Parents Seek Alternatives to Common Core

In today’s Argus Leader is a story about families choosing alternative education, whether that be homeschooling or a private school, for their children because of the Common Core.

Just in case you still believed that the Common Core is just standards and doesn’t dictate how the standards are taught, with the Common Core, teachers no longer teach. Teachers now give “guidance and validation.”

The other day, my husband and I “taught” our grandson how to use an electric hedge trimmer. We taught him the fundamentals. The trigger, the safety switch, not to stand in a position where the trimmer would possibly come back and cut into his leg, keeping his hands away from the blade, etc. Then we guided him through the process. Then came the validation. There must be a foundation of teaching the fundamentals before putting into practice what you have learned. That’s what the Common Core doesn’t do.

Best-practices guides in medicine are put through years of research and validation before they are put into practice as being reliable. The Common Core standards as well as the accompanying Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments are experimental. That’s why the state chose to subject our children to 8-10 hours of field testing for the SBAC last spring. Where is the research based, empirical evidence that these standards and the assessments are valid and reliable? They are not research based. Our children are the experiment. It is a disservice to our children to lose valuable learning years in their young lives by subjecting them to the experimental Common Core Standards and the SBAC assessments. And that’s why parents are choosing alternative education for their children.

Math standards prompt parents to push back

Patrick Anderson

Math changes are at the heart of unease and some flight to home-schooling in S.F. district

Rick Nath was tired of the emotional turmoil math homework was causing his daughter.

She was struggling with a new approach to old subjects, and Nath found there were fewer things he understood and fewer ways for him to help. It was a difficult realization for the 44-year-old Sioux Falls resident, who has a degree in math from South Dakota State University.

“By the time she got to sixth grade, that’s when it really got bad,” Nath said. “In sixth grade, it was tears.”

When the 2013-14 school year ended, and 13-year-old Izzy had finished her first year at Patrick Henry Middle School, her parents started considering other options.

In the four years since South Dakota schools began using Common Core, another movement has emerged: more parents are home-schooling. In Sioux Falls, the number of home-schooled students has more than doubled, and numbers statewide also are growing.

Parents choose home schooling to push their child academically, to teach beliefs not found in public schools or to avoid potentials for drug and alcohol abuse, according to the National Home Education Research Institute.

But some parents who have opted to leave public schools cite the new standards, which are benchmarks adopted by a consortium of states and embraced by the federal government: New homework, new lesson plans, new course material. And after piloting new state tests last spring, South Dakota will administer a finalized version later this year to thousands of students.

Even pushback from state legislators has done little to slow the introduction of Common Core in K-12 schools.

Educators have tried to calm parents’ fears about Common Core and stress its goals — higher levels of thinking and problem-solving for students.

But parents are frustrated by what they say is a top-down and experimental approach to education. As some seek to regain control of their children’s academic future, the two largest school districts in the state have experienced growing home-school populations, and so has the rest of the state.

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