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Common Core Education? A Bad Idea for States and a Danger to Homeschoolers

The Common Core curriculum movement is an attempt to centralize and standardize what children will learn across the country. Common Core defines what every child should learn from grade to grade and includes teacher evaluations that are tied to federally funded tests. These tests are designed to ensure school compliance. The reaction? Not much common consensus. States and others are pushing back.

In its first term, the Obama administration announced a federal incentive program for schools called “Race to the Top.” Public schools who wanted to compete for the funds had to agree to adopt Common Core standards in teaching and testing.

Most states have adopted the Common Core, but some are pulling back. To date, 45 states have adopted the reading, math, and writing standards. Many are having second thoughts, however, seeking to slow implementation or prevent adoption. At the federal level, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, along with seven other senators, signed a letter calling on their colleagues to stop funding the implementation of Common Core.

As homeschoolers, why is Common Core a bad idea? From a big-picture perspective, it is another instance of Washington overstepping boundaries. It is the individual states that have educational sovereignty. State school boards of education are elected or appointed to determine education policy. They should not cede that authority over to the federal government.

Common Core is a concern for homeschoolers. Students who take national, standardized tests—whether to assess yearly progress or to earn college admission—will be tested based on the teaching and methodology of the Common Core.

Furthermore, Americans will pay a high cost for common core—not just in the books and teacher training. We simply can’t afford this. The Pioneer Institute estimates that, cumulatively, states will be on the hook for about $16 billion in implementation costs. Do state budgets have the room to accommodate this at this time?

Just last week, New York education officials reported that students across the state failed miserably on new reading and math tests meant to reflect the more rigorous standards, with fewer than a third of students in public schools passing the new tests. Other states will release their evaluations over the next year.

We need to slow down the train. The issue needs further study as to the effectiveness of these standards. Just last week, Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) took steps to withdraw the state from participation with the testing arm of the Common Core standards, joining a growing list of states to step away.

Parents who cherish their educational choice should make their thoughts known to their legislators.