Sunday, March 23, 2014

It Ain't Necessarily So

This is actually a two-part blog, one about misleading names/websites and also about the “new” math, some of which is actually at least 30 years old.

I was reading over some education blogs, as I do every day, and I saw a link to a math-related example of what Joe Public says is new, but some I actually used to teach remedial math in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The sample explanations were quite good and I was impressed with the teacher’s thoroughness in trying to explain to the parents how they were learning to solve basic arithmetic problems. I have hosted Math Nights at our school and wish I had this sheet of paper to hand out. There was no comment along with the example other than “I have no comment.” I got the distinct feeling that the person who put it up there was not happy with it. Lately online there have been many examples of people being outraged by the new methods their children are learning in school. They’re not new!

The website was called Truth in American Education. Red flags immediately went up in my mind. In my experience, organizations and websites that have “truth” or “freedom” or “patriot” or “America” in their titles, are not necessarily telling the truth, promoting freedom, showing patriotism, or espousing American ideals.  I looked around the site for clues about why this example was put up for review. I read the ABOUT section, no problem there. The subsections of the website were against the “right” things according to this liberal activist - Common Core, Race to the Top, Standardized Testing, Privacy Issues with inBloom. Nevertheless, there was a nagging feeling I was missing something. I didn’t want to recommend this site to friends and find out it was not what it seemed. I finally found a section on Homeschool/Private schools. Hmmmmm, any of the education groups I’m a member of would not be in favor of either of those. I clicked on it and found what I was looking for about 4-5 paragraphs down the page. Why they are opposed to the Common Core and the testing for homeschoolers and private schoolers:

  • *Establishes an Uneven Playing Field. The national effort will have a pervasive effect on college admissions and scholarship opportunities. Private and home school children will have to study for the standardized tests, or else be disadvantaged vis-à-vis other students. It also creates challenges for students seeking to transfer credits between private and public schools, and home school and public schools.
  • Normalizes Controversial Societal Issues: Controversial societal norms will substantially influence a national curriculum, which would in turn influence the values and beliefs undergirding the teaching-learning process. This was clearly seen in the politicization of the Texas Board of Education curriculum debate in May 2010 as the TX State Board of Education determined the standards for the social studies curriculum.
  • Threatens Autonomy of Private, Religious, and Home Schools: A national standard would jeopardize the freedoms of private, religious, and home schools to teach their students in a way which best reflects their core educational and cultural beliefs. A “standardized” method of teaching based on secular formatted standards could impose on the right to teach a child from a religious worldview, ultimately impeding on a school or parent’s mission.

The whole page can be found here:

My suspicions were confirmed. Methinks this is a right-wing conservative site which I normally would not recommend to anyone. But it is a rare fact that for once, conservatives and progressive liberals are on the same page about the Common Core and Standardized Testing. But we’re coming at it from polar opposite directions regarding education.

Tomorrow I’ll put up the example.

Still learning!

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