Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

10 Terrible Common Core Homework Assignments

“White suburban moms” have more objections to the new federal education requirements than Arne Duncan's insulting caricature suggests.

Paula Bolyard


October 7, 2013 - 4:00 pm

Now that school is in session, parents have begun sharing on Facebook and other social media outlets some of the Common Core homework assignments their children are bringing home. Below are ten really bad ones that will give you an idea of the direction education is going under Common Core. All of these assignments were shared recently on social media sites dedicated to informing parents about Common Core.

 1. Star citizen: quiet, sitting, neat

Star Citizens


This paper came from a Rhode Island first grade classroom. One mother commented, “I went to elementary school in Poland during communism. This is exactly what I was forced to learn.” It’s a step in the right direction for those who want a compliant, obedient citizenry. That said, this is not new to schools and we shouldn’t necessarily blame Common Core. Children — boys in particular — have been taught for decades that being “good” means being quiet and compliant. The link to good citizenry is something I haven’t seen before, however.

2. It’s not about the right answer — it’s about the journey.



This poor Florida first grader thought she was following instructions by coloring in all seven segments of the bar to “make 7.” Unfortunately, she was supposed to divine that an equation was required. In Common Core, the journey is more important than the correct answer, it seems.

3. The Supreme Court “says if laws are fair.”



An Iowa second grader brought this assignment home. The mother disagreed with the teacher’s call on whether or not the “government settles disagreements” — and after the recent events related to the budget, almost no one would disagree with her! (And obviously, the undefined use of the term “government” implies that the government is a monolithic body that rules over us.)

But even more problematic is the matching question at the top of the page. “The Supreme Court — says if laws are fair.” If by “fair” they mean “constitutional,” I might be inclined to agree. However, in the context of a “government” that makes laws and settles disagreement, I suspect they mean “fair” in the way most 2nd graders would interpret the word — everyone gets an equal amount of ice cream after dinner.

4. Why make math easy when it can be hard?



Could this fourth grade worksheet from Louisiana make simple addition any more complicated? How about they just line those numbers up in columns and, like, add them? I fear for the future of science in the United States when I see things like this. Postmodernism and math do not mix.

5. The new new math



This fourth grade math homework assignment from California is typical of the new way math is taught in Common Core. Students must first divide numbers into hundreds, tens, and ones, then round them, then add the rounded numbers together, spin around three times and stir until thickened. Or something. It’s like flying from New York to California by way of New Jersey, Bangkok, and Alaska. Again, just put the blasted numbers in a column and add them!

 6. There is no work for this problem!



Irini has a favorite day of the week. She chose this day because it is the only day that has an i in it. What is Irini’s favorite day of the week? Show your work in the tank.

The basic message Common Core seems to be teaching children is: “When in doubt, add extra steps to make math as complicated as possible.” An Arizona mom posted this “problem” from her second grader’s math homework. (The mom added the handwritten comments saying, “There is no work.”

I suppose they were hoping for something along the lines of this:

First, I wrote down a list of all the days of the week. Then I researched the letter i on my school-issued iPad to see exactly what it looked like and then looked at my list and noticed that there were similarities between the i I found on the internet and the i in the word Friday on my list of days of the week. Then, to my surprise, I discovered that no other days of the week contained a letter with the shape of the letter i that I found on the internet. So then, I texted Irena to ask her what her favorite day of the week is. Sure enough, she said it is Friday, therefore, the correct answer is Friday.

7. The Quran calls for Muslims to be peaceful, not to kill.



On 9/11, a class of 8-year-olds in Las Vegas watched an animated video from BrainPOP about the attacks — twice. One parent reported that her daughter came home crying and had nightmares. The characters in the video, Tim and Moby (a robot), give a cheery view of Islam:

Oh! Islam is a popular religion in the world!…The vast majority of Muslims are non-violent and they do not agree with al Qaeda or its actions. In fact, the Quran, the holy book of Islam, calls for Muslims to be peaceful, not to kill! However, al Qaeda wants to rid the Islamic world of Western ideas, especially of anything from the United States.  They also want Muslim countries to be led by fundamentalist rule.

