3 Examples That Show How Common Core Is Destroying Math Education In America

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Whenever you let federal bureaucrats get their hands on anything they are probably going to ruin it.  During the Obama administration, the Department of Education spearheaded a transformation of American education that was absolutely breathtaking.  Over a period of about five years, Common Core standards were implemented in almost every state in the entire nation.  Unfortunately, this has resulted in a huge step backward for public education in this country.  Common Core has been called “state-sponsored child abuse”, and it is a big reason why U.S. students are scoring so poorly on standardized tests compared to much of the rest of the world.

According to Wikipedia, at one point 46 states had adopted Common Core, but now some states are having second thoughts…

46 states initially adopted the Common Core State Standards, although implementation has not been uniform. At least 12 states have introduced legislation to repeal the standards outright,[1] and Indiana has since withdrawn from the standards.

Sadly, many parents don’t even understand how dramatically our system of education has been tampered with.  In her book entitled The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids, Joy Pullmann exposes how the Gates Foundation has been one of the key players in the effort to get Common Core introduced into classrooms all over America…

Organized in seven chapters, her book describes how the Gates Foundation promoted and continues to promote one extremely wealthy couple’s uninformed, unsupported, and unsupportable ideas on education for other people’s children while their own children are enrolled in a non-Common Cored private school. It explains how (but not exactly why) the Gates Foundation helped to centralize control of public education in the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains why parents, teachers, local school boards, and state legislators were the last to learn how the public schools their local and state taxes supported had been nationalized without Congressional knowledge or permission; and why they were expected to believe that their local public schools were now accountable for what and how they teach … not to the local and state taxpayers who fund them or to locally-elected school boards that by law are still supposed to set education policies not already determined by their state legislature … but to a distant bureaucracy in exchange for money to their state department of education to close “achievement gaps” between unspecified groups.

But this isn’t just an issue about control.  The truth is that the approach to teaching basic fundamentals such as how to add and how to subtract is fundamentally different under Common Core.

Let me share just three examples that show how much Common Core is changing the way that U.S. students learn math.  All of these examples have been floating around Facebook, and if you have never seen these before they are likely to make you quite angry.

If I asked you to subtract 12 from 32, how would you do it?  Well, the “new way” is much, much more complicated than how we were all taught to do it…

If that first one seemed bizarre to you, than you really aren’t going to like this one…

And this last one was so confusing that a parent with a degree in engineering decided to include his own commentary on his child’s homework…

How are kids supposed to function in the real world if this is how they are learning to do basic math?

Personally, I am going to teach my daughter that 9 + 6 equals 15.  But that isn’t how it is supposed to be done under Common Core.  You can watch a video of a teacher explaining the very convoluted Common Core way to solve that math equation right here.

And of course it isn’t just math that is the problem.  Common Core is systematically “dumbing down” our young people, and that may help to explain why the average U.S. college freshman now reads at a seventh grade level.

So what is the answer?

The first step in fixing our education system is to repeal Common Core.  But even in red states such as Idaho there is a lot of resistance

Since their inception, the Idaho Core Standards have been enmeshed in controversy.


Some legislators and citizens have pushed for a repeal of the Idaho Core Standards, the state’s version of Common Core standards in math and English language arts. Those repeal efforts have gone nowhere in the Legislature.

I don’t know what is wrong with our legislators.  The Republicans have full control in this state, and so there is absolutely no excuse for not getting something done.

As I end this article, I want to give you an idea of just how far the quality of education in America has fallen over the past 100 years.  In Kentucky, an eighth grade exam from 1912 made a lot of headlines when it was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum.  As you can see, it is doubtful whether many of our college students would be able to pass such an exam today…

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Anopheles's picture


It's a Rube Goldberg machine for MATH!!! 

GUS100CORRINA's picture

3 Examples That Show How Common Core Is Destroying Math Education In America

My response: We have fought against COMMON CORE where I live. People have absolutely no conceptual idea what is going on with COMMON CORE and how it will DESTROY EDUCATION of OUR CHILDREN. 

