Parents homeschooling children in response to Common Core standards

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- Just mention the Common Core and you'll get a reaction from parents Justin and Jennifer Dahlmann.

"We both get a little tight in the chest," Justin said.

The Dahlmann's have four girls ranging in age from 2 to 9. They say they noticed the kids were beginning to struggle in school recently. They didn't know why.

Then, Justin, a former educator, says they found out the new Common Core math and English standards had been implemented at their children's private school.

"Our own kids were taking these standards that are driving the curriculum and we didn't know anything about it," Justin said. "That's when we started doing the research on it and realized how overbearing it was."

They say the standards are making education more confusing rather than helping students to think more critically, as supporters claim.

The Dahlmann's are among a growing number of parents across the nation who have decided to homeschool their children in response to the implementation of those standards.

"We've said, 'As soon as you drop the standards, we'll put our kids right back in there,'" Justin said.

Kansas is one of 46 states that have adopted the standards. Proponents say educators from those states worked together several years ago to come up with a unified approach to what every student across the nation should know in English and math.

When states adopted the standards, they were given some creative license to add state-specific standards.

When Kansas came up for its seven-year review of the standards, state education leaders say they Kansas Board of Education adopted the standards with some state-specific additions. They've dubbed the final product the "Kansas College and Career-Ready Standards."

The is the first year the Kansas state assessment test will be 100 percent based on those standards. Leaders say they expect scores to drop initially because it's a new way of thinking for students.

But the Dahlmann's don't think it's a good way.

The Dahlmann's say from their research they believe that the standards have essentially come from the federal government.

"In order to get Race to the Top money or No Child Left Behind waivers,(states) had to implement a new set of standards in the (each) state," Justin said. "The only standards they would accept are Common Core standards."

State education leaders adamantly disagree.

"I think the biggest myth is that these are federal standards and they are absolutely not," said Diane DeBacker, Kansas Commissioner of Education. "When you look at what they're about, it's what you'd expect kids to be learning in school."

Jennifer says that's the kind of response that she has grown tired of hearing.

"It's the same cookie cutter answers we get from everyone," Jennifer said.

For the Dahlmann's, homeschooling their children is, in essence, a form of protest of the "overbearing" standards they believe are coming from "the top down."

They say what concerns them the most is that most parents have been told little, if anything, about the standards.

They hope no matter the conclusion parents reach, they at least take a closer look and ask questions about what their children are being taught.

"If this does nothing more than wake people up to becoming more involved with their children, that's great," Justin said. "But absolutely parents need to become more involved in this."

For more information about parents who oppose the Common Core, they have set up an email at

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