You have probably heard the words “Common Core” spoken on the news, whispered in hallways at school, and yelled in all caps on Facebook status updates. The Common Core education standards define which math and English skills public school students should master in each grade.
Perhaps you’re feeling like the federal government has no place setting national standards, or maybe you’re tired of your kid having to endure so many standardized tests. Whatever your reason for disliking the Common Core, you do have some options to keep your child’s education separate from Common Core standards.
Private School or Homeschool
The most popular options for parents who don’t want their children educated under the Common Core are to send them to private school or to homeschool them. According to federal law, the Common Core only applies to schools that receive federal funding in the states that have adopted the standards. For the most part, private schools and home schools will be exempt.
Many homeschooling parents are fighting against the Common Core because it will creep into other areas of education. The ACT and SAT tests may shift in order to align with the Common Core. Many textbook publishing companies are working to align their textbooks to the Common Core, which means fewer options for homeschooled children. Education historian Diane Ravitch has predicted that no one will escape the Common Core’s reach.
If you are considering private school for your child, check the fine print. Some private schools do receive federal funding for measures like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These schools may have to change their curricula in order to continue receiving federal funding.
Organize Parent Groups
Across the country, parents are banding together to protest the Common Core. Groups like Kansans Against Common Core and Homeschooling without Common Core are growing. You can get together with like-minded parents and contact your governor’s office, your Congressperson, or the State School Board Association to express your concerns. You may have to be persistent, and it may take a while, but these efforts have seen some success. For example, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin decided to repeal the Common Core education standards, in part because of organized protests from parents.
If you’re going to go this route, make sure you are informed. Read the Common Core standards. Research how far they will reach and how they will change classrooms. Your best resource is your child’s teacher, who can tell you what Common Core is going to look like in the classroom and how it’s changing the learning environment of your child’s school. Figure out your main sticking points, and then make calls and write letters.
Opt Out of Testing
Many parents don’t have a problem with the Common Core standards, but do oppose all the testing that goes along with it. If you don’t want your child taking standardized tests each year, there is a possibility that you can opt out. An increasing number of parents are questioning the value of standardized tests and are exercising their right to opt their children out of testing.
The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has a wealth of information about what you need to do to opt out of testing. But be advised that opting out can have consequences.
According to federal law, schools are required to test 95% of students each year. If they don’t, they may fail to achieve “Adequate Yearly Progress”, which is one measure the government uses to hand out federal dollars. So, opting out can have an indirect effect on federal funding. Still, a little research into your child’s school may show that testing 95% of students is not a priority.
Parents have a right to an opinion on how their children are educated. Don’t rely just on the national news for information. The Common Core standards will impact individual states and school districts differently. Look to local sources to see exactly what’s going to change for your child and how you can work against it.