As the states gear up to implement the Common Core Standards, I have heard more than one person wonder what it means for the homeschool community. More than once, I have heard it said that we need to implement them because colleges and universities will expect our students to have the knowledge addressed in the standards. I doubt I am the only one who has heard these things. These statements have the potential to cause undue alarm in the homeschool community. I hope to mitigate that alarm a little bit.
In short, as homeschoolers in this state, we
operate as private schools in accordance with NC law. This means we have
autonomy in choosing what to teach and how to teach it. We are not
bound to the requirements of the state or federal government. There is
nothing we "must change."
Many families homeschool so that they can tailor the education
of their children to their individual needs as well as to reflect their
family priorities. To me, it is part of the beauty of homeschooling. We
are able to teach the right material at the right time in the right way
for our students. Moving to the Common Core standards would strip this
customization from our environment. Homeschoolers should think very
carefully before considering the Common Core as a method of education,
it is but one of many options available to us.
As far as college admissions are concerned, as long as
international students, private schools and homeschools are in the
picture, there will be people going into college with a variety of
educational backgrounds. Some will meet the Common Core standards and
some will exceed them. To state that we must comply with the Common Core
in order for our students to remain competitive in college admissions
is misleading. It would assume that the colleges, both public and
private, will have the same standards that the federal government has
for high school students. It also assumes that the Common Core will be
sufficient to gain entry to a college, which, while highly likely,
remains to be seen. I expect that the competitive universities will
continue to require their potential students to far exceed the Common
Core standards. As the Common Core is implemented across the country the
applicant pool will become homogenized. Our students will continue to
stand out as bringing unique knowledge, experience and diversity to the
university community. Additionally, to say that we need to adopt the
Common Core implies that we do not have sufficient standards on our own.
With homeschool students from North Carolina being admitted to a
variety of universities around the country with rigorous admission
standards, we will continue to send our students to UNC Chapel Hill,
Duke, Harvard, Yale and the service academies as well as to Wake Tech
and Louisberg College, among others.
As far as curriculum is concerned, traditional textbook publishers are revising their books to match the Common Core Standards. Should homeschoolers adopt these new textbooks? Should those books written expressly for the homeschool students be revised as well? While that is certainly an option, we have a wide and varied
number of resources available to us. While some families choose to use
textbooks for all subjects or selected subjects, we also employ a
variety of other resources in order to customize that educational
experience. To limit ourselves to textbooks would mean that we would be
relying on a textbook company to predetermine not only what information
to deliver to our students, but how it is to be delivered. Focusing on
completing a textbook also diminishes the likelihood that a student will
be able to pursue an academic passion in an in depth manner at an early
age. Again, this would take the ability to customize an education out
of our hands.
As a point of interest, federal education funding for the
states is tied to their adoption of the Common Core standards. Failure
to adopt them results in huge budgetary issues for the states, a risk
most can't afford to take. We will never know how many states would
adopt these standards if they were not tied to money. The education of
our children has become politicized like it never has been before.
As parents, we are held accountable by the state of NC to
educate our children and we have choices in how we go about doing this. Whether or not
to adopt some or all of the Common Core standards in our homeschools is
one of those choices. We also need never forget that no matter how we
educate our children about the things of the world, God holds us to the
standard of Deuteronomy 6: to teach our children about Him, His
faithfulness and the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.