OPINION (Hofmann): Common Core Fails College Prep (June 2016)

Common Core Fails College Prep
By Bradley A. Hofmann (KPTP Communications Chair)
June 2016

Opinion Editorials Disclaimer: The views expressed by contributing authors may or may not reflect the official positions of the Kitsap Patriots Tea Party.  We believe in free, responsible speech and welcome hearing the differing viewpoints of our members.

ACT Curriculum Survey 2016

As many of you know, I now reside in University Place.  In my new home town, I have become involved with the local school board engaging in battles for religious liberty, financial accountability, and an end to Common Core.  In my most recent correspondence to our local school board, I highlight key elements from a new report issued on the Common Core disaster:

UPSD Board,

The 06/22/2016 board meeting includes a monitoring report on EL-15 Instructional Materials.  As the board contemplates classroom tools, please consider the new 2016 ACT National Curriculum Survey.  I will point out a few troubling Common Core indicators I identified in the report.

English (page 9): College instructors identified 5 key skills for students to acquire.  ACT reports that: “No more than about half of the college instructors rated the preparation of their entering students in the top half of the scale for any one of the five skills, with only 18% rating students’ preparation at distinguishing among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in the top half of the scale.”  Students cannot distinguish between fact and opinion?!  Common Core material leads to a dangerous relativism harmful to kids and our society as a whole.

Math (page 12): Teachers are instructing mathematical topics outside of Common Core to ensure students are prepared for the next grade level.  “One reason that elementary school teachers may be teaching these topics is that they recognize the importance of the topics to mathematical competence: One-third of these teachers also report that fewer than half of their students have an appropriate level of mathematical skills when they enter the grade.  Another reason may be that the teachers perceive that without these skills, students will be less well prepared for the demands of later mathematical courses, where they will need to be familiar with some of the omitted topics in order to do the work required in those courses.  The trend toward retaining non-Common Core instructional practices also appears to be broader than this one example.”  Eluding foundational mathematical principles to such a degree that teachers must deviate from the curriculum to meet their students’ needs leads me to conclude Common Core is an unsatisfactory curriculum for our schools.

Common Core also fails to challenge students early enough in the important skills of statistics and probability (page 18).  “While first appearing in the Common Core at grade 6, a significant portion of fourth- and fifth- grade teachers, and an average of 70% of teachers in grades 4-8, report teaching these topics.”

Science (page 23): “Although 54% of postsecondary instructors reported that at least half of their students enter their courses with an appropriate level of science skills, only 16% agreed that students enter their classes well prepared to succeed in the course … The greatest obstacle was study skills (33% of instructors), following by critical thinking (22%) and conscientiousness (18%).”  Similar to its English deficiencies, Common Core stymies critical thinking.

Workforce (page 29): The critical thinking and conscientiousness failures of Common Core have implications in the work force.  “Conscientiousness [] was rated the most likely skill area to contribute to a poor outcome, followed by problem solving.”  The moral relativism inherent to Common Core is dangerous in the age of technology. “Issues such as computer crime, intellectual property violations, and software piracy are becoming more urgent for today’s workforce … In such a context, it is encouraging that supervisors and employees share a concern with ethical use of information with respect to technology.”  Will our kids have a grounded worldview compass to also share this concern?

I encourage the board to reject Common Core and to advise the instructional materials committee to adopt curricula consistent with teaching philosophies that preceded Common Core.  With their current excellence well established, I am excited to think about how the children in our district can excel when their teachers are unhindered by Common Core and free to innovatively teach using best practices.

Feel free to plagiarize any of the above information in your dealings with Kitsap school boards in your fight to improve your kids’ education.  Also, take note of the KPTP resolution against Common Core.  The Kitsap Patriots Tea Party opposed Common Core before it was cool to oppose Common Core!

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