November 27, 2014


Common Core standards divide governors

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, left; Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, center; and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, right, talk before the closing session of the National Governors Association convention Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, left; Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, center; and West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, right, talk before the closing session of the National Governors Association convention Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Reviled by staunch conservatives, the common education standards designed to improve schools and student competitiveness are being modified by several Republican governors, who are pushing back against what they call the federal government’s intrusion into the classroom.

The Common Core standards were not on the formal agenda during a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association that ended Sunday, relegated to hallway discussions and closed-door meetings among governors and their staffs. The standards and even the words “Common Core” have “become, in a sense, radioactive,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican whose state voluntarily adopted the standards in 2010.

“We want Iowa Common Core standards that meet the needs of our kids,” Branstad said, echoing an intensifying sentiment from tea party leaders who describe the education plan as an attempt by the federal government to take over local education.

There was little controversy when the bipartisan governors association in 2009 helped develop the common education standards aimed at improving schools and students’ competitiveness across the nation. The standards were adopted quickly by 44 states.

But conservative activists who hold outsized influence in Republican politics aggressively condemned Common Core, and lawmakers in 27 states this year have proposed either delaying or revoking Common Core.

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate among the governors gathered in Nashville, said he has proposed a measure to adopt Wisconsin-specific education standards that are tougher than what the state adopted under Common Core in 2010.

“My problem with Common Core is I don’t want people outside Wisconsin telling us what our standards should be,” Walker said.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was the first to sign legislation revoking Common Core in April. Fellow potential Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana signed a series of executive orders blocking the use of tests tied to the standards, a move that outraged his state’s education superintendent.

Republican governors in Oklahoma and South Carolina, an early presidential primary state, have signed measures aimed at repealing the standards.

Other Republicans, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have defended the standards as integral to improving student performance and maintaining American competitiveness around the globe.

Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, of Vermont, called the conservative critics “crazy.”

“The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems,” said Shumlin, who leads the Democratic Governors Association.

Common Core is a set of English and math standards that spell out what students should know and when. The standards for elementary math have confounded some parents by departing from some traditional methods to emphasize that students understand how numbers relate to each other. Comedian Louis C.K. captured some of that that frustration when he took to Twitter earlier this year to vent about his children’s convoluted homework under Common Core, writing that his daughters went from loving math to crying about it.

There are vocal critics on the left as well. Teachers’ groups that typically back Democrats have complained that the standards rely too heavily on student test scores, which in turn are used to evaluate teacher performance.

In New Jersey, where Republican Gov. Chris Christie has been a major advocate of tougher accountability measures for teachers, Democratic lawmakers have sought to delay linking evaluations to testing related to the standards.

Christie said he plans to issue an executive order on the issue this week, though he declined to elaborate. Christie, a potential GOP presidential contender, said the public skepticism about Common Core can be traced to a general distrust of the federal government.

He said voters “given the lack of confidence they have in government in Washington and that type of centralization, want their governors” to figure out solutions that work for their states.

Several governors attending the weekend conference said they were surprised to find the resistance to the standards.

“It’s important for us governors to keep remembering the history of this, and the fact that this was not and continues to not be about a federal takeover,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada stressed that the majority of the states are still implementing the new standards and it’s the responsibility of governors and education officials to remind people that the curriculums will be designed locally.

“Nothing comes without a bit of controversy, but at the end of the day people realize it’s in the best interest of the children of the state,” he said.

  • Sis Delish

    ““Nothing comes without a bit of controversy, but at the end of the day people realize it’s in the best interest of the children of the state,” he said.”

    Yeah, right.

  • SniperFire

    They did this entire article without bothering to mention that Obama forced ‘common core’ onto the States as a blackmail in exchange for Stimulus funds.

  • golfingirl

    Washington wants to take control of what and how local districts teach kids. It was adopted based on aggressive federal promotion and driven by the pursuit of federal Race to the Top funds. If you want to receive money for your school districts, you will play by federal government rules.

    Common Core means federal control of school curriculum, i.e., control by Obama administration left-wing bureaucrats. Children are being used as academic guinea pigs.

