Don’t you just love it when any given political camp identifies a trend in the military community and then uses it to support their own agenda?
I've seen it happen with food stamp use in the commissary, gun ownership, divorce rates, housing, budget cuts and more. The military is a relatively small, well studied microcosm of society. So it's easy to use us as an example of any given thing. There are a lot of news stories about us. There are Congressional committees devoted to our care. We are the perfect little Petri dish.
Except instead of the experiment supporting a scientific conclusion, pundits twist the result to support whatever it is they want -- even if it doesn't make sense.
And now one conservative website is using us to hate on the common core.
"More military families are rejecting the notion that the Common Core standards are the cure-all for children who experience the disruptions of frequent moves and lengthy absences from parents," an article on Breitbart.com says. "Those who have chosen homeschooling say the option provides not only the stability their children need but also the opportunity for far higher academic success than what they would have in public schools."
We know that more and more military families are choosing to homeschool. And we know that the common core is being implemented nationwide. But is the latter causing the former? There’s no actual evidence to suggest that.
I’m no homeschooling opponent. I was homeschooled through High School. As a parent I also tried it with my child for a period before deciding it’s not right for us, at least for now. I'm also not a fangirl, per se, of the common core.
But I do feel very strongly that twisting trends among military families to support the agenda of the hour is destructive and distracts from larger issues that are real. Things like reforming military healthcare, or making sure congress passes funding for military paychecks.
It's like this: military child advocates, including the Military Child Education Coalition, support the common core in part because it provides consistency for military kids. Having the same education standards and plan across states for a very mobile population is a good thing, they've said.
And I can't say I disagree with that basic argument. No matter what you think about the common core as a package, it’s hard to argue that consistency on its own is a bad idea for military kids in the public education system.
But the article suggests that military parents are homeschooling en masse specifically to get away from common core, despite that consistency benefit. They ignore that homeschooling has been increasing in popularity (and not just in the military) for many years, predating most Americans' knowledge that the common core is even a thing.
The article also says that military parents' use of homeschooling to cater to their specific child's learning needs and style -- something that doesn't happen in a common core classroom -- is a sign that they are fleeing from those standards. But most parents know that catering to a specific child's needs doesn't happen in most non-common core classrooms, either. That's why I was homeschooled. And there was no common core around to blame it on.
Parents also know that just because states implement common core doesn't mean their child will experience complete educational consistency across the board. School districts will always have different standards for a variety of things that could potentially negatively impact a student. For example, if your child has an early August birthday he could have to repeat kindergarten if he moves to a school district with an early age cut-off and school year start date. The common core doesn't control that.
This is just the beginning of the reasons trying to link a military homeschool trend exclusively to the common core is misguided.
But more than anything, using the military to support any given camp's predetermined conclusions is insulting to a community who has more than enough to deal with without being used and abused by political parties.
Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force.