Monday, September 22, 2014

New Jersey homeschool family ordered to follow Common Core

 After withdrawing their son from New Jersey 's Westfield Public Schools, a homeschool family was surprised when the assistant superintendent sent them a copy of the school’s homeschool policy and asked them to call him.
Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for HSLDA

Their surprise turned to shock when they saw that the policy required them to submit a letter of intent and an outline of their curriculum which (per the policy) must follow New Jersey Common Core content standards, and then wait for the superintendent to approve their curriculum and give them permission to homeschool.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported on Sept. 18, 2014, that the family was ordered to follow Common Core standards.

Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for HSLDA, responded to the district on behalf of the family. He explained that requirements in the letter sent to the family were in contradiction to current New Jersey homeschool law. Woodruff received a response from the district stating that “should be guided by the New Jersey Common Core State Standards.”

This is going to be a continual problem for New Jersey homeschool families that wish to avoid Common Core based curriculum and standards. New Jersey Law N.J.S.A. 18A:38-25 “requires that “every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between six and 16 to ensure that such child regularly attends the public schools of the district or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools (underlined for emphasis) for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.” New Jersey is in full implementation of Common Core. The law leaves the door open for other school districts to misinterpret the meaning of equivalent; just like the Westfield School District did.

Common Core is gradually creeping into homeschools across the country. Starting with requiring equivalent curriculum or forcing students to take PARCC exams, more states will implement rules impacting homeschoolers. New Jersey is just one state. Arkansas may soon require homeschool students to take PARCC exams instead of the current Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Without using Common Core aligned curriculum, homeschoolers will be at a disadvantage on the required tests. Homeschool parents should be aware of Common Core and PARCC and STAR testing. That is the only way to make informed decisions about your child’s education.

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