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Louis C.K.’s epic Twitter rant against Common Core

Louis C.K.’s epic Twitter rant against Common Core

“My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!”

Last night, comedian Louis C.K. was apparently very frustrated with the Common Core inspired homework his children were charged with doing. To vent his frustration, he took to Twitter to give the world a glimpse of what he and his children were dealing with.

Ordinarily, I try to avoid using anecdotal evidence to address an incredibly broad issue like Common Core, but Louis C.K. is far from alone. Indeed, I’ve personally spoken to a number of elementary school teachers who are all uniformly dissatisfied with Common Core and the tests that result from its implementation. Moreover, each time a parent talks about their child’s “crazy experience” navigating the Common Core curriculum, the examples they point to are all very similar.

Take, for instance, a Facebook post Dan Bongino made about his children’s experience with Common Core, and his reaction to it.

Dan Bongino homework

Look at the picture I have attached to this post. I gave my daughter a relatively easy long-division problem to do today, in an attempt to gauge her progress, and this is what she gave back to me.

This is completely unacceptable. How is it that we are replacing a time-tested, efficient method of long-division with an absurd, multi-step process that not only confuses the students, but the parents too?

Friends, all politics are local and it gets no more local than your kitchen table. Fight back against the Common Core, and do it quickly, by calling and emailing your local, state, and federal elected officials.

This is not a partisan issue. Your child’s education is suffering whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. Every second we lose is another second our kids are being exposed to a third-rate curriculum in a first-world economy. Count on me as an ally in this fight.

At a certain point, anecdotal evidence stops being anecdotal, and becomes a shared experience. Is that where we are at with Common Core?

At the very least, one thing is for certain. Louis, C.K., you are not alone.

(Featured Image Source: YouTube)


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Not A Member of Any Organized Political | April 30, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Communist Core?

From the same Pod-People-gressives, who brought you “New Math” and “New Reading” and “New Citizenship” etc. etc. etc.

Can’t they replace themselves and bring us some new Evil-Villians?

Snark Snark for the Humor Bereft.

The lack of concern over the results is one of the (many) things that irks me about Common Core. Coming to the correct answer isn’t important as long as the student can “show” how they arrived at the answer he/she got.

Case in point, my daughter’s first grade math assignment. Bob has three balloons, and Sam has three balloons. How many do they have together?

My daughter wrote “3 + 3 = 8”, and got the question scored as correct. That “3 + 3” does not, in fact, equal “8” isn’t considered important. That she “showed” how she arrived at that answer – ostensibly by adding three and three together – “earned” the correct answer.

How many of y’all would have gotten away with that in first grade? Because I sure as heck wouldn’t have.

This frustrates my wife and I, and it frustrates our son (third grade), who is a whiz at math and gets the correct answers, but doesn’t score much better than his peers who turn in the wrong answers but show how they got them.

(And don’t get me started on the “U.S. Standard algorithm” vs. the “Base 10 algorithm” vs. the “Group Digit method” [IIRC the name] when it comes to addition and subtraction. I’m pretty good at math [our son gets it from me :)] and I had to look them up in order to help with homework!)

    What you are describing is officially called productive struggle by the math trade group, NCTM, behind these Common Core math problems. I know as I have been on the distribution list for years as this was created. The problems are not supposed to have a right answer. The question is what concepts does a student apply when there is ambiguity in the question or there is no specific answer or the material is yet untaught. John Dewey called this the Indeterminate Situation and the Common Core is designed around it. is a link to my book. Chapter 3 explains what is really going on with the math problems and how it tracks to controversial Soviet programs that caused an uproar over there. It also explains the Psychology of Mathematics Education and how all the controversial math always tracks back to PME.

    Chapter 7 explains the actual intentions of the Common Core and what the required implementation actually emphasizes. These frustrating problems are no accident. They are designed to pull emotion into academics as a matter of habit.

