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The Adventures of a Homeschooling Dad Part 1: Reconnaissance

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Though satisfied with our children’s private school, three factors are motivating my wife and me to start looking into homeschooling, again. The Christian school our boys attend is having financial problems, their high-school is aiming towards the new common core SATs for college admissions, and SB-277 will soon involve our non-vaccinated boys.

None of these factors affect us, right now, making it the perfect time to do some reconnaissance. Even if the financial problems get resolved, and we find a way around SB-277, the intrusion of common core into the high-school is enough motivation, by itself, to start vetting alternatives.

What Most Traditional School Options Have in Common

What most traditional school options (public, private, and charter) have in common is common core. As of August 2nd, 2010, most states have adopted the common core standards (though12 states later introduced legislation to repeal their adoption.) In common core states, 100% of their public and charter schools are affected. Though optional for private schools, 50-60% of them have gone common core and, even those who haven’t, are aiming their high-school curriculum towards the new common core SATs in place as of 2016.

Whether your state is affected, or not, most parents must understand what the common core standards are to make an informed choice at the traditional school level.

The Case Against Common Core

Common core sets the standards so high; anyone can walk right under them. — Mary Galamia, Testimony to NY State Assembly

If you have your kids in public school you’re going to lose them. There is no safe place. It’s a hard lesson, but, there’s no safe place. If you want your kids to grow up with your values, if you want your kids to become good at stuff, not full of ideology, you can’t keep them there, anymore. There are no safe schools.” — Duke Pesta

Common Core — Six Years Later

You’ve heard the phrase, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging?” Common core digs you down three more levels. The ESSA act digs you down five more and then throws concrete over your head. — Duke Pesta

Standards, Assessments, & Curriculum Align

The principal sponsor and author of common core tell us that when we see the word “standards,” we should read “curriculum.”

Sponsor

When the tests are aligned with the common standards the curriculum will line-up, as well. — Bill Gates, 2009 (Before Common core standards were supposedly written)

Author

Teachers will teach towards the tests. There is no force strong enough on this earth to prevent that. There’s no amount of hand-waving, there’s no amount of saying ‘they teach the standards, not the tests, we don’t do that here.’ Whatever. — David Coleman, Primary author of common core standards

How Christian School are Infiltrated

Figure out a way to put them in safe, private schools — because 50-60% of the private schools have gone common core — or homeschool them. — Duke Pesta

Prior to writing this article, I thought Christian schools were non-common-core “safe”. However, as of 2016, the SATs are now common core compliant. Private schools now claim they have no choice but to teach common core to prepare students for college admissions testing. Here’s the carefully worded way that’s presented to concerned (outraged?) parents:

“…private schools have flexibility when considering the Common Core (CCSS), and they are under no obligation to implement any piece that they do not feel best serves their educational goals … However, CCSS will have an impact on home and private education in expectations for higher learning. The CCSS emphasize college readiness, and agencies that administer national standardized tests used to determine a student’s readiness are rewriting those tests to align to the Common Core. One of the architects of the English language arts standards is David Coleman, the current president of the College Board. He is overseeing the renovation of the PSAT and SAT in both format and content to fully align with the CCSS. The redesigned PSAT will debut in 2015; the new SAT will be used beginning in 2016. These realities mean it is important for private schools to meet CCSS at a minimum to ensure their graduates will be successful in post-secondary school endeavors.

Translation: we had to go common core to help your child get into college.

If by “post-secondary school endeavors” they mean the usual commoditized degrees of sinking quality, then maybe not. Why enter into debt-slavery when ivy league schools are publishing their curriculums online, for free? Here are 24 free ivy league online courses you can take, today, for free.

Even for the usual university treadmills, the SATs are no longer the only game in town for admissions. Thanks to outraged parents, non-common-core alternatives for college admission testing are getting fast-tracked.

Goodbye SATs

When ACT and SAT chose to hitch its horse to the Common Core wagon, they may have doomed their futures in numerous states across the country. Without a significant reversal in policy, now-unknown alternative college entrance exams could rise to prominence faster than any test has previously been able to do in the history of U.S. education.

Hello Non-Common Core Alternatives

Vector ARC markets itself as a cheaper, better alternative to the SAT and ACT, and its creators claim it will only test students on the information they actually need to be successful in college and later in life, focusing heavily on the classical Western educational standards of the past. In another words, students won’t need to be in a classroom that teaches to a novel, highly technical test in order to successful. If students have the skills that have been considered essential for centuries in Western nations, they will do well on the Vector ARC test.

“At Vector A.R.C. we believe every student should be afforded a fair opportunity at college acceptance,” says Vector ARC on its website. “We don’t think students should be disadvantaged for not having studied in alignment with the Common Core State Standards. By offering an alternative assessment to both SAT and ACT, students who have selected an education not based on Common Core, will no longer be penalized in their college applications by being forced to take a test that aligns with [the Common Core State Standards].”

Charter School Myth

Parents often say, “Charter school” when the subject of common core comes up. It has a nice ring to it and the parents who say it probably think they “don’t have to deal” with common core.

Wrong.

For all the promised flexibility of charter schools, these public asset privatizationsmust align with the Common Core State Standards..”

In short, the murky promise of privatization and the pleasantly sounding ring of “charter school” has given rise to the myth that they’re a non-common core option. They aren’t. Charter schools offer parents the illusion of flexibility while imposing the same mandatory common core standards.

How will Common Core affect Charter Schools?

Beware of Rebranding

Parental uproar has caused the peddlers of common core to rebrand it as “next generation” or just “standards.”

For a more honest rebrand, I would just tell parents to think of common core as, “Every Child Left Behind.”

Adventure Debrief, Part 1

My first reconnaissance adventure into homeschooling hit a roadblock right out of the starting gate in the form of common core (next generation, whatever.) I had no idea how bad it was. I also had no idea that it had already infected the private non-common-core Christian “safe” school our boys attend.

If our school doesn’t wake up and get off the common core track by realizing there are non-SAT alternatives for college admissions, we’ll have no choice but to pull the trigger on whatever alternative schooling options I can find.

For parents in non-common-core states, traditional school options are still on the table. Otherwise, the 40-50% of private schools that haven’t yet adopted common core are the best option at the traditional school level, in my opinion.

Underground History of American Education

For all the unexpected focus on common core in this adventure, this top-down, one-size-fits-all nonsense is nothing new when it comes to state involvement in education. I’m fortunate to have been prepared, in advance, for these challenges by the great teacher, John Taylor Gatto.

I read three of John’s books before our children were born. Given what I’ve just discovered, this homeschooling dad will be re-reading Gatto’s wonderful “Underground History of American Education”, “Weapons of Mass Instruction”, and “Dumbing Us Down” before embarking on the next adventure!

I’m Terence, a musician, writer, father, believer, consultant, pilot, and former computer guy. McGillespie.com is the primary outlet for my contribution to the world. It’s the virtual home base of my legacy. Here, I write and create things I hope will truly benefit others. Fore more, please see https://mcgillespie.com/about/