Common Core: Pushing Kids to be Smarter or Just Making Them Work Harder?

As Fresno Unified prepares to elect a new superintendent, and local charter schools continue to gain support, reporters Aqeela Starks and Danyeal Escobar sat down to discuss their own individual experiences in school. Starks, a senior at Big Picture High School, and Escobar, a junior at Edison High School, quickly realized that their experiences had one thing in common. Both had struggled, and seen their peers and families struggle, with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

When the Common Core education standards were first adopted in 2014, they were promoted as a way to improve students’ critical thinking skills in subjects like math and language arts. But three years in and most of our friends and peers come up with different language to describe it: confusing, useless and unnecessary.

Some even refer to CCSS as garbage.

Speaking with siblings and friends, most of them said they hate Common Core, and that it makes them feel stupid. They don’t understand how, for example, their problems can be marked wrong even if they get the right answer.

Under Common Core a typical math problem looks something like this: “What is 4×6”. My own brother brought an assignment home where he had written “4×6=24” – yet his answer was marked wrong because he wrote 6+6+6+6=24 instead of 4+4+4+4+4+4=24.

What a great way to make children like math!

Instead of focusing on the fun parts of school like making slime, growing plants and being more sociable in class, all students like my brother worry about is why their right answers are being marked wrong.

To us, it seems like Common Core has taken all the fun out of school.

And it’s not just the students who feel this way. We sat down with teachers from both of our schools and the common response was that they don’t have enough time to do “fun” activities in class anymore, so they end up having to send the fun projects home to give students a break.

On top of costing participating states billions of dollars, there is also no definitive proof that CCSS is improving school’s ranks. So what exactly are the pros to CCSS?

Danyeal and I definitely don’t see any for students or for parents. I watch my mom day in and day out struggling with my younger siblings; trying to help them understand these new standards while still trying to understand them herself.

Aqeela Starks and Danyeal Escobar.

Seeing this stress all of the time, Danyeal and I talked to other parents who have struggled to help their kids with Common Core. We weren’t the least bit surprised when almost all of them had the exact same complaints.

Our parents’ generation wasn’t taught Common Core, so now they have to learn Common Core in order to help their children. What kind of crap is that?

Our parents have to work hard every day to keep the lights on and food on the table. They don’t have time to stress over something as ridiculous as why 6+6+6+6=24 is wrong but 4+4+4+4+4=24 is right.

That’s why everybody we talked to asked, “Why is my child suddenly failing Math and English?” Unfortunately when that happens, there is one simple answer in parent’s minds.

The teachers.

Teachers aren’t completely innocent, but they shouldn’t get blamed for having to comply with state standards or face losing their jobs. As it is, teachers don’t get enough respect or compensation for all of their hard work, and now they are taking the beating for the “one size fits all” teaching methods they have no choice but to follow.

And speaking of this “one size fits all” method, what exactly does that mean?

Well, Common Core’s main focus is Math and English. So that means bye bye Bill Nye, away with history and don’t even think about picking up that paintbrush, Jimmy.

For instance, remember how History class taught us about our past and science taught us about the many magical wonders of the world?

Well that’s not happening anymore.

But don’t worry, the CCSS has it covered. Now students will be taught history, science, social studies and technical studies all in English class through historical text, governmental text and scientific text. Sounds like fun, right?

And that definitely means there is no more time for any of the arts. Instead of creative writing and educational fiction, students now get inane and unsolvable questions like:

“If I have ten ice cubes and you have eleven apples how many pancakes can fit on that roof?”

Do you even want to guess the answer? Probably not, but the answer is purple because aliens don’t wear hats.

As a student who just missed the CCSS, I can’t believe how people allowed these ridiculous standards to be implemented. Or how parents are so content to struggle and watch their children struggle.

The goal for these standards might have been a good one, but it is absurdly clear that the goals and the actual execution do not match up.

No matter what their intentions, the flawed implementation and practices have parents, students and teachers putting up the middle finger to Common Core.

Aqeela Starks (she/her/hers) on Instagram
Aqeela Starks (she/her/hers)
WHO IS SHE? Aqeela Elisha Amani Latrice Starks is 18 years old and graduated from Big Picture high school Class of 2017. She loves spending time writing and drawing. When she’s not doing that she spends hours playing The Sims 3 and 4 and watching Netflix.

DID YOU KNOW? She can’t go a day without coffee, loves sour candy and her favorite color is blue.

FEATURED AREA: Writing, Event Coverage and Instagram.
Danyeal Escobar (she/her/hers)
WHO IS SHE? Danyeal Escobar is 16 years old and a junior at Edison high School. She loves to capture memories through photographs. She's a dreamer of food, a sky enthusiast, a secret princess and the future owner of a red panda (or maybe she'll settle for a cute dog). She plans to continue her passion for writing and photography in college.

DID YOU KNOW? Danyeal hopes to one day write for a major cosmetic or fashion company's blog, like her cousin who inspires her.

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