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Letter: Common Core curriculum doesn’t teach critical skills

Common Core curriculum doesn’t teach critical skills

I first heard of Shahid Muhammad, “the math doctor,” when I read in The News that he would be speaking here. Having volunteered in the local schools, I was very interested in learning what he was advocating for improving the math skills of students in urban schools.

So I searched the Internet for some information about his techniques. I finally found what I was looking for in the reviews to his book with the flashy title, “How to Teach Math to Black Students.” It seems that his book has some word problems that are supposed to be more relevant to black students, and aside from that he just talks about how important he thinks relevance is. Nice work, Doc.

Meanwhile our schools are full of kids who can’t do basic addition because they’re spending their time measuring lines with paper clips. The Common Core curriculum is all about learning concepts, like what happens when you have different units of measurement (a concept that these second-graders were definitely not getting) rather than teaching mere skills like arithmetic.

I want to emphasize that what I am criticizing is the curriculum offered by the state of New York. I am not objecting to the testing that people equate with the Common Core. It is obvious to me that we have to test the students to find out if they are learning anything, and to find out how bad (or good) the teachers, the schools and the curriculum are. How else can we know?

Fran Bennatti

Buffalo