Skip to comments.A Teacher's Take on Common Core (Vanity)
Posted on 03/31/2014 8:27:20 AM PDT by A_perfect_lady
I have been a Freeper for 12 years and a teacher for 10. I work in Los Angeles, in a public school, and I teach English. I want to say something about Common Core, although my observations will be strictly limited to my particular domain: English. I cannot comment on the Math portion.
I will begin bluntly: I do not understand the conservative outcry about Common Core. Perhaps its only because I teach in California, but to me it is an improvement, at least in some ways. If you arent a teacher (and most conservatives arent, which is a pity) you dont realize what California standards were like. Oh, the goals themselves werent particularly remarkable in the end, the goals are always the same for English, no matter how they word them: children should be able to summarize, identify, describe, explain, compare, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize the plot, characters, setting, theme, mood, tone same stuff theyve done for years.
What was noxious about California standards was their pressure to conform to a liberal reading list. The text books they issued looked as if someone had gone down a checklist with authors arranged by skin color and nationality. I could almost hear the editor muttering to himself, We need an Indonesian. Very few authors were classic writers noted for their skill. They seemed to think one short story by Hemingway, one by Poe, and one by Bradbury was sufficient to represent the Dead White Males of the Pre-enlightenment Era (thats sarcasm, for those of you in Rio Linda). The ESL textbooks were even more pointed: children were directed to read essays on how FDR saved America, how nuclear power is bad, bad, bad, how the 2nd amendment is contingent upon government permission(!), how migrant workers are victimized by pesticides yes, it was cheery stuff.
Now comes Common Core, and one of the first things they addressed in the training was this: children raised on the simplistic language of modern-day PC authors cannot comprehend anything else, and did horribly on the periodic assessments. The periodic assessments, created by people who apparently hadnt gotten the memo, had included excerpts from The Odyssey, Anne of Green Gables, Call of the Wild, David Copperfield could a child raised on the toothless prose of Gary Soto and bell hooks even comprehend the long, intricate sentences that were common to writers many years ago? No, they couldnt. Imagine that.
So this is what the Common Core material suggests: classic writers. Documents written by the Founding Fathers. Greek mythology. Mark Twain. Louisa May Alcott. Yes, really. Common Core steps away from guiding the teachers curriculum along the PC lines of authors of color and writers who champion social justice and actually recommends classics, but makes no effort to control what the teacher chooses. This, my Friends, can only be an improvement, because liberals were in charge of our books for too many years. Any choices by teachers will swing to the right because frankly, they were so far to the left that there was no way to go further unless you have 7th graders reading Andrea Dworkin, and teachers with that attitude would have already been doing it.
I dont expect a wave of support
my sad experience is that many Freepers hate teachers with such a livid passion that I wonder about them. But I wanted to say this: Common Core is much less prohibitive in English than the previous standards. Again, I cannot speak to the mathematics, the science, the history
but I can tell you that in English, its an improvement, for the reasons I have given above. Okay, flame away.
Does “English” still include reading and writing skills? Just wondering.
There should be zero involvement of the federal government in schools, ideally there should be no government schools at all.
This idea that DC knows how to make anything better, anything at all, is farcical. The left has an agenda and it is destroying this country rapidly, we should never trust them.
Still don’t understand?
Does your school have it’s own abortion clinic yet?
My wife is a teaching assistant at an Elementary school here in central Florida (she teaches ESE kids). She says she hasn't seen any identifiable CC stuff, and not much has changed there, if at all.
I wonder where all the scary info about the indoctrination stuff comes from, more liberal pablum crap. You are saying some of it is going away, what with the broadening of the reading material.
It matters not what the current reading list is, the problem is that the power to set the reading list should not reside with the Federal Government.
The book "The Black Swan" by Taleb should be on your reading list. Top down control of anything is a very risky proposition. Bottom up control gives more resilience to error, and allows for innovation to be done safely, that is to be tried on small scales and tested over time.
What people worry about is the politicization of the content as stated. Kids being taught to read short bytes of information instead of whole books. What you are talking about is not the part that people are objecting to. We are objecting to the computerized teaching by testing.
Some school district are trying to put every kid on the computer, all at the same time, being fed curriculum over the internet, government curriculum that is more like the old SRA programmed reading program than a real literature program. The teachers will remain in the classroom to facilitate the internet learning and supplement it. I know this because they were trying to do it in my school district. They wanted 20 million dollar bond to pay for it. I had a friend on the committee that was doing the planning, a very liberal friend.
