What Just Happened?

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Dec 10, 2015

In the last episode I discussed the origins of the Common Core and its pros and cons. But what if you are a parent or student living in the Common Core world today? I interviewed former high school math teacher Hemant Mehta, and we discussed practical strategies parents, students, and teachers can adopt in learning math. Among the questions we discussed were:

What do I do if I don’t understand the “new” way schools are teaching math to my child?

What is “number sense” and how can I help my child obtain it?

How do I form a constructive relationship with teachers?

What do math teachers wish parents knew about teaching and education?

What if my child is bored or the lessons are “too easy”?

What are Hemant’s thoughts on the Common Core standards? About standardized testing?


I hope you find Hemant’s advice as useful as I did! Interview recorded on December 2, 2015.


Hemant Mehta can be found here:

Friendly Atheist blog:

Friendly Atheist podcast:

The Atheist Voice YouTube channel:

Twitter: @hemantmehta



Hemant’s articles about viral math problems:


Additional educational resources for parents and students:

Twitter hashtag: #mtbos

Videos and “tip sheets” made specifically for parents to support their children’s study of math

Achieve the Core is a non-profit that offers free tools to help educators understand and teach the Common Core standards

A wealth of various practical resources to help students learn everything from “how to take notes” to lesson plans on “giving a speech.” Hosted by Oregon’s Department of Education.

A short and helpful big picture overview of the Common Core math standards

The National PTA’s booklet, “A Parent’s Guide to Student Success”


My contact info:


Whatjustpodcast @ gmail . com

Twitter: @davidgchang


Please subscribe! :) 

Nov 11, 2015


  1. Like many people, I was very confused about the Common Core. In fact, it's fair to say it was my curiosity about THIS specific topic, the Common Core, that ultimately motivated me to start this podcast.


  1. Special thanks to my PARENTS IN LAW for bringing back my copy of Glenn Beck's book "Conform" to me after I neglectfully left it at their place, about an hour's drive away!




Twitter: @davidgchang

Email: whatjustpodcast @ 


Read the Common Core standards (if you dare!):


Links to math problems gone VIRAL:


Justin Aion, @JustinAion, CCBS, Re-Learning to Teach, March 21, 2014


Christopher Danielson, @Trianglemancsd, “5 reasons not to share that Common Core worksheet on Facebook,” Wordpress, April 6, 2014


Hemant Mehta, @hemantmehta, “The Dad Who Wrote a Check Using ‘Common Core’ Math Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About,” Patheos, September 21, 2015


Patrick O’Donnell, @paodonne, “What was that math on the "Common Core" check that went viral?,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 24, 2015


Hemant Mehta, @hemantmehta, “Why Would a Math Teacher Punish a Child for Saying 5 x 3 = 15?,” Patheos, October 21, 2015


Andy Kiersz, @Andy Kiersz, “The Common Core math quiz that has everyone outraged isn't about Common Core — it's worse,” Business Insider, October 26, 2015



Before I share the full bibliography of my research below, there were several education reporters whose pieces were particularly helpful. Special thanks to:


Sarah Garland @s_garl at The Hechinger Report

Lyndsey Layton @lyndseylayton at The Washington Post

Libby Nelson @libbyanelson at VOX and 

Valerie Strauss @valeriestrauss at The Washington Post


BIBLIOGRAPHY (in chronological order by publication date)


David Coleman & Jason Zimba, @achievethcore, “Math and Science Standards That Are Fewer, Clearer, Higher to Raise Achievement at All Levels,” Carnegie Corporation Institute for Advanced Study, 2007


“Top State Education Policy Organizations Form Expert Advisory Group on International Benchmarking,”, September 8, 2008


National Governor’s Association, Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S. Students Receive a World-Class Education, December 19, 2008,


National Governor’s Association, Forty-Nine States and Territories Join Common Core Standards Initiative, June 1, 2009


Heather Armonstrong, @dooce, “Clickety Clack,” DOOCE, January 17, 2013


Frederick Hess, @rickhess99, “Straight Up Conversation: Common Core Guru Jason Zimba,” EDUCATION NEXT, February 28, 2013


Glenn Beck, @glennbeck, “Exposing Common Core: Kids are being indoctrinated with extreme leftist ideology,”, March 14, 2013


