This is hilarious.

Comedian Louis C.K. was interviewed about the Common Core by David Letterman.

This is my favorite line:

*“He told Letterman he’s trying to help his daughters with their math work, but the questions are just nonsense like “Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”*

When Common Core becomes a national joke, you know it is in serious trouble.

What I have been thinking lately is that it is the educational equivalent of dead man walking.

Based on my decades as a historian of education, anything that becomes this controversial has a short shelf life.

It will be pumped up by those paid to pump it up, but it lacks the legitimacy that comes from an open, democratic, participatory process.

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When The Reformers ratchet up the blame towards teachers, parents, and students to high pitched shrills, the end of CCSS is near. To quote a Klingon “it will be glorious”. Sorry, we are all trekkies.

“Today is a good day to…fail your college and career readiness benchmarks”

Doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

In her new book, Indian author Arundahti Roy says:

“Armed with their billions, these NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations)

have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists,

funding artists, intellectuals, and film makers, gently luring them away

from radical confrontation, ushering them in the direction of multiculturalism,

gender equity, community development- the discourse couched in the language

of identity politics and human rights.”

Reblogged this on 21st Century Theater.

Wow! Atrios featured this story on Eschaton. Lady Bunny even gave Louis C.K. kudos on her drag blog for standing up to the deformers! This story has taken off and is getting out the message that the CCSS is a scam and the reformers are nothing but grifters better than anything we have done so far. It is reaching parts of our society that normally don’t think much about public education, teachers, and curricula and most of them are seeing it quite clearly for what it is — an untrue, unwarranted, unasked-for intrusion by the oligarchs into the public sphere where they seldom deign to venture.

Alright!

Thanks.

“Louis CK made some rather lukeworm comments on Twitter about Common Core, basically amounting to saying that maybe this is a good idea but the implementation currently sucks and we need to rethink this, which inspired “LOUIS CK IS WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” articles by horrible people, like Alexander Nazaryan.”

I thought his comments were “lukewarm”, too, not in any way harsh.

I thought he sounded completely reasonable and (actually!) not at all “enraged”. I don’t think his comedy is rage-filled either, so I don’t know where they got that. It has a big dose of humility and self-criticism in it, the stand-up I’ve watched.

http://www.eschatonblog.com/2014/05/common-cored.html

Calling someone “enraged” is just meant to marginalize them. And I’m betting that Mr. Nazaryan would be the first to yelp if someone called him a name.

Chiara, did you see the other article Duncan (Atrios) posted about another Philly charter scam?

http://parentsunitedphila.com/2014/05/02/steel-parents-file-grievance-against-sac-charter-vote/

This charter management company rigged the parent vote so they would be allowed to take over the last remaining public school in this area by disqualifying 80% of the parent voters the day of the voting. Gotta hand it to them — they have all the political scams of the last 2 decades down pat — and they “won” the remaining 20% parent vote but lost the overall vote.

What’s at stake here? A $6 million pay out from the state when the state never spend over $4 million to run the school.

Scammers. Grifters. Thieves. Cheaters. Liars. Why are these people being allowed in the school house door America? Why?

Enraged?

Hysterical?

Screeching?

Just a way to marginalized someone’s point.

And demonstrate the writer’s lack of support, point etc.

CHRIS IN FLORIDA… I particularly LOVE “It is reaching parts of our society that normally don’t think much about public education, teachers, and curricula and most of them are seeing it quite clearly for what it is — an untrue, unwarranted, unasked-for intrusion by the oligarchs into the public sphere where they seldom deign to venture…” I would change one part.. instead of “where they seldom deign to venture…” I would write… “where they have only ventured to profit at the actual expense of nation’s children”….

I am laughing at the”how many dogs live in London” line, because this is exactly my experience in my state. The common core math is laughably terrible–I think both due to unrefined standards that jump grades and jam down material on younger kid and sloppy, crummy problems. Anyone with 9-10yr olds meet the area model yet? A ridiculously complicated way to teach division and multiplication. Totally messed up and confused children’s learning of the actual operations. You have to wonder if making it so hard to find simple answers isn’t just another way to rig the system.

Christine and others.. do you remember seeing a youtube video where a teacher films a student who is “talking out a multiplication problem as she is supposed to” and it takes her over 8 minutes to do so and she gets the problem wrong. So the teacher asks her why she thinks she got the problem wrong and she calmly explains that all the explaining makes her totally lose sight of the actual problem at hand but then asks the teacher is she can do it the way her mother showed her BUT “not to tell anyone” because her mother told her she might get in trouble. She completes the problem in about 1 1/2 minutes and it is correct! Someone who devised that age old strategy understood how one gains comprehension. Common core is asking everyone to over explain to the point of losing sight of comprehension. Only David Coleman and his groupies could see “logic” in this!

I should also say that I was speaking to a para professional recently who does one on one aid with a special needs student. She told me that he always gets the math problems right but fails anyway because he cannot explain how he did them and this is part of getting a math problem right “these days’. She went on to say that she watches him answering the problems on the paper and he really does get it. So then where is the logic in failing this student? Maybe we should start firing religious leaders too because they can tell us to believe in a higher being but cannot prove it with the hard “evidence”…???????

I’ve struggled with this.

Should a student fail if he/she knows the material?

Regardless of whether they do the homework or even if they fail the tests.

If they demonstrate that they understand the concepts, why hold them back to reteach what they already know.

It just doesn’t make sense, yet the whole idea drives teachers crazy.

It’s almost like they want to punish the kid for not following the rules.

For standing on the box instead of staying inside.

As if knowledge without some form of proof is “cheating”.

Hey, wait! Isn’t that the whole problem with Common Core? – knowledge doesn’t count without proof.

Look at this problem from a NATIONAL math test for 9th graders:

“If you buy 3 notebooks and 2 pencils, the cost will be $4.60. If you buy 4 of the same notebooks and 3 of the same pencils, the cost is $6.30.

To determine the price of 1 notebook and the price of 1 pencil, write a system of equations by considering the price of 1 notebook to be x dollars and the price of 1 pencil to be y dollars. You do not have to solve the system of equations you write.”

Seriously? What sort of fuzzy crap is THAT? How do we know that the student knows how to calculate and arrive at the correct answer? ? ? This is the kind of ObamaCore crap that the liberals have been trying to shove down our kids’ throats since the first NCTM Standards volume in 1989. No measure of calculation facility, speed, or accuracy.

No wonder R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky wouldn’t sign off on the new Common Core Math Standards. This kind of thing will never put our students in a competitive position against our global rivals with superior, world-class standards and assessments. Like Japan.

Where’s Louis C.K. to put things straight, right?

Michael, while the problem you cited above should be easy for a student taking algebra, it definitely isn’t appropriate for a student in grade school. According to child development experts like Piaget, it is not age appropriate.

Ellen, it’s for 9th graders, as I wrote previously. High school freshmen.

Well Michael, if an Algebra student understands the concept, they should be able to set up the equations. However, after tutoring many Freshmen after school, I can tell you that some just don’t have a clue. For some reason their minds can’t seem to grasp the idea of x and y. Of course, in NYS, if they can’t do algebra, they can’t graduate, so it is an issue.

So are you saying that on a national math test to evaluate the mathematical knowledge of 9th graders, we should only include questions we’re sure no one will get wrong?

You seem to be making an assumption or two about the purpose of the exam this question appeared on. I’ve never heard of a 9th grade exam determining graduation, for instance, have you?

One other point Michael, they have to set up the equations, they are not expected to solve them. Just as well, the answer would just be another equation, not a number.

Well, I’m not 100% sure what you mean. Are you saying that it’s not possible with the information given to come up with numerical values for both x and y, individually? If so, you’re wrong about that, but that would be another question that wasn’t asked. Explicitly, they’re asked to “write a system of equations by considering the price of 1 notebook to be x dollars and the price of 1 pencil to be y dollars,” to determine the cost of 1 notebook and 1 pencil. So it suffices to offer, for example 4x + 3y = $6.30, and 3x + 2y = 4.60. That is a system that will allow you to determine the price of 1 notebook and 1 pencil by subtracting the second equation from the first.

