Misinformation or monopoly of thought? Common Core opponents, supporters square off

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  • Oldika Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 6, 2013 12:22 a.m.

    Cougsndawgs, the Common Core standards are not what are being used in other countries. Definitely not China. Professor Christopher Tienken wrote an excellent white paper about the "research" sources for the CCSS. It's called "An Example of Data-less Decision Making" if you want to search it out.

    Howard Beal, those of us protesting Common Core are indeed protesting large class sizes and factors that research shows does have an impact on learning. Many of us have specifically questioned the decision to move to the Common Core without a cost analysis, and are upset that money that could have been used at the district-level to reduce class sizes has been allocated to purchase new books (just tossing the ones we just bought I guess) or channeling the bulk of professional development money into standards training for two subjects, the CC math and CC language arts. You're right that there are more pressing problems. You're wrong that protesting Common Core has nothing to do with it because CC is the main distraction of funds and resources away from solving the problems you mention. On the subject of too great a focus on testing we are 100% in agreement.

  • mtgrantlass Camden Wyoming, DE
    Aug. 5, 2013 3:47 a.m.

    To understand the discontent and even alarm of many American parents with government education, it is imperative for those critical of anti-Common Core to read John Stormer's (late 1990's) "None Dare Call It Education". Until you read this book, you will continue to believe and support the education monopoly.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 9:18 p.m.

    It's too bad that these people protesting the common core don't also protest the large class sizes their students are dumped into in our public schools? Or the fact that most of their teachers have less than five years experience? That their elementary school might be lucky to have one male teacher?

    This is the stuff that should be protested. Again, all this debate about the common core is silly when our schools have larger, deeper troubles.

    And enough of the high-stakes testing. Let the teachers teach!

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Aug. 4, 2013 6:01 p.m.

    Common Core has been around for decades, under different names,

    pushed by the extreme left...

    er... commmunists/socialists...

    er... liberals...

    er... progressives...

    er... or whatever they want to call themselves.

    Iy is simply a means to open the door to total control of local education by the federal government.

    They control the teachers...

    they control the schools..

    and they control what the children are taught, and how they taught..,

    and the parents have NO control.

    None of that is good.

    The only thing everyone and everything will have in common is who controls them.

    The problem in and of our schools is NOT standards.

    It will solve anything, it will not fix anything.

    All the proponents can do is personally attack the those what are against this decades old leftist education plan called Common Core, and talk about their good intentions. While hiding their true intentions, which incidentally is about control.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 8:55 p.m.

    I agree with many of the concerns about implementing the Common Core in the classroom, or the idea that it is more geared toward experiential teaching and learning, which it is. I have read the Common Core and as part of my Masters of Education degree I have researched and tested it, albeit in small samples and case studies. Some of the concerns suggested by the comments here are certainly valid, especially concerning implementation and appropriate curriculum. What I become irritated with is the idea that the Common Core is about the government trying to control the minds and learning of students. To any that have actually worked with and studied the CCSS, you recognize that these standards are research based and currently being used by our biggest competitors in global economics, specifically China. Some of the suggested conspiracy theories are a bit ludicrous if you've actually studied the foundations and inception of common core. The reason for federal oversight and standards is so that educational experience can be salient across communities throughout the US. I liken it to university accreditation and the consistency of training across cultures and individuals that such accreditation provides.

  • SquarePeg Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 5:05 p.m.

    We have had standards for years, and the standards we just abandoned to adopt the common core were better than the common core we adopted.

    My first experience with the common core was when it was hastily forced upon us. I teach, but don't know any teachers that had input into whether we would adopt the common core or not. To me it seemed to come out of nowhere. We were told by our district math specialist that it was here to stay and to go do our PR work.

    When we examined the 8th grade standards, I found that my 7th grade class from the year before had already mastered them. So much for more rigorous. Before common core it was fairly common for students to take AP Calculus before their senior year. Now we have to bend or break rules to accomplish that. There is even talk of eliminating AP Calculus because it is not part of the common core. So much for more rigorous.

