I’ve been hearing a lot about “Common Core” lately.
What is it, and how will it affect homeschoolers?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.