You’re told what variables to assign to what quantities, which simplifies grading a lot.

However, you can actually solve this system for x and y through elimination, substitution, graphing, determinants (overkill) or Gauss-Jordan elimination on the augmented matrix (also overkill for a 2 x 2 system like this). In other words, the standard Algebra 1 curriculum taught in middle schools and high schools gives students multiple tools for getting exactly what the cost of a notebook is, and what the cost of a pencil is, given this information.

I posted the problem specifically because it doesn’t require that students do so. It also doesn’t require that they stipulate the cost of 1 notebook + 1 pencil, which is easier and which is what their system is supposed to lead to answering. So is this a good question in general or, as I believe both R. James Milgram, a world-class algebraist on the math faculty of Stanford, and Sandra Stotsky, who has served on various national and state math curriculum panels, though her degrees are not in mathematics or mathematics education would say, is this “fuzzy math” that is computationally empty and not up to the world-class standards of Asian countries and our other international competitors?

I’ll say one more thing. There’s something I’ve not explicitly said about this problem, and as a result a lot of people seem to be making some very interesting assumptions about it. I will say what that thing is within the next 24 hours. For now, I remain curious about the responses it is engendering. To be clear: this is a real problem on a real national 9th grade math test given within the last two academic years. Since it’s national, I would assume there were no other criteria other than being in 9th grade during the year in question.

He appears now on Letterman and gets a good article in the NY Post. Why am I wary

re: the above quote by Arundhati Roy? Even Diane is seduced to be at the table.

Yo, Louis CK:

Let’s have a Dad to Dad Talk About Math, Homework & the CCSS

http://go.shr.lc/SiHKmn

Yup once something has become a parody (think Colbert CC skit) it’s lost all legs! It’s run its course. It tried its damnedest! You’ve got to give it that. You’ve got to know how to get out though when the gettin’s good and that’s what it failed to do….

All of the jokes about American foreign policy did not affect it, or the role of the banks in the economic situation. don’t be seduced that you may have power by watching prime time on your couch.

All of the jokes about American foreign policy did not affect it, or the role of the banks in the economic situation. Don’t be seduced that you may have power by watching prime time on your couch. Only being engaged with “Opt Out” will do that. Everything else is superficial.

I hear you, Joseph, but what if we couldn’t see and hear each other opting out? Popular culture can be a part of our activism, but the 1% tries to make us feel insignificant when we pick it up and wield it, just because there are so many millions of us.

Forty years ago, I was a Teamster packing spinach. I remember getting up before dawn to pick up a sheaf of mimeographed notices and hand them out at the gate of the sugar plant in Watsonville, to protect the identity of the union activists going on shift there. Inside the plant, workers talked to each other about the flyers. No couches involved.

I don’t actually know how to turn on the TV anymore, because there’s some cable that needs to be switched between the boxes. I’m going to learn again, and subscribe to FX today, so I can watch C.K.’s show with millions of other people. We get up before dawn and we post comments, and blog, and tweet. And Friday, I’m going to be handing out flyers at the MTA convention.

If you’re involved in the opt out movement, my brother, I suspect your life has a similar rhythm.

When do we get to see accountability for those who have been promoting it, those who have been profiteering from it, and those complicit in the deception?

Go back to George Carlin

I loved his comments.

It did reach a lot of people.

But was he preaching to the choir?

I just spent several days with women from throughout NYS and from across the country. These were intelligent women and they just don’t see CC the same way we see it. And they had an answer to every comment I made. They believe the rhetoric. They trust that the testing is necessary.

And rants by Colbert and Louis will not change their minds.

Our best hope is the angry parents who have to deal with their confused children. If they raise their voices and continue to opt out, then perhaps people will listen.

And, by the way, the idea of opting out – freaked out the women I told, even though we were at a workshop which promoted civil disobedience to combat hurtful policies. The idea of bucking “the authority” went right over their heads.

It’s nice to be back with fellow like-minded thinkers.

Louis C.K. was the “Person of the Week” on ABC national news.

A favorable portrayal and it included a bit of his views on CCSS.

The wall is starting to come down.

😎

Maybe one of the actors on SNL should dress up like Albert Einstein and show him struggling to explain how many dogs live in London if Bill has three dogs. Or many one of the actresses can dress up as a little girl who starts explaining a math problem and explaining and explaining until the actress is an old aged senile person and has no idea what the problem was!

Diane, as a mathematics educator who’s been looking at curriculum and pedagogical reform for a quarter century, I find Colbert and Louis C.K. to be hurting more than helping the problem, even though I get that from a “by any means necessary” perspective, they are drawing increased attention to the battle over the Common Core INITIATIVE, or at least potentially so.

As you and other readers here know (or should), I’m no fan of the political aspects of the Common Core: where it came from, how it was developed and sold, who is pushing it, and the corporate + anti-public education + anti-democratic core values stench that the entire abysmal juggernaut reeks of.

That said, I’m also a mathematics educator who is sick and tired of having to explain for the billionth time that:

1) what publishers do is not controlled by the decent people who worked on the Common Core Math Standards or anyone BUT publishers. And publishers, while they MIGHT have a political/philosophical agenda other than what’s obvious, for the most part really have only ONE agenda: P-R-O-F-I-T. I say that based on personal observation and things friends of mine who’ve worked as editors in educational publishing have told me, repeatedly, since the late 1980s;

2) even if the above weren’t true, it is obvious to anyone who is actually looking at the array of materials released over the last couple of years under the aegis of “Common Core aligned” that there’s no monolithic educational philosophy that comprises the theory or practice of “Common Core Math.” That is to say, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS COMMON CORE MATH, if viewed through the lens of the current crop of textbooks. All that exists is a panoply of styles and approaches, few of which represent anything especially innovative. Far from it, in fact. You’re looking at the recycling of the same spectrum of programs from the past quarter century. In the K-5 band, that’s Everyday Math; Investigations in Number, Space, & Data; Singapore Math; Saxon Math; and “new” titles like Go Math, plus the dreck that New York State’s Department of Corrections, er, Education, contracted for under the ironic name ENGAGE-NY;

3) it’s actually possible to find anti-Common Core groups on Facebook that are pissed off about nearly every one of the above-mentioned K-5 programs (except for Saxon, though I can’t claim with certainty that no one out there is pissed about that horrific program, too). When I found a Missouri-based group page that was angry about Singapore Math, run by a self-proclaimed conservative, Christian originally from Asia, I knew we were reaching a level of insanity that dwarfed the lunacy of heart the Math Wars (c. 1989 to 2008 or so). And things aren’t getting better, in part because of people who seem to think like Louis C.K.

My objection to the latest comic critiques of the math content is that it’s not a critique of either the CC Math Content or the CC Math Practice standards. Merely hysteria about specific publisher’s efforts to “represent” their alleged interpretation of the standards (or more accurately, to sell to public schools what the publishers think will pass for same).

So there are bad problems in these books! This is something new in educational publishing? No, it’s not. But to hear to howls of some people, you’d think that there was a committee sitting around conspiring to write bad problems, rather than just the usual combination of incompetence, idiocy, sloppiness, and what we might call “poor craftsmanship” due to a rush to get ANYTHING into print in order to profit from the “new standards.” It’s not a “conspiracy to ‘dumb down’ our children,” no matter how many Teabillies and Glenn Beck fans scream that it’s exactly that. The Charlotte Iserbyt/Beverly Eakmann conspiracy theorists are just as ridiculous as the Christian fundamentalists from A Beka who offer the following:

“Unlike the “modern math” theorists, who believe that mathematics is a creation of man and thus arbitrary and relative, A Beka Book teaches that the laws of mathematics are a creation of God and thus absolute. Man’s task is to search out and make use of the laws of the universe, both scientific and mathematical.

“A Beka Book provides attractive, legible, and workable traditional mathematics texts that are not burdened with modern theories such as set theory. These books have been field-tested, revised, and used successfully for many years, making them classics with up-to-date appeal. Besides training students in the basic skills needed for life, A Beka Book traditional mathematics books teach students to believe in absolutes, to work diligently for right answers, and to see mathematical facts as part of the truth and order built into the real universe.”

