Physics Teacher Shares Concerns about Common Core

I received the letter below from a teacher who wanted to share his concerns about Common Core.


My name is Stuart Harper, I am a first year high school physics teacher in St. George. I have a deep love and passion for teaching, not teaching for teaching’s sake, but actually giving meaningful education. I have only recently been introduced to common core (my first encounter with it was about two years ago) and I am gravely concerned by it. The things that concern me the most about it are: 1) the way it is presented and pushed upon us in our teacher training programs (even at BYU), 2) the lack of control we have over its content, 3) the awful quality of its math core, 4) the over-emphasis on testing, 5) the massive burdens on schools for curriculum changes and data collection, and 6) how its focus drives schools deeper into the political realm and further from real education.

Now before I dive into my points I want to address something that I had to learn from experience. Many people say “well this is just the core, you have as much freedom as you want to teach what you want.” (If I hear that overused apple analogy any more I am going to scream.) I have found that in the field that this is not true. Teachers, under pressure by superiors in government positions to perform or else, are driven more and more to teach just the core. I have seen many teachers do this, and it saddens me. I look at my own core, physics, which currently hasn’t been hit yet by common core though it is coming soon, and I see so much great physics that I would never dream of leaving out. But I have talked with a few teachers here in Utah that have confessed that they teach only the core. So anyone that tries to diminish the importance of the issue by saying the teachers have all the freedom they need to teach what they want must be unaware or totally numb to the suffocating constriction of these government restrictions.

The first time I was introduced to common core was at BYU. I was taking a class on classroom management from the Mckay School of education. The teacher, an adjunct faculty from an adjacent district, told us about this new “common core” and how it would help so many people. The thing I still remember her saying was “And we really need you to be on board with this. We are really counting on the new wave of teachers to help push this through.” I didn’t think it was too odd, simply because I did not yet know what it was. When I did about a semester later, I started vocalizing my concerns in my education classes. One of my teachers brushed aside my concerns in front of the whole class saying that it was inevitable, “that Utah will kick against the pricks but when the money starts calling it will fall right in place.” I was abashed by that. It took a long time to even convince my sister (an elementary ed major) of its flaws due to the indoctrination of some of BYU’s instructors. (Please understand, I love BYU. Their Physics Education program from the college of physical and mathematical sciences is the best in the nation for a reason, but I have many concerns about the Mckay school that I will not go into here.) Across the board I have found that those who tout Common Core’s virtues scream them out so loud that it becomes clear that they are trying to cover for it’s massive flaws, and that to me is a great concern.

Second, is the lack of control over the core’s content at the federal level. I have no control in Washington DC, and very little in Salt Lake. I would prefer having the control at the county level, where I can have a say, but that is another subject for another time. How any educator in their right mind can surrender control of what they are supposed to teach to some network of desk bureaucrats thousands of miles away from their classroom is beyond me. It is the height of insanity. Many people have said that this will make it easier for people who move from state to state. That fraction of people, compared to the national population, is laughably small, and is not worth the billions of dollars in deficit spending that we are killing ourselves with to “help.” I was raised in New Mexico, during a time when they were experimenting with a new way to teach writing and spelling. This “New English” turned out to be a dismal failure across the district, and it was very quickly changed at the state. That probably would have never been corrected under the common core system. Too much federal red tape. But even then, there was a whole generation of students, myself included, that struggled greatly with writing and spelling. In fact, it wasn’t until high school, when I finally got a private writing tutor that I actually learned the rules of English that most people I know take for granted.

This problem is already here, but not as much with English (at least as I understand) as it is with math. I am appalled by the dictatorial way that it has been changed to a sub-par system that every math teacher and principle I have talked to opposes and despises. I have yet to meet a single person who thinks this new system is a good thing, in education and out. Those students who I have talked to about it are confused, discouraged, and don’t like it at all. This concerns me greatly because as a physics teacher I count on my students on knowing algebra before they enter my class. Now I realize that I am going to have to teach two classes in one, because I have no clue how many of them know math.

The rest of the concerns that I have listed I hope are obvious to those who are knowledgeable on common core. Please, for the sake of our children let us stop this awful takeover and bring control of our classroom home.

