Don’t Know Much About Algebra

Arizona’s leading Tea-Magnon speaks out on the Common Core:

PHOENIX — Ignoring pleas from business leaders, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 along party lines Thursday to bar Arizona from implementing the Common Core standards the state adopted four years ago.

Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, who championed SB 1310, said he believes the concept of some nationally recognized standards started out as a “pretty admirable pursuit by the private sector and governors.”

“It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

(Via Reading is for Snobs)

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167 replies
  1. 1

    Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

    I- I- wha? I just…

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! The stupid… it burns…

  2. 2
    psycholinguist says:

    Substituting letters for numbers…………… Tell me he isn’t talking about algebra. Please tell me that so I don’t jump out of my building..

  3. 3
    Chyron HR says:

    “[A]s a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general”

    Fixed that for you. (We would also accept “I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general.”)

  4. 4
    Hunter Gathers says:

    He don’t need no fancy book learnin’. His Daddy didn’t need no book learnin’ and his Daddy’s Daddy didn’t need no book learnin’. Algebra comes strait from the pit of hell anyway.

  5. 5
    jenn says:

    Unfortunately, my ability to be surprised at Republican stupidity/venality/__ is now pretty low, but this actually succeeded. Holy crap.

  6. 6
    Rob in CT says:

    Since I have a 4-yr old, I guess I should actually learn about Common Core. Just going by the “this idiot thinks it’s bad, therefore it’s good” heuristic probably isn’t really the best idea.

  7. 7
    spudvol says:

    Al Melvin truly represents the people of Arizona. Sweet dreams.

  8. 8
    jenn says:

    @psycholinguist: He’s talking about algebra … please step away from the window!

  9. 9
    Cacti says:

    The Economist pretty much nailed it after the 2008 elections, when they described the GOP as the “party of white trash pride”.

  10. 10
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    And pentagons in math? Obviously the work of Beelzebub.

  11. 11
    NCSteve says:

    Well, you know, Algebra was invented by Mooslim t’r’st A-rabs an’ no way will good red-blooded Real Umerikan children (or foreign Aztlan separatist brown skinned traitor kids, for that matter), be exposed to such terrorist math!

  12. 12
    rm says:

    Al-gebra has an Arabic name and won’t stand up and say plainly what number x is. Very suspicious and sneaky. I think I recall that Malcolm X was an Al Gebra operative.

  13. 13
    jenn says:

    Maybe he thinks algebra is some dangerous Muslim plot that will sully his precious Christian sensibilities. Or am I giving his stupidity/conspiracy-theorizing a little too much credit?! :)

  14. 14
    GregB says:

    Can we change the national motto to:

    Pride in Ignorance, at least below the Mason-Dixon line.

  15. 15
    spudvol says:

    Arizona is quickly becoming a walk-over state for illegal immigrants.

  16. 16
    Fuzzy says:

    How can one state, Arizona, have so much stupid? Were they all the “surprise ” babies born to retirees? Maybe any state with a “z” or an “x” in their name is being targeted by aliens for an “idiot politician” test.

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    And they say we’re a meritocracy.

  18. 18
    dubo says:

    I’m SO familiar with Common Core standards that I don’t even know they don’t come out of the Federal Goverment or the USDOE

  19. 19
    elmo says:

    Of course the reading material is pornographic – look at all the X’s in the math section!

  20. 20
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Relax folks, Sen. Melvin and his Republican colleagues are just making sure that none of the children of Arizona will be brainwashed by a bunch of liberal college professors.

  21. 21
    C.V. Danes says:

    “It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”

    Wouldn’t you expect national standards to be “hijacked” by the national government? Perhaps the problem is that Arizona just doesn’t have that much in common with the rest of the nation

  22. 22
    tybee says:

    he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples

    dayyum. and i thought georgia legislators were stupid.

    well, they ARE stupid, i’m just not sure that they’re that stupid.
    and then i look at the republican senatorial candidates and realize arizona ain’t got nuttin’ on us.

  23. 23
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Perhaps the problem is that Arizona just doesn’t have that much in common with the rest of the nation.

    That would be an IQ greater than their shoe size.

  24. 24
    piratedan says:

    @spudvol: he represents the affluent retirement communities to the North of Tucson and we’ve been trying hard to supplant him but he’s got the AZ model of fear politics working for him quite well, take rich old white people, tell them that the Mexicans (or “foreigners” or illegals if you’re in “polite” company) are busy looking to steal from them and run their drugs and human trafficking thru their neighborhoods and then tell them that they don’t have to pay any more taxes because they’ve already put their kids through school and you have the right to bear arms, if not own an arsenal and you have the essentials for wingnutopia. Al’s also the bright bulb that wants to improve the business model by getting Arizona into the storage of nuclear waste niche market, as long as it’s not on his district and maybe put it on the Rez, because those people are desperate for jobs anyway.

    The state lege isn’t representative of what goes on statewide, it’s just the same sad tale of districts being drawn just right to ensure R dominance in the state house. If you check on the state referendums, independent political redistricting committee established, raise in minimum wage, taxes raised for education all passed on statewide referendums, just can’t quite vote the hyperbolic xenophobes outta office in enough places yet.

  25. 25
    Amir Khalid says:

    A few years ago, I would not have believed Americans capable of such opposition to even basic knowledge. I mean, I knew there was some opposition to it, especially among the young-Earth creationist Christians; but I would never have believed they could get the power to sabotage young people’s education like this.

    These people are of an ilk with the Islamists who kill girls for going to school. They’re a menace to America — not just its preeminence in the world, but its mere viability as a nation.

  26. 26
    Mark S. says:

    Maybe if we renamed it “Reagan math” it would be more acceptable.

  27. 27
    dmsilev says:

    Foes like parent Jennifer Reynolds said she sees the computers as part of Common Core, and part of a move to have students “indoctrinated of the concepts of global warming, evolution, defaming the Founders.”

    Yes, and then the computers will achieve sentience, rename themselves Skynet, and send naked California governors back in time to chase after random people.

