Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Common Core: Where Did We Go Wrong?

As a mother of four children, you can probably imagine that education is very important in our home. I always urge my kids to do their best in everything that they do, especially when it comes to learning. I want them to have the skills that they need to be able to attend college someday or whatever path life might take them on. All of my kids have always been good students without any learning issues. I am an involved parent who regularly volunteers in the schools and community and I have always felt so proud of the great school system that my kids are a part of. 

This year, I have a preschooler and students in the 3rd, 5th and 6th grade. The year started out just like every other but back in the late Fall, we started to see issues. Our 3rd grader started to struggle in both math and reading. I was especially alarmed when he brought home a math test that he received a 79% on. I looked through it and was kind of surprised because he had all of the answers correct! It was simple multiplication facts and he mastered his facts very quickly. I emailed his teacher and his response was not helpful. He continued to talk about these "tests" and how he had to prepare these students to take these "tests." When he talked about the math test, he spoke to me about the new standards and how writing the correct answer was no longer acceptable. For 8x7, he couldn't rely on his memory of his multiplication facts to answer the problem. Instead, he had to draw a model that contained 56 dots to show his answer. His teacher advised that coming up with the correct answer was not as important as showing how he got to that answer. *scratches head* It didn't make any sense to me so I decided I needed to dig into these new "standards" and see what they were all about. 

I was shocked when I read my first article about Common Core. How was it that my children's school has been implementing these new standards into the classrooms for over 3 years and I had no idea about them? Researching Common Core became my new job. I researched day and night. I asked questions. I consulted with experts. And the more I dug, the uglier it got. Over the course of the last several months, I have lost countless hours of sleep and I have cried more tears than I can ever remember. I am scared to death for my children! 

Most alarming to me is the fact that these standards have never been tested. Our children are being used as guinea pigs and if/when the system fails, it's not going to affect a small group of children. It's going to affect over 50 million children across our country. The next thing that really bothered me was how these standards were created. When laws have to be changed to comply with something, we have a problem. Never in history has curriculum been tied to a set of standards yet this is exactly what has been going on. We are literally teaching our kids how to take tests! The number of tests and assessments that our children are going to be subjected to is mind boggling! And even worse, the teachers are going to be the ones who take the fall when the kids don't perform as the government thinks they should. 

Let me dig a little deeper into the curriculum for you. I started asking my kids questions and when they would have books at home, I would examine them cover to cover. What I found was text that was full of religious, moral and political ideologies that have no business in a classroom. In a country where many schools no longer recite the pledge of allegiance as to not offend anyone since it uses the word "God" would it surprise you to know that my 6th grader who is 11 years old has spent the last month in an in depth study of the Islam religion? He can tell me the entire history of Islam, the 5 Pillars of Islam, where, how and why they pray and that is only the beginning. In a system where we can't talk about God, my child can tell you all about Allah and Muhammad. They also talked about the politics among the Muslim community and when they studied the Muslim Area Brotherhood, it was described as a political group that is much like the Republicans and Democrats in the United States. I had to give him my own lesson on how they are, in fact, a terrorist group that played a part in inflicting unfathomable pain onto the American people. Below you will find some screenshots taken directly out of my son's textbook. 







Now, before you go crazy on me and call me a conspiracy theorist or close minded, let me explain. At 11 years old, I have no problem with my child learning about other cultures. This study on Islam happens to come from a chapter they are covering on Africa. Now in my mind, he should be able to give information on the geography of Africa. The wildlife in Africa. The economy in Africa. And yes, I believe he should even be able to tell me what religions are practiced in Africa. I do NOT believe he should be subjected to an in-depth study on Islam while studying Africa. Especially because Islam is only prevalent in the northern part of Africa. The entire Southern half practices Christianity. Now to be fair, Islam isn't the only religion he's being subjected to. Next up he will learn about Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and finally Christianity. I should also add, however, that Christianity got a couple of pages in the book vs. the two full chapters that the study of Islam received. This is alarming to me. I just don't see why it's necessary to indoctrinate children in these types of studies. In college, maybe. Elementary school? Heck no! 

If you don't think these things are going on in your schools, think again. Nearly 80% of the curriculum for Common Core has been created by Pearson Publishing and every bit of it contains stuff like this. It is scary and if parents do not start to act, we are in big trouble. 

On a positive note, Georgia passed their Senate bill yesterday to fully repeal Common Core. This gives me hope. I live in Ohio and we currently have HB237 and SB237 that would also fully repeal Common Core if passed. This is why I now spend countless hours emailing and calling my state representatives urging them to act. It has been discouraging at times, especially when our own Keith Faber who is the Senate President refuses to do anything on the matter but I can't give up. I am now the voice for not only my children but all of the children across Ohio. 

If you haven't looked into Common Core, I urge you to educate yourself. It's the most important thing I have ever done and I will continue fighting this beast until it is gone! 

5 comments:

Brenda said...

What a great article! I thought I was the only one who thought this! I just went to a Common core meeting about the new math curriculum on Tuesday night and every single parent there was so angry, including myself. My son is only in first grade and I hate the way he has to do his math. I wondered how it would be as he got older. I can't believe your son had the right answers, yet was wrong because he didn't draw the dots. That's what they were talking about at the meeting, how kids in middle school had been doing well in school and were failing now because of common core. Luckily my 2 high schoolers won't be affected too much. I told my husband I want to homeschool my first grader.

Hippie4ever said...

There are many groups fighting this across the nation. This is Minnesota against common core: https://www.facebook.com/MinnesotaAgainstCommonCore?ref=ts&fref=ts I'm sure your state has a fb group too. A good way to keep informed and brainstorm. If you haven't heard of CC, have you heard of the UN TREATY on the Rights of the Child? http://www.parentalrights.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={56EEC7D0-195F-410B-97FE-9A961583A1F4}&DE=

Hippie4ever said...

It is beyond frightening! Does anyone feel like the new laws being implemented are quickly tightening the grip on all of our freedoms. Look into Fast Track TPP censorship. Internet censorship will affect everyone and everything. If we are unable to communicate information and ideas nationally/globally we will lose a great deal.

alissa apel said...

The religious stuff is crazy weird, and does not belong in elementary school. My Kindergartener is starting the dot business with his math. I have negative and positive thoughts on it. Part of me thinks it should be a practice, meaning they have a section on doing it that way, and that's it. It is more visual. That's why I think in terms of them doing a little touch on it. I'm right brained, and I can see how visually seeing and practicing the math is another way of learning it. With that I think like a lot of things, they've gone too far with it. I've seen some upper elementary math problems using common core, and it's insanely intense. So much to show just one problem!

Anonymous said...

Hello from Idaho, where we are fighting CC too! I'm wondering if you could share the name of this particular textbook to assist others. Thank you!

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