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Popular comedian takes on Common Core

Published: Friday, April 11 2014 3:05 p.m. MDT

Popular comedian, and newly appointed successor to David Letterman’s hosting gig at the "Late Show," Stephen Colbert took on the Common Core standards Tuesday night on his show “The Colbert Report.”

“As it turns out, Common Core testing prepares our students for what they’ll face as adults: Pointless stress and confusion,” Colbert said wryly.

After displaying a montage of news reports declaring that the Common Core standards are “stressful,” Colbert then showed one of the most notorious Common Core math questions, which asked the student not only to identify what “Jack” was thinking as he solved a certain problem, but also to write him a letter about it.

“That’s a great question. It teaches two important workplace skills: math and passive aggressive note writing.”

Colbert isn’t the only one baffled by the confusing nature of the tests.

As CBS New York reported Friday morning, Common Core tests have led to protests, with parents and even some teachers believing that the tests “distract from learning and the standards are hurting kids’ education.”

Some proponents of the Common Core are sympathetic to the frustrations, but feel the standards themselves are getting a bad rap.

“What I wish I could explain to every parent frustrated with the nonsensical math homework coming home in our children’s backpacks, is this: The confusing math methodology everyone is complaining about is not part of the Common Core State Standards,” The Atlantic’s Jessica Lahey wrote on April 3.

“It is important to note that while the Common Core State Standards have been voluntarily implemented in all but five states, neither the Common Core State Standards nor curriculum are federally mandated,” Lahey explained.

“I want to be clear,” the New York Times’ Elizabeth Phillips wrote on Wednesday about parents protesting in New York. “We were not protesting testing; we were not protesting the Common Core standards. We were protesting the fact that we had just witnessed children being asked to answer questions that had little bearing on their reading ability and yet had huge stakes for students, teachers, principals and schools.”

While those such as Lahey and Phillips are concerned primarily with the content and execution of the tests, others take issue with the notion of federally standardized tests in general.

“Common Core is an educational track that parallels the Obamacare,” The American Spectator’s Janice Shaw Crouse wrote last November. “Both are designed to ‘fundamentally transform’ America, both were conjured up out of audacious incompetence, both are products of ideological thinking rather than experience and common sense, and both are guaranteed to produce disastrous consequences.”

JJ Feinauer is a Web producer for Moneywise and Opinion on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.

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