A real Common Core assessment problem – Indoctrinating

A Utah parent posted this on his Facebook page. This is from a Common Core assessment.


PARENTS please read this. My 3rd grade little girl was out sick for one week. Her teacher asked if she could complete a test online. Here is an example of a comprehension story with questions. THIS IS PURE BRAINWASHING. I am a capitalist and find the below completely inappropriate. What education value does the below have. I look forward to your comments. WARNING YOU MIGHT NEED SOME DUCT TAPE!

“Money Means Worries”

A rich merchant named Chen had all the money he needed. He lived in perfect comfort. His food was rich, his bed was soft, and his clothing was beautiful.

A poor potter named Li lived next door. He did not have much money. He ate simple food, he slept on the floor, and he wore old, plain clothes. His only treasure was a golden canary that lived in a wooden cage.

The merchant worked day and night. He hunched over his account books, adding and subtracting. He yelled at his clerks and made them work as hard as he did. He rarely stopped work to eat a real meal. He ate at his desk and hardly noticed the delicious food. Late at night, the tired man went to bed, but he was unable to sleep. Thinking about money, he tossed and turned in his soft bed.

His neighbor spent the day making pots from clay. At the end of the day, Li sat in his garden and enjoyed a simple supper. Then he brought his canary outside. Li played his flute while the canary sand. At night, Li slept soundly on his floor.

For years, the music from the garden had disturbed the merchant. It made him angry. One sleepless night, he came up with a plan to make the music stop.

The next afternoon, he visited his neighbor. He held out a sack of gold coins and gave it to Li. Chen said, “You have been a good neighbor for many years. Here is a gift for you.”

Li thanked Chen. Then he sat in his garden, thinking about the money. Should he hide it? Should he spend it? The poor canary cried for its owner, but Li was lost in his thoughts. He forgot about his supper. He forgot about his flute. He thought all night long.

Chen grinned happily at the success of his plan. He knew that having money would destroy Li’s simple pleasures.

Le made no pots the next day. He did not eat or play the flute. He just worried about the money all day. He worried throughout the long, sleepless night.

The next morning, his canary took pity on him. “Money means worries,” she sang. “Give it back. Give it back.”

Li heard the canary’s song. He remembered how happy he had been before the money arrived. He picked up the bag of coins and went next door.

A. His clerks were cheating him
B. Li’s happiness disturbed him
C. His neighbors were richer than he was
D. Li made beautiful pots while he only made money

A. Nature is beautiful
B. People should save their money
C. Money does not buy happiness
D. It is important to be a good neighbor

A. “The Magic Canary”
B. “A Mean Neighbor”
C. “Rich with Happiness”
D. “Music and Money”

Which meaning of the homonym plain is used in the following sentence?
He wore old, plain clothes.
A. Flat
B. Pure
C. Clear
D. Simple

Li sat in his garden and enjoyed a simple supper.
Which word has the same middle sound as the pp in supper?
A. Open
B. Nap
C. Rabbit
D. Pilot


32 thoughts on “A real Common Core assessment problem – Indoctrinating”

    1. This is a Pearson online Common Core test. It happened in Utah, but Pearson is national. The school just allowed the child to take the test at home due to being sick for a week. That might have been a no-no, but it’s perfect to illustrate that we don’t know what our children are being tested on because the parent happened to see this test question. The upcoming AIR/SAGE exams are not allowed to be viewed by parents or teachers. There is a 15 parent panel that is supposed to review thousands of questions in 1 single week in the next month or so to look for issues. There’s no way they can see all the questions and carefully evaluate them for content and indoctrination.

    2. My daughter attends Mount Jordan Middle School in Canyons School District. My daughters first story in her Language Arts textbook (Mirrors and Windows) at school was about a dog that dies but then comes back to visit a girl in the hospital at the end of the story. I know this because I asked my child to check out the textbook so I could see just what sort of stories she is being exposed to her LA class.

      My daughter told me that they took a test after they read the story. She then told me what was “strange” was that they had to take a *separate* test before the test asking if they “believed in ghosts” as well as after the test, again asking if “they believed in ghosts.”

      Does anybody think this has significance? More agenda here? More indoctrination? I agreed with her that it was strange. Especially the fact that it was a *separate* questionnaire.

  1. I would like to know what the “correct” answers were. I know what my answers would be but I am sure that is not what the indoctrination answers would be in this story.

    1. It’s a Pearson online Common Core test, administered in a Utah school district. The parent took pictures and copied this question.

    1. I don’t know if this ties into the P20w or if that will be reserved for the AIR/SAGE exams coming up. This exam could be included in the database but I’m just not sure.

