Common Core’s Final Legacy: Educational Malpractice and Child Abuse

Would you try to teach a newborn to walk?  Of course not.  You wouldn’t do it, because it isn’t developmentally appropriate.  It would be considered child abuse to force newborns to “persevere” day in and day out to do something their brains and bodies aren’t biologically ready to do.  It would also be child abuse to test, test, test them on their “progress.”  Then, if they fail  arbitrary “benchmarks,” identify them for “progress monitoring.”  

That’s exactly what the woefully unqualified people who wrote the Common Core State Standards expect of young children in Kindergarten through the third grade.  None of these writers were well versed in early child development.  Of the less than 30 writers, the overwhelming number were from the testing industry.  

They call the standards “rigorous.”  Experts in early child development call them educational malpractice and even child abuse.

“Young children forced to meet standards beyond their capacity resort to multiple stress behaviors, such as nail biting, finger or thumb sucking, hair twirling, physical hostility, crying, complaints of physical aches and pains, vomiting, outbursts, and withdrawal.”   See Common Core 101: Megan Koschnick.  

"The damage caused by Common Core does not distinguish between the children of Republican parents and those of Democratic parents. There should be Democratic support for HB2190 and HB2246."  Jose Borrajero  

On March 2, 2010, three months before the final CCSS (Common Core State Standards) were released, five hundred early child development experts signed their names to a written statement to the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) pleading with them to withdraw the proposed standards for children in kindergarten through grade three. See Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative 

These 500 early child development experts identified the following: 

1. Such standards will lead to long hours of instruction in literacy and math.
2. They will lead to inappropriate standardized testing.
3. Didactic instruction and testing will crowd out other important areas of learning.
4. There is little evidence that such standards for young children lead to later success.

The NGA and CCSSO paid no attention.  Neither did the Arizona State Board of Education.  Neither did former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal or the Arizona Department of Education.  Arizona adopted those standards verbatim.

Here are two of the Kindergarten standards taken directly from the CCSS, as they also appear on the Arizona Department of Education website

K.0A.A.2. Solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g by using objects or drawings to represent the problem. 

1) Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.  2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively.  3) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.  4)  Model with mathematics.  5)  Use appropriate tools.  (See ACCS Mathematics for Kindergarteners, page 10.)

K.SL.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about Kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.  A. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others, taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).  B. Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.” (See ACCS English Language Arts K-2, page 22.)

No sane elementary classroom teacher would write like this

Yet, the Arizona State Board poured over these standards for days on end before adopting monstrosities just like these.  Also, Common Core talks about how the standards are “fewer, clearer, and deeper.” As you can see with your own eyes, several objectives are bundled into one statement, and called a standard. 

Is it any wonder that it took a year to train teachers to teach Common Core?  Or why Payson Schools hired a director of Student Achievement and 4 Student Achievement Teachers to teach teachers how to teach Common Core?  Or why over 90 Arizona schools and districts have adopted Beyond Textbooks, which provides a strict calendar to keep teachers on track to ensure everybody is teaching exactly the same standard at the same time?  See Is the Use of Beyond Textbooks Violating Arizona Law?  You be the Judge

In 2013 and 2014 presentations, child psychologist Dr. Megan Koschnick points to these and other inappropriate standards, explaining why young children’s brains haven’t matured enough to “reason abstractly,” “construct viable arguments,” or “participate in collaborative” discussions.  Common Core asks small children to behave like little adults, and they are not little adults. Anyone who cares for a small child could tell you this. This is a further consequence of the Common Core lead writers’ lack of experience and professional reputation, and of its committees excluding experts in early childhood.  See Crash Course in Early Child Development and Common Core 101: Megan Koschnick.  

In October 2013, Mary Calamia, social worker and psychotherapist, testified to the New York State Assembly Education Forum

 “In the summer of 2012, my elementary school teachers began to report increased anxiety over having to learn two entirely new curricula for Math and ELA. I discovered that school districts across the board were completely dismantling the current curricula and replacing them with something more scripted, emphasizing “one size fits all” and taking any imagination and innovation out of the hands of the teachers.