  28. 28

    @Cacti:
    Oh, yes. Narcissism, alcoholism, abusive family life, anger and paranoia about the rest of the world, a burning inferiority complex, homophobia, terror of being exposed as having any homosexual desires whatsoever, general terror of the often physically violent abuse that will result from seeming less than manly, a twisted guilt complex about wanting sex (for the female side), obsession with tribal markers, and the resentment of any limitation to their ability to hurt other people that stems from all this, those are the defining traits of white trash. I grew up among them and know them so well. Do those traits sound like the Republican Party at all?

    @C.V. Danes:
    Ah, no. ‘Hijacked by the national government’ means ‘This policy is helping people.’ There’s also a helping of ‘Some of those people aren’t white!’ That was Reagan’s central message of what is wrong with the federal government.

  29. 29
    dmsilev says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    These people are of an ilk with the Islamists who kill girls for going to school. They’re a menace to America — not just its preeminence in the world, but its mere viability as a nation.

    Sadly, yes. Not sure, though, how sustainable the hard-core Christianist movement is. Church attendance is trending downwards, and a large fraction of the younger generations hold social views that the Christianists regard as anathema (e.g. that gays aren’t evil).

  30. 30
    Librarian says:

    “I don’t have to know any steenkin’ algebra!”

  31. 31
    srv says:

    Texas just made Algebra II an option with Statistics or Algebraic Reasoning.

    You Ivory Tower, pointed-headed liberals think everyone needs to go to college and take Calculus.

  32. 32
    Petorado says:

    They hate it because the President is blah:

    “About 90 percent of the concerns I hear are about the federal role in incentivizing states to adopt the standards, especially since Barack Obama won the last election,” Petrilli said. “A lot of tea party people don’t trust him on other issues, and that has bled over to Common Core. We’d be seeing a different argument if Romney had won.”

    A person pushing the pornography aspect is Phyllis Schlafly … “She cites non-fiction readings on global warming and suggested fiction that is ‘worthless and even pornographic.’” What’s so worthless and pornographic — Informational texts could include Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” President Ronald Reagan’s “Address to Students at Moscow State University,” and “The Declaration of Independence.”

  33. 33
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Petorado: A person pushing the pornography aspect is Phyllis Schlafly

    That harridan is still alive?

  34. 34
    IowaOldLady says:

    I’m too stunned by this to even rant. How can ignorant people like this be in charge?

  35. 35
    japa21 says:

    More and more I am thinking it has to do with the heat out there. Their brains are obviously totally fried.

    And I always get a kick out of people who call themselves Reagan Republicans but would throw anybody who actually followed Reagan’s policies out of the party. (And yes, I do blame Reagan for many of the ills currently besetting this country, but at least he was smart enough to realize when taxes were cut too far and raised them several times and was for gun control, among other things.)

  36. 36
    Patricia Kayden says:

    This isn’t even funny. Are there any sensible (and educated) conservatives in Arizona? I feel sorry for the poor kids who will be deprived of a proper education because of these dingbats.

  37. 37
    bemused says:

    @Petorado:

    Hmm, wonder if Phyllis has the Left Behind series on her bookshelf.

  38. 38
    Elizabelle says:

    From the comments to the Arizona Daily Star article:

    You can’t spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

  39. 39
    cleek says:

    @Mark S.:
    maybe not. Mr Fuzzy-on-Algebra Melvin has a “D” next to his name up there. guy’s a Democrat.

    sadly

  40. 40
    C.V. Danes says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    A few years ago, I would not have believed Americans capable of such opposition to even basic knowledge.

    Never spent any time in the deep south, eh?

  41. 41
    IowaOldLady says:

    Kids will probably get a decent education anyway. Algebra teachers will still teach algebra. The problem here is less on the ground than in the people in power.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Are there any sensible (and educated) conservatives in Arizona?

    Apparently, yes, as, according to the article, the Arizona and the Greater Phoenix Chambers of Commerce are opposed to this measure, and on record.

  44. 44
    Bill in Section 147 says:

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    Remember how the pretend Democrat Congress was crazy stupid because they didn’t even READ the ACA. They just grabbed a wiki entry or three and hit print and came up with thousands of Rand Paul speeches and somethin’ somethin’ and The Kenyan signed it into law? I’m just reprting it as someone said it once so I need to be sure to have some balance.

    Well, Senator Melvin was in the bathroom once and somebody in a Department of Education raincoat exposed the CORE so he just about read it all the same…good enough for the GOPspel according to the faithful.

    I keep thinking the stink is going to get so horrible that even the most zealous necrophiliac will stop banging the corpse of Reagan but they seem to lose themselves in the act.

  45. 45
    dmsilev says:

    @cleek: Huh? Story says

    Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson

  46. 46
    Joel says:

    @Rob in CT: Algebra, geometry, functions, modeling, and statistics, plus all the basic number stuff in elementary school. I don’t see what’s up for debate here.

  47. 47
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @cleek: Um, “Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson”

  48. 48
    Hungry Joe says:

    Don’t look now, but Sharia Law — algebra — is already in our schools. And Cuba is still only 90 miles away, though after all this time plate tectonics might have altered that number a little.

    @dmsilev: Sarah Connor was not a random person: She was Sarah Fucking Connor.

  49. 49
    C.V. Danes says:

    @japa21:

    And yes, I do blame Reagan for many of the ills currently besetting this country, but at least he was smart enough to realize when taxes were cut too far and raised them several times and was for gun control, among other things.

    It was the Alzheimer’s. He can be excused for occasionally forgetting what it meant to be a Republican..

  50. 50
    Petorado says:

    @Gin & Tonic: My sentiments exactly. I’m guessing she’s zombie Phyllis Schlaffly now and wanders the earth eating brains.

  51. 51
    Roast Beef says:

    @cleek: @cleek:

    He’s a Democrat? Really? Somebody better tell him that: http://www.azleg.gov/MembersPa.....sion_ID=87

  52. 52
    Cervantes says:

    @Mark S.: But then I’d die laughing.

