Common Core

Is Common Core on the Ropes?


Dietmar Temps / Foter

Opponents of rigid and controversial Common Core education standards just may be winning the battle. That pending victory is something Reason has pointed out in the past, as we've urged that libertarians should cheer for such an outcome, and work instead for expanded flexibility in education, and more consideration for the diversity of the kids on the receiving end of educrat ambitions.

It's impassioned moms who are defeating Common Core, suggests Stephanie Simon at Politico, overwhelming "sedate videos" and "talking points."

Honestly, though, Common Core supporters have also resorted to less cerebral tactics, such as condescension and political smears.

Simon's article is tilted more than a little toward the idea that Common Core has the facts on its side, while opponents are driven by emotion.

Teachers who like the Common Core say it's revolutionized their classrooms, prodding students to read texts more closely and think more analytically. But it's hard to convey that in a tweet. Really good sixth-grade essay questions rarely go viral. A nonsensical math problem might, whether or not it truly has anything to do with the Common Core.

In fact, though, while some of the arguments against the standards—as with anything coming from a grassroots movement—can be a little wild-eyed, opponents raise serious concerns about the way the standards were developed and their one-size-fits-all nature.

In the Washington Post, teacher Edward Miller and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an academic specializing in early childhood education, questioned the appropriateness of the standards for younger students. "It appears that early childhood teachers and child development experts were excluded from the K-3 standards-writing process."

The Cato Institute's Jason Bedrick focuses on the standards' rigidity, warning that "Common Core-aligned tests (particularly college entrance exams) will essentially dictate content: what concepts are taught when and perhaps even how."

Which is to say, moms (and others) may have good reason to be pissed off.

Whatever the arguments wielded by the opposing sides, though, though, opponents seem to be gaining the upper hand. The public is still split, but opposition to the standards is on the rise in places like California and New York. Nationally, Republicans take a dim view of the scheme.

EdWeek tracks state efforts to ditch Common Core, though its tracker isn't up-to-date. Oklahoma isn't even listed, though that state's Supreme Court recently upheld the legislature's torpedoing of the standards.

Simon says that Common Core supporters "consider it a victory that just five states, so far, have taken steps to back out."

Well, that's a start.

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  1. We’re losing the education arms race to the China-men. The United States is dead last in literacy and math(s). Even behind those countries where ignorance is practically celebrated. (You know the ones I mean.)

    1. Snooki, Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo…

      I thought Ignorance was celebrated in the US?

    2. Even behind those countries where ignorance is practically celebrated.

      How can we be behind ourselves?

    3. If you look only at Asian and Caucasian Americans, the U.S. does pretty well.

      1. You disgusting R-slurring monster!

    4. Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature.

  2. It is funny. I don’t like common core but I have yet to see an example of a “stupid” problem that I could not see the value of teaching and most of the opposition seems to boil down to “that’s not the way we did it when I was in school” with no thought or reasoning for whether or not the new way has any merit on it’s own.

    The real reason of course to oppose Common Core is not that it has new teaching styles and methods but rather because it is an attempt to impose a top down standardized methodology on all students and all teachers when learning is inherently an individual task. The idea that every student will benefit from learning the exact same thing at the exact same time is the central flaw in the US (and most other) educational systems.

    1. I disagree with how advanced mathematical concepts are being taught before the kids are properly grounded in basic concepts. My kid was working on estimates before he really grasped the meaning of what the number 10 really meant.

      This means that after a day at school and homework at night, dad gets to teach him the basic math that my tax dollars were supposed to teach. The folks at Singapore math are making a mint off of this.

    2. I don’t have kids, so I don’t much have a dog in this fight, but my argument would be we should be trying to find ways of making individualized education more cost-effective and efficient, rather than ways of making learning uniform for everyone.

      1. Two Words:



      2. This. With the advent of online video, there is no real reason children need to learn in lock-step with each other now, other than educator laziness.

        1. Not to mention there is no reason to drag them off to prison on a daily basis. Unless you are into that.

    3. The idea that every student will benefit from learning the exact same thing at the exact same time is the central flaw in the US (and most other) educational systems.

      Not just that, but in the same way.

    4. Yeah, I don’t see much of any reason to oppose CC based on the standards alone. After reading through them, I think any decent teacher should be able to teach them in less than a month, leaving plenty of time for them to do whatever they used to do before CC.

      Lack of choice is still the biggest problem in education, and common core makes that problem worse.

      1. HAHAHAHA

    5. “The idea that every student will benefit from learning the exact same thing at the exact same time is the central flaw in the US (and most other) educational systems.”

      I totally agree. Why do people believe that it’s an efficient system if you have to force kids through it for 13 years and, when they come out, the real world only considers them qualified for jobs a chimpanzee could do? That is a disgrace to me.