      Archer in reply to Robin. | April 30, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Not to sound too cynical, but when did mathematics education in elementary school become a huge experiment in child psychology, wherein the norm is to pretend to study something else (math, in this case) in order to get an unbiased result on the actual subject (application of abstract concepts to an ambiguous problem).

      Also not to sound cynical, but the Bob and Sam question is pretty straightforward, and 3 + 3 still does not equal 8.

      I can understand teaching multiple methods of solving problems – my middle school math teacher insisted on it, and insisted we be able to do it in our heads and be able to show our work on demand; “mental math,” she called it – and I can also understand the concept of “Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete,” as you described below. However, I question the focus on the abstract concept to the exclusion of a correct answer; “Ascending” might work if there is no right answer, but in elementary-grade math, there is. Unless the conditions change – e.g. one acquires more and/or lets go of some – Bob and Sam have six balloons between them, and no abstract concept will make any other number be the correct answer. If the answer won’t be correct, then all the abstract concepts in the world won’t help the child master mathematics.


        I wrote an entire book explaining why education both K-12 and higher ed had moved away from the transmission of knowledge and wanting students to be able to read fluently or have a logical mind.

        The one sentence answer is that all those things impede radical change and making new values and beliefs and attitudes the focus of education.

          Archer in reply to Robin. | April 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

          Your one-sentence answer is what we’ve been afraid of, ever since Common Core was first implemented. The proof is there, but it always has the sound of a conspiracy theory when said out loud.

          Thanks for your input. I’m glad we weren’t the only ones who came to that conclusion, albeit with less in-depth research.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Robin. | April 30, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Any plan to put your book on Kindle or do I gotta kill a tree to get a copy? It’s OK. As a conservative I hate trees, of course, but I like my kindle.

        It is on Kindle.

        So much fun with that many footnotes, but the pros pulled it off.

        If you think you will wave in the face of a Principal or School Bd member or politician, the book is handy.

        Most people start writing in the margins as it hits home with their experience.

        Uncle Samuel in reply to Henry Hawkins. | April 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm

        As a Floridian and former Georgian, I want to support our tree farmers which is a valuable part of our local economy. We use the wood for fence posts, furniture, paper, pine straw mulch, turpentine, and many other fine items.

        Paper is not evil. Neither is mailing a real card or letter. The Postman and the tree farmer have to make a living.

      creeper in reply to Robin. | May 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

      What’s the point of introducing emotion into the equation? Do they want us using emotion to decide everything?

      Uh…never mind.

Henry Hawkins | April 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Why are so many big name, national pols so big on Common Core? Jeb Bush is big fan, and so, so disappointingly, so is Mike Pence, one of many I was looking at for 2016. He pretended to reject Common Core in Indiana, but instead he merely made a few cosmetic changes, tossed on a couple euphemisms and apparently hoped no one would notice.

Some big names are taking risks for Common Core. Why?

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Henry Hawkins. | April 30, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Henry, if I had to bet, I’ld bet they’re all MAKING BIG BUCKS out of it!

    janitor in reply to Henry Hawkins. | April 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Jeb Bush’s brother Neil, and likely others of the family, are invested heavily in the business of selling educational and testing materials.


    Jeb is tied hugely to the Digital Learning initiatives that do throw off big bucks. Moreover they throw off tremendous amounts of personal and behavioral data that is supposed to make planning an economy and society now possible.

    Huckabee works for Fox which in turn owns Amplify. It is heavily involved with the digital learning juggernaut as well. It intended to be involved with the supposedly going defunct InBloom.

Common Core math is now replacing the Rorschach inkblots.

“Your best bet is probably to stick to “seeing” healthy, friendly images. Avoid dark or violent answers”

Ace of Spades had a post about this the other day, which covers the same thing I noticed about Common Core. They are trying to teach kids all of the mental tricks that people that are very good at math use. Transitive properties, initial guesses, number line manipulation, reverse working the problem and so on.

