Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Does It Add Up or Down? Part 1

Work Team, Feedback Group, & Validation Committee

The Work Team

There were 51 members listed on the Work Team for developing the Common Core State Standards. Of those 51 members, it is clear there was one actual classroom teacher listed with the possibility of one or two others. It is not evident or clear that any of the other members had any K-12 teaching experience. Phil Daro, Jason Zimba, and Hung-Hsi Wu are three notable members of the Work Team.

There is a lot of information readily available about these three individuals if one only does an online search so I will not present their backgrounds or involvement related to standards development and math education. Only a few quick snippets will be provided here.

Phil Daro can be seen on video saying, “And remember that the reason we have standards is because of the social justice agenda to make sure all kids get enough math to have a decent opportunity.” Social justice agenda? I am sure there are people who will point to social justice agenda issues both within the standards and their implementation.

Jason Zimba can also be seen on video making these statements: “The minimally college ready student is a student who has passed algebra 2.” And, “Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, UC Berkeley, whether you are going to be an engineer or not you’d better have pre-calculus to get into UC Berkeley.” Of course, as one of the main authors of the math standards he is referring to the college and career readiness nature of the Common Core State Standards.

In a presentation in October 2010, Hung-Hsi Wu began setting the stage earlier than others HHWfor blaming the teachers if the Common Core State Standards fail. He presentation states, “ But if the New Math is any guide, the Common Core Standards would fail principally because teachers don’t know the mathematics in the Common Core Standards.”

Math Feedback Group

The math feedback group did include some actual mathematicians. What it did not include were any classroom teachers. That’s right. There were no classroom teachers involved in the feedback group. I suppose that’s okay if you think teachers are unable to provide feedback. If what Hung-Hsi Wu says about teachers not knowing the math is true, it is probably a good thing teachers were not involved on the feedback group.

Validation Committee

There are 29 members listed on the Validation Committee for the Common Core State Standards. Five of those committee members did not sign off on the standards. Since this is about the math standards I put that in terms of a percent—that is 17%. Of the 29 members on the validation committee, a handful of them are math educators and only one, James Milgram, is a mathematician.

“I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on milgram1them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs. – Jim Milgram

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