As the Obama administration continues its effort to bribe or bludgeon state governments into accepting the widely criticized “Common Core” national education curriculum standards, opposition is growing — especially among homeschooling families and private institutions worried about the loss of educational liberty, parental rights, and local authority. While the controversial school standardization scheme does not directly apply to home educators or private schools yet, experts and advocates say the effects are already starting to be felt. This may be just the beginning, too, which is why activists are gearing up for a fight to defeat the agenda.
The Home School Legal Defense Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and advancing the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children, is on the front lines of the battle. According to the HSLDA, which has been expressing serious concerns about “Common Core” for years, the deeply controversial effort to standardize what government schools all across America are teaching is problematic for several reasons. It will affect homeschoolers, too.
“Our concern with the Common Core is twofold,” HSLDA Director of Federal Relations William Estrada told The New American in a phone interview. “The first is that the success of homeschooling shows that kids do best when parents are in control of educational decisions. Common Core centralizes what kids are taught, how they are taught, and what they should learn, in the hands of a few educational bureaucrats at the national level — completely cutting out parents, teachers, and local school boards.”
Indeed, a wide range of organizations and activists have expressed similar fears about the national education scheme, which is being pushed on state governments and local school districts by the Obama administration through the use of federal “Race to the Top” grants and other means. Under the radar until very recently, some 45 states have already signed on to the controversial program. The opposition, however, is just getting started.
Of course, supporters of Common Core claim that it does not directly affect homeschoolers or non-government-funded private schools. Home education advocates, families, and experts, though, are not buying the denials. Led in large part by the HSLDA and other liberty-minded organizations, the home-education community is just one of the powerful political forces getting involved in the fight. The problem for homeschoolers, Estrada explained, is that the Common Core will, at some point, seek control over all education.
“The second major concern is that a national curriculum and national standards will eventually be broadened to include homeschoolers, which would eliminate the ability of parents to tailor their educational message to each specific child,” said Estrada, an attorney who lobbies the federal government on behalf of homeschooling families. “It will eliminate the freedom of homeschool parents to choose their child’s education.”
Indeed, the first symptoms of the “Common Core” problem are already being felt by the homeschooling community. Among the most serious: An increasing number of home education-related companies, for example, have started aligning their curricula and learning materials with the national program. In fact, at least ten popular homeschool curricula produced by various companies are now tailored to conform with the national scheme being pushed by the Obama administration and his radical allies, according to Kristen Chevrier of Home School Wise, who is working to compile a list. There are probably many more.
Despite fears that potential national exams and tracking schemes could one day de-facto force families and private schools to adopt the controversial system, there are still many more companies and organizations that do not incorporate “Common Core.” Chevrier provides an extensive list of instructional materials for homeschoolers that — at least so far — have not been aligned with standards being pushed by the federal government and other powerful forces.
Meanwhile, groups like Freedom Project Education, which provides classical K-12 online schooling, actually boast of their independence from government control, speaking out forcefully against the extremist attempt to impose a national education system on America. FPE Curriculum Director Mary Black warned The New American that, while starting with just less-controversial subjects like English and math, Common Core proponents eventually plan to control the entire educational process nationwide — they essentially admit as much in their own documents, actually.
“The true intent of those who authored it is not to improve the education of our students,” explained Black, who spent 36 years teaching all ages before joining FPE. “The true purpose, I believe, is to remove control of our schools and children from local, even state, and parental authority. There are many inherent dangers, but chief among them is the surrender of control of our children to the federal government, which intends to use schools as purveyors of a socialist agenda.”
According to Black and other experts, documentation shows Common Core is actually a step in the process toward achieving a longtime goal of the United Nations and its supporters: a one-world education system. The UN, of course, has long sought to harmonize global educational standards. And billionaire Bill Gates — one of the primary figures behind Common Core — has also expressed devotion to a similar agenda.
The national curriculum itself is problematic, too. “My review of the Common Core standards indicated that they were designed to teach students what to think and not how to think,” Black explained, echoing concerns expressed by numerous analysts who have investigated the scheme. “The literary classics have been stripped and replaced with books promoting a socialist agenda.... It is certain that it will leave students unable to think for themselves.”
Americans, Black added, must resist the scheme to nationalize the education system. “This is a battle for the control of our children and their education,” she explained, pointing to the far-reaching threat inherent in central government usurpation of the minds of the young — a top priority for totalitarian-minded leaders throughout centuries of history.
Like the HSLDA and other home education advocates, Black also believes Common Core will eventually affect homeschoolers — even if the process may be slow and sneaky at first. She cited federalized testing and changes to the widely used ACT and SAT as among the primary tools to gradually enforce broader compliance with the dubious national standards.
“Those who have not used the textbooks designed to teach these standards have little chance to do well, giving parents and students who want to go to college no choice but to use those textbooks,” Black explained. However, she continued, in addition to the vested interests hoping to profit from Common Core — textbook publishers, for instance — powerful forces such as the global-government-promoting Council on Foreign Relations are helping to advance the plan as well.
Of course, there is a real educational crisis going on in America. Consider, for example, a stunning announcement by officials in New York City last week: Almost 80 percent of high school graduates actually need to re-learn basic skills like reading and math before they can enter even the city’s community college system, according to CBS New York. Across America, students are increasingly graduating without even basic reading and writing abilities.
The real solution to America’s education crisis, however, is not to nationalize the system, experts say. “The local school boards and parents of that school district should determine the standards because they are most personally vested with the education of their children,” Black explained, a common sentiment expressed by parents and educators alike. “The idea of all schools being exactly the same is Utopian, a goal of socialists since the 1800s.”
Across the nation, as awareness of Common Core grows, opposition is surging as well — after all, the whole idea is completely at odds with American traditions of liberty, federalism, and self-governance. State school board officials who have spoken with The New American are outraged. Teachers are too. With homeschoolers joining the fight, however, the forces seeking to impose a national curriculum on the American people without their consent are likely to face an increasingly tough battle — a war, perhaps, that is only just getting started.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at
Photo of President Obama: AP Images
Obama Bribes States to Adopt National Education Curriculum