Why do we still have common core and what can replace it?


Written Apr 12

Uh oh! I’m schizophrenic on this one.


On the one hand, I resent the paternalistic view that someone should tell me and my children what they should learn. (That’s the little guy on my right shoulder talking. He’s the same little guy that made me decide to homeschool our daughter).

On the other hand, I’ve read portions of the Common Core standards, and they are really pretty good. They actually make a lot of “Common Sense”. (So the little guy on my left shoulder wants me to think about this one more carefully).

So, what am I to decide?

There happens to be another course of action.

It is my belief that decisions about the education of our children should be made at the lowest possible level – ideally, a compact between teachers, parents, and students. It is, therefore, also my belief that bureaucrats at the federal and state level should have little say about my children’s education, and should have virtually no voice in what they should be taught. In fact, these beliefs have led me to pursue homeschooling for my child.

However, these beliefs do not necessarily conflict with the Common Core Standards (CCSS).

Why is this?

It turns out that the CCSS were developed by a group of people who are either educators, or are considered experts in the fields of mathematics and English language arts. In other words, the standards are developed by teachers. Hmm.

Furthermore, as a homeschool parent, I find it is not unreasonable to have guidance in determining levels of knowledge desirable for my child to function in society, or to pursue advanced education.

The CCSS provides a roadmap (which I consider reasonable) for teachers and students in the pursuit of mathematics and English language arts education. They do not require my children to participate in standardized testing.

And now for a couple of anecdotes.

First, I should point out that I am a product of the Scottish school system. I participated in national exams (“O-levels” and “A-levels”). When I came to the US, these credentials were adequate to not only admit me to university, but to exempt me from several freshman-level courses. Therefore, I acknowledge that standardized tests can have value when appropriately administered.

Second. As a homeschool parent, the CCSS (which were developed by educators) provides a roadmap for the education of my daughter. The only real difference for us, as homeschoolers, is that we can choose whether or not to implement the standards. It just so happens that I believe the standards are appropriate, and helpful.

So, to answer the question – “Why do we still have common core and what can replace it?”.

Our children need certain skills to survive in the world in which they will occupy. I happen to believe that mathematics and English language arts are very important and valuable skills for this purpose. (I recognize that some may disagree). Therefore, I am quite happy to acknowledge, and accept, the efforts of educators who have examined this carefully. Occasionally, I may differ in their opinions. However, the principle that our children should possess a basic understanding and knowledge of mathematics and the English language is acceptable. In my view, the principles of the CCSS are broad enough to accomplish these goals.

If parents are opposed to the CCSS (which assumes they have studied the standards), then it is up to the parents to work with their children’s teachers to agree upon an alternative. (Good luck!).