The problem is, as Ace points out, all those math tricks are worthless if you don’t know the standard way of figuring out the problem. You have to do a lot of 3*3=9 sort of math to “see” 3*3 whenever you see a 9 in an equation.

(Ace’s rant:


    What common core does is provide the concepts (it calls them lenses or disciplinary core ideas) for students to use. They are not built up from facts but presupplied. It is based on research done in the USSR by Piotr Galperin. I have written about it. The theory is called Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete. The idea is to train students with concepts that become their defaults guiding perception when there is no right answer.

    Please see my related explanation above.

nordic_prince | April 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I bet all those educrats who think that the correct answer is irrelevant as long as the procedure is followed would be quick to complain if their bank pulled that same type of crap, especially if the error were in not in their favor ~

“But I ‘showed’ how I got my answer…”

Yeah, good luck with that. With anybody in the real world – your bank, your boss, your landlord, et al – that nonsense just won’t fly.

I suspect that these nutty arithmetic processes are designed at least in part to eliminate parents’ ability to help with homework. “Social justice”?

There’s an obvious solution for parents: just don’t put up with this. No point in complaining or lobbying, because childhoods don’t wait. Yank the kids from school and homeschool them. The amount of time to homeschool them approximates what you’re spending with their homework anyway.

    nordic_prince in reply to janitor. | April 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Part of the rationale behind the convoluted procedures involved might very well be an attempt to narrow the so-called “achievement gap” resulting from white kids (by and large) outperforming minority kids on tests.

    Remember Arne Duncan’s outrageous quote about “white suburban moms”?

    What better way to rig a competition than to sabotage those in the lead? If it’s too much work to raise the scores of those in the bottom quartile, then rig the game so the kids in the upper quartile don’t score well. Don’t base their grade solely on tests – use plenty of artsy-fartsy crafty assignments and extra credit for the kids who are not mathematically inclined. Punish the kid who gets a 98 on his math test (so really knows the stuff) but doesn’t do the stupid “My favorite number is _____ because…” writing assignment. Give him a C rather than the A he earned. Don’t you dare let the bright kid get ahead by giving him more challenging material – instead, bore him to death with silly “enrichment” activities.

    “No Child Left Behind” has morphed into “No Child Gets Ahead,” Common Core Edition. Can’t let the smart kids achieve their full potential. The racialists would point to disproportionate results as evidence of systemic racism ~

The common core coursework was not written by any mathematician, and the mathematicians that reviewed it disapproved of it.

“There is no official information about who selected the individuals who wrote the Common Core standards. However, none of the writers of the math and English Language Arts standards have ever taught math, English, or reading at the K-12 level. ”

“In September of 2013, in a paper at Pioneer Institute, Stanford mathematician Dr. James Milgram and Massachusetts standards developer Dr. Sandra Stotsky, both of whom were asked to be members of the Common Core Validation Committee and refused to sign off on the Common Core standards, asserted that the nationalized math standards would fail to prepare students for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).”

Pre-Common Core wasn’t all that hot.

Do they still teach solution of quadratic equations in high school? I don’t recall ever running into a quadratic equation problem in the “real world”. Those who later get up to calculus will find it of use. S-plane transforms of linear partial differential equations are often just quadratic equations, but while engineering, math, and some science majors will be practically drowned in that stuff, nobody else will ever get so much as a whiff of it. In other words, it’s a big waste of time for future farmers and lawyers and art history majors and such riffraff, time they could be spending on, oh, I don’t know, Global Warming, maybe.

“Sets”, too. Distilled and concentrated waste of time, but goddamn if they didn’t do “sets” every year I was in high school.

Geometry and trigonometry, well, those are another story.

There’s a pretty cool way to calculate square roots by hand, but they’d stopped teaching that long before I got to school. I think they couldn’t figure out a “New Math” way to explain it. It just worked, but that wasn’t good enough.


