By Casey Given
Two weeks ago, Education Week reported that the Department of Education will oversee the design of assessment tests for the Common Core State Standards, confirming suspicions that initiative is nothing less than a federal curriculum for America’s schools. While I’ve already commented on the implications this announcement will have on public schools, Common Core’s federal control does not stop there. Students in charter and private schools, as well as homeschoolers, will also have no choice but to learn what Uncle Sam wants to teach them. In essence, there’s no opting out of Common Core.
As public institutions, charter schools in state that have adopted Common Core will also have to comply with the national standards. This command and control directly undermines the freedom that has led to charters’ success. Common Core champions will claim that charters still have the freedom to choose their own textbooks and employ alternative teaching techniques – which is technically true. But, now that the federal government is overseeing what’s on Common Core’s assessments, charter school teachers will have no choice but to teach their students what Washington wants to prepare their students for the standardized test. So much for school choice.
As for private institutions, many parochial schools are voluntarily taking up Common Core. The Catholic School Standards Project, for example, is encouraging local dioceses to adopt the Core. While private schools like those of the Catholic Church have every right to adopt standards that they see fit for their students, parents should beware that Common Core has a direct pipeline to Washington. As such, it would be prudent to urge teachers and administrators to thoroughly review the standards and only adopt those that complement the school’s mission.
Even homeschoolers will also be affected by the standards indirectly since both the SAT and ACT are soon aligning to Common Core. Every homeschooled student with college aspirations will have to learn the national standards or be at a disadvantage in taking college entrance exams.
Granted, there is nothing wrong with private schools and homeschool programs adopting Common Core per se. It is fundamental right of free association for private institutions to operate as they see fit. The standards may absolutely have superlative standards that schools may want to adopt.
Rather, what is wrong is the federal government’s backdoor influence on Common Core’s content. Especially since the standards sell themselves as a “state-led effort,” it is downright deceptive for the federal government to sneak into the private schools and homeschools of America without proper warning. Common Core should either come out as what it really is – a federal standards initiative – or end its entanglement with Washington altogether.