A Parent Laments the Common Core-Voucher link

February 27, 2013 5 Comments

Indianapolis resident Suzanne Sherby’s recent letter to the editor, which appeared in KPC News, raises valid concerns about the inconsistency between the claim that Indiana is entering a new era of school choice, and the fact that voucher-accepting schools are simultaneously being funneled into the same Common Core straight-jacket.

As a parent whose children attend a parochial, voucher-accepting school, I have learned about the Voucher-Common Core link the hard way — in the form of changes to my child’s curriculum. Changes, which although unpopular with parents, were made in anticipation of the federally funded Common Core test, which is replacing the ISTEP in 2014. Although neither the test, nor the standards it purports to measure, have ever been field tested, schools throughout Indiana are changing their curriculums to prepare.

Suddenly, I am realizing that the “choices” I previously thought I had regarding my children’s education are quickly vanishing. Yes, I can still choose between differences in the buildings, and whether the school offers religion, which is a “choice” I certainly don’t take lightly.

However, when it comes to making “choices” based on academic or curricular differences, I find there are fewer and fewer. Instead, almost overnight, all public and voucher-accepting private and parochial schools are being herded into the same “one-size fits all” Common Core system.

While many parents of students at religious schools worried there might be strings attached to vouchers, they were assured by advocates when the law originally passed that there would be next to none. I am one such parent, who naively believed what I was told. Now, however, there seems to have been a bait and switch. Suddenly, the stranglehold of the Common Core feels more like a noose around the neck of my child’s school, and vouchers appear to be the vehicle of strangulation, rather than of an expansion of parental choice.

According to a 2011 article written by the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke, “Rob Enlow, president of the Foundation for Educational Choice, argues that the common core initiative will limit options for children.” He aptly made the point, “If the last 50 years of American K-12 education have taught us anything, it is that one size doesn’t fit all.” He said, “This is true for the types of schools that children can attend and the curricula used to educate children. We need options, diversity, and innovation in education, not a prescribed top-down curriculum for schools.”

Indeed, Mr. Enlow is right. Parents want real choices, not phony one-size-fits-all ones. Legislators who are smart will right this wrong, by supporting SB193, to begin a process of review on the decision to adopt the Common Core. Better yet, Governor Pence needs to lead the future members of his State Board of Education to reverse Indiana’s adoption of the Common Core. Only then will a semblance of true parental choice exist in Indiana. Until then, it remains a sham.

Legislators should take notice and address Sherby’s valid concerns.

Filed in: Indiana News

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  1. The Voucher… SB 0196 | March 21, 2014
  1. Karen Effrem says:

    Indiana’s school choice bill received an F grade on Education Liberty Watch’s School Choice Freedom Grading Scale for the very reason that are described in this letter. Please see http://edlibertywatch.org/2012/10/education-liberty-watch-introduces-new-freedom-grading-scale-for-private-school-choice-laws/

    • David N. Cox says:

      The trouble is EVERY voucher bill will end up doing the same thing. There isn’t a way to get government money without government strings. All that voucher legislation will do is bring government control to private schools until there is NO choice! Vouchers are a Trojan Horse for private schools.

  2. Kyle Hail says:

    I’ve only just started looking into schools and the ‘voucher’ system as my child is only 3. The school she is currently going to is private and does not accept ‘vouchers’ because they refuse to be mandated to teach common core. Has anyone thought of or tried to get the ‘vouchers’ reworked so that rather than taking the ‘voucher’ to the school of your choice, you pay the private school and get the cost of the tuition, up to the ‘voucher’ amount back on your tax return; thereby eliminating the school from being beholden to the strings that come with federal money?

    • Erin Tuttle says:

      The idea of a tax credit for tuition has been explored. It doesn’t get as much traction politically like vouchers do- it gives the people too much control.

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