Kathleen Porter-Magee & Sol Stern, @kportermagee & @worstall, “The Truth About Common Core,” NATIONAL REVIEW, April 3, 2013


Glenn Beck, @glennbeck, “The whole story on common core,” GLENN BECK, April 8, 2013


Edward Frenkel & Hung-Hsi Wu, @edfrenkel & @HungHsiWU, “Republicans Should Love “Common Core,’” WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 6, 2013


Maggie Gallagher, @maggiemarriage, “Two Moms vs. Common Core,” NATIONAL REVIEW, May 12, 2013


Charles Chieppo & Jamie Gass, @charliechieppo, “Why states are backing out on common standards and tests,” HECHINGER REPORT, August 15, 2013


Sarah Garland, @s_garl, “How does Common Core compare?,” HECHINGER REPORT, October 15, 2013 

Valerie Strauss, @valeriestrauss, “Arnie Duncan: ‘White suburban moms’ upset that Common Core shows their kids aren’t ‘brilliant,’” WASHINGTON POST, November 16, 2013


Valerie Strauss & Carol Burris, @valeriestrauss & @carolburris, “Who are the ‘enemies’ of Common Core?,” WASHINGTON POST, November 18, 2013


Joy Resmovits, @joy_resmovits, “How The Common Core Became Education's Biggest Bogeyman,” Huffington Post, January 10, 2014


Elizabeth A. Natale, @enataled, “Why I Want To Give Up Teaching,” HARTFORD COURANT, January 17, 2014


David G. Bonagura, Jr., “Common Core’s Newer Math,” NATIONAL REVIEW, January 17, 2014


Rebecca Mead, @Rebeccamead_NYC, “The Defiant Parents: Testing’s Discontents,” NEW YORKER, January 22, 2014


Kathleen Megan, @kathymegan, “A Teacher's Lesson For The Whole Country,” HARTFORD COURANT, January 26, 2014


Allie Bidwell, @alliebidwell, “The History of Common Core State Standards,” U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, February 27, 2014


Sarah Garland, @s_garl, “Why is this Common Core math problem so hard? Supporters respond to quiz that went viral,” Hechinger Report, March 26, 2014


Ginia Bellafante, @GiniaNYT, “Standing Up to Testing,” NEW YORK TIMES, March 28, 2014


Megan Charles, @MeganCharlesIQ, “Parent Posts Facebook Response to ‘Ridiculous’ Common Core Math Homework,” Social News Daily, March 30, 2014  


Monica Bielanko, @MonicaBielanko, “Common Core: Why Are They Making Math Harder?,” Babble, April 2014


Jessica Lahey, @jesslahey, “Confusing Math Homework? Don’t Blame the Common Core,” THE ATLANTIC, April 3, 2014


Rebecca Mead, @Rebeccamead_NYC, “Louis C.K. Against the Common Core,” NEW YORKER, April 30, 2014


Libby Nelson, @libbyanelson, “What Louis CK gets wrong on Common Core,” VOX, May 1, 2014


Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education (The Control Series), Glenn Beck, @glennbeck, May 6, 2014


Motoko Rich, @motokorich, “Common Core School Standards Face a New Wave of Opposition,” NEW YORK TIMES, May 29, 2014


Lyndsey Layton, @lyndseylayton, “How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution,” WASHINGTON POST, June 7, 2014


Motoko Rich, @motokorich, “Math Under Common Core Has Even Parents Stumbling,” NEW YORK TIMES, June 29, 2014,


Lindsey Layton, @lyndseylayton, “Glenn Beck takes to the theaters to attack Common Core,” WASHINGTON POST, July 23, 2014,


Caroline Schaeffer, “A ‘Frustrated’ Parent Pens A Brilliant Response To Her Child’s Mind-Boggling Common Core Homework,” INDEPENDENT JOURNAL, October 2014


“Parents Hate Common Core and So Do Teachers and Students,” American News Report, October 6, 2014,


Libby Nelson, @libbyanelson, “Everything you need to know about the Common Core,” VOX, October 7, 2014


Laurie Udesky, @laurieudesky, “Teachers want more Common Core preparation,” EDSOURCE, October 19, 2014


Valerie Strauss, @valeriestrauss, “Does Arne Duncan think ‘suburban moms’ are a gullible bunch?,” WASHINGTON POST, October 26, 2014


