If Common Core Math Is The Problem What Is The Solution?

Common Core…… It’s the way they are un-teaching American kids math these days.  There is a major push-back against this new way of teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  Some critics have gone so far as to call Common Core Mathematics “Satan’s handiwork.” [The Daily Mail UK May 15, 2014]

Laugh-man Stephen Colbert has made fun of Common Core Math. [TheColbertReport.com] Even progressives have vilified Common Core math on the pages of The Huffington Post and Slate.com. [Huffington Post March 28, 2013; Slate.com July 10, 2014]

I won’t belabor you with all of the pitfalls and confusion surrounding this new way of learning math that even has parents stumped. [The New York Times June 30, 2014] Yes, even math teachers are left puzzled over Common Core. [YouTube.com]

But if you are one of those people who like a challenge you can try your math skills against The Ten Dumbest Common Core Problems. [Common Core Problems]

Here is a Common Core math question Stephen Colbert attempted to answer.  See if you can answer it.

Mike saw 17 blue cars and 25 green cars at the toy store.  How many cars did he see?  Write a number sentence with a ¨ for the missing number. Explain how the number sentence shows the problem.

Another top-down answer that doesn’t work

The New York Times article says: “parents are adding to an increasingly fierce political debate about whether Common Core is another way in which Washington is taking over people’s lives.”

But it has been championed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics.  And hey, what do we know about math anyway?  Few of us aced our math classes, at least by the time it came to geometry and trigonometry.

Common Core’s origins

Before I get to an answer to this problem, where did this Rube Goldberg math come from?  The answer is that States were coerced into adopting it to gain educational grant money.  It was spawned by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association and written largely by academics, many with ties to testing companies.  You can read about its origins at the Rethinking Schools website. [RethinkingSchools.org]

The solution

Enough about Common Core.  To most kids, it’s a common bore.

Let’s get to a solution to the problem of how to teach our kids basic math.

The conventional approach is to teach kids to memorize all 155 addition and subtraction combinations.  These are called math facts.  By third grade students are expected to memorize 467 facts – 100 addition facts, 55 subtraction facts, 156 multiplication facts and 156 division facts.

Many students simply have difficulty remembering all of them, says Richard Garcia, a grade-school teacher in Southern California who was challenged to stop making excuses for his inability to teach the kids in his classroom that were underperforming in math.

Here’s where the story gets personal.  My now ten-year old son Matthew was flunking math.  He couldn’t hold a math fact in his head if he tried.  We had his blood tested by doctors who work with William Walsh PhD and found he had a nutritional imbalance – too much copper and too little balancing zinc in his system was oxidizing the dopamine in his brain which he needed for a working memory.  You can learn more about Dr. Walsh and his nutritional prescriptions at The Walsh Institute website [WalshInstitute.org] or purchase his book Nutrient Power (Sky Horse Publishing May 2014, 224-pages). [Amazon.com]

But even with zinc supplements to help correct my son’s working memory, who was going to tutor my son?  Everything still added up to zero in the grey matter in my son’s cranium.  My son exasperated two in-home math tutors who gave up and never came back.  Who was going to be the next brave math tutor to try his hand at teaching my bright and creative but math-illiterate child to understand 2 + 2 = 4?

Introduction: Mr. Richard Garcia – “America’s Math Teacher”

That would be Richard Garcia whom we now fondly call “America’s Math Teacher.”  He is the antidote to Common Core math.


Richard Garcia “America’s Math Teacher” BasicMathSolutions.com

Mr. Garcia started with a special education class of 3rd graders that initially struggled with basic math skills and after 5 months of instruction they outscored every classroom at their level in the school district.  Not only did Mr. Garcia coached these 3rd graders to successfully do 4th and 5th-grade work, but the kids looked forward to upcoming tests and when confronted with a new math problem they would reply: “This is easy.”  Mr. Garcia would say to these kids: “No, it’s not easy, you just know it now.”

And my son Matthew?  He became Mr. Garcia’s prize student.


Now I was so impressed with what Mr. Garcia was doing for kids I assisted him in getting his Basic Math Solutions website up and running, which offers math tutors and home-schooling moms workbooks and teaching aids on how to successfully teach kids basic math.  And my son Matthew is serving Mr. Garcia as his marketing director.  He is going to make a few extra dollars fulfilling orders for Mr. Garcia’s workbooks and materials. (I’m only commercially involved in a peripheral way as all the profits less a few dollars for my son are all going to Mr. Garcia so he can broaden his efforts to teach kids basic math.)

I’ve written up some examples of how Mr. Garcia teaches kids basic math.  You can link directly in to these examples here.  Or you can visit his website at www.basicmathsolutions.com