Learning Math and Spelling at Home & Second Graders “Worked Like Little Dogs”

When HB 1223, a bill to remove Common Core from South Daktoa, was being heard in the House Education Committee, we were given a limited amount to time for both sides to present. I just read a comment from a South Dakotan on another website that caused me to realize that people need to hear the truth, and not just the propaganda of those being paid to promote the Common Core. So here is my testimony from the committee meeting that day.

As I was preparing my testimony for today, given the limited amount of time we have to present the other side of the story, I had difficulty deciding what to talk about. Normally I would talk about

  • how the standards were written in private with participants required to sign confidentiality agreements, (Link 1)(Link 2) (Link 3)  or
  • the hundreds of millions Bill Gates has pumped into writing and promoting the Common Core Standards (Link 4)or
  • how 500 early childhood professionals who raised grave concerns and gave warnings about the damage the developmentally inappropriate standards at the elementary level would cause children, were completely ignored when the standards were being written (Link 5)(Link 6)(Link 7) or
  • the dearth of content in the standards (Link 8)(Link 9) (Link 10) (Link 11) or
  • maybe I would talk about we have no control over the standards our children are taught due to the copyright by the Washington DC trade organizations, NGA and the CCSSO and also their rule that we can add no more than 15% to the standards (Link 12 Page 5)or
  • maybe I would talk about how the fuzzy constructivist  discovery math of the Common Core mirrors the 1992 California Math standards which failed so miserably and moved California to 49thin the nation on the NAEP. And how their college remedial rates went from 23% to 54%  (Link 13) or
  • how students in the highest-performing East Asian countries – Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are at the top of the charts in Math – have more instruction in formal mathematics than elsewhere (Link 14) or
  • how Canada’s math scores have fallen over the last decade except for Quebec schools. Quebec uses more memorization and rote-learning, which has fallen out of fashion in other provinces, where the curriculum is more heavily tilted towards the fuzzy constructivist discovery math, in which students use their own learning styles to explore mathematics, the Common Core math. Quebec has largely ignored the fad. The results suggest that was a wise decision. (Link 15)

But I decided that today I want to share with you what South Dakota teachers tell me.

As I was at different events this summer I had the opportunity to speak with not only parents, but teachers. I want to hear from all those who teach and work closest with these standards on a daily basis. Not just those who come up to me and whisper, “I hate the Common Core. Thank-you for what you are doing.” Or “I am leaving teaching because of the Common Core.” I want to share just two of the many conversations I have had with South Dakota teachers.

I was speaking with a 2nd grade teacher. She started the conversation with she liked the Common Core. When I asked her if she would share with me what she liked about the Common Core she began giving me the talking points we hear all the time. It does make them think, the standards are more rigorous, etc. She then seemed to move into a mode of talking out her feelings about the Common Core. I got the feeling she was conflicted. She eventually moved back to the Common Core was a good thing. She ended with, and I quote, “Now, do we work them like little dogs? Yes.”

Another time, I went to hand a pamphlet to a lady who was walking by the booth. She was extremely polite and smiled when she shared with me that she was the ELA coordinator for her school district. She shared that she had concerns about the first year of implementation and it was disastrous, but in the second year, she knew they had all the kinks worked out and it was going to be great. I thanked her for sharing with me and told her to enjoy her day. Then, the line of people stopped. There was somewhat of an awkward silence. So I asked her, if I could ask her a question? She consented. Since she was ELA, I asked her if she had concerns that children are no longer being taught spelling or the rules of spelling. She must have misunderstood my question. She responded that she had no concerns about that, because she teaches her children spelling at home. So my follow up question was onto the math. “I realize that your specialty is ELA, but do you have concerns that the standards algorithms of math are either not being taught or are moved to upper levels? Again, her response was that they work on the standard algorithms at home. She then qualified her response with “just ask my kids.” Her children were right beside her. They all nodded their heads and rolled their eyes.

Have we become so enamored with a position that we will hold to it no matter the empirical evidence to the contrary? Will we hold that position no matter the damage to teachers and children?

I ask you today, where does your loyalty lie? With Washington Bureaucrats who think they know what’s best for children? Or, will you stand with the parents of South Dakota who pay taxes for their children to be taught math and spelling in school, the veteran teachers who know what children need to learn, the children who are not being taught spelling and standard math algorithms at home and the 2nd graders who do not deserve so much developmentally inappropriate rigor that they are worked like little dogs?


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