  2. This is a perfect example of subjective testing with behavioral indicators imbedded. The content teaches the student a negative perspective relating to money and power and personal happiness. Then, in questions 1-3 it asks the students to select answers that can be deduced from the text but a third grader is going to utilize personal values and experiences to answer subjective questions. Only the last two questions are related to language arts. This is also an example of how these tests can indoctrinate children with propaganda rather than teaching an english/language arts concept while determining behavioral indicators based on what that child is being taught at home.
    To Sean: Oak is correct. These tests are not viewable by parents or teachers for that matter. The questions and answers are not available to anyone except the testing source (A.I.R.) and perhaps members of our state department of education. There will be over 20,000 test questions and they are to be kept secret so that they cannot be corrupted.
    These tests are dangerous for our children and should not be used to expose our children to the ideology of persons who are only interested in pushing their own agenda. I am glad this parent was able to shed some light on what will be on these tests. The best thing parents can do for their children is opt them out of all testing. It will become a daily occurrence once the entire system gets up and running.

    1. http://www.schools.utah.gov/CURR/science/SSECC/SAGE-Overview-Powerpoint-for-LEA-Trainings-v6.aspx
      This link is to the online PDF training for Utah teachers and schools to learn about the SAGE (computer adaptive testing). Starting on page 21 it says, “Each item is reviewed for language accessibility, bias and sensitivity.” It goes on to list the areas the testing will be reviewed so that it is politically correct. Items are evaluated in light of: 1. Stereotyping 2. Inflammatory or Controversial Material 3. Emotional Topics 4. Advice 5. Dangerous Activities 6. Population Diversity 7. Differential Familiarity/Elitism 8.
      Language Use.
      It goes on to highlight the specific areas that the testing needs to be careful not to offend the children as they may find themselves in similar circumstances at home. This test question identifies a successful business person as a miserable, greedy person obsessed with money. What if a child comes from a home where his/her parents are successful business people? Will that child not feel conflicted about the wealth of the family in relation to the happiness that comes from poverty? There is no effort to characterize successful, loving, wealthy families as being real or as having any ability to contribute positively to society.
      I highly recommend reviewing this document if you want to see where the thought process is for our politically correct USOE and what they expect teachers to push in schools.

    2. how do you opt out of all testing? can you please give more information on that, or a link to where I can read about it?

  3. When the principal was questioned about it, she basically dismissed it as a harmless fable. She did say parents can request a copy of the weekly unit tests, which included this “comprehension” story

  4. The story of “The Wisdom of the Mountain” fits here. The experience of Lao-li sums it up quite well—that is….’what one sees at the top of the mountain is not what one sees at the bottom’.. Maybe one day we can become ‘enlightened’ like Lao-li. Let’s hope so. Remember-common sense is not so common.

    1. “Maybe one day we can become “enlightened” like Lao-li. Lets hope so. Remember-common sense is not so common.”
      Obviously you think it is fine for the children to be taught money is bad. You are one of the liberal progressive socialist nut jobs that believe central government control of education, healthcare and income (redistribution) is a wonderful thing. All wages should be made equal from the fruit picker to the carpenter, to the doctor. (Obamacare is certainly taking care of that last one). Total central government control and equal everything for everyone. That’s called Communism. How did that work out? Yet that is what these nut jobs want.

  5. “…..and then one day Li became ill. He was not able to convince the mysterious, herbal witchdoctor that pots were as good as money. He spent his days staring jealously at Chen, wondering why his filthy rich, obviously ill-prioritized neighbor could get healthcare, and not he, the humble and obviously superior, too-good-for-profitable-labor, poor child-of-the earth. He started conferring with the local warlord as to how he could use politically-advantageous, government programs to wrest money from his selfish, rotten, no-good neighbor. Soon the tax collector was at Chen’s door and he made off with the sack of money. Li waited and waited for the mysterious, herbal witchdoctor of his choice to come. But, in the end, a wizard made a quick run through town crying incantations of exorcism, amidst assurances that this was all that was really needed. With his golden canary gripping his shoulder with its sharp little toenails and discordantly screeching, Li took to the streets and joined an occupy gang turning over carts and vegetable stands at the market.”

  6. I don’t think this kind of stuff is any different from the indoctrination oriented materials that have been included in the school curricula for years (at least here in Ohio). Just because it now falls under the heading of a standardized common core people may be paying more attention. I recall my kids coming home with this kind of dreck when they were in elementary school. We finally made the decision to homeschool in 2006, to get away from this and other institutional school nonsense.

  7. I don’t find this story objectionable at all. Many parents want to teach their children that money does not buy happiness. It happens to be true. You can think that and also think people should work hard and be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The first question following the story is the only one I think poor, but mostly because no answer seems to be exactly right.

    1. The story is not offensive. As you say there may be some merit. The problem is the questions about it are leading and have no value as a language course. This is not social studies or economics. As a graduate with a BA in English, I am offended.

