Common Core and Homeschooling

Question:

I’ve been hearing a lot about “Common Core” lately.

What is it, and how will it affect homeschoolers?

 

Answer:

To put it simply, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a movement to persuade all of the states, through incentives in the form of federal grants, to align their educational guidelines with national standards.  While a national curriculum may seem harmless enough on the surface, CCSS has the potential to cause wide and broad long term loss of freedom and individuality for everyone, including homeschoolers.

Please watch this video. Joy Pullman of Heartland Institute and Lindsey Burke of Heritage Foundation have studied the Common Core agenda meticulously, and articulate the concerns about Common Core much better than I.

I’m not an expert on the issue, but here is my attempt at summarizing the problems homeschoolers may face by the implementation of such a system of federal control over our children.

  1. Cost – CCSS will cost billions of dollars to implement, dollars that the financially suffering states don’t have, burdening the taxpayers, including homeschoolers. And it will cost curriculum companies dearly to rewrite their texts in alignment with CCSS, putting the smaller curriculum companies that many homeschoolers depend on out of business.
  1. Broad and Reaching Tentacles – This agenda is designed to cover all children, everywhere. It may start out in states electing to align themselves with CCSS, but at some point all states will exclaim, “I give!  I give!” Students that are homeschooling under a public, private, charter, cyber, or umbrella school will likely be pressured into using the same CCSS curriculum and taking the CCSS tests. The CCSS moves control of our children’s education from parents and teachers to unaccountable education policy experts, sitting in board rooms, far removed from the situation.
  1. Untested, Unaccountable, Unchangeable – CCSS is an untested experiment that was never assessed by top curriculum research universities, and never voted upon by teachers or parents. The standards have no checks and balances. CCSS is a one-size-fits-all approach to education, eliminating the freedom of parents to choose what and how to educate their children, possibly even eliminating the choice to homeschool. There is no amendment process to adapt the curriculum to various situations, or learning styles. Nothing can be deleted from the copyrighted Standard, and only 15% can be added.
  1. Weakened Skills – The “standards” are a dumbing down of our children by reducing analytical thinking, and weakening English and math teaching. Many educators have testified before legislatures that the standards are a step backward, not forward. Homeschoolers access to non-CCSS materials will be limited, so our children too are likely to receive this weakened version of education.
  1. National Testing – Testing will be totally based on CCSS, without any wiggle room. This means that what they say goes, and if you disagree (not just with the answer, but how to come to the answer) you fail.  Homeschoolers who choose to ignore the national standards will have a hard time passing the standardized tests, and will then have difficulty getting into colleges that will require them for admittance. Because funding is based on test scores, schools’ focus will be on teaching the test.
  1. The Book Burning – CCSS requires that by high school 70% of books read will be “informational texts”, i.e. propaganda. Classic literature such as Dickens, Alcott, and Shakespeare will be replaced with writings from the Federal Reserve Bank. Homeschoolers can expect the public libraries to conform, leaving less and less quality literature on their shelves.
  1.  Privacy Concerns – The creators and copyrighters of Common Core, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) also created a huge database called Common Education Data Standards (CEDS). This database will not only contain test scores and academic performance records, but oodles of non-academic data, such as demographics, attitudes, family information including incomes, habits, and biometric data such as DNA, retinal scans, and fingerprints. Because of the broad reaching tentacles (see #2 above), homeschoolers will not long be immune from this encroachment.

 

How CCSS will affect homeschoolers, whether directly or indirectly, is yet to be seen. Anything this costly, encroaching, invasive, and stifling to the spirit of individuality is likely to plague society as a whole.  But don’t take my word for it.  Pray for eyes to see and ears to hear (Matthew 13:13-16) as you research this yourself and come to your own conclusions. Pray for discernment, searching out any ties that bind, and draw your own line in the sand. And prayerfully “be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). Our children and children’s children are counting on us. I’ll be praying, too.

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17 thoughts on “Common Core and Homeschooling”

  1. Parents homeschooling under a taxpayer-funded, public charter, cyber, or umbrella school have already voluntarily abdicated parental control of their children’s education to supposed education policy experts and willingly subjected their children to state standards.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Nicole. You are correct, whether knowingly or not, many homeschooling parents have already contracted out of their rights to educate their children as they see fit. That is why I so encourage parents to prayerfully search out the ties that behind. Those little perks (free laptops, free curriculum, etc.) are just not worth it!

  2. Do you know if Connections Academy and K-12 use CCSS? My daughter is only 3 but we have been preparing for homeschooling for about a year now. There are certain subjects such as English and Language Arts that I am not comfortable teaching her. I was looking into possibly using either of the schools I mentioned above for her to attend as a part time student for an English and/or Language Arts class. But if they are using CCSS, I’m not sure if I will be comfortable about using them.

    1. Because K12 and Connections are public schools done at home, they have to be aligned if their state has accepted the Common Core mandate.