– Stuart Harper

37 thoughts on “Physics Teacher Shares Concerns about Common Core”

  1. I truly admire fellow educators, especially those fresh from the indoctrination labs of modern schools of education within our nation’s universities, who are bold enough to think for themselves and honestly call Common Core (and the conspiring agenda behind it) for what it is!

  2. Well said! BYU is one of the best schools in many respects, but while studying elementary education there I experienced similar disappointments. It’s not just at BYU, though – it’s everywhere. Those behind common core are ingenious in their tactics. It has been saddening to see so many people accept something so detrimental to our country simply because they trusted too much and investigated too little.

  3. Relax Stuart. The content of any introductory physics course is pretty much right from Isaac Newton’s ‘Principia’. It hasn’t changed for over three hundred years, and isn’t likely to any time soon. Look at ANY high school physics standards and you’ll see motion, force, momentum, energy, waves, and electricity. What are you concerned about? What else would you teach? Could it be you just don’t like President Obama?

    1. Atta-boy, Bob! Spoken just like a true Kool-Aid believer! Can you point out ONE instance in her letter, or in the replies to her letter, where the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Barack Hussein Obama, was even MENTIONED?

      And yes, I will tell you right now, I hate Obama down to my very id. Now you can call out your vapid card trick and call me RACIST if you want to, ignorantly declining to even wonder if I am black or not.

      My hatred and your love of Obama will not change the damage that Common Core will do to American education, and eventually to America.

  4. How quickly this crucial issue, so eloquently explained by the author, disintegrates into political name-calling. That is what THEY want. Divert the attention from this monstrous train-wreck called Common Core. Stuart Harper, for a neophyte teacher, has hit the nail on the head. I have been in education as a teacher and principal for over forty years, teaching physics and math for much of the time, and I agree wholeheartedly with Stuart. What this “new” approach does is give poor teachers the structure to exist at a minimum level and absolutely kills the initiative of the very good teachers. It matters not that the kids in Utah are learning the exact same thing as the kids in New Hampshire, or Missouri, or Florida, or Washington. What matters at the high school level is that kids emerge into the real world with an ability to read, write, and compute and, hopefully, to think independently and critically. The manic testing frenzy that is firmly attached to Common Core, and which will make testing companies fabulously rich, does nothing to foster independent, critical thinking. What Stuart alludes to in his statement that Common Core hamstrings a good teacher, and which was summarily dismissed by a writer saying that nothing has changed much since Principia–haha, is that the time required to do exactly what the curriculum demands often causes the teacher to exclude timely topics which spark interest in the student mind. One gets bogged down in the mechanics in a mind-numbing way and the rigidity of the curriculum doesn’t not allow the good teacher to freelance. The straight-jacket approach of standardized testing that tags along with Common Core, a step-child of NCLB, limits what one can do to bring alive the curriculum. Of course, I am not a politician or a “think-tank” expert who has never taught kids. I’m just a successful teacher who has and continues to labor in the trenches. How would I know? By the way, the universities have been an impediment to better education over the past twenty-five years. They are out of touch and not generally respected by the practicing teacher. Good job, Stuart Harper! Keep up the good work, my friend. You have it right.

  5. Wow, I have no idea what Del is talking about.
    First of all, the Physics standards that the original article complains about haven’t even been published yet.
    Second, Common Core is just a framework. It does not impose methods of instruction, nor does it prohibit teachers from going beyond its minimum requirements. Those ‘very good teachers’ are free to develop any topics they choose, as long as they address the core concepts.
    I’ve been teaching Physics for twenty years, and I have no problem with the idea of a basic, nationwide core curriculum. As I stated in my earlier post, we physics teachers already know what’s going to be included (That’s right, the basic concepts from ‘Principia’). If you are a practicing physics teacher and are not already teaching these core physics concepts, you should be fired for incompetence.
    Finally, what’s the problem with standardized testing? Lawyers take the bar exam, Doctors take medical boards, prospective college students take SATs or ACTs, and high school students everywhere take teacher generated tests. A well constructed test does exactly what it’s intended to do: demonstrate a students’ mastery of the subject. Maybe some teachers are afraid of the accountability. I say “bring it on!”