Guess who is behind COMMON CORE? BILL and MALINDA GATES of MICROSOFT FAME. WARREN BUFFET and ZUCKERBERG of FB FAME have also used some of their great wealth as well to support this crap.

Truly sad. They are making slaves out of Americans both intellectually and financially.

HowdyDoody's picture

aka accountancy math

4 + 4 = whatever you would like it to be (for tax purposes, natch).

knukles's picture

You want fucked up here's Common Core's end


So nice not being a modern drone

American Psycho's picture

Fucking A Knuckes.  That was a  great laugh.  +1 sir.

SMG's picture

Common Core's real purpose is to keep the peasants confused and ignorant, and therefore easier to control and cheat.   We need to start hanging Oligarchs.

AVmaster's picture

What's even more sad is it appears that the teacher wrote a question mark on the "Jack" answer...


The teacher is as stupid as what she/he/it is teaching???

philipat's picture

And going back even further, we used to be drilled into performing such simple math questions mentally (imagine that!), which I and my ("old") generation still can. Even my kids (who went to top private schools) and their generation are absolutely hopeless at mental math and need a calculator, usually on a phone, for even simple calculations. Even in my generation, I would be in budget meetings sometimes and come up with a solution to a calculation in my head before the rest of the group could reach to their computers. They found me strange, like some sort of "Rain Man" or something.

The "old" process all started with the thorough learning of the "Times Tables", a process which included tests of the whole class involving standing in  line down the side of the room and going down the line with  "Times table" questions and anyone who got an answer wrong would move to the end of the line. Imagine that. How "competitive" and politically incorrect, it just isn't fair to those kids who always finished at the bottom of the line!!

IMHO there was nothing wrong with the "old" approach because these basics are the building blocks for everything. If our kids can't master the basics, the whole process breaks down. But I suspect they know that already......like political correctness itself, it is all about control and specifically having the masses control themselves because "the elites" are too small in numbers if push came to shove.

Son of Loki's picture

Common Core creates dumbed down voters who will vote Democrat.

Zero_Ledge's picture

I agree there are plenty of negatives with common core, but there are also about an equal amount of positives. I have a 13 year old who has learned some things well beyond what I knew at that age.  (I was excellent at math and ultimately became an engineer.) I think most of the common core issues are with basic math in lower grades.  I've seen plenty of recent examples where I wished that I learned the common core method.  One example is factoring polynomials using the "area" or "box method".  It's far more logical than the "guessing" method I was taught.

Just sayin'.



MonkeyKnutz's picture

I have to kind of agree.   I am good at math, land surveyor, and my daughter is a common core test subject.  I can see the benefits, but they definitely need a solid founding.  They are trying to teach them to run before they can walk.

Grumbleduke's picture

never heard of common core in my school days, but until today I use some of it.

Subtractions are a little more difficult then additions for me: 13 - 7 or 21-5 for example.

Calculating in my head it goes like this: -3+3=6 or for the second one -1+15=16

Looks completly idiotic and false, I agree - in the later stages you would write it like this to be accurate: |-3|+|3|=6 if I remember correctly (old fart that I am)

Maghreb's picture

Sounds strange but it may work out better. Could also be much more sinister than dumbing down. Looks like that kid was breaking the numbers down into primes or single didigt integers before adding. An odd way to look at such a simple problem but could be a step in the right direction when kids are exposed to far more complex mathmatical equations where numbers do not really represent "things" but relationships to other numbers.

Could be an economic angle as well.Different mathmatical systems naturally influence peoples perception of material reality. I always had a suspicion that the Imperial system was inflation proof because most of the ratios were actually fixed around objects grain, wood, water. Imperial measurments of alchohol are based on a ratio to see whether your drink was strong enough to be flammable. The whole rational was to stop sailors getting suspicious their rum rations were being watered down. Try scamming pissed of sailors with a system that simple. Hard to create inflation when everything is weighed and measured. The whole system appears to favour barter.

