American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.

American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.


Adoption stories


Rebecca Hammer
San Jose, CA

Birth Country: South Korea
Decade of adoption: 1950s

My name is Rebecca Hammer, and I am 53 years old. I live in San Jose, California with my husband, a retired English teacher. We share four grown children and four grandchildren. I work as an administrative assistant for Pathways Health and Hospice in Sunnyvale, California.

I came to America 49 years ago from Seoul, Korea. My Korean name was Mi Rae Kim, though I was called Mita. It was 1956, and I was 3 years old. My adoption was sponsored by Christian missionaries who took me from the orphanage because I weighed only 14 pounds and was suffering from severe malnutrition. From time to time, I am still in contact with the American missionary with whom I lived for one year before coming to the United States. I know nothing of my birth parents except that my mother was Korean and my father was an American soldier.

Even though there is so much I do not know about my beginnings, I do have much to share: letters, photos and documents (many in Korean) from the orphanage in Seoul, from my adoption process through the International Social Service and from both the Korean and American governments. I was the first Korean orphan to come to Iowa in 1956 and have photos and newspaper clippings of my arrival there.

I have been so energized since looking at your Web site and now better understand why I know virtually nothing of my motherland. Many people never even guess that I am half-Korean. I think that, due to American sentiments at that time, my adoptive parents were more focused on "Americanizing" me than keeping me connected to my Korean heritage. In fact, except for liking Kim Chee, which I adore, I have absolutely no knowledge of Korea, its history, its culture or its language. I was told that my birth mother, for my survival, dropped me off at the Eden Orphanage in Seoul and walked away.

Becuase of your radio program, I suddenly feel as though a whole new opportunity to understand my past has opened before me. You have given me the impetus to do what I have before only thought about. I want to gather my documents and photos, piece as many details together as I can, and tell you my story with the dignity it deserves.

I have always felt the dichotomy of my existence. The keys to my past may remain forever unknown. I very likely could have died in Korea before my third birthday, but in being transported to America, I have thus far lived a rich, full life. I am lucky to be here.



Back to Adoption Stories


American RadioWorks | Hearing is Seeing
Students in Kentucky taking a Common Core math test. (Photo: Emily Hanford)

Greater Expectations

The United States is in the midst of a huge education reform. The Common Core State Standards are a new set of expectations for what students should learn each year in school. The standards have been adopted by most states, though there's plenty of controversy about them among activists and politicians. Most teachers, however, actually like the standards. This American RadioWorks documentary takes listeners into classrooms to explore how the standards are changing teaching and learning. Teachers say Common Core has the potential to help kids who are behind, as well as those who are ahead. But many teachers have big concerns about the Common Core tests. The new, tougher tests are meant to let the nation know how kids are really doing in school -- but bad scores could get teachers and principals fired.

Recent Posts

  • 08.29.14

    Greater Expectations transcript

  • 08.28.14

    A teacher loses faith in the Common Core

    New York teacher Kevin Glynn was once a big fan of the Common Core, but he says the standardized testing that's come along with it is reducing students to test scores and narrowing what gets taught in schools.
  • 08.28.14

    Are you smarter than a Common Core student? Try a Common Core test

    New Common Core tests are supposed to measure students' ability to think critically, analyze information, and cite evidence as well as test their conceptual understanding of mathematics and their ability to apply math to the real world. See how you'd do on a Common Core test.
  • 08.28.14

    Questioning the Common Core tests

    In the United States, education standards come with tests. Most students haven't been tested on the Common Core yet. But in one state where they have, the controversy is so intense that it's threatening to bring down the Common Core altogether.