Riding Metro-North. With our Kids.


It’s 5:25 am.
A dark, windless morning.
14° F.
I’m stepping quickly in my 1/2 mile walk to the station.
Suit. Top Coat. Gloves. Black lace-ups. No boots.
Fear of: Black ice + Tumble = Face plant.
My right ear is tingling.
A dandy frost bite when I was 11. No hat. No matter how long ago, acts of stupidity are never far from consciousness.

I glance at my watch. It’s tight. I step up my pace.
Way (WAY) short on sleep. Mood: heavy. Dark.
There will be retribution for the arranger of the 7 a.m. meeting in the City. Matthew 5:38: Eye for an Eye. DK 1:29:2015: Arm, Leg and Eye for an Eye.

There are days when you need to read with paper in your hands. With something real touching your fingers. Yet, I’m conscious of being the only one in a packed train car crinkling a newspaper, shattering the silence of fingers swiping digital pads. The commuter next to me is asleep. I work on folding the morning paper.

It’s maddening that I’ve never been able to hold and fold a newspaper like many commuters. I can’t roll my tongue. I can’t wiggle my ears. The genius who set up this 7 am meeting is going to feel the cold chill of the Juno aftermath.

I pan through the front section and my eyes lock on 4 lines. I have no expertise in this area. Zero fundamental knowledge. But I know what I see. I know what I feel. We’re in trouble. 

Critics Say Exams Linked to Common Core Are Too Hard:  Speaker after speaker told a state commission at the hearing that the new online tests would eat up too much class time, be too hard, hurt students’ self esteem and waste taxpayer money. The exams in math and language arts will cover public-school students from third to 11th grade.

And here we are. Study after study shows U.S. students sliding in global rankings in math, reading and science.

And we’re worried about “eating up too much class time.”

We’re worried about it “being too hard.”

We’re worried about “hurting students’ self esteem.”

That’s it. Line up kids.  All of you.  Everyone’s going to get a trophy.

And then let’s fire up more video games and television.

Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to.
Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: *You can’t handle the truth!*



  1. Ah pal, rough morning for you – an undeniable truth. Common core – particularly in its current iteration rally does need a look, for teachers in large part have stopped teaching kids and are teaching to the tests. And that is a problem. Fundamentals and core understanding of fundamentals (and more) are essential – and we as a nation are definitely falling behind the eight ball. But arguably part of that problem is that we are making the education requirements narrower and narrower. Just a thought – I’m sorry about the 7AM meeting, the face plant, and definitely sorry for whoever it is who set the meeting up so early.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Boy, could I go off on this topic this morning, but have to get an early start out the door. Ok, not a DK early start, but early for me. At least I’m not at the “planning retribution” stage of the morning… but there are six hours to go. Hope your day gets better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete Dunbar says:

    Per Dr. Steve Perry – A system is designed to get results. Currently teacher employment (measured by retention) is at 95%, while national graduation rates are about 80% and in most inner city schools it’s below 60%. So ask yourself, is your school system designed to teach your children or to provide lifetime employment for teachers? He says school choice is the answer. I tend to agree.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I directionally agree Pete. I would add that often teachers have become the de-facto daycare substitutes (because of dual income families) and life counsellors and mentors because of absentee parents. And that burden is too large.


  4. Let’s face it– holding everyone in the chain accountable isn’t the American way. Commit war crimes? No problem! Defraud and cheat taxpayers? We’ll cover you–and you can keep all the millions you bilked! Shoot, you can even deflate footballs to gain an unfair advantage and not only will you still be able to play in the Superbowl, some people will even refer to you as a patriot! Common core is the least of our problems, I’m afraid. And I don’t think we can or want to handle the truth.

    On another note, if it’s any consolation, I can’t whistle. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great piece of writing. Love how its stirs things up David 🙂
    I hope we can handle the truth… when we find it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I got my degree in engineering I learned a lot of facts – all now long forgotten. But what I *really* learned was how to learn: how to take a large complex problem I had never seen before, break it down into logical parts, attack each of those parts, and assemble it back into a solution. THIS is what we must teach. We CANNOT know what problems our children will need to solve 10 years from now. 10 years ago the first smartphone didn’t even exist now they are fundamental to life as we know it. Learning how to learn, learning that lifelong learning is essential and can actually be fun. This is what we must instill in our children if they are to cope with our rapidly changing, technology-driven world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great mind stimulation this morning, David. I don’t think many people can handle the truth. To peel the layers back to get to the core and find the answer we should find that it takes a good teacher and a good parrent/parrents to generate positive education. It takes a positive family influence to generate a child’s desire to learn. Teachers aren’t the parrent of the kids they teach but parrents are the teachers that influence how their children learn, the importance of learning, the benefit’s of learning. So often we use statistics to break down a problem but how often do we use common sense to see what is sometimes right in front of our nose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s it Bill. It’s not all on the teachers. Family, parents, community, standards, values – all contribute to the solution and the problem. And this takes hard work and sacrifices.


