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Stop Experimenting On My Kids (Common Core)

This is a guest post by Manchester resident and concerned parent Jon DiPietro.

common core math lessonOn Wednesday, October 16, 2013, the public session of Manchester Board of School Committee’s meeting, I voiced my opposition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). In order to ensure my comments fit within the allotted three minutes (unlike many proponents who arrogantly droned on for five, six, seven minutes and longer), I delivered a shortened version of the following plea:

“My name is Jon DiPietro and I live in Ward 6. Three of my four children are in Manchester schools right now; Memorial, McLaughlin, and Green Acres. I’m in year 14 of a 25+ year span in which I will have children in school.

There are many aspects of common core that I think are problematic. In my mind, they range from troubling to truly mind boggling:

  • I could talk to you tonight about my disappointment that following the standards will mean that our high school graduates will be years behind the rest of the world in math.
  • Or I could express my deep reservations about the abdication of local educational sovereignty.
  • Or I could share my outrage at the inappropriate, dangerous and possibly unconstitutional data sharing that accompanies common core.
  • Or I could recite the growing list of communities and states who are hitting the brakes on common core and questioning its efficacy.
  • Or I could recount testimony from developmental child psychologists who insist that the common core standards ask grade school children to perform tasks that require areas of their brains that won’t be fully developed for several more years.
  • Or I could repeat stories pouring in from other states about exasperated teachers and emotionally drained children who are wrestling with a badly and hastily constructed system.
  • Or I could mention the fact that Sandra Stotsky – credited with developing one of the country’s strongest sets of academic standards for K-12 students – refused to endorse the common core English language arts standards despite being paid to do so.
  • Or I could mention the fact that James Milgram – professor emeritus of mathematics at Stanford University – refused to endorse the common core mathematics standards despite being paid to do so.
  • Or I could object to the shift away from knowledge and mastery in favor of empty skills, which will lead to a work force full of sophomores, which you may know is Greek for “wise fool.”
  • Or I could explain the danger in a standard that requires children to use emotional words to construct persuasive arguments instead of classical techniques of rhetoric that instead rely on logic and reason.
  • Or I could highlight the dangers of a system that favors inquiry-based learning that train teachers to become facilitators instead of instructors.

In my mind, any one of these concerns is enough to pump the brakes on this effort and seriously question whether common core will deliver the change that our education system desperately and unquestioningly needs.

But as a parent of four, I have one concern that in my view trumps every one of them. I’m here tonight to ask you one very simple question: Why are you experimenting with my kids?

  • Please don’t tell me that this isn’t experimental when we’ve adopted a system that hasn’t even completed the development of all of its standards.
  • Please don’t tell me that this isn’t experimental when my daughter’s algebra teacher unexpectedly gets a shipment of new books dropped in his classroom six weeks into the school year, causing him to throw out his entire lesson plan and finish out the year flying by the seat of his pants.
  • Please don’t tell me this isn’t experimental when we have no data to support the theory that this will lead to an improvement in education.
  • Please don’t tell me this isn’t experimental when the Board of School Committee hasn’t even decided to adopt common core when the schools are knee-deep into it.
  • Please don’t tell me this isn’t experimental when most teachers I’ve spoken with in the two open houses I’ve attended shrug their shoulders and admit that they don’t know where this is going or what’s expected of them.
  • Please don’t tell me this isn’t experimental when my middle school daughter comes home crying because she failed a math quiz because she got the correct answers using the outdated method she was taught last year.

In my view, what this Board and school administration are doing to teachers and students this year is unfair and highly detrimental. I know the easiest thing to do would be to push forward and follow the herd because everyone else is doing it. I know the hard thing to do is to slow down and maybe, just maybe admit that we moved a little too hastily. Because instead of condemning you for making a mistake, I and all reasonable parents will applaud you for making things right.

This parent respectfully and passionately asks this board to stop experimenting on his kids. Thank you.”

The good news is that immediately following this public session, Superintendent Debra Livingston proposed and the board approved a plan to develop the Manchester Academic Standards. These new standards will borrow from the “best available resources” including standards from other states like Massachusetts and Indiana that have already proven highly successful. Common Core will now be the floor instead of the ceiling.

This is exactly what I and many other CCSS opponents had been imploring the board to do.

There is some controversy around whether or not this vote amounts to a “rejection” of CCSS. Personally, I don’t care what you call it. I fear that some CCSS opponents will push for a clear and unambiguous message from the city that it rejects the standards. In my view, we don’t need to follow in the footsteps of the Obama administration and insist that our opponents be vanquished and humiliated. We should give the administration cover to move forward and do the right thing, which is all that matters as far as I am concerned.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:  To learn more about the battle to stop Common Core in Manchester and NH click here.  Thanks for visiting our site!

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  • Jeremy Evans

    Please read my post here. i think you are missing many positives in the COmmon Core. http://theevanseditionblog.blogspot.com/2013/10/stop-all-this-stop-common-core-stuff.html

    • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

      Jeremy – Your article simply regurgitates the same talking points about common core.

      “After all the work that teachers and administrators in Ohio have put into unpacking, repacking, backpacking, talking about and now implementing.”

      Two things. First, this is a sentence fragment. Second, it’s a cognitive bias called loss aversion that is very common. Humans fear loss more than they value gain, so we make poor decisions because, for example, we don’t want to feel like our work was wasted.

      “The Common Core standards are going to make our students think deeper and analyze the material in ways that they never have before.”
      Please provide the data that support this assertion. You can’t because there is none. Thus, you’re experimenting with my kids.

      “Our old standards were too broad and didn’t have the rigor of the new standards.”

      Ohio’s standards may, in fact, have been too broad like our here in NH. However, common core standards are not rigorous. Refer to the links in my article from Dr. Stotsky and Prof. Milgram.

      “I don’t care that Tea Party people think that it is the federal government taking over our education system.”

      I do. By the way, it’s not just “Tea Party People.” Many progressives are rightfully concerned about the undue influence this will give the private testing corporations (which happen to be British-owned, by the way).

