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Yes, Gates funded the Common Core….but struggle is a still natural part of learning

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Today’s Washington Post has a couple of interesting Common Core pieces.

This one is about the role Bill Gates has played in funding the creation and promotion of the Common Core.  It looks pretty factual to me and you get as a bonus an unedited video of the half hour interview the reporter did with Gates.  Although the education reform policies he funds are a disaster for public education, you can see from this report that the idea for the Common Core originally came from an entirely different direction and the fact that Gates has funding the standards has little to do with the quality of the standards themselves.

And to that point, here’s an oped in the Post by math teacher Austen Kassinger who, like most teachers I’ve met who have actually used the standards in their classrooms, says they’re great:

Austen Kassinger teaches second grade in Denver.

….Able to complete only five problems over the course of an excruciating evening, I begged my mother the next morning to let me stay home from school, believing that I could never show my face in math class with incomplete homework.

My mother would have none of it….Never once did my mother say, “Long division? How developmentally inappropriate. We should change the Maryland state math standards!“I wonder what would have happened if my mother had taken the approach of the comedian Louis C.K., whose tweets about his children’s homework recently went viral: “Yet again I must tell my kid ‘don’t answer it. It’s a bad question.’ ” “Who is writi[n]g these? And why?” “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!”….I sympathize with Louis C.K.’s kids. I know firsthand the intense anxiety that math assignments can provoke. But I’m certainly not sorry that they are being taught Common Core State Standards. As a math teacher, I have embraced these standards. I have seen kids solve problems I never would have thought to ask, then explain their thinking and justify their answers with pride. I have seen kids who used to hate the subject scribble, “I love math!” all over their tests. That joy is rooted in their persistence.So while I disagree with Louis C.K.’s analysis of the content of his children’s homework, that’s not what bothers me about his tweets. It’s the implicit message that kids should find something to blame when school is hard….

I hope my students have parents who react to their frustrations as my mother did, and as most parents did before Common Core became a convenient scapegoat for any academic difficulty. Teach your children that struggle is a part of learning and that, sooner or later, everyone will be the lost ball. But don’t teach them to blame the weeds.

read the whole thing at Struggle is a natural part of learning – The Washington Post.


  1. Parents, children, and school committees around the country and even in New Hampshire are really starting to get mad concerning the implementation of Common Core standards supported only by Federal Governments and State Governors who created it behind the backs of qualified people who have devoted their lives to education policy in their respective towns, cities, and regions. The Gates foundation which believes everybody in Africa and the US should be taught on a common level might be helping the bottom 30% here in the US. Problem is that it is at the expense of the top 30% who have seen their education standards watered down. North Carolina and Oklahoma have just bowed down to the revolt of parents and children and decided to not observe “common core” The tide is about to come in on this as people gradually realize that they can do something about it.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      What I get from this and similar comments is a lack of concern for the “bottom 30%,” as Mr. Gotshalk calls it. As to whether the standards level down instruction, ask a teacher.

  2. Rather than pick out a teacher or administrator who’s career is at stake and will give you the answer you want why not ask a qualified academic expert. There are quite a few out there. Just because the politicians from both sides ( in oder to get union votes) choose to believe that Common Core’s standards have “higher expectations” doesn’t mean that they do. How about a meaningful question like this one. What academic experts not funded by the Gates Foundation have stated that Common Core has higher expectations for college readiness than what states had before? A growing swell of school boards, parents and children are starting to get mad out there all across the country. Check out Oklahoma, Carolina, and next week New York.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      I get it, Mr. Gotshalk – everyone who disagrees with you is bought off in one way or another. But I never see you address the substance of the standards.

      • Common Core and everything else that is being perpetrated on our kids is not about standards. It’s about politics.

      • I have taught grades K-9, every subject including specializations in art for 10 years (I’m an oil on canvas painter) and with certifications in Instructional Tech and graphic design. i also do physical maintenance of computers as well as teaching teachers and others how to set up and use computers . My career spans almost 40 years and this politicization has been going on for about 30 of those years. Those of us who protest what is going on in the public schools in general understand that federal government should not be creating, funding or mandating anything like this. We want to save our public schools and make them truly public again, not the tools of the corporations and foundations and their respective NGOs. Charters are no better because they use tax money and have to follow these mandates just like public schools do. Unless someone gives up all that tax money and home schools their children, they cannot avoid things like what went on in Manchester at inservice training yesterday. It is shameful and insulting to teachers everywhere.

  3. mboucher75 says:

    Nicely stated Jane! I have just finished reading “Reign of Error” by Diane Ravitch. A must read for everyone in Education. Mr. Duncan if you haven’t read it yet, I will glad get you a copy. I also went to see her speak last fall when she was at Dartmouth – Truly a credit to our profession! :)

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