homeschooling

Dear Members and Friends,

Why do homeschoolers oppose the Common Core?

Because we’ve discovered that freedom is the key to educational success. Freedom gives us the flexibility to help our students find their own pace, discover their passions, develop their talents, and learn to excel.

In “What We Can Learn from Homeschooling,” Melanie Borrego, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at Bradman University, explains an educational truth—which often goes without saying for homeschoolers:

An education should not look exactly the same for every student. Some need more guidance, others less. Some want to build things, others like to read. Some want to play geography games with children from other countries . . . others would prefer to learn outside or by listening and observing. Some need more time to complete their studies, others will graduate early. . . . If we can gradually build both flexibility and autonomy into their education, particularly as they grow older and their interests and abilities begin to deepen, we will see more engagement in and understanding of the material.

Home education’s success is a compelling counterpoint to the Common Core. When educational elites in ivory towers dictate their untested, one-size-fits-all standards and skills for all students, kids find their individuality smothered, their learning stifled, and their success uncertain. The Common Core’s top-down paradigm restricts teachers’ choices and flexibility, and it leaves parents feeling angry, perplexed, and powerless to help their children.

But parents are fighting back. Last September, a group of concerned citizens in Missouri filed a lawsuit against Governor Jeremiah Nixon, challenging a Common Core–based test development group—Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)—as an unconstitutional state compact.

This past February, a state circuit court agreed that Missouri’s SBAC fees were unconstitutional, and permanently banned the state from paying taxpayer dollars to SBAC. The court held that “the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium . . . is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, § 10, cl. 3, as well as numerous federal statutes; and that Missouri’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as a member is unlawful under state and federal law.”

The state appealed the decision in March.

Now, HSLDA is joining the legal battle by filing an amicus (friend of the court) brief urging the judges to confirm that SBAC is unconstitutional.

The Missouri ruling has tremendous potential to influence the battle over the Common Core. Prior to the ruling, the Missouri legislature had already begun to tap the brakes on the Common Core. When the court decision came down, lawmakers promptly shut down all future funding for SBAC. A similar lawsuit has already been filed in North Dakota.

HSLDA’s amicus brief urges the Court of Appeals to recognize SBAC for what it is: a key component in a larger strategy, enticing states to act as federal proxies in the development of top-down national standards and assessments. (The United States Department of Education is banned from directly developing national curriculum or tests.)

Our brief also points out that mandates tied to federal funding for Common Core–related initiatives essentially create an invasive nationwide tracking system. Such a model is capable of following every student from preschool through college and even into employment. As we said in our brief:

The most immediate threat to homeschool and private school students is the expansion of statewide longitudinal databases. Over the past decade, a slew of new federal incentives and funded data models have spurred states to monitor students’ early years, performance in college, and success in the workforce by following “individuals systematically and efficiently across state lines.” . . .

The designers of the new systems fully intend for homeschool and private school students to be part of the massive data collection. At the National Conference on Student Assessment in 2011, officials from Oklahoma discussed how the challenge of meeting the data requirements of federal and state education policies [is] motivating them to “include student groups not now included (e.g., home-schooled) in the data system.”1

The legal battle over the Common Core is just beginning. If other states follow the example of Missouri and North Dakota, we expect to see more suits challenging these top-down databases and testing regimes. At the same time, the Common Core’s proponents will fight back, refining their legal strategies and amassing resources to protect their projects.

If we want to dislodge encroaching centralized control from America’s education system, our lawmakers and judges need to know the truth: the Common Core represents the very antithesis of educational freedom and innovation. But we need your help to spread this vital message.

Would you consider donating to the Homeschool Freedom Fund? Your gift will empower us to continue our efforts to thwart the Common Core and preserve educational freedom.

The untested Common Core State Standards, along with myopic assessments and invasive data monitoring, strip states, teachers, and parents of innovation and flexibility. America needs educated, free-thinking citizens—not mindless drones trained to accept the dictates of an administrative collective.

Won’t you stand with us to get the truth out about the Common Core?

For freedom,
Jim Mason, Vice President for Litigation and Development

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1 From “Data, Data Everywhere: Progress, Challenges, and Recommendations for State Data Systems,” presented by Jennifer Stegman at the National Conference on Student Assessment on June 20, 2011.

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