By Dan Cassuto KATU News and KATU.com Staff Nov 12, 2013
HILLSBORO, Ore. – Nine parents pulled their seventh- and eighth-graders out of math class and started teaching them at home, because they are upset with the new Common Core curriculum that public schools in Oregon are starting this year.
Seventh-grader Amy Craig has always been an "A" student in math until this year. She came home with a "D."
The same thing happened to other students in her school. So their moms got together and decided to teach math themselves – an hour every morning.
Then the kids go off to school for the rest of the day.
This is the first school year when every public school in Oregon is using Common Core teaching standards. Forty-five other states use those, too.
"Our teachers would tell you math is more challenging this year than it was a year ago," said Rian Petrick, principal of Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, who is not surprised kids are struggling.
Math hasn't changed, but he said there are now fewer numbers and formulas and many more word problems and real-world examples. It includes more group work. That's tough for some kids.
"Our teachers feel like it's the best thing for kids, making them look much deeper into mathematics than they have in the past," Petrick said.
A KATU News reporter tried to ask Petrick whether the Common Core standards were the best thing if nine families had pulled their kids out of class because their kids were so stressed and distraught, but the Hillsboro School District spokeswoman cut Petrick off before he could answer.
"You don't have to answer that, Rian. That's an aggressive question," the spokeswoman said.
The state hasn't tested students on the new Common Core standards yet. They won't do that until 2015. But it has one prediction based on a similar test: up to two-thirds of middle school students could fail the math standards.
Meanwhile, an Oregon lawmaker blasted Common Core with a Facebook post.
Lew Frederick represents North and Northeast Portland in Oregon's House of Representatives.
He posted a searing critique of Common Core by catholic scholars. It reads in part: "We judge Common Core to be a recipe for standardized workforce preparation. Common Core shortchanges the central goals of all sound education."
Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is that it is a waste of resources to "over-educate" people.