Tonawanda News

Columns

March 29, 2014

WALLACE: State should rethink Common Core

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — My two sons learned those things in Pre-K which is more essential now than ever. It is no longer an option but virtually a requirement for success in kindergarten. When my sons entered kindergarten, they needed to already know how to write their first name, not to mention all their letters, colors and shapes. 

Skipping ahead to the present, my third-grader is bringing home reading assignments about Mao Zedong and doing proof drawings in math. When that math assignment came home, we had to look up what exactly they meant by proof drawings. And when I complained to his teacher, she agreed and said that proof drawings were something she did when she was in high school, not third grade. 

Are we pushing our children too fast, too hard? Darn right we are. I, for one, believe the Common Core is having the opposite effect on our children than was originally intended. I think it is stressing them out and making them dread school. My third-grader is able to solve math problems in his head. But has trouble “showing his work.” Now he is being penalized because of that even though he gets the right answer. The Common Core does not seem to allow for the fact that children are individuals and learn differently, sometimes at their own pace.

And the strict standards are making the teachers have to teach to testing and not just teach for learning. Everything is about the state tests. Every benchmark is about how it will or will not effect the state tests. Where is the joy of learning? Where is the idea of learning to better yourself and not to score a certain amount on a state test?

The backlash regarding the Common Core has been resounding but it seems like John King, the state education commissioner, is not listening. Several recent town hall style meetings were held with parents, students and teachers voicing their concerns about the Common Core with no real changes coming from the state education department.

The state education commissioner needs to realize that if a program is supposed to help students in theory but is hurting them in practice, then it is not doing its job and should be ended.

Amy Wallace is the city editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact her at amy.wallace@tonawanda-news.com.

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