Is Opposition to Eureka Math and Common Core really limited to a few isolated troublemakers, like John White told the American Press?

Recently John White made the claim that only a few isolated pockets of parents in a few parishes are upset about Common Core and Eureka Math.

Small groups of people in several isolated areas of Louisiana, including Calcasieu Parish, are voicing loud opposition to Common Core State Standards, said state Superintendent of Education John White.

“They tend to show up at school boards in numbers that are not large relative to the size of the parish,” White told the American Press editorial board Tuesday. “But they’re large relative to the size of the room where the school board meeting is held.”

I’ve been getting reports from folks from across the state since that statement was made. I would like to put together a spreadsheet/inventory of just how widespread opposition truly is, but I need your help. Please provide information so I can counter John White’s claim that only a few folks from a few isolated communities are upset about Common Core and Eureka Math. My pastor actually made an offhand reference about Common Core Math during one of his sermons a few weeks back and was met with a room full of groans of disgust and frustration. What was remarkable was most of the folks in this service were not parents, but just grandparents, and they had had enough of Common Core. This was not an assembly of gathered for any other reason except to worship, but Common Core, and the math associated is so dreadful it provokes groans of disgust from an entire congregation. I attend church in the middle of Baton Rouge. I’m pretty sure this hatred is thorough and not the least bit isolated.

To help me document this for mainstream media types which don’t have the time or inclination to do this research themselves, please provide what curriculum you use in your parish. If there is organized resistance to it, let me know. If there is a contact person or name you would like to provide, please let me know that as well. I will update this list/post periodically as information comes in. I hope this post will also help connect groups in different “isolated areas of Louisiana” feel less isolated and work together going forward.

 

Please provide your feedback in the comments below. I will transfer summarized data to this spreadsheet. If you wish to be contacted by folks that might research this topic please leave your contact information in your comment as well. if you wish to provide an anonymous update please send your info to crazycrawfish@yahoo.com

 

 

Curriculum Used by School District for the 2014-2015 School Year (as reported by parents) 

Last updated: 10/25/14

Produced by Jason France 

         

LEA 

District/Agn 

Math Curriculum 

ELA Curriculum 

Notes & Contacts (official and Anti-CC)

001 

Acadia Parish

  

  

  

002 

Allen Parish 

  

  

  

003 

Ascension Parish 

Eureka 

Core Knowledge 

 Board members staunchly in favor of CC and Eureka

Lorraine Wimberly (opposed?)

004 

Assumption Parish 

  

  

  

005 

Avoyelles Parish 

 Eureka

  

 Avoyelles Against Common Core

006 

Beauregard Parish 

 Go Math (HMH)

Treasures (MMH)

  

007 

Bienville Parish 

  

  

  

008 

Bossier Parish 

  

  

  

009 

Caddo Parish 

EngageNY 

  

  

010 

Calcasieu Parish 

Eureka 

  

multiple forums, parades,SB meetings against Common Core and Eureka 

011 

Caldwell Parish

  

  

  

012 

Cameron Parish 

  

  

  

013 

Catahoula Parish 

  

  

  

014 

Claiborne Parish 

  

  

  

015 

Concordia Parish 

  

  

  

016 

DeSoto Parish 

  

  

  

017 

East Baton Rouge Parish 

 Go Math (HMH) + EngageNY

  

  

018 

East Carroll Parish 

  

  

  

019 

East Feliciana Parish

  

  

  

020 

Evangeline Parish 

  

  

  

021 

Franklin Parish 

  

  

  

022 

Grant Parish 

  

  

  

023 

Iberia Parish 

 Eureka

  

Iberia Asst. Supt of Instruction: Carey Laviolette calaviolette@iberia.k12.l1.us 337-364-7641

024 

Iberville Parish 

  

  

  

025 

Jackson Parish 

  

  

  

026 

Jefferson Parish 

Eureka 

Core Knowledge 

  

027 

Jefferson Davis Parish 

My Math (SMH)

  

  

028 

Lafayette Parish 

Eureka 

  

Numerous groups opposed to Common Core

029 

Lafourche Parish 

  

  

  

030 

LaSalle Parish 

  

  

 LaSalle Parish Against Common Core

031 

Lincoln Parish 

 Eureka

  

Lincoln Chief Academic Officer: Mike Milstead mmilstead@lincolnschools.org

032 

Livingston Parish 

 Eureka

  

Anti-CC forum being held 10/16/14

Livingston SB contact Director of Curriculum: Dawn Rush

Dawn.rush@lpsb.org

033 

Madison Parish 

  

  

  

034 

Morehouse Parish 

  

  

  

035 

Natchitoches Parish 

 Eureka

  

  

036 

Orleans Parish

  

  

  

037 

Ouachita Parish 

  

  

  

038 

Plaquemines Parish 

  

  

  

039 

Pointe Coupee Parish 

  

  

  

040 

Rapides Parish 

Eureka 

Journeys (HMH)

anti-CC forum/townhall 10/21/14

SB agenda item Nov 5th

Opposition contact: Stephanie Hooke Riley parent of 2

petition to remove over 700 names

041 

Red River Parish 

  

