What hath Common Core wrought?

I received an email the other day from a substitute teacher who travels around and has kept track of the things she’s seen and heard. It’s mind numbing. After her stories, there is a story out of California as well. After reading the stories, check out this article showing even more issues.

Common Core math education intentionally designed to make America’s children mentally ill



Here are the few things I actually documented. There have been so many, but if I don’t write, I don’t remember. Now I wish I had written them ALL down. I promise I will do that from now on, and I’ll send them off to you. I have not included the dates or the schools on any of these, for I know that my assignments can be traced. There have been some days where I was the only sub at that school.

Some math problems I’ve encountered:

6th Grade Class: The math aide was flustered about the lesson she was teaching regarding volume. She kept getting the information wrong, because the lesson gave two separate formulas for volume: B x l x h and b x l x h. In the teacher’s manual, it gave B=base area, and b=the width of the base. However, on the student worksheet, B=width of base. The students had to spend time cutting out a rectangular box and tape or glue it together, measure it, then use it to figure the formula for volume, and the answer for their solid shape. This took up so much time, and most of the kids were confused about what B or b meant, so when they had to write the formula, they were still confused and didn’t understand it.

6th Grade Class: I have 34 candy bars. 29 got stolen. How many do I have left? Correct answer: On the left hand side of the page, draw 34 rectangles, and circle 3 sets of 10 each. There are 4 left over. Draw a line down the middle of the page. On the right side of the page, draw 29 rectangles. Circle 2 sets of 10 each. There are 9 left over. With another colored pencil, circle the 9 and bring it over to the left hand side of the page with an arrow to one of the circled 10. Cross out 9 of the 10 on the left hand side. Now use another colored pencil and circle the one that wasn’t crossed out, along with the 4 not previously circled.

3rd Grade Class: Kya jumped rope 77 times in a row. That was 49 times more than Katara. How many times did Katara jump? Correct answer: Draw 7 lines. Draw 7 little x’s. X out 4 lines. Circle 2 lines. X out the last line. Draw 2 separate x’s and circle them. Draw 8 little lines and circle them…The entire class made this diagram, some with success, some not. But the majority could not calculate the equation by borrowing, or even recognized the clues of “crossing out.” Most students just gave up.

3rd Grade Class: This took the class the entire math period. I had to take them on an array hunt throughout the entire school, both inside and out. Students drew arrays and the dimensions of each array, e.g. a column of 2 by 5 rows. Most students were not participating, and out of control. Duh, like that wouldn’t happen.

At Christmas time, 1st Grade: Students were to color, cut out and paste a witch onto a student-composed letter consisting of 4 things they could tell her that they had done to prove they were good, so she would give them presents on Christmas day. The teacher said she would send these to the good witch La Belfona.

Teachers at lunchtime were expressing their own confused state of mind regarding Common Core math, their compassion for their students–who they said did NOT understand it, and that THEY could not help them. They needed the math aide to come help!

At another school, teachers were saying how badly they felt because their Kindergartners did not have good enough keyboarding skills to even take the computer adaptive tests. Their reason was because they didn’t even know the complete alphabet yet, and yet they were scheduled that day to take the tests! The teachers knew there were going to be tears of frustration and mayhem.

One First grade class had to share mirrors to draw themselves EXACTLY as they saw themselves in the mirror, then label it with their first and last names, PLUS their date of birth. The assignment had to be completed in 15 minutes and turned in. They had to wait their turn, didn’t know their last names or if they knew them, they didn’t know how to spell them, and I didn’t have a list! Most didn’t know their birthDAY, let alone their birthDATE. Hence, they were confused, and out of control.

Regarding cell phone usage and District Policy: Most teachers do NOT abide by the rules and allow cell phones and earbuds during class. This is a TREMENDOUS problem. I caught one student watching a movie on her cell phone, told her to turn it off, or I would confiscate it. Just as the bell rang, she had it out and was watching the movie again! She went out the door before I could catch her.

