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Swimmer200's avatar

Common Core. Is It Improving Education?

Asked by Swimmer200 (94 points ) May 22nd, 2014

Many states have adopted a new education curriculum called Common Core. With the new curriculum, subjects like Science and Social Studies have been less stressed and not a primary focus. The more test and stressed subjects are Math and Reading/Language Arts. In my opinion, this would hurt the children later in life. I feel it is better for children to have a well developed understanding of all the subjects instead of having a strong understanding of Math and Reading and a weak understanding of Science and Social Studies. Your opinion?

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37 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

It’s just another step in the dumbing down of american students.

And it is quite obvious why they are doing it.

Why would you want intelligent, educated slaves?

JLeslie's avatar

I have my doubts. I actually like the idea of some sort of national standards for education, but I am not so sure I agree with common core thinking. I would love to know how the programs and systems were developed and decided on. If it has worked well in other countries or been tested in some of our states already with positive results. I know I have a lot of problem with putting so much reading into everything at very young ages, especially in math.

Swimmer200's avatar

@JLeslie, I think California was the original creator of Common Core. They started out with it and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. If I’m correct, I think they piloted it and then dismissed Common Core because it didn’t actually improve test scores.

@Dan_Lyons, I think your on to something!

jerv's avatar

Less science means less understanding of the universe. Less Social Studies means less awareness of history.

I’m not normally a conspiracy theory type of guy, but I think I’ll make an exception for this one…

JLeslie's avatar

@Swimmer200 Interesting. So, now they will be forced to adopt it again? I really should do more research on it, I am interested in the topic. I feel like teaching in our country often is not researched and people in the system just make shit up that sounds good to them. I hope that isn’t true. I am in favor of trying new ways of teaching, I just want to be able to ditch the system if it doesn’t work, and I think we concentrate on things that don’t matter all too often.

The math thing bothers me most because I think at very young ages if a kid is good at math and not good at reading with this new system now they suck at math and reading and can’t feel good about any subject. Math is the one subject that a child who is slow to learn to read and comprehend can do well in. Or, could do well in previously. I also stereotype in my mind people in education as not being “math people.”

Swimmer200's avatar

@JLeslie From what I have heard, California just reverted back to the curriculum that they had before Common Core. I think you are pretty much right about ‘the system just make shit up that sounds good to them” As the old saying goes, “Those who can, teach. Those who can’t, pass laws about teaching.” I believe if they got more teacher input when creating education laws, education would be better and we wouldn’t be focusing on two subjects instead of all four.
I really dislike that Science isn’t as important in schools anymore as Reading or Math. My theory is that after a few years of Common Core, we will regret our decision in lessening the importance of Science and Social Studies. Then, we will focus on Science and Social Studies more that Reading or Math. After that, the cycle will repeat itself.

jerv's avatar

When I was in school, they focused on math,science, and English (not just reading). While many people consider me smart and well-educated, the truth is that I was pretty average; many of my classmates were on my level. If public schools could crank out people like me 20–30 years ago, what the hell happened since then that many under 30 can barely count change or read multisyllabic words?

Swimmer200's avatar

@jerv I think that we don’t spend enough time learning how to read fluently aloud. We focus more on getting children to be able to read to themselves than reading aloud.

Unbroken's avatar

What is going to happen to all the dyslexic kids that have problems specifically in those two arenas? Not that the school system has ever been focused on accommodating them or thinking about what they can add to a learning environment…. This is just dreadful. The only hope kids have is if they fall in love with books and become autodidactes.

jerv's avatar

@Swimmer200 That brings up another issue that I won’t get into here. Suffice it to say that being forced to do the public speaking thing would’ve been bad, yet such a curriculum wouldn’t help a generation used to communicating to the entire world already.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@Dan_Lyons Finally, I have found a person who thinks like I do. You are 100% correct. I saw a quote the other day and I do not know who actually should get credit: “People have no idea what is happening, and they don’t even know that they don’t know.”

For anyone who is not familiar with common core, please educate yourself and encourage your school districts/state departments of education to reject it or, if they have already agreed to it, make them back out. It is an EXPERIMENT to start with…...one that is going to leave a generation at a big disadvantage. It is part of the dumbing down of America, but this first “batch” is to see just how effective it is.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Great minds think alike!

JLeslie's avatar

@Swimmer200 I hear so much about STEM programs that I can’t imagine science will not be emphasized in most schools.