Yep, though they do offer a “spiral curriculum” in math, which is anathema to right wingers and others who despise Everyday Math and TERC’s Investigations programs for offering a “spiral curriculum.” Go figure. . .

But actually, you CAN’T “go figure” in the insane world of mathematics educational politics these days, unless you are willing to wade through an enormous swath of crazy, contradictory information and put up with smart people who say some amazingly ignorant things (along with plenty of very ignorant people who happily echo those sentiments). And I suspect that very few people who weigh in mightily with firm opinions on “Common Core Math,” which they see as isomorphic to the Common Core Math Standards (Content AND Practice), have done their homework to the extent necessary. So much disinformation is routinely repeated and shared on the ‘Web that it’s virtually impossible to avoid.

When Louis C.K. and Stephen Colbert jump in, I still hope for something more informed, more incisive, and more insightful. But of course, Colbert doesn’t write a lot of his own material for The Colbert Report, and I very much doubt that he wrote the stuff about Common Core Math. Louis C.K. may actually have been tweeting original observations of his about math problems, but if so, he struck me as having little to offer that I couldn’t have pulled off of dozens of pages on Facebook from enraged parents. And while I understand the concerns about developmental appropriateness in K-2, I’m not very impressed with much of the abuse heaped on mathematically sound ideas that have been around for decades, if not centuries (see for example any “critique” of lattice multiplication, for starters). I’m willing to discuss whether any given attempt to implement some of these ideas is sound; whether the authors and publishers have done a good job of getting the ideas across, as well as the rationales behind them; whether teachers are being encouraged to distinguish between models for arithmetic meant to help promote deeper understanding of how and why traditional algorithms work, rather than to utterly replace them (e.g., see any “critique” of alternative models for doing long division), or whether they are ordered to force kids to DO arithmetic via models not meant to be long-term methods, or whether they simply misunderstand the intent and purpose of the models as bridges.

The fact is that absent a conversation with a given K-5 math teacher, I despair in advance that he or she will have been given adequate professional development or pre-service education to understand the mathematics and its teaching that goes with the grade band s/he’s charged with instructing. I’ve seen so much ignorance and confusion out there over the last 25 years that I have to assume that a sizeable percentage of horror stories result not from something fundamentally wrong with the bulk of ideas informing progressive mathematics education, but from lack of adequate PD coupled with various other factors (stubbornness, rigidity, ignorance, lack of mathematical understanding, laziness, etc.) that too many of our teachers bring to the table, some of which resulting from their own weak mathematics education in K-5.

Of course, there are some VERY mathematically competent people teaching K-5. Just not enough of them. Not by a long shot. And I don’t think there are enough parents who are willing to grapple with K-5 mathematics and its teaching in ways necessary to draw reasonable conclusions about what it’s really about. Instead, we get knee-jerk reactions against anything – and I mean ANYTHING – that isn’t familiar, whether in content, presentation, or form. If it doesn’t look pretty much identical to how a given parent remembers being taught, it’s de facto “dumbing kids down.” Period. I’m sure that’s a very nice all-purpose epithet to hurl at anything new, but that doesn’t make it true.

If Louis C.K. and Stephen Colbert and their writers want to be useful, let them focus on the corporate politics at work here, areas where their usual satire is grounded in knowledge and experience. As for math content, they’re out of their depths, in my view. And simply succeeding in getting cheap laughs from America’s collective ignorance about mathematics.

Michael, my two younger kids grew up with Chicago Math which I thought was at times confusing and always a pain in the butt, but they both turned out competent in Math in high school (although my older daughters with more traditional backgrounds did even better). And the Buffalo Public Schools used Transitions Math which I found impossible to implement (I taught sick students in their homes after school) as it often required unavailable materials or unfamiliar methodology. A local suburban school district had an unsuccessful parent revolt over transition math.

I highly respect math teachers since I have had several occasions where I had to teach math concepts to a class. Even though I knew the concept, it was hard to transfer this knowledge to the students. It made sense to me, but not to them. When I taught the Dewey Decimal System to fourth graders, I used placards which they held (they pretended to be books) while they put themselves in number order. In this way I could manipulate them to demonstrate the correct order. I could also visually see who was confused. Some kids caught on right away, the rest I left to learn from their classroom teacher at a later date. No use beating myself up – I only had a half hour. Plus, many adults are still confused about their decimal points.

Ultimately, the texts are a guideline. The teachers teach (unless they are expected to follow a script – then teachers ape). At the moment I reserve judgement while I let the math teachers have a go. Personally, I’m afraid that the word problems might be beyond the designated developmental age level “a la” the teachings of Piaget.

I’m waiting for the math professionals to weigh in.

Michael Paul, you’re right that the only thing “Common Core” math products have in common is their wordy alignment with a test-based marketing initiative. There is no central theoretical basis for the grab-bag of products that can be worded-up to “align” with “higher order” understanding, and the real-world examples C. K. exposed show this very clearly.

I’m glad to see people looking at the specifics of those examples, and totally disagree with your crotchety complaint that Louisck is doing anybody anywhere any kind of disservice.

I’m certified in math in California, and I studied math pedagogy in addition to my natural science degrees. I’ve taught trig at a tribal college, and GED math to girls who tested in at 4th grade level, and (I’m somewhat ashamed to say) once tutored wealthy gifted children for astronomical amounts. I teach exponential notation, pH, and ratio, rate, and proportion to my chemistry students.

Jean Piaget did profound studies of the acquisition of numeracy in children, and that path doesn’t start in wordy exposition, algorithms, or a page layout of symbolic representations. The funniest and most insightful comment I saw on the twitter stream was that (_X_) looks more like a symbolic representation of the concept “butthole” than it does like the commutative property.

If you were riding through that @louisck’s twitter storm those few days (I lost a lot of sleep), you saw a new kind of history being made in mathematical discourse. His mom was/is (?) a math teacher.

“Crotchety”? Really. That’s so very productive and likely to engage me in serious dialogue with you. Care to offer something less off-putting in response to what I wrote?

What I didn’t see from Louis CK was anything that struck me as substantive in his complaints about the problems. They had the same flavor as so many “Ain’t this just awful?” parental posts of math problems we’ve been seeing since August. I don’t claim to have weathered any Twitter storms, since I don’t spend time there. I merely looked at a random sampling of his Tweets and was less than impressed with the “analysis.” The one in particular that stuck with me was a problem where the formatting of the answer choices made it difficult to tell where part 4 of a multipart question ended and part 5 began. Is that the fault of the author of the problems? A teacher who copied them and was (foolishly) trying to save space? Bad typography? There’s really no way to know. I saw nothing bad about the questions themselves and from what Louis C. K. wrote, I’m not sure what his complaint was. That seemed to be the case with others I saw.

Since you mention a storm, I imagine I missed lots of examples. If you have some that show a cogent, substantive comment from him that reveals what is wrong with a given problem, in his estimation, I’d be very interested. Otherwise, my commentary stands. And of course, I also mentioned Stephen Colbert. Do you have something to support the idea that I got his contribution wrong as well?

I understand that people don’t like specific problems that appear with the Common Core label. But I must say that there is a very bizarre (to my thinking) trend this academic year among many critics of the Common Core Math Standards. Aside from the glaring fact that almost never are the criticism of ANYTHING that is actually IN the Math Standards, many of the attacks seem to be of the form, “I saw this problem on my kid’s homework that I have no context for, but as I don’t instantly understand what’s being asked, and because I’m already less than fond of what I perceive as “Common Core Math (never mind that there’s actually no such thing), I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore – and neither is my kid!”

Not the sort of detailed analysis that would win over anyone not already in the same camp. And as I say to people who offer up Teabilly paranoia to attack Common Core (“It’s Obamacore and it’s Agenda 21” just doesn’t move me), I need to have reasons with which I can convince people who aren’t crazy and, while perhaps not advocates FOR CCSS-M or any other aspect of CCSSI, do expect to see substantive, logical arguments in opposition before they’re prepared to agree that there are serious issues within the actual standards themselves, politics aside.