Tim goes on to explain that “fundamentalism” is a radical form of any religion that follows a strict interpretation of their religious rules. “It usually gives power to some and denies basic civil liberties to everyone else.”

Aside from the fact that the “religion of peace” narrative is not true, I’m sure they are hoping your Christian kids are getting the message about your family’s “strict interpretation” of your religious rules.

BrainPop boasts that their materials, aligned to Common Core standards, are used in 20% of American schools.

8. Explain what you will say when you are caught cheating.



Assuming your child is a cheater, this seventh grade language arts assignment from Orlando helps him to work through how he will explain his crime when he gets caught.

Scenario: You decided to cheat on an assignment by copying something directly from the encyclopedia and saying it was your own thinking and you were caught by your teacher. You realize that plagiarism is unethical and what you have done is wrong. On the graphic organizer below, list words and phrases you would use, and attitudes you would take as you explained what happened to each of the audiences.

Students then must show how they would explain their plagiarism to their vice principal, their parents, and their best friend. This will come in handy when they are in police custody some day.

If this were my kid, the only acceptable answer would be, “I cheated. I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Maybe he could add, “It won’t happen again.” No graphic organizer needed for this conversation. There is no need for a child who cheated to explain “what happened.” But moreover, the suggestion that children are cheaters who need help to explain their crimes shows how low the bar is set for them. Instead of inspiring them with tales of the valiant acts of heroes, as schools did in past generations, students now receive early training to prepare them for a future of crime.

9. Make up some lies about yourself…



More from the criminal training department. The mom of this little 8-year old girl in Ohio said her daughter “wasn’t comfortable with making something up about herself because it would be a lie.”

Write an exaggeration about something you did or about one of your personal characteristics.

She helped her daughter explain that to the teacher on the worksheet. While hyperbole is an accepted literary device and children should learn about its role in literature, the mother didn’t like her daughter being encouraged to fib about herself. “My issue is with asking the student to write something exaggerating something she did or of her personal characteristics. She is not a fictional character in a story and while I encourage literary imagination, I do not encourage exaggerating (lying) in real life.”

 10. Jack has better ideas than grandma.




When Jack’s grandmother came to visit, she spent lots of time writing letters to her friends at home. Then she would ask Jack to run to the post office, buy stamps, and mail her letters. Jack had a better idea. He showed grandma how to use email. Then he offered to recycle his old computer by sending it home with her. Grandma was happy to discover that many of her friends use email too. She was also happy to learn a new skill.

Jack had a “better idea” than grandma’s beautiful, handwritten letters (and her big carbon footprint from all that post office business). My techie husband noted what likely happened next:  Jack’s dad forevermore regretted the decision to “recycle” their old computer by donating it to granny. Dad spent every family holiday from then on cleaning viruses off of grandma’s computer after she got addicted to online poker. (Not that my husband would have any personal experience with this.)


The moral of this story is to know what your children are being taught at school. Unfortunately, the Common Core train has left the station and reversing course will be difficult and will take time. In the meantime, if your children are under the influence of this curriculum, you may need to spend a significant amount of time debriefing them after school. Not only that, you may find you need to teach very basic skills that the schools are no longer teaching. Of course, Common Core or not, parents should always have this mindset when sending their kids to public school. They alone — not the schools — are ultimately responsible for the education of their children.