    1. Computer adaptive testing (SAGE Tests) are not the same as the standardized tests kids have taken in the past. They are invasive, have behavioral indicators imbedded in them and are designed to fail students after 50% completion. The questions get harder and harder until the child is given material they are not familiar with nor has the teacher introduced. I don’t think it is appropriate to give children a test they are supposed to fail in order to complete it nor is it ethical to have a teacher’s performance dependent upon a test that may introduce material that teacher hasn’t taught.
      The tests are viewable by no one; not the teacher, the parents, nor administration. The tests will not be scored by a company that specializes in academics but a testing company that specializes in behavioral testing. A psychometrician will score the test.
      These tests also have data attached to them to identify the students and match them to their behavioral indicators from the tests. The test questions also include subjective questions.
      There are so many reasons to not want a child to take these tests. They are less about mastery of a subject and more about what data can be gleaned from the child.

      1. Carie Valentine demonstrates an abundance of tea party paranoia, but very little knowledge of adaptive testing. Do some research on adaptive testing (from independent, respected sources). Think for yourself and stop letting fringe groups program your brain.

        Also, Utah was not forced by the federal government to adopt SAGE; your state DOE chose it. To my knowledge, no other state is using it. So much for the vast conspiracy by the federal government to spy on Americas’ children.

        1. Bob, SAGE is being developed by AIR (American Institute of Research) who is the official partner of the SBAC which 25 states have signed onto for assessments. SAGE tests are essentially SBAC tests but with AIR developing them, there is extra concern because they are a behavioral testing company. I encourage you to read these two resources on AIR (by a local school district board member who did his homework), and behavioral testing (by a Utah child psychologist).

          1. Ok, I followed both of Oak Nortons links and read the articles. Many assertations, no evidence.

            Then I went on the AIR website and found their mission statement (purpose).
            Here’s part of it: “The primary purpose of the Association is to support its members in the process of facilitating quality, data-informed decisions for the enhancement of higher education”.
            I’m shocked!

            Next I went on the SBAC site and found this: “The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) is a state-led consortium working to develop next-generation assessments that accurately measure student progress toward college- and career-readiness”.

            Interestingly, Utah is not one of SBAC member states.

            Neither organization claims any affiliation with the other. No mention anywhere of behavioral testing in regards to the common core testing.

            The SBAC site does offer a selection of sample test questions. I looked at the math ones. They contained………MATH QUESTIONS! (fairly high order ones, I thought).

            I’m not a big conspiracy theory guy, but I’m becoming very suspicious of the Common Core Protesters. I think some agenda totally unrelated to education is at work here.

          2. That’s hilarious. I can just see a company say, “we do behavioral testing to make specific assumptions about your child and help place them in a career that needs jobs, in accordance with their skills.” Of course companies make themselves look benign. Did you know that President Obama said he wanted a German style education system in his last state of the union address? Why would he say that? The German system tries to identify careers and do central economic planning when children are in grade school.

            Utah used to be a governing SBAC state until last year when we succeeded in getting Utah out of it. Then Utah adopted AIR for its assessment partner. AIR is the SBAC partner for online assessments. If you searched at all for it you should have found it.

            Behavior testing: (line 66)

            Not every question is an indoctrinating question, but here’s a clear one:

            So you’re suspicious of CC protestors and think we have an agenda. What is it? Loss of time? Loss of money? None of us are paid, unlike the state office of education who use our tax dollars to push propaganda on people like “the standards were a state led effort. They are internationally benchmarked.” etc…

