9.22.2013

How the Common Core Turned Me into a Pack Rat

Anyone who knows me understands that I am not a pack rat by nature. Oh, I have plenty of "stuff," and I do keep some things for sentimental reasons. But I don't like clutter.

In fact, I enjoy being able to de-junk and keep things looking organized. And my penchant for doing so has always extended to homeschool curriculum, motivating me to quickly sell anything with which we've finished rather than allow it to take up room on our bookshelves. As an added bonus, the money I've earned through selling our used curriculum has helped to fund my purchases of new material.

But no more.

This summer, in the midst of an on-going research project and in light of several disturbing political developments, I became deeply convicted that I am no longer to sell anything of value in terms of children's education - not curriculum, not other educational resources, and not even children's literature. Instead, I'm going to save and store everything I have worth keeping. And I will trust the Lord to provide for us financially for the purchase of new material in lieu of extra funds from the sale of old things. Beyond that, I'm also working to find room in our budget to re-purchase copies of good material I've sold in the past, all of which I'll pack up into totes as it arrives. I may end up with rows of totes stacked floor-to-ceiling, but I don't care.

And I have the common core standards initiative to "thank" for my about-face.

In my research, I've been heartened to learn that the publishers of about 56% of homeschool-related materials have currently chosen to remain independent of the common core, deciding not to change their resources for the sake of that misguided governmental overreach. Additionally, 7% have not altered their content even though they have chosen to show "correlations" to the common core, and another 3% have only coincidental connections via some outside vendors they use in their packaged curriculum programs. But that latter 10% has, in fact, acquiesced to the common core on some level. And another 34% of resources that homeschoolers might use has already drunk the common core Kool-Aid, changing their materials - in whole or in part - for the express purpose of aligning with the initiative.

This looks positive, overall, for those of us wanting independence from the common core; we still appear to have plenty of unaligned or marginally connected options. However, a few companies that pledged their commitment to independence this spring suddenly chose to correlate over the summer. And I know from my research that a couple of well-known, popular curriculum providers that are currently correlated are very likely destined to become aligned - changing content for the common core - as they make revisions to their materials for new editions. Plus, I'm quite certain that a number of providers who offer science and social studies materials - currently independent because the official common core only covers math and language arts for now - will choose to correlate or align once the common core-style standards for those content areas become more widely publicized. And the same will become true for every "academic subject" if the common core beast is able to extend its tentacles as its proponents hope. On the other hand, I have been assured by a number of publishers that they will simply close rather than compromise their principles for the common core, and I support and commend that stand. But, of course, if they do cease to exist, we homeschoolers will lose our access to their wonderful products, the same as if they'd changed to align.

I've spoken to some folks who believe that deep concern about the common core is unnecessary and even alarmist. They feel this is but the latest passing fad in "educational reform" that will probably fall to the wayside in due time, leaving intact plenty of educationally sound homeschool resources free of government interference. And I hope with all my heart that they'll be proven right. But I've learned too much over the past few months about the history of "educational reform" - and pay way too much attention to current events - to embrace their cockeyed optimism. The Lord has convicted me to do something and so do something I will.

Some have said, "Well, what if your girls don't homeschool?" And, of course, one or both may decide against homeschooling, a decision I will work very hard as a grandmother to respect even though I would be grieved for my grandchildren. However, the girls are currently extremely committed to homeschooling - they see its benefits and understand God's call on parents to train up and raise their own children for Him - and we are already praying that their husbands - whoever God has in mind for each - will have the same convictions. In fact, each of my girls has indicated at this point that she will not consider marriage to a man who will not allow her to homeschool. And so I feel compelled to help them provide for that as I'm able.

Of course, it's possible they won't want to use what I'm saving - and, by God's grace, they will still have at least a few decent options beyond what I'll have collected. I'm perfectly fine with that. I just want to make sure they have something useful in a worst-case scenario. And even if other good resources are still available down the road, perhaps they will decide to go with what I've saved in order to be good stewards of their families' finances. Then my saved items will have served as a sort of homeschooling trousseau, and that will bless my heart.

Thus, I'm on a mission. I've made a list of good (still unaligned) materials I used in the past and then sold. I've already purchased replacement copies of a few things, and will continue to do so until I've "re-stocked" everything I want to have. When we finish our current books in each subject area, I won't sell them; instead, I'll make room in a storage tote, selling only a few supplemental items that likely won't be useful in the future.

I'm also buying an extra copy of every consumable book in order to keep a "clean copy" available for future use. After all, if the materials are no longer available in their current form, it won't violate copyright law to make copies for multiple grandchildren. And I'm saving all the literature we have in the house - already parsed through a couple of years ago to eliminate all twaddle - because, tragically, part of the common core agenda even involves making politically correct revisions to literature. Thus, the girls won't be able to count on original versions being available down the road.

I know all of this sounds to some as if I must be wearing a tinfoil hat while I write. Think what you will, but I can assure you I'm not paranoid. I am simply a realist. I certainly don't take becoming an educational resources pack rat lightly; it does go against my tendency to be minimalist and efficient and it looks "extreme" to those who don't take the time to understand the situation. I realize how this will make me look to some. But, frankly, I don't care. As I mentioned, my observations of the world around me have led me to conclude that I must err on the side of caution. Thus, I will risk one day being considered a silly curriculum hoarder over failing to provide quality, non-revisionist educational resources for my children to use with their children.

Gladly and unapologetically.


Photo Credit: Jimmie

7 comments:

Beach Mama said...

I made a similar decision last week after reading how the constitution is being re-written in the CCSS. I homeschool, but I want to make sure that I have true American history books, etc. I'd like to see a list of "most wanted" books to hoard.

the Hommels said...

I'm a homeschool mom (since 2003) and have designed a Spanish curriculum for homeschool families who want/need Spanish instruction but don't have access to a tutor. It was created completely independent of CCSS. I hope it will bless you! www.exceleratespanish.com

Renee said...

What would your recommendation be for new homeschooling families. My oldest is 4 so I am just beginning our homeschooling adventure. I have been blessed with a mother-in-law who homeschooled and she blessed me with most of her library that she collected.

Kiirsi said...

Great post. I'd love to see your list of what you consider "essential" homeschool resources. Thanks for sharing!

Angie said...

Thanks for sharing.
Wow, literature revised, and the Constitution rewritten! Cannot imagine, yet happening.

Anonymous said...

I, too, would like to see your list. I had been given loads of books last summer, mostly Abeka, Saxon, and literature, from a Christian private school who was shutting their doors. I have felt compelled to hold to them because of the Common Core. However, I am not very educated on the CC. I just have this unexplainable thought to hold them EVEN though it is taking up so much space!

Gennel Zimmerman said...

THIS is FANTASTIC !!! tin foil hat and all, you are a really really really smart mom and citizen.

TRACKING MY OBEDIENCE