Lyndsey Layton, @lyndseylayton, “Common Core math can be a mystery, and parents are going to school to understand it,” WASHINGTON POST, November 1, 2014


Lizette Alvarez, @LizetteNYT, “States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F,” NEW YORK TIMES, November 9, 2014


Emmanuel Felton, @emmanuelfelton, “Does Common Core really mean teachers should teach differently?,” Hechinger Report, December 12, 2014


Haley Sweetland Edwards, @haleybureau, “The One Issue that Will Complicate Jeb Bush’s Campaign,” TIME, December 16, 2014,


David L. Kirp, @DavidKirp, “Rage Against the Common Core,” NEW YORK TIMES, December 27, 2014


Sarah Garland, @s_garl, “Who was behind the Common Core math standards, and will they survive?,” HECHINGER REPORT, December 29, 2014


Patrick R. Potyondy, @PRPotyondy, “Top Ten Origins: The Common Core Curriculum,” ORIGINS OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY, January 13, 2015


Leslie Postal, @lesliepostal, “Some students will opt out as new Florida tests debut,” Orlando Sentinel, February 27, 2015


Libby Nelson, @libbyanelson, “Why the political arguments about Common Core miss the point,” VOX, May 14, 2015


Elizabeth A. Natale, @enataled, “Why Smarter Balanced Tests Fail Students,” HARTFORD COURANT, May 15, 2015


Jordan Ellenberg, @JSEllenberg, “Meet the New Common Core,” NEW YORK TIMES, June 16, 2015


Emma Brown, @emmersbrown, “As states drop out of PARCC’s Common Core test, faithful carry on,” Washinton Post, July 22, 2015


Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triump, Kristina Rizga, @KristinaRizga, August 4, 2015


Joy Pullmann, @JoyPullman, “New Math Anxiety Research Knocks Common Core,” The Heartland Institute, August 19, 2015


Natalie Wexler, @natwexler, “How Common Core Can Help in the Battle of Skills vs. Knowledge,” New York Times, August 28, 2015


Kristina Rizga, @KristinaRizga, “Sorry I’m Not Taking this Test,” MOTHER JONES, Sept/Oct 2015

Emmanuel Felton, @emmanuelfelton, “Think you know a lot about Common Core? A new poll finds you’re probably wrong,” Hechinger Report, September 8, 2015,


Miriam Hall, @Miriam_Hall, “‘At First We Felt Angry’: Four Teachers Explain How Common Core Changed Their Jobs,” Slate, September 9, 2015


Miriam Hall, @Miriam_Hall, “‘It’s Not Like a Switch That You Can Flick on Overnight’: Four Teachers on Adapting to Common Core,” Slate, September 11, 2015


Valerie Strauss & Caroline Burris, @valeriestrauss & @carolburris, “Her son began hating school. What happened when she found out why.,” Washington Post, September 28, 2015


Emma Brown & Lyndsey Layton, @emmersbrown & @lyndseylayton, “Confusing Ohio test results are latest effort to unravel Common Core’s promise,” Washington Post, October 3, 2015


Kimberly Hefling, @khefling, “How Common Core quietly won the war,” Politico, October 12, 2015


Kate Zernike, @kzernike, “Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools,” New York Times, October 24, 2015


Eric Hoover, @erichoov, “Everything You Need to Know About the New SAT,” New York Times, October 28, 2015


Libby Nelson, @libbyanelson, “Obama’s flip-flop on standardized tests, explained,” Vox, October 29, 2015


Emmanuel Felton, @emmanuelfelton, “How the Common Core Is Transforming the SAT,” The Atlantic, October 29, 2015

Ep. 3 BTS coming soon!


Oct 26, 2015

Twitter: @davidgchang

Email: whatjustpodcast @


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Oct 14, 2015

Today we explain Kevin McCarthy's STUNNING decision not to run for Speaker of the House, why he pulled out, and why this means something far beyond the Beltway.

Oct 1, 2015

What Just Happened? is a podcast about recent history. Today we discuss Black Lives Matter. #blacklivesmatter is more than a hashtag. It's a nuts and bolts organization run by three female activists, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. The group went viral following Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri. They've disrupted campaign events of candidates like Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and Hillary Clinton. How they got started and what they stand for may surprise you.


Twitter: @whatjustpodcast