    Which, come to think of it, is not a bad plan — so go for it.

  53. 53
    Bill in Section 147 says:

    @Petorado: Just reading “President Ronald Reagan’s “Address to Students at Moscow State University,” is making me want to…err…get busy.

  54. 54
    Cervantes says:

    @Amir Khalid: What an eventful few years you’ve had.

  55. 55
    cleek says:

    @Gin & Tonic: @dmsilev:

    sorry! sorry!

    shitty NY reading standards!

  56. 56
    Citizen_X says:

    @piratedan:

    Al’s also the bright bulb that wants to improve the business model by getting Arizona into the storage of nuclear waste niche market

    Heh. Works for me. After all, you can’t calculate radioactive waste decay curves without that that devilish Islamomath, with all the letters substituting for numbers and whatnot. So who knows how long that stuff’ll stay hot for? It’s all in God’s hands, right?

  57. 57
    Ruckus says:

    @cleek:
    He may have a D after his name but he isn’t a Democrat. Either that or I’m not. We share no values, none, nada, zilch, zero. It’s been a few decades but let’s see here. In algebra terms, Melvin=idiot

  58. 58
    PaulW says:

    I know we’re not supposed to have any other qualifiers for elected offices other than citizenship, residency and age, but for the love of God the sheer ignorance of today’s GOP makes me wanna require GED exam certifications to sort out the damn fools from ever holding office.

    Problem is, I can’t tell if this is for real – that these morons are indeed book-dumb and street-dumb – or if this is just an act to keep up their bona fides among the Teabagger base.

    “I’ve been exposed to them” should not be an excuse for “I don’t care about what you’re screaming about”.

  59. 59
    chopper says:

    jesus wept.

  60. 60
    Emily68 says:

    @psycholinguist: Just wait til he learns that students learn about RADICALS during algebra class.

  61. 61
    tybee says:

    @chopper:

    probably laughed until he cried.

  62. 62
    Ecks says:

    Can’t believe you all have got this refined gentleman so very wrong! He wasn’t bagging on algebra at all! He was objecting to using letters from the coarse LATIN alphabet instead of numbers. We should obviously use the greek letters instead, because everything sounds smarter with rho’s and epsilons… Look, if it’s good enough for our finest statisticians and frat bros…

  63. 63
    Ruckus says:

    Well I see that Cleek has been smacked with the ruler for his reading skills. As I based my answer off of his I’ll bet it’s my turn.

  64. 64
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    On your response to Cacti:

    Yup. And many people will think that you’re exaggerating.

    I often think that all of those dysfunctional attitudes keep them poor.

  65. 65
    David Hunt says:

    @dmsilev:

    Yes, and then the computers will achieve sentience, rename themselves Skynet, and send naked California governors back in time to chase after random people.

    So that’s what they did with Reagan’s corpse…

  66. 66
    Ecks says:

    @Ruckus:

    In algebra terms, Melvin=idiot

    I don’t know if I can keep up with that much multiplication. What happened to two by two, like the bible says?

  67. 67
    karl says:

    Two signs of the Apocalypse:

    (1) Numbers and letters living together;
    (2) Republicans bucking the Chamber of Commerce.

  68. 68
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Hunter Gathers: Al Jebr is part of the IslamoFascoSoshulist plot to oppress Xtians, take away everyone’s guns, fluoridate the water and gay-marry everyone. His pastor said so.

    @NCSteve: @jenn: I see you beat me to it.

    @Amir Khalid: Visit Florida. About 30-40 years ago its politics were elderly-centric, catering to retirees who’d spent all they intended to for education for themselves and their kids and had no intention of funding [gasp] schooling for all those Other folks. They were proudly 48th-best state for education (as of 2012 they’d moved up to 42nd, but mostly because Mississippi and Alabama moved up as well: got to be better than the neighbors. And wouldn’t you know AZ is now 49th-best…).

  69. 69
    Ecks says:

    @Emily68: Proper Republicans work in powers, not exponents. Because MURKA!

    And imaginary numbers are just lieberal propaganda also too. All numbers are lies, well known fact.

  70. 70
    Narcissus says:

    Maybe if we renamed it “Reagan math” it would be more acceptable

    Reaganometry

  71. 71
    Ruckus says:

    @PaulW:
    Are you trying to say that being exposed to t-baggers and religious fundamentalists can make one stupider? Or that being a member of either group makes one stupid?
    OK I see there is plenty of proof for either of these theories.

  72. 72
    Fred says:

    Everbody knows pie are round, ya dummy!

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ruckus:

    I think the confusion came in because there are two state senators from Tucson quoted in the story, Melvin (the R) and Bradley (the D). Bradley was the one questioning Melvin on his understanding of Common Core.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @Ecks:
    I believe it also says go forth and multiply.

    I’m going to assume that means maths and not fucking for our discussion.

  75. 75
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    That doesn’t mean that Cleek and I don’t deserve being smacked with a ruler. Not that either of us wants to be smacked but still.

  76. 76
    The Pale Scot says:

    @cleek: Wha..? Where am I, OK Steve Doocey

    Melvin has a “D”

    http://votealmelvin.com

    Take note of the Oliphant.

    Edit: Late to party as usual.

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @Narcissus:
    Is Reaganometry where nothing adds up and there are no other operators allowed?

  78. 78
    RaflW says:

    Arizona is on its way to being a dehydrated Mississippi. When the water wars get going, most of the populace will be too stupid to even understand the situation. I’d be sad, but the citizens seemingly voted for these asshats.

  79. 79
    NonyNony says:

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Are there any sensible (and educated) conservatives in Arizona?

    Sure. Just like in the rest of the country at this point they’re all Democrats.

  80. 80
    jibeaux says:

    I hate to even be on the same side as the teabaggers, even for completely different reasons (my reasons are more coherent), but Common Core routinely has me drinking by 5 p.m.

