In California, the State Board of Education decides on educational standards for all students. Those standards describe what students should know and be able to do in each subject in each grade from kindergarten through high school. What the omniscient State Board says should be learned is what California students are taught. Amen.
Since 2010, 45 states, including California, have adopted the same standards for English and math. These standards, called the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), are regarded as teaching the “common core” of a discipline, alternatively regarded by many as teaching to the least-common-denominator level of students in the grade.
Jason Zimba, a writer of math standards, said the new standards won't prepare students for colleges to which most parents aspire to send their children. Taking up on the apparent relaxation of the standards, Marina Ratner opined in the Wall Street Journal that the standards are indeed even lower than that.
I saw that [the standards] were vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics. The new standards represent lower expectations and…students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college.
So, what’s the way that students are taught in the CCSS? Well, with pictures and stories. The State Board believes students learn better by pictures in the context of a narrative. Sound familiar?
Ratner continues the lament on the pictures-and-story-time teaching method: “Teachers require that students draw pictures of everything: of 6 divided by 8, of 4 divided by 2/7, of 0.8 x 0.4, and so forth” then are told to “create a story context for 2/3 divided by 3/4 and use a visual fraction model to show the quotient . . .Who would draw a picture to divide 2/3 by 3/4?”
Parents don’t need a picture to see where this is going. Their kids are not going to succeed in college, never mind getting into the good ones, by learning math to the levels of the lowest intellects in the classroom.
“The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries," Ratner noted, "just as they fail compared to the old California standards. They are lower in the total scope of learned material [and] in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects.”
California kids in school are being dumbed down by the State. What was once a leader in learning now leads its learners down the path of scholastic mediocrity. A beautiful mind is a terrible thing to waste...as if California cares a whit about that.