Thorner and O’Neil: Countering posted comments of affirmation for Common Core Standards

June 10, 2014


We appreciate all responses to our articles, especially when written by people with extensive knowledge about the article’s subject. Recently we have been writing about the controversial new education program, Common Core, that was initiated in most all of our states, without any proof it was superior to the one it replaced.  On Thursday, June 5th a lengthy comment was posted by Elaine J. Roberts, Ph.D to our Monday, June 2nd Common Core article.  Dr. Roberts’ comments were well written, and due to her excellent reputation in the field of education, we decided all our readers would appreciate seeing our response to her in print. 

First, we would like our readers to know that our material for writing the series has been gleaned from extensive research from parents and educators all over the country, as well as by researching hundreds of articles on the subject.   Our posts have been a way to convey all we have learned, so that citizens, especially parents, can learn more about problems that their schools are not likely revealing.  Our nation’s schools were not asked to accept Common Core, they were ordered to accept it.  Teachers are making the best of it by having a positive attitude for parents and students, as they should.  So, while teachers are doing their best to work with Common Core, they, their students, and parents are frustrated, as they see serious problems with the new material.    

Due to the covert manner in which Common Core was planned, initiated, and sold to the states, most of our citizens do not even know a new federally initiated education system has been inserted into our schools, and certainly do not know about the growing criticism of it.  

We believe the public deserves to know, actually must know the facts, for the sake of our children and the future of our country.

With this in mind, the following is our response to Dr. Roberts’ remarks, as stated in her post of June 5th to “Common Core and Critical Thinking: Sounds good, but is it?”


Elaine J Roberts, Ph.D. said…posted comments are in italics:

“Oh dear. Well, Common Core isn’t really liberal propaganda. It’s not a curriculum.”

Response:  True, the Common Core Standards are simply education standards set for teachers to follow, but the curriculum obviously must coincide with those standards, as well as the tests which are aligned with both.  The liberal propaganda is in the curriculum and has managed to find a way into most every Common Core subject.

“Critical thinking isn’t a buzz word; it’s a learning and work place concept that’s been around for decades. Based on the data we had, the current system isn’t working but, in all fairness, the systems for training and supporting teachers and administrators has been faulty for a while. That’s not a liberal nor a conservative issue; that’s a national issue.”

Response:  Yes, our education system has been faulty for a while, but the very areas that required “fixing” were not addressed by Common Core. As for it being a national issue, I am sure you know education is not the federal government’s responsibility.  Our forefathers gave the task of educating our children to the individual states, thus creating competition between them and allowing them the advantage of deciding what their individual states feel most necessary to emphasize.    .

“The standards are not perfect, but then neither is any so-called curriculum or testing. Some of the standards may need to be revisited, but far too many folks aren’t giving them any sort of chance but simply dismissing them on principle.”

Response:  We disagree!  Most schools and Education Boards accepted Common Core, trusting that our elected officials would not have changed to a new system unless it had been proven superior. The problems were found when the curriculum was finally examined and taught. That was when teachers, parents, and students began voicing complaints.

“Cursive writing was dismissed from schools long before Common Core. I know of schools that stopped teaching cursive writing past the 1st grade over 10 years ago. Teachers don’t have time to teach it and/or they don’t know how to teach. By the way, I think handwriting is a key cognitive and motor skills development skill, and handwriting should be part of a student’s learning through high school.”

Response:  So glad you agreed with us.  We too believe in the importance of cursive writing and are disappointed the authors of Common Core chose not to include it.  As for teachers not having to teach it, how did educators make the time in the past,  and why can’t teachers learn how to teach it today. 

“Your issue with the kinds of literature being taught is an old saw.  What to teach and what not to teach has been an issue for decades and has nothing to do with Commom Core.”

Response:  We agree!  Deciding upon the kinds of literature teachers ask students to read has been questionable for decades.  If parents actually read the books their high school children were given to read, they would gasp!  However, this is one more opportunity lost by the authors of Common Core.  Instead of introducing some of the amazing classics to students, Common Core continues introducing books that include illegal sex, rape, murder, crimes, child abuse,  and other unsavory activities minors need not/should not be exposed.   

“As for traditional methods of learning math, well, you’re wrong again. Common Core doesn’t tell any teacher how to teach math, or any other subject. Common Core is a set of standards by which student proficiency might be measured. Teachers help their students get to those learning levels in whatever ways best suit their students. If the teachers don’t have methods for differentiation, that’s on the teacher and the administrators who don’t provide professional development for those teachers.”

