NPR Attempts to Shifts Narrative on Common Core in Zimba Profile

Jason Zimbia Photo source: Bennington College
Jason Zimba
Photo source: Bennington College

NPR ran a profile on Jason Zimba that appears to be an attempt to change the narrative about Common Core.  Here the writers of Common Core appear to be turned into victims, and curriculum companies and teachers are to blame for the poor roll out.

Sarah Garland writes:

Every Saturday morning at 10 a.m., Jason Zimba begins a math tutoring session for his two young daughters with the same ritual. Claire, 4, draws on a worksheet while Abigail, 7, pulls addition problems written on strips of paper out of an old Kleenex box decorated like a piggy bank.

If she gets the answer “lickety-split,” as her dad says, she can check it off. If she doesn’t, the problem goes back in the box, to try the following week.

“I would be sleeping in if I weren’t frustrated,” Zimba says of his Saturday-morning lessons, which he teaches in his pajamas. He feels the math instruction at Abigail’s public elementary school in Manhattan is subpar — even after the school switched to the Common Core State Standards.

But Zimba, a mathematician by training, is not just any disgruntled parent. He’s one of the guys who wrote the Common Core.

And four years after signing off on the final draft of the standards, he spends his weekends trying to make up for what he considers the lackluster curriculum at his daughter’s school, and his weekdays battling the lackluster curriculum and teaching at schools around the country that are struggling to shift to the Common Core.

Zimba and the other writers of the Common Core knew the transition would be tough, but they never imagined conflicts over bad homework would fuel political battles and threaten the very existence of their dream to remodel American education.

Lest we forget, let’s remember that Jason Zimba himself said that if a student wants to take calculus as a freshman in college he or she will need more math than what the Common Core is required.  He also said to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that the standards are “not only not for STEM, they are also not for selective colleges.”

You can watch that exchange below:

So let’s remember that there are problems with the standards themselves, but frankly when all of the Common Core-aligned math textbooks pretty much look the same it’s hard to say that they don’t accurately reflect how the standards are to be taught.

If curriculum publishers and teachers are getting it wrong, then there is a definite issue with a lack of clarity within the standards themselves as well.

Either way we circle back to the standards.  This new narrative needs to be rejected.