I can convince some people to oppose CCSSI based strictly on the politics because there are so many glaring problems there, as all readers of this blog know. But discussing particulars of the standards themselves is another matter. I don’t think Louis CK or Colbert did the job, at least not to my satisfaction, given that I know from experience what many reasonable people have to say about the actual text of the Math Content Standards (as opposed to the absolutely off-the-wall lies that I read about what they allegedly say from typical hysterics who’ve never read a single word of the documents).

Michael, I agree with you. We need specifics when arguing against CCSS, I was asked if any laws were broken. I was told that product placement on the ELA was used to engage the students attention. I was told that it takes time for the teachers and students to adapt to the new tests and that was why the scores were so low. My concerns on book selections are just my opinion. Others disagree. End of discussion.

Our outcries of injustice do not rile the general public. They yawn.

However, Louis and Colbert have at least pulled the issue out into the open. It’s not a solution, but it is a start.

Ellen, yes, when well-known people complain, people tend to pay attention. Just wish they’d complain a bit more pointedly. As I said to begin with, they both are well-positioned to get at the corrupt politics and greed at the heart of this mess. I wish they’d focused on that, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

Michael – they don’t have our passion on this issue. I’m not sure how vested they are with the outcome. We LIVE it. Our concerns for our students consume our SOULS.

All we can do is try to build on what has been said and try to spread the word.

As you said, the more specific we can be, the better our argument.

Chemtchr – it does look like a butthole. I learned some new “math” today.

Michael Paul, I apologise if I hurt your feelings; I meant “crotchety” as a term of endearment, of course.

On the other hand, you use your math-curriculum experience as a credential to freely characterize public opposition to the Common Core as “hysteria”, “howls of some people”, and “Teabillies and Glenn Beck fans scream”. That’s wrong.

You complain, “My objection to the latest comic critiques of the math content is that it’s not a critique of either the CC Math Content or the CC Math Practice standards.” Nobody ever said they were. We sat on committees for years and combed through the details of the pacing, but that doesn’t mean real people aren’t allowed to respond. I once sat at a table and joined with Sandra Stotsky in arguing that eighth graders need ratio, rate and proportion. She eventually refused to sign off on the Common Core, and it didn’t make a damned bit of difference, did it?

You pontificate, “And I suspect that very few people who weigh in mightily with firm opinions on “Common Core Math,” which they see as isomorphic to the Common Core Math Standards (Content AND Practice), have done their homework to the extent necessary.” The “Common Core Initiative”, which you wish to separate from the “Content and Practice” package is mechanism for its actual imposition on the nation’s children, by force of law. Don’t they wish they could disqualify the public from resisting, by nattering that those are not all the same thing?

Nazaryan likens the “Standards” to a wondrous sacred cow lowered (by flawed implementation) into a pit of unqualified critics. In reality, the standards are a hodgepodge thrown together to give the publishers centralized control of accountability, and you’re perseverating his false distinction.

The “development” you worked on was all a pony show, and your expertise in the actual text of the bogus “standards” is irrelevant. It’s presumptuous of you to demand that parents stay on your page, when what you should do is turn it and help them save their kids.

Stephen Colbert is on the other side, by the way, and corporate education control pundits like Alex Russo are bemoaning the loss of his Rhee-kissing show.

If I read your analysis as the key to understanding what *I* write and think, I would be very confused about myself. Fortunately, I know what I think and what I’ve written (as well as what I’ve not written, thought, or said), so I’m not befuddled.

I note that you provided not one single example from Louis C.K.’s tweets, suggesting that I was correct in their lack of specificity. If you had something, you’d have offered it, rather than ignoring the request entirely (usually a give-away that someone doesn’t have the goods).

I love a fellow who apologizes for “hurting my feelings,” before offering up a further succession of insults. I’m managing to not respond in kind, but suggest you quit it now.

The “development” I worked on? To what does that refer? Dog and pony show? Are you Wayne Bishop or maybe his son? That’s a favorite Bishopism. But for whom, exactly, am I alleged to be putting on such a performance? What, exactly, do you believe my agenda is here?

Finally and most importantly: I don’t accuse all parents of making idiotic, Teabilly arguments. Only those who actually do. I’m not pontificating or nattering. I’m asking for intelligent criticism grounded in mathematics and/or its pedagogy when it comes to picking apart math content standards, practice standards, and specific examples because when the smoke clears, that’s still what we will be looking at where the rubber meets the road: in mathematics classrooms throughout the nation.

I’ll be pleased as anyone to see the CCSSI go down the toilet, but not to see the anti-progressive mathematics folks be able to go back to business as usual. If that’s what you advocate (not saying it is, but I do have to wonder at this point), then by all means, bring on your fiercest epithets (since you seem not to have any actual reasoning). Show me what you find to be wrong with progressive mathematics education principles or practices and we can have (perhaps) a meaningful dispute. But your name-calling and cheap insults accomplish nothing useful. Not one thing.

please. no more.

Hmmm. Actually, I wasn’t looking to pick a fight at all, and have always thought of you as an ally. That’s still the case. I’m surprised at the bitterness of your original post, and of your response.

I would presume you already know @louisck’s tweets, since you denounced them. They came in three sets. If you read one of the summaries, you’ve seen them. Then, he answered prominent critics,

Louie tweeted images of specific homework modules that made his third grader cry. Defenders of the standards (by the thousands!) jumped in, to defend the homework as appropriate, and denounce Louie’s ignorance, but many thousands more joined in his critique. Lots of real math comments flew, in all directions. Proponents of the Smarter Balanced Consortium tweeted the same accusations you made, about him having no standing to attack the CCSS because he isn’t an expert in the “real” standards, and doesn’t even know the “difference” between the standards, the practice, and the curriculum products it has spawned.

So, I do wonder… are you advocating for the Smarter Balanced Brand of Common Core tests, or some other fallback plan? It turns out, in that case, that you’re right to pick a fight about it.

If your argument is we need the Common Core as an enforcer to stomp out non-progressive math teaching, that’s not okay with me.

Maybe you’re missing something in the tenor of your remarks. Words like “pontificate” and “nattering” don’t generally warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.

Second, I explicitly stated that I saw a handful of LCK’s tweets. I asked you to provide one that you thought got to the heart of the matter. You still haven’t done so. I have to wonder why not.

Third, I never said that LCK “didn’t have standing.” nor was that my concern. There are people without (relevant) degrees who are insightful into relevant issues in mathematics and/or its teaching and learning. I don’t need someone to tell me his/her education in order to be impressed: it suffices to say something that makes a meaningful contribution to the issues. Stating “This is a stupid problem” doesn’t really qualify in itself. (By the way, it makes no difference that LCK’s mother taught or teaches mathematics at any level. My friend’s wife is the daughter of Andre Weil. She’s a novelist who is well-known in France, less well-known here, and one of the brightest people I know. But she’s not likely to weigh in on issues of mathematics or math education; were she to do so, I don’t think she’d cite her father as grounds for her views to be heeded.

As for my making an issue of knowing the differences among the content standards, practice standards, and various “Common Core products,” if you don’t see that as relevant, then we’re not even having the same conversation. I’ll take one more crack at getting this through to you: the Common Core as a package is abominable and I’m all for deep-sixing it. But there are lots of things in the practice standards that are important and need to be defended. And no one can toss out the actual content mentioned in the Content Standards, though there is tons of room for modifying ANY set of math standards for K-12, no matter who writes them and what authority they allegedly have. The states have done all sorts of changes, various national committees have called for all sorts of changes in content and focus over the last 12 decades (I took a graduate course in which we read what was out there through the early 1990s, which is when the class was given), and it’s nothing if not fascinating to see the same battles fought repeatedly and the swinging of the pendulum between conflicting viewpoints (even if none of them is necessarily spot-on).

