Decoding Common Core Math

, Malcolm A. Kline, 3 Comments

If the Common Core education reforms introduced by President Obama and supported by big-name Republicans were subject to peer review, they might become a “whatever became of?” question.

“Take, for example, my first-grade son’s Common Core math lesson in basic subtraction,” David G. Bonagura, Jr., writes in an article which appeared in The Education Reporter. “Six- and seven-year-olds do not yet possess the ability to think abstractly; their mathematics instruction, therefore, must employ concrete methodologies, explanations, and examples.”

“But rather than, say, count on a number line or use objects, Common Core’s standards mandate teaching first-graders to ‘decompose’ two-digit numbers in an effort to emphasize the concept of place value. Thus 13 – 4 is warped into 13 – 3 = 10 – 1 = 9. Decomposition is a useful skill for older children, but my first-grade son has no clue what it is about or how to do it. He can, however, memorize the answer to 13 – 4. But Common Core does not advocate that tried-and-true technique.”

The Education Reporter is published by the Eagle Forum, an organization founded by conservative attorney, author and activist Phyllis Schlafly. Bonangura’s article was reprinted by permission from National Review, in which it originally appeared.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail

  • You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  • Hey there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird
    when browsing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a template or plugin
    that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share.


  • Rachel Merkley

    if memorization were a “tried and true” method for people…i would
    not have kids in my middle school classes who have nothing in the “basic
    facts” part of their brain and need a calculator for simple addition
    and subtraction.. and multiplication and division…

    does not have to be abstract… you could throw 13 counting bears on
    their desk and ask them to take away for and talk about how they would
    do it… and i think we might be surprised by their responses..

    core language is not what kids or parents or even the public need to
    understand… many teachers don’t… myself included sometimes.. because
    those tried and true methods did not work for them either and they
    still struggle with the sense making part of mathematics, even if the
    procedures are still in their brains… and many of my friends who chose
    elementary teaching did so because the math was manageable at that
    level… that is where they were comfortable with it because it was not
    their best subject either! does that sound like it is working?