I spoke to a teacher briefly about the new standards and it seemed to me it was trying to hit kids in a few types of learning, auditory, visual, and reading the material, that part I kind of like, I don’t think it is all bad, but I see some things about it that I feel will be flaws.

I don’t necessarily even trust teachers 100% regarding math. I think most teachers are not math oriented, especially Elementary Ed, except of course some math teachers. Again, a stereotype in my head. I do think teachers are the front line as observers. They have good feedback if something is working, and they see if the children are struggling. In that way I think teachers are invaluable.

Story time: A girlfriend of mine after her very successful career in IT decided to try out teaching. She was hired to teach math to 7th graders. She left after one year because the school system drove her crazy. All 7th graders had to take the exact same math. That was so stupid it to her, and it is to me too. The kids who were behind learned nothing, the kids who could have done more were bored. Those two groups were easily half the class. This was a very large public school, not some small school with only two periods of math. Does core address that? Having more options to track students on slower or faster tracks in various subjects? If so, I would be happy to force schools to do that.

Rolfadinho's avatar

I don’t believe Common Core is the answer. I make the notion that home-schooling or private school is the answer to majority of our problems. Private allow kids to still have some sort of public school atmosphere, while also being smaller and not politically controlled. Home schooling allows parents (usually mother) to teach their children everything they need involving education from the comforts. There are also a few cons to each of these options, so people should research them to see what is best for their child.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rolfadinho A huge portion of America can’t homeschool their children, they need to go to work. If we have many more private schools, don’t you think the private schools will get bigger? Also, the poor will get screwed with a huge emphasis on private education. Public schools are the big difference from what I can tell in countries that are very prosperous and those that aren’t. Show me a country that has a strong level of education among it’s citizens, that is a prosporous nation, with a strong middle class, that has mostly private education. I can’t think of one. There might be one though. Private schools historically in America leave the child who is struggling behind. I think private schools are great as a compliment to our system, but so are public schools.

28lorelei's avatar

I’ve seen a couple posts on common core math and it freaks me out a little. They add several unnecessary steps just to do a simple problem involving arithmetic…
http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/common-core-math-problems/

as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x2ZyXWHeMw

Swimmer200's avatar

@28lorelei The idea of Common Core is to go more “in depth” with the questions. In Tennessee for Common Core, students take the C.R.A test. You have four questions with two or three parts to them. You have an hour to do all four questions. You’re supposed to explain your answer as best as you can. (How did you get that answer?). It does make unnecessary steps to get to solve a simple question.

@JLeslie At my school they only ability group in Math and Reading/Language Arts. Even then, the advanced students do mostly that same work as the other ability groups. Common Core is not used to ability group or track students as far as I know. Some schools may do this, but Tennessee does not.

Rolfadinho's avatar

@JLeslie That is why I mentioned the fact that people should do their research, because those 2 options aren’t for everyone.

2 other options that are possible include military school and the foreign exchange program. Military school is great for someone with disciplinary issues, along with someone who wants to join the military. The foreign exchange program is great for someone who wants to travel, meet new people and cultures, learn new languages, and finally, possibly become an ambassador to a country they visit in the long-term future.

cazzie's avatar

Any of these systems that assume all kids learn in the same way bothers me. Also, all the US would have to do, if they really wanted to improve education, is look at what Finland is doing and adopt what they are doing.

snowberry's avatar

@cazzie, I totally agree, but THAT won’t happen because we’re so stuck on thinking we’re smarter than everyone else. It’s the American way, you know?

NewNameGuy's avatar

Without reading into it that thoroughly, my guess is there are aspects of it that are an improvement, and aspects that are a step back.

If I were charged with fixing our education system it would not have been the first thing (or even the second or third) I would have done. Regardless of my thoughts on it’s helpfulness.

28lorelei's avatar

Coming from someone who was in the Finnish system for 2 years, I’d say it’s a great system and works well. It’s true that the Finnish system would be difficult to implement in the US for many reasons though. Finland is a small country with a fairly homogenous population. Most people look somewhat similar, have the same ethnic background, share the same religion etc. Political views also don’t differ that much across the spectrum. The same cannot be said of the US. The population of Finland is around 5.5 million, so around the same as the state of Minnesota.
Undoubtedly, some changes would have to be made in terms of the organisational plan overall, but like I said, the system itself is good and some aspects of it could potentially be integrated into the US curriculum.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Apparently it is hated by students and teachers alike. One 3rd grade teacher said that it seemed like the tests were designed to trick and confuse her students, more than anything else.
If our education system needs to be fixed, they’re looking in the wrong direction. Nothing is going to work as long as parents continue to blame The System, The Teachers, The Bullies etc. for their kid’s failure.

