For months, I ignored all the facebook posts by a couple of friends who kept harping on and on. Last summer, as I began to prepare for the new school year, I decided the responsible, parental option would be to research a bit a find out what was the core of all this ruckus about Common Core.
I discovered that the New Learning Standards of Math and English are the two subjects "new" for this school year, 2014-2015. In years to come added to the current New standards in Mathematics and English will be the following: Financial Literacy, Fine Arts, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology, and World Language. Also, Library guidelines and New Graduation requirements are found here.
I read a bit about PARCC testing. I read about Ohio's Statewide Assessment test rules book.
I read several groups against Common Core facebook posts and links. Some samples may include
I attended two grass-roots meetings in Holmes County where I heard two concerned parents, Stacy Hamsher and Jenny Lang, speak. Each have spent and continue to spend hundreds of hours researching Common Core. Also, Rob Coburn, President of the Garaway School Board, spoke in addition to Andy Thompson, State Representative. These four have graciously shared the video link to the latest meeting, which was standing room only. I highly recommend that every citizen, parents, grandparents, everyone watch this series. The evening was divided into 8 shorter videos as one scrolls down.
After attending the first grass-roots gathering, I spent an entire night giving up sleep getting myself caught up to speed. I found I had been misinformed in believing that "Ohio's New Learning Standards"/ Common Core didn't apply to me or our family.
The ideas behind Common Core, which you can find by doing a bit of research yourself or viewing the video links, actually do affect me in numerous ways.
First as a concerned citizen and taxpayer, Common Core does affect me. The children educated under these standards will be running our businesses, education, and government in a few short decades. During those years I will enter my 60th year of life. Since I believe that what we learn is imprinted on our minds and souls,
I have to ask myself: "Are the children, who will be running the towns, cities, states, school rooms, education, health-care, government at the state and national level, our businesses, are these children truly being taught the knowledge they need to truly succeed in life? Will they succeed in common sense, morally, spiritually as caring compassionate human beings? Are these children being taught under another social/political agenda from the most liberal people supported by millions from Bill Gates and other corporations benefitting financially at our children's expense? At society's expense? What are my tax dollars really supporting in the district in which I reside? What sort of world will it be when I'm 60, 70, 80, should the Lord be gracious in extending to me long life?
If you wonder what is ensconced within the standards, I implore you, fellow Ohioans and Americans, please take an hour to view the 8 short videos mentioned earlier.
Second, when ordering home-educating materials for the current school year, I found that even from publishers I had confidence in during past years, decades of home-educating...I now found several courses with the stamp "Common Core aligned." Check the materials in your home. Many have those words on the front of books or the stamp on the back "CCSS" meaning Common Core State Standard (which is actually not a state standard but a national standard). I found as a home-educating parent, I had to be extra vigilant in choosing materials.
Third, I discovered that if a home-educated student chooses to take a class or two at their local school district....if there are state tests, including PARCC ( Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), the home-educated student may be required to take those tests for that particular class. For example, if the student takes a mathematics class...they may be required to take the PARCC Math unless their parents opted them out. (Opt-out form available here.)
I also discovered that the Iowa Basic, ACT, PSAT and SAT are Common Core aligned. Even though home-educated students may not be taught via Common Core aligned materials...as some private and Christian schools also choose not to teach via Common Core, YET our students will be tested according to Common Core alignment. This could affect their test scores and ultimately which college will accept them. However, many colleges are choosing to have their own entrance exams apart from the ACT and SAT.
Fourth, I am concerned about the data mining associated with PARCC testing. There is evidence that the testing consortiums want data on all students regardless of what educational option the student takes part in. This could affect home-educated students. What is data mining? This is how Will Estrada describes data mining from the above linked article: "Will Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association, said the assessments tied to Common Core collect more than 400 points of data on every child.
“It’s their likes and dislikes, grade-point average all the way through school, their home situation, health questions,” he said. “It’s an incredibly invasive collection of information that they are trying to collect in what they call P-20, or pre-K through workforce.”
Read more at Education? No, it’s about data-mining.
Essentially, data mining is a tracking method of children from the earliest years through college and beyond. Nevermind, HIPPA privacy required in healthcare. As an RN, this concerns me greatly. Why is our children's health status tied to a national/state test? One must ask, for what purpose? This should be of utmost concern for all parents and citizens.
Fifth, Common Core affects me as I ask myself the question, "How do I love my neighbor?" Our family have many friends who choose other schooling options for their children and are affected by Common Core. Our children are friends with various other children in our community through sports. Common Core affects them all as they deal with the stress of the standards and testing, all the while wondering what sort of education their children are truly receiving. I have friends who teach, drive the school busses, are on school boards. These are good people who want the best for our children and communities. For me, to love my neighbor to the best of my ability means that I educate myself on the topic of Common Core. I take time to listen to my friends and their concerns. I share what I have learned if the topic arises. I attend grass-roots meetings. I write my State Representative with my concerns. I call my Senator. Perhaps it means I attend School Board meetings to observe what is happening in my community and perhaps be part of the solution. For me with my beliefs, this is what it means to love my neighbor in regard to the New Learning Standards.
Sixth, I question, why do we all need to be Common? This is a country which values our differences. America used to be known as the "great melting pot"...of people, ideas, thoughts, talents and gifts. Indeed, in recent years gone by, "tolerance" used to be the catch-phrase. If our students are all taught and expected to learn the exact same values, the exact same way..regardless of their individual learning styles or testing ability...is this real knowledge? Is it true intelligence? Is it individuality? Where has the tolerance for difference gone? Where is there room for great achievements by inventors, musicians, and the artists since these areas of intelligence are not tested? What about the emotional and spiritual intelligence? Our country used to esteem the value of the individual. With Common Core...individuality of thought, action, learning has been reduced to the least common denominator....indeed into negative numbers. Where are the citizens of courage with bravery to educate themselves and speak up for our children? Will you be the citizen to speak and act with courage? Will the winds of change start with you?
A concerned citizen and parent,