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The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. —THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1788

Do the math: Common Core math question ‘worst in human history’?

Dunce capWe’ve all heard lots about the Common Core educational standards as they pertain to social studies (“If you ask to speak with the manager of an institution such as a bank, a retail store, or another place of business, how likely is it that you will meet someone of your ethnic background or gender?”), civics (“The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation”), and reading (“Before dawn each morning, Barry [as in Obama] rose – his mother’s voice driving him from dream land. ‘Time for learning English grammar and the Golden Rule. Be honest, be kind, be fair,’ she taught him.”)

But there has been precious little about the all-important subject area of math. Until now. The problem below was first reported by Twitchy and has since been cited by the Daily Caller, which maintains it is “the worst math question in human history.”

Common Core math problemThe DC also traces the problem back to its source:

The problem comes from a Houghton Mifflin Assessment Guide. It appears among a larger set of basically similar math problems here. The problem involving Juanita appears on page AG102, nestled among some other problems that are similarly weak and crappy — though not nearly as harrrowing [sic] as the problem above.

The DC authors go on to note that Houghton Mifflin is part of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt educational publishing cartel, providing a link to the company website, which advises that the Common Core State Standards represent “a fresh opportunity for students, teachers, leaders, and parents.”

So … were you able to solve the problem? Twitchy applauds the problem because it has no wrong answers, which means no one’s feelings get hurt, which after all is the most important takeaway from modern education.

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Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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  • teejk

    I think we need to know what time the train left Boston and how fast it is traveling. If we have that, the answer should be easy.

    Now I do take offense at stickers being sold in bags. I bet it was originally Snickers but then the health police got involved (calories and that ever increasing peanut allergy thing).

    • Howard Portnoy

      I see you’re bringing your A game, teejk. I must admit, the train-leaving-the-station-conductor-wearing-yellow-socks schtick occurred to me, too, but the Snickers part was VERY funny.

  • Dave

    Read the question again. Any number not evenly divisible by both 4 and 6 would be wrong because there would be left over stickers.

    • Howard Portnoy

      Fair enough. So what’s the right answer?

      • teejk

        Don’t tell me that the Ken-Ken puzzles are all part of the plan!

  • Juanita

    That damn autocorrect. I meant Skittles, not stickers.

    • teejk

      ok…I’m waving the wh**e flag…you win. This time…

  • Clorinda

    According to the question itself, the answer is either 4 or 6. In one place it says she wants to give bags. In another, how many stickers does she need to buy. So which is it? Bags which will obviously have a set number of stickers? Or stickers? We don’t know how many friends. We don’t know how many stickers per bag. I think this might have been a draft question that somehow made it all the way through.