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The Common Core Assault on Homeschooling

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Ohio is one of the many states in the U.S. that is scheduled to implement the controversial Common Core requirements next year. Although the Ohio legislature has attempted to essentially “half opt in” to Common Core by at least theoretically allowing county school boards to construct curricula outside of Common Core, and although Common Core at least in theory does not constrict homeschooling, Ohio homeschooling parents have figured out exactly how Common Core will put everyone in Ohio who doesn’t teach Common Core at a disadvantage.

But in a few years, when home-schooled teens walk side-by-side with public high school students into ACT and SAT college examination rooms, they may be at a distinct disadvantage for not having studied a Common Core curricula.

“Common Core standards drive curriculum, curriculum drives testing … Children will be taught to the test and it affects us home-schoolers because our children have to take those same college entrance exams as everybody else,” said Hodge as she joined thousands of area families at a recent home schooling convention in downtown Cincinnati.

“Everything will boil down to what (home-schoolers) provide on a test and then that will determine where they go to college and I believe that … (at) some point, some committee will say, ‘Well, your child shouldn’t have this career because your child is not qualified.’ “

There’s a lot of evidence that teaching to a test will stunt overall learning growth, which is why so many parents and educators oppose Common Core to begin with. However, one thing that teaching to a test is unquestionably quite good at is generating higher scores on the test that you’re teaching to. And so long as universities use these test scores as the primary bar of entrance, the principal effect of a universe in which students – particularly homeschooled students – are theoretically allowed to opt out of Common Core is that more well rounded and intellectually gifted students will be, paradoxically, at a disadvantage in college admissions and consequently, in career options.

The response to this from Democrats in the Ohio state legislature and other Common Core boosters has been to suggest that homeschooling parents could and should adopt Common Core in their homes – which, even apart from some of the ludicrous elements to the Common Core curriculum which have been covered elsewhere – completely misses the point:

Kuchey suggested that home-schoolers closely examine Common Core standards and consider using them in their home instruction.

“I’m very supportive of Common Core and it’s needed because our country is so far behind” student achievement levels in other industrialized nations, she said.

But Tom Steffen, a home schooling father of seven children in Springfield Township, said the premise of imposing Common Core – not its specifics – is what most raises the ire of many home-schoolers.

“For home-schoolers, one of our foundational issues for education is freedom. If we are free, what do we need government bureaucracies telling us what to teach?” said Steffen, who also attended the home-schooler convention.

“Even though (Common Core) may not initially impact us, it concedes ground to the principal that federal or state level bureaucrats know better than we as parents do. So we’re obviously not going to be friendly to that,” he said.

Regardless of whether Common Core is directly aimed at homeschooling, there can be no mistake that it is a direct, frontal assault on the principle of educational freedom that is the Raison d’être of homeschooling. Homeschooling and Common Core cannot long co-exist on separate but equal paths, which boosters of Common Core well know.

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