We appreciate responses to our articles, especially by those with knowledge of our county’s education system, like Dr. Elaine J. Roberts - a self-described "education advocate and change agent" in the Chicago area.
Our information for writing the articles has been gleaned from parents, educators, and hundreds of articles written on the subject. The information was gathered from several states and a variety of sources. Our posts have been a way to convey all we have learned, so that citizens, especially parents, can learn more about problems that their schools are not likely revealing. We understand why: schools were not asked to accept Common Core, they were ordered to accept it. Teachers are making the best of it, with a positive attitude to parents and students, as they should.
The responsibility to voice the known problems about Common Core has become the duty of concerned citizens. We believe the public deserves to know there is a growing opposition to the nationalized education program that was covertly planned and sold to the governors of our states. The process was problematic and the curriculum is suspect. All of us must be aware of the facts, for the sake of our children and the future of our country.
Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D. commented to our last column on Common Core by saying: "Oh dear. Well, Common Core isn't really liberal propaganda. It's not a curriculum."
Our response: True, the Common Core Standards are simply standards to achieve, but the curriculum obviously must coincide with those standards, as well as the tests which are aligned with both. The liberal propaganda is in the curriculum and has managed to find a way into most every subject of the Common Core curriculum.
Roberts: "Critical thinking isn't a buzz word; it's a learning and work place concept that's been around for decades. Based on the data we had, the current system isn't working but, in all fairness, the systems for training and supporting teachers and administrators has been faulty for a while. That's not a liberal nor a conservative issue; that's a national issue."
Our response: Yes, it is, but it is not the federal government’s responsibility to take over the state’s responsibility of educating children. Also of deep concern is that the known problems with our education system were not changed or fixed with Common Core. In fact, the authors of Common Core ignored the top problems that contribute to America’s low test scores.
Roberts: "The standards are not perfect, but then neither is any so-called curriculum or testing. Some of the standards may need to be revisited, but far too many folks aren't giving them any sort of chance but simply dismissing them on principle."
Our response: We disagree! Most accepted Common Core, trusting that our elected officials would not have accepted the program if it was inferior. The problems were found once Common Core was introduced to classrooms, teachers, parents, and students.
Roberts: "Cursive writing was dismissed from schools long before Common Core. I know of schools that stopped teaching cursive writing past the 1st grade over 10 years ago. Teachers don't have time to teach it and/or they don't know how to teach. By the way, I think handwriting is a key cognitive and motor skills development skill, and handwriting should be part of a student's learning through high school."
"Literature is not eliminated in Common Core. It is less emphasized by high school because, well, in math and science, kids read non-fiction/informational texts. But English teachers are free to teach whatever literature is deemed appropriate by their district."
Our response: There are very few classics on the approved list for teachers.
Roberts: "Your issue with the kinds of literature being taught is an old saw. What to teach and what not to teach has been an issue for decades and has nothing to do with Common Core."
Our response: Correct! If parents actually read the books their high school children were given to read, they would gasp! The low standard of picking books has indeed been the trend for quite some time. Sadly, Common Core neglected to make appropriate changes by making recommended reading lists something other than social engineering projects, which often introduced issues of sex, crime, violence, and other unsavory activities.
Roberts: "As for traditional methods of learning math, well, you're wrong again. Common Core doesn't tell any teacher how to teach math, or any other subject. Common Core is a set of standards by which student proficiency might be measured. Teachers help their students get to those learning levels in whatever ways best suit their students. If the teachers don't have methods for differentiation, that's on the teacher and the administrators who don't provide professional development for those teachers."
Our response: Common Core Math is a whole new system, which is more concerned with the method than in a correct answer. A simple addition or subtraction question takes 10 times as long to get the answer, and due to all the steps Common Core math requires of a student, mistakes are common. Parent find the new method so convoluted that even with a masters degree and job in engineering, the parent is at a loss to get the answer following the method and steps Common Core demands.
Roberts: "That teacher in Grayslake? She has no idea what she's doing. Common Core does emphasize process so that kids really understand why and how they got the right or wrong answer, but the standards do not anywhere suggest that the correct answer does not matter."
Our response: Our article is not critical of the C.C. Standards per say. It is the curriculum designed for Common Core that emphasizes method over correct answer, with the excuse they are forcing young minds to be critical thinkers. The problem is that there has been an age appropriateness left out, causing young children to begin hating math because their brains are not yet mature enough to understand the concept.
Roberts: "New math. New math was introduced in the 80s. Parents complained then, too. Then some other math CURRICULUM was introduced in the 90s. Parents complained then because they couldn't help their kids do math. One of the big issues with math instruction and homework is that too many teachers really don't know the content well enough so they have to have kids do problems a particular way. So if Mom or Dad try to help kids with their homework and the kids do the homework a different way from the teacher's, the teacher may mark it wrong because that teacher doesn't know how to solve the problem that way. There is the tragedy in math instruction. I don't know how many teachers I've coached to help them learn how to work with fractions, decimals, and percentages."
Our response: Yes, parents and teachers complained with the 80’s New Math, etc. etc. for good reason. It was worse than what it replaced. Common Core is the same … it just simply is driving young students crazy and away from liking Math and in some cases in upper grades Common Core has forced combining upper level mathematics. In some cases Calculus is no longer available in High Schools.
Roberts: "As a moderate conservative who sees the Common Core as a potential solution and is fully aware of it many flaws, I'd like to say there is no leftist agenda. That 1992 UN Agenda 21 is such a bogus argument I'm always surprised when apparently intelligent people offer it up. Let the Common Core Standards stand or fall on their own merit or lack of same, not some trumped up political agenda."
Our response: I suppose you do not see any “leftist” agenda in our colleges either. Do you deny that upwards of 90% of professors are Liberal and it is no secret they teach their leftists agenda to students. As a society, we ignored that and the product is evident. Now, we see left leaning assignments in Common Core, mostly rather subtle, but some just plain blatant. No surprise really, when we know that the creators of Common Core are blatantly liberal.
Roberts: "And I'm so sorry you are spending all of this time tearing down a possible solution rather than offering something substantial as an alternative."
Our response: We plan to write an article about the REAL problems with our former education system, which are the very problems Common Core did not address. Consider that there was a reason Common Core was sold to the state governors before Common Core Standards and the accompanying curriculum was even written. Governors signed on without having a shred of proof it was better than the former system. Common Core had not been tried or tested anywhere; there were no test results that indicated it was superior. In fact, one of the first states to use Common Core was New York, and their student grades plummeted 60 percent. Shame on all of them for unleashing an untested, unproven, and unknown education system on all of our children, based simply on promises made by its authors. Add to that the covert manner in which was done and unleashed … with no public awareness.
Please, before you are an apologist for Common Core, research the criticisms which are emerging in every state that adopted it. Discover why some states, like Oklahoma and South Carolina have just passed laws to rid their state entirely of Common Core. I suggest you might change your mind about defending it.