Sunday, October 05, 2014

6 Steps to Subtract 2 Numbers: Common Core Homework in 1 Photo

For third-graders learning Common Core math in Georgia, there are four ways to subtract—and only four ways allowed. The picture above is just one of the methods for subtraction under Common Core straight from RedState editor in chief Erick Erickson’s third-grade daughter’s math book.

Missing from the four methods: borrowing and carrying numbers. You know, the old-fashioned-taught-the-same-way-for-decades-granny-method-not-approved-by-bureaucrats subtraction.

According to this third-grade textbook, students must take about six steps (at minimum, depending how you count) to subtract just two numbers. And if you don’t show your work, circle the right numbers and “count up” correctly, you haven’t proven that you’ve mastered the “why” of the problem.

In a previous post where I highlighted two “Homework Helper” videos a local news station broadcast because parents were struggling with their children’s Common Core homework, it’s clear memorization is out—explaining the “why” is in.

I’d love to see some more techniques for problems formerly referred to as “simple” math. Please leave your own pictures of Common Core homework in the comments and share this absurdity with your friends.


UK: Public school hypocrites! Leading headmaster blasts MPs who go to private schools... and then criticise them

Private schools are under attack from the ‘politics of envy’ and ‘class war dinosaurs’, a leading headmaster warns today.

Richard Harman will lambast the hypocrisy of critics who ‘lecture’ top fee-paying schools even though they benefited from a private education themselves or chose one for their children.

In a keynote speech, he will claim that private schools are being made ‘scapegoats’ for society’s problems instead of recognised for the ‘general good’ they do.

He will argue that many of those in power are ‘embarrassed’ to be seen talking to independent school heads, preferring to threaten them with more state control or the loss of their historic charitable status.

Mr Harman, head of £32,850-a-year Uppingham School and chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, representing 260 top private schools, will use his speech today to respond to attacks on private education.

It follows claims from Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw that private schools are ‘bastions of privilege’ which should do more to justify their charitable status and tax breaks.

Addressing HMC’s annual conference in South Wales, Mr Harman will tell critics: ‘It is time to stop scapegoating and start celebrating our schools and their contribution. Stop using them as lazy shorthand for the social ills of our country.’ He will say that making school type ‘a proxy for advantage’ does little apart from stirring up ‘the politics of envy’.

Referring to the fact that many of those in power were privately educated, he will say: ‘Don’t lecture us... especially when many of you who do so, have yourselves benefited from or use the service we provide. Hypocrisy is out of tune with the times.’

Around 7 per cent of the UK population is privately educated but in Westminster this figure is much higher. A 2010 study showed 54 per cent of Tory MPs went to a fee paying school, as well as 40 per cent of Lib Dems and 15 per cent of Labour MPs.

Independent schools have ‘centuries of expertise to offer’, Mr Harman will say but ‘too often those in power are embarrassed to be seen talking with us, preferring instead to threaten us with the loss of charitable status or more state control.

‘Contrary to what some dinosaurs from the class war era would have you believe, we are not a drain on national resources; we add significant value to UK plc.’

Mr Harman will also point out that private schools are now more ethnically diverse than state schools and have forged many links with the state sector.

‘When it comes to social mobility we are part of the solution, not the root of the problem,’ he will say.

n Mixed-sex schools are the best way for children to be taught, according to Sir Michael Wilshaw.

He said that a mixed-school setting is far more ‘congenial’ and prepares children for work: ‘Girls and boys mix socially in the workplace. They should be educated together too.’


America's Education Battlefield

By Alan Caruba

The 2010 introduction of Common Core, a set of requirements for what elementary and secondary school children should know in math and English language arts, has turned schools in one state after another into battlefields as its complexity and other factors led to protests against it. Even so, by mid-2014, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that very nearly half of those asked about it hadn’t even heard of it. A number of states, such as Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have withdrawn from it.

Schools today are often under fire for one reason or another. Ever since the 1960s when teachers unions began to secure more and more control, formerly the responsibility of individual and state school boards, Americans have been engaged in efforts to improve the elementary and secondary education systems. Many have elected to home school their children. Others have pushed for school choice to permit their children to attend a school that was clearly doing a better job than the one to which their children were assigned.