There was a massive backlash against the much easier decimal system invented and popularized during the French revolution. It was rational and easy to use but made it easier to dupe people. I don´t see how fiat or floating exchange mechanisms could exist without decimal points. It might also tire out the computers working on it making the global economy far more complex.

The politics behind math is probably as dangerous as the politics behind language. Remember reading how the sage pythagoras had men killed for even mentioning the square root of 2. Nerd rage always goes the same way.

Knowing gates and Zuckerberg its probably just for the money. I think Microsoft made as much money training IT engineers as it did selling the software. Common Core might be a way for them to seamlessly step into the education industry when the IT bubble goes to shit. Gates already has ties to the college board. These nerds got it sewn up......

Bungbo's picture

People laugh at them, but those goddamn bastards down in Texas never adopted Common Core.  Guess them sons of bitches are fucking smarter than we thought.  Who woulda thunk it?

Maghreb's picture

Might be. But Gates has ties to the college board. He might push to have the exam changed to have questions that support this kind of thought process......


Sokhmate's picture

Speaking of competitive (comment on philipat): I'm not a teacher by profession. I volunteered to teach a language class for kids 6-9 years of age - all foreigners. My strategy was to evoke their competetiveness against each other to the max. If a student made a mistake, I'd ask the rest what that student's mistake was. I'd correct each of them in front of the entire class. Early in the class, one girl was brought to tears multiple times by the public display of her mistakes. Each time she cried I told her you are here to learn, not for me to pat you on the back. By the end of the class, her father stated that he's seen tremendous improvement in his daughter's language skills.

My class sessions were very interactive. No student could hide. I found the approach above motivational to the students.

Luc X. Ifer's picture

I agree. The present and the future is *math* applied trough computing, the ones who are very good at it have and will make good income in the future - the others, good riddance, useless cattle.

caconhma's picture

It reminds me the old Soviet joke:

At an International dental convention, dentists from different nations were bragging about their advances in dentistry:

- A French dentist stated that they are capable of making man fillings with such an aroma that a woman dating this man cannot resist and was ready to have sex right-away

- A US dentist stated: it is nothing. We are making dental bridges with such digital capabilities that just clicking their teeth one can get the latest WallStreet info

- A Soviet dentist stated that EU and US advances in dentistry are nothing. He added that in Russia we remove wisdom teeth through an asshole.

All EU and US dentist were impressed with such incredible surgical skills but one has asked the Russian dentist: Why do you do this way? The Russian dentist proudly replied: well, we do everything this way through assholes. It is our way of doing everything!

cheeseheader's picture

With ya Phil....


I believe it was either 4th or 5th grade we had to know our times tables up to 20.   Nowadays, I wow guys at work with addition/subtraction using decimals and/or fractions.   Helps to have known all the 'teenies' from fractional option prices from long ago.



Lost My Shorts's picture

This math is not common core.  It has no connection to common core.  It's just a weird approach to math.

Common core is just a set of standards regarding what students should know at each grade level.  It does require the ability to use "bar models" or something similar to illustrate adding and subtracting, but does not require any of the methods mentioned above.

Common core does have some abstract aspects.  For example, it says a second grader should be able to solve 3 + __ = 8 as well as 3 + 5 = __.  But it's generally flexible on algorithms used for arithmetic.

max_leering's picture

Knuk, I haven't laughed so hard in awhile... Bollocks!!



philipat's picture

Hilarious. But the disturbing thing is that this is what passes for "normal". 

Implied Violins's picture

Holy shitfuck.

I think I've found a new hobby. The only thing I'd add is a touch of nitrous oxide.

goober's picture

Good example. Just another of the many ways to mind fuck the populace and keep them fat, dumb and lazy. Everything government touches turns to shit in very short order ! If anybody cannot grasp that simple fact from experience and observation, you too are one of the zombies created ! Just a clue.

How many minds have been destroyed by various means by government ? As well how many physical bodies and spirits ? That number is countless when you consider all the stimuli and chemical compounds forced on the masses in their food and what many call their medicine. Even our water is toxic and many times the air we breathe. And what has government done to fix any of it, besides help enable more of the same in a myriad of ways. More regualtions that don't work, while allowing the sellers of opioids and other compounds to sell ever more and avoid any prosecution.