Of course, there has never been anything like the Common Core Initiative. Never before has the nation handed control for academic decisions over to corporatists and billionaires (not that they wouldn’t have loved to gain control in the past). So, once again, we can’t accept what they’re selling, even if we can recognize that some of it happens to be good stuff and thus things we’ll want to do voluntarily, once freed from the stigma of CCSSI and the concomitant evils of high-stakes tests, value-added teacher evaluations, pushing for charter schools and vouchers, and the execrable Race to the Top.

Because of that, I will not stand silent when people say really stupid things about really good teaching ideas. Period. You don’t like that? Convince me (or others) that those ideas aren’t good. But please quit utterly distorting my points, putting words into my mouth, and offering personal insults. I’m not going to ask again.

MPG

We will go nowhere trying to make this into a debate about standards, curriculum, scope and sequence, homework, or tests validity.

The RTTT/.NCLBW laws will only go away through political means.

Your concerns over throwing out the baby with the bath water are unnecessary and exaggerated.

So I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about improving the quality and effectiveness of mathematics education until the standards go away? Sorry, but I’ve spent the last quarter century worried about such matters and expect to continue to do so. I didn’t let NCLB stop me and I won’t let the CCSSI do so, either. I’m actually capable of whistling, walking, and chewing gum at the same time, too.

And I’m not trying to make this a “debate” about anything. I’m pointing out that it’s not reasonable to expect that we’ll be in better shape once we triumph over the Common Core if we do so by saying a bunch of bullshit in the service of “winning.” I’ve never believed that the ends justify the means, but rather that the means in no small part define and determine what ends you get, in spite of “best intentions.”

Further, I don’t think that people are lying about their reactions to progressive math education methods and principles. I think they are being honest. And I think their opinions are, for the most part, misguided and counterproductive. So when the great War Against the Core is won, they’ll be doing their best to see that these ideas don’t get back into classrooms. And we’ll be right back in the “back to basics” eras that we’ve gone to every time the American public doesn’t get legitimate efforts to teach mathematics more effectively (even if most of those efforts never make it into most classrooms). It’s perhaps the most Sisyphean situation I know of when it comes to a major area of academics in this country (along with the phonics v. whole language merry-go-round).

I’m really not sure at all how you determine that I’m worried over nothing. Are you a student of the history of mathematics education reform efforts in the US? Or doesn’t that matter?

MPG

chemtchr made one very important criticism that you seemed to have overlooked. The absence of ratios, percentages, and proportions from the grade 8 standards is an error of omission that staggers the mind of any science teacher.

But since I’m not DEFENDING the Common Core Standards, NY teacher.

Since I’ve explicitly stated that no set of standards is going to be ideal – and have said for decades that we can debate from now until Doomsday what the correct content standards should be in K-12 and exactly in what order they should be taught and NEVER come close to consensus (hence my suggestion in yesterday’s blog piece about reform that it needs to be local and gradual and responsive to the needs of children – or didn’t you see that one? most of it appeared here as a comment on the piece about Randi Weingarten), and since I’ve made crystal clear that I don’t like anything about the CCSSI juggernaut, why would I need to address that issue?

But since you insist, perhaps ratios and proportions are not in the 8th grade content standards because they’re in the SIXTH and SEVENTH grade content standards? Just a hunch on my part: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/RP/

Took me a nanosecond to find that, by the way. Either Chem Teacher assumed that since s/he didn’t find them where they are “supposed” to be, they must not be anywhere in the middle school curriculum. To the best of my knowledge, however, ratios and proportions have long been considered THE key mathematical idea in middle school. If so, it can’t be too surprising that those topics would be pushed down to the first two middle school grades. Whether or not one agrees with that particular move, it’s not quite like eliminating from middle school mathematics, is it? So what, exactly, is the gripe here? Too soon? Or did someone just miss what happened? Did the marvelous Sandra Stotsky, who has no background whatsoever in mathematics or mathematics education, also miss that? She and her reactionary buddy, R. James Milgram, are in fact past masters at undermining anything vaguely progressive in American K-12 education that they get a chance to torpedo. How she, in particular, gets to serve on any committee that deals with a subject utterly out of her academic areas of (alleged) expertise escapes me, outside of political influence. And if she’s your source for anything to do with the Math Standards, you’re citing someone for I have nothing but disdain. As for Milgram, it’s his elitist approach to mathematics in K-12 that helped push topics down in various grade bands (so that we could start teaching calculus in the womb to “gifted students,” the only ones he cares about). And since the Math committee didn’t completely kowtow to his every whim, he wouldn’t “approve” the standards. Big bloody whoop. The lack of HIS imprimatur was one thing that made me optimistic that the standards would wind up being pretty good (and in one regard, they are: the Standards for Mathematical Practice are quite admirable, even if they’ll never take hold in many US classrooms and will be the first part to be overlooked, ignored, paid little more than lip service to, until they fade into memory even as objectionable aspects continue to plague us.

Indeed, it might be reasonable to argue that if Chem Teacher’s complaint (and Stotsky’s) is that we must have ratio and proportion SPECIFICALLY in the EIGHTH grade (Gauss knows why!), she can thank Jimmy Milgram for they’re being pushed down to the two previous grades. But if the claim is that they’re missing from 6-8 math content in the Common Core, I have two words for that, the first of which is “bull.”

MPG

I will also add that for someone who uses a rather condescending writing style, you are a tad sensitive to the writing of others. I’m sure you’ll find this comment unsettling which will prove my point. How about some plain speak for us ordinary posters? Do you wear your ascot, and sip single malt when you post?

I’ll hit myself over the head with a bedpan (or an empty bottle of Lagavulin, if I can find one around the house), and then cut off the oxygen supply to my brain temporarily with one of my many ascots. That better position me to speak to “ordinary posters.

Is the problem that I write too well for your taste? Perhaps that I have spent the last 25 years in mathematics education, working with teachers, students, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders in K-12, mostly in high-needs schools in impoverished urban districts in Michigan and New York. Mea culpa; mea maxima culpa.

There’s really nothing more incongruous than anti-intellectualism from a professional educator.

I would offer some less elevated remarks but knowing and respecting Diane’s preferences about language, I’ll refrain.

MPG

Scope and sequence is a big deal. Placing ratios, per cents, and proportion in grades 6 and 7 and excluding it from grade 8 is flat out horrible judgement on the part of the math committee. Grade 6, is still elementary and typically does not have a certified math teacher to initiate some of the most important concepts in math. Brain development is another issue that has been ignored, Teaching these three inter-related concepts to 11 and 12 year olds is just plain stupid.

The abstract thinking that these topics require for understanding are just beginning to develop in grade 8 (for most students).

“So I shouldn’t worry my pretty little head about improving the quality and effectiveness of mathematics education until the standards go away? Sorry, but I’ve spent the last quarter century worried about such matters and expect to continue to do so. I didn’t let NCLB stop me and I won’t let the CCSSI do so, either. I’m actually capable of whistling, walking, and chewing gum at the same time, too.”

NCLB and CCSS didn’t stop you from worrying? Congrats for being so gritty or is it gritfull. Whatever you did to help improve math instruction, I must tell you, didn’t make it here to NY. I have never seen a more inept generation of students when it comes to math.

Students hate math more than ever, and I cant say that I blame them. Do you know why? To most students it is POINTLESS. An utter waste of their time. So what did your 25 years of worrying get us?

As I said to the other genius, don’t dislocate your shoulder patting one another on the back. I’m just so blown away by the collective brilliance of the two of you, your ability to pile insult upon insult, all the while convincing yourselves that you’re just swell fellows. I can’t think of a single counter-argument to your well-researched and cogent points, or a quip to outdo your rapier-like insults. I’ll go hang my head, if not myself, in shame.

You don’t write as well as you think. You write like nurse Ratched speaks.

I am going to have to tell your mother you said that.

“I am going to have to tell your mother you said that”

?

Did I say gritless? I meant witless.

Louis C.K. @louisck May 1

@ADLReporter I have two kids in public school in a city where tests are a major issue. I don’t need your permission to comment.

CCSS. It’s a new program. why defend it aS perfect? Why let poor test writers profit and tell parents and teachers they are “wrong”.

