A homeschooling family in New Jersey was illegally ordered to use the Common Core curriculum and have the local superintendent of schools approve what they taught, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.
The shocking turn of events took place after the family withdrew their son from Westfield Public Schools, near Elizabeth, New Jersey, and the superintendent told the unidentified family that they were required to follow the Common Core standards, which have sparked controversy nationwide.
The family would then have to wait to be given “permission to homeschool,” HSLDA said. The superintendent sent the family a copy of the standards.
But the superintendent had no legal right to take that action, HSDLA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff pointed out in a letter to the school district. The superintendent eventually backed down and told the family that their curriculum should merely be “guided by the New Jersey Core State Standards.” But that, too, was off base.
“Woodruff wrote back and firmly explained that homeschool families have no duty to follow or be guided by Common Core standards,” HSLDA said.
The situation underscores the nationwide confusion about Common Core and its potential effect upon homeschoolers. The standards have a philosophy of “moral relativism and progressivism” weaved throughout them, HSLDA says.
(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s in-depth discussion about Common Core here.)
Here are a few other quick facts about Common Core:
- Common Core is not a federal government program even though it has the support of the Obama administration. Instead, it is an effort by state governments to establish a national curriculum. Federal law specifically prohibits the US Department of Education from setting the curriculum for public schools. The standards may be voluntary, but the department “conditioned education grants on states’ commitment to implement the Common Core,” according to HSLDA.
- Common Core sets forth standards for English and math education in Kindergarten through 12th grade. The idea was to create a set of rigorous standards similar to those used in other countries, although many experts consider the standards sub-par.
- Common Core was adopted by 45 state governments, although a few of those states have repealed it.
Common Core was designed to be used in public schools and never intended to affect homeschooled children, even though it potentially will have a major impact on them. HSDLA is concerned that standardized tests based on Common Core standards could be used to shut homeschool students out of state or private universities, who would consider the standards essential knowledge.
HSLDA also is worried that databases related to Common Core could be used to violate the privacy of homeschool and private school families.
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Sixty percent of Americans now oppose Common Core standards, according to separate PDK/Gallup and Education Week opinion polls in August.
Common Core is being promoted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has launched a campaign for it.
Top Principal Denounces Common Core as Flim Flam
One of the strongest attacks on Common Core came from an educator who once supported the program: Carol Burris, the principal of South Side High School in New York City. Burris, who was New York’s high school principal of the year in 2013, labeled Common Core “Flim Flam” in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed piece.
“The Common Core has shifted from theory to practice, and like the lemon it is, it is breaking down on the highway of implementation,” Burris wrote. She turned against the standards after seeing the havoc they wreaked in her school.
Her attacks on Common Core include:
- Money, not academics, is what really is driving Common Core. “Think tanks have received millions from Gates to support it and education companies are making millions on new Core-aligned materials,” Burris wrote. “There is big money being spent — and big money to be made — in the Common Core.”
- Despite what its promoters say, Common Core is not based on standards used in foreign countries whose children have long histories of high academic performance. “For the life of me, I cannot figure out to which nations the Common Core standards were benchmarked,” Burris wrote. “They look nothing like the bare-boned standards of high-achieving Finland.”
- Common Core will force all American schools to teach the same things whether they want to or not. “The combination of common, prescriptive standards, national tests and a re-alignment of the SAT and GED will act as a vise pushing schools toward similar curricular experiences for American students,” Burris wrote. “Make no mistake, this is by design.”
Common Core will teach students to study for tests and answer questions rather than think for themselves, Burris argued.
“The lack of imagination, as well as the lack of knowledge on how writing and critical thinking skills develop, is breathtaking,” Burris wrote of Common Core.
Do you believe the controversy over Common Core is legitimate? Share your thoughts in the section below: