Math Teacher Malin Williams Speaks Out

I received this email from math teacher and football coach Malin Williams who gave permission to post it with his name.


My name is Malin Williams.  I teach math at Enterprise High School in the Washington County School District.  This letter is being typed at home on my own computer and on my own time. I did not participate in the essay contest, but have some thoughts that may be useful.  If so, use them.  These thoughts are my own and in no way am I attempting to speak for any official entity, organization, or individual besides myself.

It is difficult to express myself concerning the common core.  There is much “official support” for it.  I fear that teachers who oppose the common core may somehow be punished, but my perception is that most teachers do not really want the common core.  We want to be allowed to use our professional judgement and serve our students the best way we know how.  We welcome professional development which we can use to increase our effectiveness.  We chafe at being told “you must” by people who are not in our classrooms and communities.

I have spent a significant amount of time studying the pros and cons of the common core.  Many of the math standards are very good.  Some are not.  (Does a kindergarten student really need to know what a hexagon is…Does he really need to be able to distinguish between whether a shape is two dimensional or three dimensional?  Will this cause confusion and frustration unnecessarily?)  I am very concerned about Utah losing our ability to control our own educational standards and programs.  I am concerned about struggling students being forced from one failing experience to the next.  I am equally concerned about our best students being slowed down.  I would very much like my own children to be in a school that did not have to worry about federal controls, education standards with inflexible copyrights held by massive cooperatives, data mining, over-emphasizing of coercive testing and compliance, excessive corporate controls, etc.

We are moving ever farther from the small, locally controlled schools that produced our parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Family friendly schools and policies seem to be decreasing.  The schools and social forces that produced the greatest nation in the world are disappearing.  Will the new experiment work?  The farther we get from what made us great, the farther we seem to fall.  Hope and individual initiative seem to be decreasing.  Can they be successfully replaced by rigid standards and increased bureaucracy?   Must our sons and daughters be placed under more distant and more regimented controls?  Is federal money so necessary and dear to us?  Is parental input so unimportant?

My colleagues can be trusted.  We want to feel trusted and empowered.  We need to return local control and empowerment to Utah students, parents, and teachers by rejecting the common core.  We can do better.

Thank you.

Malin Williams
Head Football Coach
Level 4 Math Teacher
Enterprise High School

7 thoughts on “Math Teacher Malin Williams Speaks Out”

  1. Thank you Malin!! It’s wonderful to see fellow Southern Utah teachers/parents speaking out! It’s one thing to have our district representatives trying to keep things vague and quiet concerning CC.. similar to politicians, saying what they have to say the way they have to say it because of their position. But now with our superintendent and other officials going out of their way through radio spots/ads/etc to tell our community that all things are great with common core, and the huge falsehood that our local teachers/district LOVE it I am much less forgiving about the matter. Our district must be exposed for the lies they have spread and the intimidation of teachers that has taken place concerning CC. I’m not calling for personal attacks to our local people (they are merely victims of a corrupt system) but we should show them we’re not interested in their political game, we’re not interested in selling our souls for the funding and we’re not interested in CC.

  2. I feel a bit like I am preaching to the choir on this website/blog, but “Amen to Brother Williams’ letter”!!
    I just had a meeting with my high school student’s counselor today, and I expressed my concern that my, once, above-average Math student is now failing CC Math. She mentioned that her own 7th Grader is struggling in Math, so they just got her a tutor…?! Is that the answer? I have an older son who has excelled in Math, but he was not subject to the CC Curriculum….and he knows a lot about Math, but not about Common Core Math.

    Where does Gov. Herbert stand on this? I get the idea that he was more than happy to accept the Federal Funding to adopt Common Core, but is this a correct assumption?

    1. Tricia, technically, Utah didn’t get any money to adopt Common Core. That’s what the Governor and state board will tell you. They just *wanted* federal money for adopting it, so they pulled the lever and took a big chance. Having failed, they are now doubling down on the mistake by keeping it in place so they don’t look bad. The same thing happened in Alpine School District a decade ago. They put Investigations math in and tutors and math centers got loads of business. It’s the same unfortunate thing happening state wide. These math fads get promoted and it kills math skill, it doesn’t give students critical thinking skills.

    2. The same goes for my son. He has always loved math! He now hates it and is struggling in the 7th grade integrated math.

      Oh, but the did get a text book last week for the first time this year! CCSS approved!

  3. What I am seeing with Common Core is that we are fighting forces so powerful that most people don’t realize what we are up against.

    An anti common core bill was up for presentation to the state legislature last week and hours before presentation it was switched to a pro common core bill. The lobbying efforts of this group were undermined and I still don’t know why that happened.

    This is a beast we are fighting.

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