In addition to writing for PJ Tatler and PJ Lifestyle, Paula also writes for Ohio Conservative Review, and RedState. She is co-author of a new Ebook called, Homeschooling: Fighting for My Children’s Future. She is a member of the Wayne County Executive Committee. Paula describes herself as a Christian first, conservative second, and Republican third.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
our daughter who just started kindergarten this fall has brought home several homework assignments that look like these examples

my wife and i many times have trouble translating the ambiguous (purposely?) instructions of the assignment altogether

it is like a statist enigma- a bunch of politically correct gobbledegook wrapped around a fundamental progressive principle

i try to counter this by implementing my own curriculum on off hours:
we do lots of flash cards, reading (from my own selected reading list,) we practice latin, and geography/history

as other posters have mentioned- this is a sort of "de-programming" or, even better, inoculation against the statist forces forever present in our world

fwiw- our rugrat attends a private lutheran school- the libs have already infiltrated so it seems best not to run from it but to face it headon

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many of us had a lot more trust in the government back then. We feared the Soviets, never thinking that our own government was heading in the same direction.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In the '80's my daughter, who was in elementary school at the time, was given a homework assignment which required her to list the medicines in our cabinet. We are natural health practitioners so there were none. When she reported back to her teacher, the teacher called her a liar.
Back then, before all the govt. spying which has made us all privacy sensitive(and rightly so), it never occurred to me to tell that teacher she had no business snooping in my medicine cabinet!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (31)
All Comments   (31)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
6. There is no work for this problem!

Every time I got a new math teacher in high school, she always watched me for the first couple of weeks to see if I was cheating. It was rare for me to need to "show work", especially at the beginning of the course... I did it all in my head.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This seems à propos...

Welcome to the Machine: Cultural Marxism in Education
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
#4 seems like a pretty legit word problem and I recall similar problems back in the 60s at my Catholic grammar school.

The rest are poorly formatted at best and pure propaganda at worst.

How did you miss these two gems?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's nothing wrong with #4 or #5, chillax a little.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
On #5, my dad taught me how to do this when I was in the 4th grade in 1960. You woulda thought that I had declared myself a Communist.

Pretty funny actually. But I don't think that most 4th graders can do the mental visualization that it requires. Better to teach them the standard way and let then work out how to do this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And yet if you need young men to fight in the military or to fight fires they will be required to understand and act as a team just like we all did. Who are the worthless, gutless, Anti-American Liars.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A few assorted math comments:

Example 2. "It’s not about the right answer..." this teacher would catch hell from me if I was the parent. The child CORRECTLY illustrated 7+0=7, just as valid an equation as the teacher's examples.

Example 4. "Why make math easy..." This is actually a fine math problem. Nothing wrong with it. It illustrates (and tests whether the child understands) that "More" comes in different forms, but all means the same "Add the number". (If the nation had more math-logic trained adults, we might not have Obamacare today.)

Example 5. "The new new math" Nothing wrong with that one either. Learning to add numbers by breaking them into easier pieces is a good skill, and will aid you in rapidly adding large numbers in your head, one day. And pretty much, if you have skills like that, you will vote against liberal policies.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Number 4 is a good problem, but the circles around it are stupid. Too much trying to overthink. Waste of time filling in the bubbles.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
7 X 13 = 28. 7 X 3 is 21 and 7 x 1 is 7. 7 + 21 = 28.

Abbott and Costello should be the heads of the Dept. of Education.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The government does settle disagreements. That's what the judicial branch does.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What was wrong with McGuffey Readers?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
written by dead white males about dead white males.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They failed to teach groupthink.

Worse, they reinforced traditional values.

Das ist verboten!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wouldn't most people agree that school curriculum should be determined locally, or at worst at the state level? Surely there is some hope for reversing this in at least some states?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Common Core is imposed at the state level. Believe it or not, the feds have little to do with your local school system adopting it as it is not really (directly) part of No Child Left Behind. Blame the schools of education at universities around the US for their incessant leftist indoctrination of those destined to be your children's teachers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I found it none too surprising when I read an LSU PhD candidate's (Statistics) dissertation executive summary that discovered "College of Education" majors in US universities overall perform academically worst out of all traditional majors offered. The data created a firestorm in Baton Rouge and across the country in academic circles. Fortunately, ed reformers got ahold of the findings before they were spiked.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All