    We have the federal government controlling the IRS, the NSA, the VA Healthcare System and now the Affordable Care Act. If you feel they have done a great job in managing these federal departments and programs, then you will believe they will do so with our kids’ education as well.

    If you don’t, then your skepticism is understandable, based on the federal government’s performance on what they currently manage.

  • therest_ofthestory

    More dumbing down….

  • SniperFire

    ‘“It’s important for us governors to keep remembering the history of this, and the fact that this was not and continues to not be about a federal takeover,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat.’

    ‘Former Department of Education Officials: Obama is Illegally Forcing Federal ‘Common Core’ Education Standards On the States’

    “Despite three federal laws that prohibit federal departments or agencies from directing, supervising or controlling elementary and secondary school curricula, programs of instruction and instructional materials, the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) has placed the nation on the road to a national curriculum, according to a new report written by a former general counsel and former deputy general counsel of the United States Department of Education.’

  • robertloggia16

    It’s not just “staunch” conservatives… but way to paint the dissension as radical.

    • SniperFire

      ‘But conservative activists who hold outsized influence in Republican politics aggressively condemned ‘

      Would the Chronicle-Telegram EVER post this?:

      But Liberal activists who hold outsized influence in Democrat politics aggressively condemned’

      Journalism is dead.

  • oldruss

    Having seen some test questions in elementary math, it is quite understandable why this Common Core curriculum is questioned. That said, it seems to me that the more local the control over the schools is, the better. I’m not sure having Columbus make a one-size-fits-all package for every district in Ohio is appropriate, and certainly, a one-size-fits-all package created in Washington, D.C., is not.

  • golfingirl

    I believe Common Core only covers Reading and Math, currently.

    Wait until they start messing with History……the lessons taught will position Obama as the greatest president that ever lived!

    • pat2009

      This is nonsense. The Common Core also has speaking standards.

      Here are the history standards embedded in the CCSS.

      What in the standards do you find troublesome? Having our students graduating high school, prepared to do these things is a good thing.

      • Pablo Jones

        For the last 40 years “educators” have had new programs, new teaching styles, master’s degrees, computers, calculators, fewer students per teacher per class. Yet kids today know less than they did 40-50 years ago. What makes you think this will work better than any of the other programs?

        What have we seen in the last decade? Teachers teach towards the test instead of teaching material. Then for the kids that don’t pass we have “exceptions” that allow them to pass.

        As for the history standards. What exactly are the standards that are being taught? It doesn’t say what should be taught just vagueness so that doesn’t help much.

        For the math sure certain things should be taught and learned by certain levels. But if the kids are struggling moving on to the next topic won’t help the kids, they will just fall further behind.

        Don’t you think the teacher has a better idea of how to teach the kids and what to teach them than one high level group on a national level?

        • pat2009

          The standards for what to be taught in history class are still being determined by the individual state, as it should be, unless there is a national program, such as Advanced Placement (AP)

          In terms of math, the goal of the Common Core is to limit the number of standards and go more into depth, similar to countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

          I do believe a teacher has a better idea of how to teach. The Common Core recognizes this by setting goals, and not providing pedagogical moves for teachers.

          To be honest, I worry that if we all don’t have the same goals (the CCSS), we will see the kids on the outskirts of the American dream (in places like Elyria and Lorain), we will not push our students as hard as they should. To quote President Bush, I worry about the “bigotry of low expectations.”

          This is not to suggest that the CCSS is the only way to achieve success, however it is the most scalable. Allowing individual states and districts to collaborate and disseminate effective practice.

      • golfingirl

        You are correct, while they do have History my fear, and that of many others, is that it will not teach traditional American history.

        Instead if will be a leftist view of an America, based on identity politics, rather than a Constitution meant to protect the rights of individual freedoms.

        Political indoctrination, as taught on our college campuses.

        As for “graduating high school,” it is simply teaching to a test, to increase the graduation rates so all the progressive educators can have a “feel good” moment.

        The federal government has absolutely no business in determining school curriculum, and what constitutes whether a student is qualified to graduate.

        Answer my question above…what program which the federal government has gotten involved in has turned out better than it was before?

