St. Tammany School Board Votes To "Phase Out" Eureka Math This Year - Part 1

Last night the St. Tammany Parish School Board voted to "phase out" the use of  the Eureka Math Curriculum in the Parish by the end of the year.  There were quite a few parents and teachers who testified both for and against the use of the Eureka Math (EngageNY) curriculum in our high performing district.

I'm going to write a series of blogs on the conversation, the misunderstandings, the testimonies and most importantly the FACTS about Eureka Math and how our district administration has failed the teachers and parents of this district. When a link to the video of the meeting is made available, I will post it.

A friend sent this article to me this morning and I will use it as my first post because it illustrates the overall atmosphere of distrust and animosity that has been promulgated by administration in pitting teachers against teachers and teachers against parents.  The fact that I was heckled by many teachers as I approached the microphone toward the end of the meeting was quite disturbing, but because I understand that they have allowed themselves to be insulated from the realities of so-called education reform, it is incumbent upon me and others to take responsibility for them.  I don't mean to imply they are incapable and I need to "mend their ways."  Being a teacher myself (retired) I know the challenges they are facing and I also know WHY and HOW they have been placed there because of my work the last four years ADVOCATING for them and for our public school system.

Don’t be ‘Gaslighted’ by Common Core Supporters

gaslighting meme
Stories from all around the country are popping up about schools sponsoring meetings to teach parents how to do math with their children.  If you’ve been invited to learn how to calculate elementary math at your school, we’d like to know if you attended, what was discussed and if this was sponsored by an ed reform group.  These meetings have been necessary with the negative press about Common Core math problems requiring children to write sentences in early grades (2nd grade)  explaining how they arrived at the answer and aligned to the Common Core Math standards.

A parent can only hope their child is English proficient and has no language delays:

muffin math problem

Math problems now require extra steps and rounding at a very early age:

third grade math problem

How would your kindergartner grasp the necessary skills to successfully answer this problem?

Now the Common Core proponents will chime in!  It’s only ‘just’ standards and it’s that the implementation and curriculum used is faulty.  It has NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the Common Core States Standards Initiative.  Move along, nothing to see here.
I know parents hear this every day and you can visit various hashtags (such as #commoncore) on Twitter and see this over and over again.  Here’s how the proponents try to discredit parental concern and marginalize those asking questions by tweeting:
  • Show me a standard you don’t like
  • We can change the standards any time we want
  • We are the educators (we know better)
  • So how many years have you taught math?
  • You hate Obama
  • You’re fringe
Basically these arguments are trying to make you feel inept and marginalized.  They want you silenced while they don’t answer parental questions on the appropriateness of the standards and curriculum and assessments.  They are trying to make you feel crazy for questioning why your child is imploding while doing homework and getting partial credit for the right answer.  They aregaslighting you:
Gaslighting or gas-lighting[1] is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memoryperception, andsanity.[2] Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
The 1938 stage play Gas Light, known as Angel Street in the United States, and the film adaptations released in 1940 and 1944 motivated the origin of the term because of the systematic psychological manipulation used by the main character on a victim. The plot concerns a husband who attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment, and subsequently, insisting that she is mistaken or remembering things incorrectly when she points out these changes. The original title stems from the dimming of the gas lights in the house that happened when the husband was using the gas lights in the attic while searching for hidden treasure. The wife accurately notices the dimming lights and discusses the phenomenon, but the husband insists she is imagining a change in the level of illumination.
The term “gaslighting” has been used colloquially since the 1970s to describe efforts to manipulate someone’s sense of reality. In a 1980 book on child sex abuseFlorence Rushsummarized George Cukor‘s 1944 film version of Gas Light, and writes, “even today the word [gaslighting] is used to describe an attempt to destroy another’s perception of reality.”[5] The term was further popularized in Victor Santoro’s 1994 book Gaslighting: How to Drive Your Enemies Crazy, which ostensibly outlines legal tactics the reader might use to annoy others.

Parents: when you go into your school conferences and questions about Common Core arise, understand the ‘gaslighting’ technique your administrators will try to use on you to deny that Common Core is higher, rigorous and will allow your child to think ‘critically’.  Reality about the standards and the lofty claims?  It’s just a theory and fluffy words are supposed to make you feel crazy for doubting your parental instinct that something is terribly wrong with what your child is learning and how this information is being presented.
Take heart parents, it’s not only your group being marginalized, ridiculed and silenced.  Teachers face the same gaslighting treatment:

Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted reports Tuesday that teachers are being reprimanded for speaking out against Common Core standards on social media.
A teacher in Rapides Parish, in Alexandria, La., was “written up” for writing a negative post on Facebook about the controversial standards, according to Town Talk.
“This is a hot national debate,” the teacher told the paper. “Why can’t I comment? I did not say a word about anything locally.”
Jindal, who is suing the Obama administration for coercing states into adopting the standards, said silencing teachers is not helpful to the debate.
“This is outrageous. Teachers are now being chastised for speaking out against Common Core,” he said. “Teachers have problems with Common Core, and we should be listening to them.”
Carol Burris asks the $64,000 question to the gaslighters and shines a light on their hypocrisy:

carol burris
And why are parents marginalized for their concerns?

Published on October 9, 2014

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2 Responses to Don’t be ‘Gaslighted’ by Common Core Supporters

  1. Sandra M SmithReply
    October 9, 2014 at 11:51 am
    Great article as always Gretchen. Ever since I learned about the term gas lighting I have recognized it in certain situations. It is always shocking to realize it is happening. Here it is spot on. In fact, this happened to me yesterday. It was a well meaning teacher who was heartily perpetuating what he had been told repeatedly at school. He sent me the old and new math standards for 7 th grade and asked which part I objected to. Well in middle school the old and new standards resemble one another more closely than in the early grades, where they are developmentally impossible, and large later grades, where too much “rigorous ” content has been removed. I asked him to review the 1st grade math standards and watch the Dinita Brown video and let me know what he thought. But the conversation started off making me out to be following the unfounded hysteria, of course. It is hard for an average parent to stand up to that challenge. They just get shut down. My favorite point to him (this was fun) was when I said there is as much pro-CC propaganda as anti-CC propaganda out there. The difference is that the pro-CC propaganda has millions behind it, like funding to NBC, PBS, the PTA, Chamber of Commerce, etc.
  2. bobmontgomeryReply
    October 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm
    So you are a federal agent battling armed terrorists in Chicago. There are twenty of them. So far, you have killed ten. Draw a bar graph and picture story to determine how many more you still have to eliminate in order to save Chicago. Write a story explaining how you arrived at the answer and submit it to FBI headquarters so they will understand how you arrived at your answer. Use at least ten steps to arrive at the closest possible answer to the actual number of terrorists still at large. Round to the nearest two terrorists.

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