Parents share frustration over Common Core homework - - The News for South Mississippi

Parents share frustration over Common Core homework


We've already heard the heated political debates, even lawsuits filed to suspend or get rid of Common Core altogether. But, we wanted to hear from parents. So we reached out to people on Facebook and we were bombarded with comments, most of them against Common Core.

We sat down with two of those moms to see how these new academic standards are affecting families at the homework table.

It is pretty obvious how one Gautier family feels about Common Core. Their front yard is filled with "Stop Common Core" signs.

"Hate it, absolutely hate it," said the homeowner Nikki Tashiro.

Tashiro is one irate parent.

"I want Common Core gone. I hate that the first three weeks of school, my six-year-old asked me if she could be a drop out," said Tashiro.

Her neighbor, Kelly Watson, has also noticed a change in her eight-year-old daughter Faith.

"This year, she really has gotten so low in self-esteem. She asked me before Christmas, she said, 'Mommy, does Santa come to stupid kids' houses too?'" said Watson.

That's why we wanted to sit down with both families to experience for ourselves what they go through every night.

"Five times six," Watson asked Faith.

"Honey, that's not right," she said as Faith showed her the wrong answer.

Instead of memorizing her multiplication tables, Faith had to use symbols like circles or tally marks to come up with her answer.

"Seven times five," Watson asked.

"36," Faith answered.

"No, that's wrong too. Try it again," said her mom.

"Why is it wrong? I just counted them?" said the frustrated third grader.

"On each one of these, she got it wrong the first time and it's because when she goes to count all these circles, she gets lost," said Watson.

When asked how she felt about school, Faith replied, "I really don't like it anymore. I just don't want it. Every day, you can ask my mom, I ask her to home school me."

Faith told us she is worried about failing in school. Her mom said Faith used to make As, but not anymore.

"Yes, Fs, Ds and Cs. I have not gotten higher than a C, except for one time. That's it. Last year, nothing below a B. Nothing," said Faith.

We felt the same tension at the Tashiro's home.

"I don't understand it," said Heidi

"Figure this out and finish that," her mom said.

"I don't know," said an exasperated Heidi.

"Figure it out. You learned it at school," said Tashiro.

"I don't know," HeidHeidid again.

Heidi had to figure out some math word problems. Remember, she's only in the first grade.

"Solve the number sentences. Write the double fact that helped you solve the double plus one," her mom asked.

"What's plus one in double fact?" asked Heidi as tears filled her eyes.

"This is where we get stuck and this is where we spend a great deal of time trying to figure out until she gets completely frustrated and breaks down in tears, or until I do. It makes no sense to me," said Tashiro.

"Don't get upset. Let's finish this one," she told her daughter.

Heidi is also struggling with English.

"No, I can't do English," Heidi said. "It talks a different language."

"Imperative, declarative, interrogative, such big words for a first grader," said Tashiro as she pointed to the piece of paper.

"It's way too far above a first grader's level. It's like they're trying to push fifth or sixth grade work on a first grader. That's confusing. It's hard," she said.

The Math and English/Language Arts specialists in the Gulfport School District admit the lessons are more challenging now. Gulfport was one of the first to implement Common Core as part of a pilot project in Mississippi five years ago.

"It's not a multiple choice question. They actually have to do the math," said Math Specialist Johanna Hughey. "We're still teaching the same things we taught before. We're just going in more depth."

And when students take the PARCC assessments, which are aligned to Common Core, they will have to apply more critical thinking skills.

For example, before, a math problem would have one correct answer. If you can't solve it, you can take a guess and move on. But with Common Core, you have to work out the problem and evaluate each choice, because there could be two or more right answers. Plus, children will be able to use interactive tools to drag and drop, highlight, and write their answers in a box.

"The children are going to be asked to write about their thinking. So they're going to have to explain in words how they solved the problem and why an answer is the way that it is, justify their answer to explain why it works. They will also have to apply it to real world situations," Hughey explained.

On the English and Language Arts tests, students will have to show they actually understand what they are reading. They have to read several passages, then write essays using evidence from those passages to back up their answers.

"Not only are you answering the question, you're explaining how you came to that answer," said English/L.A. Specialist William Rester. "You really, as a student, have to know how to closely read, know how to pick and understand the question, what it's asking for, and then you have to demonstrate that by selecting the right evidence."

Some parents think this way of learning helps children develop reasoning skills and they can apply those lessons to real life.

Suzanne C. wrote: "My child is happy and her report cards prove it by her being on the honor roll every year."

Susan V. said: "Our grandchildren are excelling. Please do not pull a better way of teaching so that we old folks can maintain the status quo."

Still, at least two moms in Gautier don't believe the new standards will solve Mississippi's education problems. They say they understand any changes would have to come from the state level.

"The parents are tired and they're ready for people to start listening, and we don't want this. Our kids are suffering because of it," said Watson.

"She won't be in public school next year if Common Core continues. Education is so important, but to me this is not education. This is child abuse," said Tashiro.

Educators encourage parents to participate in workshops and communicate with their child's teachers to find out what their little ones are learning in school. Students can also take advantage of after-school tutoring. Parents can also go on the PARCC website to take the practice tests, either online or on paper.

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