        We simply disagree on this. That’s OK.

        Have a nice day.

        • pat2009

          The Common Core is NOT a curriculum. They are standards, goals for students to reach. While they are highly ambitious as seen by lower pass rates on aligned state tests in New York, it is because they are much more rigorous.

          The federal government is not setting graduation requirements or curriculum, rather it is providing a set of goals for states to reach.

          In response to your question, I think federal government has gotten involved in lots of programs with mixed degrees of success, but retirement for the elderly is a laudable one. Social Security is an achievement of the New Deal and should be lauded.

          In terms of education, IDEA was a great program to ensure equal access to those with disabilities. In addition, Title I has also moved us closer to equity though still far away. Far from perfect, but they should do represent an important role for the federal government.

          • golfingirl

            There may be no official “Common Core Curriculum,” but textbooks and educational digital media and subject matter is now designed to align with Common Core objectives.
 This does create “the curriculum.”

            If the Common Core requires students to learn the Pythagorean theorem in the eighth grade, but Ohio teaches it in the ninth grade, you have changed “the curriculum.”

            In my opinion, Common Core puts too much emphasis on higher-level thinking in order to compete with other countries, like Japan and Finland. Interestingly, these countries don’t concern themselves with higher-order skills to the degree Common Core does, but simply just let their kids do math.

            As for Social Security….it is desperately broke. Run into the ground by the federal government. There is no money left. Not a good example of a federal program to be “lauded.”

            We disagree on this, that is fine. Good luck in your classroom.

  • Air and Light

    I agree with what Peter Shumlin said, “… conservative critics crazy…”, and “The fact that the tea party sees that as a conspiracy is a symptom of their larger problems,…”. Why would someone not want future generations to become more educated than previous generations ? Undereducated old people, undereducated baby boomers, and their undereducated offspring, and anyone they’ve influenced along the way. A lot of them get fussy learning something new, or finding out, even at their age,…they are not as intelligent as their hero’s on Duck Dynasty. Look how many old people complain about text messaging, wide screen films, pc’s, cars, etc. etc. You name it, if it wasn’t thought of 80 years ago they probably don’t like it, because they can’t figure it out, or they just really, really hate change of any kind. Getting old sux, I know. Have to keep learnin’ new stuff an crap. I’m tired of improving. I want a bunch of dumbed down, young, Ohioans who will just do what they’re told. Damn these young people, always tryin’ to compete with other countries and stuff. Why don’t we just go back to the way things were in the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, & 90′s…when the world was perfect.

    • Sis Delish

      I can see you haven’t learned a thing.

    • Pablo Jones

      You haven’t had any experience with common core have you? Probably no kids. The thing with common core is they didn’t raise the education bar for all schools and say they have to meet this new higher level. They lowered the bar so that most schools can pass. So now districts that may have taught kids a subject earlier in the year or even in a previous year now have to push it back. Then you have the subjects that you think would be part of a common core, that are not. Cursive writing is no longer common and schools are tossing it out. If this lasts in a generation we will have kids in college or the work force that can’t even sign their own name. They will just pick symbols and use that as their signature.

      • Air and Light

        smh. When is the last time you wrote cursive for anything other than to sign your name ? A letter perhaps ? My advice…go green, send an e-mail.

        • Pablo Jones

          Why would I want advice from a person who is in a made up relationship? That would be like asking a homeless person on how to take care of my house.

  • golfingirl

    Having helped my daughter with her Common Core Math, I can tell you it unnecessarily complicates simple arithmetic.

    An easy problem, such as 9+9 is now solved with something called number bonds and quadrilateral diagrams. If you want to borrow a number when subtracting, you now have take a ten and regroup it as ten ones.

    It has made it nearly impossible for parents to help their children at home, as there are no textbooks, and the process of solving a problem is more important than arriving at the correct answer.

    3 X 3 = 9……why does a student need to use a half sheet of paper to show how they arrived at the answer?

    There is no “common sense” in Common Core!

    Just another bureaucratic one-size-fits-all federal government program, dreamed up by a bunch of educators in a think tank….now that is an oxymoron.

