In recent months, there has been much ado in the field of education about the Common Core. But what is it and should homeschoolers worry about it or even care?
Essentially, the Common Core seeks to create a "level playing field" for students; teaching the same subjects at the same time to all students. Now you may assume that this initiative originated at the federal level from the Department of Education (DOE). However, while there are strong supporters in the DOE to create a federal education system, the push for the Common Core was initially fueled by an organization called Achieve, which just so happens to be largely funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Achieve in turn approached a number of state governors across the country and gained enough support to have it become a formal project adopted by the National Governors Association and also has the involvement of the Council of Chief State School Officers. So now, with only five states who have NOT adopted the Common Core as their new educational standard, it is quickly becoming the top priority to deal with on every educator's plate. No bill was proposed, no debates took place, no parental input was solicited, and no voting occurred. Yet here it is to stay and the DOE will ultimately be the agency to implement it. This is what can happen when a board of influential business folks set their mind to something.
So back to the original question; what is the Common Core? Well, no one really knows the full extent of what the Common Core will ultimately entail. Although teachers will be accountable to teach to it and students will be accountable to learn it, the standards remain mostly unpublished, with only guidelines for math and English language arts recently published. The scope and sequence of the whole program is not clear and remains abstract. Worst of all, it is a totally unproven and untested model and yet our country's educational system is going to jump in blindfolded with both feet.
Most teachers are against the Common Core and many administrators are nervous about the shift of power from the state to the federal level that seems inevitable even if it is unconstitutional. Oh, if only Ronald Reagan had really been able to reverse Jimmy Carter's creation of the DOE back in the day! Calling it a "new bureacratic boondoggle", Reagan must have seen the writing on the wall that we are all realizing today in the form of the Common Core's efforts to further centralize our educational system.
There is also a good deal of concern relating to the virtual "itemization" of our children with the creation of a database record that will essentially follow them from cradle to grave by linking educational data with workforce data. "Who will have access to this information?", "How will it be secured from identity theft?", and "How will it be used?" are just a few of the daunting questions that lay ahead.
Yet the SAT and ACT test writers have already aligned the math and literature sections of their materials to comply with the Common Core, even though the standards themselves remain unpublished. Colleges will also require a certain level of Common Core compliance in the future when considering student applications.
So, as homeschoolers, here are three action items we can take:
To read more about a homeschooling perspective on the Common Core, read these articles provided by HSLDA.
How Do We Stop the Common Core?
Common Core Issues
Will Common Core Impact Homeschools and Private Schools?
Who Opposes the Common Core and Why?
Common Core: An International Failure
State-By-State Standards Adoption
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.