At Alternet there is a great article by Kristin Rawls on homeschooling and educational neglect. I think it makes an excellent argument that homeschooling needs either tighter regulation and oversight, or needs to be outright outlawed:
In recent weeks, homeschooling has received nationwide attention because of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum's homeschooling family. Though Santorum paints a rosy picture of homeschooling in the United States, and calls attention to the "responsibility" all parents have to take their children's education into their own hands, he fails to acknowledge the very real potential for educational neglect among some homeschooling families - neglect that has been taking place for decades, and continues to this day.
Take Vyckie Garrison, an ex-Quiverfull mother of seven who, in 2008, enrolled her six school-age children in public school after 18 years of teaching them at home. Garrison, who started the No Longer Quivering blog, says her near-constant pregnancies - which tended to result either in miscarriages or life-threatening deliveries - took a toll on her body and depleted her energy. She wasn't able to devote enough time and energy to homeschooling to ensure a quality education for each child. And she says the lack of regulation in Nebraska, where the family lived, "allowed us to get away with some really shoddy homeschooling for a lot of years."
"I'll admit it," she confesses. "Because I was so overwhelmed with my life... It was a real struggle to do the basics, so it didn't take long for my kids to fall far behind. One of my daughters could not read at 11 years old."
As concerning as the stories of overall educational incompetence of children being raised in the quiverfull movement are, the more serious aspect seems to be the routine discrimination between education of boys and girls:
Like Garrison, Diegel Martin recounts notable educational gaps in her own family, where there was little academic encouragement. One of her brothers decided to quit school at 16 and faced no parental opposition. The youngest, Diegel Martin says, ceased his formal education at the age of 12, when she left home and was no longer available to teach him herself. And though she was fortunate enough to receive sex education before leaving public school, her siblings were not so lucky. Their parents never taught the three other children about sex, and Diegel Martin remembers giving her 21-year-old sister "the talk" the week before she got married. She also had to intervene to ensure that her younger brothers learned about sex.
As for herself, when she completed her schooling, she says her parents did not allow her to obtain her GED as proof of high school graduation. Their reason? "The girls weren't allowed to get a GED because we were told we wouldn't need it. It would open up opportunities that were forbidden to us. We would work in the family business until we got married, and then become homemakers.
"When I talked about wanting to go to college, my parents said, 'Well, you're a girl. You don't go to college.'"
I know I have homeschoolers (and unschoolers) that read this blog and have gotten angry with me being critical of the movement in the past, but there has to be some oversight of homeschooling. Universal primary and secondary education is part of why our country has been so successful, and necessary for the ultimate success of individuals in our society. Children have a right to a decent education that will teach them math, to read, to write, and provide them with basic skills for life. If there is evidence of failure to provide this to children, whether in a public school, private school, or home then for the sake of the children government should intervene. Worse, to educate male children one way and then purposefully provide the girls a poorer education because their destiny is basically to be chattel is horrifying. It strikes me as a violation of their civil rights. For parents to say it's a matter of religious freedom to deny their children education, or a future outside their home, can not be justified. You don't have a parental right to deny children a future, or to enslave them.
Unless a regulatory framework can be designed to incorporate some basic standards into homeschooling, this practice should be outlawed for the sake of these children's basic civil rights. Surely the homeschoolers who actually believe in educating their children can accept that stories like this are unacceptable, and without data about the performance of homeschoolers, or oversight of homeschooling, this abuse of children's rights can not be prevented or even detected.
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I absolutely agree. I'm fine with homeschooling, if parents can do it. But that's a big "if", and there has got to be regulation to ensure that children aren't being abused. Public school is a lot more than just an educational opportunity; it's the single most important social safety net we have in America, because it exists for the most vulnerable section of our population: children.
A lot of child abuse cases are detected because teachers noticed suspicious marks on a child. Far more children than any of us would like to believe only get adequate nutrition because of free or reduced price breakfast and lunch at school. School is also the number one reason why parents get their kids vaccinated, because it's usually required for entry; if nothing requires it, it's too easy to just put it off.
And then there is the problem of social limits imposed by parents. A lot of highly religious parents who homeschool do it, like Santorum, because they don't believe the child will grow up the way they want them to if they are exposed to public school. On the face of it, it seems like a freedom issue; parents should have the freedom to teach their children their values, right? But what values? Do children have any rights in this discussion? The Quiverfull movement famously prevents their daughters learning to grow up and be independent women, because this would compromise their overall objectives. Is that right? I'm okay with a girl growing up to be a woman and then making a conscious decision to have as many babies as possible. I'm not okay with a girl being prevented learning that there is any other way to live. Children, as they grow into adults, need to have the freedom to choose their destiny. They are not our property; they are independent people with rights and minds of their own.
Homeschooling, if done well (and most parents probably aren't very good general education teachers, quite honestly), can produce confident, self-determined adults. It can also be used to conceal abuse and neglect, and to deny basic human liberties to children. We demand accountability of our schools; we should demand no less accountability when the school has just one teacher and the students are her children. Some states at least require homeschoolers meet basic standards by requiring the children undergo standardized testing at regular intervals, equivalent to when the public school kids do. Others essentially take the parents' word, and that's a recipe for disaster.
Go to hell.
I'm sorry, I don't find the article you reference to be at all convincing. I find it to be incredibly skewed in its analysis. The conclusion obviously came first, the "fact-finding" second.
Here's a good analysis of that article that just appeared in Reason magazine. http://reason.com/blog/2012/03/14/anecdotes-about-horrible-sexist-quive…
If you're going to do something as serious as advocate for regulation of something, you should first be in command of the facts.
While I always cringe when people refer me to reason, an oft denialist libertarian rag, the author brings up a good point. This is anecdotal information.
However, no one, as far as I can tell, can show these anecdotes are untrue. In the case of civil rights violations against children, saying "it doesn't happen that often" isn't a defense against descriptions of it happening. An anecdote, if true, is enough evidence that is happening. We just don't know the rate.
Yes, as Calli Arcale and I both have said, homeschooling can be done effectively. However, without oversight, without someone looking in on these kids a few times for the 18 years they're under their parents thumb, the potential for abuse is there. And look, sure enough, abuse. What percentage of kids are abused this way? Who knows? What level would be acceptable? I would suggest zero-tolerance. If even 1% of households are homeschooling with the goal of restricting their children's options, and leaving them functionally illiterate so they're easier to be controlled by their husbands, or parents, than we might be looking at as many as 15-20,000 kids being denied an education. Kids that could be getting that education around the corner in their public school.
If there is not a mechanism to prevent child abuse and neglect incorporated into the framework of homeschooling, it can not be sustained. I would suggest we first need to study the problem. The data cited in the reason article referred to a single canadian study, and the application the Iowa test in 1998. If our best data for our argument is from 14 years ago, and given the expansion of homeschooling to all 50 states and from 800,000 kids to as many as 2 million, we need better, more up-to-date data. This population should be as intensely studied as any other group of children.
According to reason, half of the states have little to no regulation or oversight of homeschoolers.
So what are we left with? Evidence of a serious problem, but no hard data. It needs study. The only way we can study the problem is to survey the students, apply standardized tests, and require some kind of independent oversight to make sure the parents, even with the best of intentions, aren't damaging their children's future. I'd be ok with homeschooling in general if there were simple reporting and performance requirements. But to say there should be no regulation? That we should just take people's word for it that they're not just locking the kid in a closet for 18 years with a bible until she's of marrying age? No way. If it's happening we need to know how often, why, and how to stop it.
While there is "literally" no data, and one suspects they want this to be the case, there is information on homeschooling materials. And, guess what, most of it is produced not by the same people that make real text books for public schools, but by organizations with a strange habit of being connected with denialist organizations, evangelical organizations, and others, who range from questionable interpretations of history, to out right distortion of scientific information. Finding material to use for home schooling that doesn't contain some mix of delusion, denial, and intentional lies, from numerous people who have chosen home schooling, and then tried to go looking for usable materials, is damn near impossible. Its rather like trying to find a male Republican right now that doesn't think an employer's right to decide what their health care plan covers somehow trumps the beliefs of the employer (kind of a similar, and identical, idiocy to this idea that parent's choices trump a child's future). I am sure there is a better analogy, but I can't think of one at the moment.
The point is, what is claimed to being out there, and available, according to a lot of people I have read commentary from, is all, in one or more ways, undermined, because, despite claims to the contrary, you need a) money, and b) support, to publish such materials, and the ones doing it right have much less of either, while the ones that want to produce crap, containing things that would never *ever* survive review for a public school, or basic tests against the intrusion of religion into a public school, have *vast* amounts of money behind them, and whole organizations pushing their "solutions" as valid schooling. And, in fact, many of them seem to take the tack that, "If you are some place where schooling is required, just teach the kid to fill in most of the "secular" worlds bubbles, so it looks like they learned it, but teach them that those things are all lies in reality."
There is a reason some of the same people pushing home schooling are connected with people undermining, and calling for, the elimination of public schooling. And its not because they want their kids educated "better", or "more completely". To claim otherwise is to be either clueless and blind about the groups out there who are pushing this stuff, or a liar (quite possibly both).
While there are certainly gaps in the level of education offered by a randomly chosen parent/teacher, that is not, alone, sufficient reason to criticize home schooling. (The fact that these teachers probably did not get all "A"s across the board implies that they are likely to fail to offer an adequate educational experience somewhere along the line.) Abuse detection is also not enough.
What is enough is the simple socialization of the child. While I am not thrilled with some of the group activities fostered in schools (like exclusionary team sports), having a 'best friend', attending an after-school club, participating in sports/gym, having 'the talk', school trips, access to lab equipment and proper books and reference materials beyond the internet are essential. The simple fact that people of different backgrounds attend the typical school should be a sufficient draw to have your kids go. Its called making friends.
In general, I reluctantly agree, mostly because I'm so irked by the quiverfull folks.
That said, I'd be equally irked with the treatment of kids in certain types of private schools. This isn't an issue of "homeschooling should be outlawed" so much as "we have to ensure a minimum education for all kids, and religious freedom cannot be a barrier to that".
And that is a MUCH harder battle to fight than picking on homeschoolers, because there are a LOT more kids in private schools than homeschool situations.
Objecting to homeschooling on the grounds you have is a bit like saying all charter schools should be outlawed or regulated more because children in them aren't learning math. Of course there are plenty of charter schools where kids are learning math just fine, but I'm sure you could find an example where the results were atrocious, and it's an educational setting that only involves a minority of kids, so it's targetable. There's some smidgen of logical continuity to the argument, but doesn't necessarily make a good strategy from a cost:benefit approach. Is the main problem with charter schools that they don't teach math? Is the best way to ensure kids learn math to send them to more standard public schools? Or are you just so morally outraged by kids in charter schools, in particular, not learning math that you don't care about relative frequencies?
