In tweets heard around the social media world this week, Louis C.K. became the loudest—or at least the most famous—detractor of the Common Core State Standards. “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry,” he said. “Thanks standardized testing and common core!”
Like many parents, the comedian has become increasingly concerned about the standards' test-focused approach. The CCSS has been the biggest education effort in the country since the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind, which promoted the “dumbing down” of curricula to show better improvement in performance. Now, through standardized testing, CCSS specifically spells out what English and math lessons K–12 students need to learn at each grade.
“[American students] are now competing in an international environment,” Association for Career and Technical Education’s Janet B. Bray said. “[They’ll] need to meet international benchmarks to remain relevant in today’s workplace.”
For the comedian, however, the standardized exams seem not only to be unnecessarily rigorous but poorly executed as well. To wit, C.K. tweeted photos of his third-grade daughter’s practice sheets. One asked this vaguely written question: “Why might you want each picture to stand for more than 1 balloon?”
Many of his 3.36 million followers retweeted the comedian’s rants, but not everyone is pleased. In a Newsweek op-ed titled “Sorry, Louis C.K., but You’re Wrong About Common Core,” Alexander Nazaryan argued that kids in low-income neighborhoods could benefit from higher standards and more teacher accountability in the classroom. He said that C.K. has "used that bully pulpit to malign an earnest effort at education reform, one that is far too young to be judged so harshly."
To be sure, C.K. pointed out that his daughters’ teachers were great. But instead of standardized tests, he asserted that educators should decide what and how to teach their own students. Other skeptics have voiced the same arguments. On Monday, Indiana lawmakers abandoned the Common Core and replaced it with a new set of state-supported standards. They believe the program, which isn't federal but has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, was created without sufficient input from states.
Yesterday, C.K. returned to Twitter for more:
Kids teachers parents are vocally suffering. Doesnt that matter? listen to them. Adapt and slow down CCSS. Cool it with the testing— Louis C.K. (@louisck) May 1, 2014
It's arrogant and hurts the goals of CCSS. CCSS is not perfect. You want to teach kids to think and reason. Try it yourself first.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) May 1, 2014
Everything important is worth doing carefully. None of this feels careful to me.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) May 1, 2014
The test are written to CCSS standards. The teachers are forced to deliver high scores to those tests. Why pretend that cc has zero fault?— Louis C.K. (@louisck) May 1, 2014
Lastly these are my views as a parent. I'm sure I'm wrong about some of it. Does that mean you're wrong about none o it? Peace.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) May 1, 2014