“Michigan law already exempts home-schooled students from state education standards, but opposition to the Common Core State Standards from parents who educate their children at home has resulted in changes to a resolution authorizing use of the standards.
Sen. Howard Walker (R-Traverse City) introduced on Tuesday a separate version of a concurrent resolution to authorize the Michigan Department of Education to spend funds on implementing the Common Core standards.
The Michigan House passed a resolution last month to authorize funding for the standards. The department is barred from spending any money to implement the standards without legislative approval.
Walker’s resolution is substantially similar to the resolution approved by an overwhelming majority in the House, but inserts a provision explicitly exempting home-schooled students.
“Parents who choose to educate their children at home … retain their independence and control over their children’s education and are not subject to Common Core State Standards or the Smarter Balanced Assessment,” the text of the resolution reads.
State school law already exempts students who are educated at home from complying with the department’s education standards and testing requirements, and the adoption of Common Core by the Michigan State Board of Education did not require religious schools or parents who home school to use the standards.
State law only specifies that home-school programs must provide education in “reading, spelling, mathematics, science, history, civics, literature, writing, and English grammar.”
Several home-schooling groups, however, have spoken at legislative hearings on the standards over the summer, alleging that keeping the standards in place would effectively outlaw non-public education, as college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT will be based on Common Core.
Walker said the home-school provision was inserted because of concerns raised in House and Senate hearings on Common Core by home-schooling parents. “It reiterates the current statutes indicating that home-schooled children are not subject to Common Core,” Walker said by phone Wednesday.
Walker’s resolution also inserts text specifically identifying “high school Euclidean geometry and classic English literature” as examples of topics local school boards could decide to include in curriculum. Some critics of the standards who testified over the summer, including representatives of Hillsdale College and at least one geometry teacher, alleged that the Common Core standards eliminate classical literature such as Shakespeare and the traditional progression of geometry teaching.
The standards do not specify a particular method of teaching or a specific set of literary works, but do incorporate expectations that encourage students to learn multiple methods of solving mathematics problems and recommend increased study of non-fiction texts in language arts classes.
“We’re trying to acknowledge the role of local control in setting standards,” Walker said. “The standards are a bar to get over, and how you get over is a local control issue.
“If you want to use a stepladder or a pole vault, that’s a local control issue,” Walker said.
The resolution has not been referred to committee, and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) declined Tuesday to say when the Senate might take a vote on the issue.
Walker said he has not had any discussions over what the process for a vote on the resolution might be, nor when the resolution might be discussed by the chamber.”