    What the common core accomplishes is wresting control away from the locals and putting it in the hands of those who are smarter or more powerful. Is that what we want?

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 3, 2013 12:18 p.m.


    I actually agree with much of what you said about the "fabricated crisis". Can our education system do better, absolutely. Are the teachers and administrators trying to do a better job of educating our children, again for the most part I would say a resounding YES.

    Without oversimplifying things, the folks on the far right are the ones opposed to the common core and at the same time are the ones that are screaming that our education system is broken. They are the ones that use test scores to back up that argument. My point is that one thing that the common core does for us is to give us a set of standards, for what a child should know at each grade level. By doing that in theory we should be able to then design assessments that if taken seriously by students can give us a good indicator of what students know and what they don't know.

    We can't however have local control over curriculum and then use non local assessments. We need to start assessing what we teach and teaching what will be assessed, or as Wolf often suggests, do away with the assessments.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    "Those who think that common core is 'all that and a bag of chips,' have not looked at the actual teaching material."

    What teaching materials do you mean? I am not aware of any "official" common core materials. Text book publishers have been busy identifying how their published materials match the common core (identifying each standard with what is in the textbook). It's still up to the individual school boards, districts, schools, and even teachers to select which materials they will use.

    The language arts core is built to help students learn how to think for themselves. As they form their ideas and opinions of the world, they learn how to support those thoughts through the texts they read. It's no longer acceptable to have them turn in simple reflection papers without any concrete evidence to support their ideas; they have to prove themselves. I look forward to seeing the more reasoned arguments this new generation of students will be able to express as the progress in their educational endeavors.

  • Moabmom Moab, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 10:34 a.m.

    Those who think that common core is "all that and a bag of chips", have not looked at the actual teaching material. Many states have dropped out of common core because, as the name "common core" suggests, it is mediocre as a teaching method at best. Children at both ends of the learning curve suffer. Bright students are held back and slower students are left in the dust. It teaches to the average, common middle. If you really care about your children's education, pull them out of the public schools. The emphasis is not on learning any more in the public school, but schools are looked at as a giant social engineering project. The teaching materials of CC show this time and time again in all subjects. Look at them for yourself. The obtuse attitude of the Utah school board is amazing to me. The $$$$$ connected to CC are more important to them than the education of the children they purport to care about. CC will "improve" education the exact same way the ACA "improve" healthcare.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Aug. 3, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    How many times do you go to a bad doctor, before you try someone else?

    It's not that complicated. There are other lower cost alternatives that would be a great improvement.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    Yesterday I wrote a comment about how the language arts core focuses on text-based argumentative writing. That means that as a writer, I should back up my argument with sound, clear evidence from the text I use. If I don't have the evidence, I don't have a good argument. The beauty of this is that the teacher still gets to choose the text. It doesn't matter whether it's a fiction or an informational nonfiction source, what matters is the skill that is being learned.

    "CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence."

    I mentioned that after reading comments based on emotions that aren't backed up with evidence, this appeared to be a skill we could all learn to use more frequently. I guess the moderator thought that comment was too rude--the post was rejected.

  • Zoned-in Heber City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 8:45 a.m.

    More parents are becoming alarmed about common core education. One father took off work to come and protest. He told supt. Menlove that he is a dentist and his wife has two degrees. They were frustrated with the method their elementary child was learning math. It made no sense so they just taught him math the way they learned it.
    A retired elementary teacher reported how the teachers in her district were afraid to speak out but because there was 2 hours of math scheduled in the mornings and with the new reading schedule it only left 15 min a day for science, social studies, music and art.
    Supt. Menlove listened to complaints that there was no cost analysis done for cc and taxpayers will fund the additional 2.7 million each year for SAGE testing. Tax payers will also be paying for the increased district personnel to implement cc, more computers and maintenance for the CAD testing, new textbooks and increased teacher training. It's a high price to pay for standards that have never been piloted and were adopted by States before they were written.