    I give the whole story in my book. The 60s version of Radical Ed reform and the 90s and then now. Heavily footnoted with quotes from the creators of all these controversial materials on their motives.

    Real math fuels the logical abstract mind and it is much harder then to manipulate. Not helpful when fundamental transformation in the political, social, and economic arenas is sought. As everyone involved admits when you know where to look.

    I created the metaphor of the Axemakers Mind to describe what is targeted intentionally for destruction now via the Common Core.

    sultanp in reply to tom swift. | April 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    tom swift: math is *everywhere*. you don’t need to look for quadratic solutions, once you gain fluency in math concepts you see how it’s *all* math – physics, motion, velocity, fluids, wind, energy, ocean waves, leaves in the breeze, birds gliding – *everywhere*. I also thought (back in 9th grade) that algebra was useless in the “real” world, but the universe has a sense of humor, and my path led me to become an astrophysicist. I use algebra, calculus and yes, the quadratic equation, every day of my life. This is something we just *cannot* deny to our kids, the next generation. One generation of kids who have no math fluency will *kill* progress, development and new ideas. Common Core is *far* worse than what came before it. 3+3 does not equal 8. Any program that gives you credit for that answer is objectively wrong on all points. Kill. It. Now.

      tom swift in reply to sultanp. | May 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      I didnt’ say math was a waste of time. I specified the vast quantity of student-years spent on quadratic equations.

      To the extent that solution of quadratic equations is important for an understanding of fairly advanced calculus, those who use that level of calculus should study it extensively. You needed it; I ended up with degrees in physics and mech engineering, and I needed it. But what about everybody else? Surely there’s a more rational way to occupy the student-years devoted to quadratic equations. Probability and statistics, maybe. The US population in the aggregate would probably be far better off if people knew a useful amount of those two. Or maybe get them up to elementary calculus, a field expressly developed for real-world applications. I have a hard time regarding anyone who doesn’t know calculus as educated. For one thing, once you’re familiar with the concepts, you can start to understand things like graphs. The world would be mired in far less silliness if more people had a quantitative understanding of this stuff.

      Unrealistic? Not really. There’s some decent evidence that not so long ago, the “man in the street” knew far more math than he does today. Take a look at a recent encyclopedia, something carefully edited (ie, not Wikipedia), and meant for wide-scale consumption (ie, not reference material for specialists). Look up “tides”. In something like a modern Britannica you’ll see about a page, with a couple of illustrations and maybe a couple of equations. OK. Now look the same thing up in an older one, maybe the 11th Britannica (printed from 1910 to maybe 1929). Fifty pages on “tides”, almost all of it expressed in spherical harmonics. I don’t think I know more than two people who even know what a spherical harmonic is and what it does. (I know a couple dozen who have heard of ’em but they couldn’t explain them.) A century ago, somebody sure thought that the customers might find that stuff comprehensible.

      The point is, we weren’t always the ignorant clucks we are now, and I still think we can learn far more than we do. But what we learn has to be chosen rationally, not because the “delicate snowflakes” need protection from dangerous knowledge, but because there are only so many hours in the day.

mumzieistired | April 30, 2014 at 7:56 pm

As bad as these examples are, the worst thing about Common Core is the incentive it gives for driving a wedge between children and their parents. A little south of here, in Georgia, parents have been told, “Don’t help your children with their math homework. They need to do the problems the way we’re teaching them in class, so they’ll be able to do them on the standardized tests.” So parents see their kids struggling and they’re not supposed to help? Forget that.

Kids need to practice, practice, practice with an algorithm that gives them the correct answer every time they do it right. And there always is a correct answer in “mathematics” (which does not appear to be what is being taught through Common Core).

    mumzi-they are not standardized tests in the traditional sense. I live in Ga and this goes back to what the Atlanta school system was piloting that led to the cheating scandal. It also ties to that statewide integrated math fiasco that turned out to have sent multimillion dollar grants to very institution vouching for it.

