VIDEO: Louis C.K. on Letterman goes off on Common Core standardized testing

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WASHINGTON, May 3, 2014 —Comedian Louis C.K., star of FX television show Louie, has taken his crusade against Common Core off Twitter and on to late night television.

During an appearance on David Letterman’s “The Late Show” last Thursday, C.K. blasted Common Core, the standardized testing system adopted by the State of New York and several other states.

C.K. joked that New York now mandates that “The way I understand it, if a school’s kids don’t test well, they burn the school down. So it’s pretty high pressure.”

The comedian lamented that he is no longer prepared to help his daughters, ages 9 and 12, with homework, because he can’t answer some of “the bizarre” questions common core comes up with.


As an example of the completely ridiculous questions associated with Common Core, C.K. provided a made up example, “Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?”

Letterman responded by suggesting that C.K. notify the fire department.

While the exchange was light-hearted and humorous, C.K.’s frustration – mirrored by many other parents – is not.

Earlier this week, the comedian hit the Twitterverse to vent.  He posted questions from his daughter’s math homework and wrote, “My kids used to love math! Now it makes them cry.”

One of his biggest criticisms is that “no one really knows” who is writing the standardized tests. “… it’s very secretive,” wrote C.K.

He also called the standards, a “massive stressball [that] hangs over the whole school. The kids’ teachers [are] trying to adapt to these badly written notions.”

His anti-Common Core statements landed him in a Twitter-fight with Newsweek writer Alexander Nazaryan, who ultimately took to his Newsweek column to spar with C.K.

In that caustic column, Nazaryan began with a personal attack of C.K., and then goes on to note that Common Core is “loathed” by right and left alike, and especially loathed by the teachers’ union.”

Nazaryan ends by suggesting that criticism of Common Core is primarily from “upper-middle-class parents whose objections are largely ideological, not pedagogical” and that the true beneficiaries of Common Core are the poor and minorities.

He closes with, “It’s fun to get angry when you’ve got nothing to lose.”

The real question, of course, is whether Common Core is a laughing matter at all.

Are we prepared to allow our education system to be the subject of Twitter-sparring and late night television?

Shouldn’t American education be more than a national joke?

 

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  • Robert Middleton

    How about getting rid of the standardized testing all together and go back to the way it used to be. If your GPA was high enough, you didn’t flunk (oops, nobody does that anymore) a particular class, and your attendance was at an acceptable level, you passed to the next grade?

  • Bren Pool Vignaroli

    Excellent! You nailed it Tanya Grimsley with your last two questions:

    Are we prepared to allow our education system to be the subject of Twitter-sparring and late night television? Shouldn’t American education be more than a national joke?

    As much as I appreciate the comedy of Louis C.K…..joking about a serious subject as the Common Core failures and what it’s doing to our children…borders on someone trying to tell a funny joke at a funeral. Unfortunately, the JOKE is on US and we need to start taking it seriously after all, the children are OUR future…and Common Core is messing with that in a very BIG way!

    • cweat

      Bren, I believe he’s as serious about it as you are. It’s just his way of making his point. You’re right though, it isn’t a laughing matter. People from other parts of the world used to want to study here. Now we’re lagging. It’s not the earlier teaching methods that are at fault – it’s the loss of control over kids these days primarily. No one wants to accept that though.

      • Bren Pool Vignaroli

        You are absolutely right cweat. Parenting should be at the top of the list of all things that matter in the lives of our children. All of these things, and lack thereof, plays into the failures we are witnessing today. Parents need to be more involved and connected in what their kids are thinking and doing…starting the minute they come into this world. Parenting is the absolute most important job any of us will have in our lifetimes…and you only get one crack at it. Mess that up, and failure comes knockin’ at your front door.

        • anon.

          Parenting as it use to be understood has been under attack for a very long time. You can’t be a good parent today with both hands strapped behind your back and a gag in your mouth~ which is effectively what child psychologists and our ever intrusive government have been doing to parents for decades now. The fruits of their efforts are now able to be seen by the way our society has developed.

          • Cindy Kay

            My two children were reared by one parent before and after I divorced their father. When my son was five he threatened to call and report me to DHS. I got out the phone book (were talking 33 years ago) looked up the number and told him “once you call them, they may come take you away”. That was the only time he ever threatened that again. Things have gotten much worse now, I agree.

          • Cindy Kay

            I forgot to say that I am fighting Common Core on behalf of my grandchildren. My state Senate has voted to repeal it, but our governor wanted some changes made. It’s been going back and forth from House to Senate ever since. Grrr!

      • Memphomaniac

        The POINT, is to DUMB DOWN the top performers and boost the bottom, in a mistaken grab at “equality.” It’s Progressive education by those with a political agenda. To my knowledge, elementary math was not a subject for interpretation. You either solved the problem, or got it wrong. Brang it on fools. I will pull my child out of Public School so fast it will make your heads swim. Your social agenda has no place in public education.

    • Mary Brown Vaughan

      Unfortunately, comedy is sometimes the only way to even get idiots to listen to anything of any importance. It’s get’s introduced in one manner and then they hear more about it in a more serious context and perk up to actually get better informed. You have to look at the positive aspect and note that it was clear Louis was also including his frustration in it as well. This type of “introduction” to serious material works especially well with the youth that find “regular” adult topics boring….

  • thinkingabovemypaygrade

    We don’t know who is writing Common Core????????

    One of his biggest criticisms is that “no one really knows” who is writing the standardized tests. “… it’s very secretive,” wrote C.K.”

  • Guest

    Indiana has rejected Common Core and is selecting something else. Why not leave it to the states? There is now a “common core” of knowledge students learn for college, for example. And it’s measured on the SAT/ACT tests.

    School boards are accountable to their local communities for quality. It should stay that way.

    • The problem is, they are trying to federally mandate it. They continually want to take this out of our hands as parents and the states hands.

  • thinkingabovemypaygrade

    Indiana requires students in high school pass some proficiency tests in some key subjects in order to pass. For instance, my son must get at least 70 % on a state biology test late this spring. That is a kind of “common” standard…applicable to all high schools. They also have the ACT/SAT results for their schools…in order to know how they compare to other schools. These are a kind of “common core” of measurement.

    Scary…to have the Feds decide what all schools should teach…

  • Carrie Barton

    I’m going to use that question when talking to a lefty

  • RobinN

    This is certainly not a laughing matter. These poor children that will be ill prepared to face daily life let alone higher education.