Along the same lines, if you really wanna see civil rights violations of children? Try looking at what non-gender normative kids in almost any school-public or private. We don't judge the value of public schools by the horror stories of non-gender normative kids committing suicide... we don't apply a zero tolerance policy of failures of children in private schools... why would we apply that ONLY to homeschoolers?
"Finding material to use for home schooling that doesn't contain some mix of delusion, denial, and intentional lies, from numerous people who have chosen home schooling, and then tried to go looking for usable materials, is damn near impossible."
This is just plain poppycock. It's a bit like saying "finding paint brushes for acrylic painting that cost less than $45 each is damn near impossible"... this could SEEM absolutely true if you only looked in a high quality artist supply catalog. But there is NOTHING stopping one from going to Home Depot and buying a freaking paintbrush for $2, if that's what you need.
Homeschooling materials *marketed to homeschoolers* are often terrible (also, pricy). That doesn't mean it's hard to find good books, computer programs, lab supplies and art supplies. Plus, there is always the internet. A lot of unschoolers and liberal homeschoolers use these materials, not a cookiecutter curriculum from either the Homeschool supply catalogs or the schools.
"The simple fact that people of different backgrounds attend the typical school should be a sufficient draw to have your kids go. Its called making friends."
Until it's *your* kid that's being bullied and offered death threats for their religion/sexual orientation/gender identity like some of my friends growing up were (they were in public and private schools).
I can't say all homeschoolers are exposed to as diverse a group as they would be if they went to school, but if you look at how neighborhoods and schools work, public schools typically need a lot of work to be considered as models for diversity. And the whole "but they won't have any friends!" objection to homeschooling is so incredibly wrongthinking and non-evidenced based that I can't really be sure you aren't just a very sad troll. Don't you know ANY actual homeschoolers?
I think the resources for tighter regulations should be used to police the many public schools where large numbers of students are dropping out of school at ages 14-16. I know of a school in Oklahoma where the dropout rate is 30% and nothing is being done. If you truly care about the violations of civil rights of children, you would take a good look at public schools, not homeschooling.
If we ought to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for homeschoolers whose children are illiterate or abused, aren't we also obligated to adopt such a policy in our public schools? How many of our kids are being graduated from high school (or dropping out) functionally illiterate? How many are being physically and emotionally and even sexually abused by peers or teachers? Yet there's no call to shut down public education. Why is that, do you think?
I'm very glad to see the low caliber of logician peddling home school regulation. Your blatant ignorance of facts, and inability to reason coherently give me hope that we who choose to provide our children with exceptional educational opportunities, where the public offering fails almost entirely to even provide basic education, will be able to continue to do so for a very long time. Thank you for the encouragement.
Not this old argument again... There is *plenty* of good data showing that homeschooling is entirely appropriate and generally beneficial. There is far more data showing that public schools have 'problems' - to put it delicately. And then there are private schools, which somehow never even get brought into the discussion. It's almost as if people can choose whatever alternative to public schools that they want, so long as they are willing to spend a lot of money, and no one will question it. Should parents decide to take other steps, then clearly they are incompetent religious zealots.
In fact, there are many very good reasons why homeschooling is becoming so much more mainstream. The recent surge in numbers was led off almost a decade ago by the refugees from NCLB and other standard based policies that not only ignored but outright did harm to kids who are not typical learners. The kids with special needs and the kids who are gifted - neurologically gifted, not just a little extra bright - came pouring out of the schools because it wasn't working for them and their parents were at their wits' end.
As the CEO/ED of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, we founded the nonprofit in direct response to this growing need. These weren't parents who came to homeschooling because it sounded like fun or for ideological reasons (unless you count wanting to meet their kids' needs as ideological). These were parents who felt they had no choice but to pull their children from schools that were never designed to address the needs of kids who were outliers, and had fewer resources and less training to do so now than they ever did.
If you are interested in learning more about this subject, check out _Making the Choice: When Typical School Doesn't Fit Your Atypical Child_ http://www.amazon.com/Making-Choice-Typical-School-Atypical/dp/06154966… or the many articles on the GHF website http://www.giftedhomeschoolers.org and social media feeds. Further, check out this terrific white paper written for the CA Appeals Court: Evidence for Homeschooling: Constitutional Analysis in Light of Social Science Research http://giftedhomeschoolers.org/articles.html#edalts
It's always a good idea to do your homework before you spout off on a subject you are unfamiliar with or merely way out of date on.
I had to read this a few times because it's so outlandish,
but maybe that is your point? Maybe you just want to see how much you can anger people?
Your examples are pathetic, really. Should we find a doctor who is a drug addict and point to him as a reason to outlaw doctors?
And what makes you think I actually WANT to homeschool my child? I actually have two. The younger one goes to a lovely Christian preschool (we do not practice religion in our house, to be clear) because, even though she is obviously ready for kindergarden, some bureaucrat has decided that her AGE, rather than her ability is the key factor. I homeschool only my older child, so she gets total one on one attention that she would NEVER get in public school. I was a nurse before I decided to start my own business so I could stay home and be with my children...I got an A in college microbiology and you're saying I'm NOT qualified to teach my child basic math, social studies, etc? She taught HERSELF to read for cripe's sake. She ACES the states pathetic standardized tests. We're homeschooling because the teachers didn't seem to be able to TEACH her to sit there, eyes glazed, bored out of her mind as material was repeated for the umpteenth time.
I also wonder if you know any actual homeschoolers. Before you demonize homeschooling in general, maybe you should examine the flaws in the public school system and ask WHY (other than religious reasons) people homeschool. I am trying to PROTECT my child from the ABUSE she was enduring at school.
How come, when everyone agrees that indoctrination is wrong, do so many think that it's fair to indoctrinate children if you're the parent?
PS, Myrinda, the age thing is because children are, frankly, kids, and their AGE has a huge bearing on both their social development and their physical one. Pre-school is about getting your children used to other people. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for you to fail to teach your child advanced calculus when they're 6 if you feel they're up to it. But you DO NOT put them in High School at that age.
I took many days off ill when younger and watched Open University. At the age of 7 I was conversant with several sections of O-level Maths and Physics (O-levels are exams taken at 16).
I still went to the Junior School, appropriate to my age.
"While there are certainly gaps in the level of education offered by a randomly chosen parent/teacher, that is not, alone, sufficient reason to criticize home schooling."
Yes it is.
Look at the posters on here whining about how school is bad because it's not teaching the kids.
It was absolutely sufficient for them to whine about state schooling.
There is a different kind of neglect taking place across the nation in schools. Kids are commonly belittled by bullying teachers, commit suicide because of incessant provokation by peers, or face physical abuse because they are gay, short, or different in some other perceived way.
Indeed, you will find cases of neglectful parents in homeschools as often as neglectful parents who send their children to schools. This, in of itself, is not a reason to ban homeschooling. Increasingly, homeschooling has become a way to provide learners with an advantage over schooled children. Homeschoolers tend to be more emotionally mature, have an interesting and different (more engaged) learning experience, perform better in college, and are actively engaged in their communities. In fact, universities like Harvard seek them out and sometimes even provide full scholarships. Do your homework before you demonize homeschooling.
I'm sure there are some homeschoolers who are ignoring topics or doing a substandard job. But there are many regular schools and the teachers are often worse for many students. Oh sure, the schools do well with the teacher's pets, but they often ignore the unsettled and the different. If you're not sitting there politely with your hands folded, the teachers don't like you.
The conventional school system is very, very anti-boy. The teachers want placid children that sit still and regurgitate their simple facts. Girls are just better at sitting still and drawing nicely between the lines.
I'm sure the professional teacher class will continue to attack home schooling because they see their fancy pensions and two month vacations threatened by a system that can often do a better job. I know that some parents will fail at home schooling, but I think most will succeed and do a better job that those assembly line schools with their pension-coddled teachers.
Mark - I disagree. Has universal compulsory education worked. Ask college professors who feel their students arrive unprepared for college level work. Home schooling is a mirror; everyone sees something different when they look into it. Parents have failed the schools. The popular culture has failed schools. Teachers are so underfunded and and undergunned. If this society cared about schools then every popinjay who has never stood in a classroom wouldn't feel so comfortable voice their opinion. As an educator you cannot possibly be blinded to the kinds of problems that are left like orphans on the steps of American schools.
"Mark - I disagree. Has universal compulsory education worked."
Have you tried to find out?
What was the GDP of the USA before universal compulsory education was implemented. What is it now?
"But there are many regular schools and the teachers are often worse for many students"
Rather begging the question, isn't it. Some schools are bad because you say that some schools are bad. Tautology alert.
"Kids are commonly belittled by bullying teachers, commit suicide because of incessant provokation by peers..."
And parents are doing all this too to their kids. Especially if they turn out to be teh ghey in a religious household.
At least in a public school you can see the abuse and get it sorted out.
Guess what? Adults are belittled by bullying managers, commit suicide because of incessant provocation by coworkers, harrassed because they're gay.
I say BAN WORK!
If each individual stopped generalizing and grouping by one common elelement of other people's life's, we'd all be better off and the world would be a more peaceful place. There are many public school children who are thriving and many failing. There are many private school children thriving and many failing. There are many homeschool children thriving and many failing.
The author uses one example of a family who admittedly was not actually homeschooling, but rather not schooling due to the mothers lack of energy. With this one example, the author attempts to paint a broad view of homeschooling. Homeschoolers have repeatedly scored higher on tests and displayed excellent social skills and community knowledge beyond that of their public school peers.
Great information! I love your blog! You always post interesting things!
"Homeschoolers have repeatedly scored higher on tests and displayed excellent social skills and community knowledge beyond that of their public school peers."
Maybe you can explain, Amy.
Why is it that these children can't also be taught at home AS WELL AS SCHOOL?
Do these parents who "get it right" only manage to get it right when there's absolutely no school involvement? What, then, causes them to be unable to teach their child anything if they went to school?
NOTE: All the cases of homeschooling that had a 12-year-old getting a degree (or similar over-achievement) were the child of either educators or dual-doctorates.
But guess where these parents went to get their schooling...
School your child yourself, but you can do that when the child is at home. Get them to school unless you're so arrogant you think you know better than EVERYONE ELSE. 'cos maybe you got something wrong, or there are other views. Or maybe you're just afraid that your child will grow up to think differently from you.
I am being repeatedly accused of generalizing these examples to all home schooling and using a broad brush. But if you read what I wrote and my follow-up comment in 4 you should see what I'm saying is we need more information to determine the extent of this problem. The author of the cited article wasn't attacking all homeschoolers either, but rather singled out Christian fundamentalist homeschooling.