  81. 81
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Narcissus:

    Reaganometry

    To counteract the dreaded Algebarack.

  82. 82
    WereBear says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I often think that all of those dysfunctional attitudes keep them poor.

    Their culture does seem set up to undermine any efforts towards mental health, intellect, or sustained effort.

    I know them very well and they get really upset if anyone tries to get out or be different, too.

  83. 83
    catclub says:

    @karl: ” Republicans bucking the Chamber of Commerce.”

    You did see that some Labor Unions gave to the Chamber of Commerce to push the XL Pipeline?
    Gaaah.

  84. 84
    Citizen_X says:

    @Ruckus:

    Is Reaganometry where nothing adds up and there are no other operators allowed?

    Well here’s a hint: applied Reaganometry gives us Voodoo Economics.

  85. 85
    WereBear says:

    @WereBear: I know them very well and they get really upset if anyone tries to get out or be different, too.

    To follow up on my own thought, President Obama expressed similar pressures among inner city youth who are African American. So it’s very much a poverty trope.

    Hazing response? Not wanting to lose children to another culture? I think they are so touchy about their inferiority they are invested in keeping it.

  86. 86
    RSR says:

    I’m not a fan of the Common Core, mainly due to two factors.

    One, the cost is not on par with other educational materials. Even if the ‘standards’ are valid from an educational standpoint, the implementation is designed to enrich a few select companies, and is little more than more ed-reform grift.

    Two, testing students on their Common Core knowledge and success is and will be used to denigrate teachers, especially those with the longest careers and the toughest student bodies–poor students, ESL, students with IEPs, etc.

  87. 87
    Rob in CT says:

    @Joel:

    None of that sounds scary. Only a couple of things you listed jump out at me as possibly being added over and above what I got in my public high school (I don’t recall us doing anything on statistics).

    I always assumed that RW freaking out about Common Core had to do with social studies. You know, “revisionist history” in which bullshit history is replaced by something resembling honesty.

  88. 88
    Ruckus says:

    @Citizen_X:
    I couldn’t remember that the results had a name. But at least this supports my theory.

  89. 89
    ruemara says:

    @Ruckus: I’m sensing underlying bdsm issues.

  90. 90
    Death Panel Truck says:

    And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

    Shorter Al Melvin: “We don’t need no high-falutin’ book larning here in ‘Murica! Teacher, leave them kids alone!

  91. 91
    Bostondreams says:

    Not a huge fan of Common Core, but hope these folks realize that now they will have to budget millions to create NEW state standards….

  92. 92
    carolannie1949 says:

    @psycholinguist: Time to jump out of the building

  93. 93
    Bostondreams says:

    @Rob in CT:

    I always assumed that RW freaking out about Common Core had to do with social studies. You know, “revisionist history” in which bullshit history is replaced by something resembling honesty.

    There is no social studies in Common Core. It is present only in the sense that the appendix has a section on literacy in social studies. There is ZERO content or connection to social studies or science otherwise.

  94. 94
    MattR says:

    @RSR: I don’t disagree with those criticisms and I can understand opposition along those lines. What I don’t understand is the conservative freak out about national standards brainwashing their kids into some sort of liberal indoctrination.

  95. 95
    Cermet says:

    @GregB: Hey, Maryland is south of that line and we have one of the best public school systems in the country (1st or second for five years now) in all categories.

  96. 96

    @WereBear:
    I assume there’s a ‘black trash’ equivalent, but how much they’re the same or how prevalent they are, I have no idea. They have to exist by virtue of humans being humans, no matter the skin color – but raised among the white trash, I have no personal experience of them.

  97. 97
    Bostondreams says:

    Considering that it was the Reagan Administration that started the whole push towards national standards and assessments with ‘A Nation at Risk’, the gentleman who claims to be a Reagan conservative is simply ignorant.

  98. 98
    Ecks says:

    @Ruckus:

    Is Reaganometry where nothing adds up and there are no other operators allowed?

    Only the smooth kind.

  99. 99
    gvg says:

    My very first time for WP eating a comment was earlier in this thread!
    This guy is a moron.
    I have come to dislike Common Core this year because of the huge regimenting homework load on my little kindergartner. Over a hour a night? Parents being expected to read a huge text collection of common cultural stories to kids so they all know the same stories? Its a somewhat good idea gone amok. The designers needed a ruthless editor and didn’t get one. I’m pretty sure the cause was keeping idiots like the one in this new story unable to mess up the education of our kids but there will be a parent teacher backlash to this over controlling policy.
    There has to be a way to keep the no nothings from ruining education without turning the rules into a theoretical way that results in kids hating school.

  100. 100
    bemused says:

    @WereBear:
    @WereBear:

    I think you’re right about that segment feeling inferior. It’s pretty noticeable after living for decades in a rural/small town area. Heck, they won’t travel very far from home unless it’s to Vegas or sports events. They could choose to broaden their minds a little, instead they become more antagonistic to anything unfamiliar to them.

  101. 101
    jibeaux says:

    @MattR: It’s really dumb, and none of them can do more than splutter if any follow-up question is asked, much less give an actual example of what they’re talking about.

    For my complaints, I got examples. And I think the concerns about cost and about testing pressure on teachers are extremely valid. I complained at the district level about the fact that my seventh grader has not had to read a book for school since elementary school. It’s all passages and poems followed by questions — getting ready for the tests. I was told that while there is more focus on nonfiction, there should still be time for teachers to assign and read books. But they feel so much pressure from the tests, crazy ideas like “reading and discussing a novel” just aren’t going to make the cut. I did get his current teacher to agree to a nonfiction book (in its entirety! not a testing passage!), but I had to ask.

  102. 102
    Rob in CT says:

    @Bostondreams:

    Wow. See, I knew I didn’t know sh*t about CC.

  103. 103
    Barbara says:

    @jibeaux: I know exactly what you mean. It’s discombobulating to find myself agreeing with crazy right-wingers — well actually, they are agreeing with me, I hated CC first — but if they can contribute in any way, shape or form to derailing CC, I’ll have to say, good on them.