Our Response:  Common Core math curriculum is a new system which (at least in early grades) is more concerned with the method than in a correct answer. Every teacher must explain and teach the new method, or their students will not do well on their tests where they will be graded on their ability to use the new math method.   Common Core curriculum causes simple addition or subtraction questions to take ten times as long to solve, and due to all the steps required, mistakes are common.   Parents have found the method so convoluted that even with a master’s degree and/or when the parent has an engineering degree, helping their child with the math assignment is difficult.  Teachers are equally frustrated in trying to teach it.   

“That teacher in Grayslake? She has no idea what she’s doing. Common Core does emphasize process so that kids really understand why and how they got the right or wrong answer, but the standards do not anywhere suggest that the correct answer does not matter.”

Our Response Our article is not critical of the C.C. Standards per say.  It is the curriculum designed for Common Core that emphasizes method over correct answer, with the excuse they are forcing young minds to be critical thinkers.  The problem is that there has been an age appropriateness left out, causing young children to begin hating math because their brains are not yet mature enough to understand the concept.  

“New math was introduced in the 80s. Parents complained then, too. Then some other math curriculum was introduced in the 90s. Parents complained then because they couldn’t help their kids do math. One of the big issues with math instruction and homework is that too many teachers really don’t know the content well enough so they have to have kids do problems a particular way. So if Mom or Dad try to help kids with their homework and the kids do the homework a different way from the teacher’s, the teacher may mark it wrong because that teacher doesn’t know how to solve the problem that way. There is the tragedy in math instruction. I don’t know how many teachers I’ve coached to help them learn how to work with fractions, decimals, and percentages.”

Our Response:  Yes, parents and teachers complained with the 80’s New Math for good reason.  It too was worse than what it replaced. Finally, after years of student tests scores declining, it was determined that New Math was not the answer.  Those same decades also introduced “Whole Language” and dropped the traditional “phonics” approach to teach reading, which also proved to be a huge failure.  Fortunately, schools went back to the traditional teaching method for both math and reading.  Common Core is just one more attempt to try something new, but this time the changes are not in just a few schools or states.   Common Core was introduced into the classrooms of 45 states, making Guinea pigs of our children.  Tragically, we have already seen the same results you mentioned in your comment about the failed experience of the 80’s and 90’s. It seems absolutely irresponsible to have most every student in America embrace a new system that was not first fully tested with proven positive results.  

“As a moderate conservative who sees the Common Core as a potential solution and is fully aware of its many flaws, I’d like to say there is no leftist agenda. That 1992 UN Agenda 21 is such a bogus argument I’m always surprised when apparently intelligent people offer it up. Let the Common Core Standards stand or fall on their own merit or lack of same, not some trumped up political agenda.” 

Our Response:  Do you not see any “leftist” agenda in our colleges either?   Do you deny that universities have an unhealthy imbalance of liberal professors who make no secret that they teach a leftist agenda to students?  In fact, they are proud of doing so.  As a society, we ignored this growing imbalance, and the result can be seen in how it influenced our current culture and laws.  Now, we see leftist thinking incorporated in grade school Common Core curriculum, mostly rather subtle, but some even blatant examples.  Not a surprise really, when we know that the creators of Common Core curriculum are liberal.  It is dangerous to insert social engineering material in grade schools, as it sets an unhealthy precedent.   It is also a basic violation of parental  rights and certainly damages trust in the school system.

“And I’m so sorry you are spending all of this time tearing down a possible solution rather than offering something substantial as an alternative.”

Our Response:  How long do you believe we should wait to be critical of  Common Core?  New York State gave it two years, and saw their test scores plummet and the teachers’ union denounce it.  How fair was it to our children that Common Core was agreed to by state governors without any proof whatsoever it was superior?   In fact, the curriculum was not even written when states accepted it.  Citizens should be asking their state officials how and why that happened.  Parents should be furious when they discover Common Core has major flaws, which should have been corrected in “trial testing”, before being incorporated in most every classroom in America.  

We plan to devote an article to the known problems in our former education system;  problems which were not addressed or corrected by Common Core’s  authors.  As for your suggestion that we offer an alternative solution (a new system), that is not something we are qualified to do.   It is, however,  exactly what each state must do.  They should develop their own education system, with the help of experts in all the specific fields, and do so with public awareness, input, and request for comments.  Then, they should test the system with one or two school districts first, to work out any problems before exposing to to the entire state’s school children. That is what seems most responsible to us.  

Once again we thank you, Dr. Roberts, for your contribution to this important subject.   An exchange of thoughts is always helpful to readers interested in all facts and opinions on a subject.

Nancy Thorner      331 E. Blodgett Ave., Lake Bluff, IL  60044   847-295-1035

Bonnie O’Neil        314 Morning Star, Newport Beach   949-645-4459




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