Culture, Science & Faith

Homeschoolers Contend With Common Core

Jul. 14, 2014

Families who homeschool face an uphill road in many ways. Teaching children at home requires dedication, research and money. In fact, it’s often a more expensive alternative than sending kids to public school, not least because one parent usually foregoes paid work. More subtly, homeschoolers all too often become pariahs for bucking the system. Yet as homeschooling continues growing in popularity, there is another major roadblock ahead.

Estimates are that some 1.8 million students in the U.S. are homeschooled, or about 3.5% of all K-12 students. And the movement is growing – at least for now. Common Core threatens the movement in ways not yet seen.

While homeschoolers are not yet forced to adopt Common Core standards, they will be at a distinct disadvantage when taking college entrance exams. That’s because public schools increasingly “teach to the test,” and tests like the SAT and ACT are being influenced by Common Core standards.

“Common Core standards drive curriculum, curriculum drives testing,” said one Cincinnati home school mom. “Children will be taught to the test and it affects us homeschoolers because our children have to take those same college entrance exams as everybody else.” That will, in turn, affect those students' higher education and career paths.

Teaching to the test undeniably produces at least one result: higher scores on the test. But one of the beauties of home schooling is freedom of learning. Indeed, unified standards and teaching to the test are precisely the kinds of things homeschoolers seek to avoid. As one father put it, “For homeschoolers, one of our foundational issues for education is freedom. If we are free, what do we need government bureaucracies telling us what to teach? Even though [Common Core] may not initially impact us, it concedes ground to the principle that federal or state level bureaucrats know better than we as parents do.”

The education elite argue Common Core standards are needed because American students are allegedly so far behind those of other nations. If that’s so, why hasn’t the explosion in education spending over the last 50 years fixed anything? At least part of the answer is, as we’ve said before, the prime directive of teachers unions is self-preservation. Some people may be scandalized to even contemplate such a charge, especially when public schools do indeed have so many fantastic teachers. But education is in a sense an industry not unlike other businesses making a product, while it’s uniquely insulated from real competition or impetus to improve. Why? Unions.

None of this is to say that public schools are entirely bad or that homeschooling is the only good choice. It is to say that Common Core standards are going to become a lot more common, and that’s not conducive to Liberty. In fact, Liberty is precisely why the Founders, who advocated public education, left it to the province of the states and local communities.

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