    Where has this ever worked?

    • Air and Light

      Why don’t you post an image of your daughters homework for us…Golfingirl ? It will be quite easy for you to share an image ? Yes. Yes, it will. So go ahead. Show us this so-called “…half sheet of paper…” of 3 x 3 = 9. Go on. Post it for us. Unless…you’re still figuring it out.

      • Pablo Jones

        Here is a link to one of these type of common core problems that has been going around the internet. Many people say this isn’t a common core question, but how the school chooses to implement the curriculum. But I have several kids in school that has implemented common core and these types of questions are common. As well as questions that are multiple step algebra questions that no 3rd grader can solve on their own. They teach 3 different ways to add, and that just confuses the kids because they end up using 1 part of each of the methods and get the wrong answer. They need to teach the basics first.

        • oldruss

          Using a number line can help kids visualize what is going on in a math problem. They are particularly useful when using positive and negative numbers, which are often times difficult to understand. It took me about five minutes to sort out “Jack’s” mistake from the link you provide, which is rather embarrassing, I’m sorry to say. It is undoubtedly easier just to do the subtraction problem the “old fashioned way”, even showing the borrowing needed, than to sort back through “Jack’s” calculations to ferret out his error. That said, being able to review someone else’s work, and to spot mistakes is useful in a multitude of different settings.

          • Pablo Jones

            I understand the concept of a number line and how it can be useful to teach kids. The problem is it isn’t being used as a visual reference. This is how they are teaching the kids to add and subtract. If you need to take numbers away the kids start to draw a line and count backwards. And this isn’t just the intro to it in 1st or 2nd grade so they can grasp the concept, this if 4th and fifth grade.

            To be clear, as an engineer I use multiple different techniques to quickly solve problems depending on the situation and I understand the reasoning behind it. But if the kids don’t know the basics they won’t have the reference points to make any sense of all the extras they are teaching. This goes for nearly everything so I don’t get why they think it doesn’t matter for little kids.

            It is frustrating as a parent. The kids learn the steps and they follow them, but they mix the steps up from the different methods. They are told this is adding, and that is how it registers in their head so all the steps go together. Then they get turned off completely to learning because they know they are following the steps correctly and they aren’t getting the right answer.

          • oldruss

            Did not mean to imply that you do not know what a number line is. My only point is that they can be a useful tool. I agree that kids need to memorize those arithmetic facts, and all the whistles and bells can’t do that for them.

        • golfingirl

          Thank you…you saved me the trouble!

        • Air and Light

          I call bs. I want to see what you’re helping you’re kid with ! I do not want to see,”…what’s going round’ the internet…” Here’s a link for you…

          • Pablo Jones

            Come on use your head. If you are on summer break so are the other kids.

    • Scout

      I worry about people who use ‘youtube’ for their backup….says something.

      • golfingirl

        He seldom post anything without some reference to YouTube.

        He also believes that girl, who has gone to extremes to look like Barbie, is his girlfriend, because she friended him, along with 1M other men. i

        Hence his name Air and Light. She believe she can live on only air and light, no need for water or food.

        Anyone who follows this logic obviously has no grasp of true science and their educational level is questionable.

        • Scout


    • Scout

      I agree with you golfingirl. When my son was in school a few years past his teacher had a different way of doing the math and he was totally confused. We helped him by not using some ridiculous step and he had the right answer but the problem was wrong…why? Because he didn’t show the work with the extra step. Meeting with teacher was in order and she was told that as long as the answer was correct and he showed his work ‘WE’ would not accept that it was wrong. He passed the class with a B after that. Everyone’s brain is wired differently as to how they get to the ‘right’ answer. Leave things alone.

      • Pablo Jones

        I agree with showing work. Access to calculators, computers, and other ways to get the right answer is too easy. If the kids don’t show some work they may have got the answer from somewhere else. Of course you only need the basics for solving grade school problems, not all the extra stuff they are asking them to do.

        • Scout

          I agree

        • Air and Light

          Access to calculators, pc’s, etc. ? Been to the 21st century lately ? Wake up Buck. Mr. Rogers. Go to L.c.c.c & take “College Algebra”, and don’t use a calculator or p.c.. Lets see how far you get grandpa.