I don’t think that you are being fair, Geron. Common Core government standards may indeed be an improvement over the Cal government standards that she was dealing with.
BUT, I still don’t trust Common Core at all. Including the classics and founding documents in the reading assignments may well be a strategy to initially disarm the mistrustful constituents. THEN, after it becomes accepted the boom will be lowered, and worthy reading material may disappear. Bob
I forgot to mention that they want to teach science like an open book test. They want to teach students where they can find answers to science questions on the internet instead of mastering the subject. History will probably be the same.
Yeah? Let me know when the system adopts phonics again to teach speaking English; which is of course — a PHONETIC language.
While I would applaud any improvement in our schools, I am suspicious of any program that doesn’t teach the way kids were taught back when the USA was number one in the world in reading comprehension and writing, not to mention math and science. Today, we rank below freakin’ Zimbabwe in all international standards.
There was nothing wrong with teaching rote memorization for math, phonics and writing comprehension for English and all the other “old fashioned” techniques. They actually WORKED! But somewhere along the line, the unions and their puppets (teachers) decided that we should bring the smart kids down to the level of under-performing students and that parents should have little say in their children’s education.
Now, it’s been downhill all the way. I interviewed a new college graduate last week for a job. The application was filled with spelling errors and the kid couldn’t speak good English.
The basic problem is this. The Federal Government should have ZERO say in what is taught in our schools. While they could make suggestions and offer support, they should NEVER be the final say.
Thank you for an illuminating post; and, as befits a teacher of English, you have expressed yourself in a clear and persuasive manner!
Teach your pupils the way you were taught. This great nation got to this point without the magic of “Common-Core”. The leftist dominated educational establishment has run out of excuses. States have colleges for training teachers and the tradition of collaboration with localities. No more short-cuts or excuses. TEACH!
II find CC to be every bit as objectionable as earlier standards, but it has nothing to do with the curriculum. There is absolutely NO Constitutional authority for fedgov to be anywhere near the education of our children. In fact, the same should apply at the State level, IMO.
The enumerated powers of the US Constitution make NO reference to the education of our children, and so said education is reserved to the States, or to the People.
In short, get your hands off our kids! Your 12+ years of indoctrination are destroying the greatest nation ever to appear on the earth, and we are sick of it.
Einstein's definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
It's time to fire all the people who have run the show for the past 40+ years and try competition. Give the students a voucher, and let them decide where they want to go to school.
The purpose of Common Core is the same as every other "standard" in the past 40 years; equal outcome - how do we make the non-minority kids as dumb as the minority kids? All in the name of "fairness."
Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon
I dont expect a wave of support my sad experience is that many Freepers hate teachers with such a livid passion that I wonder about them.
Love teachers. Have/had 3 relatives that were teachers. Have 4 current friends that are teachers. But not all teachers are equal. Not all school districts are equal and the larger the union involvement usually the worse things are.....
“It’s not about teachers, it’s about principles. Control of education is not one of the powers granted to the Federal Government.”
I do not have a problem with teachers at all. I have known many in my life (not including teachers I have had in school, I’m talking neighbors, friends, co-workers). All are fine people. The problem is many of the school administrations and, to be honest, not enough parents paying attention to what those admnistrations do as policy.
You mean like the “scientific answers” to global warming?
If only the school districts would have their students read materials from ‘classic authors.’ I had to walk away from the school district I worked at for almost 10 years because of their bureaucracy and pitiful attempts to stand up for what is right instead of bowing down to the stupid pressure of political correctness. Yes, the district spent MILLIONS just in sensitivity training for every employee of the district because we had such a horrible, horrible book on the required reading list and it contained the N word. The book was Huckleberry Finn. No matter how loud some of us protested that Mark Twain produced some of the best novels in the 20th century and that it only depicted the times in which it was written, the pressure from Groups Representing the Foreigners immigrating to this country prevailed. Although our school board managed to mediate between the offended and the school and come to an adequate and fair solution, because this happened in Texas (and I guess it goes without saying that we are all racists), these “Groups” filed suit at the federal level and caused them to come in and help us decide what the best solution was BAN that book from our libraries and DEMAND ALL EMPLOYEES go through sensitivity training. That is where disgust for Common Core lies, not so much at a classroom level. All decision-making at the local level is terribly diminished. California should have been at the forefront in teaching the nation how to educate children within their own surroundings. Sadly, it was the first to fall prey to the likes of LaRaza and LULAC. Shameful.