  

  

042 

Richland Parish 

 Eureka

  

  

043 

Sabine Parish 

  

  

  

044 

St. Bernard Parish

  

  

  

045 

St. Charles Parish 

  

  

  

046 

St. Helena Parish 

  

  

  

047 

St. James Parish 

  

  

  

048 

St. John the Baptist Parish 

  

  

  

049 

St. Landry Parish 

 Go Math (HMH)

  

  

050 

St. Martin Parish 

  

  

  

051 

St. Mary Parish 

Eureka 

  

  

052 

St. Tammany Parish

Eureka 

 Core Knowledge

multiple SB meetings resulting in removal of Eureka before end of 2014-2015 School year

Anti-CC townhalls Oct 22 and 27

053 

Tangipahoa Parish 

  

  

Opposition leader: Terra Orgeron

torgeron@hughes.net

054 

Tensas Parish 

  

  

  

055 

Terrebonne Parish 

Eureka + Envision

  

 Some stirring of org, no formal anti-CC

056 

Union Parish 

  

  

  

057 

Vermilion Parish 

     

058 

Vernon Parish 

 Eureka

  

Facebook activity/groups (staunch opposition)

059 

Washington Parish 

  

  

  

060 

Webster Parish 

 EngageNY

  

P Susan Willis Addington (pulled grandson out of public and put in private school)

061 

West Baton Rouge Parish 

EngageNY 

  

 Parents are complaining on Facebook

Crystal Bass Bell, parent

Nov 1,anti-CC townhall

062 

West Carroll Parish 

  

  

  

063 

West Feliciana Parish 

  

  

  

064 

Winn Parish 

  

  

  

065 

City of Monroe School District 

 Eureka

  

  

066 

City of Bogalusa School District 

  

  

  

067 

Zachary Community School District 

  

  

  

068 

City of Baker School District

  

  

  

069 

Central Community School District 

 Eureka

  

  

101 

Special School District 

  

  

  

300 

RSD-UNO New Beginnings Schools Foundation 

  

  

  

302 

Louisiana School For Math Science & the Arts 

  

  

  

304 

LA Schools for the Deaf and the Visually Impaired

  

  

  

306 

Louisiana Special Education Center 

  

  

  

318 

LSU Laboratory School 

  

  

  

319 

Southern University Lab School 

  

  

  

321 

New Vision Learning Academy 

  

  

  

329 

V. B. Glencoe Charter School 

  

  

  

331 

International School of Louisiana

  

  

  

333 

Avoyelles Public Charter School 

  

  

  

336 

Delhi Charter School 

  

  

  

337 

Belle Chasse Academy, Inc. 

  

  

  

339 

Milestone SABIS Academy of New Orleans 

  

  

  

340 

The MAX Charter School 

  

  

  

341 

D’Arbonne Woods Charter School 

  

  

  

342

School For A New Millennium, Inc. 

  

  

  

343 

Community School for Apprenticeship Learning, Inc. 

  

  

  

344 

Voices for International Business & Education 

  

  

  

366 

RSD-Lagniappe Academies of New Orleans 

  

  

  

367 

RSD-Spirit of Excellence Academy 

  

  

  

368 

RSD-Morris Jeff Community School 

  

  

  

369 

RSD-ReNEW Schools 

  

  

  

371 

RSD-Shreveport Charter School, Inc. 

  

  

  

372 

RSD-Crestworth Learning Academy, Inc. 

  

  

  

373 

RSD-Arise Academy 

  

  

  

374 

RSD-Success Preparatory Academy 

 Eureka

  

  

375 

RSD-Benjamin E. Mays Preparatory School

  

  

  

376 

RSD-Pride College Preparatory Academy 

  

  

  

377 

RSD-ADVANCE Baton Rouge 

  

  

  

378 

RSD-100 Black Men Capitol Charter Initiative 

  

  

  

379 

RSD-Advocacy for the Arts & Tech in N.O., Inc. 

  

  

  

380 

RSD-Intercultural Charter School Board, Inc.

  

  

  

381 

RSD-Akili Academy of New Orleans 

  

  

  

382 

RSD-Advocacy for Science and Math Education 

  

  

  

383 

RSD-Sojourner Truth Academy, Inc. 

  

  

  

384 

RSD-Miller-McCoy Academy for Math and Business 

  

  

  

385 

RSD-New Orleans College Preparatory Academies

  

  

  

387 

RSD-NOLA 180 

  

  

  

388 

RSD-Broadmoor Charter School Board 

  

  

  

389 

RSD-Pelican Educational Foundation 

  

  

  

390 

RSD-Dryades YMCA 

  

  

  

391 

RSD-Friends of King 

  

  

  

392 

RSD-New Orleans Charter Schools Foundation

  

  

  

393 

RSD-Choice Foundation 

  

  

  

394 

RSD-Treme Charter Schools Association 

  

  

  

395 

RSD-Algiers Charter Schools Association (ACSA) 

  

  

  

396 

Recovery School District-LDE 

  

  

  

397 

RSD-SUNO Institute for Academic Excellence 

  

  

  

398 

RSD-Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) N.O.

