Though some Americans may assume that the Common Core State Standards will only affect children attending public schools, those in private, faith-based, and homeschooled education could experience the impact of the new initiative eventually.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a nonprofit advocacy organization that defends and advances the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children, believes that Common Core interferes with that right. It has now joined with other groups in efforts to uphold education freedom and defeat the new standards legislatively.
Though the specific provisions of Common Core only directly affect public schools, HSLDA states that the initiative’s current impact on homeschooling and private education “is revealed in the expanding state longitudinal databases, shifting college admissions expectations, newly updated curricula, and revised standardized tests.”
William A. Estrada, Director of Federal Relations at HSLDA, spoke with Breitbart News about how Common Core will affect homeschoolers and how his organization is addressing the impact.
“In a nutshell, we’re very concerned about tests like the ACT and SAT being aligned to the Common Core, the potential for colleges and universities to require applicants to have gone through a Common Core-aligned K-12 education, and the danger of homeschool students being included in Common Core databases,” Estrada said.
Looking ahead, however, Estrada said that HSLDA is concerned with “the potential down the road for policy makers to say, ‘All students in America are taught the Common Core and take Common Core tests, so why aren’t homeschooled and private school students receiving the same education?'”
As the HSLDA website indicates, Achieve, one of the primary organizations evaluating the Common Core, is urging colleges and universities to revise their curricula, as well, to create “seamless transitions” from K-12 to post-secondary schools.
According to Implementing the Common Core State Standards: An Action Agenda for Higher Education, of which Achieve was a sponsor:
As high schools align their curricula to the CCSS, higher education institutions will face questions about their own courses. Will students who successfully complete a college-ready curriculum transition seamlessly into first-year college courses? Do those courses assume mathematics or English language arts knowledge and skills that are not part of the CCSS? Do curricula for relevant remedial and adult education courses align to the common core?
As HSLDA observes, this “seamless transition” is already taking place in Illinois, where the “State Board of Education emphasized the need to seamlessly connect high school and college education by streamlining the curriculum taught to high school seniors and college freshmen according to the Common Core”:
Though Illinois encouraged state universities to share with state high schools what kind of material students will be expected to know in their first year of college, nothing indicates that homeschools or private schools would be privy to the same information. This movement to standardize post-secondary academic standards reveals that the Common Core’s emphases and methods will permeate American education beyond elementary and secondary public schools.
“If the Common Core does become a national curriculum for every student in America,” Estrada explained, “the pressure will one day build to where laws may be passed requiring homeschoolers to conform their education to the Common Core.”
Breitbart News asked Estrada why, with serious concerns about loss of control over education choices and parent involvement in education, parents and other citizens have only just recently begun to express their outrage about Common Core.
“We believe that this is just the beginning of the outrage, ” said Estrada, “and HSLDA and many others are continuing to expose the dangers and problems of the Common Core.”
Over the next couple of months, HSLDA will release a groundbreaking documentary that explores both sides of the controversy surrounding the Common Core State Standards.
A shortened version of the documentary, entitled Building the Machine, will be released in February, online and free of charge, and the full feature will be released on DVD in late spring.
Asked how homeschooling families are responding to possible threats to education freedom, Estrada told Breitbart News, “We are fighting alongside public school parents against this takeover of education. Even though homeschoolers and private schools are currently exempt from the Common Core, we know that top down education approaches are bad for children, and bad for freedom.”