When BHO first came on the scene, a person 18 years old is now near 30. How many zombies were created in that decade ? That should be a common core sociology or political question ! We have only just begun to see tha massive damage deliberately done by these maniacs ! They are simply control freaks of the highest order and in every perspective.

FoggyWorld's picture


Interesting though that the Gates parents do not send their children to schools that teach common core.  

Why aren't our children worthy of receiving the same sort of instruction as their little darlings are?

Creative_Destruct's picture

My wife is a teacher. These Common Core math methods and the rest of CC are the end result of decades and decades of Education Department encouragement and financial support of flaky academic "learning theories" in the socialist-statist academic "community."


philipat's picture

Perhaps for similar reasons that Congress exempted itself from Obamacare?

logicalman's picture

My approach was to ignore the whole schooling thing.

When my kids were with me I educated them in many areas.

It's easy to get a kid interested in numbers if you make it fun.

My dad taught me how to add columns of figures by making it a challenge.

He'd often do work at home involving lots of arithmetic and he'd give me a page of figures and he said he'd give me sixpence if I could add it up faster than him and still get the right answer. I'm pretty sure he let me win one every now and again, just to keep me trying, but not enough to give the game away!

I'm not fast, but I can multiply two 3-digit numbers in my head, thanks to my old man!


swmnguy's picture

That was smart of your dad.

All the hullabaloo about Common Core is bullshit promoted by the Michele Rhee-type corporate interests who see that K-12 education money is the last pot of gold in America that hasn't yet been subsumed by corporate finance interests.  They want to reduce curriculum to a rote list, and teachers to low-paid service employees.

Teachers have been doing this since the dawn of education.  Any decent math teacher has an arsenal of methods to teach kids how to do math.  Many kids think they're not good at math, don't "get it," and aren't smart, because the main method taught doesn't make sense to them.  So a good teacher uses many different methods.

When I was very young, I got the hang of negative numbers, because we lived in a place where it got cold enough that understanding negative numbers was key to knowing how cold it was outside.  I learned that before I learned basic arithmetic.  I didn't "get the hang" of the "borrowing" technique you use if you have to subtact, say, 15 from 21.  I came up with my own elaborate system of adding negative numbers.  I don't remember exactly how I did it, but it worked for me and I got correct answers.  Eventually the "borrowing" technique made sense to me and that's how I've done it ever since.

I know an awful lot of teachers.  They find Common Core to be perfectly sensible techniques, though presented with the usual wrapper of bureaucratic bullshit one finds in every single hierarchical authority system.  What Common Core is absolutely not is some nefarious scheme.  Not all kids learn the same, so teaching them all the same is stupid, and the true recipe for failure.  But it would be very efficient and allow for clear revenue streams and profit centers, so the corporatizers hate Common Core and love rote bullshit.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

This " counting up" method is only good for making change in transactions. Working in fast food as a kid in the late 1970s you had to do this quickly because the registers were manual and didn't do the math for you. So if the order total was $5.26 and I was handed a ten, I counted up 4 pennies 2 dimes, 2 quarters and 4 ones. Usually I would ask for .26 to make it easier. I can't see how teaching this method would be better than learning basic arithmetic.

Perhaps if children learn by different means they should be taught the classic method first and then exposed to other theoretical methods if they have a problem understanding concepts.

I flunked cuisenaire rods in kindergarten. I just made corrals out of them for my plastic horses. My mother was informed I was apparently an epsilon semi moron mathematically. Somehow I managed to scrape by.


goober's picture

The best policy in every matter and event is KISS, and this is not KISS ! This is just another control mechanism that has already failed juist like BHO care. The simple proof is in the stats worldwide as well as here in USA of achievement, aptitude and proficiency. USA keeps going lower not higher, that should tell you something ? I do agree it is not all caused by common core, but it is a factor among many others. And it is all very deliberate.

francis_the_wonder_hamster's picture

"It's easy to get a kid interested in numbers if you make it fun."