        2. Bob, I am not a tea party member nor am I uninformed. It seems rather limited on your part to automatically throw me into a category you think represents some sort of insult. I didn’t insult you. I simply stated what I have learned about the testing. I have researched this topic, on my own, for almost a year now. I have looked at AIR and their connections, I looked at the state’s information on the SAGE testing, and I have attended meetings and read laws about the testing. Could you provide me these independent sources you think I should examine? I think the sources I have gone to have been ones that are well educated on the topic. The testing company and the group that hired them. What makes you think I don’t think for myself? Is it because I have a different take on this than you? Your energy would be better spent on your own actual research wouldn’t it? Why all the anger? You are certainly welcome to your own opinion.
          I never said Utah was forced to adopt SAGE. No other state is using the SAGE an-acronym but they are using computer adaptive tests. Just because they have some other catchy name doesn’t make it different. That is the purpose of the testing consortia, to “standardized” the tests for all states. “Over time, we expect to be able to link our test to the common-core tests used in other states and obtain valid national norms in that way.”
          You asked what they will do with the data? Well, they are working to “help” determine what educational course a child should take based on their test scores. Children will be placed on an educational path that helps connect them with a career goal starting in the 7th grade. I am not interested in proving anything to you nor am I interested in changing your mind. These are the facts, you can look up the information on your own time. I have already spent countless hours of my own time doing the research, unpaid I might add, for the benefit of knowing what happens in my children’s education.
          You may call me names if you like but there is something about having truth on your side that deflects the negativity.

  6. So tell me Oak, What are these evil companies going to do with the data gathered from the students? What is the sinister plan, and who is behind it?

    Here’s a dose of reality: US students are seriously lagging behing much of the world in math and science, largely because of a lack of rigorous standards in (many) highs schools. Some districts do very well, others very badly. Overall, our nation is losing.

    I see two choices.
    1. We can toughen up our STEM programs and compete globally
    2. We can start teaching our students Hindi and Mandarin, and hope they can find jobs with the world’s dominant economies.

    We certainly can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect better results.

    1. Bob, nobody knows that better than me. A few years ago I was the banner carrier for math reform in Utah. Check out this page on another site of mine from that time frame. I totally get it.

      The problem is, Common Core isn’t the answer. It’s weak and there is a definite agenda behind it to move us toward a German style planned education/economic system. The big problem in Utah is with implementation of Common Core math standards, the state has embraced constructivist fuzzy math. The Common Core math is weak itself as well, as this post shows:

  7. Your first site touts the benefits of Singapore math. Singapore math is part of a NATIONAL CURRICULUM in Singapore. It is being used as a model for math teaching in many countries, including GERMANY (which has the strongest economy in europe, due to cooperation between schools, industry, and government). GERMANY uses it as part of its NATIONAL CURRICULUM.

    Common core math also draws heavily on Singapore math. Just look at example questions from both. Highly visual, deep curriculum.

    A number of posters claim common core does not introduce algebra before 9th grade. It does. Just look at the common core 8th grade standards. Linear equations, variables, etc..

    Also, I noticed by following a couple of links starting on your posted link, that one of Singapore math’s biggest supporters is…..AIR!

    At this point I’m just amused.

  8. Bob, Singapore has a population of 5 million people. That’s like saying Utah has a state curriculum. Size matters. Read the top quote on our home page of this site.

    As for drawing on Singapore math, no, Common Core does not have a lot in common with Singapore math. That assertion has been made before that Common Core correlates to top performing countries, but that is false.

    Common Core doesn’t FINISH algebra until 9th grade which pushes all coursework back a year, meaning, most students don’t get to calculus by 12th grade. At best, most get to pre-calculus.

    Singapore has a great math program and AIR recognizes that as does the entire world. For 12 years, Singapore was the top performing nation on TIMSS exams. AIR is also a behavioral testing company. That’s where we have issues.

  9. I give up. You people can go on and fight whatever battles you wish against creating a solid, rigorous math and science curriculum. I’ll spend my time more productively by writing lesson plans for my math and physics students. They will be completely aligned with common core, because that’s the stuff high school students SHOULD BE LEARNING! I stand by my earlier statement about common core protesters. I think there is an agenda that is detrimental to my country’s future at work here. I will be extremely vigilant regarding this ‘movement’ should it show up in my part of the country.