“I also started to receive more calls referring elementary school students who were refusing to go to school. They said they felt “stupid” and school was “too hard.” They were throwing tantrums, begging to stay home, and upset even to the point of vomiting.

“We cannot regulate biology. Young children are simply not wired to engage in the type of critical thinking that the Common Core calls for. That would require a fully developed prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is not fully functional until early adulthood. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for critical thinking, rational decision-making, and abstract thinking—all things the Common Core demands prematurely.”

Most teachers, and even parents, walk in fear of openly criticizing the standards, afraid of retaliation from school officials

Very few have spoken out.  Brad McQueen, a 5th grade Tucson teacher, is the most well known and vocal.  He published the book The Cult of Common Core, and written many articles.  He has also testified at the Arizona legislature.  Even he was "punished" by staff members of the Arizona Department of Education

An Arizona first grade teacher allowed me to publish her experiences, but not to use her name.  (This teacher later resigned, because of Common Core.)  Here is what she had to say: 

“Each week or so we are to give first graders a test in both reading and math on Fridays. The first one I did with my kids was in math, and it took an hour. They were miserable, and they cried through most of it. This continued for the first quarter and a half until they became accustomed to what a multiple choice and open ended question was!  If I never give another assessment like this again, it will be too soon. 

“The standard says that our first graders should be adding and subtracting within 20 using modeling and various strategies. The strategies they want us to use include number bonds and more of the common core/Singapore math.  This standard is absolutely ridiculous, and it is not developmentally sound for a first grader. It is such a complicated concept….many of the teachers had a hard time understanding it…It’s so stressful”!  

“Of course there is improvement in test scores, that’s all we do all day. We drill and kill and then test, test, test!

“…it’s not kid friendly and way too much for their brains to handle. They are sucking the life out of first grade and school….”

“The students who fail these benchmarks are to be progress monitored and all tests are done on the computer and are all multiple choice. The reading test is 34 questions long”! 

Many of the nation’s top teachers are rejecting Common Core

Meet 5 Award Winning Teachers who Reject Common Core.  Nancie Atwell, Stacie Starr, Cynthia Jones, Chasidy White, and Jamie Highfill.  

Veteran teacher to resign over Common Core and SBAC: A statement from Diane Sekula, experienced educator and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer 

Kindergarten teacher: "My job is now about tests and data — not children. I quit."  Susan Sluyter.  

Teacher Slams Common Core in Resignation Letter:  "I can’t be part of the system that’s the opposite of teaching."

Utah Physics Teacher Stuart Harper Resigns over Common Core

Parents are looking at other options. 

Parents are growing weary of fighting to convince their legislators and their children’s school administrators that Common Core is both inferior and harmful to their children

The following comment is being seen with more frequency on Arizona facebook sites:

"Well, the decision has been made by my husband and I, and our children are no longer part of the public school system. We were going to wait until the new school year to start homeschooling, but since we have been getting such a negative response from our district and the ADE regarding our feelings and concerns for the AZMERIT tests, we have decided that now is the time! Please know that I will continue to fight to get rid of CC!!! This fight is not over…"

A good resource for parents who have lost faith in the public school system is the Home School Legal Defense Association.  

Also, East Valley Academy is an A rated public charter school that defiantly refuses to implement Common Core and the AZ Merit test. 

Four excellent public charters that have adopted Common Core, per state law, but continue to offer an excellent education and curricula are Adams Traditional Academy,  Benjamin Franklin Charter SchoolsHeritage Academy, and Jefferson Preparatory High School (currently offering grades 9-10, but will be adding grades 11 and 12). 

See Also:

Gosar, Franks, Salmon Advance Legislative Action to Prohibit Funding for Common Core 

Senate Republicans Vote Against Federal Common Core Funding

What is Wrong With Common Core?

Dr. James Milgram:  Common Core Math Delayed

Dr. Susan Stotsky: Common Core ELA Flaws