      As for not being comfortable teaching a subject…I’ve always said that I’m learning right along with my girls. I just try to keep one day ahead of them. 😀 Now my oldest is in 10th grade, and we’re getting ready to start geometry….something I have not looked forwad to since I started homeschooling 11 years ago! Hopefully, I’ll learn it better this time around!!!

      Anyway, back to English…..you can wait awhile until you introduce formal language arts. And there’s so much help out there now for various subjects (DVDs and scripted teacher guides), you can probably find something to take you by the hand and help walk you through. Also, maybe some years you can swap services with another homeschool mom who’s good in English….maybe you can teach her child science or something you have a passion for. Just some thoughts….you can do it!

    2. Connections Academy and K12 is explicitly aligned to CCSS.

      And really, you do not have to worry about teaching language arts until your child is about 8 or 9. Until then, focus on phonics and reading instruction.
      (This coming from a former English major in college and a technical editor before children. Language arts is a big deal to me. But children under 8 don’t need a formal language arts program/curriculum.)

      I would not ever consider using a public school at home. Look for those dangling carrots; there is always a string attached.

  3. Common Core is a DISASTER! Parents need to get it out of their states. This is a great website to see whether or not the curriculum you are looking in to is CC aligned etc…

    http://www.theeducationalfreedomcoalition.org/

    Tina has done HOURS of research, calling each and every company! The Education Freedom Coalition also has a Facebook page!! The ladies are great and super supportive of each other.

  4. While I dislike the Common Core approach to learning and agree with most of the arguments against it, #6 in the example above doesn’t make sense to me. The document the text links to, which illustrates the types of exemplar texts for each grade band, does not support the argument being made. I see numerous examples of classic literary works. Granted, there are quite a few “federal” documents in the upper years, but they are under the history and social studies categories. In fact, Shakespeare and Alcott are specifically included in the list, in the appropriate places.

    I think it weakens our argument when we have non-factual statements, and then cite a document that proves our argument invalid.

    1. Garry,

      I don’t intend to contribute to any disinformation, so I will qualify my position in number 6 above:

      Because, by high school, 70% of all students’ reading across the grade will be informational texts only, the reading of classics written by authors such as Shakespeare and Alcott will be reduced and/or eliminated due to time constraints in the classroom.

      Yes, Shakespeare and Alcott are listed as text exemplars, among many others. But when only 30% of all students’ reading across the grade will be fictional selections, CCSS will greatly limit the amount of classic literature that can be covered.

  5. I do not wish to be confrontational, nor do I mean to use an overly negative tone, I have to disagree with almost everything written here about CC and the quality of education in public schools prior to CC. As someone who left the public schools because of the dumbing down of students in both language (reading/writing/spelling) and math (well before the introduction of CC), it was refreshing to hear that the governors across this nation were fed up, too. Fed up with the education policies driven by inefficient local politicians, complacent educators, out-of-touch schools of Ed, and teachers unions. Finally, I thought, the rest of the country might be able to aspire to the results experienced, say, in Massachusetts.

    Many of the first proponents of the CC were the very politically aligned people who support a parent’s right to homeschool, choose charter schools and even have vouchers for private schools. So, what happened? President Obama liked it. Really, that is all it took. So, here we are. Conservatives, many of them homeschoolers who have no legitimate or pressing reason to be concerned, are flying off the handle and in the process have unfairly characterized (often on purpose for political reasons) CC as a curriculum (it is not), the invention of the federal government (it is not), and the reason we have atrocious math programs like Everyday Math being taught in school (it is not).

    Liberals, many of them teachers, are bashing CC because they do not want their efforts to be judged, graded or assessed based upon even the tiniest bit on how students perform on standardized tests. They have complained they were not given a seat at the table in developing the standards (not true), that CC is a plot by the Koch brothers and Bill Gates to privatize all education and abolish public education (please), and are not rigorous enough compared to what is already in place (ha!).

    One of the few legitimate criticisms I can see against the Common Core standards is that some of them are not necessarily clear. However, I have looked at them numerous times, including the supplements, and overall they meet my own high standards for my child. The other legitimate complaints are that implementation has not been smooth in many cases, curriculum companies are just slapping on a new cover saying their books align with CC (not necessarily true), and the CC aligned testing (a different entity all its own) has some/many glitches and may be too intense, especially at the elementary school level. But even those arguments are, in most cases, premature because only New York state has implemented the testing in any meaningful way (most seem to concur that in NY the process was awful and/or nerve wracking). I suppose, rather than take risks and experience a few setbacks and ultimately (and hopefully) move forward, it is better that states like Michigan (my state) use cut score of 39% to slap a proficiency rating on reading and math at the elementary school level. Yes, that is what they did until two short years ago. Even now, it is only 69%. I guess ignorance truly is bliss.

    Massachusetts has high standards and has been performing well on not only our own national tests but also International tests. Having high standards improves performance as long as everyone is on board and the schools are using good curriculum to implement the standards. Even though there are many more homeschoolers today than in years past, myself included, there are even more children who must attend public school. How selfish to rip away their chance for a better education because a few of us are afraid that there is some nefarious plan out there to take away our freedom to homeschool. I cannot even count on my fingers and toes the number of people who try to convince me that the CC standards are bad when they have never read one single word of them…EVER.