    2. I have to disagree. This story is objectionable and inappropriate for a third grader because of his developmental age. Children at that age usually still have very concrete thinking skills. They have not yet developed more abstract thinking skills or the ability to infer abstract concepts. The canary sings “Money means worries.” I had to read through the questions a couple of times to realize that “C — Money does not buy happiness” is probably the correct answer. Also listed is “D — People should save their money.” (Interesting that that will then be viewed as a wrong answer.) I don’t think a child this age would infer the answer was C as it takes some abstract thinking skills. The child will understand “money means worries”, however, as it is spelled out in black and white and not inferred. I find that objectionable because the opposite is true. My husband is self-employed and sells durable and consumable goods. Obviously, 2008 hit our family hard. Because of a healthy emergency fund, no debt other than our mortgage, and our ability to limit ourselves to a tight budget, that emergency fund lasted almost two years. Money does not mean worries! Money means security and peace of mind. I think what you are trying to define as having merit is that we don’t condone the love of money. That theme would have to be carefully clarified and would still probably not be understood by a third grade child. Not only that, the story is polarizing between rich and poor with the descriptions of each drawing a clear picture of a mean, jealous, grouchy “rich” man and a carefree, happy “poor” man. And what if a child comes from poverty and he sees his parents struggle and sacrifice to provide for him? Will he wonder why the happy, carefree life does not apply to him? Please remember we are talking about teaching grammar-stage children in this case — not adults.

    3. I also do not find this particular story offensive. My dad called me ranting and raving about the indoctrination going on in public schools due to the common core standards and so I began to investigate it myself, trying to avoid unbiased information, (which is difficult). It really seems like a mixed bag. In my opinion, this seems very similar to something that would be taught in Sunday School when I was a child; granted, this was before wealth became a sign one was blessed by God and back when we were taught it was easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God. Is it because it is an Asian fable and therefore shouldn’t fall under the English Language Arts umbrella? In my experience, stories translated into English to then be read (in English) still counts as valid English reading practice. As a matter of fact, the Bible had to be translated into English to make it accessible to most people. If this were a Biblical excerpt, which are also in public school literature books, would that be less indoctrinating? I agree that the questions were a little “eh”—particularly the first one. I didn’t think they actually listed the reason Chen was angry. However, why is a message that “money doesn’t buy happiness” considered so threatening? I seem to remember that humility was once considered a virtue and that we shouldn’t become consumed by material wealth.
      This isn’t to say I don’t think some of the material in these textbooks apparently written to align with core standards, but I am also not going to label every single item as being dangerous just because it is considered part of this curriculum. For instance, people were fussing over the word problem that mentioned an oil spill and asked students to calculate how many miles a Ford Focus could drive from the gasoline made from the amount of oil that spilled; a “jab” to big oil. Are we oil spill deniers now? This wasn’t a question that even mentioned manmade climate change—it was about the existence of oil spills. Have there been oil spills? Yes. Is oil refined into gasoline? Yes. Is a Ford Focus powered by gasoline? Yes. The question didn’t detail the toxic sludge that coats the wildlife and has to be manually washed away by human hands. It didn’t contain graphic details to elicit an emotional response within the students. However, as a conservative—root word “conserve”—I thought, “Wow…what a waste.” To be conservative means to be careful; to preserve existing structures; to limit. At least, that is what it used to be.

  8. I do find this type of material offensive. Children spend far too much time in the class room not learning foundational math, GUM, hard science that does not contain panic for profit agenda and classical history.
    As for teaching money does not equal happiness wouldn’t that message come from your parents? Isn’t it up to parent(s) to help their children weigh out what is best for that them? I understand there are plenty of people who leave the raising of their children to the school system but what about those of us who want to actively raise their own children rather than leave it to the state and subculture? We are now forced to accept some faceless bureaucrats decision of what is good for children. Adding insult to injury a child’s answers are being analyzed for behavior? What types of behavior? What are they looking for? Who decides what is an acceptable answer or an unacceptable answer? What bearing does this have on the child? What action will be taken? Who will take the action? What is the motivation for taking action or not? If there is money for a specific problem I would bet the tests or the information being pulled can be adjusted in a manner that shows a high level of the target problem that would “require” attention. Tadaa! we now have job justification. What could possibly go wrong?

  9. Jesus would be so proud of your capitalism. Selfish attitudes like yours are what’s wrong with this country.

    1. Communist attitudes like yours are what is wrong with this country. Equal stuff for all whether they actually work or not. Equal income for the fruit picker and the doctor. Unless of course you are connected to the bureaucrats that dictate the rules.

  10. Mary Calamia, a licensed clinical social worker in New York State, succinctly describes Common Core’s enabling the indoctrination of our children with political propaganda.
    “Common Core requires children to read informational texts that are owned by a handful of corporations. Lacking any filter to distinguish good information from bad, children will readily absorb whatever text is put in front of them as gospel. So, for example, when we give children a textbook that explains the second amendment in these terms: “The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia,” they will look no further for clarification.”

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