100% of classes I substitute in where there are laptops, or full desktops, there is an internet abuse problem. About 1/2 the students in these classes are constantly playing games, going on their gmail, OR google images and loitering there. One day, a 4th grade student was looking up images for his power point presentation and on the same page as the image he was looking for, there was a close-up image of some sort of an animal’s vagina! He looked horrified, and told the boy next to him to look and see. This caught my attention, so I went over to see what they were looking at. I told him to get off that page! I had heard that this was not even possible, that there are protections built into the school internet systems. I can tell you from personal experience, that the amount of actual productive work completed on these devices is minimal AT BEST. This is a complete waste of educational time and citizen tax dollars, for computer usage is approaching half the class time.

Students cannot write legibly, from kindergarten through 12th grade. The excuse I hear is that it is taught solely in Kindergarten. The kindergarten handwriting lessons I have viewed and had to teach were pathetic. In one class, during “Centers” (that is the only time they were taught this subject), students had to fold a piece of paper lengthwise and unfold it, then fold it again width-wise, then unfold it. Then cut along a dotted line, then push the paper together, then fold it one way, then another, then fold it like a book. Then the students had to trace the letter “a” and then color it. They had 10 minutes to do this, and were so confused, some were crying. They had no time to practice writing the letter “a” and were not given the opportunity to even do so. THAT was their lesson on HOW to write the letter “a.”


I think those last two stories should be shared with legislators intent on transforming our classrooms into technology centers. We are losing basic skills. High tech CEO’s send their children to non-tech schools so they learn to think without technology thinking for them. But I digress…

This story is from a California teacher who has served in the highest capacities of their state’s system, but wishes to remain anonymous.

“I spent today watching a 90-minute in class lesson, using real students in a
real high school  geometry class, given by the math content expert for the local

She starts out by passing out a hexagon and asks the kids to find the area.
They could not figure it out. So she passed out a page with rectangles that
had square units marked off and had the kids count the boxes. Eventually
they might have gotten base times width, though I am not sure. The district
version of Common Core means that we don’t give formulas, the kids need to
determine that themselves. Eventually they were to cut the rectangles in
half (three of them) and then the last one cut into three pieces, all of
them triangles. The kids them spent a half hour estimating the area of each
by counting. Never did the formula for area of a triangle come up.

90 minutes after the start of the lesson, the kids were instructed to (as
the bell rang) use their “knowledge”; to determine the area of their regular
hexagon. They had neither the ways or the time to do so. The paper was
their exit ticket. No practice problems, because Common Core doesn’t do
practice problems. I asked later in the debrief what would have been
assigned “if you had more time,” the response was that the kids could write
in their journals how they found the area of something in their houses.

I am not kidding. _______ can confirm this is true.

So 90 minutes was spent on a topic that is a 5th grade standard in the old
California standards, and that any teacher worth anything could have covered
- well – in five or ten.”


4 Responses to What hath Common Core wrought?

  • Megan says:

    Propagating lies… Common core doesn’t “give formulas”? Here are the actual standards from the Common Core: HIGH SCHOOL: Geometry

    Explain volume formulas and use them to solve problems

    HSG-GMD.A.1. Give an informal argument for the formulas for the circumference of a circle, area of a circle, volume of a cylinder, pyramid, and cone. Use dissection arguments, Cavalieri’s principle, and informal limit arguments.
    HSG-GMD.A.2. (+) Give an informal argument using Cavalieri’s principle for the formulas for the volume of a sphere and other solid figures.
    HSG-GMD.A.3. Use volume formulas for cylinders, pyramids, cones, and spheres to solve problems.★

    Visualize relationships between two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects

    HSG-GMD.B.4. Identify the shapes of two-dimensional cross-sections of three-dimensional objects, and identify three-dimensional objects generated by rotations of two-dimensional objects.

    • Oak Norton says:

      Megan, maybe you didn’t read the first words…”The district version of Common Core means that we don’t give formulas…” Clearly, this teacher is just explaining the implementation of Common Core in that district has been set as a constructivist district so that formulas are taboo.

  • Meghan says:


    Thank you so much. We need to hear far more stories like these.

    Somewhat ironically, perhaps, I just finished reading a book by Barry Garelick. He mentions a similar geometry lesson in the book, as well.

    Nothing I can add of value to your site- just appreciative that you, and other folks, are taking their time to bring this information to the rest of us.

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