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Those controversial tests your child is about to take in school? You can opt them out.

There is a lot of debate about Common Core and how it's been implemented.

The time has come, my friends, for Common Core testing. You may have heard of it. It's made numerous news segments recently because not only is Common Core controversial, but loads of parents and kids are actually choosing to NOT take the tests (which are happening now-ish). The refusals are happening in nearly every state that's adopted Common Core tests, but one of the biggest opt-out states so far has been New York.

Before we go into that, you'll need some good starting information about Common Core. With so much confusion, a lot of parents just don't know where to start. There are many links throughout this piece that you can follow to help get you up to speed. And there's a video at the end if you don't feel like reading, but the breakdown here is a good place to start.


What Common Core is:

The idea is to have a national set of standards, or a "common core," for students to meet before college admission. Before this set of standards it was up to each state, and colleges were getting kids who all graduated high school but had completely different proficiency levels in reading and math.

It's easy to see why a national standard appeals to people. It helps to develop college curriculums that make our upcoming workforce and talent competitive with the workforce and talent of other countries by ensuring that college-track kids get to about the same place by the end of high school.

Here's what Common Core is not:

It's not a specific curriculum. How districts choose curriculums to get kids to the established benchmarks of proficiency is their choice. While that's good in a way, it's also been confusing for districts because the tests have been enacted before the schools had sufficient time to research and implement new curriculums. Some districts have even been preyed upon by for-profit companies claiming to sell curriculum packages (textbooks and workbooks) already aligned with Common Core, which are actually about the same as previous textbooks, but with a “Common Core approved" sticker slapped on.

Here's why some people are super into Common Core:

Common Core has been touted as a better way to:

  • Teach kids to separate fact from fiction: Having kids compare two versions of something and pick apart which is more likely to be true is a tenet of reading comprehension benchmarks.
  • Allow states to collaborate on textbooks and digital tools: Having uniform standards means that each state doesn't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to developing systems.
  • Incorporate technology into learning seamlessly: By placing emphasis on tech skills throughout the learning and the testing, it aims to prepare kids for the work skills they'll need.
  • Teach speaking and listening skills: Starting in kindergarten, showing an understanding for rules of conversation like taking turns and asking questions is part of the benchmarks.
  • Teach critical thinking skills: By including questions that push students to make callbacks to the reading material, the tests aspire to hone critical thinking abilities.
"Common education standards are essential for producing the educated workforce America needs to remain globally competitive."

— Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel Corp.

Why some people are really against Common Core:

In terms of how Common Core actually shapes up in the classroom, there are a lot of valid concerns. Interestingly, the criticisms come from progressives and conservatives alike. Here are some common themes.

"I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation."

— Diane Ravitch, education historian who was U.S. assistant secretary of education under two presidents and formerly supported Common Core

That's a boiled down version of the basics of the Common Core debate. And here's where it leaves us.

What is clear is that it's crucial to figure out a healthy way to challenge every child to their true potential and to remain competitive with students from other countries.

What is less clear is whether Common Core is the right vehicle to get us there.

If you like Common Core and think the testing that goes with it should move ahead, there's good news for you. It is being implemented across most of the country this year. It is here and it is happening.

But what's a parent with concerns (or flat-out objections) to do?

It turns out, there's an option for them, too.

It's called the United Opt Out movement, and it's growing in popularity.

It's pretty much a huge wave of parents across the country — stronger in some of the 43 states enacting this testing than others — that is telling the schools that their children are not going to be taking the tests. New York parents have gotten the movement started, and in Long Island, 65,000 of approximately 144,000 students opted out of the tests as of April 2015. The bet here is that if state departments of education can't get enough compliance with the tests, eventually states will revise their tactic and choose another way.

As with any serious decision involving education, there are some pros and cons to making this choice, but it's good to know that parents and students actually have an option.

If opting out of Common Core testing may be the right choice for your family, take some time to find out your state's stance on it.

You can do that by checking out the opt-out guides and choosing your state from the drop-down menu.

In some cases, it's as simple as sending a letter to your child's school.

And if you do take that route, you're not alone. Check out this video that covers some of the protests happening:


There's a lot to consider here, but the the best place to begin is with information. It might prove helpful to show this to other parents you know and see what they've been thinking about this. It's our nations' kids' education for the next ... really long time, potentially. It's kind of a big deal.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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via Pixabay

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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