I am not saying all homeschoolers are getting a defective education, I'm not even saying it should be banned outright. I'm saying, unless there is an oversight system in place there is no way to know if parents are just locking their kid in a closet for 18 years and that is unacceptable. Children have rights too. I don't know what the frequency of the kind of abuse described is. But unless we have independent oversight of homeschool outcomes we have no idea how they are actually performing. And unless homeschoolers have some independent oversight of their progress there is no way to determine if children are being abused or neglected.
Public schools, whatever their faults, are at least public. We can see what's going on. And if a teacher, as in the examples described, was educating the boys differently from the girls and not allowing them to progress because they're just going to be housewives one day, we would see it and be able to do something about it. You guys are painting just as broad a brush against public schools. They're not all failing, they're not all pits of bullies. I was public-school educated my whole life, with some success. The other thing they have is oversight. Look at New York's public schools, every single teacher is evaluated and graded to try to identify problems. While there is a problem with blanket acceptance of these systems, at least someone is looking and performing some level of quality control. The only evidence I have seen cited so far is a reason article which studied performance of Canadian homeschoolers in 1998. There are now 2-3x more kids being homeschooled, we need more data!
The homeschoolers are also presenting a false dichotomy - either you are homeschooled or you're bullied and taught incompetently. This is nonsense. Some public schools are failing but most public schools are doing their jobs just fine - much like homeschoolers I would say.
I would say that homeschooling needs enough regulation that children who are homeschooled are periodically monitored and tested for progress. If they do not do at least as well as the 30th or 40th percentile compared to their local public school peers, they should be compelled to attend public school, or at least be evaluated to identify if there is a cognitive problem, or ineffective schooling at home.
The examples in the article are examples of abuse and neglect. Children are being denied and education, and girls are being discriminated against. One could argue these are civil rights violations of equal protection. To hear about it and say, "no problem" or they're not convincing is bullshit. There is a problem here. It needs to be addressed. No child should be abused and neglected by their parents under the guise of homeschooling. One is too many.
the education always departed from the home first, but in our reality of these times it is very different. being that in many homes there is plenty of domestic abuse and the children see this and grow with that environment of abuse. I think it is due to the development of each child and take him to that school and why bad behavior is not widespread ... but if it happens in many families.
I would be delighted to return my child to the public school system. When you find a school that will actually teach my 8 year old, who reads at a college level and is finishing Pre-Algebra and a high school course on molecular chemistry, let me know. We tried for three years with no success, maybe you'll have better luck.
Guess what public school educations suck too. My niece was 10 before the public school figured out she couldn't read -and we're talking small school with small classes.
There is plenty of abuse happening IN public schools. And teachers do nothing about it. In my area there have been so many very young children killing themselves because they couldn't take the abuse/bullying at school. Lots of domestic abuse gets missed at school too. They never saw mine!
Socialization doesn't happen locked in a room for 8 hours with your peer group being occupied with worksheets. It happens out in the world where we meet and interact with a wide range of people! My nephew has worse behaviour now that he goes to school than he did when he was at home.
The arguments in this article by MarkH seems to be more about bad parenting and not homeschooling. Bad parenting happens everywhere and most of the time nothing is done about it.
All the angry "public education sucks too" tirades when Mark has now specifically addressed that issue several times are a fantastic argument against homeschooling.
I think it's criminal for children to be taught by people with that little reading comprehension.
If anecdotes seal the deal against homeschooling, then the thousands of anecdotes about public schooling should ensure that it should be shut down as well.
I never wanted to homeschool my two kids. But the local public school made my son depressed and suicidal and the high school has a 40% drop out rate to boot (what? where's all the regulators? Oh, that's right...they're regulating the school....but, then, why is there a 40% drop-out rate? Hmmmmm.......)Not to mention the fact that, in my state, nearly 50% of the public students who show up at the community colleges need REMEDIAL classes to even begin community college. 12 years of education and they still can't read or write well enough to take a 101 community college class. Now there's something to be concerned about. Our tax dollars at work....
Public education is a sham and a joke. It is heavily regulated and still failing abysmally.
I will NEVER return either of my children to the public school system. Oh - and for the record - they intensively study Latin; grammar; chemistry, biology, and physics; chronological history (NONE of which are covered in depth in elementary school) - and they both currently score at the 95%+ in every area of annual testing.
And, Stu, is is relevant to post about how public school sucks....the point of MarkH's post is that homeschooling should be heavily regulated or banned, which means that homeschoolers will then be overseen by or returned to the public school system. Since the public school system is so abysmal in so many, many states, arguing that it will "fix" those outside of it, when it can't fix itself, is a joke.
I'm thinking you were just posting this as traffic bait after what happened to Krugman on his blog after denigrating homeschooling. Homeschoolers came out of the woodwork to educate Krugman after he showed that he had no idea what he was talking about. Hopefully you'll get some extra ad money. Next do a post about Ron Paul.
Correct. You may or may not have noticed, but nobody was calling for homeschooling to be *banned*. The call is for some sort of oversight.
My state has some oversight; the kids are required to take standardized testing (and private school kids are required to do the same). But a lot of states have none at all. All they get is the parents' assurance that the kids are being educated. And while homeschooling can be effective, if there is no oversight, it is also a perfect opportunity for abuse.
The most ardent champions of homeschooling, and the ones who have posted on this thread, are usually very dedicated workers. They genuinely care about their children's future. They are not the people I'm worried about. I'm worried about parents who stuff their kid in a closet, thrash them regularly, and tell the authorities the kid is homeschooled to prevent anyone coming and asking awkward questions about the kid's truancy. Are they a minority of homeschoolers? I sure as hell hope so. But they're not zero. There are enough of them to warrant some kind of oversight. If we believe children deserve an education even if their parents disagree, then we owe those children enough oversight to make sure they actually get a shot at it.
"Homeschoolers came out of the woodwork to educate Krugman after he showed that he had no idea what he was talking about."
Aye, those who don't know what people are talking about often talk about "educating others after they showed they had no idea what they were talking about".
Go back and read the topic at the top there. Point out where a fallacy was said that proves MarkH doesn't know what he's talking about.
"If anecdotes seal the deal against homeschooling, then the thousands of anecdotes about public schooling should ensure that it should be shut down as well."
Anecdotes were posited as the REASON for homeschooling had to be done.
That came first.
Therefore, after homeschooling gained anecdotes showing it had failures should have had the very same people refusing to homeschool their children.
It's not hard to get a teacher sacked or at least investigated for their conduct.
How do you manage that with a parent?
Oversight of parents are nowhere near the level of oversight of schoolteachers.
Sounds to me like Mark has no children. Let's wait until his OWN kids are in the system.
"No child should be abused and neglected by their parents under the guise of homeschooling. One is too many."
Is public schooling the cure for abuse? Or just the best way to catch abusers?
This article seems to be less about education and more about how we as a society can protect kids from bad parents. I don't really think public schools are the answer. If this is the main concern, then you probably should lobby to have government inspectors doing home visits in all homes with minors. Much more effective than requiring them to ship the minors to school to be inspected there.
To be fair, I do think it should be banned if it can't be regulated as I expressed in the title.
If homeschoolers can't demonstrate equal or superior performance compared to public schools in their area, it should not be allowed. But in order to demonstrate performance it needs some kind of review. Not even necessarily monthly or even yearly. But testing at grade 1 3 7 and 10 might be enough just to make sure the kids aren't failing.
The alternative, that it should be totally unregulated, is nuts. There will be parents, like the quiverfull fundamentalists described, who will neglect their childrens education or outright deny it to their female children. If homeschoolers will only accept zero regulation, then homeschooling should not be allowed.
Now, most homeschoolers are doing a good job. They should agree that in order to prevent abuse of their right their should be a modicum of oversight to make sure their right isn't being used as an excuse to abuse children.
I'm not against any specific form of education, but if there is no mechanism to detect and prevent neglect and abuse, it should not be permitted. Is it so horrible to ask that every few years that the government should check in and make sure that the kids can read write and do math?
Finally, to the public school bashers, provide evidence that homeschooling is superior than one study from Canada in 1998. I would really love to see it, I'm not being sarcastic. I want data. That's what's missing and hurting your cause. As a product of public school education, and now a MD/PhD surgeon, I don't think it's quite as bad as you guys say.
Awesome. They just keep pouring in.
As the head of a well-respected international organization involved in supporting families who seek educational options for kids with different needs, I posted several links yesterday to the very research you claim doesn't exist (including a legal white paper based on the Brandeis brief for a recent CA appeals court case). For some reason, it did not get through your moderating filter. I don't really wonder why.
Oooh, Corin, could I guess? Would those be Ray (2009) and Rudner (1999)?
I found it Corin, it probably got spammed due to number of links. It is now included.
I have to say, I'm unimpressed. You just linked your book. Please provide evidence in the form of scientific research in the primary literature, or independent or governmental reporting.
@Wow: Why is it that these children can't also be taught at home AS WELL AS SCHOOL?
Because, for many kids, if they are forced to spend 6+ hours at school, sitting through boring classes between being bullied during recess and lunch breaks, at the end of the day they are often not in a good frame of mind to do anything but decompress. Why waste their time by forcing them to go to school? A bright/gifted kid can probably learn the class material in about 20% of the time it takes to have the teacher present it to the whole class.
As for socialization, I remain unconvinced that the best way to turn a 5-year-old into a productive member of adult society is to have them spend a large proportion of their waking hours for the next 12 years in groups of age-segregated peers.
I think Susan at #32 is correct. You seem to be mainly concerned with making sure that abusive and/or neglectful situations are caught and corrected. The oversight you support is primarily for that purpose, is it not?
While this is a laudable goal, I do have some concerns about it. For starters,I think a discussion of the practicalities of how such policies might be effectively implemented and what corrective measures are appropriate would be illuminating.
Consider health needs as an analogous situation. Should we require oversight of parents to assure that they are providing proper health care for their children? Should we implement oversight to ensure that all children have their nutritional needs as well as their educational needs met?
And why should it be limited to school age children? If it is appropriate, shouldn't the government also be concerned about the health and education of pre-schoolers too?
I think that a discussion of the proper role of government regarding oversight of parents and how children are being raised is appropriate. There are valid arguments for both sides of that issue. Homeschooling is simply one facet of this complex issue.
But if you don't agree that health care and nutritional needs are also within the proper scope of government oversight to eliminate abuse and neglect, what is your reasoning by which it's appropriate for the government to insist on oversight of the education but not children's health?
Public schools are abusive just the same if not worse. They have taken God out of the equation and make all children follow the same guidelines. It causes the ones who are smarter to become bored and act out and if you really do your research, these are the ones that tend to get involved in crimes and gangs. Keep the government out of things that are none of their concern. Imagine if the government worried more about running this country and less on what we eat and drink and other stupid things, we wouldn't be in a deficit and we wouldn't be involved in so many issues that are none of our business.
