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WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

Parents Speak Up On Common Core Standards

WUNC File Photo

The state commission charged with reviewing and proposing changes to the Common Core standards heard from a handful of parents on Monday. Many of them already attend the group’s meetings regularly and strongly oppose the Math and English goals.

The group, which first met in September, has been working on collecting feedback from stakeholders through surveys and now public meetings.

“It’s so critical for us to be not only transparent, but inclusive,” said co-chair Andre Peek.

The turnout was relatively low on Monday, with roughly 15 parents signing up to speak. Most of them shared their opinions on the math standards.  

“I feel like the common core standards are forcing all of our children to go to remedial math when they don’t need it,” said Darlene Agle, who’s a mathematician.

She says North Carolina should borrow standards from other states that have proven to be successful.

Agle applauded the work of the North Carolina Education Coalition, which is composed of two retired teachers and a third volunteer. The group, which presented to the board Monday, pulled standards from across the globe that they say encourage critical thinking.

Terry Stoops, director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation, also raised questions about the math standards. He said students don’t get enough exposure or practice with standard algorithms.  

“Instead you find cute little activities that exhaust students’ time,” he said.

He described a second-grade assignment that requires students to create newspaper advertisements to show off their favorite math strategy.  

“For every minute that my second-grader spends creating a newspaper to advertise his favorite strategy, he could be practicing so when he gets to fourth-grade he’s not going to find himself unable to divide simple numbers,” he said.

Kim Arwood, a parent and Wake county math teacher, defended the standards. She argued that they encourage higher-level, conceptual thinking that’s necessary for today’s world.

“I think that probably parents in the '80s and '90s were very frustrated when their kids came home learning about computers. It’s new, it’s scary,” Arwood said, explaining why some parents may be frustrated.

Alina Castillo, a parent and Chapel Hill math teacher, agreed with Arwood.

“The standards teach them how to think and reason, rather than learning skills they sometimes forget,” she said.

Another teacher spoke up, arguing that the problem lies with implementation, not the standards.

“Do not dismantle the standards,” Cathy Kimble said. “Any new ones will not look fundamentally different.” 

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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