  

  

  

399 

RSD-FirstLine Schools, Inc. 

  

  

  

A02 

Office of Juvenile Justice 

  

  

  

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The Louisiana Eureka Rebellion

The Louisiana Eureka Rebellion

Across the state parents and teachers are confronting their school boards and curriculum leaders with the same universal complaint. Eureka Math sucks. (That seems to be a nearly universally agreed upon fact by most parents not paid by LDOE or financially biased Common Core proponents.) Now however, complaints have shifted from the blindly adopted Common Core “standards” to the precise curriculum used to pound those standards into helpless children.

For those of you wondering how we got here, let me give you some backstory. Common Core was adopted sight unseen by Louisiana’s BESE board in in the summer of 2010 at the urging of US DOE and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan before the standards were even finalized later that Fall. Parents were given no education about these changes and no opportunities to review them, comment on them or reject them. One of the only former teachers on the State’s BESE board actually works for CCSSO, one of the two organizations that created these standards. These “Standards” weren’t finalized when they were adopted so no one could research them or review materials that implemented these changes. It took years for these materials to be developed and presented to the public. When they were, many groups in support of these “standards” told parents it was too late to say anything. They had missed their chance to comment; according to Common Core supporters (when there was nothing concrete to comment on.) In the future I imagine this will ensure parents object to all changes; because they won’t get a chance to comment or modify anything later based on their experiences with the Tyrannical implementation of Common Core.

In 2012 and 2013 LDOE directed LEAs to implement Common Core but without any real support or direction. (It was even theorized this was done on purpose.) This lack of direction in the name of “empowering educators” led to much confusion and poor product selections. One of the worst math products LEAs adopted during this time was a “free” math curriculum called EngageNY (Sometimes parodied as EnrageNY because of the trouble it created for New York school districts when they tried to adopt it in their schools.) To use EngageNY one had to print out everything or use it online (which didn’t help much for completing classroom or homework assignments.) Districts that adopted this last year in Louisiana like East Baton Rouge Parish, had to spend loads of cash – and probably burned through plenty of printers and toners cartridges to implement it – and it was not well received. (I actually wrote a little blog post about one of my daughter’s first grade assignments that, for good or ill, is probably my most popular piece to date.)

The commercial version of EngageNY is known as Eureka. In an attempt to address the concerns brought up by me and countless others about the poor roll-out and implementation of Common Core (I actually theorized this was done intentionally and with forethought in this post.) LDOE offered to review all textbooks for the following school year, and make recommendations, out of the kindness of their hearts. . .and for $500 per subject per grade level for most vendors that I have yet to see an accounting of where that money went. This year I’ve been told most publishers are considering refusing to submit their materials to LDOE because of how they were shafted last year. My understanding is the only Tier 1 selections Eureka for Math and Core Knowledge for ELA were exempted from paying the $500 fee per grade level per subject and these two products are linked to our current Superintendent of Education, John White.

This brings us to where we are today. Despite much ado from Governor Bobby Jindal about removing Common Core – which has turned into what kids are calling “Epic Fails” these days – Louisiana finds itself barreling headlong into a full-blown Common Core bonanza. At the forefront if this bandwagon-train is Eureka Math, the top pick of John White and his Teacher leaders and LDOE designated Louisiana Core Advocates which made up most of the selection committees.

These days the only thing that riles up parents more than Common Core is Eureka Math. School Boards across the state are being hammered by parents underwhelmed by the “rigor” of Eureka and overwhelmed by the typos and pointless exercises. I have reports of nearly armed revolts from parents in some of the largest districts in the state that foolishly “Believed” in John White and his Teacher Beliebers.

Rapides

From a teacher (Crying parents, teachers and kids)

We had an inservice on Eureka Math in Rapides Parish Yesterday (9-29). The teachers had concerns about Eureka, lots of them! We were told by the presenter that they did not want to hear ANY negative comments. There were teachers crying at this meeting. They told us this math was WONDERFUL and that lots of teachers liked it and thought it was great. I really want to see these teachers because I don’t believe they exist. It is like a dictatorship in Rapides Parish. I was so shocked and disgusted that they wouldn’t let us speak that when I left the meeting I called our local news channel and told them about it. I was afraid to give my name, so I didn’t. They are not listening to us and don’t want to hear us. It is so sad. They also told us that we didn’t have to give the test that come with series. We could give a multiple choice test instead. Doesn’t that defeat the point. If this math is so great, why can’t the students pass the end of the module test? It is because they are not conceptually ready for the concepts. It is also crazy because they want the student to “go around the world” to get an answer to a simple problem. They also told us to look at the end of the module test and only teach the standards that are on the test and to teach them as they are presented on the test. Isn’t that teaching the test? I am beyond shocked. Are teachers in other parishes experiencing this too?