The problem with applying standardized testing to homeschooling is that there is no standard homeschooling curriculum. Imposing specific aims and requirements defeats one of the primary benefits of a freelance education, which is that the curriculum is adjustable and flexible. And if the upregulation of standardized testing in schools is any indicator, once you get regulation into a system, it tends to continually increase, so it's natural that some homeschoolers would be wary.
I understand your concern for the abuse aspect, but that is always a byproduct of freedom. Should there be stricter regulation, or more freedom? By banning homeschooling, you might raise quality for some, but lower it for others. You might force a child with a disability out of a good freelance education and into a system where they could be lost or abused in other ways.
Certainly more data is needed. I would propose more observation at this point, rather than a jump to regulation. We don't even know how prevalent these cases are, nor what the effect of regulation would be. I find it hard to imagine that the Quiverfull folk would quit their ways if low-level regulation were introduced into the system.
Yes, I wonder why they did that? I mean, it's not like it's in the constitution or anything, right?
People who homeschool are antisocial kooks. Generally, they're trying to indoctrinate into their children a world-view which is so massively out of kilter with reality that they know it would not survive contact with the real world were their children to be exposed to reality at a real school.
As for forcing a 12-year-old to achieve a degree - I don't think that's necessary or desirable. Children should be allowed to enjoy their childhood without over-eager parents robbing them of it in order to feed their own selfish desire to experience vicarious success.
I wonder of these folks who express outrage that Mark would like home schoolers to be monitored would assert that despite some public schools and teachers having some serious problems, they should *not be monitored?I doubt that any public schools would be improved by ending evaluations, nor that any home schooling would be broken by having the kids tested once a year.
If even one child who is home schooled falls far behind the standard or is outright abused, then we should check on them on a regular basis. My wife and I considered home schooling our kid, but decided we weren't up to the task. We took the easier route and simply quit our jobs, moved to another state and town where we knew the public schools could handle her needs, and spent months looking for work...
"One is too many." God I love to hear an MD say those words.
Now lets talk about vaccine damaged children.
Go back and read the topic at the top there.
Paul Krugman blogs here?
It's not hard to get a teacher sacked or at least investigated for their conduct.
Ok, it's obvious you don't know what you're talking about.
"All the cases of homeschooling that had a 12-year-old getting a degree (or similar over-achievement) were the child of either educators or dual-doctorates."
I started college at 14, is that over-achievement? The parent that was more responsible for unschooling me has only a high school diploma (my other parent has a BA). Hmm. Never thought I could have done it by 12 if only my parents had had doctorates. I'll have to see what I can do for my kid.
"If they do not do at least as well as the 30th or 40th percentile compared to their local public school peers,"
MarkH- I kind of hate to put it this way (cause I sound like an arrogant tool), but if you or I scored at 30th or 40th percentile compared to the general population of our age-group peers, well, yeah- that would be a sign of educational neglect. However, that doesn't mean that EVERYONE who might score that way would be suffering from educational neglect.
A better approach is probably "meets grade-level standards" or "does not meet grade-level standards", with specific distinct standards as well as resources available for those who have disabilities or developmental delays as well as those who are far above grade level.
Of course, then we have to have conversations like "Is it acceptable for an 8 year old to not read yet?" and "is lack of retention of algebra a sign of a failed education?"
I don't have answers to such questions, but I can see that if you regulate, such answers are needed.
As a society, we don't actually have a true consensus for what education should do (you see this in debates about higher ed all the time).
I do know, from listening to educators and policy makers, that discussions about educational standards are not always easy to have. Some sliver of that is politics over things like evolution, but a good chunk is "would we rather make sure everyone *really* understands compound interest, or get them through coordinate geometry?" (assuming "both" is not practical)
One child being abused *anywhere* is too much. Because I care about that, I'm compelled to point out that statistically, you'd help more kids by keeping public school kids from being abused. Except that they are already regulated, and problems still happen... that fact should perhaps suggest to us that we need to think hard about how we regulate, if abuse-prevention is the aim .
"As a product of public school education, and now a MD/PhD surgeon, I don't think it's quite as bad as you guys say."
And you think your experience is typical? Really? Because in that case, I'd say your education failed you pretty badly.
Public schooling in the US is an incredibly local phenomenon. You know this, I hope. Public schools in New York spend an average of 18,000/pupil/year while Utah spends 6,000/pupil/year (http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/09f33pub.pdf)- is New York getting ripped off, or are they buying different quality educations for that money? And that's not even getting into district level differences.
Many public schools are great. However, telling people who chose homeschooling because of bullying that homeschooling should be outlawed unless it can justify it's own existence educationally, is a bit of a jerk-move.
Let's not Bronwyn. After all, vaccines have a benefit to justify the rare injury. There is no cost-benefit ratio to child neglect.
Becca, you make good points. As I suggested, a failing evaluation should be a reason to investigate the child for possible cognitive defects and the teachers for incompetence. It's usually one or the other.
What's worse long term, bullying or illiteracy? I'm not belittling the problem of bullying, but adversity from peers is nothing compared to showing up as an adult with a defective educational tool set and poor study/work habits. So yes, homeschooling still needs to justify it's existence and show some performance data.
Public schools are not perfect, and yes, there is huge variation based on location. I went to a good school in a suburb. Many, if not most, of my peers have been very successful. I get it when homeschoolers in say, Baltimore, or Atlanta, were hard on the public schools, which may be frankly unsafe and mostly worthless. But I used myself as an example that they're not all failing everywhere. Most of my colleagues are public-school educated, with a occasional private school education. I have not, as yet, met a homeschooled MD, but my experience is limited and it's a growing phenomenon.
If children are significantly behind grade level, unable to read, write, or do math there is a major problem. I'm not talking about terrible No Child Left Behind testing, I'm talking about things like the IOWA test or aptitude testing as a monitor they're progressing on more universal and basic eduction in comparison with their peers.
Educational neglect could be detected with basic aptitude testing at several different grade levels. This is not quite analogous to healthcare as there exists provisions for universal primary and secondary education for Americans which has been established for a very long time. If parents chose to opt out, the government has a state interest in being sure an equivalent alternative is offered. Soon healthcare, when universal, willbe similar, and parents will be required to have health coverage for children. How they will monitor it, or if they need to is a good question. Another benefit of public schooling is basic public health requirements make most parents take their kid to a pediatrician at various points so any healthcare needs or issues might be addressed. Fortunately, most kids are pretty healthy, and will grow up just fine without medical intervention. The reverse is not true with education as we sadly do not default to smart at birth.
I think if homeschoolers are going to be so insistent about the superiority of their methods, then why be so defensive about others asking for proof? I'll end with words of wisdom from Ronald Reagan, we should trust but verify.
MarkH, your posts are full of woo. Could you also appeal to a spiritual authority against homeschooling, and go for the clean sweep?
I think if homeschoolers are going to be so insistent about the superiority of their methods, then why be so defensive about others asking for proof?
Both of my sons were homeschooled for a portion of highschool. Both went on to post-secondary education, graduating at the top of their classes. One is gainfully employed, the other completing an MS, and about to start a PhD. I, however, am not "insistent about the superiority" of homeschooling. I think that public schooling is good for the majority of kids, and have spent a significant amount of my spare time volunteering in local public schools (as did one of my sons while he was being homeschooled). But the public school system does not work for everyone. If a kid is bullied in school, chances are it will have an impact on their academic performance. If a gifted kid gets too bored, they may just decide to "tune out" at school, and drop out when they get old enough. Yes, there are ways to address this in many public school systems, but while the parents are fighting with the teachers, principals, and school boards, time marches on for the kids. Unlike refusing to vaccinate, my decision to homeschool does not affect anyone other than my child and me (and in the case of my kids it was actually at their request).
Left the public schools with our seven kids twenty years ago. I think a better well-rounded education. More family time. Kids thriving in life and in college. #5 recently received a full ride scholarship to the school of her choice. It's not for everyone. But it is working for us.
Just food for thought, there are many countries whose education results are considered more "successful" than ours.. and yet they teach on a very different schedule than ours. For example some don't enroll their youngsters in school until 7 as a starting age. If a homeschooler decides to follow an alternative, and perhaps much more successful, schedule like this, how would we calculate the grade equivalence? We can't force them on our same public school plan/schedule because then that takes away the purpose of homeschooling. Believe it or not most homeschoolers do it so that they can give their kids the opportunity of variety in teaching styles, curriculum, and schedule. Some adding in religious ed? Yes. But just because someone includes their faith into their daily education doesnt mean that it is their main reason for home education.
Btw, I feel like I should add that I was public schooled, double majored in finance and accounting in college and do have a practicing faith. When I was a junior in college I met a homeschooler in an investments class. He was a son of a jewelry store owner who had unschooled him. He was 19, had "graduated" at 17, fluent in 2 additional languages and spent a year abroad as an exchange student. Then he did some missions work in Africa, came home and interned at a research facility of some sort. He was able to transfer credits in from online courses and start college as a sophomore. He put my experience and education to shame.. Definitely made me second guess some of the rumors I had heard about uneducated homeschoolers. If one looks for failing cases, one can certainly find them. If one searches out unconventional success stories they are abundant also. Since then I have been subjected to other home educated kids. I know one who changes tires for a living. I know another who is a Labor and Delivery nurse at a respected children's hospital. Still yet there is this young man who was a classmate and he ended up teaching philosophy at a unversity. Seems to be variety.
Actually, the last line is a delusion. Its really not. You know what really happens, lets start with the "top" of the chain:
1. The fed requires certain standards, in theory, but only provides generalized, and easily undermined, tests to determine the results. It has absolved itself of the right and responsibility to tell each state, or county, **how** to get those results.
2. Each state sets up its own standards. They only loosely define how certain things will be taught (in some cases they may be specific, but only when its something bloody stupid, like "abstinence"). They absolve themselves of the right and responsibility to determine what methods are effective, or verify that what is being taught is actually accurate. They do sometimes provide their own sets of tests, but they are no different than the Fed level ones, and one can teach a child to pass them, without actually knowing how to use anything they learned in order to do so.
3. Now you get to school boards. School boards, in general, have no education requirements. They don't require that the people know anything about the subject of education, or the subjects they are voting on. They need not know how to run a business, never mind a school, or pretty much anything else. They need only be "popular", and thus voted in. These people determine what the priorities, and even the methods, that are used, not used, denied, or required, are for the schools. They don't have the means, the knowledge, the understanding, or often the desire, to figure out what needs to be fixed, instead of just guessing at it, and doing what ever they "feel" will solve the problem. If they use any metric at all, its the Fed and state tests, and the results from them, and what ever delusional idea they have about how effective their own education was, way back when (when they probably wouldn't have passed 8th grade in a modern school, due to the amount of new material involved).
