Remember the mom’s story about her 7 year old daughter crying over her homework?  This is what ‘rigor’ looks like:


I am a photographer, a hobby farmer, a child advocate and a mother of 3 elementary-aged children. This is my middle child in the photo … she is 7 and is in 2nd grade. My kindergartner and my 4th grader were already finished with their homework and had left the table. I had brought my camera in to work on my white balance skills while shooting in low light as I had a session the next morning to prep for.

After checking her work, I had found 2 math problems were incorrect. I tried to help her understand where she went wrong through her process but I don’t understand it myself and was not much help.

I told her to forget about it and we’d try again tomorrow but she became very upset that she could not get the answer and kept trying and trying to fix it. She is hard on herself as she very much wants to excel in school and not be pulled for extra help all of the time. I was talking to her and clicking my camera as I changed settings … it’s something that is very common in our household … and that is when I caught this image.

My daughter is incredibly strong.  My daughter is a 4-year cancer survivor.  She is a fighter with a resilient spirit.  It crushes me to see her cry; to see her struggle.  My daughter deserves a happy childhood.

The New York story was published after a Chicago mom wrote about the ‘rigor’ of standardized testing in her child’s kindergarten class:

Another hand goes up “Something happened” a little girl said. “I don’t know what this is,” She pointed at the screen. She had gotten herself into “preferences.”  I took the mouse and said “Let’s see if I can get you out of here and back to your test.”  I clicked onto the “close” button. Click. Click. Clickclickclickclickclickclickclick.  It took a half dozen or so clicks before the window closed and the little test taker with the big bow in her hair was back to her assessment. This was played out again, and again and again, throughout the duration of the test. In a perfect world, where all the computers worked, testing conditions would be less frustrating. But it’s the real world, and a five year old could click on the wrong thing, and accidentally leave the test. Even when they do click on the button they want, the computers don’t always respond to their commands. I know it’s a computer or mouse glitch, but I can’t help but wonder how many of these kids think it’s their fault. I heard “I can’t do this” frequently. “Yes you can”. I said. “You are doing great. It’s the computer, not you.” The preferences or options screens were accidentally opened quite often. Other computer issues complicated the situation too. Some kids had to leave one computer and find another one, or switch out mouses. Computers fail, it’s a fact, but a lot of these little people felt the fault was theirs.

In the midst of all of this, I walked past my daughter.  She looked up at me, her face red from crying, I could see that tears had been collecting at her collar “I just can’t do this,” she sobbed.  The ill fitting headsets, the hard to hear instructions, the uncooperative mouse, the screen going to command modes, not being able to get clarification when she asked for it… her little psyche had reached it’s breaking point. It took just two days of standardized testing for her to doubt herself, quickly trading a love of learning for the shame of incompetence.  Later on when I picked her up after her long seven-hour day, she whispered into my shoulder “I’m just not smart mom. Not like everyone else. I’m just no good at kindergarten, just no good at all.”


Missouri is now in full implementation of what Illinois and New York have been implementing the past few years.  This Missouri mom’s story is the same as Illinois, New York and probably other moms in other Common Core states.  The child’s name has been changed to protect her identity:

I went to Jane’s (my 8 yr. old daughter in 3rd grade) parent teacher conference yesterday.  Her teacher has been teaching for decades.  She has teaching experience in another state and has been a principal at a private school as well. She was my other children’s 3rd grade teacher years ago.

I asked her how she was doing and tears came to her eyes.  She said the math was driving her crazy and was forcing her into retirement.  She said she didn’t know how much longer she could take it.  I asked her if she was picking her own materials or if she was being told what to teach.  She said our math person who is the math coach for k-6  has told teachers they have to use engageNY math but she was doing her own because she refused to teach just that math series.  The new 3rd teacher was not given a choice and is being forced to teach engageNY along with most other teachers in our district.  The teachers in the upper grades are not given an option but must teach engageNY.

I asked her how Jane was doing and she put her head down and got tears in her eyes.  I knew what she was going to say before she spoke because I’ve seen it the last couple weeks.  She said she not doing well.  She said, “she has some issues that I don’t know how to help her with”. She said she is nervous, withdrawn, stressed, and her confidence is gone.  On her report card she has all A’s.  Jane is in the gifted program in and has never made anything but straight A’s. Jane is a very intelligent child.  She is also my carefree, always smiling, bubbly, loves life child.  A free spirit who beats to her own drum…… she never has a bad day and is a lover of life.  But a couple of weeks after school started that child has turned into a nervous, stressed, anxious child who cries a lot and is mad at everything.  Her teacher said she panics at the mention of math.  She said its too demanding and is driving many kids in her class to be this way.

My heart broke at that moment.  I have seen all the videos, read all the stories, studied all the material about common core and the effects it was having on kids all over the country.  I read parents’ stories about watching their children cry when doing homework.  Jane has begun crying at night.  She cries and panics when we do homework.  So when her teacher affirmed what I knew was happening, what I had heard of happening in other children, my heart broke.  And anger and outrage took over.  All the stories I had read and all the sympathy I felt towards strangers whom I have never met, now came full circle.  If was happening to my child.  To my sweet Jane who was the sunshine to my day.  Who always had a smile and laugh for me.  She was hurting and I knew it but didn’t want to believe it.  She’s gifted.  She’s making good grades.  Jane isn’t the only child struggling in her class.  There are many who are having a hard time.  And her teacher doesn’t know how to fix it.  Or make it better.  Common core isn’t just affecting the learning of children it is destroying their souls and minds.  It is turning kids into different people and robbing them of their carefree childhoods.  So now, my husband and I are faced with a decision.   What do we do with Jane?

I asked her teacher what she would so if this was her child or grandchild.  She said she told her son, who is having a really hard time with common core and his children, that he needs to enroll out his daughter in a catholic school where they don’t teach common core.  She suggested I do the same for Jane.  So we will pray and asked for God’s guidance in our decision.

So common core has come full circle for me.  The fight has to continue and we have to be smart and diligent in keeping our message alive.  I think Sandra Stotsky raised another round of awareness when she recently spoke in Missouri.  And I hope more parents will speak up.  I just wanted to share my experience with you all.  It’s really hit home with me.


I’m going to preempt a Common Core proponent talking point we will hear from DESE, The State Board of Education and other devotees to non validated set of standards and assessments.  It’s not the fault of the curriculum in this mom’s story. It’s the inappropriateness of the standards.  If you believe this Missouri mother’s story about her daughter’s experience and the teacher isn’t using engageNY math, the student is responding to the pedagogy embedded in the standards:

CC lends itself to such interpretations because of the words “explain” and “understand” in their content standards as well as eight overarching standards called “Standards for Mathematical Practice” that embody “habits of mind” of mathematical thinking. On the surface and to those unaware of underlying concerns and issues, the SMPs appear reasonable. But they are being interpreted to force students into developing “habits of mind” outside of the context of the material being learned—which again feeds into the reform math ideology.

Parents, if you have stories of your children’s experience with Common Core, please share them.  Watch the video from Georgia parents/professionals that was to be shown at a state hearing about the standards until state officials banned its presentation.  Is this your story too?








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