  104. 104
    jl says:

    I’m not going to let any federal commies teach my kids hexadecimal. They’ll get to fooling with them ‘puters which is the devils work. Like that ‘lecticity. I warnt them out chopping wood all day like my great grand pappy did.

    Edit: Don’t have time to read many of the comments right now. I’ll look later for what is the problem with the common core. Is it the content, or the rushed and rigid top-down implementation in many areas that concern some commenters here?

  105. 105
    Rob in CT says:

    I have come to dislike Common Core this year because of the huge regimenting homework load on my little kindergartner. Over a hour a night? Parents being expected to read a huge text collection of common cultural stories to kids so they all know the same stories?

    Ugh. That sounds… excessive.

  106. 106
    Joel says:

    @Rob in CT: Yeah, common core doesn’t cover that stuff. Just reading/writing and math. It’s supposed to be an international standard, so imagine the conflicts between China/Japan in the history department…

    Statistics is beyond what I did in high school too, although I learned them (and understanding them) in college. Missing is calculus, although that takes a ton of work to teach and isn’t all that useful for most people. And for those of us that use it (myself, occasionally) it’s not so bad to refresh.

  107. 107
    Joel says:

    @Rob in CT: Yeah, common core doesn’t cover that stuff. Just reading/writing and math. It’s supposed to be an international standard, so imagine the conflicts between China/Japan in the history department…

    Statistics is beyond what I did in high school too, although I learned them (and understanding them) in college. Missing is calculus, although that takes a ton of work to teach and isn’t all that useful for most people. And for those of us that use it (myself, occasionally) it’s not so bad to refresh.

  108. 108
    J R in WV says:

    Well, these (R) persons obviously did OK without any edumacation, after all, they’re in the lege, which is totally a biographical success.

    So maybe they DO have a point – a very sharp point, between their ears on top of their heads.

  109. 109
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    The statement about letters replacing numbers in math isn’t a quote, and I haven’t been able to find what he actually said about that. On its face, it’s so stupid that I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s been mis-quoted, possibly intentionally. I can’t believe that a functioning adult would say something so dumb.

  110. 110

    @Jonny Scrum-half:
    I can, but you’re right we shouldn’t assume if it’s not a quote.

  111. 111
    Cervantes says:

    @Jonny Scrum-half: Yes, caution is advisable. I’ve called his office.

  112. 112
    Rob in CT says:

    @Joel:

    We had calculus. It did nothing for me. I’m still not sure how I got my B. I enjoyed and was good at math through algebra, but after that things started going downhill. I’m still not entirely sure why. Stats does seem more likely to be useful to the average Joe than Calc.

  113. 113
    Ruckus says:

    @ruemara:
    I was afraid you might notice.

    Really don’t have any, was doing the catholic school nun punishment thing.

  114. 114
    jibeaux says:

    @gvg: The third grade math homework takes forever and makes you scream inside your head. If the learning to subtract two-digit numbers by following a four-step process using a hundreds chart (you know, like we all do) doesn’t get you, the four months of learning every conceivable way to multiply single-digit numbers OTHER THAN THE TIMES TABLES will. I think I cracked when they discussed how you could multiply numbers by 9 by just figuring out what it was by 5 by skip counting, then figuring out what it was multiplied by four by doubling it twice, then adding those two together. argghhhhhh

  115. 115
    RareSanity says:

    @Jonny Scrum-half:

    I don’t know, it could one of two things…

    He could have been playing to a crowd of morons. Maybe he knows better, but he doesn’t want them to know he knows better.

    Or…

    It is conceivable, if you are someone that mocks everything academic and have for entire life, and you have never taken Algebra…you could literally hold the opinion that, “Math is numbers…if your math has letters, sumpthin ain’t right about your math!”

  116. 116
    Ruckus says:

    @Ecks:
    If they were smooth operators they wouldn’t be so easy to spot.

  117. 117

    “I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

    What, he rubbed himself with the bill? Clearly he successfully fought off the “not a gibbering moron” cooties…

  118. 118
    Rob in CT says:

    @jibeaux:

    Not multiplying by 10 and subtracting one?

    I think I see what they’re trying to do, though. Sometimes kids don’t just “get it” and need it explained a different way. So somebody (almostly assuredly not a working teacher) figured “hey, let’s explaining every possible way!” That way, we’ll get the maximum benefit!

  119. 119
    Cervantes says:

    @Bostondreams: Well, to be fair, the notion that the federal Department of Education should simply not exist is from that era.

  120. 120
    jl says:

    @jibeaux:

    @Rob in CT:

    I think you mean n x 9 is n x 10 – n.

    I find that teaching several ways to think about a problem is very useful. I’m not sure that ripping through every possible way to think about doing a multiplication problem is useful.

    It’s better to find some practical or interesting application and show how different ways of thinking about the problem can help solve problems that the kids would find interesting to solve. In stats I always ask if there is some topic that they find interesting, like sports or music, and then I can use those for examples when using the same text book abstract or random applications in problem sets get old.

    I have heard complaints that the common core, particularly math and science, has been in some places introduced in a very rushed, and authoritarian top-down manner with little input from teachers. That would produce ‘interesting’ results no matter how good the curriculum was.