As youngsters settle into their classes, there are a number of trends worth noting.

Perhaps one of the most interesting trends is the expansion of online classes into K-12.  As Ashley Bateman noted in a recent issue of School Reform News, “In 2013 ten million students of all ages participated in more than 1,200 massive, open, online courses offered by more than 200 universities.”  Of value to self-motivated students in particular, online classes are sure to find a larger audience of students who have grown up in the virtual world of game playing.

Another trend was noted by Marcy C. Tillotson, an education reporter for It is the increasing demand for more and more data about each student who worry that things done at a very young age like a schoolyard fight or emotional problems will follow them into college when they have long outgrown the problems or behaviors of childhood. Parents want to know what data is being collected and who has access to it. As often as not, they cannot find out.

Increasingly, school choice, a parent’s right to enroll their child in a selected public school, a private or a parochial choice, has become an issue that makes it into state legislature’s where some support and some forbid it. In Louisiana and Texas, for example, school choice programs and scholarship credits have gained support as a political issue. In Florida, the teachers union has initiated a lawsuit “to eliminate school choice for many low-income students and effectively kill a program to help students with autism and other special needs.”  In North Carolina, its Supreme Court rendered a decision that permits more than 2,000 low-income parents to send their children to schools of their choice.

Attention to the quality of teachers, as opposed to letting tenure keep poorly performing ones in the classroom, is a growing trend. Last year in California, a first of its kind teacher quality lawsuit was decided in favor of the education reforms that brought it, striking down tenure and a similar lawsuit has been announced for New York. 

As Ms. Tillitson reported, “Vergara v. California struck down state laws that required teacher layoffs based solely on seniority with no regard to teacher effectiveness, gave teachers permanent status after two years on the job, and made it difficult for school administrators to dismiss ineffective teachers.” As this trend expands to other states, a major complaint regarding poor performance will be addressed.

At the heart of the issue of teacher quality are the programs that prepare them to teach. As Ms. Tillotson noted, “A week after a California judge ruled on a case involving teacher tenure, dismissals and layoffs, the National Council for Teacher Quality released its annual report on another fundamental problem, the poor quality of teacher preparation programs. The report found that, as a whole, the programs need improvement. “Only a quarter of the programs expect aspiring teachers to be in the top half of their college’s academic pool. On a 125-point scale, the NCTQ ranked most programs as earning fewer than 50 points.

Increasingly, the quality and content of various educational programs are being questioned and challenged.  One example is the College Board’s Advanced Placement U.S. History Framework (APUSH) and the questions about who wrote the curriculum that is taught to 500,000 students in more than 8,000 high schools every year.

When Larry Krieger, a retired College Board-praised teacher and Jane Robbins, a senior fellow at The American Principles Project asked the College Board who was the author or authors of the program, all they got as a reference to a web page listing 19 college professors and teachers who served on two College Board committees but where not listed as authors, but as “Acknowledgements.”  Kreiger and Robbins call the history program “biased, poorly written, and ineptly organized”; one that “has raised alarms from state and national leaders.” We keep hearing about the importance of “transparency” but apparently the College Board does not think it applies to them.

It has long been known that U.S. schools tend to perform more poorly than those in other nations. Joy Pullman, a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of School Reform News reported that “According to two recently released studies, the schools middle-income families send their kids to are not as good as parents think.”

“A national study,” wrote Ms. Pullman, “found U.S. students whose parents have college degrees perform worse than peers from comparable families in other countries. In the United States, 43 percent of such children tested ‘proficient’ in math on an international test, compared to 71 percent of comparable students from Poland, 68 percent in Japan, and 64 percent in Germany.” Overall, U.S. students performed better than those in only six countries.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Bateman has reported that “Accepting federal mandates in exchange for funding is the crux of the problem” of ever-growing educational bureaucracies at the state level. “States report that 40 percent of the paperwork burden they deal with is to comply with federal regulations,” said Lindsey Burke, the Will Skillman Fellow in Education at The Heritage Foundation.

When one considers how much in tax revenue is collected for the purpose of educating our youth, one would hope for better results, but fortunately there are many individuals, parents, and organizations seeking to improve the quality of education and our schools are going to remain battlefields for many years to come.


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