@mport84chemtchr May 1

@louisck “common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets” http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/03/the-innovation-mismatch-smart/ …

didn’t mean to write Bill hates. I meant to write “doody faced rich guy”. Oh just kidding. Alright I’m done. Go ahead and rip my head off.

Lastly these are my views as a parent. I’m sure I’m wrong about some of it. Does that mean you’re wrong about none o it? Peace.

The test are written to CCSS standards. The teachers are forced to deliver high scores to those tests. Why pretend that cc has zero fault?

@blabbate Of course it does. All tests are written to those standards. Or are supposed to be.

@darthqueeg Simply?

Everything important is worth doing carefully. None of this feels careful to me.

I trust a teacher over Pearson or bill hates any day of the week. Don’t all be so defensive and don’t be such bullies.

Teachers are underpaid. They teach for the love of it. Let them find the good in cc without the testing guns to their and our kids heads.

@alexnazaryan Well I’m a current public school parent. My kid’s brain is where the rubber hits the road. And I’m not alone.

Alexander Nazaryan @alexnazaryan Apr 30

@louisck Fair enough. But CC is like three years old. Were you at top of your game three years into comedy? Give it a chance.

@mport84chemtchr Apr 30

@alexnazaryan @louisck Children are being “held accountable” by force of law, to a corporate business plan. “Give it a chance” to do what?

@alexnazaryan also these are kids. They only get one chance to grow and develop and to fall in love with learning.

@alexnazaryan and if a foundation is weak the whole thing comes down. also learning is a lot more like a human brain than a building.

@ariannie131 you’re not in 3rd grade. your school’s future doesn’t depend on you answering q’s like this for hours instead of learning.

@alexnazaryan the things you say about me are shallow and mean but you posed in front of some books for your pic & thus sound smart.

these questions btw were not written by her teacher. they were on a standardized test. written by pearson or whoever the hell

@Veganmathbeagle the teacher didn’t write the question. The teacher is a slave to the question. It is a drag.

It’s this massive stressball that hangs over the whole school. The kids teachers trying to adapt to these badly written notions.

Retweeted by Louis C.K.

Mel Johansson @H_E_Sarah Apr 28

@dirtygreek @louisck I’m a lifelong educator. Trust me, they’re not. There are many ways to make math come alive. This is not one.

“Why night you want each picture to stand for more than 1 balloon?”

Yet again I must tell my kid “don’t answer it. It’s a bad question”

Retweeted by Louis C.K.

Mel Johansson @H_E_Sarah Apr 28

@louisck Reading that makes me wonder why the suicide rate is so low among 3rd graders.

Look at 4 of part a. And the point isn’t that it’s too hard. Just read #4. Please. pic.twitter.com/5bnUlaXG5b

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This is one of my favorites. Also for third graders. Who is writig these? And why? pic.twitter.com/xUBVIxE6WU

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A huge amount of my third graders time is spent preparing for and answering questions like this. pic.twitter.com/WU5tEo8JRO

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Louis C.K. @louisck Apr 28

My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!

Half way there, chemtchr: you’ve offered a list without comment. And the list is, of course, a list of tweets that themselves fail to offer specific analysis of the problems it points to (one of the reasons I despise Twitter as a forum for discussing anything of substance).

So, was there a particular one you feel is exemplary or are the equally wonderful? If the latter, let me pick the one I already mentioned earlier: https://twitter.com/louisck/status/460898234266054656/photo/1

Problem with this tweet is that what LCK states is “Look at 4 of part a. And the point isn’t that it’s too hard. Just read #4. Please.”

So I did, expecting a horror show. Well, yeah, kinda. At least what *I* noted already is that the formatting sucks. Clearly, someone dropped a carriage return after

4. 7x(____x_____)=21×7.

and ran

5. (21×3)/____=7

into it. Why? I haven’t the foggiest. And of course, I have no idea WHOSE formatting error is represented in this picture. And neither do you. Is this s work sheet a teacher printed? Or something a teacher typed and copied, and in an apparent desire to save space (to save paper: there is, after all, a lot of pressure on teachers to do just that, in case anyone reading this doesn’t know or has forgotten), really went nuts with formatting? I certainly can’t tell from looking at this snippet.

So this is something we should decry? If so, at whom, exactly, should we point fingers? LCK doesn’t quite tell us. LCK doesn’t really know.

Of course, looking at all 5 parts of Part A., it’s not really difficult to see what’s supposed to be happening. Would he still post this if the 5 parts were on 5 different lines? He didn’t say, and there’s nothing mathematically incorrect here. One way to complete #4 is to put 3 and 7 into those blanks, or 7 and 3 (I doubt they want fractions, decimals, negative numbers, radicals, or 1 and 21 in either order, though in theory at least any of those would be correct.

For #5, I assume 9 is the desired answer.

Now, looking at all five problems as a group, we have what’s often referred to as a multiplication/division fact family (though this is more extended than what I’m used to seeing, in that it entails four, rather than three numbers: 63, 21, 9, 7, and 3, which we might think of as the non-trivial whole number divisors (factors) of 63. Is there a problem here, other than that unfortunate formatting error?

Well, in twitter the flow carries meaning and momentum, more than freezing on one fragment. If you wanted to, you could understand. If you don’t want to understand … ?

I’ll discuss this one example, but you really should do the intellectual work to investigate something before you denounce it. You’d have seen dozens of responses as deeply clueless as yours, to which C.K. observed:

Louis C.K. @louisck Apr 30

my favorite responses have been adults proudly announcing that they were able to solve these problems from a 3rd grade test.

Yes, the problem is that a pedant might say,

“we have what’s often referred to as a multiplication/division fact family (though this is more extended than what I’m used to seeing, in that it entails four, rather than three numbers: 63, 21, 9, 7, and 3, which we might think of as the non-trivial whole number divisors (factors) of 63.”… yadda yadda,

But we don’t even have that. We have a display of algebra expressions and order-of-operation conventions. The actual commutative property, for example, isn’t contained in the representation 3X4 = 4×3. That communicates only that it doesn’t matter in which order you write the numbers when you represent multiplication. When he investigated it with children, Piaget found they had to be able to count the number of times they added four together, to get 12, and then compare that to the number of times they added three together to get 12. Eight year olds couldn’t do that.

I’m not a slave to Piaget’s theories (and neither was he) but learning to recognize those conventions will only begin to happen after a child transitions from concrete operations to abstract operations, which Piaget observed around the age of 12.

You say we have

4. 7x(____x_____)=21×7.

and ran

5. (21×3)/____=7

How to tell you this nicely? NY teacher wasn’t making an anti-intellectual comment. He was (gently) mocking your impervious pretentiousness.

I hope the two of you don’t dislocate your shoulders patting each other on the back.

chemtchr

Do you know any good chiropractors? My shoulder is killing me.

Just finished administering Pearson math. First two days were reasonable; a pretty straightforward math test. Very few topics/concepts covered. Matched the CC standards as written. Really not much different than old NCLB. The 80 minutes provided was unnecessary, most students only needed 30 to 40 minutes to finish. Nothing at all like the items Louis CK was railing about (and rightly so). Today (day 3) was very difficult; virtually all multi-step word problems. Challenging, but nothing from bizzarro world. Kids were definitely spent. They were tired out and worn down. Many heads down early. Lots of blanks. However, my take away was not at all what I was expecting. Two reasonable, almost easy days and one fairly challenging for their age; but still straightforward wording and traditional style word problems. Very standard math items. Very puzzling. Made me wonder that if this is all they have, why are we re-tooling K – 12 math for 50 million students and a cost of $500 million+. I will say the Pearson ELA was significantly more difficult and definitely more confusing and tricky for students.

It should be noted that the math HW that so many NY students and their parents (like Louis CK) have found frustrating and poorly constructed were mostly produced by EngageNY. The test I administered bore no resemblance to these nonsensical and flat out stupid HW problems.

@NY teacher: You say “administering Pearson.” Not being in NY State, I’m wondering: 1) is this the same test as last spring that made everyone crazy (and which had such low scores); 2) if not, and I have to assume not since it’s named “Pearson” rather than PARCC, what is the connection, if any, between this test and the test that will be official in all the PARCC states next spring?