  121. 121
    Ruckus says:

    @jibeaux:
    I must be the strange one.
    I like that schools would teach more than one way to accomplish a task, to not have to do everything by rote. There are many ways to look at a problem but we have to teach people that it is possible to do that. And how to do it. We have brains, what’s wrong with using them? And I think that you do have to start young and education has to be respected otherwise you get idiots like this legislator who think giving too much education is bad. Of course one problem is that not everyone can grasp all the material. So some are left with less information. So we get lowest common denominator and tests to make sure everyone at least meets that lowest common denominator. That is absolutely for sure not the best way.
    I don’t have the answers either but one parent homes with that parent working 2 jobs just to eat isn’t going to make it, for there just isn’t enough time and energy in the day, for the parent or the kids. So it turns out jobs are important to learning as well. Teaching less isn’t going to make it either, the world has gotten more complex, we have machines which do more and relieve a lot of the tedium and backbreaking work of many jobs, but someone has to design, build, assemble and repair the machines. The world we work in has and is changing, education has to do the same and the how and what of that change is important as we all know.
    One of the things I complained about my education was that almost no one taught me to think, they wanted me to memorize. For me that doesn’t work well, the memory is fine, the recall can be jumbled because of dyslexia. But my cognitive skills are(or were, I’m getting old) great. I wanted people to recognize that we are different in thought and problem solving, not just in how we look or speak. That is to say, my schooling was boring. And being bored made me lazy because I didn’t give a damn about just memorizing unimportant details. I wanted to learn how, not just what.

  122. 122
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jibeaux:

    So, wait, why is all of this stuff in the homework and not taught during class time? That seems like an ass-backwards way of doing it.

    @jl:

    I have heard complaints that the common core, particularly math and science, has been in some places introduced in a very rushed, and authoritarian top-down manner with little input from teachers. That would produce ‘interesting’ results no matter how good the curriculum was.

    I think that in general common core is a good idea but it really does sound like the implementation sucks. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to start with, say, the English module, get that up and running, and then add the other ones rather than piling everything on at once?

  123. 123
    Captain C says:

    @Fuzzy: I’m pretty sure, having spent 12 years of my life in AZ, that there’s a secret clause in the AZ constitution which states that whenever another state does something crazy, stupid, or cruel, the AZ legislature has to try to top it ASAP.

    More seriously, I think wing nuts dominate the primaries, and then Yellow Dog Republicans who don’t pay attention vote automatically for whoever is on the R line.

  124. 124
    Cassidy says:

    Algebra is of the devil! Shit, I ain’t laughed this hard in a while.

  125. 125
    maurinsky says:

    The implementation of Common Core has been disastrous! My daughter is a first year teacher, she basically spends most of her classroom time documenting rather than teaching. It would have made more sense to start with Common Core for a particular incoming class – this year’s kindergartners, for example. Instead, you have 4th graders who have been learning math one way since they started school, and now they are getting a whole different approach. And because the implentation was for all grades at the same time, it will make it really difficult if not impossible to suss out whether it is actually better.

    It would be good to have some higher standards across our nation, but the way common core was implemented will basically set back entire grades of students.

  126. 126
    Seanly says:

    My entire job is premised on an understanding of algebra, calculus and physics. If AZ wants to eliminate their citizens from the future job pool I welcome them taking out some of my future competition.

  127. 127
    Rob in CT says:

    @jl:

    I think you mean n x 9 is n x 10 – n.

    Yes, that’s what I mean.

    I find that teaching several ways to think about a problem is very useful. I’m not sure that ripping through every possible way to think about doing a multiplication problem is useful.

    Right. It may be that for a particular student, you end up doing that. For one particular concept. But doing it for all students and all concepts strikes me as overkill.

  128. 128
    jibeaux says:

    @Ruckus: I think it’s good to learn the how, but the sequencing of math objectives in common core seems very weird to me. After you’ve done months of homework where you figure out 9 x 8 by drawing 72 damn circles and by skip counting 8 times 5 then adding (8 x 2) (8 x 2) to it, you honestly just want to scream NINE TIMES EIGHT IS SEVENTY-TWO, I may forget my children’s names when I’m a hundred years old but I will always know that NINE TIMES EIGHT IS SEVENTY-TWO, and if you forget your 9 times tables, you can do this cool trick where you count up to eight on your fingers starting with your left hand, put that finger down and voila — you have 7 fingers to the left of the finger and 2 to the right. I’ve taught many a kid that trick, they like it a helluva lot better than drawing 72 circles. Anyway, I need to yell at some kids to get off my lawn now.

  129. 129
    Captain C says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Maybe John McCain two decades ago. Maybe. Heck, late-life Barry Goldwater looks positively sane and forward-thinking compared to today’s crop of psychotic ignoramuses.

  130. 130
    Cassidy says:

    @maurinsky: Kids adapt well. It’s usually the adults who get their panties wound up.

  131. 131
    danimal says:

    Always look at the money before assuming conservatives are stupid. The opposition to Common Core is pretty obvious when you look at where conservatives are trying to direct your tax dollars. Common
    Core = evaluating schools on a level playing field. Level playing fields = public and private schools being evaluated fairly. Fair evaluation of private schools is NOT in the best interests of conservatives and their ongoing efforts to voucherize money into private school adminstration (IOW, grift and corruption) without improving services for students. Therefore, Common Core is a threat and must be destroyed.

    Public schools are still a superior investment in our children. Follow the money and follow the fear and you will understand the motives of conservatives.

  132. 132
    jibeaux says:

    @Rob in CT: The Common Core curriculum is meant to go “deep” rather than “wide”, the idea being that too many kids are getting a scattershot curriculum and aren’t spending enough time truly understanding the concepts. It sounds good, and in some respects I think it’s better than the prior curriculum that may have tried to do too much. But the sequencing of math objectives — I’m not the only person to say this — for many kids is backwards. Most of us are eventually going to grasp the concept of multiplication, but a lot of kids, previously, learned the times tables before they truly understood the finer details. These were usually the kids who struggled on word problems but could do the flash cards fine. CC really wants the kids to understand all the concepts before doing the rote work of the times tables. I understand the impulse, but in my experience tutoring these kids, they still have a very hard time with the word problems (some of which now ask you to estimate what you think the answer will be, generate an equation for solving it, and then solve it using a drawing or even to come up with two ways of solving it.) I think most of those kids would be more successful learning the times tables, which with some time they can all do, and continuing to work with them throughout the year on those concepts.

  133. 133
    jl says:

    @jibeaux: Just try these twenty-eight weird tricks to really save on your math calculation time. Watch this free video!