    1. The only agenda is LIBERTY. We are for rigor in education. We are for exceptional standards in math and science. We are for educational liberty. Common Core is not rigorous, it is not state led, and it is not just standards. It is a system by which children are educated for the workforce. Not educated to get an education but to be workers based on how they test. There is no agenda other than restoring local control of education to communities and to parents. That is it. No dark objective. I should be able to direct the education of my children free from a government who insists they know better than me. This is wider and deeper than you are willing to look. Perhaps, when you start to see the results of this experiment your eyes will be opened to what is really going on.

  10. I find it interesting when people complain that high school students in the US don’t score as well on standardized tests as high school students in other countries do. Then they make the assumption that we aren’t educating are children well. Why doesn’t anyone realize that our scores are lower because we educate ALL of our children through high school.

    In many other countries, testing is done towards the end of elementary school and then periodically throughout the rest of the student’s school years. As a child’s tests show them to be “not as bright”, the government pulls them out of school to work in the fields, factories, etc. The children who end up in high school, are the brightest students. Going on to secondary school is a privilege. The family of a student who is smart enough to go on to high school, makes as few demands as possible on that child, so they can spend as much time as possible on studying. I wont even go into teen- age suicide rates in many Asian countries, who generally have the highest test scores. How many of our best students have family chores, part time jobs and extra-curricular activities?

    If we tested only our best and brightest high school students, I’m sure the scores would be quite different. But that’s okay, because now with Common Core, we will be testing our students throughout their school careers and giving input about which careers they are best suited for.

    I pulled my children out of public school this week after sitting through multiple sales pitches about the features and benefits of Common Core at Back to School Nights. I was told multiple times that Utah doesn’t use Common Core. We use Utah Core, which is completely different. Either way, its not our cup of tea.

    It seems

    1. FYI, the TIMSS exam is supposed to be a true cross-section of the population taking it. In 4th grade and 8th grade, the results show the U.S. lagging behind. I blame the math issue on constructivism that’s being pushed hard in this country (and in this state). Here’s a couple charts I did a few years ago comparing us to Singapore:

  11. Haha, Bob I feel bad you had the tenacity to continue responding to these paranoid tea partiers. Like, reading through the comments it is clear they have zero reasoning ability

    1. Eric, would you launch a new product into a national market without doing any testing? Without even knowing if it would have a positive impact? Why was Common Core pushed into a national market without ever being tested? Without being benchmarked against what we know are best practices in educational learning? Why would a state with demonstrably better standards adopt CC standards that were shown to be less rigorous? Follow the money. You won’t find the money in the anti-CC movement. We’re the ones spending time fighting it without deep pockets. Look at Gates and major publishers who are making billions off Common Core and the rush to get everyone on it as fast as possible.

    2. Eric,
      Sadly, what you politely call tenacity is really stupidity on my part. There’s no reasoning with these folks; I should have known better. They want to maintain ‘local control’ so thousands of little school districts can keep low standards with no accountability. Let’s let the Chinese, Finns, Indians and Germans do the hard stuff. Our kids will stick to playing video games and posting garbage on Instagram.

      1. That is a parenting problem not an education problem. Parents need to be sure the students are doing their work not playing on the internet. How is that a teacher problem?

  12. So Bob, where’s the study showing these standards are better than other standards? It’s widely acknowledged that California, Massachusetts and several other states had better standards than Common Core. We would prefer to adopt one of those superior sets of standards. We’d also like control over where our children’s personal information is stored. You’re making this into a single issue and it isn’t. It’s a broad array of issues that appeal to people of all political views.