  • Oldika Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 1:43 a.m.

    Fred44, of the people I know that oppose common core, most think that the "Nation at Risk" argument that has been regurgitated for decades about a failing education system threatening our national economy is a manufactured crisis to scare people into trading local control for more federal involvement. This is typically the argument employed by common core proponents, not those who oppose it. There are problems with our education system, but too little standardization or not enough centralized control are not among them. UT did have standards and tests and data before Common Core, we just didn't have to march in lockstep with 46 other states rendering us less nimble to meet the diverse requirements of our own demographics or goals. People upset about Utah's test rankings need to take a closer look at how those scores are manipulated or by demographic before arguing that magic standards and tests are going to be a cure-all. We should also ask whether being good test takers translates into economic success. When I think about what I want for my children's education, beating some kid in Massachusetts on a standardized test doesn't even cross my mind.

  • Elles Lehi, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 1:33 a.m.

    @JWB, grandmagreat, Syd- enough with the red herrings. No one opposing Common Core is bashing teachers. In fact, many of them are teachers.

    Please, PLEASE quit arguing that these are “just” standards and not curriculum. Standards determine WHAT students are taught. That's more important than HOW they are taught. What Common Core expects students to learn and what it doesn’t expect students to learn is where I have a problem. Common Core delays Algebra I until 9th grade. It does not teach traditional Geometry. It doesn’t go beyond Algebra II. It doesn’t provide standards for higher math such as Calculus.

    In English, Common Core places more emphasis on informational text rather than complex literature. It requires a reading strategy known as “close reading” where students are to focus on the text and the text alone without background information or context. It replaces the study of literary devices with the study of academic vocabulary. It requires argumentative writing rather than persuasive writing. Ect., ect. Common Core maybe fine for workforce training, but for those who want their children to have a truly rich educational experience, Common Core falls short.

  • CherRic Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 3, 2013 12:19 a.m.

    As a University of Utah student, I did field experience in math classrooms that were converting to textbooks based on Common Core Standards. Both the teacher and students floundered, not only because the textbooks were new, but because the books were based on experiential, outcome-based learning. Experiential learning is used successfully in other countries when it is combined with clear, direct instruction, but in these Common Core compatible textbooks, instruction was vague, hard to find and sometimes missing. The teacher, who had been trained in Common Core, told me "this was the beauty of it", that students would only value what they struggled to learn. The teacher was an excellent instructor in a traditional classroom, but in the Common Core classroom I saw a teacher who was gradually detaching from teaching, and discouraged students who told me they would wait to do their homework at home with a computer or with after-school tutors. The after-school tutors used the old textbooks, because the Common Core textbooks were so content deficient! What a waste of teacher-paid, classroom time! Struggling students may give the illusion of receiving rigorous instruction, but are they really learning, or just the geniuses?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Aug. 3, 2013 12:12 a.m.

    Fred44--assessments, standards, test scores, expectations, common core, mandatory, expectations, evaluations, lunch program, federal regulations, state/federal objectives etc.

    Remember when education was about teaching and learning? Children had time to play, explore, build curiosity, and use their imagination to build things. The Wright Brothers, and Thomas Edison.

    And parents were able to fix lunch, and put it in a lunchbox.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 11:35 p.m.

    These are most likely Glenn Beck listeners. You can't reason with them. Worf: Where are you getting you data from? Four out of five have lived in poverty. What does that mean. I question their validity. These are the same comments you keep reposting.

  • freedomforthepeople Sandy, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 11:29 p.m.

    I understand why the people against the CCSS are so angry - Obama pulled a fast one, offering lots of money to states who would adopt the CCSS in their grant applications for federal money. 43 states signed on, in one fell swoop.

    It was probably the most brilliant political move in my lifetime - he was able to get the vast majority of the nation to sign on to changing their education standards via one initiative in a matter of a few months. AMAZING!! And I am not an Obama fan - but you must admire his prowess. It was simply breathtaking.

