For many public school students, Common Core national standards and tests are being implemented in their classrooms this school year. Yet parent opposition has been vocal over the past few years, 60 percent of the public opposes Common Core, and teacher support for the standards has dropped precipitously over the past year from 76 percent in 2013 to just 46 percent in 2014, according to a Harvard poll.
But it appears students in public schools aren’t the only ones who are feeling the impact of the standards. A family in New Jersey has learned it must follow the Common Core curriculum even though the parents have elected to home-school their child.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, Margaret Dolanthe, superintendent of Westfield Public School District, sent the family the district’s home-school policy which “required them to submit a letter of intent [to home-school] and an outline of their curriculum which must follow New Jersey Common Core content standards.”
HSLDA senior counsel Scott Woodruff responded on behalf of the family, arguing the state’s home-schooling laws say no such thing.
Dolanthe consequently dropped demands the family follow the policy but did inform the family their curriculum should still be “guided by the New Jersey Common Core State Standards.”
HSLDA’s Woodruff responded by explaining that home-school families have “no duty to follow or be guided by Common Core.”
“It does show a rather troubling mindset—almost an assumption that ‘since we have to follow common core, so should you,’” Woodruff told Heritage in an email.
Critics of the Common Core push already had been voicing concerns about the effect Common Core may have on the home school and private school community as a result of the alignment of college entrance exams, such as the SAT and various high school advanced placement exams, to Common Core. As Heritage has written,
“Proponents of the standards have tried to argue that Common Core is optional for states. But alignment of tests like the SAT, ACT and GED poses new questions about the extent to which states, private schools and homeschooled students will be compelled to accept national standards and tests.”
The homogenizing nature of Common Core limits options for students. Whether through the alignment of college entrance exams such as the SAT, ACT, GED, Advanced Placement exams, or through questionable interpretations of school policy, one-size-fits-all school policies threaten choice in education. These changes increase the likelihood that private-school students and home-schooled students will have to follow the Common Core regime, calling into question the ability of states—and families— to opt out of the national standards.