  8. Ugh! Sorry about the face plant! If you could wiggle your ears and roll your tongue- someone might accuse you of being able to do everything. Thank God there is no such person. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with you David.

    I am grateful to have gone through the school system when I did. If you couldn’t read at the end of 1st grade, you didn’t go to 2nd grade. Teachers were responsible for that, the tools were simple, corny Dick and Jane books. No attempts to use phonic systems or any other “work-around.” English is not easy to learn, no one white-washed it. We learned that sometimes spelling doesn’t make sense. We memorized multiplication tables, the state capitals, and spelling lists. A gold star meant you learned the material. No computers either – and rarely did we have a lot of homework in the early years of school. How did we do it?

    What happened?
    Happy Friday anyway David!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The problem is so huge…involving everyone, parents, teachers, children, our society as it is and what we have allowed ourselves to become. I homeschooled my youngest (I think you already know that), and I’m proud to say that at the age of 20, he just accepted a software engineer job. He’s brilliant. I talk to my daughter a lot about her two children and how we need to keep them on the right path. But, yes, I believe the problem is huge now and I worry about the future for the children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem is huge. An issues rest in each link of the chain. I agree. And I’m not sure that many want to sacrifice to fix it. I worry about it very much like you do.

      As to your son being brilliant. I’m still smiling. Mom Brilliant = Son Brilliant. Check this out:

      Why Are You So Smart? Thank Your Mom & Your Difficult Birth by Jim Davies:

      A baby bird can start walking around a looking for food moments after hatching; young horses can run when they’re a few hours old. Human beings, on the other hand, need years to be self-sufficient. Traditionally, this intense parental investment lasts until puberty, but in the modern age can extend until the child is leaving graduate school at 33 (or maybe that was just me). This is, in part, because our brains are not fully developed until we’re adults. As Richerson and Boyd put it, “We are the largest brained, slowest developing member of the largest brained, slowest developing mammalian order.” We are born not knowing much, but with an incredible ability to learn. If people get smart after birth, the brain can be smaller at birth, effectively making a workaround for the pelvis-size constraint. The brain then grows dramatically after a baby is born.


  11. Barneysday says:

    I’ve spent a great deal of time in the Far East, where school is 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, year round. There is a test at approximately the end of 8th grade, and those who do well go on to higher education, those not so well, to the factories. Education is a number one priority with the PARENTS!!! They care about the schooling, they care about the education of their children, and they certainly have no time for video games and self-esteem issues for their kids. Everyone does not get a trophy! And parents are not friends with their kids.

    Compare that with here in California, where there are constant holidays and time off. Where the school kids are picked up by the bus at 8, and home by 2:30, 1 pm on Wednesdays. Education is someone else’s responsibility, according to the parents, and cheating and buying ones way into college is perfectly ok. Self-esteem programs abound, and helicopter parents drive teachers who are trying to do the right thing, crazy with their demands, and if Johnny fails, forcing grade changes.

    We’ve long since given up our status in education, and in the face of feel good programs, are rapidly progressing to third world status.

    Great post

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great conversation on your topic … yet, my thoughts are on the newspaper fold. That takes me way back to when I had to perfect the art of the proper fold to work through the paper while on the train to work. It was an art form indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. As a teacher of mathematics on the secondary level for 30 years I can confirm one thing. The presentation of mathematics is not what needs to be changed, but rather, those who stand in front of the classes making poor presentations.


    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have read about Common core – likely a bit more than others, but definitely less than others, too! It is my understanding that the language arts (English/Literature) sections are really quite good and provide opportunities for students to grow. However, every one of the math problems that I have seen in common core borders on ridiculous. I can see what they are trying to teach – but it takes an extraordinarily large amount of time to solve the problem. What happened to basic math? Basic math enabled me to go on to advanced math, geometry, Calc ! and 2, stats, and so forth. I have found no one who believes that the common core math is appropriate. OK – my 2 cents. I hope you have a terrific weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. i’m all for teaching problem-solving, integration of subject areas, giving them hands-on experiences and exploration leading to application of concepts and skills. real life. teaching to the test and subjects in isolation never appealed to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Christie Annabella says:

    Oh, no – sorry to hear of your accident. Take it easy this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Interesting topic and a lot has been said so I’m not going to add much more. Just wanted to share this article I thought pointed out a few interesting things http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/06/24/ctq_faridi_finland.html
    David, I hope you have recovered from your early start and have a great, relaxing weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Peggy Farrell Schroeder says:

    Spot on, Dave….

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Late to this party, but couldn’t agree more. We have a serious problem on our hands, and I’m not sure how we solve it, but making things simpler and worrying about egos isn’t the way. My niece lost a swim match the other day and went sobbing to her dad (my brother), saying that she had worked very hard and wanted to win. My brother’s response? I know you did; next time work harder. And understand that you will not win every time….get used to it and learn from it.

    Liked by 1 person

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