    So Obama haters are really mad, and that is what this is really all about. They are angry that he was able to do this, and they will try to overturn it as long as they have breath, just because it is about another Obama win. It really has not much to do with the actual standards - if you read them, as I have, you would see that clearly they cannot be opposed to them. They are higher than Utah's previous standards and will likely raise student performance.

    It's all just a political game.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 2, 2013 10:20 p.m.

    Most of the people who are against the common core are also the ones saying that our education system is failing and our kids can't compete. So what happens, a set of standards is put in place, and assessments are written based on these standards (what a novel concept, match the test to the standards). If we put the right standards in place and then assess correctly, we can find out what kids know and what the don't know based on a set of standards. We can then adjust teaching to match the needs of the students. What a socialist, marxist and totally insane concept.


    We can continue as we are doing now where we don't have a set of standards that are common to all students, so no two groups of students are taught the same thing, we give assessments that don't match what we are teaching, those assessments give us no useable data and then we complain about the poor job our schools are doing, because our test scores are so bad, even though the tests don't really measure what is being taught.

    Doesn't seem like rocket science to me.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Aug. 2, 2013 10:13 p.m.

    @Syd--keeping things the same? You missed the point. "Common Core is keeping things the same".

    It's just different words to advertise what's been tried over and over. May have started with cooperative learning, than renamed every year or two. Changing names with added well meaning goals, has tricked people into supporting public schools. Look at our society, and it's plain that our education system has failed. Proof is in the pudding.

    Most teachers with a history of teaching, will tell you, every year or two, a new teaching method with added expectations pops up, and does little to nothing to improve education.

    Words can be tricky, but observing results is much more accurate.

  • Mamma C HEBER CITY, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 8:29 p.m.

    People, study the issue. There is so much more to Common Core than talking points. There is more than low, minimal standards. It is a complete power grab by corporate monopolists and the federal Dept. of Ed. And yes, it dumbs down high school graduates while it calls itself "rigorous."

  • Oldika Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 7:10 p.m.

    I wonder what it would take for a journalist to do similar homework as a 15-year-old student presenting to the Arkansas legislature about Common Core. (Search YouTube for Common Core Hearings Q&A pt1 by Nancy Miller)
    Mostly facts about funding and timelines and not talking points. People need to make their own decisions about whether they like this education reform package (not just standards, teacher pay tied to test scores part of stimulus deal too) but it is very difficult to do without knowing where it came from and what the full impact/cost will be. 100 people might not seem like a lot unless you realize that most of the time, very few if anyone from the public attends these kinds of meetings. Moms do indeed have enough to do, including overseeing the education of their children, without having to worry that our Governor and State School Board will sell out our children's schools to the highest bidder in defiance of the constitutional protections against such. Utah deserves the highest academic standards, we don't have to undermine our laws and local input to have them.

  • Oldika Spanish Fork, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 6:05 p.m.

    Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Woods is an editorial writer or a reporter. I see this is filed under News, rather than opinion though. How many were at the meeting? Were they mostly parents? How were they received by the board? Instead we get a statement from a trade group that hands out grants from Exxon Mobil, one of the major promoters of the CCSS. There are real issues of process and local control that need to be discussed, but the "news" always focuses on the more sensational parts of the topic. We have pundits for that, thank you.

  • Syd Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:49 p.m.

    @Worf, what point are you trying to make? If teaching the way we have for 40 years has not worked then why are you suggesting we keep things the same?

  • Syd Salt Lake, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:43 p.m.

    I would truly love to hear a single researched argument against the common core. Why would anyone be against raising the bar in education? If you have attended school in a state other than Utah you probably have noticed that Utah is really behind. I lived in Arizona until fourth grade and then spent two years repeating everything since Arizona is more rigorous. After I got married we moved to Nevada and recently moved back only to have our daughter experience the same thing. She basically repeated everything she learned in first grade in Nevada as part of the second grade curriculum here. Its pathetic and embarassing. We criticize teachers for being against reform and for fighting change, but when something comes along that will push our kids to excel we fight against it? Why?

