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September 25 2014

Public School Bully Pulpit: Common Core or Else

Vicki E. Alger

School’s barely back in session, and stories are already surfacing about intimidation tactics designed to pressure students and parents into Common Core participation. Truth in American Education’s Shane Vander Hart reports:

A principal and science teacher in a southern Minnesota middle school tried to convince students who opted out of taking the NWEA MAP test last week that their parents misunderstood the assessments and were conveying false information to them about the nature of the assessments.

Some students recorded their principal talking to students who opted out of the assessments waiting in their school’s cafeteria while the assessments were administered. …

The principal’s comment that no school in Minnesota teaches the Common Core is patently false.  The Common Core English Language Arts standards were adopted by Minnesota in 2010.  They decided not to adopt the Common Core math standards however.  … So let’s be clear here, Common Core is present in Minnesota schools, at the very least the Common Core ELA standards, have been implemented for two school years.

The recording also captures the principal admitting to student data collection—she even discusses an individual student’s results with the students waiting in the cafeteria. A separate recording captures a science teacher railing against parents, stating, “Lies and deceit is [sic] going around…”

But don’t think that public school students and their parents are the only ones being pressured into Common Core acquiescence. Lynda Altman reports in the New Jersey Examiner:

…a Westfield family…withdrew their child from the local public school. When they informed the district about their choice to homeschool, a letter was sent home informing them to call the Superintendent of Schools.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported on Sept. 18, 2014, that the family was ordered to follow Common Core standards.

Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for HSLDA, responded to the district on behalf of the family. He explained that requirements in the letter sent to the family were in contradiction to current New Jersey homeschool law. Woodruff received a response from the district stating that “should be guided by the New Jersey Common Core State Standards.” …

Common Core is gradually creeping into homeschools across the country. Starting with requiring equivalent curriculum or forcing students to take PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers] exams, more states will implement rules impacting homeschoolers. New Jersey is just one state. Arkansas may soon require homeschool students to take PARCC exams instead of the current Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Without using Common Core aligned curriculum, homeschoolers will be at a disadvantage on the required tests.

Again, so much for assurances from the Obama administration that Common Core is “voluntary.”

As important, Common Core is supposed to be about stronger academics—not political strong-arming of parents who chose homeschooling precisely because they wanted better education for their children.

And let’s review the homeschooling success record to date.

The freedom parents have to home-school also varies by state, but these parents are getting consistently better academic results.

Even after controlling for various family background differences, such as parents’ education levels, income, and  race, home-schooled students score 15-30 percentile points higher on standardized achievement tests that their public school peers. In fact, some research suggests home-school students outperform their public school peers by close to 40 percentile points.

Also, regardless of whether parents are “certified” instructors or not, across grade levels and core subjects such as reading, math, science, and social studies, home-school students score between the 80th and 90th percentiles, compared to public school students who score at the 50th percentile.

What’s more, once home-schooled students become adults, they are more likely than the general population to participate in community service and vote.

Results like these help explain why as many as 2.4 million children were home-schooled in the U.S. in 2010, and each year that number increases by about 7 percent, around 100,000 children nationwide.

These families are also getting results at a fraction of the cost, around $500 per child versus more than $12,000 per public school student—approaching $30,000 depending on the state.

And what about the public school system’s track record?

We’re spending more than 2 ½ times what we did in 1970, but student achievement has flat-lined.  Now with Common Core national standards, which are watered-down, politicized, costly, and unconstitutional, intimidation tactics are apparently the latest addition to public school officials’ repertoire.

Children are not creatures of the state—or captives to a public school system. Milton Friedman was right: funding schools through government is no reason for government officials to run schools. All parents should be free of government interference so they can be free to ensure the best education for their children.



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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