      Your article repeatedly uses the phrase “I don’t care,” which is an indication of a closed mind and admission that you wish to dictate to others rather than listen and compromise. I invite you to address the core argument of my post: Common core is unproven and has a significant list of flaws. It is therefore immoral – in my opinion – to foist it upon my kids. If it’s so great, let’s do some pilots with volunteer families and use objective data to prove that they’re awesome.

      In the mean time, I prefer to use standards like those formerly used in Massachusetts and Indiana that have a multi-decade track record of success.

      • Jeremy Evans

        I find it ironic that you point out my regurgitation of the same talking points, when many of your arguments are the same that I have heard as well.

        I apologize for the sentence fragment, as an ELA teacher I should know better. I can tell you are passionate about this subject. You can probably tell that I am as well. I wrote this blog in frustration over the new bill that is being introduced in Ohio. It was not written as a rebuttal to your post. I just wanted you to see it from my perspective.

        On the issue of cognitive bias, you have a point. We have done great things in having conversations about the CCSS as teachers. Yes, I hate for that work to be wasted, but if we go back to the old standards, we won’t change our instruction. That is the key thing here. The CCSS have challenged educators to rethink the way they deliver instruction. My fear is not losing the work, but losing how we change our instruction in the future.

        I work with the standards everyday. My data is my students. When I ask them to analyze and synthesize and they struggle, I know that I need to do more to help them think deeper. I am not as familiar with the math standards that Dr. Milgram is speaking of, but I also don’t really see any data that supports his argument either.

        The folks in Ohio that are trying to block the CCSS are Tea Party people. I have not encountered any progressive folks that are opposed to it at this time. I mention them because they are in Ohio. That is where the conspiracy theories are being formulated.

        Again my passion for this subject is what brought me to use the phrase “I don’t care”. Again, it was written out of frustration. I hope you know that I do care about kids. What I don’t care about is myths and conspiracy theories. I don’t care that the only reason people care about this issue now is because of it’s connection to the Obama administration.

        To your argument about state standards that are “proven” I have two points. First being that many of the states that are choosing to back out of CCSS are doing so for many reasons, but most seem to center around the testing issue. The states will not be able to write their own tests. They are fearful that their state will look bad when compared to other states. If they can’t write their own tests, then they can’t make themselves look as good anymore. Two, the Massachusetts ELA standards are very similar to the CCSS ELA standards. the organization and year-to-year continuation of skills with gradual increases was somewhat modeled after them.

        I get that you think it is experimentation, but i can’t find the data to support that either.

        • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

          Thanks for responding to the substance of my post. I respect your point of view and can understand someone in your position disagreeing.

          Understand this: I don’t need data to make the assertion that this is experimentation. I saw the confusion and chaos every week with my kids and their teachers. Our superintendent admitted as much minutes after I delivered this.

          And you keep mentioning that the Tea Party is behind the opposition, as if that in and of itself delegitimizes the arguments (also known as an ad hominem attack). If a Tea Party member says that the sky is blue, does that mean the sky is not blue? The fact that they are a Tea Party member is inconsequential to the argument itself.

          The same goes for classifying the arguments as conspiracy theories. It’s easier to discredit an assertion by mocking it but get us closer to the truth.

          Frankly, I don’t care what Ohio does and to be honest, I hope you do implement common core. Knock yourselves out and here in Manchester, we’ll develop our own standards based on stuff that’s worked and not untested theories. This way, we know with a reasonable degree of certainty that our education system will improve (our old NH standards were pretty poor). And then if it turns out that common core is a little bit better, then we can adopt it then. But for now, it’s just whole language, every day math and no child left behind all over again.

          • AConcernedandAwareMama

            In spite of growing opposition from parents becoming educated in the Core, as their children bring home tears and confusion, and they ask more questions, OH’s government Kasich has vouched to stand behind the Core and veto any bill that threatens it. Shockingly many of these parents are *not* “Tea Party members”, “conspiracy theorists”, “birthers”, or any of the other labels which are used to try and diminish and discredit their legitimate and educated concerns on behalf of their children. I get to tired of these arguments.

          • Jeremy Evans

            I don’t mean to belittle folks in the Tea Party, but I have seen many arguments that are about conspiracies and the like. I am not calling names. Most of the people that make these arguments on twitter have obvious references to the Tea Party. They seem to be proud of it. I am not trying to diminish them as people. Know I have legitimate concerns for my children as well.

            I shouldn’t have brought the Tea Party into this discussion here because it really has little to so with the main argument that Jon is trying to make.

          • Heather Poland

            And this is not a right or left issue. People who are concerned about the Common Core are from EVERY party. It is multi-partisan. Forget the conspiracy theories, forget the Tea Party. Look at where the money comes from and how they are privatizing education.

          • cindy

            Democrats and Repbulicans support this, and they also oppose it. It is not a tea party issue. Above all, this is a parent issue!!

        • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

          Jeremey – I followed you on Twitter so that you could DM me your email address. I’d like to send you a private note if that’s OK.

      • Meg Norris

        Rigor refers to dead people and has no place in the classroom. Challenge our children but do not hide developmentally inappropriate skills behind the word “rigor.” There is a reason we still study Piaget and Vygotsky in college. They are the basis of learning theory.

    • Meg Norris

      As a teacher who left the classroom to fight Common Core I have seen the damage done. Read this short blog of Diane’s written by curriculum writer Robert Shepherd. I think you will look at standards based instruction much differently. http://dianeravitch.net/2013/07/05/robert-shepherd-common-core-requires-teaching-abstract-skills-not-content/

      • Jeremy Evans

        I have read a lot of Diane Ravitch’s writing on the CCSS. Most of her arguments center around the money that is flowing as a result of the CCSS. While the amount of money is alarming, we live in a capitalist society. People and groups will try to profit off of any thing or idea. I’m not saying it is right or wrong, it is what it is.

        As far as Mr. Shepard, I agree with him that content should not go away. That is why many states have developed their own Social Studies and Science standards. The content isn’t going away. I disagree with him on the point that ELA is not skills-based. We all read with a set of skills. Those skills like decoding, predicting, analyzing and questioning are used anytime we read something. I will do more research on Mr. Shepard to see more of what is argument is based on.