    No standards are going to be perfect. But implementation with follow ups and meetings of the minds to tweak, add, change, etc. could be something ground breaking. Something that has the potential to assure that every child in every state (not just Massachusetts) has the opportunity to receive a very good public education. I know that as a homeschooler, I am in the absolute minority in my position. Perhaps it is because my daughter started out in public school, and I know first hand the bad and the good (yes, there are some good things in PS) aspects of public school. But I have to shake my head, because almost every single homeschool parent I know believes that they are providing a better academic education than public school could or would, but when it comes to the CC, they almost become nostalgic about how good public school was before CC came along.

  6. Sorry Cindy, but CC will RUIN education. The standards were NOT created by subject matter experts. In fact, subject matter experts who were SUPPOSE to sign off on the standards REFUSED to sign off on the standards.

    1. The standards (especially Math), elevate methodology over the final answer. Now, I have no problem with partial credit (student showing their work, but then they reverse a number or make a small mistake), but what is IMPORTANT is getting the correct answer. I have a minor in Math. I NEVER had a professor count a correct answer wrong, even if I didn’t solve the problem using *his* or *her* methodology. They might have discussed it with me outside of class, but they would have given me full credit for the correct answer. But, in CC, if you don’t use the correct METHODOLOGY, then you will get the answer counted wrong. There is more than one way to figure out 123+456 (regrouping by tens, carrying, and then my son who can do problems like that in his head without writing down one thing). Just because I like to do carrying and someone else likes regrouping by 10’s doesn’t mean one or the other is WRONG, but that’s what CC is doing.

    2. While the English standards list Shakespeare, Allcott and others, what you see being developed in CC aligned curriculum is simply excerpts of those books. And the excerpts are chosen to align with LEFTIST ideology. You miss the whole picture of a book by only getting a portion.

    3. Some of the “recommended reading” lists in the appendix of CC are PORNOGRAPHIC. Now, you can argue, “Surely the schools won’t choose those books, they would know.” Sorry, but they ARE currently choosing those books. They don’t want to get in trouble for not doing something not CC aligned, so they are saying these are the books the kids should read in high school.

    Children are NOT all the same. I have 3 kids, two of whom are probably dyslexic. They don’t learn in the same way or at the same rate. CC assumes that you can pour the same stuff into each child and get the same results. Doesn’t happen! Plus, at some grade levels in CC, what they are trying to teach is developmentally inappropriate. Most kids cannot handle abstract mathematical concepts until 7th or 8th grade (same with learning parts of speech – they are abstract concepts that *most* kids really can’t master until middle school sometime). And to try to teach them before they are ready, is a total waste of time.

  7. Trish,

    Do your children attend or have they ever attended public school? Because what you are describing is exactly what has been occurring in public school, especially in math, well before states began adopting CC or even before the standards were written. Whole Language, Everyday Math and other “discovery” based learning programs have been eroding education in our country for several decades; maybe longer.

    Blaming the Common Core for bad curriculum is like blaming nutritionists for food mislabeled as healthy. The Common Core neither writes nor endorses curriculum. They provide examples of Literature, and I assume you are referring to The Bluest Eye, which was being taught in public high schools well before CC. But you do not mention all the other exemplars on the literature list (not including plays and poems):

    Chaucer – Canterbury Tales
    de Cervates – Don Quixote
    Austen – Pride and Prejudice
    Poe – The Cask of Amontillado
    Bronte – Jane Eyre
    Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter
    Dostoevsky – Crime and Punishment
    Jewett – A White Heron
    Melville – Billy Budd, Sailor
    Chekhov – Home
    Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby
    Faulkner – As I Lay Dying
    Hemingway – A Farewell to Arms
    Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God
    Borges – The Garden of Forking Paths
    Bellow – The Adventures of Augie March
    Garcia – Dreaming in Cuban
    Lahiri – The Namesake

    There are some pretty solid literary works in that list. But yes, object to one and the whole ball of wax is out. That makes no sense. And as I said, the objectionable book (and it is truly objectionable – you’ll get no argument from me) was being taught prior to CC; the book was written in 1970. When parents send their children to public school, they must be vigilant, but getting rid of CC will not stop teachers from trying to teach these books which you don’t like. Trust me. To reiterate, these were examples, not endorsements. Examples of complexity of words and subject matter. It is still the duty of local school boards and administrations to know what they are allowing and making their teachers teach. There is the true weakness of CC. The people who are supposed to choose curriculum haven’t changed.

    I do not buy your argument that teachers are afraid “not” to teach these books in the list I provided. There is no way possible for them to teach every book on that list, so surely they could avoid the one you are most concerned with. And the list does not preclude any other books from being taught. In fact, no teacher is required to teach any book on that list. Further, literature is not usually a textbook based curriculum.

    I will not try and persuade you or anyone else to like CC, but I feel it is necessary to shed a little balance to this argument which is very much a revisionist history of the Common Core.

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