4. Now you get to the school's Principal. They *might* have a business degree, though what the hell that has to do with education, instead of production lines, isn't all that clear. What is clear is that their hands are, to some extent, tied by 1-3 above, but most heavily by #3. They also have to deal with the parents, who have their own ideas about what is and isn't appropriate, and some of them are just as clueless as the people being elected to the school boards (assuming they are not on them already, in some cases). All they end up doing is trying to implement what ever junk gets handed down from above, even if they do know it isn't working, while fighting off nonsense from below them, and, if they are any good, maybe shielding, as much as possible, the few teachers that have a clue what needs to be fixed, in hopes they don't piss off someone some place badly enough that they are removed for, "not towing the line", before someone gives them the chance to fix the problems, which may include disagreement on the fact that the teacher the parents and the board don't like might have a better idea what is going on than the "good teacher", which thinks the parents are always right, the board is infallible, and that the state was "right" to pass abstinence education, for example.
5. Parents... A lot of apathy, a lot of ones that hate the idea that their kids might be a) taught things they don't like, b) taught the same way they where, which they hated, c) might be taught using "experimental" methods, instead of the same way they where (never mind one might argue for many of them that such method isn't work out all that well there either), and d) maybe a few, despairing, parents, who know there are better ways, recognize that things need to change, but are drowned out, or unsupported, by everyone in 1-4, and those in 5a, 5b, and 5c.
6. Teachers - The ones in the trenches, trying to do things, but constantly stuck with too many students, not enough resources, or time, and almost no say, at all, unless they are lucky enough to have an administration that understands, to do jack about it, but they use what leeway they can, when they can, to either, depending on their skill, personal biases, and possibly competence, to either make "slight" improvements, where they can, or take a bad situation and screw it up worse than one might otherwise imagine possible (say, a creationist, anti-gay, etc, etc, etc, educator, who should never even have been given the job in the first place, if regulation was being enforced).
7. The kids - who have bloody no rights, no say, and no means to change **any** of this.
So... Please, explain to me what exactly in this mountain of card stacking is being "heavily regulated"? Because, it looks to me that the closer you get to a single authority, which could determine how to fix the problems, the less power they are wielding, or allowed to, to do so, and the farther you get from them, towards the bottom, the more likely that ***everything*** is being dictated by personal whim, bias, confusion, disastrous incompetence, or complete lack of any power to change things. And that is without even bringing in the systematic attacks on the system, from all levels, in many states, by people who think one of their *top* priorities as everything from a school board member to a state senator, is to destroy the system.
Heavily regulated my ass. The only time its "heavily regulated" is when some idiot decides to pass a law to insert some new idiocy into the system. The rest of the time, the "regulators" are lucky to define basic class sizes, the number of janitors the school needs to have, what is in the lunch menu, and which color to paint the school buses. The shit that matters, such as how, and what gets taught, and most important of all, ***if*** its learned, not just memorized so they know how to fill bubbles on a form, but actually use it, is millions of contradictory idiocies, with a relative few a) good, b) effective, and c) able to understand what needs to be fixed, educators, and a great many more than just don't know what to do to solve the problem, even if allowed to, hanging on by their finger nails, while the rest of the system is being dismantled by idiots.
It didn't used to be this way (or at least not this badly, or this obviously, or universally, since I am sure there where some schools in the south pulling this BS already even in the 50s). But, some where along the line we ended up with too many students, not enough teachers, and unwillingness to change when needed, and power in the hands of people that are scared to death of their own dwindling relevance, in a world where people actually know shit, instead of being brainwashed into their "pet" version of history, science, etc. Oh, and instead of teaching facts, we now "listen to concerned parents", who have 'opinions' about what those facts actually are, a la sex ed, evolution, science, and just what sort of education is 'proper' for their children, instead of required.
Sure, because you all can't handle your 1.6 children and must put them in daycare from 6 months until they are ready for "school" and then you must have after school care and have it subsidized at that -- no-one expects you less than competent parents to understand those of us who have our shit together and can actually care for, educate, enjoy and love our children all at the same time AND be fulfilled by it. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, most of us do so because it enables us to live outside the box. The really funny thing is the oversight you all advocate for is an absolute and utter failure in the public school system. You can keep your oversight, your failing schools, your behind every other country students and your red tape. We'll out test, out score, out wit and out play you any day.
What I find remarkable is that every single comment by "defenders" of home schooling is illogical, defensive, off-topic, and even egocentric.
The OP suggests that bad or abusive home schooling should be addressed by regulation.
That's an absolute no-brainer. Of course it should. The existence of even one home where children are denied a basic education, under the fig leaf claim of "home schooling", would justify that.
If you are providing a good home schooling education (which in the case of the comment I am directly replying to, I have some reason to doubt), then such regulation either would not affect, or would be beneficial to, you and your children.
The fact that there are problems in some public school systems is not relevant here. It is not possible for anyone with a true high school level of reading comprehension to interpret the OP as defending bad public schools, nor as attacking good home schooling.
In the words of the immortal bard, the home schooling advocate comment group "doth protest too much".
This comment was an example of the least logical level of discourse.
Although it did not contain profanity or slurs, and thus is not an example of the lowest level of civility, it consists of nothing but a string of insults.
As someone who was previously quite positive toward the idea of solid, non-ideological home schooling, the comments here have caused me to rethink that position.
I agree that homeschooling should be regulated as are public schools. Even private schools develop reputations and are open for visits. There is nothing like that for homeschooling. Granted, I too know the statistic that homeschoolers seem to score higher on standardized tests. But could it be that not all homeschoolers take these tests? More data, please.
For those homeschooling parents who believe they are better parents than those of who have jobs: get over it. This is the 21st century. We are ALL good parents.
I can think of a number of possibilities -
1) As you mention, a subset may tend not to take the tests.
2) The test scores need to be compared to socioeconomically matched controls, as well. Home schooling probably tends to take place in two parent families with decent incomes. Parents who are extremely educationally deprived probably either don't home school, or if they do, don't have children take standardized tests.
Although much home schooling is probably for reasons of denialist religious fundamentalism, there is probably a group who do it for what they perceive as academic reasons, as well.
But the question is not "do home schooled children do better than all children on standardized tests", it is, if we are to use such scores, "do home schooled children tend to do as well as or better than other children with similar home structure, demographics, and abilities, who have attended a standard school?".
If the nation's most deprived children tend to go to the worst public schools, but be given standardized tests and have their scores counted - which they do - and if some home schooled children don't take standardized tests - which is plausible - than either or both of these situations would need to be corrected for by looking at the correct control groups.
On a side note, I continue to be surprised at the number of comments that misinterpret, and react with unjustified anger. The article merely suggests regulation to make sure that home schooled children actually are being schooled.
Yes, homeschooling can present challenges to a "good" education. But so can the classroom, the school, and the local cultural environment. Not everyone agrees on what a "good" education is. Not everyone agrees that any education is even required. Let's face it. Some cultures insist on a good education. Some cultures don't care. Some cultures even prefer that their children remain as ignorant as possible. (Most Fundamentalist culture requires ignorance in order for the culture to survive.) Even here in the United States.
The problem is that you haven't presented an alternative. If parents can't or refuse to educate their children, and refuse to allow the State to educate their children, what is the alternative? You say that the State has an interest in a well educated child. That's true. But what is the State supposed to do about it? The State can make education compulsory. But so what? What if the parents refuse? The only alternative I see would be for the State to take the children away from their parents and have the children educated.
You may disagree with the Quiverfull movement (I do as well), but it is their religious and cultural freedom to raise their children as they see fit.
Would you suggest that this be done for the Amish too? Their kids are left woefully behind modern society, but their culture prefers it that way.
"What's worse long term, bullying or illiteracy?"
Well, *delayed* literacy (such as that described in the article) is probably linked to communication issues later in life, but a quick google couldn't identify any studies where they distinguished educational neglect and developmental delays.
That said, lifelong illiteracy is linked to diabetes and heart disease (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp058328), whereas the long term effects of bullying include depression, suicidal thoughts, and criminal behavior (http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/school-bullying-has-long-l…).
If you haven't been bullied, maybe it is hard for you to understand (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21219077). I urge you to spend some time looking into the "it gets better" project and the events that triggered it.
Anyway, from a public health standpoint, the lifelong illiteracy might be worse (because heart disease is so very widespread, it seems reasonable to assume most people are intrinsically susceptible- so by adding to a common risk factor, widespread illiteracy could have pretty major epidemiological consequences). But from an individual standpoint, if you happen to be susceptible to depression (as I am), it's worse to die at 17 by your own hand than to die at 55 from a heart attack.
Personally, I feel strongly subjecting kids to either educational neglect or bullying is appalling. And, again, statistically, bullying in schools is a much bigger problem than educational neglect in homeschooling. Actually, statistically, functional illiteracy coming out of the public schools is a much bigger problem than illiteracy coming out of homeschooling.
"The article merely suggests regulation to make sure that home schooled children actually are being schooled."
Well, I, for example was NOT schooled. That is the point. Please try a quick Google search for "unschooling" or "John Holt". What people who yammer on about test scores, curricula and standards don't realize is that learning happens outside of schooling. Learning doesn't require NCLB, or a curricula (or even textbooks). Learning is actually damn near inexorable (which is why I'm all the more disturbed by people who can't read).
What is it with the deliberate misinterpretations on this thread? You know that by "schooled", I meant adequately educated, and did not in any way imply that any particular type of rigid model was required.
To some degree your misinterpretation can be generously seen as a rhetorical device, to emphasize a point about structure. I do not disagree with that point.
It is certainly true that it does not, at least for the academically gifted. Arguably a more predictable structure and organized reinforcement may be more important for some students.
I had a very disrupted childhood and learned a great deal at home and in the public library (of course, there had to be books at home and an inviting public library within reach for this to be true). On the other hand, I learned my math at school.
While we all agree about the limitations of standardized tests, and while you don't need them to be educated, they do have a basic use. I went to high school one day and found myself given a standardized test that students from affluent backgrounds had been obsessively aware of, and in preparation for, but that was a surprise to me. However, I did very well. That provided useful information. A low score does not provide as much useful information, as there are many ways to get a low score. However, the only way to receive a good score is to be able and willing to answer the questions. It's obvious from your comment that you would be able to perform well on any reasonable test of language ability. I think it's reasonable to expect home schooled children to demonstrate achievement of basic skills that is at least reasonably similar to what would be expected of similar children who were educated in public schools. If the home schooled do even better as a group, that's great, as long as no-one seizes on that to make logically invalid comparisons to a less selected sample, as I mentioned above.
