Common Core State Standards: Debunking myths and concerns

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Since Michigan adopted the Common Core State Standards into our classrooms, they have become highly politicized and very controversial. Parents and teachers alike have concerns and some have led to myths about what these teaching standards actually are.

Common Core State Standards are a set of English language arts and math standards that specify what K-12 students need to know at each grade level. Think of them as a road map for teachers to plan and create their curriculum.

They are a first-of-their-kind national standards that the National Governors Association and non-partisan group, the Council of Chief State School Officers, created, along with state educators. They are also internationally bench marked.

The Michigan Board of Education adopted Common Core in June 2010. Now, 42 states use them in full: four states have not adopted the standards (AK, TX, NE, VA); three states adopted and then withdrew from participation (OK, IN, SC); and Minnesota has only adopted the ELA standards.

A widely held concern is that Common Core tells teachers how to teach.

“It’s forcing the teachers to require all the children learn at the same pace, and children do not learn at the same pace,” said Melanie Kurdys, the co-founder of Stop Common Core in Michigan.

Kurdys is a former Portage School Board member and is now a math tutor who believes Common Core has taken the control out of the classroom. However, educators like Michelle Goodwin disagree, and believe it is still up to teachers to determine how to teach.

“The standards are not curriculum,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin is the Associate Superintendent for Instruction with the Montcalm Area ISD and was involved with the adoption of Common Core. Through her position, she helps teachers understand what these standards mean and what it looks like in student work.

Goodwin said these standards are not a national curriculum and do not determine what materials teachers can use.

“To me, here are the standards. It’s my role as a teacher, as an educator, to understand what those standards mean, and bridge from what needs to happen and what needs to be learned for each individual kid. That’s differentiation,” said Goodwin. “That’s what we’ve always tried to do, and I don’t think it’s any different.”

education classroomAnother concern: Common Core is tied to a national database that collects private student information.

“Our own Governor Snyder has talked about a P-20 seamless system creating human capital for the workforce,’” said Kurdys.

Governor Snyder has talked about his support of the P-20 concept: an educational system running from prenatal to lifelong learning, which is founded on the principle that the earliest years of life have an important impact on adult success. Kurdys worries this would result in data collection that funnels students into pre-determined career paths.

“It’ll track what students take, how good their scores are, and all of these performance behaviors, and this data system will be available to employers so that they can look at the data records of students coming in, coming through, to propose hiring them,” said Kurdys.

But Goodwin said the P-20 data collection is independent of Common Core, and as far as funneling students into career paths, she believes the opposite: that it actually levels the playing field for students going into the workforce.

“There’s nothing in the Common Core state standards that predetermines a career path or a life path that a student has to take,” said Goodwin. “These standards, there’s fewer of them, they go deeper, they are things we all need to know and be able to do.”

And throughout all of this, many parents, like Tina Yost, are concerned that they have been cut out of the learning process, believing Common Core requires students to learn English and math in a new, specific way.

education classroom“There used to be a system where parents help their kids with their homework,” said Yost. “I’ve talked to math majors that couldn’t help some of their elementary kids with their homework because they didn’t understand it.”

Goodwin said Common Core State Standards are more integrated and writing is interwoven into all subjects like math, but there is not simply one way to solve problems.

“Parents can also go back and teach kids the way they know,” said Goodwin. “If we’re talking math, there’s not one way necessarily that something has to be solved.”

It’s clear common core has varying support.

“The purpose of education being to prepare and inspire children to be American, freedom-loving, citizens is going away, and that is profound,” said Kurdys.

“The role of education is to prepare students for what lies ahead, and we need to equip them, and I think the Common Core does that,” said Goodwin.

But what is still unanimous: educators and parents alike pushing for an equal opportunity for all children.

Another concern some educators have is that after all of the work they’ve put into deconstructing these standards, Common Core would be replaced. There’s pending legislation in Lansing that would discontinue Common Core and its assessments in Michigan. House Bill 4143 was introduced last year, but still has no movement.

Here are some resources for families to better understand Common Core:


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  • Melissa Block

    As a Parent of 3 (11,9 & 9) and having gone to College to teach Secondary Education in Math, but changing to Computer Science. I just wanted to comment about the statement made by Goodwin during this segment. She sated that Parents were okay to still help their children at home by teaching them the “old ways” of learning Math. This is not the case at the school my children go to. I have been informed by the teachers, that if they don’t do their math the way its taught in school even though they have the correct answer the problems will be marked wrong. The Teachers have even told my children things, as they have came home and told me that “I cant help them anymore since they just get it marked wrong even though they understand they way I helped them with it at home.” Because this Common Core is being pushed so hard onto the teachers it is forcing them to teach a way that most children don’t understand and then they are sent home with an hour to an hour and a half of homework in the 4th and 5th grades and they get so frustrated and even with a Major in Mathematics I am so sad for the way they are forcing all kids to learn in the same way, when diversity in this world is getting more and more acceptable the schools are pushing for more and more conformity and do not promote individualism in any way. I Pray for the kids in the schools in today world they are only going to be further behind all the other countries more then we were in the past, but they will also be less prepared to go to college and we will end up with even more children that wont be able to “hang” in college. I truly believe the Pro- Common Core supporters out there need to really see how teachers all over are teaching and its not the delusions that Goodwin has stated in your piece on Common Core. Thank you — Very concerned Parent of 3.

  • Andrew

    State Journalism Standards: Spewing out the party line to the general public, no matter how insane it may get, in exchange for money.

    Here is the deal, folks. Even if Common Core works as a curriculum, there are two things to keep in mind. One, there is no evidence indicating that it works better than what we are doing now (and plenty of evidence that it is worse). And two, parents don’t want it.

