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Common Core Math’s House of Hay

More than once, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has described himself as a frustrated architect.

But nothing highlights our governor’s questionable architectural chops like his unwise decision to dismantle the nationally-recognized K-12 academic standards that were central to Massachusetts’ landmark 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act and replace them with weaker national English and math standards known as Common Core.

A third-grader educated under Massachusetts’ state standards, might recall the fable (and lesson) of the three little pigs.

And they would likely notice that Gov. Patrick is like the character in the fable who built his house of hay. Too bad for him and proponents of Common Core that it doesn’t take a big bad wolf, a monsoon, or even the growing number of Common Core critics to topple Common Core’s house made of hay.

[quote align="right" color="#999999"]The Baltimore Sun quoted [Stephen] Wilson as saying that while Common Core’s math standards are “vastly better than most states,” they are “nowhere near as good as the top states.”[/quote]

Apparently, it only takes the mathematicians who were the architects of Common Core math or the pro-Common Core math experts who have conducted evaluations of the national standards.

The comments of Johns Hopkins University math professor Stephen Wilson had to be devastating to the pro-Common Core Fordham Institute, which had hired him as an expert on K-12 math standards.

The Baltimore Sun quoted Wilson as saying that while Common Core’s math standards are “vastly better than most states,” they are “nowhere near as good as the top states.”

Close to the very tippity-top of those top states sits Massachusetts. (California always deserves pride of first place.)

Word of Common Core’s structural weaknesses isn’t new, but Wilson’s comments likely have Fordham and other Common Core proponents picking hay out of their teeth.

With the national standards now in the initial implementation stage and parents raising collective hell about what they see, those academic deficiencies are news all over the country.

Last fall, Stanford University mathematician R. James Milgram and Massachusetts-based academic standards guru Sandy Stotsky co-authored a research paper for Pioneer on this precise issue.

As Milgram and Stotsky point out, the very designers of Common Core’s math standards had long acknowledged the low bar set by the Core’s math standards.

In 2010, before a Massachusetts state board of education meeting, Jason Zimba, a lead architect and writer of the Common Core math standards, said they prepare students “for the colleges most kids go to, but not for the colleges most parents aspire to” and added that the standards are “not for selective colleges.” Here’s the video so everyone can watch Zimba use his own words to devastate Common Core’s math academic weaknesses and grave deficiencies in STEM preparation:

Also in 2010, William McCallum, another lead architect and writer of Common Core’s math standards, is quoted as saying: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”

If Governor Patrick is serious about advancing STEM education and giving all Massachusetts school kids, especially minorities, access to higher quality math standards, he will need to rethink the Common Core standards he and his hay rakers at the state department of education have imposed on our students.

If he doesn’t, Patrick might just find the strong foundation of education progress in Massachusetts in shambles. Perhaps that will further his frustration as an “architect,” but more ominously, it may make him the architect of our students’ academic decline.


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