Every person in America has a vital interest in stopping Common Core, a top-down, one-size-fits-all government takeover of our education system. Instead of teaching critical thinking and problem solving, Common Core stresses the lowest common denominator, punishes achievement, and forces all students to conform to government standards.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Is ‘social justice math’ creeping into your child’s curriculum?

With American children heading back to school, Thursday’s Glenn Beck Program focused on the latest developments related to the Common Core standards and how it impacts the future of education in this country. Dana Loesch spoke to Kyle Olson, co-author of Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education, about a disturbing trend in classrooms: Social justice-inspired math.

As Dana explained, because of the way Common Core has been implemented, not all private school or homeschool curriculums are safe. Furthermore, as Kyle pointed out, college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT are going to be reformatted in the coming years to be “Common Core aligned,” which means children who do not receive a Common Core curriculum will be at a disadvantage.
“Just because you homeschool or go to a charter school or private school or whatever the case may be, it is critical parents are engaged in that process, aligned with the teachers and school leaders to make sure their child is getting a proper education and one they expect for their kids,” Olson explained.
Perhaps most disturbing, however, is a trend Olson described among math materials that seeks to recalibrate the economic principles from which concepts are taught.
“There is a huge movement to push what is known as ‘social justice math,’” he said. “Proponents of social justice math don’t like how much consumerism is in math.”
If you think back to your elementary school years, your math equations probably centered around going to the store and making a purchase or having to make change in some way. Not anymore. Now, progressives are pushing to have themes like climate change and casualties of war worked into these problems.
“A typical math problem would be you have 13 cents and a green pencil is 3 cents – you know, that sort of problem. They want to get rid of those sorts of problems,” Olson said. “Instead, they want to calculate war deaths, or they want to calculate the number of liquor stores within a particular radius of the school, or problems related to global warming – those sorts of things.”
Ultimately, there is a push to insert a political and ideological bias into areas of the curriculum that should be straightforward and fact-based.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Common Core anger triggers homeschooling surge in North Carolina

homeschoolhouseRALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina officials say there has been a huge increase over the past two years in the number of Tar Heel families who have pulled their kids out of public schools and begun educating them at home.

The number of homeschools has jumped 27 percent since the 2011-12 school year, NewsObserver.com reports.
As of last year, 98,172 North Carolinian children were homeschooled; that’s 2,400 students more than the number who attended a private school.
While the sputtering economy is the reason families are choosing homeschooling over private schooling, the nationalized learning experiment (Common Core) is the main reason families are leaving the public schools in the first place.
“Common Core is a big factor that I hear people talk about,” Beth Herbert, founder of Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Association, told NewsObserver.com. “They’re not happy with the work their kids are coming home with. They’ve decided to take their children home.”
In-the-know parents understand that Common Core’s plodding approach to math instruction leaves students unprepared for college study in STEM courses – science, technology, engineering and math.
These same parents also realize that the nationalized learning standards’ emphasis of nonfiction, “informational” texts over classic literature is intended to mold students into drone-like workers, not out-of-the-box thinkers.
For some homeschool parents, it’s the Common Core-related standardized testing that they’re trying to protect their kids from.

Whatever the particular reason, it all adds up to a significant exodus from the public schools.

Homeschooling doesn’t mean kids have to miss all the social and sports-related aspects of traditional schools. Communities with a significant number of homeschoolers offer extracurricular activities for families.

Homeschooling was legalized by the state Supreme Court in 1985. In the days before Common Core, most homeschool families chose to leave the government-run schools because they were too secular, violent and crowded, the news site notes.
It’ll be interesting to see if the homeschool surge levels off once state education leaders revise and replace the worst parts of Common Core, as state lawmakers recently directed them to do.
But North Carolinians shouldn’t be surprised if it continues to grow, as homeschool parents share their success stories with others.
“It was scary at first,” homeschool parent Melissa Lopez told the news site, adding that her New York friends were skeptical when they heard her plan.
“Up North it’s not as common as it is down here so I always thought it was a crazy idea. But once I said, ‘I’m not asking for opinions – I’m doing it,’ they see it’s worked out for us,” Lopez said.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


In an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, Marina Ratner, renowned professor emerita of mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley, explains why the Common Core standards will make math education even worse in the United States and move the nation “even closer to the bottom in international ranking.”

