Common Core Math Standards Writer Tells Parents To Back Off From Helping Children With Homework

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

One of the lead writers of the Common Core math standards is advising parents to avoid teaching their children how to do math problems, focusing instead on just making sure the assignments get done.

“The math instruction on the part of parents should be low,” says Jason Zimba, who is also the father of two children. “The teacher is there to explain the curriculum.”

“The most important rule as a parent is to make sure it gets done,” Zimba adds. “I may not have time to do an impromptu lesson on math but I can make sure everything is completed. It’s about managing work load and learning accountability.”

Zimba became well known to parents and teachers in 2013 when he acknowledged to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that Common Core is “not only not for STEM” careers “but also not for selective colleges…”

The video of his remarks set off a firestorm since Common Core champions were touting the standards’ rigor when, in fact, the writer of the actual Common Core math standards was admitting Common Core math would not prepare students for STEM careers or anything much greater than community college.

According to Kathleen Lucadamo – writing at The Hechinger Report – when she couldn’t figure out her six year-old daughter’s math homework, and had to be corrected by the first-grade teacher in how to complete the “number bonds” problems, she felt “demoralized” that she could not do first-grade math.

Hundreds of thousands of parents across the country, in fact, felt like Karen Lamoreaux of Arkansas, whose now famous video struck a nerve. Parents’ gut instincts told them there was something wrong with Common Core math – not with them. Advocates of the unpopular standards, however – many of whom have supported billions of dollars of federal funding for countless education “reforms” that have served only to further the demise of public schools in America – have tried to convince parents, teachers, and lawmakers that it’s parents who must change.

Lucadamo gives the example of Phoenix mom Kari Workman whose fifth-grader was struggling with a multi-step math problem while complaining, “Oh, this is so hard.” When Workman attempted to help her daughter with the problem, the latter snapped, “You won’t understand!”

“She was so frustrated that listening to me was not going to happen so I encouraged her to walk away from the assignment,” Workman, a teacher herself, added.

Apparently, to Common Core proponents, such intense frustration when doing math homework is a sign of “rigor” the likes of which schools in the United States have never known before.

Searching for answers, Lucadamo asked Denver teacher Lauren Fine.

“If you don’t know how to do it, ask your child to teach you, to show you how it’s done,” said Fine, who added that often the children understand how to do the problem, but parents don’t.

“In the past, I might have sent home worksheets with 40 problems, now it’s a couple of problems and the student has to show multiple ways of how they solved the problem,” she continued. “That can be frustrating for parents because they just want them to get the answer.”

Fine adds that it’s acceptable for parents to teach their children old-fashioned ways of doing math – such as carrying over numbers – but they must also stress there are newer ways to work the same problems.

However, as Common Core has placed more emphasis on “social and emotional learning,” it appears the deep frustration experienced by American children – as they perform math homework the goal of which is not to arrive at a correct answer – is often viewed as a sign they are working through some intense psychological conflict.

“The one thing we can reinforce as parents is that it’s ok for children to struggle,” explains Bibb Hubbard, founder of Learning Heroes, a support group for parents. “This is hard work. It takes time and patience. It’s really painful to see them frustrated and angry. But I’m not going to tie their shoes anymore because they are 11.”

Zimba says it’s up to parents to let teachers know when they are frustrated over their children’s homework, and it’s up to schools and school districts to help them.

“When parents are frustrated, it’s important that educators listen to them, but they can’t listen unless the parents talk to them,” he said. “Venting is one thing but if you really want to solve the problem the way to do that is to start with the child’s teacher.”


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