Education reform is a minefield. It was true for previous education reform movements, and it certainly is true when it comes to the Common Core State Standards. With the internet, the frustrations can result in angry parents, teachers, or others posting specific questions posited in children’s homework assignments. They may point out either the absurdity of the question being raised or they may question why it was changed at all from the kind of questions they received as a child. They may lament the amount of testing or what is on the testing. They may wonder why questions are being made more complex than they need to be.
Tweets from comedian Louis C.K. brought the issue front and center (he has since concentrated more on testing and the implementation of it itself), but you can point to many less followed and less famous people that have done similar things in the past few years.
Rather than enter into it with a passionate defense or bulleted list of the pros and cons to the Common Core State Standards (or specifically the CCSS standards in respect to math), it may be more helpful to list discussions and viewpoints from others. These are responses from informed individuals that we found both to Louis C.K.’s tweets, but also as a response to many of the other passionate voices rising up online. They paint a picture of a nuanced rationale why the Common Core is what it is and they also point towards criticisms that aren’t always fair based on what it is and what it is not.
Addressing the Complexity of Common Core’s Math Standards
This post on Vox.com entitled “The Common Core makes simple math more complicated. Here’s why.” is a direct response to a segment from the Colbert Report. It delves into what it means to have “number sense” and why addressing it in schools is a step in the right direction, rather than merely making homework more difficult than it needs to be.
The Tweet Heard ‘Round the Edu World
This blog post is a response to Louis C.K. and was in fact retweeted by him. It calls for a nuanced approach to addressing standards and curriculum. It also rightly points out that there is a difference between standards, the implementation of those standards, and the accountability and enforcement mechanisms that are put in place. It ultimately points out that there are important civil rights justifications for having rigorous standards.
A Teacher’s Words to Louis C.K.
This blog post by a third grade teacher is another response to Louis C.K.’s tweets. Although it sympathizes with his frustration, it explains why she personally understands why helping children dig deeper with the problem, figuring out how an algorithm or technique works, helps them solve other problems and understand when the solution of a problem doesn’t seem correct.
Brookings Scholar Explains Infamous “Common Core” Math Problem
This conversation with Tom Loveless, a Harvard policy professor and former sixth-grade teacher, looks at a specific math problem that was being dispersed online and was being used as criticism of the Common Core. He points to bad curriculum and poor questions that often have nothing to do with the standards that are supposedly being adhered to. Unfortunately at least in this blog post he doesn’t provide a solution to creating better math questions and textbooks, but he does succinctly make the point that poor implementation and messaging often takes any good that can come from standards and make it a negative.