August 16, 2022

Is This Common Core Math Problem The Stupidest Test Question In The History Of Mankind Or What?

frustrated-studentBe afraid, America. Be very afraid.

First, a bit of background: U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has promised to “vastly” improve the quality of public education in America by pushing for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

You may recall that Duncan caused a controversy in November when he described critics of Common Core as “white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”

(Setting aside Duncan’s arrogance here, can you imagine the fallout that would’ve occurred were a member of the Bush administration to have made an equally disparaging comment about “black urban moms”?)

Anyway, on its website, Common Core asks: “Do You Know if Your Children are Prepared for College and Beyond?” And, in an effort to put the minds of America’s parents at ease, CC claims it “Gives Schools Tools to Ensure Your Child Will Succeed!”

Yeah, well. Let’s take a look at one of those “tools,” shall we? This particular tool, by the way, is a simple math problem.



Huh? Listen, I consider myself to be pretty darn good at math. As for the answer to this question? I got nothin’. Other than to say, that is, that this is the worst math problem in the history of mankind. (For those of you playing along and home, there aren’t enough variables given to even begin to answer the question.)

So, this all got me thinking that, rather than simply criticize Common Core, I should try to help the cause by offering a few suggestions for future math problems. Designed to prepare America’s children for “college and beyond,” of course:

1. Assume you are lost in an unfamiliar city without a map. You stop at a gas station and ask the attendant for directions to Cleveland. He tells you to drive north to the last traffic light in town, which is 8.5 miles away, and turn left. Assume it is 6:35 PM (PST). How far away is the next to the last traffic light?

2. Two trains are on the same track, 500 miles apart. If one is traveling east at 45 miles per hour and the other is traveling west at 35 miles per hour, how many pancakes does it take to shingle a dog house?

3. A semi-truck driver breaks down on the Interstate. The temperature is 28 degrees (Fahrenheit). He has one road flare left in his toolbox. Assuming there are 17 days left in the month, how long will the 10-minute flare burn?Yeah, Common Core: “Preparing America’s Children for the 21st Century.”