        • Heather Poland

          And when that money starts interfering with the actual goals of public education, it’s time to act! They are now trying to profit off of our children. That is NOT OK. All we do any more is test and get ready for the test, and it is about to get worse with the computer adaptive tests! Children should be involved in REAL learning, not getting ready for a test.

        • Meg Norris

          I think you also need to do some research on Ms. Ravitch. She argues about much more than money. I suggest her latest book “Reign of Error”

    • Heather Poland

      There are no positives to the Common Core! You need to look at HOW it came about, the fact that NO educators helped write them, and it is all about the money! That’s it! Money! New standards = new tests, which Pearson is connected to BOTH consortium that are publishing tests. When the kids fail, and they will- look at NYC- Pearson and other companies (oh wait, Pearson now owns 80% or more of education) will come in and sell their wares. Follow the money.
      Opt out!
      http://www.unitedoptout.com

      • Jeremy Evans

        There are no positives? None? I have a hard time swallowing that one. Sure money is involved. Money is involved in everything. You can say “Follow the Money” in Pediatric Medicine and find that people profit along the way. Is that bad? I don’t know. The testing concern is not new with CCSS. High stakes testing has been around for a while for varied reasons, not just the money.

        • Heather Poland

          High stakes testing has been around since NCLB. We used to have state testing, but they were NOT high stakes at all. The thing is, more people- who know nothing about education- are getting “in” on education for the money and public education is becoming privatized. That’s a huge problem.

        • DaveMI

          Why would you have a hard time swallowing that one? Can you actually provide any positives? No, because there are none! This is an experimental teaching theory. It has not been proven successful anywhere, and to the contrary has already been proven a failure in NY and KY. Everything about CCSS is flawed, from its development to its implementation. And for those states that push ahead, when they find their children floundering and failing, what will the State Boards and legislators say? “Sorry”? “Guess we shouldn’t have tried this”? Too little, too late and too big of a risk for our kids.

  • AConcernedandAwareMama

    You are on the money and anyone who lays back and passively allows the Core to come in and/or actively endorses it has little sense of history, US government or what the *actual* purpose of education has been about since the beginning of such an endeavor. Thank God for clear thinkers such as yourself. The Core has all the problems you mention and then some. I certainly hope that more states (my own state of Ohio is dragging its feet) throw off this ill-conceived and premature load of garbage before it can do more harm to the kids and the country. Thank you for speaking out.

    • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

      Thank you for your comment. Please share the article with other concerned parents in your community.

  • carolinagirl6

    My nephew who is in the 10th grade also continues to fail because he fails to show the ‘correct’ work even though his answers are right! So glad we chose to home school! I feel sorry for the children who are in public school and have to live this nightmare on a daily basis

    • Meg Norris

      Please help fight for those children who don’t have any alternative. Educate your friends and neighbors!!!

    • Anita Saucedo

      This affects all public, private, AND home schooled students because students who have not been instructed in the Common Core Curriculum will fail College Entrance Exams. Just something to think about…

      • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

        Not if their curriculum exceeds the lowly common core standards. But it’s a good point.

      • Elizabeth Rubenstein

        here’s the list of over 800 colleges and universities that do NOT require SAT or ACT tests for admission.

        http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional

        there’s more to life than tests and even college.

    • mandi

      It isn’t enough to get the right answers. They must show their ability to think and act just like everybody else, like a good little robot.

    • Will.I.am.not

      Carolin, this is nothing new. Kids have always been penalized for not showing work.

      • NewHampshire

        The trouble is, today schools are taking these fads, prescribed by these highly paid QUACKS, to an extreme. Please read about some of these QUACKS in the education section of CNHT.org/news If this doesn’t blow your mind.. http://www.cnht.org/news/2009/11/01/how-does-nh-waste-1-3m-on-a-philosophy/

      • cindy

        Not on standardized tests…showing work is to help inform a teacher to help her child is fine. And our kids are made to “show work” as part of test prep. bottom line.

        The key is “think like everyone else.” They have to SHOW that they think like the group – especially in the math. It may be easier to do a standard algorithm, but no, they have to break numbers apart, take numerous extra steps, all for what? Because someone claims this shows “deeper mathematical thinking.” I say, “prove it.”

  • NikkiHillHernandez

    My daughter is on the #4 times tables in 3rd grade. She brought home a math worksheet that told her to solve the problem 46×7 using the distributive method. She had no book with examples. They had not been taught double digit math. They were only on the basic #4 times tables. Explain this to me. Well, I wrote a letter on this said homework sheet for the teacher. But she never got it because she doesn’t check their homework. They check it themselves. *facepalm* This is insanity!

    • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

      Nikki, this illustrates my point about “facilitation” versus “instruction.” I see it every day with my kids. Teachers are being told to essentially let kids twist in the wind to figure things out for themselves in the name of “critical thinking.” But as you point out, critical thinking first requires a foundation of knowledge and instruction. This is being strategically and deliberately gutted through the common core framework.

      • NewHampshire

        John you are one of the FEW parents who ‘gets it’. This facilitator nonsense is in place to prevent teachers from passing on ‘culturally’ (and this is how it was explained to me) any factual or traditional knowledge.

        • NewHampshire

          NO CULTURAL TRANSMISSION they would scream at us at every workshop. Let the kids learn ‘collectively’ through communal exercises where they ‘teach’ each other. BAH.

    • Will.I.am.not

      Do you not have the Teachers email address??

  • Jeremy Brown

    Maybe now we can stop blaming teachers and see the real inherent problem lies with the government and their unflinching ability to pass legislation or make policy without thinking it through. As teachers, we do as we are told from on high, so we have to work with whatever crap they throw our way.

    • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

      The teachers in my city were thrown to the wolves this school year. The administration tried to rush through a hastily developed curriculum without school board approval. The board voted not to adopt common core, so now the teachers are breathing a sigh of relief (they are free to return to their traditional lesson plans if they want) but it is still a mess.

    • NewHampshire

      So true. It’s a total sham to think the teachers or even unions have ANYTHING at all to say about this garbage they are being told to teach!

