Sunday, October 4, 2015

BUILDING THE MACHINE - The Common Core Documentary

As homeschool parents, we are very fortunate in that the vast majority of states do not require us to teach to a specific set of standards. Even in Alaska, where we are lucky enough to receive funding for our home schools, we do not have to commit to someone else's set of state standards. When I put together the Individualized Learning Plan for each of my children, I am asked for each subject area if I will teach the state's standards (and if so, check this handy little box here), or if I choose to teach my own set of skills (and if so, please list in the box below those topics and academic goals you will cover). Isn't it interesting that parents of publicly educated children do not have the same choice? Alaskan schools, like those in 44 other states, have adopted Common Core, and they adopted it without due public notice and without a vote by the people. As a homeschooler, I can choose. You cannot.

So why does this detail matter? It matters because I can tailor those topics, skills, and goals to match my children's academic needs in a given moment, without regard to what grade they are in and what they should be learning--whether below, at, or above the standard mean. I can also take into account their individual goals and passions. If public school teachers were given this same opportunity, to tailor what they taught to what their current group of students need and want, your children would receive a much richer academic experience.

Why, as a homeschooler, do I care about Common Core when I am lucky enough to have children who are not going to be affected by it in their K-12 schooling? Because it will affect their college experience. One of the lesser known facts about Common Core is that state universities located in Common Core adopting states, in accepting funding through the initiative, have pledged that any student who has taken a college preparatory course in high school will not be placed in a remedial course upon college entry--they must be placed in a credit awarding course. In an academic climate where 60% of freshman who have taken these so-called preparatory classes end up taking at least one remedial course, there can only be one end result. The standards of the courses will drop in order to meet the students where they are truly at. Those children lucky enough to be educated to a higher standard in secondary school will be funneled into these same dumbed-down general education classes with their peers. 

Every parent makes their own education choices for their children. Homeschooling is not the chosen path for most, for a variety of reasons. Whatever you have chosen for your children, I encourage you to watch the video below. Building the Machine gives some interesting background information about the genesis of Common Core, some of the controversy, and why it matters. This video was produced by a legal organization committed to helping homeschool parents stay current on education legislation that affects all children, not just those who are educated at home, and defending against the encroachment of the federal government and other financial entities into the education of our nation's youth. It basically comes down to one question. Who do you want making critical decisions about your children's education--Washington? Or you?

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