When I agree with the OP here that there needs to be basic regulation to prevent abuse of home schooling (a position which does NOT imply that public or private schools should be exempt from oversight), I do not do so from the perspective of someone who is dogmatic about education methods. Quite the contrary.
The only thing I'm dogmatic about is that children should learn sufficient language skills, mathematical skills, and basic scientific and social general knowledge, to allow them to reasonably pursue their full potential as adults, and in particular, that being an adult illiterate is an extremely severe disadvantage. Indeed, if a gifted person is an adult illiterate, they can probably learn literacy, but will lose valuable time that could have been spent on other learning pursuits, and if an average or challenged person is an adult illiterate, it may be a huge struggle for them ever to learn to read and write.
I'm not sure why the message that "we should ensure that a claim of 'home schooling' is never used as a cover for abusive failure to educate" is creating so much defensiveness.
Homeschooling has received nationwide attention beyond our â...Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorumâs homeschool familyâ, since our public educational institutions are failing our children. Contrary to Denialistsâ opinion, Santorum may simply follow the best educational choice for his family, because his belief for educational reform is grounded in fact--not shoddy stereotypical failures of homeschooling families. The systemâs failure is grounded in Its mandates and not the talented, insightful, and committed teachers in their classrooms. The detailed document of standards, of which dictates teachers to simplify knowledge for quantitative purposes, build rubrics to capture knowledge in a single number, and deliver coded knowledge to their students is the failure--directly related to regulation. I spent over a decade in the system as an English teacher and discovered it increasingly more difficult to teach when the emphasis was on documentation of best to last and lacked individual and creative thought...a big pill to swallow as a literature buff who supports growing personal choices based on solid information. Placing teachers in a position to compare failing students to successful students based solely on quantitative data, proved detrimental to the quality of my teaching skills and the power it could yield over meaningful, thought provoking learning opportunities for my students--my kids.
I take offense to the school of thought that embraces regulation over education. Human Capital cannot be simplified to Math and Language knowledge (core standards focus) alone. And it certainly cannot represent the powerful insight our students can gain from teacher guidance for communication purposes-both verbal or written-when provided the appropriate context to gain knowledge, synthesize information and make judgements. When a group of individuals promotes âThe goal of classifying [consumer protection issues for personal safety] is to advance public understanding...â is simply more big government ideas. Thank you for your concern with my health and safety, but I was taught by well educated teachers and parents that Iâm in control of these personal liberties--not you!
A stroll through your local, public middle and/or high school may reveal the realities of the lack of critical thinking skills taught in the classrooms, since educators are constrained to teaching to the test; i.e., an English classroom may be reflective of teaching vocabulary out of context exercises (because thatâs how these are designed on standardized tests), spelling (NOTE: English is a far cry from being remotely phonetic, the basis for spelling; I suggest a review of Noam Chomsky, Linguist, Theorist and Philosopher for additional information--Google him!), and the five paragraph essay format (to name a few). Math classes may emphasize the universal, systematic language of mathematics, but rationalizing formulas for real life application may be non-existent. Teachers have to deliver test questions for practice, therefore exercises in applying, synthesizing, and making judgements for mathematical information falls short.
When families opt out of the system, it doesnât necessarily equate to opting out of educating their children. Nor is it necessarily based in Christianity. The Reality Check here is that families opting out of our educational system now, may be founded on ideals that we-as teachers/parents-may be able to do a better job than the mandates of our federal government. I personally opted out to save my child from the systematic plan for my sonâs thinking for comparative purposes (compared to children in other countries). Instead, I foster problem solving, critical thinking skills, individualized choice for knowledge...ownership for knowledge and to instill a life long passion for learning. My young, independent learner is making choices with guidance from teachers and his parents. Regulation for our process of educating would place us back in the system we left to avoid institutionalized thought in the first place.
I recently wrote on this subject in the âFight for Human Capital! I quote myself here, âI use Seth Godinâs words from his manifesto, âStop Stealing Dreamsâ, exemplifying the disconnect of the human spirit from institutionalized educational systems, following his visit to Harlem Village Academy, New York City,
â¦top-down industrialized schooling isâ¦threatened, and for very good reasons. Â Scarcity of access is destroyed by the connection economy* at the very same timeÂ the skills and attitudes we need from our graduates are changing.
While the internet has allowed many of these changes to happen, you wonât seeÂ much of the web at the Harlem Village Academy school I visited, and not much of itÂ in this manifesto, either.Â The HVA is simply about people and the way they shouldÂ be treated.Â Itâs about abandoning a top-down industrial approach to processing studentsÂ and embracing a very human, very personal and very powerful series of tools to produceÂ a new generation of leaders.â
I agree with Godin that institutionalized education is over regulated; and by the way, our educational system was implemented during the Industrial Age and it hasnât changed since. Thatâs a disturbing fact, so would it be to erase the humanity that strengthens the process of learning for depth in knowledge. Further, your ideas for regulating my thinking is an infringement on my personal freedoms for educational choice.
I hear your concerns. Thank you for the opportunity to speak mine.
Home Owner and Tax Payer for Public Education
Mom, Educator at Home, Child Advocate
*connection economy concept coined by Seth Godin in relation to the understanding of advertising and the use of a variety of mediums to sell products that essentially leave the consumer empty; supply and demand based on want not need.
From the article:
"getting real numbers will always be complicated by the fact that many homeschooling families choose not to comply with the law by submitting to state homeschool regulations, or even report their homeschool activity to the state"
I gotta say...it sounds like the real issue here is enforcement of existing regulations, not MORE regulations. From the above it seems clear that many of the "problem" homeschoolers are those who are already breaking truancy laws. In every state I know of, there are requirements that you at the very least inform the state where your child is going to school, even if it's your own home.
"I gotta say...it sounds like the real issue here is enforcement of existing regulations, not MORE regulations"
Is there regulation requiring compliance with state school assessment requests?
Also remember that they have to be paid for by the state.
"I'm not sure why the message that "we should ensure that a claim of 'home schooling' is never used as a cover for abusive failure to educate" is creating so much defensiveness."
Because these are parents who are worried that their children will learn stuff they don't agree with.
Because these are parents who do NOT want to be wrong. On anything.
These are parents who have decided, for good or bad reasons, that they will homeschool their children and that even a smidgeon of criticism is, as with anything else some people have chosen, this is taken extremely personally.
"Actually, statistically, functional illiteracy coming out of the public schools is a much bigger problem than illiteracy coming out of homeschooling."
I would like to see those statistics.
I suspect you're neglecting the fact that homeschooling is so small and just thinking "well, there are more illiterate children I hear about coming from formal schools, whereas I've not heard any Fox News reports of homeschool illiterates".
PROBLEM: Taxes pay for the formal schools. Therefore failing is a "waste of taxes" and is going to be "big news".
And look at Cuba: 98% literacy rate, state run schools mandatory.
The problem isn't schooling vs homeschooling, it's your craptastic school funding system and entitlement culture.
"I started college at 14, is that over-achievement?"
College starts at 18 or later. That would be four years earlier.
Obviously "Maths" was not your major.
"Ok, it's obvious you don't know what you're talking about.
Posted by: Juice | March 16, 2012 4:26 PM"
It's so obvious you can just state it, without stating anything about what it is that is so obvious.
I think you got unschool'd a little too hard there, juice.
"@Wow: Why is it that these children can't also be taught at home AS WELL AS SCHOOL?
Because, for many kids, if they are forced to spend 6+ hours at school, sitting through boring classes between being bullied during recess and lunch breaks"
So instead you make them sit through 6+ hours at home, sitting through Mum/Dad lecturing them on boring subjects, being unable to make friends because there is no recess and no break, and their peers are at school.
You're making excuses. That's what you see as bad about sending your kids to school.
That IS NOT why you can't make them sit down after shcool and teach them yourself.
How much homework (work at home) do kids get lumbered with nowadays? Tons. But you either want to do it ALL and tell "the man" to GFTO and away from your kids or wring your hands and let junior suffer alone with their homework or school problems.
The problem isn't the school.
""No child should be abused and neglected by their parents under the guise of homeschooling. One is too many."
Is public schooling the cure for abuse?"
However, schools are not parents and are responsible to the public at large.
If you have teachers you know are abusing children, then report them to the police.
Or just whine about it and neglect your kids, or, worse, abuse your own children and say "but they do it too!".
I'm not a homeschooler (nor do I play one on TV), nor was I homeschooled. I'll start with that disclaimer. However, my mother is a public school teacher (I'm a grad student instructor at a local University, so I don't have a dog in the fight) and my cousins were homeschooled until this year, so I think I can be a somewhat objective third party.
Homeschooling/unschooling needs to be standardized. while there are definitely children who benefit from a lack of structure, many children benefit more from a structured workday, and many parents do not have the necessary background to teach their children higher level subjects adequately (I'd also venture to say that someone who's reached a higher level in their field might have difficulty teaching basics to a child- the stereotype of an individual with a PhD in math struggling to calculate a tip comes to mind). The lack of standards also means that one of my cousins was "held back" from learning until her younger sister was ready for kindergarten-level work so they could be taught at exactly the same pace. I think this was a disservice, especially with many formal schools trending toward more individualized curricula.
Anecdotally, I did not meet anyone who'd been homeschooled when I was in undergrad- I honestly met more people who'd went to boarding school- and the one firl I knew in high school who'd been homeschooled finished her high school work in one year, started college at 14 and dropped out when she was 16 because she wasn't emotionally ready for college. So this may have tainted my perception of homeschooling, especially with potential for abuse (eg. even with standards, the parents can take the tests to hide any educational neglect).
Is this an insult to every homeschooler/unschooler? It is not meant to be so, but I understand that many parents see any criticism of any parenting style in general to be an insult to them personally, so I apologize for any boundaries I might have crossed. And I'm sure that the vast majority of homeschooled children turn out to be brighter than those of us who went to school outside the home (I often begged my mom to let me be homeschooled, both to avoid bullying- the first time I attempted suicide I was 8, just to give you an idea- and because I'd been told that homeschooled students were much brighter than us dolts in traditional schools (I went to a private school)).
"What is it with the deliberate misinterpretations on this thread? You know that by "schooled", I meant adequately educated, and did not in any way imply that any particular type of rigid model was required."
I knew perfectly well what you meant, just as YOU know perfectly well that conflating "education" and "schooling" is misleading. I don't take kindly to certain standard conflations that are commonly used for nefarious purposes ("sex" and "gender" being another one I'll yammer at people for doing intentionally).
"I never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
"I'm not sure why the message that "we should ensure that a claim of 'home schooling' is never used as a cover for abusive failure to educate" is creating so much defensiveness."
Largely because of the "never" and the fact there is a double standard involved.