Ratner writes that she initially experienced the Common Core standards last fall through her then-sixth grade grandson in Berkeley.
“As a mathematician I was intrigued, thinking that there must be something really special about the Common Core,” she recalls. “Otherwise, why not adopt the curriculum and the excellent textbooks of highly achieving countries in math instead of putting millions of dollars into creating something new?”
As she began to read about the controversial standards, however, Ratner says she hardly found any academic mathematicians who could assert that the Common Core standards were better than California’s pre-2010 standards – considered to be among the finest in the nation.
Ratner read that Bill McCallum, a leading writer for the Common Core math standards, indicated the new standards “would not be too high” compared to those of other countries in which math education has demonstrated excellence.
Additionally, she discovered that Jason Zimba (video below), another lead writer of the Common Core math standards, told the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the new standards would not prepare students for STEM or selective four-year colleges.

Upon closer review of the standards, Ratner says she observed, “They were vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics.”
“Many topics – for instance, calculus and pre-calculus, about half of algebra II and parts of geometry – were taken out and many were moved to higher grades,” she writes.
“It became clear that the new standards represent lower expectations and that students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college and would certainly struggle if they did get in,” Ratner continues.
Reviewing her grandson’s math homework, Ratner found it followed the Common Core math standards exactly. Assignments on fractions required drawing pictures of “6 divided by 8, of 4 divided by 2/7, of 0.8 x 0.4, and so forth.”
“For example, create a story context for 2/3 divided by 3/4 and use a visual fraction model to show the quotient…” Ratner reads, and then asks, “Who would draw a picture to divide 2/3 by 3/4?”
Noting that, with Common Core, students are continually asked to draw models to answer “trivial questions,” Ratner asserts, “A student who gives the correct answer right away (as one should) and doesn’t draw anything loses points.”
Breitbart News asked Dr. R. James Milgram, professor of mathematics at Stanford University – who was asked to be a member of the Common Core Validation Committee but then refused to sign off on the standards – about Ratner’s observation regarding Common Core’s persistent emphasis on visual models, even for simple questions.
“It is believed by most U.S. math education Ed.D.'s that at-risk students learn better using manipulatives and that the focus of U.S. standards should always be these students,” Milgram said. “So they choose pedagogy that effectively turns off the average and even more so the above-average students in a desire to focus on the weakest students.”
Milgram observes, however, “The research on how at-risk students learn most effectively is absolutely clear on the fact that this is the worst possible method for teaching these students this material.”
“Likewise, the research on gifted students shows that those students learn best when they are allowed to accelerate and learn at their own speed,” he adds.
“Finally, over the last century, not one paper in the education literature that has met basic criteria for reproducibility has shown that the kind of group learning pushed in Common Core is more effective than direct instruction,” Milgram asserts. “In fact, a close reading of most of these papers seems to indicate that these methods are significantly less effective than direct instruction.”
“Given this, the most likely outcomes are an across-the-board-weakening of student outcomes,” Milgram warns.
“There have been some brave souls who have suggested that of course, the academics in the education schools are perfectly well aware of these facts, but the predicted outcomes are exactly what they want,” he states. “I don't know if this is the case, but it certainly explains much of what seems to be going on.”
Ratner asserts the Common Core’s so-called “deeper” and “more rigorous” standards will actually simply replace mathematics “with some kind of illustrative counting saturated with pictures, diagrams and elaborate word problems.”
With all these flaws, however, she says she is most astounded by the pro-Common Core claim that the standards are “internationally benchmarked.”
“They are not,” she writes. “The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries, just as they fail compared to the old California standards.”
The Common Core standards “are lower in the total scope of learned material, in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects, and in the delayed and often inconsistent and incoherent introductions of mathematical concepts and skills,” Ratner writes.