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What Does the Common Core Mean for Homeschoolers?

The sky is falling!The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

As news spreads about the Common Core Standards (CCS), there is increasing concern both inside and outside the homeschool community, over what is happening to the education system of the United States. As a long-time student of education history and an advocate for broad, genuine education that leads to wisdom and virtue, I am certain that the sky isn’t falling.

It fell well over a century ago when classical education began to be displaced by “workforce training;” when the liberal arts were pushed aside in favor of the servile arts; when the quest for wisdom and virtue was replaced by a checklist of skills.

Despite the fact that the disarray in America’s institutional education system is nothing new, the Common Core Standards are concerning many parents. The CCS have been described as an effort to nationalize mediocrity and increase control over every aspect of K-12 education. Like any education topic, the CCS have many facets, so I’m linking to a variety of perspectives in the articles below.

If you find other helpful resources, please feel free to reference them in the comment section below. I may add information to the body of the post as I learn more, but I don’t plan to post endlessly on the subject–there are many watchmen on the wall who are already doing that. My focus will continue to be on casting a vision for what education is and can be. Next week’s post will discuss issues with literature and the Common Core, and after that, I’ll return to considering true education and a lifestyle of learning with the ultimate goal of developing wisdom and virtue.

To learn about the CCS, you may want to begin with the “Stop the Common Core” video series below. It will provide one answer to basic questions and help you understand some of the fundamental issues such as:

  • What are the Common Core Standards?
  • Who planned and financed the Common Core Standards and testing?
  • Fundamental problems with national education standards
  • Who is affected by the Common Core Standards?

Introduction to the Common Core Standards

Projected financial implications of the Common Core Standards

More information about the Common Core Standards

Building the Machine: A Movie About the Common Core– A documentary on CCS.

Here are many links providing useful information on the CCS. Although some of the sources have a more sensationalist tone than I am personally comfortable with, I am providing the links for informational purposes. You may decide which, if any, you care to read. Next week’s post will offer a look at writing and literature in the Common Core.

MACHE offers a balanced look at the CCS from a Homeschool Perspective

Catholic scholars blast Common Core in letter to U.S. bishops – This strongly worded letter critiques the philosophy and basic goals of the Common Core. One quote:  “Common Core shortchanges the central goals of all sound education and surely those of Catholic education: to grow in the virtues necessary to know, love, and serve the Lord, to mature into a responsible, flourishing adult, and to contribute as a citizen to the process of responsible democratic self-government. Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is, as far as we can see, that it is a waste of resources to ‘over-educate” people.'”

California and 47 other states are considering adopting common-core state standards for K-12 in math and English language arts. Ze’ev Wurman, who helped develop California’s standards in the 1990s, explains his opposition to Common Core in an April 2010 interview with The Educated Guess’s John Fensterwald.

Literature

How Common Core Devalues Great Literature by Anthony Esolen in Crisis Magazine — Beginning with a letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Kenneth Grahame, the author of The Wind in the Willows, the ever-eloquent Esolen delivers a thought-provoking critique of the “relentless, contemptible, soul-cramping, story-killing, pseudo-sophisticated, utilitarian focus not on the beauty and truth and goodness that good art reveals, not on the imaginative worlds that good books can open up to someone simply willing to receive them as gifts on their own terms and enter into them with gratitude, but upon scrambling up supposed skills in suspicion, superficial criticism, and dissection.”

The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core by Terrence O. Moore
Common Core vs. great literature: Fresh reason to fear that works of fiction, poetry and theater may get short shrift when new standards arrive — An article from New York Daily News

The Story-Killers: A Common-Sense Case Against the Common Core
by Hillsdale College professor, Terrence O. Moore

Common Core Nonfiction Reading Standards Mark The End Of Literature, English Teachers Say

 

Math

New Data Show California Kids’ Math Achievement Took A Nosedive After Common Core (The Federalist, 5/16/2018)

Education Next talks with Ze’ev Wurman and W. Stephen Wilson about the Common Core Math Standards.

Meet the New Math, Unlike the Old Math (Wired, 10/8/2016) About 2/3 of the way down is some very interesting thoughts on teaching science, including “storylining” and models, which are good homeschool teaching methods.

An explanation of one Common Core math problem; the comments on this post are interesting, too.

Common Core Doesn’t Add Up to STEM Success: The high-school math standards are too weak to give us more engineers or scientists. An article by Sandra Stotsky in the Wall Street Journal.

An alternate viewpoint: The Stereotypes That Distort How Americans Teach and Learn Math by Jo Boaler in The Atlantic.

General

Why isn’t Common Core working? A 2016 article by Dr. William Klemm from Psychology Today.

Daniel Pink on Control vs. Motivation: This 6 minute video offers a quick look at motivation–it’s something to think about in light of all the testing students are subject to. Consider also the perspective of educators who must function in this way.

Ze’ev Wurman on faults of Common-Core standards

The Cardinal Newman Society offers extensive, frequently updated information on the Common Core and its implications.

Cato Institute Articles: This is a page of links to articles the Cato Institute has published on the Common Core Standards.

Parents share actual lessons from CSCOPE and Common Core curriculum

Who’s Minding the Schools? is a Common Core critique by professors Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus in the New York Times.

