Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Daily News: Pearson's Common Core Kindergarten Curriculum Is A Mess

Yesterday I posted about complaints teachers and students have over the Engage NY Common Core ELA curriculum provided by the NY State Education Department for high school students.

Today the New York Daily News reports the Common Core curriculum developed by Pearson for kindergarten is problematic as well:

Are you smarter than a kindergartner?

Adults asked by the Daily News to complete a new vocabulary exercise offered to 4- and 5-year-olds as part of the city’s new Common Core curriculum weren’t so sure.

The curriculum, which is optional, aims to teach kindergartners higher-order thinking skills, and tasks them with drawing pictures of vocabulary words. The News chose the words “distance” and “responsibility” and told those who’ve long since finished grade school to put their thinking caps on.

“I’m glad I skipped kindergarten!” said Brian Schwartz, who graduated from Oxford University at 18 and is a member of the Omega Society, which professes to accept only the brightest of the bright. Schwartz drew an infinite road for “distance,” and declined to share his representation of responsibility, calling it “a total failure.”

The city estimated last spring that new Common Core textbooks, designed by education company Pearson, would cost $56 million. But more city schools than expected have ordered the new Department of Education-suggested textbooks and materials, so the final price tag is not yet available.

Schools chancellor Dennis Walcott, a former kindergarten teacher, declined to take the kindergarten challenge.

“I think, honestly, the City of New York should send the curriculum back to Pearson and get our money back,” said United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew. “As a taxpayer, I’m fuming.”

For kindergartners, the trouble with the exercise begins with the fact that the workbook forces kids to draw in a 2-inch-by 4-inch box.

“They can’t make anything in that small little space. That to me is a setup for failure,” said Sandra Fajgier, a kindergarten teacher at Public School 10 in Brooklyn, who said she was “totally stumped” when first approached about making a drawing. Department of Education spokeswoman Erin Hughes defended the agency, calling the curriculum “100% optional,” though 90% of schools have the adopted city-suggested texts.

Officials at Pearson, which designed the kindergarten ReadyGEN materials, noted the materials teach kids vocabulary words in multiple ways before they are asked to draw, including in this case by reading the award-winning book “Make Way for Ducklings.”

The city claims the Pearson Common Core curriculum is optional but a commenter at the DN notes:

Apparently even the DOE spokesperson has no idea what is happening in schools. The DOE took all of every school's New York State textbook money to buy this program. Nothing about that was optional. 

Another notes:

They claim it is "optional," but will punish you if you don't conform. It's "optional" in the old Nazi way. 

Another commenter sums the whole mess up:

Tragic, truly tragic. This could be the last straw. I can only hope that the children are charged with illustrating the word "devastation" to see exactly how a bewildered five year- old using a fat purple crayon would draw the current mayor and his hapless toadies imposing stupidity on a city. 

Indeed - a mess.

Back in January, I posted about the damage that the Common Core has done to kindergartners in the NYC school system.

Play has been replaced by test prep, hands on learning and activities have been replaced by drudgery and "rigorous" academic lessons.

And now from this Daily News story, you can see what those "rigorous" academic lessons are.

From kindergarten to high school, the reformers are wreaking devastation across the school system and doing permanent damage to children, the teaching profession and schools.


  1. And, oddly, this mess continues to get NYSUT's and the UFT's "stamp of approval".

    1. The Common Core has the NYSUT and UFT stamp of approval, but not the Pearson curriculum. Pearson didn't pay the boys and girls at the unions off. If they had, you can bet Mikey Mulgrew would be nowhere to be found in this DN article.

  2. TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMulgrew)October 20, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    So,I guess my posting of the first thought that came to my head would be repetitive?

    For the record, it was "optional, my ass."

    My second thought was, this was in the Daily News? Which editor got fired for letting this hit the web or the newspaper?

    1. They do occasionally criticize the reform agenda, as does the Post. See this January Post I wrote that looked at a very powerful and very disturbing Post story about what Common Core has done to kindergarten:

  3. While I saw a list of words from the history section and thought many of them over the top, I always asked my younger students "Do you want to learn the baby word or the grown up word?" And they always wanted the grown up word. When they did a good job I would tell them they weren't in kindergarten but in high school, and you can see them burst with pride. I truly believe in developing a more sophisticated vocabulary at a young age, and I have no problems with the words distance or responsibility....but if you look at the arbitrary list offered by NYS, it's unbelievable the same way I find it unbelievable to impose harder math concepts at such an early age. Here is a great Halloween vocabulary lesson...grades 3 and up called "The Vocabulary Graveyard". Each child traces a headstones on grey paper and chooses a different word, for example, "Said" and writes R.I.P. Said on the top. Then using a thesaurus, they find more sophisticated words to use and write them underneath. This makes a wonderful October B-board when webbing is applied over the headstones. The students have to try to use their new vocabulary finds correctly in their writing and speaking.

    1. I don't have any problem with helping children to expand their vocabulary. I think the thing I find most disturbing about the kindergarten changes is the shift from play to academic work, as if children don't learn from play and social interactions and the rest. That to me is unconscionable. Let kids move and play and just be. Instead, the Common Coreites want to turn five years old into little accountants and lawyers...

    2. Exactly.....CC is going to be taking the fun out of learning. When test prep became a big deal at my school, I didn't even have time to do the fun projects like "The Vocabulary Graveyard". But I do think teachers in general need to expand a student's vocabulary without David Cole telling us what we should and should not teach. He is not a fan of creative writing or fiction and read alouds. How sad is that???

    3. Sadly, I think this is what the CCSS are meant to do - abolish all creativity and fun from the classroom.

  4. Again,like everything else "Common Core"it's a foot in the door for the textbook publishers and their metastatizing testing arms,ensuri.g that they continue to have access to "their share" of the pubkic fisc that flows frim the spigot of spending on education,especislly in this time of uncertainty,what with new,media stsrting to slide in somewhat obtrusively at times.

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