I received an email on March 11 from the founder of the newly formed Education Freedom Coalition asking if Knowledge Quest has already aligned, or plans to align, our materials with the Common Core Standards. The email was forceful in tone and the writer deliberately stated that any reply I gave would be shared on Facebook and on a new website that was created for this purpose – identifying homeschool curriculum publishers that have aligned or not aligned with the standards.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to speak my own mind, rather than having it shared “for me” by a 3rd party. In this case, I was not given the choice… any response I made for our company would be shared. It felt like I was being backed into a corner with only one way out – say what they (the coalition) wanted me to say. The funny thing is… even though I agree (in content, not in tone) with their stance on the issue, I didn’t like the approach or the ramifications:
a. Reply that KQ is not aligned and will never align – appease a crowd, but put KQ at risk if standards become mandatory in the future (they are not required of private schools and homeschools at this time, thank goodness!) We would either have to 1. align and go back on our word; or 2. go out of business.
b. Reply that KQ is aligned (most homeschool curriculum publishers meet and exceed standards because the standards aren’t that high and are quite vague) – risk becoming boycotted by the very customers it loves to serve. We love what we do and we love those we serve. It is an absolute joy to serve the homeschooling community!
c. Not reply – be listed as a “nonresponsive” company that is indifferent to the concerns of customers. We want to be anything but unresponsive and indifferent, especially when it comes to important matters of government control over education.
I like the whole messy situation even less now that I have replied to the email!
I stated that we would rather not be “listed” on a 3rd party site, but answer parents individually as they have questions. This reply was taken to assume (strong emphasis on the word assume, because apparently, by this coalition, one is guilty before proven innocent) that Knowledge Quest would prefer to ride the fence, stay politically neutral, and reply differently to parents depending on what they would like to hear.
Really? Both our integrity and our honesty have been brought into question, just because we said we would rather not be “listed” on a 3rd party site. Oh my, what have we come to?
We are happy to talk with anyone about this who has concerns. Standards implemented by the government affect educational freedom, especially standards mandated from the federal level. However, these Common Core Standards do not apply to private or homeschools currently. Knowledge Quest’s materials are not being forced to align to any standards at this time, which means that we will do what we have always done – provide the best resources available for history and geography regardless of what the public schools are doing. Frankly, we aren’t that interested in what the public schools are doing. We are excited about the materials that curriculum providers have made available for homeschooling families!
There was another set of standards for social studies in place before Common Core. They were perhaps even more generalized, but share these traits in common with Common Core – vague and therefore hard to implement.
We have no reason to update any of our materials at this time to align with standards that aren’t required for homeschool families. And we will continue to love the companies we love, whether they align to these standards or not. We choose our curricula based on the quality, worldview and method of the materials produced, not by a list.
The cornering, accusing and pigeonholing of curriculum providers need to stop. Homeschool curriculum providers should not be on trial over this issue. They are not the ones implementing the standards. The federal government is issuing the standards that the states choose to adopt (45 states have!). We can be thankful for the educational freedom that we currently have and the large variety of curricula that we have to choose from at this time. Let’s join together in prayer that it continues! It may change down the road the more the federal government continues to reach into areas it has no jurisdiction over. Let’s get out of the courtroom and back to the couch for a great read-aloud. Or, if you would rather stay in the courtroom, find the right one. This isn’t it.
The issue at hand is not whether a specific curriculum aligns or doesn’t align with Common Core Standards; the issue is the overstepping of the Federal Government into the arena of education, which should be handled at the state and local level.
Question: Um, now what do you think?