It would NOT be a double standard to say homeschoolers should sometimes do standardized tests- as I mentioned, I'm with Mark on that count (although I think if we tried to hammer out details we'd run up against lack of our expertise fairly quickly, I have faith intelligent standardized testing requirements are possible).
The issue is, it's really quite hard to shut down a school for failure to educate (it does happen, but the failure of one kid would never do it). In general, I don't even think the voucher laws have considered it reasonable for one student doing poorly in a school to be able to leave to another school- usually, there has to be some kind of demonstrated systematic problem (please correct me if anyone has more expertise on voucher laws here).
Because each homeschooling family is essentially it's own school, even for quiverfulls the N will always be too low to be valid for those types of interventions.
So you are left with "test, and if one kid does poorly, ze must go to public school"- which intrinsically puts the *stakes* of testing much higher for homeschoolers.
There may very well be ways to both monitor performance (which I'm fine with) and to use tests to prevent abuse, but regulations to do both simultaneously are tricky to do right (even in public schools- witness, the fact we do have educational neglect there, so the "if things would be regulated we would have no abuse" argument can't be made).
People who (quite understandably) are appalled about the religious and cultural stuff quiverfulls teach have this emotional visceral reaction to homeschooling. This causes them to advocate for things they would never advocate for in the public schools.
They also, generally, are unfortunately unfamiliar with educational neglect within public schools, as well as cases where homeschooling works beautifully- that matters a great deal if you seriously want to discuss the cost:benefit analysis of "outlawing homeschooling" as a whole. That is probably where the emotion comes from, more than anything else.
"Indeed, if a gifted person is an adult illiterate, they can probably learn literacy"
So were the women in the original article who gained literacy late in life gifted? Or were they normal people who found it easy enough to learn what they both wanted and needed to learn (once the context shifted, and there were people to help them achieve this)?
This is not just a tangential issue- it's essential to how one conceptualizes homeschooling and 'educational gaps'. As I said, I see learning as basically inexorable. Even if you do a poor job teaching- if someone is an environment where there are huge advantages to learning, they will be able to. That's for everybody- not just gifted children.
Of course, I might be wrong about that. How depressing for everyone because isn't schooling- of all sorts- kind of predicated on that "all children want to and can learn" approach? (this was seriously written on the walls on my elementary school)
"In every state I know of, there are requirements that you at the very least inform the state where your child is going to school, even if it's your own home."
Point of Information- this is not the case for Illinois- the letter notifying the school district is optional. (http://homepage.bushnell.net/~peanuts/illaws.html)
As an aside, not mentioning the states the article was referring to was either 1) a consideration to protect the identities of the former quiverfull people or 2) journalistic malpractice, because it doesn't give the readers enough information to determine whether violations of the law were occurring.
""Actually, statistically, functional illiteracy coming out of the public schools is a much bigger problem than illiteracy coming out of homeschooling."
I would like to see those statistics.""
Here's the thing. I already posted the NEJM bit on functional illiteracy- if it's really 14% that lack basic prose literacy, even if you took all the homeschooled people currently alive, and even if they were all functionally illiterate, you still couldn't get up to close to 8% of the population (the majority of those who are illiterate by this metric). Of course, it could be they all came out of private schools, not public schools, and I should have noted that possibility.
However, it's mathematically impossible they've all been homeschooled.
""I started college at 14, is that over-achievement?"
College starts at 18 or later. That would be four years earlier.
Obviously "Maths" was not your major."
"Over-achievement" is subjective though. Why not "higher than expected by mediocrity?"
LOTS of people start college before 18 (my Mom skipped two grades- was that "over-achievement"? Tons of people do AP or dual-enrollment- is that "over-achievement"?)
But anyway, I'm fine with it being seen as "over-achievement"- that just bolsters my original point- that you don't need parents with doctoral degrees to have an unschooler of the high achievement type.
"just as YOU know perfectly well that conflating "education" and "schooling" is misleading."
That's the nice thing about taking offence. If you look hard enough, you'll find something.
Look, teach your children AS WELL. If they're being bullied but you don't know about it, then you've got some work to do in parenting. If you do know about it, then you can persue it officially and/or support them and help them though/past the problems.
And stop pretending that you're offended because of anything other than a right and proper criticism of homeshcooling that you chose on behalf of your child, not for them.
First of all, as you said yourself, I didn't just post my book - my post got lost in your spam because I included a lot of links (and no, none were Ray or Rudner). I could not possibly include all of that information in one post on your blog.
Second, there is quite a bit of research out there about homeschooling, but you are unlikely to ever get the kind of research on a scale to compare to public schools *if you look at it the way you are looking at it.* The reason is that "homeschooling" isn't any one thing. You are referring to homeschooling as a single form of education which can be sliced and diced the way a typical public school can be, but the whole point is that it can be individualized for the needs of the individual children. That brings you to the "looking for keys under a lamppost" problem, where you try to design a research model on what can be easily seen, but you have to know you are missing a lot.
The reason I included my book and those other links (and you'll note the book is <75 pages and includes citations) is because it explains the reasoning behind why so many parents of gifted and special needs kids are choosing - or feeling forced - to homeschool.
Mark, if you want to understand where so much passion is coming from among respondents to this post and others on the subject, try getting in our shoes. I'm not anti-school nor are most of the families I work with. Our concern isn't religion or values or whatever... Our concern is that the needs of our kids are NOT being met by a school system that does not understand them nor does it want to understand them. Check out the Goodwin Bow Tie Model - again, the point is that the school system is designed for the kids in the middle, and when your child is an outlier sometimes very bad things happen to them in school.
The problem with your version of accountability is that it already failed to serve these kids in school. Kids with major asynchronies or with neurological learning differences *already* don't fit in the standardized system, and trying to force it on them at home helps no one.
I won't argue that some homeschoolers do a lousy job - but only if you won't argue that many public schools do a lousy job. The stories I hear, in particular, about what has happened to the population I work with are truly heartbreaking, and they are done by following all of the rules - the ones that are touted by "experts" and others with no deep understanding. Our grad schools don't teach gifted ed almost at all, and it's only available as an elective. The information shared about autism spectrum disorder is largely incorrect, Classroom management is the order of the day, along with teaching to the test. The thing is, I know it's easy for a policy professional (which I am; grad work at Georegetown)to look at bigger numbers, but as a parent, you have a responsibility to look at the needs of your own child first.
I work with many, many public school teachers to share information and find solutions, but the fact is, the schools simply won't change fast enough to help my kids even if I could wave my magic wand. My kids can't wait for the system to catch up, so I do my best to influence public policy, but in the meantime, I'm keeping my kids out of traditional classrooms, and I don't want the same well-meaning people who messed up those classrooms to have a say on what I know about this population better than they do. I will continue to work my *ss off for education reform, but not at the expense of my own kids. If you want accountability, you'll have to come up with something better than "more of the same" that families like mine left the school system to avoid. You may think it's all good, but it's not, and some kids have been badly hurt by it. To you, they may be outliers, but to parents, they are our children.
The Author of this article conveniently left out the simple fact that there are plenty of good homeschooling families. I grew up homeschooled and I know an entire community of families who give their children a better education than the public schools give people. But that is all beside the point, in all reality, I don't think it makes one whit of difference if you go t a public, private or homeschool. Smart kids are just smart kids and kids who are failures are simply kids who are failures. It is more about the attitude the kid has towards education. A kid's attitude toward education typically comes from their family life and that-family life-is more what contributes to a kid's successful education than does where they go to school.
No mention of the prevalence of pseudoscientific beliefs among homeschoolers? I think that the amount of creationism and other denialisms that work their way into the homeschool curriculum are just as concerning a these two points.
What is so crazy about getting some minimal regulation on home-schooling? One test per year to make sure your child is achieving the minimal standards for their grade/age? Even if you do not believe in testing, unfortunately, the rest of the world does. (They are laughing at our discussion here in South Korea and Japan)
Interesting how people blame public schools and the 'professional teacher class.' I would argue that poverty is what is crushing the certain public schools as everyone who cared or has money sent their kid to private school, moved, or home-schooled them.
I will also be the first to admit that, despite 21 years of education, multiple advanced chemistry courses, and an MD, I should NOT be teaching high school chemistry. I'm not trained or qualified for it.
What is so crazy about getting some minimal regulation on home-schooling?
The empirical data available indicates that regulation would add expense without improving quality. There are many additional problems associated with actually administering such a policy ranging from defining minimal educational requirements to adjusting such requirements to the needs of the individual students being homeschooled to the issue of how to appropriately handle problem situations.
In addition, there is the question of whether or not the state has the right to demand oversight of parents in this manner. For some people this is the primary objection although I haven't noticed it brought up previously here; most people have simply accepted that it is okay for the State to demand oversight of homeschooling parents. The justification for testing all homeschoolers in an effort to detect those who are doing so badly that it qualifies as criminal (i.e. educational neglect). This is, for many people, the equivaleny of being assumed guilty and being required to prove you are not. They object to regulation on the grounds that the government should have reasonable cause for concern prior to instituting oversight of homeschooling parents.
It is not crazy or unreasonable to object to additional regulation (or banning as suggested by the post title) for either of those reasons.
"The empirical data available indicates that regulation would add expense without improving quality"
How would you know? And it would DEFINITELY stop people just teaching their kids Bible Truth (tm).
You know, ensure children are educated, not brainwashed.
"In addition, there is the question of whether or not the state has the right to demand oversight of parents in this manner."
Then, since the state DOES have the right to ensure the children are educated, then banning Homeschooling is the option to take.
"Mark, if you want to understand where so much passion is coming from among respondents to this post and others on the subject, try getting in our shoes"
What? Shoes like:
"They have taken God out of the equation and make all children follow the same guidelines.
Posted by: Wendy | March 16, 2012 2:59 PM"
"Our concern isn't religion or values or whatever"
"Our concern is that the needs of our kids are NOT being met by a school system that does not understand them nor does it want to understand them."
Then get involved with their education and lives but don't refuse to let them be taught by The Faceless Others.
How do you know the teachers don't want to understand your children? Do you care about understanding the teachers? No. You begrudge them because you're afraid your children won't grow up Your Way.
The most common defense I see of homeschooling is "it works for us". And that's great, but . . . I'm not worried about the people for whom it works. I'm worried about the people for whom it doesn't.
Compulsory education is a fairly modern concept. I know a lot of modern homeschoolers do it because they are dissatisfied with the public schools and can't afford the private schools, and that's fair; that's precisely why it exists as an option. But to resist any form of regulation is to blithely ignore the reason compulsory education was created in the first place:
To stop the exploitation of children.