NY is now two years ahead of the CCSS testing curve. Because PARCC was not available for the past two years, NY contracted out the CC aligned test development to Pearson. Pearson is the main consulting group writing the PARCC tests.

So, yes, it is the same test that produced a statewide 70% failure rate last year.

Thanks. I’m in a Smarter-Balanced Assessment state (Michigan) and have paid less attention to PARCC as a result. Pearson is the main player there? Sheesh.

Thanks for clarifying about the EngageNY modules. For the first few years of NY’s Network Team Institute, math teachers were presented no concrete materials for teaching the “new” math. At maybe two of these PD sessions, teachers were instructed to use the internet to find ways to teach this math. Really. The whole rollout in New York has been a charade, and it will be years before we know the actual damage done to students through NYSED’s incompetence.

Smarter Balanced is Pearson, too.

My observations confirm MPG’s analysis above. He has made some very insightful points. I just don’t see how what Pearson presented can be called a radical re-boot of mathematics; that will somehow magically ensure college and career readiness.

Your comments do seem consonant with my analysis. And you hit on something I didn’t say here but have said frequently in the past: the fallout from dropping test scores for the tests themselves will be a return to business as usual, with slight variations. That is, less innovative or at all off the beaten track performance tasks, more routine traditional “problem solving” of the closed kind: one correct answer, little room for thinking or creativity, student generated numerical response or multiple-choice (the “big innovation” for MC tests is complicating the format rather than deepening the content – questions with upward of 5 choices and where more than one correct choice must be selected sometimes for full marks. Not innovative, just different. And still no way for teachers, students, or parents to determine from the answers picked what students did and did not understand or why.

The problem with good, useful, meaningful assessment is that it requires a level of thought and vigilance (I don’t mean test-security, but reflection on meaningfulness by the authors) on the part of everyone involved that it’s just not cheap enough to be practicable in a country that really doesn’t give a rap about getting data that improve learning – only in data that improve the ability to punish kids and teachers.

NY Teacher, I’m curious–where on the socioeconomic spectrum are your students?

Mid to lower end. Our district is 60+% free and reduced. This was the grade 8 exam. Our top 25% (accelerated) math students did not take the Pearson 8 math. They are taking TWO Regents algebra tests in June. The new CC aligned Regents and the ‘old’ pre-CC Integrated Algebra Regents. They get to pick their best score.

That was brave of your school. Those top math students would have achieved your higher scores and made your school look good. The last Math 8 exam I proctored had a lot of algebra in it, which the teachers had not yet introduced. It freaked out the kids unless they were in the accelerated algebra classes.

The achilles heal of the common core was straying too far from our subject/disciplined centered curriculum that the pubic has been schooled in. While I believe that the curriculum in our schools needs to become more interdisciplinary and problem based, it is a complex undertaking to attempt to codify those curricula models in a set of national standards — and certainly not an undertaking that will succeed with such an amateurish panel of “experts.” Having said that, I would agree with Dewey, that the subject-centered curriculum is a logical way to organize knowledge and skills, but a poor psychological strategy for developing deep understandings of disciplinary concepts and methods. The safer stance for Mr. Duncan would have been suggested guidelines for creating more meaningful curriculum frameworks and leave it to the states or professional organizations to develop those frameworks. But the mistake he made was allowing the ideology of accountability control what could have been a thoughtful process for looking at 21st century pedagogy. But the goal, for Mr. Duncan was never developing a more meaningful approach to teaching knowledge and skills, it was all about developing a set of objectives/knowledge that could be tested. Again, calling on Dewey’s wisdom, when you write curriculum you start with the child, not with the test.

“. . . developing deep understandings of disciplinary concepts and methods”

Should this really be the K-12 goal for ALL students. Isn’t that what college is for?

If the goal is deep understandings, that goal must begin early on in schooling —as primitive as that might be. In teaching freshman college students, the big shock, or that first D paper, comes with an almost total disconnect between facts and skills and the big picture of a discipline —the concepts that drive a discipline. A meaningful curriculum must be concept/relational based, not basic skill based. The frustration of reading freshman papers, with page on page of facts or procedures or copied conclusions with no feel for how those facts fit into a disciplinary structure makes those first courses so frustrating for professors and students. Again, the sophistication level of developing conceptual understandings of a discipline in K-12 might be quite low, but at least it begins a process that permits a lot of information to become knowledge (placing information into a context of major concepts in a discipline).

Alan, those freshmen in college need to unlearn their high school ELA. I blame much of this issue on the demise of the required term paper and the teaching of the writing process. The whole sale elimination or reduction of certified school librarians from school districts has also contributed to this mess. All seniors should take a college readiness class which includes a field trip to a local college library where the University Librarian can discuss some of the concepts they are lacking. The best programs have the students complete a research project in coordination with the classroom teacher, school librarian, and university librarian with frequent visits to the college libraries.

But that is only possible if the TRUE goal is college readiness.

Ny teacher, we need to be clear that “. . . developing deep understandings of disciplinary concepts and methods” is not and never was a goal of CCSS. It’s a plan for regulatory capture of the K-16 “marketplace” through mandated cradle-to-grave “accountability” to their products (and only to them).

And Alan’s answer is beautiful. This is a great discussion.

I agree completely on the teaching of concepts and ideas as being paramount; skills can of course support understanding. However to expect most teenagers to develop a truly deep understanding is unachievable. Teaching concepts has a larger goal: inspiration. When young minds are opened up to science concepts that are more amazing than fiction, a whole bunch of possibilities open up as well. When concepts and ideas trump fact in history class, young minds are taken to places that fact can never lead them. Developmental. motivational, and simple time constraints will make this impossible. The expectations for freshmen college students is way too high. College professors have to understand that their job is to TEACH. Not just hand out reading and research assignments. Yes, top tier students come in ready for this style of “education” but most do not.

Stop faulting teachers or students for not understanding what they are taught. Whys should they at age 8?, or 10?, or 12?, or 14?, or 16? or even 18? Anything an adult understands on a deeply authentic level be it the intent of Melville, the root causes of the Civil War, the origin of atoms, or the beauty of a geometric proof did not come all at once during their K-12 experience. I would be willing to bet that the inspiration to go their did.

“But the goal, for Mr. Duncan was . . . about developing a set of objectives/knowledge that could be tested”

On these grounds he has failed miserably on ELA.

Math is the confusing subject. After viewing the Pearson test, I’m so unimpressed with its cutting edge, 21st century, college-and-careeriness, that I really don’t see much difference from NCLB with the exception of a few very difficult multi-step (traditional) word problems. Would like to see Cuomo, Tisch, and King take the Day 3 Pearson math 8 – in a public forum with real time scoring. Ha.

It’s even worse than that, Alan. They “reverse engineered” the standards from the cumulative test product, with no thought whatsoever about how and when in their physiological development acquired the primitively targeted “skills” along the way.

They cut out the “orphan” activities and explorations that didn’t lead to their test, and that is indeed “where the rubber hits the road” in @louisck’s kids’ brains.

Grade 8 should provide the foundation for grade 9 algebra. CCSS grade 8 excludes solving by proportion – the most fundamental, practical, and age appropriate type of algebra. Beware the null standards. What we choose to exclude can be very detrimental.

If you really want to go one inch wide but a mile deep, you better choose the inch topics very carefully.

Fantastic interview!! Now I want to see Louis C.K. and Diane Ravitch on stage together somewhere. Quick, somebody invite him to receive an award at the next NPE conference!

This is my personal pick for best part (slight paraphrase):

C.K.: If the kids don’t do well on the standardized tests, they burn the school down. So there is a lot of pressure.

Letterman (calling back much later, at the end of the segment): Better notify the fire department!

Regarding PARCC and Pearson (from Peter Greene’s CUMUDGUCATION):

Relax and stop resisting. You will be assimilated.

