Friday, August 02, 2013

HSLDA and Common Core

This week, I was forwarded an email sent out by HSLDA President Michael Farris to members regarding a phone conversation he had with David Coleman.  Coleman is President of the College Board and a leader in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.  (Read more about Coleman here.)

Farris's recaps his conversation here.

I have no interest in questioning the motives of Mr. Farris.   He is free to talk to whomever he wishes for whatever reasons he chooses.  But the implications of such conversations impact homeschoolers and that aspect I would like to address.

Both Coleman and Farris appeared to find common ground in their mutual dislike for data collection.
When he asked me why I thought that the Common Core was worse than other standards, I indicated that one of my chief concerns was the  creation of the database that would track students throughout their educational career. 
His answer surprised me. He didn't like the database all that well. It was not originally part of the Common Core, but other people have  seized the opportunity to make a centralized data collection effort  through the implementation of the Common Core.
Coleman's dislike for databases is confusing given that he previously stated his support of data collection.   In fact, he sees student data as the key to Common Core and rescuing students "within our care."
The College Board--our philosophy is it's not just that we can see this data, but these stduents are within our care...I want to put it to you very simply: we see it on three levels—in Advanced Placement—if there are ten students who score ready for AP based on their PSAT score so they get a good enough score on their PSAT, that it predicts a sixty percent chance of them passing AP math.
Even more curious than their mutual dislike for student data collection,  Farris does not mention any discussion regarding their common interest in Advanced Placement (AP) and how AP tests might be affected by Common Core.  Coleman boasts that AP students are "within our care."  The same could be said for many homeschool students enrolled in Patrick Henry Online College Preparatory Academy associated with Patrick Henry College founded by Mr. Farris.  The online high school must submit its coursework for approval by the College Board to use the AP distinction.
When you see “AP” in a course’s name, you know that the course conforms to a college-level curriculum standard. All PHC Prep Academy courses pass the AP course audit before they are taught to students.
HSLDA offers a discount to members who enroll in prep school.  Clearly, HSLDA and Farris prize the AP distinction and believe it is a selling feature for the academy.   Did Coleman and Farris talk about AP and how it would be impacted Patrick Henry and homeschoolers who take the AP exams?

HSLDA recently unveiled a new website, that outlines many of the concerns related to the Common Core.   College Board testing was identified as an area of concern but there is no mention of AP Tests.
The final area of concern for homeschoolers is that national and other popular standardized tests across the country are being rewritten to be aligned to the Common Core. David Coleman, the president of the College Board, was one of the primary authors of the Common Core English Language Arts standards. He has announced that the SAT will be redesigned to fully implement the Common Core.6 The latest version of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills is based on the Common Core.7 The GED has been redesigned for the first time since 2002 to incorporate “practices and skills from the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice.”8 Writers of the GED explain that they decided to revise the test now because “The shift to the Common Core standards is happening nationwide at the current time.”9
College Board is currently revising its AP tests to align with the Common Core.  Patrick Henry Prep Academy must submit its syllabi to the Coleman-led College Board in order to use the AP distinction.  AP is popular with many homeschool parents seeking to build a college-prep high school curricula for their children.

Homeschool parents deserve accurate information regarding the Common Core and that includes information regarding all tests, including the AP.   Many rely on HSLDA to inform them.

 Is it wise for a Christian to continue to seek their approval and validate the College Board/Coleman Standard of "excellence"?   Is it wise for parents to submit to AP tests knowing data collection is a part of Coleman's plan for the test?

As a Christian homeschooler, I reject the notion that we submit our coursework to any board for approval, especially one under the direction of David Coleman and his affection for the UN and global education.    I don't mind losing the AP distinction if it means we remain free of secular influence in our education. AP and the College Board do not validate my children or their education nor do they need my children's data.

I sent an email to HSLDA citing my concern and was told it will be forwarded on to others.  I also had concerns regarding their statements about the ACT  which will have to wait for another post.  I am not trying to demonize Mr. Farris or HSLDA, far from it. We're on the same side.  We both want to defeat Common Core and encourage educational freedom .

I hope some day to be able to have a similar conversation with Mr. Farris or a member of his staff and discuss how we can work together to accomplish that goal.  Stay tuned.

As an aside, I've been busy this summer with family and Michigan issues related to the Common Core.   Currently, I am writing much of the content for the Stop Common Core site in MIchigan site and working to halt Common Core in Michigan.   You can read more about that at


Z Evans said...

I wanted to comment on your Facebook page, but I can't there so I came here.

Clearly Marked as an HSLDA website

I would like to say the Common Core page by HSLDA is clearly marked in both the browser bar where you see the URL: (all the other pages start with the domain

And the tab is clearly marked with their favicon and the word "HSLDA"

And there is a copyright at in the footer on each page.

We've been members of HSLDA for nearly 25 years and watched them from the start in the early '80s.

They do their research, and Michael Farris knows what he's talking about.

Casting disparaging remarks about someone who has fought for the right to homeschool for over 30 years is not nice. Please take your concerns to him directly, please. He has a Facebook page where you can comment and ask him about it.

We need unity. That's not helping.

Spunky said...

I agree we need unity. And I've forwarded my remarks on. But the website is not clearly marked as you suggest. And depending on the browser the tab may or may not show it. Mind did not. And many don't pay attention to the URL and it is often a redirect but not proof of authorship. Facebook often has their link at the front of a URL if you came from that site. That happens frequently to me when I click on a link from a FB page and the tab will also appear different.

I am not disparaging Mr. Farris but he published a private conversation. I am free to comment on it. Especially when there is a notable omission regardin the AP test and data tracking.

Thank you for your time and thoughts.


Spunky said...

The central issue of this post still remains, the AP test is aligning and HSLDA website and their high school both do not mention anything about how AP is aligning. Further, the data collection is a huge issue for Mr. Farris and Coleman claims he dislikes it as well. Yet, it is clear he plans on using AP and other student data as part of Common Core and has been for a long time.

Saying that is not disparaging in any way to Mr. Farris but facts that need to be known to homeschoolers

Naptime Seamstress said...

Just for the record, I don't think you were being mean. I think you spoke your opinion honestly and not in a mean spirit.
I appreciate both HSLDA and SpunkyHomeSchool.