From a parent:

I am a Rapides parish parent. My 6th grader is a Magnet student with an impressive record. He boasts only one “C” on his report card in his entire school career, and a high school reading level. You can imagine our shock that he is currently failing math! And he is not alone. According to an administrator, an estimated 25% of his grade at the magnet school is failing math as well. I am hearing horror stories all over the parish! Kids melting down, crying themselves to sleep, hating school (all of these we have personally experienced). We want this curriculum out of our parish, and a group of us intend to petition the board to do so! Can you please tell me which Tier 2 math curriculum EBR switched to? Also, ANY help you can offer in direction for the upcoming school board meeting would be very appreciated! I would like to contact the media. However, the local station is very biased toward the school board. Any suggestions there would be greatly appreciated as well. The teacher from Rapides parish who commented above is NOT exaggerating! I have spoken with high level district personnel who have told me that the school board has no authority in this. The curriculum was chosen by the Superintendent and assistant superintendents out of the need for our students to “be able to pass the statewide assessment at the end of the year”. The entire demeanor of the Rapides parish administration is that they are in control and we need to sit down and shut up. They obviously don’t know me very well…

 

Calcasieu

 

Over 800 turn out for a town hall to vent their frustrations over Common Core in general and Eureka Math in particular.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/10/05/More-Than-800-Turn-Out-For-Common-Core-Town-Hall-in-Louisiana

Brandi Sharpton, a parent and local high school math teacher, said she has done her best to work with the Common Core standards, but her research and experience tell her she cannot support the initiative. “As an expert in my field and an involved parent, I feel like it’s important for others to hear my opinion,” Sharpton said. “I’m definitely a supporter of raising standards, but raising them this way will only serve to make the gaps bigger and frustration levels higher.”

Sharpton went on to discuss the Eureka Math curriculum, which the Calcasieu Parish School Board adopted this year and the state Department of Education identifies as a superior quality curriculum. She pointed out that, even with a degree in math education, she would spend hours each night trying to determine how to help her second-grade daughter with her math homework.

“My daughter has an excellent teacher and an excellent school, but this curriculum is developmentally inappropriate,” she said. “My child cries almost every night, and I cannot allow this curriculum and these standards to set a negative tone about learning that will affect her for the rest of her life.”

Local fourth-grade teacher Shawna Dufrene agreed with Sharpton. Having taught math for more than ten years, Dufrene said casting Eureka Math as “the Cadillac” of math curricula is wrong. “I can appreciate a Cadillac, but I know a lemon when I buy a lemon,” Dufrene told the panel.

Tiffany Hebert, a parent and former teacher, said in a statement to Breitbart News, “Highly educated parents with graduate and post-graduate degrees should not have to go to ‘Parent University’ to help their elementary kids do math homework.”

I’ve heard a meeting is taking place tonight in Calcasieu where the standard operating procedure by the State seems to be to fill the Board room with Teacher Leaders to support John White’s Eureka agenda by heckling parents trying to testify about their problems. I heard this occurred in St Tammany. I strongly urge supporters of Eureka and Common Core not to do this going forward. Parents and teachers need to work together and that type of behavior will make this a very personal fight that only charter school operators will win.

 

Caddo

I received this comment and researched it myself:

Had a conversation with a Caddo elementary principal about the new math curriculum. According to her every school in the parish is struggling with it. Her school is high ranking, with selective admissions and lots of gifted kids, but math is a problem for them this year.

Offline I was informed by multiple sources that Caddo uses straight up photocopied EngageNY, which is Eureka on crutches. I’ve heard from others that their schools are struggling with it. I can easily understand why. Even the trainers LDOE provided at their summer conference to provide professional development struggled with Eureka and even failed to complete their presentations. Wow. I’m not sure how that didn’t make it into the news at the time. . .

 

St Tammany

 

In St Tammany there was so much concerted uproar the School Board decided to vote to drop Eureka for next year just 2 months in.

http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/news/10437687-171/st-tammany-school-board-votes

After more than three hours of passionate debate, the St. Tammany Parish School Board voted Thursday night to remove the controversial Eureka Math materials from the district’s classrooms by next school year.

At Thursday’s meeting and a special meeting held last week, a steady stream of parents pleaded with the board to remove Eureka Math from the parish’s math curriculum.

To learn some detailed tips about what dirty tricks transpired at St Tammany’s School Board meetings and how to be aware of them and fight them, please refer to this blog post by ThePeopleLLC.

 

Eureka is giving a face to the Common Core fight, and it’s not a pretty one. I’ve been asked to make a recommendation, but unlike some folks, I recognize I am unqualified to make that recommendation. Unlike LDOE and a number of members of BESE, I defer to experts in their area of expertise. I rely on teachers with decades of experience to counsel me on education issues. What appears to have happened in Louisiana is that large multi-national corporations told very inexperienced folks like previous Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek with his law degree and zero years of teaching experience and current Superintendent John White with his 2 to 3 years of dubious teaching experience that Common Core was the panacea for all education ills, and they bought into it, with our tax dollars and our children as guinea pigs. (From what I hear, John White has never met an education proposal he hasn’t wanted to spend your money on.) Once they decided what they wanted to do, they simply sought out folks that agreed with them. That’s the exact opposite way to do things, but this is Louisiana, this is Bobby Jindal’s administration, and doing the opposite of what you should be doing seems to be our trademark traditionally and the hallmark of Jindal’s administration. If we learn nothing else from the Common Core and ongoing education reform fiasco, I hope we learn to ask questions and engage parents first. Shooting first, without identifying a target or aiming, is the exact opposite of what we should be doing, although the exact mindset that Louisiana’s first, chief, Common Core adopter – former Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek – worked so diligently to foster at LDOE.