  • AllAmerican1941 Eden, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:42 p.m.

    I was there at that rally. The fact about Common Core is that it is a federally imposed regulation system that Utah has adopted because if it didn't, it would not receive $400,000,000 for it's education budget. Unfortunately, people do not realize exactly what these regulations that have been put into place are, and exactly how they are dangerous. Even worse is the fact that the Utah State Board of Education is not giving people a chance to speak. When the entire Board was assembled in the room, they only gave two minutes to three people to speak. (six minutes total). Then of course the Superintendent did give a lot of time to listen to everyone only after all the other board members had left the room. Not to mention the answers he gave were dodging the questions that were asked. John Adams once said, "Facts are stubborn things." Well that is exactly what I think. To any readers of this story who think that Common Core is a good thing, please go out and research this for yourself and find the facts. Look at the documents themselves. They will give you t he facts. It is dangerous!

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:41 p.m.

    Common Core is NOT just about standards.

    If you believe it is only about standards you just have no idea what common core is.

    Amd that is the big problem, the devil is in the details,

    It is about the federal increasing its control over local schools, and dictating what and how children are taught including sex education in kindergarten to social protesting in second grade, it ignores the tried and method building basic foundations and replaces it with inferior methods, it collects vast amount of personal data not only of the children but of the parents as well, as a result it creates a vast federal bureaucracy.

    There is nothing good about it,

    If you believe it is only about standards you just have no idea what common core is.

    We already have standards from standard achievement tests to no child left behind.

  • Reasonable Emotion Springville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:35 p.m.

    Please stop putting these people on the front page. They are completely misinformed about how standards function in a classroom (they are not curriculum) and apparently won't listen to reason.

  • grandmagreat Lake Havasu City, AZ
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:17 p.m.

    currently it is my great Grandchildren that are attending school in Utah Schools. i suggest tht the parents that are against the State Board of Education, spend some time on their knees and do what is best for their children, not for the poiitical action they want. I can't imagine anyone wanting to have their kids be home taught. Don't Mothers have plenty todo without teaching their kids what they need to learn to live in this fast paced world. I have seen many changes in my lifetime, but still think children need to be taught the basics to read, write, do math, and learn to spell. You never know when they might have an experience and no computer available to help them. The world is full of people wanting to make truble, I would plead with the people of Utah to be supportive of teachers, and not constantly causing

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:13 p.m.

    This sounds similar to the way the group of anti-Common Core got into the GOP convention and ramrodded some of the propositions with Rob Bishop leading the bandwagon with Sherilyn Eagar. They don't listen to the views and don't care about what the teachers at the convention said. They use emotional pleas and not sound reasoning.

    Plenty of legislators such as Rob Bishop want votes so they are persuaded by the few loud people that appear to have gone to the USOE and use some of the time of the Superintendent by force.

    100 people are not very many with some of those being home schooling parents and children. That means maybe 20 parents or 40 parents were there and the rest children.

    So much bitterness in Utah about public schools. These teachers and administrators as a majority are not only upstanding individuals but outstanding. They have high moral character and values. The legislature has demonized these outstanding people for years. Move to another State and there is a difference. We spend a lot of our budget on education with a high number of children. The various groups keep on coming up with data that is not valid.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Aug. 2, 2013 5:06 p.m.

    Teaching strategies over the passed forty years-equals:

    * half our population fed by the government
    * high unemployment, and a debt equal to $550,000 for every second in a yrear.
    * 4 of 5 having lived in poverty
    * education funds exceeding all countries combined.
    * a third of our college graduates from other countries
    * having many of our engineers, chemists, skilled medical workers, etc, from other countries.

    Now the feds tells us how good common core is suppose to be? Same old dance, and song. Crazy

  • Elles Lehi, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 4:56 p.m.