Thanks for letting us know. Being a public school teacher in California must be quite an experience.
This is unfortunate. The public school teachers here in liberal Connecticut have been on our side, for the most part. They even worked with me to get around the previous teaching fad, "Chicago math". They encouraged my kid to bring in a replica rifle for a presentation on Davy Crockett. Civics in emphacized. They've been willing to allow fair presentations that promote the use of DDT and I've given a pro-nuclear power presentation.
Common Core math is terrible. It really is. But its a diffferent kind of terrible from the previous system. I view it as something that sucks just as bad as the old fad.
I’m a senior in a CA high school. The public school system is awful. For example, I had to ask my history/government teacher why exactly she keeps referring to the US as a democracy. She made something up about it being “easier” to do so. I have to constantly listen to communistic “solutions” for fixing the country, along with constant whining about “rich” people not giving poor people money. While I have never excelled in math,I did fairly decently until I moved to CA. The explanations are nigh impossible for me to grasp. I can say that I’ve never had a problem with my English courses, but perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing.
Some of the worst written questions
I assign my students research papers (two).
Seriously, out of, say, 30 students in a class, about five will write something readable.
It is rare to find a freshman or sophomore that is able to read well, let alone express themselves coherently with thought and reason, backed by credible sources.
Sad to say the top performing students are the Asian students. This semester I have two, one from Singapore and the other from China. They both study, read, contribute and grasp the concepts of freedom, individual liberty and responsibility, and can explain why America has a constitution and why we have checks and balances. The US students barely keep their eyes open, if they come to class at all. Nonetheless, many are shocked and offended when they receive a grade less than a “B.”
While US students are mostly lazy, some wake up once they earn that “D” or “F” on their first paper. Some. Not many.
Thanks for the education. I had really not heard anything about the English side of Common Core. All the examples I’ve seen up to this point were in Math. And thanks for your service as a teacher. As you pointed out, we need more conservative teachers.
Thank you for teaching our children. I will have a question for you later....
Whatever Common Core may have to do with English is very nearly irrelevant because the teaching of mathematics in this program is so awful. Common Core stresses conceptual mathematics. This is an enormous mistake, and it is a mistake that we have been making since 1962, when "The New Math" was first introduced. Conceptual Mathematics is a darling of educationists, and is thoroughly despised by practitioners: engineers, physicists, chemists, economists, ... and even most mathematicians who follow education.
You simply cannot teach young children mathematical concepts until they have the the basics down absolutely cold. Attempting to do so is like attempting to teach reading without knowing the alphabet and the phonics made by letter combinations. They must know this at a reflexive, sub-cortical level without even thinking about it, or they cannot possibly concentrate on the actual meaning of text.
Conceptual Mathematics for children under twelve or thirteen is worse than a waste of time -- it is destructive.It teaches them nothing they need and in many cases fosters a genuine lifelong hatred of mathematics. Almost no two humans conceptualize mathematics in the same way, and forcing some professional educator's concepts down an aspiring mathematician's throat is an excellent way to destroy her desire to learn math.
Every time we have tried the educationists' approach, we have ruined another generation of children for math, and every time we've tried it, it's ultimately been abandoned with at least a temporary return to the basics of arithmetic drill and operation.
I agree with you that what most of my children were forced to read was liberal crap. This isn't particularly damaging to them, because most kids recognize -- and have recognized for as long as there has been a public education system -- that the "literature" they're being told to read is about half garbage, and nothing more than garbage that their English teachers themselves like. Thus has it ever been [examples from my youth: The Crucible, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby quite frankly, all worthless dreck.] But at that point in their academic careers, they already -- at least -- know how to read. The Common Core standards for math are disabling our students at a much younger and much more dangerous age.
Yes, exactly. It’s actually LESS controlling. Less than California, anyway. There’s more “recommending” and less “mandated.”
First of all, you’ve been a teacher for how long and do not understand the concept of local control of education being the best approach?
Do you not understand that Education DOES NOT fall under the limited number of items the Federal Government has responsibility for controlling per the Constitution?
