Well before he made Common Core a prime topic on The Late Show With David Letterman, comedian Louis C.K. was raising a ruckus over the testing standards on Twitter. His comments angered a some people and put him at the center of the debate over the Common Core standards.
My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
Louis is the father of two girls who attend New York City public schools, and his tweets set off Alexander Nazaryan of Newsweek. Nazaryan cited his own experience as a teacher to defend the standards.
@alexnazaryan the things you say about me are shallow and mean but you posed in front of some books for your pic & thus sound smart.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) May 1, 2014
Nazaryan said he was “dismayed” because C.K.’s celebrity give his opinions a huge platform. He also worried that people might take Louis C.K. seriously because he isn’t “a shill for the unions nor a far-left conspiracy theorist. He is, instead, a New York City public school parent who has the ears and eyeballs of millions across the nation, not to mention his 3 million Twitter followers. And he has used that bully pulpit to malign an earnest effort at education reform, one that is far too young to be judged so harshly,” Nazaryan wrote.
One of the things that C.K. highlighted was actual test questions given to his daughters.
A huge amount of my third graders time is spent preparing for and answering questions like this. pic.twitter.com/WU5tEo8JRO— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
In his appearance with Letterman, Louis said it’s good when his daughters face challenging test questions. “I’m there for [my kids] in those moments. I say, ‘Come on, look at the problem. And then I look at the problem and it’s like, ‘Bill has three goldfish. He buys two more. How many dogs live in London?’”
Louis said he doesn’t blame the teachers — he blames the people who write the tests: “nobody knows who they are . . . it’s very secretive,” he said.
Sorry. I sit with my kids as they so their HW they devour knowledge. When it’s hard they step up. Their teachers are great— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
But it’s changed in recent years. It’s all about these tests. It feels like a dark time. And nothing is going in anymore.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
It’s this massive stressball that hangs over the whole school. The kids teachers trying to adapt to these badly written notions.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
C.K.’s detractors say he’s maligning education reform, but he disagrees. As a father of children currently in school, he can’t wait until the Common Core is refined. “[Kids] only get one chance to grow and develop and to fall in love with learning,” he said.
@alexnazaryan Well I’m a current public school parent. My kid’s brain is where the rubber hits the road. And I’m not alone.— Louis C.K. (@louisck) May 1, 2014
Louis C.K. is an everyman comedian. His jokes are about sex, divorce, anxiety, i.e. the stuff of every day life. His Common Core tirades also come from firsthand experience. Nazaryan and others note that the standards are “loathed by left and right alike.” But it might be more accurate to say the more practical experience people have with the standards, the less they like them.
— Joshua Encinias is an Agostinelli Fellow at National Review Online.