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Susan Louis C.K. Blasts the Common Core: ‘It Feels Like a Dark Time’

Ohanian Comment:The comedian took on standardized testing in a series of tweets-- and garnered enthusiastic reTweets. Reader reaction at was, as always, more about reader egos than curriculum issues. Whether for or against Common Core, people sound like magpies. A critical issue has devolved into soundbites, not insight. 

I admit that looking at the homework Louis C. K. shared, I'm glad I no longer teach third grade. I know in my bones I would never send home such tasks. But my attitude about homework is another story. I'll just say that my homework triumph came when the custodian told me about Dads of my third graders reading their kids' homework answers out loud at the local bar.

I'm glad that Louis C. K. admires his third grader's teacher but I question whether he should let her off the hook. Blaming Pearson is easy. But surely the teacher's oath must be like the doctor's: First, do no harm. Now, it seems to be: First, second, and last, follow the rules. Such an oath is not only ugly, it's very very dangerous. 

Daniel D'Addario 

Louis C.K. has long made his life as a parent -- and the struggles to impart good values to his two daughters -- among the most important subjects for his comedy. But now he’s getting serious.

Last night, C.K. sent out a series of tweets about his daughter’s struggles with homework designed to align with the Common Core, a controversial initiative hinging on standardized testing in order to impart a shared set of English and math skills to students. That's the goal, at least, but C.K.'s children, who C.K. says are New York public school students, are among those who’ve found the implementation of the Common Core a struggle. C.K. called the Common Core a "massive stressball that hangs over the whole school" in his series of tweets. 

  • My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!
  • A huge amount of my third graders time is spent preparing for and answering questions like this. [He posted homework sheet]
  • This is one of my favorites. Also for third graders. Who is writing these? And why?
  • Look at 4 of part a. And the point isn't that it's too hard. Just read #4. Please. 

1. 63 ÷ ____ = 7

2. 63 = 21 x ____

3. 21 = ___ x 7

4. 7 x (____x ____) = 21 ÷ 7 5. (21 x 3) ÷ ___ = 7

  • "Why night you want each picture to stand for more than 1 balloon?" Yet again I must tell my kid "don't answer it. It's a bad question"
  • Sorry. I sit with my kids as they do their HW they devour knowledge. When it's hard they step up. Their teachers are great
  • But it's changed in recent years. It's all about these tests. It feels like a dark time. And nothing is going in anymore.
  • It's this massive stressball that hangs over the whole school. The kids teachers trying to adapt to these badly written notions.
  • these questions btw were not written by her teacher. they were on a standardized test. written by pearson or whoever the hell
  • Okay I'm done. This is just one dumb, fat parent's POV. I'm pissed because I love NYC public schools. mice, lice and all.
  • Ok last thing: LOUIE comes back on FX Mondays at 10pm starting May 5th. 2 episodes every night for 7 weeks. Okay bye gang.

New York has been a particularly hot zone for the Common Core, with protests having been held at Brooklyn schools. As the end of the school year approaches, C.K. and other parents may well have more to say.

Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_


— Daniel D'Addario and Louis CK, with Ohanian comment
April 29, 2014

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Susan Ohanian

Susan Ohanian, a long-time public school teacher, is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Atlantic, Parents, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Phi Del...