  • Kimberly A. Hurd

    I equate this, the big money making corp that is Pearson, and the buying and selling of data to the buying and selling of children/people and that is slavery. It is being masked in a different way..so much passivity and I am sick of it. I am a 20 yr teacher and I am sick of it. Children should be playing with bubbles, not filling them out–even as young as kinder. I speak for myself as a mom, as a teacher with a heart and concern for the children. What are we doing to the children? @khurdhorst

    • Keep Honkin I’m Reloading

      Did they change their company name from Pearson “Learning” to just “Pearson”?

      that would be appropriate…

  • DaveMBeck

    ensure, not insure. 1st para

    • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Jacob Elliott

    I don’t know about other grade levels, but I teach Kindergarten. I do agree with the assessment that Common Core is rather excessive for these children. I just taught addition to children who barely know their numbers. I am also supposed to teach ‘missing addends’ to these guys later in the year. They are also expected to read fluently and be able to write well. These are great things to strive for, but when 75% of my children enter Kindergarten knowing less than 5 letters and no sounds to go with them, again I believe it is excessive. Instead of celebrating where they have gotten, we get mired down in their “failures.” We were taught in college about Developmentally Appropriate Practices. I do not believe CCSS to be developmentally appropriate for Kindergartners.

    • Will.I.am.not

      Jacob, My kids go to an accelerated school (public). They teach about a year ahead of where the state requires them to. When my kids were in kindergarten they were learning 2 digit addition by the winter break, by the end of the year they were starting 2 digit subtraction. 5 and 6 year olds are perfectly capable of learning that. On the reading side, these kids are learning 4 or 5 letter spelling words by the end of the year and are reading well beyond SEE SPOT RUN. This isn’t an example of my 2 kids who I believe are just average at school. This is the ENTIRE school. All grade levels.

      My 10 year old in 4th grade is reading at a 6th or 7th grade level and they are doing pre-algebra in math. She has diagnosed ADD and she still gets 85%+ in math.

      I think for decades we’ve been coddling our children in school. We’ve let the slower ones bring down the rest of them. I don’t EVER remember having homework in elementary school. Our school sends daily homework even for Kindergarteners. Is that too much? Some times, but it’s usually no more than 2 or 3 worksheets that can be completed in 20-30 minutes tops. Every teacher there understands that we have a life and if they can’t complete the homework, it’s ok. Some nights we don’t complete it.

      I’m not for Common Core at all, it’s actually going to slow down our fantastic accelerated school. They will adopt different teaching methodologies, they will be forced to teach topics we’ve already covered. However, the school is still going to teach at a faster rate.

      Our school teaches the Saxton Math program and the Spalding reading and writing method. I like Spalding because it teaches them the phonograms. Once they know those, they can learn to read and write any word (remember HOOKED on PHONICS??).

      Saxton introduces a new concept, they master it and then review older concepts before moving on to a new one. This way they reenforce what they have already learned.

      Jacob, don’t underestimate your students. These 5 and 6 year olds can do math, they can do reading and spelling. The faster they learn this, the better off they will be. I’m sure you’re a wonderful teacher, but question the abilities of your kids.

      The ones that can’t do it, I bet never attended pre-school and didn’t have parents who read to them. Those are the kids watching 3-4 hours of TV a day and play video games all day. These days, kids need at least 2 years of pre-school to be ready for Kindergarten (in my opinion).

      • Jacob Elliott

        Will.i.am.not, I am so glad that you have helped your children throughout their lives. You are a great parent. You are also correct in saying children are ‘capable’ of doing these things, but I ask you, should they be? If you were to watch the video about Kindergarten standards, you would see that a Kindergartener’s brain is not wired in that way. I teach at a school that is 85% free or reduced lunch. That means 85% of our kids live in poverty. A lot of parents don’t realize how much work they should be doing with kids before they come in my door. Again, as I stated, I am expected to bring kids who know almost nothing, to be able to add and subtract and read “fluently.” All wonderful things to strive for. But it’s not reality. See, you talk about doing homework with your kids, and I send homework home with my students also. I have since I started teaching. But a five year old would much rather play. Do you know what is better than doing homework? Talking to your child. Not talking down or talking at your child, but talking to and with your child. That is the most important thing anyone could ever do. Now as you said, kids need at least two years of pre-school before entering into Kindergarten. About 3 of my 18 students went to Pre-K. Guess what? That’s actually too late. Read the book Disrupting Class, specifically the chapter about kids before entering Kindergarten. I think it may be chapter 6. It talks about how the most important years in a child’s life are the first three. This is because the studies show this is where the brain begins to get programmed. Now if you are programming your child with lots of learning opportunities and conversation, as you have obviously done, you are raising a child who will get things and understand things much quicker. If you raise your child to watch TV their first 3 years, you are in essence raising a vegetable. Now, I believe in my kids and I teach to their abilities. But they are 5. They like to play, they like to have fun, they like to enjoy the awesomeness of life. I try to bring this into my classroom. A lot of the Common Core does not allow me to do this. It is dry, it is boring, and it is not conducive to learning. Why should 5 year olds need to know every single holiday? It doesn’t directly affect them. Why should they need to know the continent they live on? Why should they all be expected to read 30-60 words a minute when they hardly know their letters? Again, I am happy that you’re an awesome parent. I have a very bright child also. I expect him to excel at all he does, but that is because I have instilled these values in him. Not everyone does that. Also, do I expect him to care about Columbus Day or North America? No. Will I expect him to read and write at 5. Sure, but if he’s not ready, I’m not going to punish him for it. I will celebrate with him his successes. Oh, and by the way, worksheets are developmentally appropriate either. Check out the book “Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites.”

