The Tea Party is still leading the charge against the federal government's Common Core educational standards, but the cause is suddenly getting support from some teachers and some (famous) parents.
“I had students tell me they felt like they were failures. I had students cry during the exam,” Prospect Heights International High School English teacher Emily Wendlake told the New York Post. Teachers at the school are refusing to administer the standard's English test to their students, since many of the students aren't native English speakers. In a press release, the teachers said that "50% of parents have opted their children out of the test" and that "this test serves no purpose for the students, and ultimately only hurts them." That complaint is shared by Tea Partiers, who see the new standards as a one-size fits all approach to education.
In February, The New York Times reported on declining support for Common Core among New York teachers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also opposed the program, arguing that the standards were harder for students, especially ones who were struggling to begin with. (This isn't universal. Some teachers also said their students were producing higher quality work and contributing more in class.)
The state education commissioner, John B. King, Jr., acknowledged that the rollout has been "uneven," and “we could have prioritized parent engagement, and helping parents understand what the Common Core is, and is not.” One thing parents want an explanation for are the standard's math problems, something that has been criticized by the right and, this week, comedian Louis C.K.
Look at 4 of part a. And the point isn't that it's too hard. Just read #4. Please. pic.twitter.com/5bnUlaXG5b— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
(Hint: there should be a line break right before "5.") Earlier he'd tweeted: "My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!"
C.K. is not the first person to make an awkward Common Core question go viral. But as Vox's Libby Nelson explains, the reason Common Core math questions look so hard is because the curriculum is trying to teach kids to understand math beyond just the memorization of formulas. "The theory is that if students understand why they do math the way they do, they'll be able to apply their skills more flexibly," writes Nelson.
Unfortunately, that theory didn't account for a bizarre partnership between the Tea Party, blue state teachers and the star of a popular FX shows. Sometimes things don't add up.