Berkeley Professor & Mathmetician: Common Core ‘Will Move U.S. Closer to Bottom in International Ranking’, They Lied About Standards


Educators in the most liberal of institutions, U.C. Berkeley, is crying foul about Common Core promises and it’s effect on students ability to enter University. In an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, Marina Ratner, renowned professor emerita of mathematics at Berkeley, explains why the Common Core standards will make math education even worse in the United States and move the nation “even closer to the bottom in international ranking.”

math frustrated kid

Ratner writes that she initially experienced the Common Core standards last fall through her then-sixth grade grandson in Berkeley.

“As a mathematician I was intrigued, thinking that there must be something really special about the Common Core,” she recalls. “Otherwise, why not adopt the curriculum and the excellent textbooks of highly achieving countries in math instead of putting millions of dollars into creating something new?”

Upon closer review of the standards, Ratner says she observed, “They were vastly inferior to the old California standards in rigor, depth and the scope of topics.”

“Many topics — for instance, calculus and pre-calculus, about half of algebra II and parts of geometry — were taken out and many were moved to higher grades,” she writes.

“It became clear that the new standards represent lower expectations and that students taught in the way that these standards require would have little chance of being admitted to even an average college and would certainly struggle if they did get in,” Ratner continues. Reviewing her grandson’s math homework, Ratner found it followed the Common Core math standards exactly. Assignments on fractions required drawing pictures of “6 divided by 8, of 4 divided by 2/7, of 0.8 x 0.4, and so forth.”

“For example, create a story context for 2/3 divided by 3/4 and use a visual fraction model to show the quotient…” Ratner reads, and then asks, “Who would draw a picture to divide 2/3 by 3/4?”

Noting that, with Common Core, students are continually asked to draw models to answer “trivial questions,” Ratner asserts, “A student who gives the correct answer right away (as one should) and doesn’t draw anything loses points.”

With all these flaws, however, she says she is most astounded by the pro-Common Core claim that the standards are “internationally benchmarked.”

“They are not,” she writes. “The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries, just as they fail compared to the old California standards.”

The Common Core standards “are lower in the total scope of learned material, in the depth and rigor of the treatment of mathematical subjects, and in the delayed and often inconsistent and incoherent introductions of mathematical concepts and skills,” Ratner writes.

Common Core advocates keep lying about the rigor of their standards. Experts in the field have warned mainstream education to go back to the previous and better standards before we destroy our children’s future college hopes. Without pressure from parents to Congress they will never to the old standards.

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