Planning is for no good long-eared varmits! Pow! Pow! Eureka!

My attempt at completing my first grader’s Common Core math homework – and a little historical CCSS context

My attempt at completing my first grader’s Common Core math homework – and a little historical CCSS context

I know that many people are thinking the commotion over Common Core, CCSS, is much ado about nothing.  I’ve heard some folks liken this change to the Affordable Care Act (AKA) Obamacare.  There are some similarities to how these things were implemented and rolled out nationwide, but while the ACA was voted on by national elected officials, held to be constitutional in a Supreme Court ruling, and a referendum item of the last national general election and Presidential contest. Common Core has undergone no such tests or review process.  When Obamacare was passed, thousands of pages of legislation were created and reviewed by corporate stakeholders, media organizations, political groups, and private citizens, and one of the common complaints was Obamacare contained too much info to review in a short amount of time, CCSS contained no documentation when many states, including Louisiana signed up to promote and endorse it after receiving millions in grants from the Gates foundation to do so.  Louisiana agreed to implement Common Core in its first Race to the Top application submitted January 19 of 2010 during the depths of the recession to pursue some of the 5 billion dollars in grants the US Department of Education was dangling in front of so many money starving states.  One of the requirements of Race to the Top was signing onto a Common set of standards.  While US ED claims they did not specify Common Core directly, there was only set of Common Standards under construction, and in order to be common across states many states other than your own had to adopt them.  It’s completely disingenuous of USDOE to say they did not require them. Every state that applied to this grant knew included adopting Common Core as part of their proposal was their only chance to alleviate their budget woes and no state that declined to adopt them was awarded a RTT grant.

From page 10 of Louisiana’s first round RTT application.  Louisiana vowed to adopt CCSS sight unseen, almost 6 months before they were even defined.

C. Adopt Common Standards including those for Pre-K and Science and Social Studies; Take a Lead Role in Consortium to Design Common AssessmentsLouisiana will utilize R2T funding to implement a high-quality plan for the adoption and rollout of 100 percent of the common core standards, of which we have been an active participant with CCSSO on the design and adoption. Louisiana will also take a lead role in ensuring that the design and implementation of the common assessment fulfills our core goals of supporting student achievement and focusing on teacher effectiveness. To support our strategy, summative assessment results will be available within two weeks of test administration so they can be used to inform decisions about students and also to aid in the effective evaluation of teachers and schools. The test will be vertically scaled to provide a clear picture of annual student growth. We will extend the blueprint of the K-12 common assessment quickly to science and social studies so that we can ensure a rich view of student progress and the effectiveness of teachers can be measured more reliably. We will also evaluate and implement developmentally appropriate measures of progress for Pre-K aligned to the common core standards to ensure students are on track at the earliest ages. 

A draft of the Common Core State Standards was not even released until March of 2010.  When the final proposed standards were produced in June of 2010, BESE has already decided to approve them and quickly voted to adopt them in our state, despite the fact Louisiana lost out on the first round of Race to the Top grant funds.

(For trivia buffs, Louisiana also lost out on the second round after TFA alums Chris Meyer, head of New Schools for Baton Rogue, and Jacob Landry, currently the Chief strategy officer in the Jefferson Parish school system submitted an almost exact copy of the original grant for Phase II of RTTT, but nevertheless Louisiana went all in on adopting Common Core, despite the fact most people knew nothing about it, and the fact Common Core had never been tried in any setting ever and received zero endorsements from the only 2 k-12 representatives that worked on the design committee.  Corporate interests drafted Common Core on behalf of the NGA, National Governor’s Association, and CCSSO, Council of Chief State Education Officers for which BESE member Holly Boffy is a highly paid “consultant” paid to endorse Common Core as her full time job and “to pay for her mortgage” – as she recently told her constituents at a town hall meeting organized to discuss Common Core.)

This may seem like an overly long lead-in, but I believe the context is important and I don’t think many people that support Common Core and our current education agenda were aware of these details.  The Common Core adoption was snuck in under the radar, and its way was paved and greased with Gates gold and Federal grants. (Louisiana eventually landed a Phase III grant.)  So I want you to understand this is not like what happened with Obamacare on  many levels.  This was a backroom deal that was adopted sight unseen, and almost every organization supporting Common Core got tons of money and grants from either from the Federal government and/or Bill Gates and his foundation, or has a financial stake in the outcome (such as text book publishers and test makers like Pearson.)

