Home > Education, South Dakota > Some notes from the Common Core meeting in Lake Norden

Some notes from the Common Core meeting in Lake Norden

September 24, 2013
Crowd at Lake Norden Common Core event

Crowd at Lake Norden Common Core event

Last night the group South Dakotans Against Common Core held an event in Lake Norden (home of the SD Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame). The event went about an hour past its scheduled hour and a half. It was great to see the Lake Norden Community Center full of concerned citizens. As I write this post I can’t help but feel common core would never have been adapted in South Dakota if such events happened before the implementation.

Kim St. John  hosted this event for SD Against Common Core. Like many she had only heard of Common Core earlier this year. Most of crowd I spoke with last night had only heard of common core within the last year.

About an hour of the event was presented by Mary Scheel-Buysee representing SD Against Common Core. She had a lot of very good information, which is also available on the South Dakotans Against Common Core website. Mary presented way too much information for one little blog post. I will highlight just a just two of the points brought up by Mary that I hope to do future research and posts upon:

  • Implementation of Common Core is technically not Federal. However, in true DC fashion, the Department of Education (DOE) is not afraid of dangling federal dollars (taxpayer dollars) in front of states to implement Common Core. This is a pretty standard method of the DOE to nationalize education without ‘force’. (Another example is the DOE requiring schools to teach the Constitution on Constitution Day).
  • Common Core has never been tested and there is no evidence it works. As a Project Manager I cringe at such a large undertaking being done without small-scale pilot testing in a couple of school districts. Common Core may be a good idea. However I’ve seen many good ideas fail because those implementing the ideas forgot to take actual reality into account. This angle in particular I hope to do more research upon and do a true write-up.

There is much more about common core I find troubling. There will be another event coming up in Sioux Falls for those concerned about common core (not sure of the details at this time).

After Mary spoke there were four panelists in attendance to provide their views on Common Core as state legislators. Over at Dakota War College there is post from Pat Powers that includes video of the panelists statements. Here are a some key points I would like to expand upon from each panelist:

  • Representative Jim Bolin (R-16). Rep Bolin has been trying hard to slow down or stop Common Core for the last three legislative sessions. I agree with Rep Bolin that Common Core is an attack upon local control and puts a huge financial burden upon local school districts. Most noteworthy is his use of the term ‘leviathan’. That just seems to be the most appropriate term I’ve heard for Common Core.
  • Representative Jim Stalzer (R-11). Rep Stalzer mirrored the number one concern I’ve heard from anti-CommonCore people: it feels like the whole system was created and implemented behind closed doors. Considering how large of a change Common Core is bringing about in education, it is surprising how little is known in the general public about the standards.
  • Representative Brock Greenfield (R-2). Rep Greenfield compared Common Core to outcome based education. I tend to agree with Brock on the subject. I plan to do more research on this topic as well. I’ve seen outcome based education place additional burdens upon learning institutions with little or no return for the extra investments required. I believe such systems focus more on getting all students to the same destination; as opposed to getting each student to maximize their knowledge and experience.
  • Representative Burt Tulson (R-2). Rep Tulson was interesting as a panelist because he neither an opponent or proponent of Common Core. Rep Tulson did receive some negative comments for not being against Common Core. This upcoming legislative session I expect lobby groups from both sides of the debate will hound legislators like Rep Tulson to their side. If the anti-CommonCore side continues to attack him that may end up hurting the cause (I say this having made my own mistakes in attacking people, there are consequences).

Finally there was a Q&A session. This session went on for a long time. It is worth noting that there were a few teachers in attendance that felt events such as this were attacking teachers. I don’t believe this to be true. However I think Rep Greenfield did a good job of letting everyone (including these teachers) that this was not and anti-teacher event. These teachers were allowed to speak and present alternative views. Some interesting points they had include:

  • The math portions of the presentation were just ‘snippets’ of curriculum. Judging a math question without the work and education leading up to that question can be seen as unfair. The teacher may have a point, however the ‘snippet’ shown had multiple correct answers. Schools and teachers are constantly saying parent involvement is important. However I had no idea what the correct answer to the snippet in question was. How can parents be expected to help in their child’s education if the whole system has been changed on them?
  • The new math methods are called ‘investigations’. These are being implemented on a per-district basis. Common Core as a set of standards does not require use of this method. This is almost true; however almost all of the curriculum that  will meet the Common Core standards also happen to come from the same Corporations that are pushing the new math method. Yes, there is choice, however the alternative choice may be to continue using old education materials.
  • Parents must learn along with their children. I understand this point, but disagree with it. The teacher said parents may have to relearn how math is done. I am definitely all for new and improved methods. Changing how math is being done is a huge change however. Before we change how American children learn math it may be worth determining if this change will actually provide any benefits. If there are true benefits to this change I don’t think parents such as myself will have problems learning the new system.

I would like to note that the teachers speaking for Common Core were allowed to present their case. This is in contrast the event in Sioux Falls last week where concerned citizens were not allowed to ask questions that made Common Core look bad. I have a feeling this topic will become huge in Pierre during the 2014 legislative session. Hopefully I will be able to research more before then so I can lobby legislators appropriately.

PS. I heard the term “new math” a lot last night. It brought to mind a ‘new math’ movement from the 1960’s and this classic song from Tom Lehrer (the relevance of this song seems even greater now):

PPS. One Tom Lehrer song just isn’t enough. Here is another education based song for anyone that wants to learn the chemical elements.

  1. September 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Tom Lehrer recorded that song in 1965. what was New then is old now, so it really isn’t applicable to common core

    • Ken Santema
      September 24, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      I realize they are two completely different movements. Just added it as a PS because it came to mind, and some of the arguments used in that movement are similar to those used now.

  2. Reagan Republican
    September 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Very good Ken. This was very educational. Those were great videos too!

  3. September 30, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Reblogged this on Adventures with Robotzilla.

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