Rolfadinho's avatar

@Dutchess_III I agree with this 100%. Someone mentioned Finland as a country we should model our education system around. Another country to consider is Germany.

Judi's avatar

I am sure it’s better than “no child left behind” but anything like this has got to cause problems.
I think basic competencies should be monitored and curriculum should be approved by some governing body, but teachers should be trusted to teach well.
I understand that the concept of common core was to get away from “teaching to the test” and teaching kids how to think critically but the years of indoctrination have taken their toll and even the people who are writing the common core curriculum have forgotten how to do that. They want to make every question fit into their boxes and thinking just doesn’t do that very neatly.
I don’t know the answer but I do know we have been failing our kids for a long time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I read somewhere that common core is designed so that every child will be college ready when they graduate. Sounds strangely like “No child left behind” to me.

Judi's avatar

The concept is good. I would love for every child to be college ready but thats not realistic. Some people are just not cut out for another 4 years in academia. I think we would be better off if we acknowledged that the world will always need mechanics, servers, cashiers, plumbers and carpenters and helped people to excel in those careers as well starting in HS.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The class in school that I benefited the MOST from in the real word was typing. And I took that in 9th grade.

JLeslie's avatar

I never liked no child left behind, so I guess I am glad we are trying something else. Although, my dad, who has a PhD in sociology and made a living assessing research and studies interprets the results of no child left behind differently than I do. He felt that since all the forward motion these kids had in the early years that was lost by 3rd grade showed the plan was working and we should continue that sort of thing for more years. I personally feel it doesn’t if children learn to read at age 4 or 6 or if they go to preschool or start in Kindergarten. Some children excell, and they need to be challenged very very young, but I am all for 3–5 year olds having creative play and learning basics like tying your shoe, writing your name, counting, adding 3+2 on your fingers, and learning organizational skills and hand eye coordination.

America has been obsessed with early learning and homework and it will be hard to change that mentality. Finland is not focused on early learning. That country as someone mentioned above is different than the US. More homogenous smaller, maybe that does not matter? I would bet the adults in Finland statistically have higher education levels than America on average.

I have said before I think we need to get better at 9–12 grade. At helping guide children to the next step after high school. Prepare them for adulthood. The next step might be college, might be a vocational school, or might be work straight out of high school. All are absolutely ok, as long as the fit is right for the individual.

I have no problem with children memorizing, I don’t get why people are so negative about it. Doctors memorize like crazy. It is their ability to memorize that helps them get through their curriculum. Doctors actually statiscally have larger memory parts of the brain. I do not agree with the pressure that was put on children for testing and that tests were linked to money a school gets. I do believe in testing however. I think critical thinking comes from example and from trial and error. Deducing something from prior learning. We need to reward kids for being creative, for asking questions, and they need to be allowed to get something wrong and try something different until they get it right or understand it better

@28lorelei Of course those links drive me crazy, because the thing I have most harped on is math. I don’t like that the woman in the YouTube piece kept calling everything “stupid.” she sounds stupid. She doesn’t sound like someone who can give an intelligent argument, but I am troubled by how math is being taught. I don’t mind teaching different ways to get to an answer, but it seems like most children can do math the most common method, and so I want that emphasized. Teachers should know how to offer students who are struggling alternative methods, but the most straight forward should be what is mainly being taught in my opinion.

@Swimmer200 I lived in TN for over 7 years and I honestly don’t know what their math program was liked. My girlfriend worked in NC. Ugh, the south, I already have some negative feelings about their education system, this does not help. I do think it varies from school distric to school district in the south though. I know a friend of mine is thrilled with her son’s education in the Dallas area, if you count TX as the south, I tend to think of TX as it’s own entity, and I think they do too. I am 46 and in elementary school where I lived in MD kids could track faster or slower or on level in reading and math and by 6th grade in science as well. For sure by Jr. High a child’s ability was taken into account for where they were placed. I know in China there is a mindset that all students should and can be on level. If they aren’t, they need to work harder. I have mixed feelings about this. The children do well overall, they have a strong work ethic. But, then you look a Finland, which is very lose about education, and I think there has to be something else those systems have in common that produce good results. Maybe it is the work ethic, in both countries the students are encouraged to work until they understand something.

non_omnis_moriar's avatar

I had a very classic education but I am weak in the areas of science and math and very strong in language, history and social studies. I would never exclude strong focuses on literacy and social studies but I think we should have a more in-depth focus in the areas of science and math – they are twin subjects.