      1. The glorious government of the state of Massachusetts has decided that every state college needs to add curriculum to teach high school graduates how to do manufacturing jobs. It blew my mind when I heard them talking about it on the news.

  3. how about the basic fraud that Common Core is pitched as “standards” but is in fact a product for sale.

  4. I honestly don’t understand the push for common core. In a utopian setting, students would be instructed by private tutors and parents could select a tutor whose style and abilities would be an ideal fit for their student’s personality and abilities – kind of like we currently do for sports and music instruction now. We don’t live in utopia and never will, but shouldn’t we try to move more in its general direction?

  5. Yes, it’s the Times and yes, it’s a long-ass article. That being said, there are some interesting points here.

    The real problem is that teachers are not being taught how to teach.

    1. Hmm, how did that link break?

      Try this again.

      1. So far, this shit is stupid. Liberals have been in charge of education for a long time now. They’ve tried all kinds of stuff. If there was some magic bullet that only required proper teacher training, somebody would’ve found it.

        1. By somebody, do you mean teachers in Japan?

          1. Japan isn’t any outlier among NE Asian countries.

            1. I get the feeling you’re missing the point, but don’t let me stop you. Your stream of conscious style commentary is quite interesting.

      2. “Students don’t just memorize their times tables and addition facts but also understand how arithmetic works and how to apply it to real-life situations.”

        Too bad nobody thought of teaching “how arithmetic works” before.

      3. “Even in Massachusetts, one of the country’s highest-performing states, math students are more than two years behind their counterparts in Shanghai.”

        Shanghai is not in Japan. Perhaps there’s a lesson here.

        1. “A survey found that three-quarters of doctors inaccurately estimated the rates of death and major complications associated with common medical procedures, even in their own specialty areas.”

          Must be because they don’t know “how arithmetic works.”

      4. “The unschooled may have been more capable of complex math than people who were specifically taught it, but in the context of school, they were stymied by math they already knew. ”

        This is just the efficiency of specialization. People who do the same thing over and over develop rules of thumb that are perfect for the task, but aren’t generally transferable.

      5. “Instead of trying to convey, say, the essence of what it means to subtract fractions”


      6. “That was the challenge Magdalene Lampert set for herself in the 1980s, when she began teaching elementary-school math in Cambridge, Mass. ”

        Wait, isn’t Mass. two years behind Shanghai?

      7. “For example, if you are trying to decide on the best problem to teach children to subtract a one-digit number from a two-digit number using borrowing, or regrouping, you have many choices: 11 minus 2, 18 minus 9, etc. Yet from all these options, five of the six textbook companies in Japan converged on the same exact problem, Toshiakira Fujii, a professor of math education at Tokyo Gakugei University, told me. They determined that 13 minus 9 was the best. Other problems, it turned out, were likely to lead students to discover only one solution method. With 12 minus 3, for instance, the natural approach for most students was to take away 2 and then 1 (the subtraction-subtraction method). Very few would take 3 from 10 and then add back 2 (the subtraction-addition method).”

        They just might be overthinking how hard subtraction is.

      8. “The research showed that Japanese students initiated the method for solving a problem in 40 percent of the lessons; Americans initiated 9 percent of the time.”

        We’re still talking about 13-9 here, right?

      9. ” Though lesson study is pervasive in elementary and middle school, it is less so in high school, where the emphasis is on cramming for college entrance exams. As is true in the United States, lower-income students in Japan have recently been falling behind their peers,”

        So the method is abandoned when the stakes are raised.

        And, umm, “recently”?

      10. “It could be tempting to dismiss Japan’s success as a cultural novelty, an unreproducible result of an affluent, homogeneous, and math-positive society. ”

        “Tempting” isn’t the word I’d use. “Obvious” perhaps.

      11. ” In one experiment in which more than 200 American teachers took part in lesson study, student achievement rose, as did teachers’ math knowledge ? two rare accomplishments.”

        Well, how much did it rise? Don’t leave me hanging.

      12. “Across all school subjects, teachers receive a pale imitation of the preparation, support and tools they need.”

        Aha, this is about mo’ money. Who could’ve guessed.

    2. WTF are they being taught? They don’t have to get a degree or achieve even a basic background in the subject they are going to teach. Now they’re not even learning pedagogy?

      1. Have you met education majors? It probably takes them three or four semesters to learn enough math to do basic grade averages.

        1. Not to mention most of the girls publicly fornicating while high on mushrooms at my university were education majors.

          Don’t ask me how I know that.

          1. I won’t ask. But yes, go on…

            1. Let’s just say, it was one crazy Yom Kippur.

        2. Ed majors != teachers

      2. Kids who just got shuffled along through the education system are now becoming teachers who shuffle kids along through the education system.

        1. It’s a great lesson on perpetual motion.

          1. Downward Spiraling Perpetual Motion Machine.

            Yep, new pretentious progressive rock band name discovered. Achievement unlocked.

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