  13. Oak,
    There are plenty of studies showing just that. Google and you’ll find all you want. Of course, you’ll just dismiss them as part of the ‘great conspiracy’. I don’t need a study. I can look at the standards as they progress through grade levels and see the value. A narrow curriculum focused on number sense in early grades. An emphasis on deeper understanding of concepts in higher grades, as opposed to a broad, superficial treatment of many topics.
    You seem to like Singapore math. The Core Standards are well aligned with Singapore math. You can say they are not, and you can quote ‘experts’ who say they are not, but I can read the standards for both and clearly see that they are. Anyone with any math literacy can do the same.
    It seems your real objection has to do with AIR. AIR is not a behavior testing company (or a behavior modification one either). It is a research organization that is dedicated to studying human behavior. AIR has many departments working on many projects. One of them is education. Education is, in fact, a human behavior.
    There is no evidence for psychometric testing (other than, of course, for math knowledge) embedded in the proficency tests. None. Zero. This is a myth promulgated by some anti-government (and anti American, I believe) groups and is being readily accepted as fact by the gullible.
    I would suggest to the paranoid protesters that we don’t turn to Glenn Beck for guidance on how to teach math to our children.
    By the way, you say it’s ‘widely known’ that Massachusetts and California had better standards. Widely known by whom? And why have these states’ departments of education, who had earlier adopted these better standards, now decide to adopt common core? Part of the conspiracy? Did Bill Gates buy them out?
    Your arguments are illogical, but you seem logical enough. That’s why I believe this is, at its root, a political movement with an agenda unrelated to education.
    I’m a physics teacher. I care about improving the math skills of American students (who are losing global competitiveness). Let’s focus on what’s important and forget this ‘big government is out to get us’ nonsense.

    1. No Bob, there aren’t studies showing the validity of Common Core’s standards because the standards were never tested. They went directly from being drafted to being adopted. In fact we have audio from the records here in Utah where the draft came out on June 2nd, and at the June 4th meeting 2 days later, a state ed officer telling the state board we had to turn in the application by Monday (3 days later) showing that we’re adopting the standards in order to qualify for maximum points on our Race to the Top application.
      >”Anyone with any math literacy can do the same.”
      That’s funny Bob. Heard of Jim Milgram? Stanford PhD in math, serves on NASA’s advisory panel, studies international standards, writes standards for states, outspoken critic of Common Core? There are many more who see the problems with the standards. As for Singapore math, the American Education Research Association said the Singapore math standards only have a .13 correlation to Common Core. Finland is .21, Japan is .17. Here’s a link.
      Did you know the authors of Common Core math also had nothing favorable to say about them right after they completed the drafts? The 2 mathematicians who served with an English major to do the math standards said this back in 2010 after completing the standards:
      Bill McCallum, a key CCSSM author, said this at the 2010 joint AMS/MAA annual meeting:
      β€œthe overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”
      In March 2010 Jason Zimba, another of the key CCSSM authors, testified in front of the Mass. Board of Ed and said:
      β€œ[Common Core’s] concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”
      Bob, do you know which organization researches standards and said Common Core standards are better than most states? The Fordham Foundation. They’ve received a couple million dollars from the Gates Foundation, several hundred thousand just to review Common Core. They are the ones stating CA and MA and several other states have superior standards to Common Core.
      If you’re a physics teacher and love Common Core, you may be in one of the states with math standards inferior to Common Core and so you really like CC. That’s great. Here in Utah, we had better standards before Common Core. We also had discrete years of math education. As a result of Utah and Vermont adopting the integrated method, we now end algebra 1 in 9th grade and no way for students who just figured out they want a technical background to make up for lost time. I myself took geometry and algebra 2 in 10th grade as a kid because I knew I wanted calculus in 12th grade and I’d been slow to recognize that in junior high. I couldn’t do that now in Utah.
      Common Core isn’t going to do anything to help with global competitiveness. You can see above that they were never internationally benchmarked and don’t correlate with high performing nations. The only way to meet the needs of a child is to restore true local control and get government out of education.

  14. Oak,
    Heard of Dr.Richard Scheaffer, Dr. Bernadette Sandruck, Dr. William McCallum, Dr. Bernard L. Madison,
    Dr. James Madden, Dr. Deborah Hughes Hallett, Dr. Denny Gulick, Dr. Lawrence Gray or Dr. Karen Fuson?
    Just a fraction of the number of mathematics professors who helped create the core standards.
    You state “2 mathematicians and an engligh major” wrote the standards. Another of your deceptions, which by now I have come to believe are deliberate.
    The link you offer leads to a commentary by a BYU professor. He does not even criticize common core, just the way Utah is implementing it. Yet you lead readers to believe He is an opponent of the common core. Another deception.
    You throw out low correlation coefficients regarding studies that compare common core to other (successful) countries. No mention of what studies or what methodology. Just pull the numbers out of the air. Deception.
    The darling of the anti-core folks, Jim Milgram, has been wildly inconsistent regarding common core. He has recently gained publicity by criticizing the stndards, but he has testified in support of the standards on a number of occasions.
    Algebra I doesn’t end in 8th grade or 9th grade. Algebra I never ends. Students use basic algebra skills in AP Calculus. Common core does not limit schools. It just sets a MINIMUM COMPETENCY by grade level. Schools in Utah are free to offer Algebra I in 4th grade if they so choose. Kids can then finish Calculus by 8th grade. It is totally up to the local school boards. Common core allows school districts to advance as quickly as the school boards, parents, and teachers want to. It does, however, require ACCOUNTABILITY. Kids can take algebra I at any time, but by 9th grade the have to PROVE COMPETENCY.

