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Common Core Alaska: Opting Out


The Common Core State Standards Initiative is increasingly on parents’ radar as more and more schools across the nation are implementing curriculum that aligns to these federally mandated voluntary standards. There’s a plethora of complaints from the anti-Common Core groups ranging from unconstitutional, corporate control of US education, loss of local control, sub-par standards, developmentally inappropriate standards, data-mining, high-stakes testing, and the list goes on. One glance at the CCSS map http://www.corestandards.org/standards-in-your-state/ would lead you to believe that Alaska has not adopted Common Core. Looks can be deceiving. Do not be fooled. Common Core is here under the name of Alaska State Core Standards.

There are many documents and pictures available through Alaskans Against the Common Core https://www.facebook.com/StopCommonCoreAK that expose the intent of the state to implement these standards in exchange for receiving their ESEA Flexibility Waiver and the additional federal funding that follows the waiver. If one isn’t satisfied with the information gathered by the Alaskans Against Common Core, just go to both the corestandards.org website http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/ and the Alaska DEED website http://education.alaska.gov/akstandards/standards/akstandards_elaandmath_bygradelevel.pdf to compare Alaska’s standards to Common Core. It will not take you long to realize that, aside from rearranging some sentences they are word for word.

So what about all of this data-mining that is tied into Common Core? Every state already has developed a statewide longitudinal database specifically for the purposes of tracking students from preschool through career. The federal government funded much of these, too. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/slds/factsheet.html This has stirred up concerns of student privacy, just who gets to see the data, as well as what data they are keeping. http://pioneerinstitute.org/featured/study-new-technology-relaxation-of-protections-threaten-student-privacy/ There is also the issue of biometric data collection http://eagnews.org/parents-warned-about-invasive-behavioral-tests-growing-human-monitoring-service-in-schools/ especially after perusing the “Promoting Grit and Tenacity” draft on the federal website: http://www.ed.gov/edblogs/technology/files/2013/02/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf (particularly look at page 44, which is page 62 of the pdf document). Editor’s note: as of September 30th, 2014, this document has been removed from the Department’s website. This being a common practice, copies are available in the files section of the Facebook Group “Parents and Educators Against Common Core Standards” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/PEACCS/480492928672102/) and at the abolishcommoncore.com website (http://abolishcommoncore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/OET-Draft-Grit-Report-2-17-13.pdf)

Alaska recently requested to amend their ESEA Flexibility Waiver http://education.alaska.gov/akaccountability/esea/AKESEA_FlexWaiverAmended_Principle1_IntentAmend.pdf because it will no longer utilize the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for testing and accountability. Instead, Alaska has signed an agreement with the University of Kansas’s Achievement and Assessment Institute (AAI) to create a set of tests for ESEA accountability. If you have nothing but time on your hands, you can read the entire 923 page ESEA Flexibility Waiver here:  http://education.alaska.gov/akaccountability/esea/alaska_esea_flexibility_request_rev5_15_2013.pdf

Many folks have gotten together to unite those against Common Core and its data-mining agenda by stressing to parents to Opt Out of all CC-aligned, state, and federal standardized testing. Alaska is listed among the states available for opting out. http://unitedoptout.com/state-by-state-opt-out-2/alaska/ Sadly, as of this date, the opt-out information is outdated. The state legislature and DEED have replaced the high school exit exam with either ACT, SAT, or Work Keys assessments. The SBA’s are replaced with AAI’s tests this coming spring… let us hope those tests will be finalized before they have to be administered! The Opt-Out campaign, itself, is starting to receive its own state-led rebellion. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/09/15/Colorado-Elementary-School-Forces-Student-To-Take-Reading-Skills-Test-After-Parents-Requested-Opt-Out/

So what is a parent to do? Do you just step in line and subject your children to state/federal education? Or do you opt-out?! HOW do you opt-out?!?! In many states (such as all states in the largest circuit, the Ninth Circuit – Alaska is in the 9th) parents have no legal right to opt their children out or keep them home on those days. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and at least one other federal circuit have held that, once parents enroll their children in public schools, they no longer have a fundamental right to direct their children’s education. Either your children are in or out; there is no half way when it comes to government schools. (http://www.thegreateducationstruggle.com/parentalrights/) There are alternatives. Alaska State Core Standards and their accompanying tests and data collection apply to PUBLIC education only. PUBLIC education in Alaska consists of traditional schools, boarding schools, charter schools, correspondence, and alternative (aka home school) programs. Every single one of these PUBLIC options is subject to all requirements set forth in the ESEA Flexibility Waiver. Private schools have a choice in adhering to these, or other, standards. The other opt-out option is home school.

From the Eagle River Christian Homeschool Association’s website: http://ercha.com/en/resources/your-options.php

What are my options?