        • AConcernedandAwareMama

          You can also check out “For the Children’s Sake” and “The Hurried Child”. In addition to the other stumbling blocks of variability in environment and parenting there is the detrimental effect of moving children along too quickly – adult lifestyle diseases are effecting children like never before… perhaps because we are pushing them too far, too fast. Now I know that kids are capable of amazing things, I have 4 clever ones myself, but we have been *very* relaxed about our education and they are still accelerating at or ahead of their traditionally schooled peers, but man… we take it eeeeeeeeeeeasy. ;)

      • Beth Bingham

        Gosh, Will.I.Am.Not- sounds like you are drinking the kool-aid of social restructuring. First of all, are you aware of the 50+ years of research (through colleges such as Yale and Harvard) that have proven that early academic accomplishment DOES NOT designate post-adolescent IQ??? Second, are you familiar with developmentally appropriate practice, the need for play, the effects of stress on young children and their resulting behavioral issues, all documented clearly as well through the same sources of research??? And third- are you completely blind to the concept of segregation according to social class? Well, congratulations for your highly-achieving kids. God help them when their souls crave true human morals such as compassion, patience and empathy… each of which is sorely absent in the future of your projected ‘dream life’ your version of education provides.

        • Will.I.am.not

          Wow Beth, Thanks!! All that based on the fact that my kids go to an accelerated school? Did you know that we’re in Arizona which is almost dead last for education? So my kids learning 5th grade work in 4th grade is probably equivalent to other kids learning 4th grade work in 5th grade.

          I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that my kids had homework in Kindergarten. But they certainly didn’t turn to compassionless, zombie, morons because of it. I actually have very outgoing, social, friendly, loving children who are artistic, and have great imaginations. And yes, they do about an hour of homework every night M-Thurs. They are also in the girl scouts, play out doors, ride their bikes, and play with friends.

          I hear about all these horror stories about the education in Arizona and how they teach down to the bottom 20%. How the brighter kids are bored and aren’t challenged. I’m happy that we found a school who teaches to the top 20% but challenges the bottom 80% to do more. I bet you didn’t know that in Arizona you can send your kid to ANY school in ANY district? As long as there is room they can go there. They don’t have to go to the school closest to their house. So we drive our kids 8 miles to get them to the right school.

          Beth grow the F UP!! This is a message board to have mature discussions about education. To talk about what’s right and wrong. What’s working and not working. How dare you come in here and attack me and my innocent children. You don’t know who I am. You don’t know my social and economic status. Maybe we live in government housing, live on food stamps, have to work 3 jobs to make ends meet. Maybe I live in a $500,000 house on a lake and drive a Landrover. Maybe I’m just like you, white, middleclass, struggling to make ends meet. The fact is you don’t know. So take it back a notch, think about what you are saying, and offer constructive criticism, not hatred and ignorance!

          And for the record, I’m really not for Common Core!

          • Beth Bingham

            No, sir. All that based on the fact that you cited 4 developmentally inappropriate activities that your children PERFORMED. Yes- performed. I say that because at the ages you cited, the skills you listed and the activities you stated have been… understand this very important part of my argument… PROVEN THROUGH RESEARCH to NOT result in any higher IQ or academic achievement in studied children at the end of their schooling career. Did ya hear- China is changing their education policies and practices because of this PROVEN RESEARCH DATA. These same DEVELOPMENTALLY INAPPROPRIATE activities and expected skill PERFORMANCE creates the stench of Common Core.

            And guess what? A sly little secret of the CC agenda is privatization of public schools. Yup- your other point in a nutshell. People choosing the school that best meets their desires for their children.
            In this ‘wonderful scenerio you describe, good bye public schools. Who cares about our children of poor income status?

            Me. I do. And so do many others… we care for ALL of the children. Those being subjected to developmentally inappropriate practice, those being subjected to ridiculous test taking and insane curriculum that is CRAP developed by people who have no idea what or how the children should be learning, those being tortured in their inclusion classrooms to perform at an impossible level… all of them.
            I’m wondering- can you see the points I am making? Or is the kool-aid too murky?

          • Will.I.am.not

            Oh Beth!! What would you have me do? Pull my kids out of public school and send them to private? Home school them? Send them to the worst school in the district?

            Listen, you worry about your kids and I’ll worry about mine. I think it’s wonderful that you live out in the sticks and run a day care center. That you make your own strawberry jelly. Your daughter is cute and looks very intelligent. But I live in a metropolis with over 2M people. I have choices about where my kids go to school.

            Whether or not teaching my kids to add and subtract in kindergarten or 1st grade doesn’t affect you! Don’t worry about my kids IQ. Worry about your own and your kids!

            I still don’t understand why you are arguing with me. I came here to say that I don’t want CC. That I want choices, that I want what’s best for my kids. You start attacking me because I say that I’m fine with a little homework and that they teach my kids at a higher level. Trust me, there have been many nights we’ve considered moving my kids to another school. Sometimes the advanced stuff is too much. But in the end I (Notice I said I, not YOU?) feel that this will help them in high school, college and beyond. When MY kids (notice I said MY, not YOUR?), get to highschool, they will be reading and writing at a 12th grade level, they will be doing 2nd level algebra, they will be prepared to do WELL in HighSchool.

            I remember struggling in high school. My parents didn’t help much, I was just tossed into the mix and left to my own demise. I don’t want that for MY (notice I said MY, not YOUR) kids. So I will do what I can to help them succeed.

            I don’t understand why bleeding heart liberals like yourself stand on a pedestal and preach to everyone and tell them they are wrong. You like to argue for the sake of arguing. You need to understand that this is a different America we live in. The Democrats have destroyed our way of life. It’s every man for himself. Stop worrying about what someone who lives 2500 miles away is doing. Worry about you and your family!

            That’s it, I’m done. Enjoy your life in Vine Valley, NY! Stop bothering me. I won’t be replying to any more incoherent, liberal, crazy talk you spew!

            Have a great weekend! Go make some jelly!

          • Beth Bingham

            Dismissive, arrogant, invasive and disrespectful … aren’t you the one that said we are all on here to discuss, as adults, Common Core? This is what I have done every time.

            Here’s my parting words for you, sir…
            I AM concerned with what happens with YOUR children, and every other child in this country, because THEY ARE THE FUTURE, who MY child will need to live with… but also because they are living beings.