Bingo!  An ex-girlfriend had a niece who was struggling with math.  She loved hamburgers.  I had her figure out how many burgers could be made from one cow.  "Is this burger about twice the size of a quarter pounder?", "How much do you think a cow weighs?", "what %of the cow is used for burgers?".  It sounds stupid, but it taught her critical thinking and she recently graduated from a UC school with a non-worthless degree.

Personally, I learned math from the back of baseball cards.


PS.  French fry math was almost as fun as hamburger math.

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ GUS,


Problem solved.

918pigpen's picture


They want Obedient workers. just smart enought operate the machinery but not smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how bad they are getting Fucked!

Sound Familiar??


George Carlin Classic!!!

It's a big club and you ain't in it!

goober's picture

Carlin was spot on and again this is as well !  https://youtu.be/iO7KuOLVMk0   gets right down to the real nitty gritty of all of it and incredibly inciteful of todays events and matters we are all faced with in spades, a work of genius !

HRClinton's picture

Komon kor maff hurts my hed!

I lern reel maff from my street boss.

JuliaS's picture

I'm going to go completely against the tide here. Feel free to correct me on any of my statements. I'm a mathematician and a programmer (among many professions) and worked at a math department at a university in 2000, developing Pi visualization programs in UNIX.

I was taught classical math. I never even knew what common core was until today, quite honestly - until I read this article and started googling it. My daughter goes to school and learns old-style math. She has no idea what common core is.  However I discover that the way I always did calculations in my head is close to what is known as common core.

The number sense to me is when you write an algo and tweak variables to achieve desired result. You do little incremental steps in your head to determine which direction the number should drift to indicate you've written the code correctly. Calculus to me is the same sort of deal. You never get an exact number but produce a virtual point towards which the answer gravitates without ever physically reaching it.

When you program... say, a self balancing robot, you can code without knowing friction coefficients, gravity, acceleration (by that I mean knowing what effect they have without processing actual measurements). You can tell the robot how to correct its orientation in very similar fashion to common core. Small, processing optimized steps that will tell the program which way the mechanism has to compensate to remain upright. Then you can extrapolate data backwards. You can find out what all the magic numebrs were.

Conversion of decimals to hex and binary, which I can do in my head after decades of programming, to me is very similar to common core. I can understand why the Gates family would be behind something like this because to me conventional math always felt impractical.

  I recall someone saying that formulas allows math-illiterate people to do calculations without understanding what's going on under the hood. Is that useful? Under certain conditions it is - when you need to know how much tax you owe on a purchase, for instance. Who cares what the numbers mean. A quick result, indeed, is all that's needed.

Do I agree that common core approach is nonsensical and overly complicated, or that it destroys the education system? I don't think so. I'd say that it's the wrong thing to teach to people who don't understand math to begin with. It will confuse them more. Plugging numbers into slots is easier and lets people function, even if they don't like numbers. The question to ask is what we want people to do - be able to do math without understanding it, or being able to understand it, without necessarily being able to apply any of the skill in practice?

I see the appeal of both methods and although it looks like classical math is simpler, due to having fewer scribbles on paper, but to a mathematician such as myself, it's like saying that Japanese is a superior language because most words can be expressed with just 2 syllables.

In the modern world, machines do all the counting and thinking for us. Do we succumb to it and give up on mathematics, or do we start processing it in machine-like fashion. The way computers calculate things internally is more similar to common core. It is also a way to visualize things. Classical math will not always give you a mental picture of the process and won't expose ways to optimize code. Your math will be as good as the number of formulas you've memorized from textbooks. Common core turns every operation into a mental image and that's how I saw numbers all my life, even before a concept of "common core" existed.

To me personally common core approach is superior, but I don't think it's how you should be starting to learn math.