Now if some of you were like me, you may have been alienated by all the false negative coverage of Obamacare like the overhyped Death Panels myth perpetuated by Sarah Palin, some tea party groups and Fox News.  When I saw that coverage and compared what was being said to the specific passage cited in the Affordable Care Act that only defined a benefit for doctors counseling patients, upon a patient’s request, on their end of life options, I was disgusted and turned off by much of the rest of the negative things that were being said about Obamacare.  Once you lie to me, I don’t trust you.  But that was perhaps an overly simplistic way to look at the situation and he idea of insuring uninsured people and saving money was appealing.  What we are seeing now is that there were significant issues with this plan that were not anticipated and which have not been addressed and legislators on both sides of the aisle are very worried about the implementation of the AFA.  Everyone has heard about the horrible website. . . .now.  But most of the coverage of the opening days of Obamacare was devoted to the government shutdown, and who was at fault for it.  When the smoke cleared from that disaster what we were left with was a smoldering pile of dysfunctional website and a complete breakdown of communication and planning at the Department of Health and Human Services under Kathleen Sebelius.  A month  an half later, most of the few hundred thousand enrollees in the system signed up through state sites and exchanges or directly with providers, not with the Federal website at all.  The Federal government was not prepared for most states to decline setting up their own exchanges. They had not considered what would happen if half the states declined the Federal dollars to expand their Medicaid rolls.  Obama falsely promised folks they could keep their policies if they wanted to, and would not be forced to buy new policies if they liked the ones they had. . . period.  Now we are seeing that only the unhealthiest people are signing up for the insurance, and many of the healthier folks that would ideally contribute to health plans to counterbalance and partially subsidize the unhealthy, pre-existing folks are not showing up.  This could turn out to be an enormous catastrophe for the health care industry if they are forced to pick up the tab.  What we may be in for is another government bailout, to save insurers because of a hastily implemented plan and that was with millions of eyes watching it and thousands of pages of documentation.  What we have in Common Core is something like the opposite.

So what’s my point?  I know some of you may have heard things about how Common Core is a Communist plot, or that Common Core forces schools to teach sex education to preschoolers.  I’m sure you’ve seen a few dubious Facebook posts with people ranting about this topic and perhaps not getting all the facts straight, and your tendency or habit might be to ignore this whole issue as more grandstanding, overreacting and a political ploy, but I ask you to not do what I did, rejecting this issue out of hand because of a few folks that may not have their facts straight or an inability to express themselves constructively.  I see folks blaming both liberals and conservatives for Common Core, but I ask you to take a step back and take a new look from a new perspective.  I will show you some of the homework I and other parents have been getting.  Over the course of several articles I will show you the shaky and scary reality behind the polished veneer and propaganda you are being doused with in support of Common Core.  One of the observations I see in most newspapers these days is that the opponents of Common Core are all conservative nut jobs and Tea Party folks, and while some of them may be. . .  🙂  there are still plenty of liberal nut jobs like me shouting the same tune.

More important than being liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, is that I am a parent.  The folks opposing this are all largely comprised of parents and parent groups.  We did not get Gate grants, nor do we want them. We want outstanding educations for our children. We do not fight “rigor” or change.  In fact, I/we would embrace some actual rigor, which Common Core is not.  We parents fight busywork, insane and abusive teaching methods and profiteers that see out kids as opportunities to exploit rather than the precious, beloved vessels we nurture and protect every day with every breath in our bodies and prayer on our lips.  We fight for them, for us, and for Louisiana.  So when you look at those of us who oppose Common Core and judge us, see us as we are, as concerned parents, as your neighbors and as Louisiana.  Before you insult or ignore us hold up a mirror to yourself next time.  We have nothing to gain by opposing something “good” for our own children and our children’s educations.  We have their lives to lose if we fail to fight for them.

Common Core supporters claim all they are supporting is “standards” not curriculum.  That is semantics. The Core defines what every kid is supposed to learn at every grade level.  They have built a car, gassed it up and told us where we have to drive it, but are letting us pick our route.  However right now there are only one or two roads we can travel on.  One of the those roads is EngageNY, a curriculum provider that worked with Louisiana to produce break down the weekly and daily work behind the “standards” and which John White and LDOE endorsed and encouraged Louisiana School districts to use.

While John White and Chas Roemer claim CCSS give teacher more flexibility to design their own “curriculum” (which is really just the specific lesson plans, not a curriculum at all) this flexibility and freedom is an illusion. We are all free to fly to the moon, but that doesn’t mean we can do it.  If it was easy to design a daily curriculum then textbook companies that were poised to make enormous profits on this endeavor would have already produced them, but in most, if not all schools, no new text books supporting Common Core have been issued.  Louisiana implemented Common Core before we even had textbooks and have to rely on license free worksheets like the ones produced by EngageNY to teach our children.  But my first grade child in East Baton Rouge parish is not learning anything from these worksheets.  I am telling her what to fill in, after brainstorming with Facebook friends and family (some of whom are elementary teachers and mathematicians) to try and figure out what the hell I’m supposed to do.  I and my daughter’s grandmothers have no idea what this “math” is, how to help my daughter, or what it’s supposed to be teaching her except to listen to us tell her what to fill in a box.  There are many children that don’t have as many committed adults at home.  How do you think they are faring?

This first sheet is a little blurry, so I apologize. (My completed version of it is clearer.)