            ‘First they came for the kindergarteners, but I didn’t speak up because my child wasn’t a kindergartener…’

      • Michelle Kipka Harris

        I wonder if you have considered socioeconomics and learners who have English as their second language at home. Those children who come to school from a house full of books (and parents who are speaking fluently and at a high level of vocabulary) ARE capable of moving at the speed demanded by the Core. However, we live in a country of great disparity. Not enough people want to address how socioeconomics effect readiness. Not ability. Of course those kids are able to learn. But they are not ready. Hungry, tired children don’t achieve the same things as those who go on vacation to Disney World and spend summer vacation in enrichment programs. I am not making this up. This is longitudinal research.

        • Will.I.am.not

          MIchelle. Again, I’m not for Common Core. But Here’s my question. Don’t take this as an attack, it’s not, just devils advocate here…

          Should we segregate the kids into different classes or levels based on their socioeconomic status?

          I thought the schools already address kids with learning disabilities? Aren’t there AP classes for smarter kids? Isn’t there “Pre-Algebra” for kids who aren’t ready for Algebra?

          If we teach standards to address the lowest common denominator then we’re teaching down to the more capable kids. Why should my kids get a lessor education because they come from a house where both parents speak English fluently? Who’s parents read to them and help them with their homework?

          This is why I’m glad that I can send my kids to any school I want. There are so many charter schools now which address different learning styles and individualized teaching. My kids go to a public school, but they teach at an accelerated rate. I’m fine with that. There are plenty of kids at their school who are Indian, Asian, Mexican, these kids don’t have parents who can even speak English, yet they are some of the smartest and most accelerated kids in the school.

          I think a lot of it falls back on the parents. Parents need to be involved. Yes, I understand that many families out there are poor, work 3 jobs, work night shifts, have after school day care, etc. But as a parent you still need to open your kids backpack up and look at the homework, talk to the kid, and talk to the teacher. We can’t just hand our kids over to the school at 8am and say it’s your problem now, take care of it! If you can’t or won’t care for your child, don’t have any.

      • Elizabeth Rubenstein

        So you don’t object to being told to dumb down your standards? Shouldn’t each school be able to decide which methods and curricula are best for their student population, rather than being told by outsiders what is the “right” information and technique for teaching?

        Our students are not common nor standard.

  • Susan Callahan Ulrich

    This guy summed it up accurately! Experimentation has been my main objection all along, but I also object to government invasion of more privacy. For decades our children have been subjected to experiments by social scientists. It’s time to end the experimentation. We are not lab rats!

  • Meg Norris

    Mr. DiPietro – thank you for this amazing post. I am a teacher who left because I could see the damage Common Core was doing to my students. Hiding developmentally inappropriate behind the word “rigor” makes me sick. I appreciate your clear arguments and as teachers are constantly bullied and intimidated not to speak out against CC it is going to be up to parents to make a stand and protect their children. I am sharing this everywhere!

  • MrSmee44

    You make some very understandable complaints and raise several valid concerns. However, I am left with two lingering thoughts:

    1) I currently teach upper level social studies: the final required course before my students graduate and enter the “real world.” Everyday I struggle against years of poor preparation for the critical thinking that they will need to survive in college and/or the work force. Although this is only my second year teaching, I am still consistently amazed at the level to which my students refuse to struggle to find an answer and instead wait for one to be provided for them. You may say that the problems with CCSS are in the foundation years, but I reply with respect that the foundation is quite weak. We must try to improve upon what we are asking students to attempt from the beginning on.

    2) Yes, CCSS is experimenting with children. Of course it is. The best of teaching is always a fine balance between using the skills and techniques developed in the past, and attempting new and potentially better methods devised more recently. I would be doing a disservice to my students if I refused to experiment with new lesson plans, new materials, new methods of assessment, and so on. The simple fact is that the “old” methods have just as little statistical evidence of success as the “new” ones. Perhaps we as a community can find a better way to measure success, but until that comes, I continue to see my students as a wide and varying population that deserve all of the creativity and daring to experiment that I can muster. I’ll be the first to admit that some of my experiments in the classroom have failed. Yet from each failure I’ve honed my approach and become a better teacher. You blame CCSS for rolling out incomplete; I ask if any truly intelligent educational plan could ever be complete. My students deserve more than a school system that is satisfied sticking to methods that aren’t working.

    Is CCSS perfect? No. It appears to have some major bugs to work out. However, I believe that it represents my profession’s best attempt to ask schools around the country to up their game. Bugs and all, I just don’t see how that can be a bad request to make.

    • cindy

      But OMG…why would you experiment with an entire nation of children? Why would what little evidence of failure/stress/lack of success be ignored? WHY?? And I disagree, “old” methods have evidence of success for millions of children who have moved on to go to college, find jobs, have families, and continue to work hard in our nation’s middle class. Additionally, to some extent, “critical thinking” arrives through a solid foundation, and developmental readiness. America is not “a community.” It is hundreds of thousands of little communities. And hands down, failure stems more from poverty, home life and pre-k deficiencies. Imposing an experiment on ALL to fix the problems of a FEW is simply outrageous. A completely misdirected solution seeking only to flatten the nation!

      This is nothing more than corporate interests and the federal government holding hands to benefit at the expense of the American population.

      • MrSmee44

        E pluribus unum.

        I completely disagree that the United States is not a community. It is a large, wonderfully diverse, beautifully expansive community that is a greater sum than the total of its parts. You are correct that not everything old should be thrown out, but you have also clearly identified that the old systems have led to poverty, broken homes and childhood deficiencies. If we can find a system that works better for everyone, we have a moral obligation to attempt it.

        It is reactionary and unsupported to imply that this new system will prevent millions of children from moving on to college, finding jobs, having families, or working hard. You are presupposing that this experiment will fail, as are the many states who are rejecting it before it has a chance to succeed. Not all experiments are bad. In fact, we have brave experimentation to thank for all of the major advances in human history.

        Are corporate interests involved? Yes. Are they perverting good intentions for personal profit? Likely. Is this a guarantee that no good can come of trying? No, absolutely not.

        We, the American people, can only move ahead if we have the courage to try.