    At least nominally , this country is still run by and for the people. We are not (yet) a full dictatorship. So when the parents of the students tell the government that they do not want something, the government is constitutionally OBLIGATED to listen and to respond accordingly. To deliberately ignore the will of the people is treason. Parents do not want Common Core. If it came wrapped in solid gold and was presented by Abraham Lincoln himself, parents still wouldn’t want it. The media can sing this song and do this dance about how parents shouldn’t be afraid of it and how good it is until the cows come home, and parents will not only not be entertained they will shut it out all the more because nobody trusts the media anymore. So quit wasting your time and our resources, and do your damn jobs! Scrap this idea, listen to what the SCIENTISTS are telling you about the modern human brain and how it needs to learn instead of listening to the curriculum developers (i.e. PUBLISHERS). Base your decisions on FACT, not your wallet or your emotions, and if you don’t want to retire in complete disgrace like GWB, Obama, and every modern journalist in this country, then DO WHAT THE PEOPLE TELL YOU TO DO! It really is that simple…WE THE PEOPLE run this show, and you work for us!

  • John

    The lady from Montcalm says a parent can teach their child the way they were taught that is a complete LIE!! I try to show my kids an eisier way and then they tell me they can’t do it that way. If they do it my way they will get it wrong because they have to show their work with little dots and other rediculous things!!

  • Phyllis J.

    ““The role of education is to prepare students for what lies ahead, and we need to equip them, and I think the Common Core does that,” said Goodwin.”
    “…Goodwin said the P-20 data collection is independent of Common Core, and as far as funneling students into career paths, she believes the opposite: that it actually levels the playing field for students going into the workforce.”

    This is a self-contradiction. If you are trying to prepare kids for what lies ahead by levelling the playing field, you are lying to them. The playing field in the “real world” is not level, nor should it be. We are not lab rats, we are individual human beings and we ought to be encouraging our kids in that rather than forcing them all into career paths while they are still too young to have any idea where their passions and talents are. Never mind that the “career paths” that Common Core recognizes are a very limited set of possible careers which have been pre-selected FOR the public rather than BY the public.

    Common Core, while it may not be dangerous to an individual student, is dangerous to this country as a whole and to our future as a society.

    • Andrew

      Sadly, your referring to students as “lab rats” is exactly what is going on here. And not one parent has been asked to give their fully informed consent. This is no different than Tuskeegee, except instead of experimenting on the bodies of African American men our government is experimenting on the minds of children. And it doesn’t matter how loud the American people scream for them to stop, they will not do so.

  • Common Cents

    My mom helped develop some of the Michigan Common Core standards and having had many arguments with her over the topic, she has come to the conclusion that it works in theory but most of the educators she worked with are too lazy and irresponsible for students to ever receive benefit. Common Core sucks.

  • Commonsense

    Program the children like computers and they will not question the wrong in this world. That is what common core is all about. And those of us that can still think for ourselves wonder why the United States cannot compete in the scholastic world.

  • Brian Polet

    So here is the challenge to to FOX17: Some commentators have accused Goodwin of lying and Fox reported it as fact. Is it fact that P20 is unrelated to Common Core? Is it fact that parents can teach how they want at home without consequences at school? As a former school board president, I can unequivocally state that Common Core is the truck and your child’s data is the goods. The federal government is the comptroller; they will decide who gets the data, how much access parties have to it, the price of the goods, and how the data will be used. There is a reason why Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, alone, have poured over a billion dollars into data systems and CC curriculum.


    myths ? any parent with school age children knows there is no myths . Common core is so effed up.
    lowering the standards to lowest denominator would be a better name.
    example: 1+1= eleventy or banana. either answer is correct.

  • Tamara Carlone

    “Goodwin is the Associate Superintendent for Instruction with the Montcalm Area ISD and was involved with the adoption of Common Core. Through her position, she helps teachers understand what these standards mean and what it looks like in student work.” Goodwin is another bought and paid for hack – the only people that are FOR Common Core are the people making money off it. Bill Gates loves the UN, and has a contract with UNESCO (think one world education). He is the SUGAR DADDY of the take-over of our education system in America. He has given money to groups and people all over the nation to push Common Core, which is only part of this education take-over. NGSS – Next Generation Science Standards was just adopted in MI, despite a ton of protest, and his money is all over that too. C3 Social Studies Standards is in line for adoption in MI and tons of people have protested that too. These nationally derived standards are against the US Constitution for a reason. You only have to look at Hitler’s schools for one example as to why. We don’t want indoctrination stations in America. We need local control with parents calling the shots – not special interests.

  • K. Cook

    As a former elementary teacher, I have seen many examples of “that’s not how my teacher taught us to do it” among the kids of my friends. Goodwin reminds me of an administrator my district had who threw out the social studies textbooks and said, “Teach the curriculum.” We had no resources to teach the curriculum once the textbooks were tossed. What resources do the teachers have for teaching the CC standards except the textbooks? The new textbooks teach the math one way! I was hoping this report would really dispel some of my fears. I don’t think Goodwin or Kurdys really know what’s going on in the schools but Yost sees where the rubber meets the road. I agree with Melissa Block (1st commenter). She too knows what’s really happening in the schools.

    • Melanie Kurdys

      K. Cook – You are right. People who want to know conceptually what happened and what is happening can consider me a legitimate resource. But there is no better source of what is really happening with the kids than the parents. Teachers would be a good source too, but this reporter could not find a single teacher willing to speak on camera. Sad state of affairs when people are unwilling to speak publicly. You have to wonder why.

  • abigailrn

    Saying standards aren’t curricula is a false distinction. Highly-specific standards like these cannot be met without curricula specifically designed for them. Keep researching: you will see that Melanie Kurdys has stated the case exactly as it is in this as in all other aspects of Common Core.