Critical friends

Egged on by viral posts and comedians mocking confusing homework assignments, parents are becoming increasingly leery of the Common Core–aligned approach to mathematics instruction. As goes the frequent refrain, “I tried to help my kids with their first-grade homework—and I couldn’t!” In many cases, their concerns about individual materials are valid; sometimes materials that purport to be teaching to the Core are, in fact, not at all aligned and/or unnecessarily confusing. Kathleen Porter-Magee wrote in May that supporters of the standards “should be more exacting critics than the opponents, taking pains not to explain away implementation challenges, mistakes, and missteps.” And schools ought to look for textbooks and other materials, such as those from Singapore Math, that teach Common Core concepts in a straightforward, elegant way.