  134. 134
    jl says:

    @maurinsky: TPM had a book club on education reform. Some commenters griped about the way the author framed the issue. They may have a point; I don’t know since I never had time to read the introductory extracts.

    I did have time to read some of the case studies of dramatic success stories in other countries, and I noticed that they had one thing in common, which was enough trust in the teachers themselves to give them a lot of input into designing the development, implementation and evaluation of new curricula. Seems like that is the one thing that is absolutely forbidden in the U.S. It is infuriating to me, since I R a teach. I spend a third of my time teaching (and I get paid for a quarter of my time to teach, and am told to cough up the remaining time as I can). Problem is that I have been told by peers that I am getting a great deal, mainly because my evaluations are so high. Also, there are problems teaching my class since the pre-requisites have been radically modified and in some cases eliminated with zero input sought from me. I found out after the fact. And that is the contemptuous attitude of academic brass. The attitude outside the luxe ivory tower is worse, IMHO.

  135. 135
    Mnemosyne says:

    @jibeaux:

    I confess, I never learned my times tables, in part because I had undiagnosed ADHD and memory is a major issue for me. I can’t learn anything by rote memorization. I always need some form of mnemonic (ahem!) device.

    ETA: I can still sing many of them thanks to “Schoolhouse Rock,” but I can’t do the 8’s because the cartoon included someone falling through the ice and it freaked me out so much that I wouldn’t watch that one when it came on. True story.

  136. 136
    Anoniminous says:

    @Petorado:

    In Arizona zombies die of starvation.

  137. 137

    “I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

    The same way he was exposed to an overdose of gamma rays that turned him into the supervillain Mr. Stupido.

  138. 138
    Bostondreams says:

    @jl:

    I have heard complaints that the common core, particularly math and science, has been in some places introduced in a very rushed, and authoritarian top-down manner with little input from teachers. That would produce ‘interesting’ results no matter how good the curriculum was.

    Just to clarify, because lots of misinfo floats around about Common Core, science, like social studies, isn’t actually a part of Common Core. The new science standards are the Next Generation Science Standards, and not all states implementing Common Core are implementing the NGSS. Common Core only focuses on ELA/Literacy and Math. I agree with your point, though.

  139. 139
    jl says:

    @Mustang Bobby:

    ‘ “I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded. ‘

    Another way to interpret that is that Melvin has had to attend continuation school recently, for some reason. I hope the commenter who called into his office reports back.

  140. 140
    jl says:

    @Bostondreams: Thanks for the info.

  141. 141
    evodevo says:

    @cleek: Google says Melvin’s Repub.

  142. 142
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    as a conservative Reagan Republican

    Shorter Melvin: “I’m a cretin.”

  143. 143
    Ruckus says:

    @jibeaux:
    I don’t disagree that some teaching methods are…. intense. That is/was not my point, to show all the crazy ways that an answer can be arrived at. But that there are other ways to look at problems than just the one that requires memorizing a table. I have a friend who went to Montessori school. When I was first introduced to him I was told that he tied his shoes funny because of it. And he showed me how he did it. I didn’t recognize it as being wrong, just another way to get to the same point. The reason he did it different was that he had to learn on his own how to arrive at the finish point. To this day he is a great problem solver and thinks about things from many different prospectives because that’s how he was taught to look not just at his shoes but at the world. That’s my point. Having many different ways rammed into your head is really no different than only being shown one. It’s not how to teach thought, it is still memorization.

  144. 144
    maurinsky says:

    Not all kids adapt easily. I had a much easier time with rote memorization of multiplication and I understood the basics of multiplication, but I never could apply it the way my sister-in-law the accountant and her kids can – I can’t even articulate how easily they see the patterns in numbers that are still challenging for me to see with ease – it just isn’t how my mind works. I had to think of a verbal way to describe multiplication, I described it to myself as shortcut for adding. If I had to understand the concepts in elementary school, I would still be sitting at my desk crying over math homework.

    My daughter loves teaching. She loves the kids, she loves the parents. If she could just get some respite from constantly documenting the reactions of kids to the curriculum changes, she might actually get some teaching done! (Actually, she’s planning on leaving teaching as she feels strongly that she is being evaluated on something that she has so little ability to change that it is completely out of her hands).

  145. 145
    JR says:

    Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

    A + B = XXX

  146. 146
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Mustang Bobby: I took it as he saw a function without its brackets and a phrase sans parentheses and got offended at Teh Indecency.

  147. 147
    Walker says:

    @srv

    You Ivory Tower, pointed-headed liberals think everyone needs to go to college and take Calculus.

    I don’t care about them taking Calculus. I just want college kids capable of reading and writing proofs.

  148. 148

    Shorter Al Melvin: Math? No worries kids you never use it anyway.

  149. 149
    gvg says:

    They used to worry about kids being so bored by school they would tune out or act out. Common Core is so boring to teachers that they are the ones who are going to be tuning out.
    Someone above asked why the work wasn’t being done in class for kindegarten. Answer it is, but there is “non required”homework on top of that to reinforce and since the kid is not liking school we definitately have to “help” him. Then there is the huge book of common readings……with small print. My sister is freaking at how far behind we are. I personally despise that book as I think it is very boring versions of stories that have better versions and then there are bunches I’ve never heard of and I’m pretty well read. Like I said, they needed an editor.

  150. 150
    Cervantes says:

    @jl:

    I hope the commenter who called into his office reports back.

    Not obvious in the original post (above) is that Al Melvin’s remarks reflected prior objections to the Common Core (CC) curriculum. When he responded to Bradley about math last week, he was reiterating two separate and prior complaints: (1) about “fuzzy math”; and separately, (2) about some instance of the “substitution of letters over numbers.”

    And no, his complaint (1) has nothing to do with set theory; and his complaint (2) is not merely an objection to the teaching of algebra. Both are objections to CC that have been voiced before, by others.

    The “fuzzy math” objection (1) is explained here by Stanley Kurtz (NRO).