    “But Menlove said the board was not attempting to ‘sell’ Common Core to voters and taxpayers, but simply had a responsibility to ensure that accurate information was being relayed to the public.”

    The State Board isn’t trying to sell Common Core? Really? Not according to the Communication Plan they approved in June:

    “Seek out opinion leaders within key groups (LEAs, schools, PTAs, business partners including Prosperity 2020, social media and bloggers, legislators, party leaders, delegates, Governor’s Office personnel, local media, personalities, etc.) and ask for their assistance/endorsements through media outlets or personal contacts.”

    “Initiate an advertising campaign in media to include newspapers, radio, etc.”

    “Send out regular Tweets (daily) and Facebook updates (every 7-10 days) highlighting aspects of Utah’s Core Standards.”

    “Seek the assistance and advice of legislators and business leaders on the issue and encourage them to both publicly and privately endorse the standards if they support them."

    What an incredibly inappropriate use of our education resources!

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 4:54 p.m.

    The phrase cuckoo for cocoa puffs comes to mind.

    They are basically saying, "We are against raising the standards of what we want our students to learn". That is all the Common Core is but because it uses the word common a bunch of people have misinterpreted what it is. I've never seen a bigger mountain being made out of what isn't even a mole hill. They are STANDARDS! It doesn't say how to teach them. It is just the minimum that we want a graduate of high school to do. Simple.

    Stop giving this group press and stop catering to them. Let them all home school. They would be better off and so would we.

  • Beaver Native Garland, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 4:34 p.m.

    If people really understood the purpose of the core standards, I don't think there would be as much opposition. Core standards are not about teaching a liberal or conservative agenda. The core standards, in elementary school mathematics for example, provide that students master the same mathematical concepts no matter which school they are in. It better prepares them for life, and should they transfer to another school, it provides continuity so that they have a minimum level of competency expected for their grade level. It doesn't tell the teacher everything they can teach, nor does it tell the student everything they can learn. It provides a set of minimum acceptable standards. It's about competing in the workplace or college upon graduation.

  • Tad TOOELE, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 4:14 p.m.

    The only real objection that can be raised over "Common Core" pertains to Utah's primacy in setting its curriculum standards. Does the USOE set the standard or do they simply adopt a national standard. As a parent, I certainly would not want Utah to adopt a standard that was less rigorous than Common Core in English or Mathematics. On the other hand, if the Social Studies or Civics curriculum were to indicate a bias, there might be cause for an objection. As it currently stands, however, there is no Common Core in Social Studies, History or Civics. Note however, that any curriculum, no matter how balanced, that teaches counter to an individual's bias will produce objection, while a biased curriculum that is aligned with the individual's bias will be welcomed.

  • Downtime Saint George, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 3:59 p.m.

    If UEA is for it; I am against it!

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    The whole idea that standards are a good thing in education really needs some careful examination. Given the wide diversity in needs, talents, interests and abilities among students, wouldn't it behoove us to build an education infrastructure that allows parents and teachers to collaborate in the process of uncovering students natural talents. Students that struggle in a highly structured educational environment all have something at which they can excel. If we help them identify that area of talent and help develop that into expertise and a passion, that one area then becomes a catalyst that will drive their participation in and engagement in all the other aspects of education that will support and feed their passion in an ancillary way. A student with a passion for music may never be motivated by studying math for math's sake, but will eat it up once she realizes how an understanding of math and physics enhances her ability to understand and create good music.

    Approached thus, learning as a delight, not a task. The rewards for all are overwhelming. To learn more, search for Educating for Human Greatness.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 3:13 p.m.

    I am dumbfounded as well. This isn't about pushing socialist agendas or creating Marxist ideology in the classroom. The common core are standards the government has researched extensively to better prepare students to compete in an increasingly global society and economy. As was mentioned, the states are still given the power to establish curriculum to support the common core objectives. There's nothing leftist, or liberal about it, and I'm speaking as a conservative republican educator.