Your Common Core Story


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A Parent Speaks out In District 205 (Elmhurst)

Posted May 27, 2013


Posted May 19, 2012

A Teacher’s Story

I am a teacher in Cook County. I have taught for over 20 years.  I am vehemently opposed to these standards. I was told by my principal that my questioning these standards is unprofessional and that I should just be quiet about it. I argued that in the past (who knows now) we have taught children to question what they don’t understand.  The principal implied that I’m supposed to sit down and accept this. I also reminded the principal that I have done all that is asked of me on my job concerning common core despite my disdain for it. I might add that this can be quite difficult at times.

The money is already being spent on professional development days to align present curriculum with CCSS. Every teacher in my district has spent two days out of the classroom to do this. The money spent on substitute teachers is astronomical. My district cannot afford the technology or textbooks that will soon follow.

Most teachers simply feel this is another flash in the pan. They only know what they are told. At lunch the other day a colleague told me that there is a lesson plan website where you can just paste common core lessons. Creativity in teaching is not encouraged. I was met with ‘surprise’ when I stated that I can come up with my own, better strategies for teaching based on the students’ learning style. There is a movement towards identical instruction for every kid.


this story was updated on May 10, 2013 - Wayne, Illinois

How I spoke out when I was banned from volunteering at my children’s government-run school

Click HERE to watch the video

I was banned from volunteering by Wayne Elementary’s principal and spoke out publicly at the school board meeting in the hopes that I could be re-instated as a volunteer parent.  I have two daughters that attend the school, one in 1st grade and one in 2nd grade.

The circumstances that led to my banning are these:

Incident 1: My husband, wrote a letter (text can be found here: to my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher concerning the movie “An Arctic Tale” that had been shown in class. Narrated by Queen Latifa and produced by the producers of “An Inconvenient Truth”, it presents man-made global warming as established fact. We objected to this being taught to 2nd graders. When I asked the teacher if she received the letter and would like to discuss it, she responded angrily that “No, I really wouldn’t.” She ultimately e-mailed a non-response that stated that the film fit in with “Common Core and vocabulary,” and referred us to the principal.

Incident 2: Both daughters began receiving homework from the “Second Step” program, designed to teach “empathy and emotion management”. We objected to the school crossing over into a realm that should be reserved for parents. Upon further investigation I learned that the “Second Step” curriculum is provided by “The Committee for Children”, “a nonprofit working globally to promote children’s social and academic success.”  The organization has an entire page dedicated to LGBT issues (see: I believe there are many parents who would find it objectionable that U-46 is purchasing curriculum from this organization. When, at the end of my volunteering time, I said to the teacher, concerning “Second Step”, “I’m not super comfortable with…” I was cut off with, “Fine, whatever.”

Incident 3: Our 1st grader’s class was instructed to read aloud the poem “Earth Day” (by Jane Yolen). The first stanza begins “I am the Earth and the Earth is me”, and continues from there.  The poem constitutes earth worship and pantheism. I wrote a respectful letter to the teacher asking her to consider our objection when choosing future curriculum. The principal told the teacher not to respond to us; that the principal instead would.

Meeting 1 with principal, April24: The end result here was that I was banned from volunteering because I had been spreading “negativity”, since I had forwarded my husband’s letter to two other teachers, and because I had attempted to address some of my curriculum concerns with the teachers during my volunteer time. I went home and composed a blog detailing these events. (Blog can be found here:

Meeting 2 with principal, April 26: The principal had asked for another meeting with us, suggesting that an agreement could be reached. Instead of discussing an agreement, the principal informed me that she had found my blog and was contacting her legal department concerning it. As of tonight, no further communication has been received from the principal and that is where this issue now stands.

After speaking out at the school board meeting, the principal reversed the bann and I have been invited back as a volunteer at school events.


April 27, 2013 - Lombard, Illinois

I am a grandmother who is very involved with my grandchild and I help with homework after school.  Because of this, I have a lot of contact with the teacher.  His teacher is a young, energetic woman who really cares about my grandchild.  I asked her if I could get a list of the schoolbooks that will be used next year.  She asked me why and I told her that I had been reading about Common Core and that I was not pleased with the confusing math book that was used this year.  We talked about how if the math was not strung out with all these different examples and didn’t push this bizarre ‘PC’ agenda with all the word problems and pictures, my grandchild would love math.  I think that the math book is designed to make the math problems as tedious and confusing as possible.

If I don’t like the math text book for next year I am going to do something about it.

This poor young teacher agreed to provide a list and then whispered to me “please do help us!”  This is just awful that the teachers are being forced to teach this nonsense even when they know that the materials are not really that good.  I bet she quits teaching which would really be a loss for the school.  She is not the only teacher who has made comments like this to me.


April 18, 2013 - Villa Park, Illinois

My son is in third grade.  He studies and does his homework.  However, he cannot spell well enough to write a simple sentence of basic words.  It frustrates my son because he knows what he wants to write but cannot spell the words correctly.

I have talked to my teacher about his spelling.  She sadly told me that spelling is not ‘emphasized’ in the core curriculum.  She then explained that he would learn keyboarding in 4th grade and that computer spellcheck would correct his spelling.  WHAT!  Kids don’t need to spell anymore because of the spellcheck on computers!

My son seems to be learning math concepts well; even though the new common core math books are very hard to understand and seem to unnecessarily complicate math concept.  Apparently, Common Core math tests emphasize his ability to race though his work as quickly as possible.  I have seen the tests; the children are rated on how many problems they can solve in under 5 minutes.  The goal is to complete 85+ problems in under 5 minutes.  That is a lot of pressure for the kids.  Should speed be the primary objective of math?

This week my son received his report card.  He earned an A+ for language arts because he did well memorizing a handful of spelling lists.  In reality,  he cannot spell 3 and 4 letter words and is unable to compose a sentence!  He received a C for math.  In the teachers comments, she said that they needed to work on his math ‘test taking strategies’ to get his math grade up.

I know that all the testing data is now stored in a database and decisions about my son’s education are going to be based on these darn tests and not based on the teachers knowledge about how my son is really doing in class.

Final note:  I want to emphasize how upset my son’s teacher is about all of this.  She is a hostage to the system.  I personally believe that she would rate the children in her class on their true skill levels if she were allowed to.

2 Responses to Your Common Core Story

  1. Shelly says:

    These stories are very interesting. I am required to teach Second Steps as a classroom teacher. I have found a way to use common sayings like “Do unto others as you have them do unto you” to replace the second step activities. Second Steps was mandated in my district because of our middle school behavior problems. Soon after that they mandated PBS (Positive Behavior System) too. Teacher input on any of this stops at the committee level. Join the committee or shut up. I did that with PBS and implemented it in my school. I resigned from the committee after 2 years. I did not feel we needed either of those things since I teach at a K-5 building and we didn’t have profound behavior problems that warranted any of these expensive programs, nor did we have the coveted data to prove anything either way. Districts love to buy programs and then pretend like they saved the day.

    I could go on and on.

  2. Pingback: Teachers tell their Common Core Stories | BLNNews

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