Grand Opening: Common Core Hardware Store!

toolboxIn response to the overwhelming demand for “tools” that “unpack” the Common Core State Standards, two enterprising educators have announced the soon-to-open Common Core Hardware Store in Brooklyn. The store will celebrate its grand opening on Monday, August 19, just in time for teachers, administrators, parents, and students to purchase the tools they desperately need for raising test scores over the coming year. Additional branches will follow.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time,” said Marcy Plinth, one of the two founders. “One day, at sunrise, I was hammering a nail into a wall. I began thinking, ‘What if I were reading an informational text about how to hammer a nail into a wall? Wouldn’t that take a lot longer than just nailing the thing?’ Then kerbling—the idea for a tool came to me. I called my buddy Joe Rosette right away. He said, ‘Why stop with a tool? Why not have a store?’ So we went for it. Don’t let anyone else tell you that they’ve got tools, because ours are the only ones you can actually feel and hold.”

These tools resemble regular hardware tools, with a few key differences.

The CC Hammer weighs twice as much as a regular hammer. Its purpose is to make a loud and sudden sound in the event of non-alignment. A principal or coach should carry one into every classroom. “Initially you can expect a lot of banging in a school,” said Plinth, “but that should die down, once the classrooms get aligned with you-know-what.”

The CC Wrench looks like a regular stainless steel wrench but is actually a teacher evaluation tool. “This is for obstructionists—you know, status quo types—who are trying to throw a wrench in the system,” said Rosette. “We say, ‘go ahead, have a wrench, give it a throw.’ Then it automatically rates them ineffective and tweets the info to all the major news outlets.”

The CC Power Drill is designed to drill students in critical thinking. When you turn it on, it initially makes a whirring noise, but as it warms up, it starts to emit phrases: for instance, “I am justifying my point with the following textual evidence,” “Although you make a valid claim, you have not addressed my second counterclaim,” and so on. Dentists, cabinet-makers, sergeants, and low-inferencers are all encouraged to use this drill, so that the entire American public can align with its mental processes.

The CC Plumb Bob measures the depth and complexity of a text to the nearest one-thousandth of a fathom. “You won’t get anything more accurate than that,” said an advertiser who requested anonymity. “We’ve got The Tempest at 5.143 fathoms, Antigone at 2.112, and A Guide to Indoor Plumbing at 8.003. Why, I just sold the plumbing book to three districts after they tried this tool.”

What about math? The CC Bucket helps you draw circles—not any old circles, but circles in service of the Common Core Standards. “We’ve got different ones, actually, for different standards,” explained Plinth. “This one over here is for HSG-GPE.A.1: ‘Derive the equation of a circle of given center and radius using the Pythagorean Theorem; complete the square to find the center and radius of a circle given by an equation.’”

Why use a bucket for that? “Well, it says ‘a circle of given center and radius,’ and we’ve given you the center and radius,” she explained, pointing to a dot and line on the bucket’s base.

As for tools that “unpack” the standards, Plinth and Rosette have commissioned Jack the Unpacker: A CC Robot. “You give Jack the standards in the form of a suitcase with a latch,” said Herb Blink, one of the lead engineers, “and he unpacks them before your eyes. Before long, you’ve learned how to do it yourself.” (A matching Unpac-Man game is supposedly in the works.)

While pre-orders for the individual tools have been trickling in, no item has attracted as much attention as the CC Toolbox. “With the CC Toolbox, you’ve got everything right there,” gushed an excited pre-customer, who plans to spend the night outside the store before the grand opening. “I mean, I’ve got to have a toolbox to carry around. It makes me feel successful.” Child-size and Barbie-size toolboxes will soon become available, according to industry rumors.

The first 100 customers to arrive at Common Core Hardware will receive a free CC Magnifying Glass, an indispensable tool for anything that requires close reading or exaggeration.

Leave a comment


  1. Diana, do you know where the language of “Although you make a valid claim” and so on comes from? It reminds me of what’s taught in Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s They Say/I Say, often used in college writing courses. Has that stuff trickled down into high school and below? Is there some other source?

    I’m as impatient as anyone else with regimentation and uniformity. But I have to admit that I’m not as put off by this sort of language as I think I should be. 🙂 I think many a college prof would be delighted to hear students respond to other students in discussion with this sort of language, even if it sounds canned at first.

  2. Michael, yes, this comes from Gerald Graff, the Institute for Learning (at the University of Pittsburgh), and other sources. My main objection to these conversation templates is that they often stand in for substance. Administrators and coaches passing by will listen for the token phrases, not the meaning. There are exceptions–principals who understand what teachers and students are doing–but teachers often come under pressure to “produce” generic academic conversation in the classroom.

    In the last two decades, this was called “accountable talk”–a dreadful name. Class discussion should be more than accountable; it should be thoughtful and versatile. In addition, it should be more than “talk”; it should be an exchange of ideas.

    Such conversation templates are fine if they accompany and frame good thinking. But they cannot replace ideas and insights.

  3. No, they can’t replace ideas and insights. I didn’t realize that the authorities were looking only at the veneer. I’m reminded of the way my children were required in elementary school to use transitional words and phrases at the beginnings of paragraphs. I would explain to them why “consequently” or “furthermore” or whatever the word was didn’t always work — that it was a matter of relationships among ideas. And they would reply, “Dad! It doesn’t matter!” Having a transition was all that counted, meaning be damned. My children knew better.

  4. Thanks for sharing the updated information on various handy tools available. The person who use the tools for day-to-day maintenance and repairs should be careful to prevent accidents.
    Having the right tools is the key to any successful project. Just remember to operate all tools according to their specifications and be sure to wear the necessary safety equipment.


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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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