Indianapolis mom Erin Tuttle has begun buying packs of freezer lasagna. She’s stopped folding the laundry after it’s clean. Tuttle has been too busy with another project: Getting Indiana to withdraw from the Common Core.
The Common Core lists what K-12 students should know in math and English in each grade. Forty-five states signed on in 2010, and corresponding national tests will replace state tests in 2014.
Tuttle first heard about it when her third-grader came home from Catholic school with a new math textbook. It challenged him less than his older brother’s third-grade math in the same school, but confused the family far more: The new book ditched traditional sequences that explain the simplest way to solve problems first, and instead focused on process and “conceptual understanding.” The school shifted because state tests, the ACT, and SAT will soon expect kids to know the newer math.
Tuttle testified to Indiana’s Senate education committee in January: The Common Core “radically changes what and how teachers teach, and I know this because my child lived it.” Legislators are considering a bill to return to previous state standards.
Grassroots activists in other states—mostly moms—have prompted similar anti-Core measures in Georgia, South Carolina, Utah, Missouri, and Colorado.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein almost emulated Tim Tebow as a homeschool graduate/ Heisman Trophy winner. Klein, a Christian who saved his first kiss for his wedding day, placed third in this season’s Heisman voting. If state Sen. Tom Garrett gets his way, Virginia may cultivate more Tebows and Kleins.
Garrett has revived a bill to let homeschool students play public school sports. The bill failed by one vote in Virginia’s Senate last year, and the state’s superintendents association and teachers union have opposed similar bills introduced since 2005. They say homeschoolers can’t prove their classes and grades are credible, and homeschooled athletes therefore don’t meet the same academic standards as public school athletes.
The Garrett bill requires homeschoolers to meet their public school team’s academic requirements for two years before they can join. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is for the bill: Spokesman Jeff Caldwell said, “Homeschool families are members of the community and pay the same taxes as families who send their children to public schools.”
Tebow grew up playing in Florida and Klein in Colorado. Those are two of 18 states that currently allow homeschoolers to try out for public school teams. —J.P.
Angelika Weiss’ family “technically can’t afford” online Latin classes for their sixth grader and for all four kids to attend a Christian school in their southern Minnesota town, “but we’re making it a priority,” the pastor’s wife said. “Online high school is a lot cheaper than private school.”
Their Christian online school offers classes local public schools don’t, she said, such as Latin, logic, and challenging history classes. Many Christian families are also choosing tax-sponsored online education because it costs less than private schools without undermining their beliefs.
Last school year, 275,000 students enrolled in online K-12 programs, more than five times the enrollment a decade ago, according to the Evergreen Education Group. Currently, 31 states and the District of Columbia offer online public schools.
Weiss says she feels more confident enrolling her son in online classes than attempting to homeschool, especially for high-school work. She and her son both appreciate online education’s flexibility.
“With online education, there is so much time not wasted in the classroom,” she said. “My son can be out in the community volunteering or working. Let’s face it: The inside of a classroom isn’t the real world.” —J.P.