Staying Home from School to Protest the Common Core Standards
On November 18, children across the nation will be staying home from school. It isn't an early senior cut day and it isn't a pandemic flu virus. Their parents are keeping them home to protest the use of the Common Core Standards, aligned curricula, and the associated testing in the schools.
Janet Wilson, who launched the website Say No to the Common Core, organized the event on Facebook. "Don't Send Your Child to School Day" currently has almost 3,700 "Yes" responses and over 600 maybes.
Objections to the Common Core
As the anti-Common Core movement is grassroots with a range of rationales, it is hard to gauge how many people will participate in the November 18 protest and why. Objections to the Common Core range from developmentally inappropriate standards, to rushed and sloppy implementation, to intrusive federal control over what is constitutionally a local issue, to the financial cost of implementation, to excessive testing times, to data mining and privacy concerns, to theories about the motivations of various politicians and businessmen.
Going to School
Some parents object to the Common Core but do not believe that the protest will be effective. Shana from OK has some concern about whether or not the Common Core Standards are developmentally appropriate for her 4th and 1st grade and Kindergarten children but "I don't think keeping my child out of school to boycott is a valid reason for them to miss any part of their education." Shana is part of the PTA and stays informed: "Being involved and educated about what is going on is the best way...to have your voice heard." Boycotts and shoe laces, however, are "a waste of time because in the end they don't accomplish much."
Jessica from New York, whose children are in grade 1 and 3, on the other hand, believes that these protests are already having an effect. She has signed petitions, attended informational sessions, written letters to representatives, refused state assessments and tests, and has inspired others in her community to take similar actions. She believes that keeping her children home from school on November 18 will "show the the government that we, meaning the public, mean business. We will never give up the fight for our children."
Keeping children home from school is more than a symbolic gesture and can affect school funding. "Because this protest has a financial impact," explained Gwendolynn from New York, mother to children in grades 5 and 3, "...it is more likely to elicit a response from the school districts. We need to get louder and louder until it is clear that we are being heard."
On the Fence
Heather, from New York, has children in grades 3 and 1 and is a high school science teacher who sees the effects of the state's implementation of Common Core from multiple angles. She believes the Common Core is, "setting [kids] up to fail." She is especially disgusted by the amount of time spent preparing for and taking tests.
Despite her strong feelings about the Common Core, she is undecided about the planned protest on November 18th. "I want to leave them home to send a message to the state...but I do not feel that enough parents are aware of it." Either way, she has refused testing, signed petitions, made phone calls, posted signs on her lawn, and made plans to picket when her state's commissioner of education attends a nearby meeting to discuss the Common Core.
Other parents, especially those with young children, worry that skipping a day of school sends the wrong message. Personally, I am conflicted. I have spoken against the Common Core and New York State's curricular implementation at board of education meetings, signed petitions calling for resolutions against high stakes testing, and, in particularly frustrated moments, considered pulling my children out of the system entirely.
Some of my friends have already decided to homeschool this year in part because of the Common Core implementation. Keeping students home from school might be a striking demonstration of what the schools would look like if all parents who object to the Common Core decided to homeschool. Appealing as that sounds, I worry that keeping my children (in 2nd grade and kindergarten) home that day would cause them more anxiety.
Gwendolynn, however, believes this form of protest is an important lesson: "My goal is to show my children that we do have a say in this, and that we can be noticed by peacefully protesting."