Friday, January 17, 2014

Lowering the Bar

Common Core this and Common Core that. I will be completely honest. I have read zero posts on Facebook in regards to CC: negative and positive views. I don't have to read the articles to form an opinion. I know what is trying to be achieved, and I know first hand it's ruining my sons' lives.

The first time I was introduced to the Common Core Standards was over the summer at D3's kindergarten orientation. The video was chock full of ridiculous charts and animations. I wish I had videoed the presentation so I could quote word for word how this was presented to the parents. Essentially, CCS are FANTASTIC because it "levels the playing field" for students across the country. It is set up to make ALL children successful and able to get into the best colleges. Because it's just not fair that some kids are smart and some aren't. It's just not fair that some go to Ivy League schools while others go to *gasp* community college. The horror. CCS will make children in the United States as smart as the people in other countries! Well, doesn't that sound just fantastic?!?

I was livid after sitting through the video. I remember talking to the Mister shortly after telling him I thought it was a crock, and I had serious doubts about how successful this would be. Needless to say, I kept an open mind and didn't look into pulling the kids from public school that instant.

CCS may work for some children. It's not working for my boys. My daughter is still doing very well in school. I don't know if it is because she has been able to adapt or if CCS aren't being implemented as strictly in middle school.

Mr. T's math and communication art grades have plummeted. He was a mostly low A student with an occasional high B every now and then. Now? He's bringing home low Cs and struggles to earn any sort of B. Initially, I thought he was just tooling around. Rushing through work so he wouldn't have homework. Then, I was concerned he's simply not grasping certain concepts. If this is the case, I want to help in any way I can. After speaking with his teacher, I learned she's seeing this across all of her students and that in actuality, Mr. T's grades are right on par with everyone else. No one is performing above average.

D3's math homework is a joke. I wish I had a worksheet handy so I could show an example of one of the problems. They've over simplified something to the point it's actually confusing. I have to reread the questions myself. The questions aren't asked point blank. They tip toe all around the question adding unnecessary information. Often, I have to rephrase the question so that he understands what they are asking. I'm not at all surprised when he brings home a math test with a low grade. I've taught preschool for quite some time. When it comes to young children, the fewer words, the better off you are. If you try elaborating, you often lose them. Be direct and straight to the point.

I suppose you can say that CCS are successful. The famous "playing field" is leveled. My son is no longer an A student and everyone is performing below standards. Is it working for some? I suppose it is and maybe it will improve over time. Maybe my boys are simply not capable of learning in this manner. We aren't going to sit around and wait for improvements. After talking to the Mister, we have already come to the agreement that D3 will be going to a private school next year. He will not succeed in the public school system with this new curriculum. If private schools are forced to use the same system, I will home school him. I hope to transfer Mr. T to a private school also, but I'll have to talk to his father in order for that to be a possibility. If he doesn't agree, I'll continue to help him, get tutoring, do whatever I can to help him succeed.

While the goal of the Common Core Standards is to make all children successful, it is doing just the opposite. What was wrong with the school system when I was a young child? Some kids do well. Others don't. Such is life. No one is entitled to anything just because someone else has it. If you want good grades, study harder. If you want to go to Harvard, figure out a way to get there. If you want a better paying job, work harder.

Food for thought. The principal at the school my daughter will be attending next year said they've done away with valedictorians and salutatorians. I wasn't either one of these on graduation day. Could I have been? Absolutely. I could have studied harder. I had no desire to. I settled with being in the top 25 percent. Was I jealous? No. I didn't earn it. Good for them. They worked hard, and they deserved the honor. We need to put a stop this "everyone deserves a trophy" mentality. It's ok to fail. Fall flat on your face. It's how we learn. It's how we become better at living. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Don't go run and whine about it.

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