        • cindy

          Oh please. By today’s definition, I grew up in sub-poverty. The old system of schooling led to poverty, broken homes and childhood deficiencies?? No! An ever-expanding welfare state has done that. Let’s not kid ourselves about that.

          Common Core treats children worse than lab rats.

          http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Lecker-Common-Core-using-children-as-guinea-pigs-4907921.php

          • MrSmee44

            I have no standing with which to judge your personal experience, but I would like to clarify my meaning. When I said that the old system of education led to those problems, I meant that the system failed to adequately address them. Poverty and civil strife have existed long before welfare, or even education for that matter. But it is our moral, ethical, and communal responsibility to continue to strive for improvement in all areas of life and society. A system that works for some but not for all is by definition imperfect. What harm is there in aiming to do better for all?

          • cindy

            Well that is a socialist utopia and it will never succeed. Poverty and civil strife did exist before welfare, and people helped each other, but also learned to struggle to work their way out of it. People rose above it, and were educated in a system that was in some ways better than today.

            We can improve those areas that are failing, but not by imposing a rigid, one-size-fits-all plan on everyone. That is silly. Fix what is broken. Leave alone what is fine.

          • Elizabeth Rubenstein

            Don’t see any of these issues in the CCSS.

            p.s. poverty and civil strife are not caused by schools…

      • Keep Honkin I’m Reloading

        Why?

        control/power

        This “experimentation is the result of allowing(through our own apathy) Liberals/Progressives control of our society. Liberals care nothing of history, only that they want to revise or eliminate it. Everything to them is worth “experimenting” on.

        They see the world not as it is, but as they want it to be, some twisted, UN-achievable utopia where everyone is forced to “think” as they do.

      • NewHampshire

        This experimentation has been going on under various names for YEARS. I know it first hand.

    • AConcernedandAwareMama

      This is only your second year teaching… get back to me when you have put 20 into this system… one of us will certainly have changed our tunes. Best wishes!

      • MrSmee44

        Thank you, but I sincerely hope that in 18 years I will still have the drive to try to better my teaching for my students. Perhaps I’m naive or Utopian, but I just don’t see the harm to be done in striving for better. Utopia is an unreal paradise, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t attempt to recreate elements of paradise in life.

        And in 18 years, when I have dedicated two decades to my students, if I am worn down and unwilling to experiment with new ideas, I believe that that will be the saddest possible result. Teaching should be about inspiring, not depressing, for both teacher and student.

        • AConcernedandAwareMama

          It would be good if you still had the same hopeful attitude – it would be… miraculous. I have family members and friends who are *terrific* teachers and *great* people, and after 10+ years in the system (at most) they are disgusted because the “new” ideas never stop and they ever pan out either. Instead of being inspired and being able to inspire, these folks who started off with such promise and such drive are exhausted of the new hoops they are told to set up and through which they guide their students to jump. The “new” ideas do *not* improve outcomes and after years of disappointment and flogging for attempting any bottom-up improvement, to a man, they throw up their hands in disgust.

          I love hope! I love people who love hope! If you can withstand the grind of administration and government year after year you are a fabulous original and I applaud you! And you can be a GREAT teacher in a terrible system (see John Taylor Gatto! Wrote “Dumbing Us Down”, his transcription of the honest speech he gave when accepting his second award for outstanding teaching in a system he knows is horrid, but in which he taught for… decades.), so stand strong on your principles and enthusiasm and don’t be too fretful or hard on the people who have been in the system a bit longer and know exactly how this story ends, again and again. They seem like big pessimists who don’t want good change or innovation in the system, but they did not start off that way… they just, learned.

          • NewHampshire

            I have 35 years under my belt so I know what I am talking about.

    • Elizabeth Rubenstein

      CCSS is not your PROFESSION’s best attempt-
      it is PRIVATE CORPORATIONs’ best attempt at monetizing public education.

      Think of the good you could do in the classroom with all the MILLIONS of dollars being handed over to private companies…

  • Amommymoose

    You had me until your last bullet point. Teachers ARE supposed to be facilitators instead of instructors if we are to develop critical and independent thinking skills in our children–skills our country sorely lacks in educating the masses. I say this as a former high school teacher (of a non-core subject–where I had slightly more latitude on this front). That doesn’t mean that the kids don’t get corrected or that they’re left to their own devices to figure things out without logic. Not by a long shot. It means that you guide their learning instead of spewing out and expecting them to remember. It means creating situations that bring them through an experience that builds their knowledge correctly and ingrains it in there. Not an easy task, but not impossible. And that knowledge tends to stick with them long after a test.

    • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

      Well, I suppose it depend on your definition of “facilitator.” I worry that it will become a teacher sticking kids in groups or in front of a computer screen and then throwing their feet up on a desk while they read a book. I know this doesn’t happen with the good teachers but it’s a trend I’ve seen even before common core and I fear it will accelerate even more. That’s what I mean by instruction. There’s not enough of it going on right now and my wife and I are the ones picking up the slack EVERY NIGHT. My daughters come home struggling to understand concepts because lecture has all but disappeared and we’re letting these kids twist in the wind under the guise of “independent thinking skills.”

      • NewHampshire

        It is being done long before CC and will continue after.

      • Amommymoose

        Well, if we’re going to focus on the bad teachers, then you will have to resort to things like narrative instructional materials, etc. where there is no latitude given to teachers to get the content through to their students because they’re deemed incapable and incompetent. And yeah–plenty of them are. But then what’s the answer? Because with the kind of teachers you’re worrying about–there is no answer. NO system, structure or guideline will change that kind of teacher’s ability to pawn off their responsibilities. Not that I can see.

        You’re effectively looking to put in measures that simultaneously give teachers freedom while reigning in those that abuse the freedom. That has nothing to do with instructional objectives like common core. It has to do with other things like union protection, tenure and performance bonuses for teachers.

        No matter what the instructional objectives–you will never manage to overcome poor teachers without the ability to fire them when they suck. I would contend that firing shouldn’t be the first action and that teachers who are on that track get extra assistance to learn their craft better with administrator and/or mentor guidance. But at the end of the day, if they can’t manage to get it right, they need to go.

