Common Core: The Great Divide - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Common Core: The Great Divide

(WAFF) -

Presidential candidate Donald Trump says Common Core has a place in the classroom. Alabama State Senator Rusty Glover has introduced a bill to repeal it. Now, more than five years after it was approved, Alabama leaders are standing by the education standards.

Yet, some parents have renamed Common Core "Common Confusion." 

When we asked Huntsville mother Christy Chambers about helping her children with homework, Chambers told us, "A lot of it's different and I don't understand it."

Another Tennessee Valley parent, Amberly Holley, admits, "Some of the things, it is overwhelming."
We talked with parents who say they are already having a hard time remembering what they learned in school. Then, when you mix in the new Common Core teaching methods, their reaction is often frustration to the core.  
Doresa Jennings says her friends complain about inconsistencies in grading.

Jennings says, "They're posting something like my kids got this marked off and I don't know why. Because the answer was right, and you know, I showed them the way I was taught and now apparently that's not correct."
Recently, on the WAFF Facebook page, we asked viewers what they thought about Senator Glover's effort to repeal the Common Core standards in English and math. We were flooded with comments from people who want to see Common Core kicked to the curb or, at least, out of Alabama.

Tonya Little wrote, "It's sad when your child brings homework home for you to help him and you have to reteach him an easier way because he's absolutely lost."
Yet, Patricia Beard is worried that without Common Core Alabama's students won't be able to compete with others across the country.

Beard wrote, "Come on, Alabama!! Please stop trying to keep our kids uneducated and behind the rest of the world...we can do better!!"
Even so, the complaints about Common Core methods are widespread in the Tennessee Valley. Many parents are telling us they never thought they would feel helpless trying to help their child with math homework in elementary school.

For example, I tried to use one of the Common Core methods to solve a basic problem, 15 plus 17. Based on Common Core, you would represent 15 and 17 by drawing groups of tens and ones. Once they are drawn, you would take five ones from the 17 block, and add them to the other five ones from the 15 block to make a new group of ten. This gives you three groups of ten and a subtotal of 30. The two remaining ones from the 17 block can't be added to anything to make a new ten group. So, the two remaining ones are added to the three groups of ten, to come up with the correct answer of 32. 

Educators say they are giving students different ways to find the same answer. Yet, some students are saying they would rather use the traditional math methods since they feel like they are faster.

Doresa Jennings tells us, "Most of the kids I'm coming into contact with who are being taught in this way [Common Core], they don't love math, they don't like math, they don't want to do math."
Yet, supporters for Common Core and Alabama's College and Career Ready standards are just as passionate. 

Stephanie Hyatt teaches English at Lee High School in Huntsville. While admitting she has had some agonizing moments with her own children trying to figure out their assignments, Hyatt says the pros outweigh the cons since students are learning critical thinking skills. 

Hyatt says, "The teacher was still looking for the right answer. She was giving the students multiple ways to get to that right answer but the right answer was still the right answer."

Former teacher Mike Parsons spearheads the group SAVE, Save Alabama's Values and Education. Parsons is opposed to Common Core for a number of reasons including a data system that was approved last year. The data system will track the progress of Alabama students from kindergarten into the workforce. Parsons says counselors will use these assessments to funnel students into a career path that is picked by the government and not by the student.
"That in of itself using a data driven program to place kids on a four-year career pathway starts to smack a little bit of socialism." 

Alabama's Education Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice couldn't disagree more. 

"It has nothing to do with determining what career they go into, it has nothing to do with anything like that, period."

Governor Bentley says that data will be used to create a pipeline of Alabama students who are ready to work and meet the demands of the global economy. 

Senate President Del Marsh has offered up a compromise amendment. It would give local school districts the option of eliminating Common Core or keeping the standards if they are working well.  

Huntsville Chamber of Commerce has several links on support for Alabama's current standards. To view them click here and here.

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