Sunday, October 25, 2015

Torrance Deserves More Than Common Core

The 2015 Torrance School Board election is heating up, and more parents, teachers, and voters are making their voices heard on key issur:

They do not like Common Core. Some of hate it right to the core.

I have had parents come up to me and say that they do not like the methods of teaching.

Other parents are frustrated because their kids are getting low marks for small issues.

All of the talk about critical thinking has not generated any real results.

Members of the Torrance School Board have either admitted that they nothing about Common Core, or they really like it.

Teachers individually have sounded off their criticism against CC, too.

Liberal and conservative have criticized CC:

Diane Ravitch blasted the curriculum for dumbing down reading and literature standards. At the high school level, students will be focusing on short technical passages, rather than long, broad texts. How are students going to enter the world without the mental acuity to read and comprehend long passages and texts?

Desiree Meyer of Palos Verdes has brought to more parents' attention how CC takes removes algeba from middle school curriculum and alters the timetable for college bound students to take higher mathematics by the time they graduate.

The teaching methods have frustrated a number of parents, who find that they cannot help their children. Other parents have hired tutors to help remediate their children's lack of learning in classrooms.

Massive data mining is taking place under the radar with CC. Other parents have spoken out against the heavy emphasis placed on Islam at the expense of other world religions, too.

However, the most common complaints against rejecting Common Core amounts to two issues:

1. What are we going to replace it with?

2. What are we going to do without all that money?

First, about what to do after removing Common Core.

Let's go back to the standards which Torrance Unified had before!

I spoke with Dr. Mannon directly, and he informed me that the reason why Torrance kids do so well has everything to do with the  high expectations of the parents.

They expect their children to go to school and do well.

No matter how stellar a curriculum, that will not determine with complete finality the success of our children.

High expectations and good standards do matter, of course.

Torrance Unified had great standards before. There is no reason to go to something else.

I remember as a math student at Madrona Middle School, in which my algebra teacher Mrs. Cornwell, talked about the new "College Preparatory Math" programs. Even though the curriculum seemed designed toward redefining the teacher to facilitator, Cornwell made it very clear to her eighth-graders: "I am still going to ask questions. I am still going to teach math the way I have been teaching it."

Mrs. Cornwell was a great teacher, by the way. She did not have to change her routine or skills for teaching. By the way, with Common Core in place, students will not even be taking Algebra by eighth grade!

Good teaching is about well-trained teachers and good standards. Common Core does not meet those needs.

Torrance parents and community leaders rose up against CPM and a similar curriculum, Integrated Science, which was all about displacing the teacher and putting all the teaching, learning, training on the student. I cannot tell you how many of my peers -- yes, my own peers in high school! -- complained about Integrated Science. They did not learn anything. Some students even joked about the waste of time that the class had become.

I was not prepared for AP Science classes at all, and could not take a science my junior year!

Torrance fought back against those bad standards then, and our Balanced City helped bring balance to the rest of the state, too. I took "traditional" math classes at Torrance High School, and even passed the AP Calculus test my senior year. Under Common Core, most students won't even be able to take calculus!

So, all this hype and fear about  replacing Common Core is nothing to fear. Torrance Unified had better standards then, and we can go back to them

Now to the next question:

2. What are we going to do without all that money?

Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Torrance), reminded one Torrance, CA audience that states and by extension school districts were bribed to take Common Core.

Why should we permit our school board members and staff to cave on this issue and dumb down our kids education for money?

That is a terrible excuse.

Besides, TUSD School Board candidate Clint Paulson informed one audience during a debate forum that the district already spent $3 million on Common Core materials, which the teachers would not use. What good is all this money when it;s not helping our kids in the first place?

It is time to reject Common Core, and more importantly reject the school board members who support the curriculum.

One November 3rd, 2015, vote for Clint Paulson and Rick Marshall for Torrance School Board.

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