Two veteran math educators both say it’s time to cast aside our societal math phobia—and embrace the Common Core as the most promising way to overcome our fear of all things quantitative. Alice Gill, senior associate director for educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers, and Linda Gojak, past president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, penned a thoughtful op-ed for Cleveland’s The Plain-Dealer. In it, they decry the scare tactics politicians have used to stir up opposition to the Common Core standards when they neither understand nor have seen how teachers carry them out in the classroom. Gojak and Gill joined other Common Core supporters in testifying in September against legislation that would abolish the new standards in Ohio. Political wrangling obscures the fact that the people who will be most responsible for the Common Core’s success, the teachers themselves, are increasingly embracing it, write Gill and Gojak:
In fact, the more experience teachers have with Common Core, the more they believe in it, found a recent survey of more than 1,600 teachers nationwide. Some 84 percent of teachers who have experienced more than one year of full implementation say they are enthusiastic about Common Core. While politicians pontificate about programs they have never seen in action, while opponents poison the public debate with fear-mongering denunciations that defy credulity, we prefer to focus on what Common Core looks like in our most promising classrooms.
Beyond the political posturing, some opposition comes from parents and educators who are unfamiliar with the new math methods and are afraid children will be demoralized if they struggle with challenging material. But Gojak and Gill argue that learning happens when students tackle difficult material and ultimately prevail:
Perhaps the most important thing about these standards is they challenge children to think. We refuse to buy into the argument that Common Core is just too hard for some children—that some children just aren't able to really understand math.
We applaud Gill and Gojak for expecting, and believing, that our children are capable of thinking deeply about math and meeting a higher bar. We need more people who believe our children can soar.
Photo courtesy of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, by Lynn Ischay.
Caroline Bermudez is chief storyteller at the Charter School Growth Fund and former senior writer at Education Post. Bermudez has been a journalist for almost 10 years. She was staff editor at The Chronicle of Philanthropy, covering the nonprofit world, with a particular focus on foundations and high net-worth giving. She has interviewed prominent business, political and philanthropic leaders ...