The first worksheet question states “Draw the 5-group card to show a double.  Write the number sentence to match the cards.”  Despite the fact that I still have no idea what a 5-group card is, I count a set of three boxes that equals six total boxes, not 5, I also have no idea why a “double” is significant and do not recall ever needing to write a “number sentence.”  This first problem was missing instructions which my daughter’s teacher thoughtfully provided and the third problem appears to have been incorrect and needed to be corrected by the teacher. I wonder how many kids tried working this worksheet out with incorrect examples?

The second example has the term 5-group cards scratched out.  There are 5 sets of these “cards” which look like boxes to me.  Is a box a 5-group card?  Who knows?  My instructions are to “Fill in the cards from least to greatest.  Double the number and write the number sentences.”  I looked at the examples and thought, “ok cool, I can do this.”  So 1+1 = 2.  2+2 = 4.  I figured the next was going to be 4+4 = 8 and thought, “hey maybe this is a cool way to introduce the idea of square numbers to first graders.  Awesome!”  So I had my daughter write 4+4 = 8.  Then I saw the 4 in the next box.

Damn it!  Apparently least to greatest means numbering them from 1 to 5?  That doesn’t make any sense.  Maybe they could have said number the boxes in order and double them, but how do you number something from least to greatest when the numbers don’t even exist?  WTF kind of instructions are these?!?!?  Alright, keep you cool.  Just erase the 4 and put in 3 + 3, 4+4 and 5+5.  I guess this is what “Fill in the cards from least to greatest.  Double the number and write the number sentences.” means.  Great.  And why the obsession with doubles?  That seems weird but they were just getting started.  You can see my completed sheet below.  I would say my daughter’s but she had no idea what to do so I figure I earned the rights to claim this work as my own.  I hope my first grade teacher likes it!

The next item says simply “Solve the number sentences.”  This looked a little like algebra so I thought it was ok and seemed easy enough to do.  I simply told my daughter to put in the number that was missing and she breezed through that section, so I was relieved. . . but my relief was short lived.  The most harrowing part of my homework was yet to come!

Now I get “Match the top cards to the bottom cards to doubles +1.” 

WTF kind of shit is this, I thought to myself. (I usually keep my swearing to a minimum or avoid it, but in the spirit of honesty I thought it was more important to keep it real and I swear about stupid stuff in my head. . . a lot more since dealing with Common Core.)  I really have no idea why they love “doubles” so much.  I decided I would look this up in the Common Core State Standards afterwards to see what these are all about.  My initial guesses were this was part of the college and career real world examples part, and the CCSSO folks consulted with a Monopoly expert instead of business expert about what kind of math skills were important in the real world.  (Just like in real life, rolling doubles is important because it lets you go again, but if you roll three in a row you go to jail.)   I asked my daughter for guidance on this one, figuring she was probably the math expert at this point by being exposed to all this “rigor”, but mostly I just learned she liked that 3 on the bottom row a whole lot. . . If this was designed to prepare her to be an electrical engineer, I think she just made a short circuit.

The final part of this page says “Solve the number sentences.  Write the double fact that helped you solve the double +1.”  [Insert gratuitous internal cursing]  Despite more than 40 comments on Facebook, we were not able to figure out what this means, but it’s nice to know doubles are now “facts” and adding 1 to them is apparently a skill I’ve lacked.  Somehow I’ve taken half a dozen calculus classes (maybe I could have taken half as many if I knew the secret of the “double”) 6 classes in statistics, Honors Physics, Chemistry, Math and Biology, earned an a degree in Accounting and have worked as a programmer of accounting, ERP, claims processing systems and database administrator for 15 years and never learned the magical secrets of the “Double.”  Shucks.  I bet Einstein knew about doubles. . . .

Finally I’ve gotten to page 3 of my Common Core Mathematics curriculum worksheet!  Surely all the worst is behind me, I told myself.  But then. . .

“Solve the problems without counting all.  Color the boxes using the key.

Step 1: Color problems with +1 or 1+blue.

Step 2: Color remaining problems with +2 or 2 + green.

Step 3: Color remaining problems with+3 or 3 + yellow.”

Say what?  This one stressed me out.  I had my daughter get out her blue, green and yellow pastels and red through it a few times more. What am I not supposed to be counting? I color using a key where I add colors?  After some searching some of my Facebook posse thought maybe numbers with a 1, 2 or 3 had to be colored, but why?  How do I color all “remaining” colors twice?

After much soul searching we took a stab at it, and what we got is below.  After the first few boxes were completely obliterated by the coloring we decided to just put some token color in the boxes.  Perhaps the lesson we were supposed to learn here was improvising?  This “math” looked just like crap to me, or as several folks told me “a hot mess.”  One mathematician said this was obviously designed by folks who hate math to make others hate math too. I know I hate it, and I’m just in first grade. . .again.

I’ve heard stories from other parents and children that this ridiculousness is in all grades in many parishes and gets much worse.  How many years of made up terms like “doubles plus 1”, “doubles facts”, and “5-group cards”, “number bonds” (another term from previous assignments) did the 6th graders miss out on, the 8th graders, the high schoolers?

So I decided to do some research.  What is  the deal with these doubles plus 1s for instance? I found I am not the only once searching for answers, and this math is driving parents crazy and kids to tears nationwide.  What I didn’t find any reasoning behind why this is an important lesson.

http://www.education.com/question/adding-doubles/

So my next stop was the Common Core website.  What were the “math standards” for first graders and why do they love doubles and number bonds so much?