Two Moms vs. the Common Core: An article from National Review

Jamie Gass and Charles Chieppo: Common Core Education Is Uncommonly Inadequate: From the Wall Street Journal

Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left: From the New York Times

The Political Right and the Common Core Straw Man

This blog post by Kevin T. Brady and Stephen M. Klugewicz at The Imaginative Conservative seeks to inject a little balance into the discussion about the Common Core. One quote: “What conservatives seem not to appreciate is that the Common Core is not likely to push education to the Left because teachers and educational bureaucracies already tend to lean Left.” Whether you identify with right, left, or neither, this article is worth reading.

Pioneer Public Policy Research Institute offers a number of thoughtful articles on the Common Core.

Bill Evers on the counter-manifesto against a ‘national curriculum: Evers, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, discusses “Closing the Door on Innovation — Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America,” with TOP-Ed.org’s John Fensterwald.

An article from the Washington Post: A ridiculous Common Core test for first graders

Article: It’s Official: The Feds Control Common Core – No surprise here – “Washington will soon be directly regulating what America’s schoolchildren learn and on what they are tested.” Read more: http://americansforprosperity.org/legislativealerts/its-official-the-feds-control-common-core/#ixzz2Qq1ojhvE

Michelle Malkin‘s four-part series on the Common Core (from a politically conservative perspective), plus a post with reader feedback, including comments from many teachers. I did not read everything here; the tone is strident.

Activism

 

Keep Education Local offers a one-page summary of the issues, as well as a video and other information.

Stop Common Core: Reclaiming Local Control in Education has a well-organized collection of information.

Common Core Draws the Wrath of Local Parents This article from The Daily News in Wyoming covers specific areas of parent frustration, especially frustration over the lack of instruction in basic math concepts, teaching of literature without any knowledge context, and other issues.

State groups discussing Common Core

There are many state-specific groups discussing the Common Core Standards. I am including a list of those I’ve run across, with the caveat that I have not read everything on these sites, and thus cannot specifically endorse them. I am providing the list for information only–I hope you’ll find them helpful.

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7 Responses

  1. As the coordinator of The Educational Freedom Coalition, I second what you’e saying about using discernment, Janice. I say several times on the website – http://www.theeducationalfreedomcoalition.org – which can be accessed by everyone, whether or not they have Facebook – we are not telling parents what to choose or not. The lists are informational – providing factual, research-based information about where companies are with the CCS. And, with the coincidentally aligned list in particular, we have notes for every company/product explaining what that means for them. I have worked very hard to be very gracious to companies no matter what. It’s important for parents to take into account whether or not they want to use CCS-aligned material, but there will never be any reason to “bash” entities that are aligned, even for those who do not want to use aligned materials. It’s about full disclosure so parents can make wise decisions for their own families, and that’s all. :^)

    • Absolutely, Tina. I very much appreciate the effort you’ve put into the lists and site. It’s a valuable resource. I’m hoping people will use them thoughtfully and prayerfully, and I hope that a reminder in that direction will be helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Wendy says:

    In trying to do my own research about the CCS and I am finding it difficult to get valid, unbiased information. I am a homeschool mother of three and I do not see how the CCS is going to effect my decisions as an educator in my home. I get that states are giving up their rights to control their education in order to conform to CCS so that they can receive more money. But since the government does not provide me with a grant or any type of funding to home educate my children, I do not see how we are at risk of being effected? A lot would have to happen such as my right to home educate at all being stripped away.

    You are using a lot of terminology in your videos and such that is tainted and very biased. This is causing an uproar surrounding CCS. When you go and use terms such as “socialist” it creates turmoil. The point is null at this point. What’s done is done. It is time for people to start focusing on the student and rather the controversy surrounding the money. http://blog.wendycphotography.com/2013/05/common-core-standards-why-the-uproar/

    • Hi, Wendy,

      It’s good to read information from a variety of sources, as it’s often the best way to determine the truth. The videos and articles shared in this post come from a wide range of sources and political perspectives, but the common thread is concern over the ultimate result of national standards. None of the videos shared here were narrated by me; I have simply provided them for informational purposes.

      Homeschooling laws vary from state to state, but many are linked in some way to state standards or require some form of standardized testing. Many state standards are being subsumed by Common Core standards, thus altering what is required and tested by the state. While CCS may not affect you now in the state in which you live, others are being affected, and the effect is likely to spread.

      Homeschooled students in some states are required to take standardized tests at the end of each year, and the ability of the family to continue homeschooling depends on the test results. As standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, AP, and others become more and more keyed to Common Core Standards (something that is in progress, as you have doubtless seen from your research), homeschool students may be at an increasing disadvantage. Colleges and employers may begin to require that incoming homeschool students demonstrate that their course of study was Common Core compliant. Much is being written about these aspects, as the details of the law are becoming clear, so I’m sure you’ll want to continue your research.

      While Common Core Standards may not affect you yet, it is important to be informed by history. The worldview behind CCS must be considered, along with a study of how societies grow, stagnate, and decay. Much has been written about how to bring about social change, and education is often the lever. Ideas have power.

  3. Lisa says:

    With regards to how the CCSS will affect homeschoolers: it’s also important to remember that it’s not a far leap from “common, national standards” to a national curriculum. I, for one, do not want the government dictating what I *must* use for our school work.

    Additionally, it’s possible that colleges, which have been becoming very accepting of homeschoolers, will begin to turn our students *away* because we didn’t adhere to the CCSS–a situation which will become even more messy if we then were expected to follow a national curriculum.

    So while CCSS might not seem to affect us directly right now, the situation is ripe with potentially dangerous consequences.

    • Very good points, Lisa. I believe they are quite valid, and I definitely would not care to have the government mandating what we cover and how we cover it. This is something that needs to be watched. Thank you for writing!

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