Will Common Core dumb down America?
In our new technoworld the ability to do high level mathematics is essential. We are well within our rights to ask what Common Core is doing for the teaching of mathematics. To do so we turn to an authority, Prof. Marina Ratner.
Marina Ratner is well qualified to offer an opinion about the Common Core educational reform, especially as it involves mathematics.
You see, Ratner is a retired professor of mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. She is an eminent figure in her field.
And she also has a grandson in the sixth grade. She has been watching with growing chagrin as her grandson learns mathematics according to the Common Core.
As expected, the alliance of Big Government with Big Charity has produced a mess.
In principle Common Core is supposed to give children a deeper understanding of mathematics. In truth, it is forcing children to perform superfluous mental exercises, exercises that have nothing to do with math. All the while they are learning less math than they used to under the old California standards.
I also read that the Common Core offers "fewer standards" but "deeper" and "more rigorous" understanding of math. That there were "fewer standards" became obvious when I saw that they were vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics. Many topics—for instance, calculus and pre-calculus, about half of algebra II and parts of geometry—were taken out and many were moved to higher grades.
As a result, the Common Core standards were several years behind the old standards, especially in higher grades. It became clear that the new standards represent lower expectations and that students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college and would certainly struggle if they did get in.
Common core is more about drawing pictures and telling stories, but these confuse the issue:
Here are some more examples of the Common Core's convoluted and meaningless manipulations of simple concepts: "draw a series of tape diagrams to represent (12 divided by 3) x 3=12, or: rewrite (30 divided by 5) = 6 as a subtraction expression."
In the end her grandson’s sixth grade class did not learn very much mathematics:
This model-drawing mania went on in my grandson's class for the entire year, leaving no time to cover geometry and other important topics. While model drawing might occasionally be useful, mathematics is not about visual models and "real world" stories. It became clear to me that the Common Core's "deeper" and "more rigorous" standards mean replacing math with some kind of illustrative counting saturated with pictures, diagrams and elaborate word problems. Simple concepts are made artificially intricate and complex with the pretense of being deeper—while the actual content taught was primitive.
If the program is allowed to take hold in American schools, Ratner continues, our children will fall behind their peers around the world, peers who have not been subjected to the latest do-gooder boondoggle:
Yet the most astounding statement I have read is the claim that Common Core standards are "internationally benchmarked." They are not. The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries, just as they fail compared to the old California standards. They are lower in the total scope of learned material, in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects, and in the delayed and often inconsistent and incoherent introductions of mathematical concepts and skills.