... and there is one more but. There is no fixed formula for the way I calculate. Every problem produces its own path. Any mathematician that shares my mindset would have a different explanation of how they get to solutions. Every programmer I work with, codes in their own signature fashion. Turning common core into a textbook instruction that is essentially a fixed formula for a floating target is wrong. You're teaching one person how to think like another person, instead of thinking for themselves. I say, show them old math. Let them know how to check for correct answer and then let them find an alternate path.

JuliaS's picture

Metaphorically speaking, common core to classical math is what a software engineer is to a coder, or a car mechanic to a vehicle driver. Each one has a job to do and they're not mutually exclusive, in contradition to the vibe I'm getting from the article and through the comments.

Lore's picture

Bravo, Julia!  "Conventional math always felt impractical... [Common core is] the wrong thing to teach to people who don't understand math to begin with. It will confuse them more."

I look back on high school math class as a very insecure, unsatisfying and dreary time of memorization and blind, stupid luck. Most of my group scored okay, but we saw no PURPOSE. I remember wishing that the teacher would spend more time addressing PURPOSE but knowing in my gut that to say so would be unwise.  It wasn't until years later that an incident involving quadratics and some other things brought me to a "EUREKA" moment. 

I suspect that many young people struggle with math because MANY TEACHERS DON'T REALLY GRASP THE PURPOSE EITHER.  They too just scraped by in their studies through "tricks," cheating, memorization and the ability to hide their lack of understanding behind pre-scripted lesson plans and approved sound bites. For teachers and students, it's a tragedy with lasting and potentially far-reaching and dangerous consequences. 

A free society is one where people are encouraged to think independently and critically and communicate clearly to express complex, incisive ideas.  To that end, good education in the fundamentals of reading and writing is essential.  In that context, a PURPOSE-DRIVEN problem-solving approach to mathematics can be regarded as a critical component of literacy. 

Bob's picture

Indeed.  If this long line of commentors plus the author himself are truly unable to understand the common core math example above, there's your evidence of damage they suffered from rote methods as children that left them without a fundamental grasp of math. 

JuliaS's picture

Lore, you reminded me of my high school math teacher who once showed the class a fairly complicated formula that not a single person, including myself, could understand. We asked him how something like that would be useful in life and he replied: "If you ever become a math teacher, you'll get to pass it on to others."

That to me this illustrates one of the reasons why the education standards decline. People who don't understand the subject being allowed to teach.

mkkby's picture

Julia, I agree with many things you wrote.  Common core is not the way to learn math, but it is closer to how I do math in my head.

Teachers should start with the principals of math.  Then do calculations by both methods and have students explain why they both work, in terms of those principals.

In college there were formulas I could not remember at test time.  But because I understood principals, I was able to derive the formulas and get by.  Someone who only remembers formulas will get into situations where they won't know which one to apply.

HisNameIsRP's picture

It has been purposly "con"voluted so you can't teach your kids.  Now you need these suck ass teachers, and they keep their phony balony jobs.

DCFusor's picture

"Public service" is just a jobs program for people just barely capable enough to make even more trouble if they had the free time granted by welfare?

totenkopf88's picture

I thought Orange Jesus was going to get rid of Common Core? Just more self-serving BS to get him in the WH.

Zero_Ledge's picture

Orange Jesus is going to solve all problems.  He is going to put classrooms on top of the wall.  Then kids will learn math good.  Real good. Believe him.  He is very smart.  Even smarter than astronauts.  Trust him.

Billy the Poet's picture

No one every considered Trump to be an Orange Jesus except those who hate him. It's your silly delusion and no one else's.

techpriest's picture

I've been to meetings with curriculum boards - these people do not teach kids and do not have a clue as to whether or how their policies work. Also, pardon the stereotype but they are all loud middle aged women who make up their lack of a clue with smug snobbery.

And after that, $20 lunches on state-funded P cards!

BidnessMan's picture

Those that can, Do
Those that can't, Teach
Those that can't teach, Teach Education

Rick Cerone's picture

A computer doesn't know how to carry the one. Therefore, your child must be taught how to think like a computer. Computers are going to have feelings soon, and we don't want to offend them with old fashion math.