One Indiana woman has shown us how to win against the Common Core juggernaut.
Heather Crossin spoke at our Common Core Forum last week. Her story was fascinating.
It started when he 8-year-old daughter began bringing home a new, and disturbing, kind of math homework. Instead of many arithmetic problems, it had odd questions like this:
One bridge is 412 feet long and the other bridge is 206 feet long. Which bridge is longer? How do you know?
In another problem, it took four steps to add 53 and 34. It turned out this was fuzzy math, the latest in a series of "new math" experiments that have plagued children for decades. In this version, little emphasis was put on getting the right answer. "Explaining" it, by parroting Common Core jargon, was far more important. And the jargon was more confusing than enlightening. "It involved breaking a number down in laborious, around-the-barn ways," she told the forum.
That was Crossin's introduction to Common Core. Fuzzy math turned out to be just one aspect of the badly flawed national standards. And Crossin's daughter attended Catholic school. It turns out that even private schools aren't immune to the impact of the Common Core standards.
But what could one mom do? She teamed up with a friend, Erin Tuttle, to take action. They seemed alone at first. "Nobody in the state of Indiana knew anything," she said. Common Core had snuck in under the radar of parents, state legislators and the media. Common Core supporters didn't deign to justify it to parents: "They're saying that what I want as a parent no longer counts."
Crossin and Tuttle began reaching out to other grassroots groups, including tea party organizations. Legislators began waking up to the dangers.
Slowly the message percolated through the state. Common Core wasn't based on solid research, opponents soon found. "Once you peel back the layers of the onion, there's nothing there," Crossin said.
Popular support built. Earlier this year, Indiana hit the pause button on Common Core, halting implementation until educators, legislators and parents better understand the implications of the standards.
Much more needs to be done, there and elsewhere. But Crossin's story should inspire Tar Heel parents too. Thanks to the efforts of Indiana parents, she said, "Suddenly a grassroots firestorm erupted. If it hasn't erupted here, I promise you it will."