will have to search for it but our standards were nationally recognized when they were updated or introduced with GLEs about 12 years ago?

  • Lee Barrios

    The “depth over breadth” mantra is bogus. Sounds good but it is not accurate. You cannot even tell from standards about depth. That comes via curriculum.

  • Lee Barrios

    Ditto!

  • james

    this article and all of its coments are extremist and narcissistic, self serving righteousness. Is anyone just in the middle anymore does everyone have to be so extreme and crazy wow

  • Capt Sassypants

    You come off as such a well informed, mature, rational person in this post. I can’t wait to see what intelligent and quality human beings your home schooling lets loose on the world!

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