    Supposedly that was the cc pilot according to Susan Patrick of one of the digital learning initiatives as well as Ga’s race to the Top app. Did you know the State of Ga paid APS to create the CRCTs and curriculum for integrated math so it would be open ended and not actually about math knowledge?

    When the scores were poor as it had not been actually taught, the excuse was the “higher standards.”

    There is a correct answer in real mathematics but the idea is to push kids to be willing to act when there is no correct answer. Just a good enough one as the planners insist we are embarking on an era of fundamental change.

    I wish I was wrong, but I am not. Our leverage is in enough parents and taxpayers recognizing the true nature of the revolutionary (in their own words) shift in time.

Another Voice | April 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

12 years ago I thought my daughter was being overly cautious. She decided to home school her son who was doing less than adequate. After 3yrs of home schooling from 3rd-5th he reentered at the middle school level and placed in advanced English, math and science and went on to graduate high school with an academic scholarship.

I really believe that many, many more parents will be taking the same initiatives to advocate for their child before they let the public school take away the earnestness to learn.

Uncle Samuel | May 1, 2014 at 6:07 am

There is evidence the illogic, etc. of the Common Core style educational heuristics is damaging to a child’s brain and emotional state. Massachusetts and New York have experienced an increase of children committing suicide and being treated for mental health problems since they have instigated these new educational programs.
Maybe the Michelle Obama school lunch programs are a factor as well as the children’s home and neighborhood environments.

Children are sometimes surrounded by agendas and influences that they cannot change and that can disturb and damage their brains.

Psychotic, sociopath, depressives and suicidal children are made by cruel, addicted, violent, crazy parents as well as really bad teachers and curriculum. When children are hungry, sad, angry, afraid, insecure, they cannot learn.

My daughter in law taught her first few years in an inner city school in Jacksonville, FL. The children would bring all their treasures and as much of their clothing as possible, because they didn’t know where they would be sleeping that night and didn’t want their parents to sell anything for drugs. The first parent teacher night, only one of her student’s parents showed up, but she was either high or drunk.

Some kids grow up in nightmare conditions, however, that doesn’t mean schools and teachers have to equalize the trauma, misery and disadvantage. The educators (and politicians) are willingly ignorant of and/or afraid to address the real problem and are sometimes as uneducated, illogical, immoral, undisciplined, unable to think, as the children’s parents.

There are separate issues here that get confused. There is the content of the standards and here the problem is a homogeneous curriculum that does not prepare students for demanding college work. The international standard for students headed for careers in the sciences is algebra in the 7th grade.

There is the problem of common standards which suppress a legitimate diversity of educational goals and innovation in local school systems and in private schools.

Finally, the imposition of common standards opens the door to a lot of fashionable but discredited approaches to teaching. An excellent example is the constructivist math curricula that are so confusing and ineffective. All sorts of hidden agendas are at work here, for example, a curriculum that is incomprehensible to parents reduces the advantage that students with well educated parents enjoy.

So when Bill Gates or Jeb Bush endorses common core, it is not clear what they think they are endorsing. I doubt that either of them knows anything about constructivism, for example. They are thinking that uniform high standards are obviously good. There thinking is naive and simplistic and they are operating at the level of sound bites for public consumption.

By the way, teaching math is one thing that the Soviets did well. Their curriculum was far better than anything American students get in even the best schools.

My gawd! What the hell is going on with that long division. It took me 5 seconds to get the answer using the old fashioned way. What in the world is that last picture?

Are they really subtracting off 80s and counting them up?

strawberrygirl | May 1, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Just imagine the software bugs in microsoft 10-15 years from now.

Before we celebrate Louis CK, remember what he said about Sarah Palin and her son.

This from Legal Insurrection:

“her f*** retard making c***” and “the baby that just came out of her f**** disgusting c***.”

You can find a lot more without looking very hard.