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Common Core Standards And Customary Units: Match Made In Hell

May 4, 2014


Photo via Bay Area Speech Language Learning Associates.
Photo via Bay Area Speech Language Learning Associates.

For those unfamiliar, the Common Core Initiative is federal legislation that standardized learning and graduation requirements in English and mathematics for most U.S. public schools. It’s endorsed by both the bipartisan National Governors Association (NGA) and non-partisan Council of Chief State School Counselors (CCSSC).

Former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who’s also the former Chairwoman of the NGA, is widely regarded as the architect of Common Core, which school districts across the country began adopting in 2009. Parents all across the country are complaining to their local school districts about assignments being impossible to teach to a 2nd grader, while other parents call it “ridiculous” and completely unnecessary.

Through the 1990s, 4 X 5 = 20 and 19-7 = 12, etc. eventually became simple arithmetic that could be calculated in any 7-year-old’s head with a little practice. Today instead of 8 + 7 = 15, kids are taught that 8 + 7 is really 8 + 3 + 4 = 15 due to some Common Core Mathematics concept called “number bonds.” Public school students learn simple addition by “skip counting.” Today 44 of 50 U.S. states, and five of six U.S. territories teach Common Core mathematics. We won’t even get into how Common Core teaches division and multiplication.

This system is obviously meant to turn something simple into a difficult task, and apparently discourage kids from pursuing math-related studies and careers. The customary system of measurement (inches, miles, furlongs…oh my) is another example of how U.S. government continues to keep the population isolated from the rest of the world. Granted Congress adopted metric as an official U.S. system of measurement in 1866. But this Act only called for a “soft” metric system. That is why you see measurements on U.S. food labels (like the 1% milk one below) first giving a customary unit than metric in parentheses.

Milk label

Customary measurements are derived from British Imperial Units and the U.S. simply kept it around even after allegedly winning the Revolutionary War. The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn’t use the metric system (also known as the International System of Units or SI) exclusively, according to the CIA. Some call this “American exceptionalism,” while others see it as arrogance.

Myanmar and Liberia are the only other two countries on Earth that don’t use metric exclusively. The U.K. is rarely mentioned as a non-metric country, but road signs are in miles; beer is measured in pints; and milk is measured in gallons throughout the region. People are also still weighed in stones in the U.K.: one stone = 14 pounds. Regardless, all scientific research in every discipline on Earth is done in metric units.

Some (ok few) Americans know that 5,280 feet equals 1 mile…and one pint equals .125 gallons. How are people supposed to remember such randomness? Common core mathematics works in much the same, convoluted way the customary (Imperial) system does. Metric, on the other hand, is as simple as it gets: one kilometer is 1,000 meters; 500 milliliters equals 0.5 liters. Math is the ultimate gateway to truth and understanding of the world around us, which is why government always has and always will make it difficult, boring, and discouraging for kids and adults alike.

The White House responded to a petition on the We The People website that demanded the metric system be adopted as the official system of the U.S. after it garnered nearly 50,000 signatures in 2012. It said Americans have a choice to use metric or customary, which is the best possible answer it could have given without actually addressing the issue.

There are also change-counting machines attached to cash registers today. Clerks don’t even need to know how to count money. Common Core, customary measurements, and change counting machines: the regression continues.

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