Alaska is one of the best homeschooling states in our nation. The many veterans who have come before us fought long and hard to gain these freedoms that we all now enjoy. Since 1997, parents have been given the opportunity to fully invest in their children’s’ education with minimal government intrusion. We are allowed to homeschool in the manner and style deemed best for our children and their futures as productive members of society. 

Following in the footsteps of this newly-granted freedom was the advent of quasi-government offerings to home educators. However, with any government program, they have registration, restrictions and regulations…and ultimately result in increased taxes for all in order to pay for it.

Independent/Private Home School: 

Under Alaska State Law, you can exempt yourself from the restrictions by homeschooling independently*. While you are unable to receive monetary assistance through a government program, you do have the freedom to choose the method, style and curriculum with which you teach your child.

So what, exactly, does Common Core have to do with home schooling? For Independent or Private Home School families: not a thing! Through bearing the responsibility of educating your children without government oversight and intrusion, you have effectively Opted Out of Common Core and all of its tentacles. Your children’s data will be safe; it is not collected in the first place! YOU decide if your child’s curriculum should align to Common Core or not! Not sure if it does? Check out http://www.hsroadmap.org/common-core-project/ . Not sure if you are cut out to home school without help? NSIH can put you in touch with someone who can encourage and even mentor you.

Opt out lego man

Your child’s education should be about more than AYPs, ASPIs, Career tracking, or funding. It should primarily be about learning, seeking answers to questions, getting a quality education, and gleaning wisdom. Perhaps it is even about raising the next generation of people who read, write, think and continue our heritage of freedom to maintain our republic – Education for a FREE nation!

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NSIH Presents “A Cross-Cultural Cruise” Co-op!


Pack your bags and begin a wonderful learning adventure with your family using 10 favorite books written by Patricia Polacco. North Star Independent Homeschooler’s presents “A Cross-Cultural Cruise” co-op beginning September 1st! Each week we will focus on a story. Each story contains sections on Bible, Research Skills, Character, Language Arts, History, Geography, Science, Fine Arts, Crafts, Refreshment Ideas, Hands-on learning and much more! This unit study style co-op is for all ages/grades and will begin September 1 and meet each Monday for 12 weeks from 1 to 3 pm. NSIH families can find out more information and sign up to participate on the NSIH Meetup page!

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AP Classes VS. Dual Enrollment — Which is Preferred?


I’ve been recently talking with many parents concerning home schooling high school (without government intrusion) and the question has repeatedly come up about which course is better: AP classes or dual enrollment?  Some parents think that AP classes are better. Others think that dual enrollment is better. Is there a right or wrong answer to this question?

I enlisted the help of Lee Binz, theHomeScholar, to find out a more definitive answer to this question. Here is her response, used with her permission:
That answer is totally dependent on the university, I’m afraid. Ivy’s tend to prefer AP, general colleges tend to prefer dual enrollment from homeschoolers (to demonstrate we work well in the classroom, LOL!) But it’s a college by college preference. I can tell you that commuhnity college is a “rated R” environment, so you want to weigh your options carefully, and only you know what’s best for your child. http://www.thehomescholar.com/community-college-fad.php
So the answer: both AND neither.

Let’s look at AP Classes, first. Any class you may want to list on your transcript as “Advanced Placement” or “AP” must be pre-approved by CollegeBoard.org. Using the AP designation without prior approval is illegal. HSLDA has a full write up about college-level testing. The independent homeschooler has a few options for AP classes. For FNSB (Fairbanks North Star Borough) residents, the local school district allows for part-time enrollment (even just one class) so parents can utilize any AP classes offered at their school of residence. Beware, however, that this means your child (and you) will be subject to the new FNSB Truancy Ordinance, if passed. That ordinance’s current wording can be found here under Title 9, Chapter 9.20. Don’t want to attend an AP class at a local public or private school? No problem. HSLDA has a list of places that offer AP classes online to home schoolers. Don’t want to take an online course? That’s okay, too. According to both CollegeBoard.org and Lee Binz, anyone can take an AP exam without having to be enrolled in or taking the corresponding AP class. The HomeScholar has links available in her recent blog article titled “AP Classes and College Credits Infographic.”

Now let’s take a look at dual enrollment. Colleges give credits for classes differently than high schools. Usually, one whole college class is equivalent to one whole high school class. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District breaks down dual enrollment like this:

Conversion to High School Credit

FNSBSD Outside Credits

For those who are not within the Fairbanks North Star Borough, similar conversions exist within your local school district. Lee Binz has been on it since 2012 and you can find more info in her blog article “College Credits vs. Homeschool High School Credits.”

Whichever course you choose, whether AP or dual enrollment or both, there is tons of information; from online to in person, the goal is to help you and your family along your independent home school high school journey.

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