I wish the media and the politicians in my dear state would fully wake up and see Common Core for the education disaster that it is.
I thought Utah was a pretty wise, pretty constitutionally-grounded state, as a whole. And I used to assume Massachusetts –Pappa used to call it “Tax-achussetts” –was practically in Europe as far as socialism and lousy “progressive” thinking goes.
But now I wonder if some folks in Massachusetts are smarter than many folks in Utah –for loudly exposing the fallacy of Common Core, which is supposed to benefit, not retard, American education.
I’m thinking now about editorials. I see some very smart ones coming from Massachusetts. But do I see clear thinking, common core-questioning, stop-in-your-tracks editorials (like the Boston Herald piece I’ve reposted below) coming from Utah’s Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret News?
“Massachusetts eighth-graders are entitled to congratulations for their outstanding performance on the 2011 version of the Trends in International Math and Science Study examination. But adults should not expect such excellence under the state’s embrace of the dumbed-down “Common Core” national curriculum standards.
A sample of Massachusetts students, competing as a separate country, placed sixth among 63 entrants in math, and second only to Singapore in science.
The Massachusetts test-takers spent six years studying math and science under the rigorous standards adopted as a result of the 1993 education reform law that required passing the MCAS test to graduate from high school. This created the kind of momentum that clearly bolstered the TIMSS results. The squishy “Common Core” standards adopted in 2010 have not had time to undo that yet.
But just look at the new math standards. Students are not expected to be able to use the common algorithms for arithmetic operations, which are barely nodded at. They are expected instead to reason or intuit their way to answers and discover “principles.” While 12-year-olds struggle with this process, better left to high school or college, they miss a lot.
The state still gives an MCAS test, but the Common Core organizers expect to produce a new test for 2014, which should be based on the 2010 curriculum standards. “I find it hard to believe that adopting lesser standards would lead us to expect that we would improve,” commented Michael Sentance, secretary of education under Gov. Bill Weld.
The state’s new secretary of education, Matthew Malone, a veteran of four years as superintendent of the Brockton school system, ought to rethink the dumbing down of what had been high standards.”
Now that’s a significant editorial on state education.
Even though the elementary school my son attended up until this week is one of the friendliest, most parent-involved and teacher-dedicated school I’ve ever seen, I decided to homeschool.
My decision to homeschool is not a political statement, although I am vehemently opposed to the Common Core Initiative which has taken over our schools.
It’s not an attempt to shield my son from the pegging that happens with high stakes testing; I had already opted us out of all high stakes, standardized tests at the elementary school.
Although I am a certified teacher with an up to date credential and many years’ experience teaching in schools, I am not basing my decision on that; research I’ve seen by Jonas Himmelstrand, and by others, has shown that even children taught at home by parents with low education levels turn out better educated kids, on the whole, than kids who are taught in public school systems.
My decision was not an attempt to hide from the citizen surveillance program that has recently been implemented via the SLDS and P-20 systems in each state, although I am vehemently opposed to that, too. (BTW, the fact that kids can’t attend school without being personally tracked was verified in an email to me by Lorraine, the secretary of the Utah State School Board that is posted on this site.)
I’m homeschooling because one-on-one, customized tutoring is more effective than teaching in large groups. I’m homeschooling because I can eliminate things I don’t feel are important and make more time for things I feel are important. Example: I have time to teach him things that public schools do not prioritize, such as not only reading and math and social studies, but also geography, cursive, Swedish, diagramming sentences, reading scriptures, analysis of government and liberty. I’m homeschooling because my son wants me to. He asked me to.
Friends have been asking me what I am using.
- Lined paper and a pencil, because I want him to have great handwriting, the ability to write in cursive, and no spellcheck until he’s older.
- A computer, because he can create powerpoints based on what he’s learned, and practice typing, and find maps and dictionaries, etc.
- Saxon math, because it’s “real” math, traditional math, and there’s an online placement test before you buy the text book. I love it.
- “What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know” because I used this line of books when I taught elementary school a few years ago and liked it.
- CK Colorado because it’s a free website with lesson plans that match the “What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know.”
- Swedish Fairy Tales.
- The Scriptures.
- The same grammar books I used for remedial students when I taught English at UVU
- Mad Libs.
- The CIA World Factbook and maps on the internet to teach geography.
- Virtual Field Trips (online: to an apple cider factory, woolen mill, surfboard factory, museums worldwide, Machu Piccu via National Geographic YouTube, etc.)
- Real Field Trips (there are so many things close by– university art and science museums, farms, airports, libraries, historical sites)
And, to ensure he’s not socially left out, I also have him in karate three times a week, boy scouts, church, and I encourage neighbor and sibling play time all afternoon, and I’ve joined the Utah County homeschooling association and will probably do things with them as well.
Ironically, in the October 15, 2012, issue of the National Review, there’s an article called The Last Radicals“The Last Radicals: Homeschoolers Occupy the Curriculum” that came out, ironically, the same week that I decided to homeschool my own fourth grade son.
The author, Kevin D. Williamson, writes:
<!—-> There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.
In the public imagination, homeschooling has a distinctly conservative and Evangelical odor about it, but it was not always so. The modern homeschooling movement really has its roots in 1960s countercultural tendencies; along with A Love Supreme, it may represent the only worthwhile cultural product of that era. The movement’s urtext is Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing, by A. S. Neill, which sold millions of copies in the 1960s and 1970s. Neill was the headmaster of an English school organized (to the extent that it was organized) around neo-Freudian psychotherapeutic notions and Marxian ideas about the nature of power relationships in society. He looked forward to the day when conventional religion would wither away — “Most of our religious practices are a sham,” he declared — and in general had about as little in common with what most people regard as the typical homeschooler as it is possible to have.
“People forget that some of the first homeschoolers were hippies,” says Bob Wiesner, a counselor at the Seton Home Study School, a Catholic educational apostolate reporting to the bishop of Arlington, Va. In one of history’s little ironies, today most of homeschooling’s bitterest enemies are to be found on the left. “We don’t have much of a problem from conservatives,” Wiesner says. “It’s the teachers’ unions, educational bureaucrats, and liberal professors. College professors by and large don’t want students who can think for themselves. They want students they can indoctrinate, but that’s hard to do with homeschoolers — homeschoolers push back.”
Full Article here: https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/328699/last-radicals