    • Emily

      I’m with you, Amommymoose. Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is not a “new experiment” but an old one that has its origins in Piaget and Dewey, and which has been continuously developed by teachers for over half a century now. Its effectiveness in enhancing (not replacing) content-learning is well-supported by research and many good teachers use it already. If the author, Mr. DiPietro, wants students to graduate with “knowledge and mastery” rather than “empty skills,” then he may want to reconsider the merits of IBL. To become self-disciplined, lifelong learners, children need to be able to ask their own questions, research their own answers, solve their own problems. When teachers simply hand down instruction, children are robbed of these opportunities to develop higher-order thinking (and doing) skills.

      That said, Common Core (CC) is not IBL. It is standardized content-learning masquerading as IBL. CC’s backers have set benchmarks using IBL buzzwords like “creativity” and “collaboration” and “problem-solving,” while leaving teachers little room in the newly standardized curriculum to actually facilitate creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, and so on. To manufacture state standards is to manufacture closed-ended questions and problems, and better thinkers than I have noted that inquiry-based learning is disruptive to test-based standards. (See: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/07/the-challenges-and-realities-of-inquiry-based-learning/ ) You simply cannot have this cake and eat it, too.

      In any event, I do share Mr. DiPietro’s concern that there will be those who will abuse CC’s empty “facilitator” language to replace teachers with screens, although I suspect that most of these abuses will not be by teachers, but by administrators and profiteers (charter schools, private schools in voucher districts, etc.), perhaps even well-intentioned advocates. (Although they have nothing to do with CC or even the US, Sugata Mitra’s “cloud schools” strike me as an example of what could go wrong should educators adopt the wrong lessons from IBL and marry them to overconfidence in tech/underappreciation for teachers.)

      • NewHampshire

        Dewey? You’re citing Dewey the socialist? Get out.

        • Emily

          Nice troll!

      • http://www.domesticatingit.com/ JonDiPietro

        Thanks Emily – I agree that facilitation has a role but worry about institutionalizing it as part of a national standard. But I still maintain that there is already entirely too much of it happening. As I mentioned, every single one of my kids complain that they feel like the teachers are abandoning them and not explaining anything. For years, I told my kids it was their fault and they were exaggerating. After listening to these stories for over a decade and watching intelligent children struggle, complain and become completely frustrated and disengaged from learning, I know that IBL doesn’t work.

    • NewHampshire

      It means we can’t impart knowledge that is FACTUAL. It means we cannot teach anymore. WAKE UP.

    • eponymous1

      Critical and independent thinking skills require a foundation of knowledge in the trivium and quadrivium. Trying to develop high-level skills before kids have developed the foundation for them is like trying to build the roof before you’ve poured the foundation. Learning requires formation occurring in the correct order. Once kids have mastered reading, spelling grammar, geometry, algebra, and have a decent background understanding the hard sciences like physics and chemistry — with a solid background in real information and understanding, then and only then will they be prepared to undertake advanced “critical thinking” skills with any measure of success.

  • Cambric Jimenez

    Why would they fail college entrance exams. Students have been doing them for decades before common core. plus college entrance tests have much higher standards and you actually have to solve problems unlike common core. Common core you just write already given info pretty much verbatim.

  • umbrarchist

    Why don’t parents bypass the educational system by creating reading lists for kids and quit trusting “experts”. The miseducational system is a system of social control. A country that claims to be Capitalist but can’t make accounting mandatory in the schools!?!?

    How weird is that?

  • rand49er

    Rather than focusing on these Common Core standards, our society should be focusing on the lack of importance on the value of education in major segments of our population, most notably in our lower socio-economic neighborhoods. Until the culture in these households embraces the two-parent concept, stresses the need to perform well academically, views learning as a life-long endeavor, and shuns 99% of pop culture, teachers and our educational system in general will be severely challenged and possibly unable to improve scores on any test. That’s where the focus should be; it should be on parents to get their act together with their kids and stop being so self-centered and consumed with their own frivolous issues.

  • Laurie Levasseur

    Everyone would do well to read about the life of Charlotte Bronte. Who, with nothing more than a father who challenged her and her siblings to think, a life of poverty, and the freedom to roam the moors, became one of the greatest writers of all time. Of course she was not the only writer in her family, as her sisters and brother Branwell wrote as well. From this one small family came some of the greatest works of literature ever written. When she was put into school ( I believe she was about 14) she put into some of the lowest level groups, yet they said her understanding of certain things, like history and literature was far superior to her peers. In the end Charlotte was allowed to be great at what she was great at, and that was writing. Today we want to make everyone the same. Little cookie cutters, who all think alike, and act alike. No more thinking outside of the box! Slap their little hands the minute they get a tad creative. This is a short cut to socialism, and they wonder why people are pulling their kids out of schools? I have a daughter who has a savant like ability to draw. Because she is dyslexic, she would never do well in a traditional school setting. Not only would she not do well at school, but her remarkable ability for art would be thwarted. Under the common core program she would become nothing more than a child who knew fragment of things to pass tests and then quickly forgot the fragments. She would be consistently frustrated by her inability to move through material as quickly as other kids, and would eventually give up. At home, we can move as slowly or as quickly as she needs to. She is not going to be a scientist! Why is that not OK? I do not expect that other students would have her ability in art, why should she be expected to have their ability to pass tests? Let the kids become great at what they CAN become great at. Everyone has something that they are great at. This is why regular schools do not do that well. They bore the kids to death, and if you think it was boring before, when the Common Core gets in there, it will be nothing but boredom. Boredom and pressure to pass the boredom through tests to see how much boredom you can endure. Boredom will be the great equalizer! No one will be great at anything. That old saying ” never have so many known so little about so much” will be common cores banner of truth. Let the kids enjoy learning! Yes they need the basics. Focus on the basics. Great literature, wriitng of all kinds, business math, the histories, government, etc….make it exciting! learning is exciting. Discussion of ideas, ways to work things out. Thinking outside of the box……isn’t that one reason why America has had so many great inventions? It’s called freedom, and your government doesn’t want you to have it. Common Core is just one more way to control the masses.