My next stop was here: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/1/introduction

I won’t copy the full set of “standards” here, which would fill many pages.  Quite a substantial amount of material for “standards” but the only significant grouping I found involved making groupings of 10. (I didn’t see anything about the metric system though which one would think would be introduced if we’re gonna’ start making tens so important.) I did not find anything about “Doubles” or their ilk there.  So where did all this bizarre terminology come from?

It came from a New York based non-profit named EngageNY.   (Although based on what my New York relatives and contacts are relaying it would be more accurate to name it EnrageNY.

enrageNY

New York was the first state to test their students on these new standards, so they had the first glimpse of what the test would look like.  EngageNY is a non-profit group that is promoting a “free” version of Common Core curriculum designed to teach what students will be expected to do on high stakes tests like PARCC.   The whole point of having “Common Standards” is for the testing component.  Proponents of this idea emphasize the comparability of test scores, as if that was the only purpose of education.

http://theadvocate.com/home/7207133-125/white-to-repeat-support-for

He [John White] said the state is “struggling with the idea that measuring our kids on a common bar with those across the country is somehow commensurate with an outside takeover of public education.”

You’re damn right I have a problem with this.  I’m not concerned with a common bar.  I want a high quality education that teaches my children to think and to prepare them for a life of learning, not simply a low paying career at Wal-Mart (one of the biggest supporters of Common Core.)  John White’s “bar” is total bullshit.  He changes it every year and adds bonus points in for schools he wants to promote and to tear down schools he wants to take over and hand off to privatizers.  I am seriously considering pulling my kids out of school on testing days from now on.  The Race to the Top application stated the results would be available weeks after the kids take the tests for teachers to use, but that has never happened.  This year’s results weren’t released until October of the following school year.  These results and tests are all about using promoting the education reform agenda, about selling tests and test preparation  materials, and nothing, not one whit, about the kids.  I’d like to see him compare a big pile of nothing.  I see parents staging walk out days to protest Common Core, but if parents really want to make a statement I suggest everyone take their kids out on testing days instead.  No learning is taking place on those days anyway, and the results are not used to help children one bit.  The results are used to punish and reward teachers, they are used to punish and reward schools and for White to tout his successes.  These tests are used to stress out children and to force schools to direct much of the instructional time towards passing tests that John White will tweak every year to tell the story he wants, all the while White personally looks the other way when large cases of cheating are reported directly to him for charter and RSD schools he does nothing except terminate the ones reporting the cheating.  Our children are pawns in his twisted game.  Will they still be able to play if we turn over the chess board?  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to find out. . .

Common Core has never been about introducing “rigor” its been about creating commonality and student standardization, standard products for industry to absorb into their ranks.

Roemer said the new standards will equip students for a wave of jobs that require increased technical and literacy training.

“We need to make sure our citizens are prepared for those jobs,” Roemer said.

I’m not exactly sure what jobs BESE president, Chas Roemer, is referring to.   Under Jindal’s tenure our unemployment rate has doubled and is on a definite upswing in contrast to the rest of the country, State subsidized chicken plucking plants notwithstanding.

Our children are being prepared to be barked at and respond on command.  This is not a rigorous or “engaging” curriculum.  Take a look at this video EngageNY posted as an example of their teaching methods and curriculum at work.

http://www.engageny.org/resource/common-core-video-series-kindergarten-mathematics-double-10-frames

Look at the fidgeting, yawning children, the harsh slaps of the hands demanding their attention to count to 11.  11, 12.  11, 12, 13.  This is not rigor, this is not preparing children to increase their critical thinking skills.  It teaches them about doubles, and double 10 frames that they will never, ever, ever use or need to know unless they end up in what will one day be a dead end job if this insanity continues; teaching.  EnrageNY teaches them to yawn and hate school, but this is the mass delusion and perversion that Federal education mandates are becoming.  This video and these worksheets are the houses that High Stakes testing built.  But don’t take my word for it.  If you don’t have children or grandchildren in public schools ask your neighbors with children in public schools learning this Common Core math.

I agree we needed to ramp up our curriculum.  I don’t believe Common Core does this.  I believe this junk is being mislabeled, and the people opposing it are also being mislabeled. You have a responsibility to look beyond the label.  It’s easy to call something rigorous and it’s easy to make something rigorous.  Cleaning your kitchen tiles with a toothbrush is more rigorous than using a mop, but rigor alone doesn’t make something better.  It’s easy to call parents knuckle draggers, Tea Party cooks, and lazy cry babies with their heads in the sand, but the media needs to take a more “rigorous” approach to examining this issue and reporting on it, and if you have written folks off because of politics, you need to take a more rigorous look as well.  Most of the people supporting Common Core the most vociferously, like John White, do not have children or children of public school age, and many of them have profited directly or indirectly from this initiative.  Motivations matter, and who’s do you think are purer, a paid puppet, or a public school parent?

We speak for our children, they speak for their patrons and their pocketbooks.

We will be speaking loudly at the voting booths from now on.