The realities of common core.


Thanks to Ellie Calo Motondo for this guest blog piece.


Okay, I’m just gonna say it: THE IDEA BEHIND COMMON CORE WAS GOOD. Higher standards and a nationally-leveled curriculum were good, honest ideas. Teaching kids to think critically is a good idea. BUT…what Common Core REALLY became is HORRENDOUS. Here’s what I oppose MOST (trust me, there’s more) about THE REALITIES OF CCSS:

1. Obama and Gates and the Publishing companies made it mostly about PROFITS. Money for politicians, money for Gates, money for publishers of workbooks and test materials. Money for ADVERTISERS that paid for their BRAND NAMES to be included in the aligned materials and tests.

2. The people that actually wrote the standards were NOT educators, they were MARKETERS and RESEARCHERS with NO first-hand experience in CHILDHOOD LEARNING. All the REAL experts in education and child psychology that were involved are now VEHEMENTLY and outspokenly against it.

3. They took what elementary schoolers had been doing in the states with the highest standards already and then DROPPED MOST OF IT DOWN 1-2 GRADES, and then called that “accelerated learning.” BUT there was a REASON that 4th grade material was always presented IN FOURTH GRADE. It was developmentally appropriate! Pushing kids to understand concepts 1 or 2 years beyond their little brains’ abilities IS NOT “higher standards.” Period. It’s just FRUSTRATING and making more kids hate school and feel like failures, and SQUASHING the love of reading and learning they’d have had if these ideas were presented AT THE RIGHT TIMES and in the right ways.

4. They took Singapore math, twisted it, crammed it into workbooks, made it the ONLY RIGHT WAY, and jammed it down the throats of kids WHO CANNOT THINK THAT WAY. All students learn differently. Singapore math is awesome. But the CCSS version is an atrocity, and even the correct version shouldn’t be forced onto all children. Educating thousands of children REQUIRES differentiation of methodology and instruction. That is NOT optional.

5. The publishing companies RUSHED to create the “aligned” materials so they could get the HUGE contract$, so the content is FLAWED, worded HORRIFICALLY, and IT WAS NEVER EVER EVER TESTED ON ANY CHILDREN ANYWHERE. Not in China, and not in the United States. Our kids are GUINEA PIGS — Bill Gates even ADMITTED IT! ON RECORD!!!

6. CCSS’s obsession with “higher standards” focuses almost completely on Math and ELA — making it THE focus of early childhood education. It has tossed aside the other VITAL elements of education: Science, History, Art, and Music are now all afterthoughts.

7. CCSS’s obsession with ALL DAY, EVERY DAY TEST PREP/TEACHING TO THE TESTS has virtually ELIMINATED free time, play time, and hands-on learning for even the youngest students. OUR 5 YEAR OLDS ARE SITTING STILL ALLLLLL DAY…and then they are inundated with homework at night. Little kids need to move and explore and create and laugh and sing!

8. CCSS’s obsession with testing has made a bad situation worse. For just over 10 years under NCLB, the focus of learning in public school has shifted from BROAD-SPECTRUM LEARNING to PASSING MATH & ELA TESTS. That is NOT a Free and Appropriate Public Education, which is what we are entitled to for our children BY LAW. If we are legally obligated to send our kids to school, then the schools should be legally obligated to provide our children with comprehensive skills and knowledge. When did it become the government’s job to make sure my kids can pass Math and ELA tests, rather than to understand mathematical concepts that are age-appropriate and relevant, and to learn and love to read and write?

9. CCSS puts so much emphasis on Math and ELA that there is now TOO MUCH READING IN THE MATH and TOO MUCH MATH IN THE READING. First graders who cannot read on a third grade level cannot read their math homework. Third graders are reading 11-page passages in their ELA workbooks that are basically 11 pages worth of math word problems. So if they WOULD have been good at math but are not good at reading, NOW they’re not good at EITHER, and vice versa.

10. Common Core, no matter what the catch phrases and buzz words try to tell you, is causing Kindergarteners to have tutors, middle school children to have anxiety attacks, early learners to hate reading, and parents to spend 1, 2, 3+ hours with their grade schoolers trying to do homework through tears — from the children AND the parents. SO NO MATTER HOW THEY TRY TO SPIN IT, THE PROOF IS IN THE RANCID PUDDING.

Common Core is BAD. Not just the implementation, not just the new style of math, not just for the older kids who started it midway through school, and not just for the kids who are struggling. It is bad for EVERY SINGLE CHILD IN CCSS-ALIGNED SCHOOLS. Because even if your kid is getting great grades, they are NOT learning what they should be, and the rest of the kids are miserable.

Find out more. Go online and onto Facebook and join your local Common Core informational groups. Ask questions. Become informed.

-Ellie Calo-Motondo
Former NYC Public School Teacher with a Dual Masters Degree in Special and General Early Childhood Education, and Current Mother of NYC Elementary School Children