          • Pablo Jones

            Once again you show you are a child. I took 5 college Calculus classes, in each one we didn’t use calculators. How far did I get? I received an engineering degree and have been working consistently since graduating.

      • golfingirl

        My husband has an uncanny ability to do complex mathematics in his head. He would never pass Common Core Math, since he does not have the patience to have to show a dozen steps to arrive at an answer he can do in his head in 2 seconds, because some government program tells him he must do it that way.

        I understand the logic behind understanding the relationship between numbers, and how they work together, but to spent minutes on a math problem, which can be solved in seconds, only takes away time from doing additional math.

        What I find interesting, when I ask him how he can do math in his head, was that he stated that when he got his first calculator, it changed the way he thought about numbers.

        In school, everything was based on the numbers 1-10. But a calculator has no “10″ button, rather 0-9. So to do math, you need to think like a calculator, and pretend the number 10 does not exist.

        Just his way I guess.

        • Scout

          That’s really interesting. The son that had the problem with the teacher now also does math in his head. And like your husband has no patience to fiddle with paper and pencil. Amazes me.

        • Pablo Jones

          This 0-9 thing is interesting. It definitely sounds better than my method of using I, V, X, L, C, D, etc. It’s nearly impossible to do math without writing it down.

  • Air and Light
  • pat2009

    The Common Core is the most important innovation in American education since the dawn of the public school system. In my history class, I have seen students write argumentative tasks, use evidence, and grow as educators. The CCSS is essential to ensuring college and career readiness which will help lower the dropout rates.

    • Pablo Jones

      And your basis for this analysis is what? Your class? Guess what students have been writing compelling papers for decades without CC. If your students weren’t doing well prior the reason maybe a little closer to home.

      • pat2009

        One of the first states to see increases in their SAT scores, statewide, was Kentucky in the last year or two, since adoption of the CCSS. While correlation does not provide causation, it is an interesting case.

        We in America like to think that we got education “right” in the 1950s and earlier, but it has only gotten worse since the rise of the federal government.

        This is not true. Look at this quiz (the American History and Civics sections) from 1912

        Can you honestly say those questions are indicative of any real learning or rote memorization? Long before state tests…

    • golfingirl

      Question…..Who said this?

      “While the numbers are still massaged by teachers, principals, and politicians, a focus on outcomes has led to better results.”

      • Air and Light
      • golfingirl

        OK…I’ll answer my own question….You said it Pat.

        The numbers are being “massaged” by teachers, principals and politicians?

        Why “massage” the numbers…..just report them as they are!

    • oldruss

      If we’re into anecdotal stories to bolster the argument either for or against Common Core, let me simply say that I went to school long, long before Common Core was dreamed up. In fact, we might have even used McGuffey Readers in our English class. Anyway, the point being, that without Common Core I got a pretty substantial education from the public schools I attended Grades 1-12. There was no Kindergarten offered by the public schools back then. I managed to get into a decent university, which is rated today by U.S. News and World Report as among the top 20 national universities. All that without Common Core.

      • Air and Light

        Me too. ;)

      • pat2009

        Unfortunately, you are in the minority in terms of receiving an education that prepared you for college.

        The vast majority of Elyrians who attend public universities are NOT ready for college.

        Below is a link to college readiness rates based on state exams for the class of 2012. Remember, this is only students who attended public universities

        63% of students who enrolled in public schools after graduating from Elyria High needed remediation. This does not include those who did not enter college or those who enrolled in private universities.

        That number is a crisis. Think about the student debt and other costs that we must endure because our kids do not get the education they deserve at the high school level.

        In 2004, my graduation year it was 66%.

        We need radical change in schools. What is different from generations ago is that now everyone needs college and career readiness. There are no more steel mills to work at, unfortunately.

        While the CCSS may not be the solution, we need urgent change.

        • golfingirl

          We don’t need “urgent” change, we need effective and responsible change.

        • oldruss

          You are presuming it’s the pedagogy. It could be the lack of effort put forth by some of today’s students.