I tend to avoid controversy.
Over the past few weeks, I've encountered a series of comments (blogs, facebook, the web world) in which some homeschoolers criticize publishers (homeschool) who are updating their materials to reflect the new Common Core State Standards (aka CCSS).
I sorta don't get it.
Let me clearly state that this has nothing to do with my feelings about CCSS. That's another post. Which I won't write. (See
It does have to do with my reflections as a homeschool mom. And yes, as an educator. But primarily as a homeschool mom to my kids. For the record, I have 5 kids. The kids' total experience in both worlds:
Cumulative years in homeschool: 18
Cumulative years in public school: 27 (higher because one child went entirely to public school...otherwise, it's pretty balanced for the other kids)
During that time, I have also taught classes in BOTH homeschool and public school. You might say that
As a homeschooler, I feel a responsibility to have at least some sense of what my children's peers are studying, and what is considered above/below/on target. I'm not going to get all freaky about it. But when I walk into a homeschool store as I did this summer, and hear a parent ask the resident expert about how the CCSS will affect homeschoolers, I expect the expert to at least know what the CCSS is. (And in the conversation I overheard, the homeschool rep had NO. CLUE.)
Why do I want to keep abreast of the CCSS as a homeschooler? For our family, the following comes to mind:
- My children may not always be homeschooled. Circumstances can change things in a heartbeat. If your children are public schooled and you are reading this, also note that it could happen in the reverse for you. I used to say I'd never homeschool. (#beforeIhadkids) I changed my mind because of a given set of circumstances. I now know many homeschoolers & public schoolers who've suddenly had to consider the opposite for a myriad of reasons: health, economics, job status, etc... And again, it could go either way.
- My children will eventually meet up with their peers. Be it in middle school, high school, college, or the job market, they will eventually meet their peers. Even if I don't follow the same exact content plan, I do want to know what it is and whether they are ahead/behind/on target.
- My kids do have to take a standardized test. Over time, I'm guessing that all standardized tests will have to move toward CCSS content for financial reasons. (Since 45 states and D.C. have adopted it, I doubt that the market outside that group will be viable.) While testing is never a big personal motivator for what I teach, I think it's unfair to my kids for me to not have some idea of what's coming.
But back to the CCSS and publishers...
It seems unfair to criticize homeschool publishers for being responsible. Any publisher who keeps up knows that the CCSS is here. If they know that over time, homeschool students are likely to be held to those standards in testing, they are leaving themselves pretty vulnerable to not cover that content. It's also important to note that the assessments coming down the pipe are going to be different than what most of us are used to in standardized testing--rote thinking and fill-in-the-bubble. Apparently, kids will actually have to think.
If publishers don't cover CCSS, there is a decent chance that the students they serve will do poorly in comparison to their peers...and eventually, their business will end.
Be kind. I scare easily. ;)