    And the “substitution of letters over numbers” objection is explained here in the context of 4th-grade mathematics.

    Three things: I’m not commenting on the validity of these objections to CC; and I think people should feel free to criticize Al Melvin for what he actually said and meant; and to criticize a poorly written newspaper article (by Howard Fischer) and anything based on it.

  151. 151
    Cervantes says:

    Also, if anyone is interested, the entire hearing can be streamed via the Arizona legislature’s web-site. The Common Core portion, including Al Melvin’s remarks and other relevant commentary, is in the last 30 minutes.

    In case the streaming link above does not work: mms://207.7.154.113/azleg/azleg_7348a769-6b99-41d0-8ee7-09300b8cee78.wmv?wmcache=0

  152. 152
    MattR says:

    @Cervantes: So they dislike giving partial (example 1) or extra (example 2) credit? I am really having a hard time understanding why either of those is so egregious.

  153. 153
    jl says:

    @MattR: The NRO story and links on 3 x 4 = 11 and the links are so vague, and full of partisan political BS, it is difficult to tell what the problem is.

    As for that particular example of replacing numbers with letters, not sure what the point of it is. If it is to help with problem solving, then an example with some motivation that provided a speck of interest in solving the problem would be nice.

    I don’t see how it helps to learn or understand division. Would be nice to find some explanation for the rationale behind a problem like that.

  154. 154
    jl says:

    @MattR: Also, not sure what to say about parents who are at a loss on how to help their kids for a problem that asks them to think about why one number is larger than another (from link in the 3 x 4 – 11 story).

    To gain self confidence, it is important to build skills in computation. But need to mix that with some explanation and encouragement to think about what is going on when you do the computations, and applications to problems that students find interesting. I do not see what is so hard about mixing those three things.

    A parent who gets upset about being asked to think about why one number is larger than another is unlikely to be helpful in anything but drilling rote computational skills, IMHO.

  155. 155
    MattR says:

    @jl: The complaint seems to be that accepting 3×4=11 as anything other than completely wrong is insane. It is weird to see the number of comments that this teaches kids a lesson that “in the real world you don’t need to have the right answer” while ignoring that these are 10 year old kids, not professionals in their field (or soldiers in the army as one youtube commenter compared them to). While they are still trying to learn the concept, it makes perfect sense to give partial credit for the portions of that concept they successfully understood and explained even if the final result it incorrect.

    From what I can tell, the other question was an extra credit problem that was designed to go beyond the boundaries of the lesson plan and give kids who are bored with the basic questions a chance to push their limits. But that is speculation because there were so few details provided so we have no idea what was being taught at that point or whether the next lessons were going to provide the tools needed to solve that problem. (EDIT: I should probably add that I was one of those kids bored out of my mind in math class who would welcome this kind of extra credit that extends beyond what has already been taught)

    PS. Completely agree with your second comment about the larger numbers (especially since they were not asking why 4 is bigger than 3, but why 2X is bigger than X)

  156. 156
    azlib says:

    @piratedan:

    Pretty much says it all as an AZ resident. It is surprising and embarassing what goes on in this state sometimes. A lobbyist friend of mine said some of these bills are “payback” for Brewer getting Medicaid expansion through with Dem support last session. They are daring her to veto these bills including the “religious freedom to be a bigot” bill and damage her with the base

  157. 157
    D58826 says:

    Having just finished read Mike Lofgren’s essay on the ‘deep state’ over on Huffington and then reading that this nitwit thinks using letters instead of numbers is ‘fuzz math’, makes you want to crawl in a very deep hole. I can’t even think of something sarcastic or snarky to say, it is just overwhelmingly depressing. Whither thee common core is a good idea or not is a reasonable topic for debate but ‘fuzzy math’.

  158. 158
    Bill Arnold says:

    @MattR:

    The complaint seems to be that accepting 3×4=11 as anything other than completely wrong is insane.

    Can’t help but wonder about the possible reactions to Fermi estimation.
    (xkcd link that explains key aspects of such methods nicely.)

  159. 159
    D58826 says:

    @MattR: I was in high school in the mid-60’s and we got partial credit if we solved the equation using the correct approach even if we made some mistakes with the arithmetic. Partial credit is not something new with \CC

  160. 160
    MattR says:

    @Bill Arnold: Heh. I definitely freaked out a bit the first time my physics teacher said something like “let’s assume pi is 3” when doing a calculation.

    @D58826: Agree completely which is why the freakout is so confusing to me. If anything it sounds like Common Core is just applying that to earlier grade levels and more “core” concepts where the focus used to be entirely on right vs wrong.

  161. 161
    Cervantes says:

    @D58826:

    and then reading that this nitwit thinks using letters instead of numbers is ‘fuzz math’

    That’s not what he thinks.

  162. 162
    opiejeanne says:

    @boatboy_srq: Little Polly Nomial?

  163. 163
    El Cid says:

    Is algebra in the Bible? (The real one, the King James version just as God wrote it.) No? Then you don’t need to learn it.

    The rot may be so deep that we need restart our space program with nothing but real, integer numbers and none of this secular algebra or calculus or other non-Biblical math.

  164. 164
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    So, wait, why is all of this stuff in the homework and not taught during class time?

    Flipped classroom. This is the wave of the future. Class time is too valuable to be wasted on direct instruction. It’s for assessment. Because assessment is what really matters. That’s where winners and losers are determined and declared. And that’s why you have schools.

  165. 165
    Ian says:

    @dmsilev:
    Ewww… naked Jerry Brown.

  166. 166
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    @El CidYou can’t go out into space with fractions, man. What are you going to land on, one-quarter, or one eighth?

  167. 167
    Bostondreams says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I think that in general common core is a good idea but it really does sound like the implementation sucks. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to start with, say, the English module, get that up and running, and then add the other ones rather than piling everything on at once?

    Common Core only has two subjects: ELA and Math. The problem is more often the assessments rather than the standards.

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