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7:42 PM Tue, Oct. 23rd

Education: Why I Am Not A Fan of Common Core

I am a retired math teacher of 36 years. I truly love children.

Normally, I take state mandates for math curriculum and put them into practice. It was only when I started to teach the Common Core standards that I became frustrated, then horrified.

Knowing that Common Core standards came with some federal money kept me from scrutinizing them adequately prior to being adopted. After all, public education needs every dollar it can get regardless of where it comes from, unless, of course, it is not beneficial to children.

I find the Common Core curriculum more like a theory of arithmetic, making basic concepts more complex and abstract. It is an inquiry-based "fuzzy math" that precludes memorization of math facts.

Common Core standards micro-focus on fewer standards, emphasizing skip counting, algorithms, and written explanations. When I researched online, I found many other math professionals who shared my views. Dr. James Milgram, a former NASA mathematician and professor at Stanford University, states, "There is significant international evidence that major parts of the standards will not work. It was tried on a national scale in Russia a number of years back and was rapidly dropped."

Dr. Milgram was also on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Validation Committee and refused to sign off of the CC math standards.

Common Core standards are touted to be "rigorous" because they put more emphasis on college readiness for STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But Dr. Jason Zimba, one of the lead writers of the standards, says that CCSS are minimal for college readiness for STEM careers.

In addition, after talking to Mr. Huppenthal, superintendent of Public Instruction, I discovered that he had not yet taken a sample high school test of Common Core. This concerns but does not surprise me. Our state leaders are not educators.

Federal dollars will not cover the cost of full implementation. Millions of tax dollars will be spent in technology, training and student data collection/interpretation. In order for students to be college-ready, schools will have to supplement the curriculum with higher-level math classes throughout all grade levels.

The extra steps needed to solve a math problem coupled with abstract/advanced vocabulary can be cumbersome to students. If CC fails to coincide with developmental levels of children, the number of students shutting down in mathematics will increase dramatically.

I hope I am wrong. Unfortunately, in education, new (old) ideas are cycled and recycled as the next big fix, and then dropped for lack of interest.

Please take the time to research the standards for yourselves. Investigate Common Core sample problems for your child's grade level and test them on your children or grandchildren. We need to hear from parents.

So what can be done in public education? Change starts from within each child, teacher, parent and school leader. Common sense needs to prevail with more realistic and relevant student expectations. My next submission will include alternatives to Common Core.

*I would like to congratulate a fellow teacher, Jean Meersman of Kingman High School, for her Andy Devine nomination for "Educator of the Year." Jean exemplifies a dedicated, master teacher who truly cares for her students.

Dorothy Buckelew

Golden Valley, AZ