Because I attended Catholic school, we spent well over an hour a day focusing on Christian mythology and that was some very wasted time for me. If I could go back I would replace all those hours of preparation for processions and studying catechism ad instead replace all of it with strong math and science.

Dutchess_III's avatar

People tend to gravitate towards the things that interest them the most and things that they are good at. I excelled in science and math. Sucked in English (as a course) and was luke warm about social studies. History was interesting, off and on.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III If the school does not have the class available you don’t get the chance to gravitate towards it. I also was math and science oriented.

@non_omnis_moriar That reinforces what I was talking about when I responded to @Rolfadinho that the more private schools we have and the fewer public schools, the education in the country is more likely to become more of a religious education. I think this is an underlying reason the Republicans like the idea of private schools so much and talk about pulling resources away from public schools.

Rolfadinho's avatar

@JLeslie that is why I also brought up military school. It could also help, to a point, solve some of the entitlement issues surrounding today’s youth.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rolfadinho We have military schools and other boarding schools, they cost money. There are a few public boarding schools in select cities; they are part of the SEED program.

Public schools service children who come from families who cannot afford to pay for school. That’s what makes countries that educate everyone different from countries that don’t have schools available for everyone. I agree with you about having options, I just think if we pull our focus away from public schools the options actually decrease. I lived in the south where they definitely do not care as much about public schools than private, and it shows. There are definitely some public schools and districts that are good, but overall there is a feeling that if you have any money you are going to send your kids to private. Oh, and if you are white you want to send your kids to private also. I think this trend there since desegregation has hurt them, not helped. All parts of the country have people who send their children to private, but it is a different thing when an entire area has the mindset of private education.

I am not sure if you are suggesting the other schools as a reminder that they exist, or because you want more of those options?

Paradox25's avatar

I’m not sure whether it is or not, but I feel the dumbing down argument is a bit overused in my opinion. Some people I know have virtually useless college degrees, but very real massive debts. Many people who choose more technical or trade oriented fields are not necessarily ‘dumber’ than those who choose college, but do so for other reasons.

After reading a little about common core education, it appears to emphasize subjects that, according to proponents of the system, are more likely to have practical use in life and most career fields. My biggest problem with it is that students should always have options, so if they want to have their education more focused on their goals, whatever they may be, then they should have that option. Personally I’m all for choice in education.

I wonder what ever happened to learning penmanship and cursive writing? These were emphasized when I was in school.

Swimmer200's avatar

@Paradox25 Schools now do not usually teach Cursive beyond knowing how to write your name. They simply do this because it is easier than trying to teach them how. This is mainly because cursive is not a standard anymore. I feel they should bring back cursive.

@JLeslie We could learn a few things from other countries but we as a country are to proud to do that. Now in public education, if you are the only one who doesn’t understand what is being taught, your going to be behind the rest of the class. I think it would be much better for public schools to adopt the way private school teach. What I mean by this is having each student work at his/her own pace. That way the advanced students won’t be bored out of their minds and the bellow basic students won’t be rushing to catch up.

JLeslie's avatar

@Swimmer200 That’s not what most private schools do. Most private schools if you can’t keep up you are behind. It’s part of why private schools tendnto have good reputations, the kids who can’t keep up leave. Public schools are actually more likely to adjust to a child’s pace in my opinion, even though I gave examples of where they don’t.

I think some educators are willing to look at what is done abroad. The elementary school my neice and nephew went to was a magnet school in FL and it was modeled after some European country, I cannot remember which. Not 100%, but incorporated ideas from that country. But, that was in liberalish Palm Beach County in affluent Boca Raton, FL where parents are very focused on education, and many are from the northeast where public school education is not viewed as below par, and they have high expectations for the public school education.

When ai lived in TN I heard more people wanting their tax money back, because their own kids go to private school. They even complained about paying property taxes for the inner city kids to go to school when their own kids were in public school. They might be paying $4k in property taxes per year and be bitching about it when they have 2 kids in school. Private school would easily be $15k-$30k a year for two children, depending what grade they are in and what school. They hate paying for kids to go to school who have parents who don’t pay taxes and for kids who are a waste anyway. Not my word, remember I am the one wanting to educate everyone. I have no children and I never complain about my taxes paying to help educate children.

So, when someone talks about other options besides public schools I have a knee jerk reaction. But, I don’t want to assume anything about your intention. I am all for all the choices, I just worry about the country taking their focus away from public schools.

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