A Wisconsin homeschooling parent has developed a curriculum “Roadmap” to help fellow homeschoolers distinguish between those publishers who have chosen to align their instructional products with the Common Core standards and those who have not.
Tina Hollenbeck, a former public school teacher, now a homeschooling mom, told Breitbart News that she initially thought Common Core would not affect her homeschooling instruction.
“Then I found out homeschooling companies were saying, ‘We’re aligning with Common Core,’ and I knew this would not be a good thing,” she said.
Though more parents are choosing to homeschool to avoid the Common Core standards in public and some parochial schools, some publishers of curricula and instructional materials marketed specifically to homeschoolers have also aligned their textbook content and products with the controversial standards. Many have done so, perhaps, to increase profits by making their products more appealing to public school curriculum purchasers, as well.
Hollenbeck said she began her research project, called the Home School Resource Roadmap and an accompanying Master List, in March of 2013 by sending out letters to homeschool research providers to find out which publishers were aligning some or all of their products to the Common Core standards.
“My goal was to be unbiased and neutral,” Hollenbeck said. “The project was meant to be a service to the homeschooling community. I wanted homeschoolers to know that if they choose to use curricula that are tied to the Common Core – here they are; and if they choose not to, these are your options.” She added, “Homeschooling parents deserve to know what we’re buying.”
Hollenbeck’s Common Core “Roadmap” project provides explicit definitions for each category related to the position(s) that over 2,000 homeschool-related resources have taken regarding the Core and the related Next Generation Science Standards.
According to the “Roadmap’s” categorization system, “independent” companies have remained independent of the Common Core, but could unknowingly have some material that aligns to the standards. “Correlated” providers haven’t made changes in their products to become aligned with the Core but note where or how their materials may correlate with it. “Coincidentally Connected” is a designation for publishers that have indicated a strong commitment to independence from the Common Core but do offer “package” programs that utilize aligned materials from other publishers. “Explicitly Aligned” materials are published by companies that have actively aligned their products with Common Core and related standards.
“Eliminating those companies from which I’m still awaiting a response as well as those that are just suppliers and distributors, 61.8 percent of the companies fall into the ‘Independent’ category,” Hollenbeck explained. “The ‘Correlated’ category contains 12.2 percent of the companies, 4.3 percent are ‘Coincidentally Connected,’ and 24.7 percent are ‘Explicitly Aligned.'”
As she performs her research, which is an ongoing project, Hollenbeck said she has noted that some publishers have indicated Common Core is “necessary” for students to succeed. She also observed that some homeschool publishers, such as Alpha Omega, initially decided it would align with the Core, but then had a change in leadership and education policy and announced it would work instead to ensure its products would not be aligned with the nationalized standards.
Similarly, Hollenbeck said Discovery K-12 and Dew Learning initially said they were aligning with the Common Core but then changed their policy.
As a former public school teacher, Hollenbeck said she is concerned that the Common Core is causing teachers to behave more like “robots.” She explained that in her school district, teachers have been threatened with disciplinary action if they supplement their teaching with non-Common Core-aligned instructional materials.
Hollenbeck, who runs a Facebook page for an organization of 4,300 homeschool members, said one of the reasons she believes most homeschoolers oppose the Common Core standards is the fact that the initiative represents a federal intrusion into education.
“If we have more federal involvement in education, we will lose our educational freedom,” she said. “That freedom has always been a high priority for the homeschooling community even prior to the introduction of the Common Core.”
“Common Core is a one-size-fits-all initiative,” Hollenbeck added as another reason most homeschoolers shun the program. “As homeschoolers, we are already trying to individualize our curricula for our children – that’s why many of us homeschool in the first place – and don’t want the effect of having ‘common’ standards and instruction as the goal.”
Hollenbeck, who says that her project is a gift to the homeschooling community, is continuing to add to her project, and she plans to enhance the “Roadmap” so that homeschooling parents can also search for curriculum materials by subject area.