Renowned economist and school choice pioneer Professor Milton Friedman once said, “A stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens. Education contributes to both.”
The movement to raise standards in public schools is not at odds with – and certainly does not harm – the parental choice movement. They share the same goal – improving education for children.
Unfortunately, for years, the education establishment, namely the teachers unions, has fought to lower academic expectations for students. It has also aggressively fought parental choice – the right of families, not government, to decide what is best for their kids when it comes to education. The result has been generations of American children trapped in a government monopoly that has reduced standards for its own interests, not because it was in the best interests of children.
Some individuals who oppose higher standards, and the Common Core State Standards, have misrepresented how this initiative affects schools that are not traditional public schools. The most important thing to understand is that state standards already exist. A state raising its standards does not change the current environment when it comes to parental choice, and private, faith-based and home schools are not required to adopt the new standards, although many are doing so willingly.
Here are more quick facts:
States and private education institutions alike have voluntarily adopted higher standards in the form of Common Core because they are just that – higher, more rigorous academic expectations to better prepare students for life after high school – whether it be college or the workforce.
Home-schooled students are not required to use state standards or state assessments. The autonomy for home schools to choose their own standards, curriculum and instructional materials remains untouched.
Private schools and faith-based schools that do not accept state funds are not required to use state Common Core standards or assessments.
Private schools and faith-based schools that accept state funds through a voucher program often either have no standardized testing requirement or have the option to choose between state and national norm reference exams.
There are a few states, such as Indiana and Louisiana, which require voucher program students to take state assessments but they do not require the private school to use the state standards or curriculum. In fact, Indiana law specifically prohibits the state from telling schools what they can teach, including curriculum content (outside of requiring instruction in key subjects like English, Math and Science) or religious instruction and activities.
Charter schools are public schools and are therefore required to teach standards their state has adopted, and their students take the state-adopted assessments. However, the choice of curriculum—how the standards are taught—is traditionally left to the charter school to decide.