    1. Sorry Bob, you’re wrong. Five people wrote the Common Core standards. Then others served on review and validation committees.
      William McCallum who you mention above is Bill McCallum in my comment…one of the primary draft authors.
      Dr. Wright isn’t opposed to Common Core standards, but he’s extremely opposed to the way Utah implemented them. However, he also recognizes that Common Core is setting up Utah for failure in advancing students who want to be prepared for college. You can see his comment here:
      Show me where Milgram has testified in support of the standards. He was the only professional mathematician on the validation committee and he refused to sign off on the standards. That would be very inconsistent for him to speak in support of the standards since from the very beginning he was opposed. When Milgram and others made suggestions to the standards, those weren’t implemented in the final version. I strongly encourage you to read what Milgram wrote to Diane Ravitch which includes part of a transcript from an exchange between Jason Zimba (one of the 3 authors of the CC math), and Sandra Stotsky who was on the state school board in MA. Common Core’s “college and career ready” line is a lie.
      There’s no deception in what I write Bob. I’m straight forward. I provide sources of my comments and you can check them out for yourself. Just because you disagree doesn’t mean I haven’t done my homework.
      Why should we state a child has to show competency in algebra 1 by 9th grade and then make 9th grade the year we finish algebra 1? Utah used to finish algebra 1 by 8th grade under our 2007 standards. That would have allowed those who failed it to take it again in 9th grade. Common Core has DUMBED DOWN our school system. Further, because the national assessments grade teachers and schools, you can bet teachers are going to teach to the test. Those teachers aren’t incentivized to go beyond the standards. They are incentivized to just do exactly what’s in the standards. You can’t tell me most teachers are going to go beyond what’s on the test. THAT’S deceptive Bob.

  15. It’s not up to the teachers. School boards (and the people who elect them) run the schools. Local control, right? Superintendent answers to school board, principals to superintendent, teachers to principals. If a school board wants to offer algebra I in 7th grade, fine. 6th grade? No problem. The standards do not set an upper limit. Teachers are ‘incentivized’ by school boards, acting through administrators. What national assessments DO prevent is showing Algebra I and II, Precalc, and calculus on the high school transcript of a kid who can’t add fractions or subtract negative integers. It’s about accountability.

  16. I am kind of disappointed by the argument I have found on my article, and saddened by it.

    First I want to say that I am opposed to the idea of common core more than the content. It could be the best in the world, but still I would be concerned by it. Education is supposed to be a local issue, and I don’t want anyone telling me how to run my classroom who has never been anywhere near it.

    Second, I realize that the physics core is fairly good. I wish it covered momentum and other key topics, but that is not the issue. The issue in my mind is the loss of control. I want to have a voice in what standards we use, in what texts are used, etc. I want to go to state meetings and say “Hey! why don’t we put momentum on the core?” Where in CC I have felt a vast and oppressive feeling of insignificance because my voice means nothing to those who write the core (and my subject hasn’t even been directly hit by it yet!).

    I can only watch with sadness and imagine the feelings of the math teachers in my school, a very poor school by the way, who now has to scrounge for money to teach the new integrated curriculum. I see the frustration in the eyes of the teachers and their students as they are forced into this new approach. They have no hope of changing it themselves, only desperate and distant hope that it will go back to normal soon. I speak out not because it is hurting me, but because it is hurting many that I see all around me.