Yesterday PARCC, one of the two giant consortia of high stakes standardized testing, announced that they will become part of the giant corporate beast that is Pearson. PARCC’s negotiator described the contract as having “unprecedented scale.” Pearson has promised a price cut ($24 per student, marked down from $29.50) but the scale of this product sale will be so huge. So huge. And really– if you’re producing a single standardized test for tens of millions of “customers,” what does it really cost you to produce per unit? What is Pearson’s markup on this product? I’m guessing that’s information we won’t have soon.

There were no competing bids. As Mercedes Schneider points out, we have now achieved the “economies of scale” that Bill Gates touted as one of the reasons to have education reform.

This has always been part of the point. It’s so pesky to have to deal with all those different school districts as customers. Let’s rig the system so that every customer must buy the same thing. Think of how much easier, how much more profitable the auto industry would be, if federal law mandated that we all buy the same make and model car with the same features in the same color. It would suck for us as customers, but it would be great for the corporations trying to make a buck.

Historically, robber barons love the free market until they don’t. John D. Rockefeller loved the way the free market allowed him to scarf up pieces of the oil industry until he had them all, at which point the Standard’s corporate goal was to make sure that no other players could get on the field. This has always been the pattern (a good read on that subject is Matthew Josephson’s 1934 book The Robber Barons), from Vanderbilt through Gates. Competition is healthy– until I’m big enough to crush it.

Pearson is achieving the kind of vertical industry dominance that Rockefeller dreamed of, but the Standard Oil Company fell victim to a US Congress that actually passed anti-trust laws. Pearson, like any good 21st century corporation, has nothing to fear from the US Congress. Pearson publishes the books, writes the tests, writes the programs. You may have missed this one, but Pearson now owns the GED and runs it for a profit. Pearson owns the programs for certifying teachers. And now it runs the PARCC.

So our children will learn the name of Pearson from cradle through career. All our children. And when they screw something up (as they’ve already done many times) they will screw it up for everybody. Because our children are increasingly growing up in a standardized world.

There are so many things wrong with this. So many things.

We used to complain about how the Japanese were buying our country. Then we got all patriotically incensed about how much US debt is owned by the Chinese. How about having the entire United States education system owned and operated by a British company.

Biologists have been sounding the alarm about biodiversity. Crops like bananas have been engineered down from a wealth of varieties to just one basic “version.” The lack of biodiversity is an “all your eggs in one basket” kind of threat– if something happens to that one strain of banana, the entire world’s banana crop is in danger.

Lack of economic diversity is even worse. When one banana becomes a dominant strain, it doesn’t travel the world trying to snuff out the life of other strains. But if the next Bill Gates comes along today, he will have a hell of a time getting his start-up launched. Giant corporations raise the admission fee for playing the game to unimaginable heights.

I can find you several hundred teachers who could all create better teaching and testing materials than Pearson. What I can’t find you is the giant pile of money they would need to enter the market.

If there were no other criticism to be leveled against the Common Core, if there were no other issues with that push for national standards, if the Core were actually educationally sound, this alone would still be enough reason to fight against it. The CCSS, the push for national standards, has made it possible– actually, more likely– for one giant corporation to buy American public education from top to bottom. That alone is enough reason to oppose it.

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE PLUTOCRACY

Great post and great line, NY Teacher. You nailed it!

I hope that our historian of education will give some examples of the lasting triumph of a democratic ”reform” that outlasted one that originated from a campaign comparable to that of the recent past, intent on demolishing public education. I think this movement is without precedent. Few remember the ferment of the post-Sputnik era with the new math, new physics, the disaster of the Brunerian Social Sciences curriculum or the ten plus year Aesthetic Education Program. John Dewey’s best thinking about education lingers on and is revitalized here and there in project based learning and in student councils, clubs with elected leaders, but these features of the educational enterprise are, I think, no longer common place in the very schools where they should be.

please. let this thread die.

Screw Louis DK and Dewey too.

The comments on this thread have reaffirmed my instinct to assume that anyone with a strong views about how this or that curriculum is obviously great or terrible is very likely full of sh$t.

FLERP, not a bad instinct. I don’t know the perfect curriculum. But I do know that little kids don’t need six hours of testing.

Late to comment, but this is such good news. I agree with Diane that when the curriculum becomes a national joke, it’s in trouble. Thank you, Louis C.K. for putting our issue on the national stage for a few days.

Michael, I am so sorry, it seems we were not on the ” same page”. I agree, any algebra student should be able to solve two sets of equations. By substitution, it is easy to not only find the costs of the two items, but to also check the answers to see if they are correct.

If the test you saw was that simple, everyone should have received a passing grade.

It is not so with the NYS Regents Exam in Integrated Algebra. On the January 2014 Exam, there were 30 multiple choice questions, and nine problems to solve. The students are given three hours to complete the final.

And, I hate to burst your bubble, but, yes, they need to pass this exam in order to graduate.

Over ten years ago, The NYS Regents under Commissioner Mills decided to put a little more rigor into the students lives. It seems that some college bound students were talking nonregents courses to up their cums, so, in his wisdom, he decided to require EVERYONE to take the Regents.

So, in order to graduate, the student needs to pass five regents courses. One in math (and I don’t see how you can pass Geometry or Trig if you can’t pass Algebra), one in science (usually Living Environment, but Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics are also an option), Global ( a two year course), US History, and ELA. Ironically, once the five Regents are taken, the student no longer feels the need to take any additional Regents exams, thus negating the entire process of encouraging rigor throughout high school. Sometimes the advanced students will choose an AP class over a Regents course. Very few take Physics and many opt out of the Trigonometry Regents, even if they take the course.

Some students take either/or both Living Environment and Algebra in 8th grade, otherwise they are freshman courses. Global is for sophomores, and US History and ELA are for juniors.

The Regents is offered in June, August, and January. When the weather was so bad that many of the school districts closed during Regents week this past January, quite a few savvy suburban kids went to a Buffalo High School which stayed open just for Regents students.

So, Michael, you can see how individual exams can be high stakes.

And – coming this June is the new and improved Common Core Regents Exam in Algebra and ELA. However, students have the option to take the old version of the Regents instead or BOTH. 8th graders might end up taking three math assessments – the eighth grade math, the Algebra Regents, and the CC Algebra Regents.

Michael – you just can’t make this stuff up.

My bubble? I’m talking about a specific problem I posted here from a specific test. It’s not what many assumed it is, some Common Core assessment. In fact, I got it here: http://www.impuls-tgu.org/en/news/page-125.html

Go there, click on the link, you’ll get to a page with links to the 2013 and 2012 6th and 9th grade national math exams (two parts each) from . . .

Japan.

Very interesting, Michael. Although it seems the ninth grade curriculum includes some geometry, the exam seems doable. Same with the sixth grade test – depending upon the math curriculum. However, it doesn’t speak rigor to me. I think our Regent’s exams are more difficult.

The one problem you shared was a part of the multiple choice section, not the applications part. Obviously the exam was created to allow all students to pass, not to trick them into failure. What a novel approach to learning!

Oh, and Michael, those nine questions include solving two equations using a graph, graphing two functions, finding the median using a commulative frequency table, expressing a fraction in simplest radical form, computing the amount of interest compounded annually over five years to the nearest cent, finding the surface area of a cube, solving a problem algebraically, a problem using statistics and probability, and given an angle and the number of feet a car is parked from a building, determine how tall that building is to the nearest tenth of a foot.

These problems seem challenging, yet doable for a student who has mastered algebra.

The trig exam, including advanced algebra, is much more difficult.

So what bubble of mine do you think you burst, Ellen?

Michael, you misconstrue my intent. I just wanted to answer your question and inform you about some of the problems which plague us in NYS.

The comments by Louis are small potatoes.

What I describe could be coming to a school near you.

Okay, but you should realize that I spend a lot of time looking at state, district, and soon-to-be-national tests whenever I can get my hands on them. I posted from the Japanese test without identifying the source for several reasons and got more than I bargained for on Facebook. Last night, I revealed the source because several people were really concerned that I’d gone Tea Party on them in my spare time.

Michael, you have an interesting hobby. And I enjoy your posts, even when I don’t agree with your premise.

When I look at these exams I am just grateful that I am out of the testing loop. (However, I still try to see if I can solve the problems.)