Sunday, April 7, 2013

Common Core HubBub and Paranoia

I hear more and more about the Common Core and see Facebook postings from other homeschool parents who oppose this common standard for all United States schools.  While it is true that there are many good school districts out there, it is equally true that there are very poor districts as well.  It is a fact that our students in states have demonstrated decreased function and skill in the academic comparisons to others in our global economy. It is equally true that there are many communities in the world with far less educational opportunities in our world.  So one wonders if we are really loosing anything when our system is still producing more educated people that the majority of the world.

The answer to that, as I see it, is that we should be concerned. Even if the majority of the population is less educated than our next generation, we still must realized that part of the being the great country that we are is by fostering education and the desire to achieve.  Our lands have been explored and the next frontier and exploration will be the continued development of our minds.  Just how far can we push our minds?  I believe that is an endless question. 

It has become necessary to require a higher standard than we have come to expect from our schools.  That is the most important, single reason that we homeschool my grandchildren.  The system they live in has a horrible track record. Gosh, the were excited to get an award several years ago that showed improved scores.  It was an award that is typically given to schools in the poorest, ghetto settings of the country. Yet, the little community, that once thrived on coal mining and farming, has sunken to the same levels of our inner city, down trodden schools.  I believe that we must have a standard that makes all education of equal quality but also of high quality.  All children deserve an education that they can excel in this world, one that they can feel proud of accomplishments, regardless of where you live.  The days of choosing your home based on the rich school district must end. Not that I am a bleeding heart liberal that believes that I need to work to support the one who doesn't work.  But because when it comes to our children we must all invest in their education and happiness. They are the generation that will hold this country up when I can no longer be working.  We cannot make sure that everybody gets a house, or everybody has more than one pair of jeans, or more than one pair of shoes.  I do believe we have the ability in this country to not let a family go hungry but we do anyway.  Not all people that need help can even get food stamps.  I believe that we have the ability to educate every child in this country, regardless of if their parents are well educated or not.  We need to find a way to make it fair and of high quality. 

I am not saying that the current Core Curriculum that has been presented is the perfect plan but it had to start someplace.  I am sure it will improve as it is being used.  I have seen some teachers comment about how scripted they feel it will be.  I am not so sure that will be the case overall.  The one thing I do notice about it is that teacher has yet to complain that it is teaching less than they were teaching before. I have not read a single review that reports the standard is actually less than what they had. I feel it may be safe to assume that it will be more than the average existing school standards. I have paid close attention to the current Illinois standards. Not because I have to report to the state but because it is the right thing to do. 

I live in this state and feel that I am obligated to make sure that I am meeting the current standards.  I am all too aware of the possibility that life can change and although we plan to homeshool all twelve years, some things change. I know we must be prepared to return to the system if needed.  It is for that reason that we cannot unschool or fly by the seat of our pants.  We do not test to the standard as we know what our curriculum has and have been able to compare it and relax from there.  When we do take a test, we do so only when we know they have indeed mastered the material. It is for that reason that Grace does not like it if she does not get a perfect score.  They are use to knowing the material.  That is the beauty of homeschool. Take the lesson but do not move on until it is mastered. 

Now I have gotten off track.  Back to the common core and paranoia.  What are people afraid of?  Even the HSLDA has apparently made a point to assure homeschoolers that if common core is required to submit to the common core standards they will sue the government. 

I have met many homeschool families. Most are clearly educating their children and doing a great job. Some have clearly missed the boat and ironically, they are the ones I see making posts or talking about the common core and how they refuse to use any curriculum that is subscribing to those standards. I understand that the Math U See program is used by many but one person is abandoning what works for them because they will address the common core standards.  Funny thing, they are not changing it in any way, they are just identifying some components that are currently there to the standard they will meet. 

I am not about regulating homeschoolers but as a homeschooler myself, trust me, some need it. They pass on their paranoia through propaganda that inflames others. I do wish people would all take the time to go learn more about the standards by directly reading them rather than reading news reports and opinion columns about the topic.

OK I am stepping down from my soap box. I know that nobody tends to read my post but if you do, please comment and tell me "I do".