    I cant stand this…. The bickering and the name calling…. I have no issue against anyone, but I cannot understand this country’s fascination with regulating, restricting, controlling, and testing the hardest and most under-appreciated job in the country. It shouldn’t be this hard though. This work should be a joy, but with every new piece of legislation and “accountability” it feels like another piece of me dies. I love my students, I do all I can for them. If someone who knows me and knows my students comes in and tells me what I can do to improve, I do it. I know we need good teaching, but this national micro-managing has to stop, it simply doesn’t help.

  17. Stuart,
    Please don’t be discouraged, we need to keep our young physics teachers in the classroom! If you’ll allow this old(er) physics teacher to offer some advice: Don’t worry about the standards, they are minimal requirements. Teach your kids what YOU KNOW they should be learning. If you are forced to use a textbook you don’t like, supplement it with handouts of your choosing. I haven’t used a textbook in years (the internet is FREE!). Give administrators whatever documentation they need to show you cover the standards (you can throw this together in no time). Then let them jump through the bureaucratic hoops. You should just concentrate on YOUR classroom. Do what you know is right for the kids. Sorry if I come off sounding like an arrogant know-it-all, but I’ve been around awhile and I’ve seen new teachers become overwhelmed with petty nonsense. You are the content expert. Stay focused on teaching the kids physics.

  18. I guess I missed conspiracy 101 when the Common Core came out.

    Origins. High school seniors were and are not graduating college ready. One indication this is true because of all the tuition dollars being spent on remedial classes in college to get college freshmen ready for entry level college classes.

    Initiative. A consortium of governors (this is not a federal initiative – which makes me raise my eyebrows to this FIRST YEAR teacher’s comment about not having control of Washington, D.C. – This is an initiative created by a group of individual states and if he thinks that is the same thing as the federal government, he needs to retake American Heritage) decided to unify and raise – yes raise – the accepted academic standards to prepare students so they will graduate college ready.

    Utah has only adopted a portion of the new standards. Literary arts and mathematics. No science (aka physics), social sciences, fine arts or physical ed will be affected.

    Another big problem is that everyone is blaming the Common Core for curriculum issues. What – curriculum and common core aren’t the same? NO! The curriculum is HOW the standards are taught. The state board creates the curriculum (not D.C. or a consortium of governors) and then it is passed down to districts who are allowed to tweak and adjust, same goes when it is passed to the schools and finally to the teachers in their own classroom. If you are not liking the “new math”, is a not a Common Core issue, but a curriculum issues. Better start attending your SCC and PTA meetings to investigate the curriculum your school has implemented and become part of the solution, not the problem.

    And finally, the “burden” of changing the curriculum and of collecting data is an embarrassing statement. If improving the public education system is a burden, then we should be happy with tge status quo? Our education system is performing below par, but to bring it up to date would be a burden?

    I am heavily involved at a school that is using new “data collection” methods to keep real time records of student mastery. Yes, there is a learning curve when learning the system, but the teachers say they will NEVER go back. Why? Because they can now catch the same day which child is not understanding and do same day interventions to keep the student on course. Any teacher will tell you that patching a small gap in learning immediately is much easier than trying to mend a chasm at the end of the year. Students are advancing prepared for the next grade level instead of advancing as a problem to be muddled through in the next grade level and the years to follow.

    1. You missed more than conspiracy 101 Schlumpy. Do some homework. Common Core isn’t going to improve making graduates college ready. In Utah under Common Core, we’ve now delayed completion of algebra 1 till 9th grade. It was in 8th grade. This means fewer seniors taking calculus and being ready for college in STEM fields. The governors didn’t create this either. Bill Gates did under a contract with UNESCO. It’s not conspiracy theory, it’s conspiracy fact. A conspiracy is defined as a secret plan to do something unlawful. Common Core breaks 3 federal laws and bypassed the entire legislative process. It is a federal bribe. You are also clueless on the math being used. It’s not a local choice, it’s part of Common Core standards. They put process standards in with the content standards and the assessments (federally funded) are aligned to the standards which are constructivist fuzzy math nonsense.

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