Common Core math horror stories and higher-order thinking

Has your child started back to school yet? Noticed anything different about education under Common Core? Here are 3 parent’s troubling math stories about their experiences starting back into school.

1) One of my daughters decided to go back to the district junior high this year from a charter school and yesterday brought home her new Common Core math book for 7th grade. It’s the first half of the year textbook and as I flipped through it I realized she’d had a lot of this math already, some of it 2 years ago. For example, one problem at the back of this textbook was 45 minus 4.5. I went and spoke with the teacher and learned that she was going to be supplementing the class with her own more rigorous material. Our district (Alpine) did significant work selected a textbook but unfortunately because of the crisis created by the USOE’s statewide implementation so fast after Common Core was released, we had to get textbooks in place before many were available that met (or exceeded) these low standards.

2) A co-worker of mine has a 5th grader in Jordan school district who left a really solid charter school and returned to a district school. They carefully researched the teachers at the school and found the one that was supposed to be the most rigorous or accelerated that would help their son really learn math. On the first day of class, their son was devastated when the teacher announced that everyone should be excited because this year under Common Core they were going to learn their times tables, something he’d done in school 2 years earlier. The family is very concerned.

3) My senior daughter came home from her first day of A/P statistics and said the teacher told the class they weren’t going to do math till 2nd semester and would just focus on vocabulary for the 1st semester (can you say constructivism?). The class then took turns reading paragraphs out of the book. The teacher’s favorite part of each chapter is the “conversations” in the book and she assigns class members to role play them. The teacher actually did send home some math problems for these seniors, most of whom had A/P Calculus last year. The sheet was called statistics essentials. Here’s a problem from it. “If you have $15.73 and each pound of gummy bears costs $3.28 after taxes, how many pounds of gummy bears can you purchase?” I think our daughter did this level of work about 5-6 years ago. Unbelievable how dumbed down this is for our children.

You can thank the USOE for the statewide dumbing down that’s about to occur.

On Lone Peak high school’s website is an article from Principled Leadership magazine. Susan Gendron, a policy coordinator at SBAC is being interviewed by Mel Riddile about Common Core. Here’s one exchange which we hear all the time from state education officials.

Riddile: So the big picture is much higher rigor?

Gendron: Much higher. In the work I’m involved in with the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, we’re actually using a cognitive rigor matrix that was developed in 2009. It uses Bloom’s taxonomy and Norman Webb’s depth of knowledge to define what students need to be able to demonstrate to show that they’ve achieved proficiency.

I’m guessing a lot of parents are going to discover that “much higher rigor” doesn’t follow a traditional dictionary definition.

Most of us are probably familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy where people move from knowledge to comprehension to application to analysis to synthesis to evaluation to achieve what he terms higher-order thinking. Educators are infatuated with Bloom’s work in education. They spout higher-order thinking and critical thinking skills in practically every document they produce as what their goal is in education. Most of them have never taken the time to learn what Bloom’s goal was, moral relativism.

“…a student attains ‘higher order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong. A large part of what we call good teaching is a teacher´s ability to obtain affective objectives by challenging the student’s fixed beliefs. …a large part of what we call teaching is that the teacher should be able to use education to reorganize a child’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.”
-Benjamin Bloom, psychologist and educational theorist, “Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives,” pg. 185

That’s quite the statement to chew on. This is not to say that your children’s teachers are all doing this to your children, because most of them are wonderful people who genuinely want to help children learn to evaluate situations in life with the skills they are passing on. However, there are many teachers who share this prominent belief in moral relativism. When you hear the term critical thinking, to them it means thinking critically about all the morals, patriotism, and knowledge that have been passed on to you from the institutions of family and church. No institution of learning is safe from these types of philosophies, even BYU (link 1)(link 2), so you can imagine what’s happening at other universities.

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are getting a well-rounded education which includes moral absolutes, otherwise the fabric of our American republic will waste away. Freedom based in law only works when people have a solid belief system in God-given moral absolutes so that honesty and integrity are valued above situational ethics which may not always dictate fair dealings with your fellow man. George Washington’s farewell address declared morality and religion as indispensable supports to our freedom, and prominent national educators have been tearing those down for many decades.

If you have never looked into a comparison of what prominent national educators have as a philosophy compared to religious leaders, here is one to consider.

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