The common core standards in English may seem innocuous in the beginning, but you may be discounting the creeping incrementalizm of the educational left. Look to the common core mission statement and long term goals and you will undoubtedly unearth the true agenda.
“. . .and that parents should have little say in their childrens education”
They want to hear from parents. . . . . . . . as long as the parents support them and go along with ‘The Plan.’
As far as I’m concerned, teachers should be independent contractors. Good ones can write their own ticket and the bad ones can work at McDonald’s.
Not only should that be the ideal, it should be the law!
The driving force behind "public" education was to ensure the ability to properly participate in a representative government, specifically, ours.
Books used to be the primary means of information dissemination and they were rare and expensive so common repositories, schools and libraries, were logical.
The internet has changed that. Not even the invention of movable type has as large an impact on the availability of information. Without noting that a government-union controlled school has no chance of actually serving the consumers, schools have long since failed to serve their intended purpose.
It is long past time to terminate the government schools and sell the physical assets to the private sector.
PS. I teach math and science both publicly and privately as my retirement job.
If you think the reading list doesn’t matter, you are profoundly blind to the facts. And the military is run by top-down control, now isn’t it? If all you can see is “Federal Government BAD” ... I guess I’d have to see if you’re consistent in that by asking your take on abortion and gay marriage. If you are indeed consistent, I’ll take you for a Libertarian, and there’s nothing more to say. If you aren’t, I’ll take you for a hypocrite and there’s nothing more to say.
I see your point there. It's terribly expensive and it's going to roll out about as smoothly as Obamacare. I suspect their real goal is faster feedback (standardized tests often take months to get the scores back). It's more likely a stupid waste of money, though, than an Ev-il Government Plot.
“the bill and melinda gates abortion clinic”
Great ones get their own Lyceum or whatever it was
This is because it usually requires an education degree/certificate instead of something useful.
I can’t comment about the English aspects of CC because I haven’t looked at “sample problems” or “exercises” proffered by either adherents or opponents to CC. Nor was I all that strong in English in high school but I was a vicious monster in math with 790, 796, and 800 on my SATs. Nor am I a teacher.
The two subjects are just profoundly different. English has a degree of fluff in it, and other than the ability to recall specific facts and names in reading comprehension, I have an appreciation for a student’s ability to interpret, to equivocate and to gain impressions from reading. S’cool. I myself have only a little of that.
But math, especially up to pre-calculus, it is my opinion that you want to take this stuff and crush it. You want to have a grasp of the procedures and approaches and have deep certainty as to what you are doing and beat its head in. This takes confidence and a degree of aggression, IMHO. You get to that condition by practicing the stuff and developing an appreciation of the idea that even though it may be boring, it can be approached with a certain rhythm and yes, rote, but the student is acquiring something and seeing definite progress. There is symmetry, there is pattern recognition....very musical in some senses. That’s a confidence builder. It’s probably a different area of the brain.
The difference, in a nutshell, is the value one ascribes to CERTAINTY. Some people like certainty, myself among them. Kids, IMO, have very, very little they can be certain about, except by default, eg; they don’t even think about it. For some, I very much believe certainty and confidence are character-building elements and there are those who have a natural affinity for certainty and those for whom the trait could be developed. Others shun certainty.
My objection to the CC math I have seen is the idea that, completely eliminated from the realm of possibility is, you know something and you know it so cold you can grab it by the throat and kill it.
Sorry for the aggressive tone!
LA Roosevelt High has an on-campus abortion clinic from what I am reading, such a “proud” moment in government education , NOT
Oh, I agree whole-heartedly. The entire education field has tried to get children to build castles of insight in the air without any foundation on the ground, leap-frogging over memorizing, summarizing, and sheer volume of reading to try and find a shortcut wherein a child can read one little story about a Mexican boy in a barrio and glean all sorts of remarkable insights with it, manipulate the text to milk out symbols and messages and connections and meaning... Because children just inherently possess the ability to make profound insights about life based on a simple short story they can barely read, see? It's very frustrating. But that's not specific to Common Core, that's been the field of education for decades now.
What math classes are you having troubles in?
I teach and would be glad to help a fellow FReeper.
Well, conservatives are to blame. They don’t go into the field of education; it doesn’t pay enough. So you left it all to the liberals, and they did what they wanted with it. Well done, you.