Seriously. Go back a century, or just go to a slum in Bangladesh today, where children roll bindis instead of going to school. I'm not worried about the wealthy, and I'm not worried about kids with really involved, devoted parents who opt for homeschooling. I'm worried about the kids who are poor, and whose parents have much bigger things to worry about than whether the child will be ready for college in twelve years. They're worried about making rent and putting food on the table. Historically, and in parts of the world where education is either not compulsory or there is no enforcement of it, the poor simply don't attend school. Instead they put their children to work earning money. That's really what "cottage industry" means -- it means work done by families, and where there isn't compulsory education, the children generally have to join in. (And where there is compulsory education, the children join in during weekends and vacations.)
There were many efforts to stop child labor, but the one that ended up being successful was compulsory education. This was not a one-off thing, either; it's worked everywhere that it has been tried, as long as the government follows through, builds enough schools, and enforces attendance. The only way to keep the children from being exploited was to put them in school and use the force of law to see that they stayed there. America is relatively lax among industrialized nations; we allow kids to drop out as teenagers. And we offer an increasingly wide spectrum of alternatives, often with little to no oversight, even as we impose an absurd form of regulation on our public schools. ("No Child Left Behind" is one of the stupidest pieces of legislation in the history of American education, in my opinion, at the very least for the obvious absurdity of requiring all schools to eventually reach 100% performance, with all students, even those with severe learning disorders.)
Homeschooling can work. It can also be a disaster, and more importantly, unless there is some sort of minimal regulation to ensure that the children *are* in fact being educated, it undermines the whole point of compulsory education. At a very minimum, we should be making sure these children can read at grade level or better.
Incidentally, of the argument that "regulation hasn't worked for public schools", I'd like to point out that this is very similar to saying "people get killed by medical mistakes, so we should all use alternative medicine instead." The fact that regulation has not transformed public school into an impossible paragon of perfection does not mean that regulation cannot ever work in any other educational context. Public schools vary widely in quality -- but they'd vary a hell of a lot more without regulation.
"And stop pretending that you're offended because of anything other than a right and proper criticism of homeshcooling that you chose on behalf of your child, not for them."
Wow, are you even reading what I'm writing?
I'm not unschooling my child. My kid is 2 and a half. Unless teaching him the alphabet unschooling (keep in mind, today's kindergarteners are expected to know 50 sight words)?
He even goes to daycare- blame his learning on them! (I mean that in a silly way- he has fabulous daycare teachers)
I was unschooled, from halfway through fifth grade till I started at a community college (part time, at age 14; about 4 years total). I chose it, though if we'd had better options, I might have chosen those (we did look into private schools- too expensive- as well as moving to another district- but there was no promise that'd be better, and it would surely be disruptive).
This was after a history of educational neglect in the public schools (most annoyingly, being yelled at for reading, but being generally underchallenged academically).
But the school's attitude about bullying did not help (yes, my parents knew I was bullied. Yes, they tried to help me-both by giving me tools to diffuse more minor adversity, as well as advocating for more supervision on school buses, ect. The latter had minimal impact, and the blase way the school viewed my being stabbed with pencils on the bus was one of many factors that triggered the unschooling).
"Incidentally, of the argument that "regulation hasn't worked for public schools", I'd like to point out that this is very similar to saying "people get killed by medical mistakes, so we should all use alternative medicine instead." The fact that regulation has not transformed public school into an impossible paragon of perfection does not mean that regulation cannot ever work in any other educational context. "
Regulation hasn't transformed public schools into places where 30-40% of children aren't in the 30-40th percentile in standardized test. In part because it's mathematically impossible to do that.
That was Mark's original idea for a standard for homeschooling. I think he's recognized that that would both be far too lax for precocious students like I was, and possibly illogical unless you exclude developmentally slower kids from being homeschooled entirely (which could be disastrous for some of those kids).
So the issue becomes "if we can't expect perfection just because we regulate, how much should we expect of homeschoolers?" and, importantly "what happens when they don't meet those expectations?" If the response to a poor-performing homeschoolers is to *first* get them more resources and *secondly* to mandate they give a specific curriculum a try and *thirdly* to suggest they go to a standard public or private school and basically *never* to just take the kids via CPS and truancy laws (CPS and physical abuse laws are a very different matter), then I'm pretty much on board with regulation. If the response is "you scored in the 40th percentile in one subject, despite the fact you left school with much poorer scores in all subjects and you were bullied like crazy, let's send you back!" then "regulation" is plain stupid. Mark's not stupid, so I presume he was going off half-cocked out of a sense of (reasonable) outrage based on the story of neglect. That, or trolling for views. Homeschooling posts with "ban homeschooling" in them brings out the crazy in folks (self included).
Reading at grade level- at least through 8th grade- seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable requirement.
As far as higher than 8th grade, that might also be good, but it wouldn't be as high a priority to me personally as basic numerical literacy. I want educated citizens who can read and understand things like automobile insurance policies, newspaper articles, and medication instructions. And frankly, I'd be happier if those things were written at an 8th grade reading level or below- it makes it much more efficient for me to read them quickly.
"So the issue becomes "if we can't expect perfection just because we regulate, how much should we expect of homeschoolers?" "
Or the issue *actually* remains:
"How do we ensure that children are taught the curriculum"
If you think the curriculum needs changing, then you can do that were all other societal issues are hashed out: by working on or with your local council or state.
"Wow, are you even reading what I'm writing?"
Yes. Though it's rather replete with rubbish.
"I'm not unschooling my child."
Well, yes, you would say that. If you were refusing to teach your child, you wouldn't be able to say you're not, since that would get you into trouble.
Just like every criminal proclaims their innocence.
Because they would, wouldn't they.
"I chose it, though if we'd had better options, I might have chosen those"
So the problem was actually your parents not being involved in the state social works (specifically, teaching).
"This was after a history of educational neglect in the public schools"
Which isn't a problem with schooling but with your political system paying and maintaining social necessities.
Go look at Cuba.
96-98% literacy. State run schools.
USA's illiteracy rate can't be because of state schools doing it.
Thank you; here is where we can actually have an interesting discussion and leave the "you can pry my homeschooling from my cold dead fingers" knee-jerks aside. We all want the same thing, in the end -- what's best for our kids -- and we all recognize that there can be multiple legitimate ways of achieving this.
I'm not sure how your first step in enforcement would be implemented. First, identify the poor performers, and second, offer them more support. That sounds good, of course, but I'd want to make sure that support isn't costing more than just putting them in the public schools would cost; education has been getting some very short shrift in terms of funding lately, and we all know where the funding for that support would come from: the public school system. It is severely limited, and that may limit the effectiveness of such auxiliary support for underperformers. On the other hand, perhaps what could be done is for state boards of education or even school districts to develop a standard homeschool curriculum. If a particular parent is struggling to homeschool with their own curriculum, perhaps because they cannot afford materials and lack the expertise to develop their own, this curriculum could be offered free of charge. In this model, I think the homeschooler would not be obliged to accept the standardized package; however, continued underperformance would require additional consequences.
How to judge performance is indeed a tricky question. It shouldn't be too difficult, though. We should have some minimum standards. Reading comprehension tests through the age-equivalent of Grade Ten. Math, definitely; the four basic arithmetic operations (+, -, *, /) through 3rd or 4th grade, geometry (how to compute area of a triangle, and volume of a cylinder -- those things are actually pretty important), algebra, trigonometry. I tend to think calculus should be required too, but right now that seems to be optional; I graduated high school without it, and honestly, once I took calc in college, I felt scammed -- it was such a joy that I was angry I hadn't been taught it sooner. Basic science standards. Health. Political science; our children MUST understand our system of government, since one day they will *be* our government. History; if a kid gets to age 16 without any idea who the major players in World War II were, they're being failed by their educators (unless they're severely intellectually disabled).
One thing that worries me is how disabled students will be handled. After all, standardized testing is already a problem with these students; we come back to some of the insanity of NCLB there. They require a lot of resources. A student who needs a full-time para to get through the day would be very disruptive to a parent attempting to homeschool four children; the education of either the disabled kid or the other three will suffer. Of course, the homeschooler still has options; hire an aide (only practical if you're wealthy), send the disabled kid to the public schools so you can concentrate on the others, or send the others to the public schools so you can concentrate on the disabled one. Will that occur to all homeschoolers? Will all disabilities even get detected in this environment? My daughter's disability was detected through the public school's pre-K standardized testing, which they use to determine if the child qualifies for early intervention. I was very surprised to see how poorly she performed on the tests. She honestly had no idea what many of the questions were about; she's brilliant in many respects -- her first word was "Coelophysis" -- but had massive blind spots you just wouldn't expect if you weren't looking for them. There aren't easy answers, of course. Whatever is implemented, it will be imperfect, and some will slip through.
In fairness, a good way to get the NRA folks out in force is to put "ban" and "guns" in the same blog post title.
My parents did unschooling shockingly cheaply. I don't expect everyone's education to cost less than $1000/year, but that's about what my Dad says mine cost.
I quit school halfway through fifth grade. For the remainder of that school year, I was took gym, art, music, and participated in the gifted program (2x monthly). That was fabulous. I think the school was willing to do that in part because they were not philosophically opposed to homeschooling, but they may have already gotten to count me as a student for funding purposes. I wish that sort of hybrid arrangement was available for all kids.
From my perspective, it's always seemed a little illogical of the state to say that I could have a free $7000/year education, but only if I took the whole package. The schools should receive a partial student-allowance for homeschoolers who take some classes... I bet a lot more schools would be happy to do it then.
I'm also inclined to think that certain measures I see as a good idea- providing homeschoolers with the same textbooks (student editions, at a minimum) the public schools use, and testing low-scorers for learning disabilities/differences- are reasonable to expect even from schools with strained resources.
As far as children with disabilities and energy per student- quiverfull folks notwithstanding, 4 is probably not the average number of school-age kids the average homeschooling family has.
But even if it was, I think it's interesting that you think you can take 4 kids and put them with 1 teacher and that this will inherently be less effective than a special education school which might have 6 students to 1 teacher, or even (more likely) a student where they're trying inclusion or mainstreaming and thus may be dealing with a 30 students to 1 teacher ratio at least some of the time.
An "ideally effective" educational environment might be a single tutor with one pupil*, but there's no reason all educational situations have to meet that ideal.
*It also might not be, depending on various social factors.
One of the things you will run up against with defining a curriculum is that if you ask a dozen people what the 'basic minimum' should be, you will get a dozen different answers.
I, for one, virtually never use geometry (and I'm a scientist). I wish my preparation in statistics was better though.
My education did include at least enough interpersonal skills to realize that what was necessary/extremely useful/nice to know/a waste of time for me won't necessarily be that way for everyone.
To be honest, although I think your ideas sound like wonderful suggestions, I think you are getting pretty far away from the idea of basic grade-level reading type of standard.
Put another way- do you really wanna declare it "educational neglect" if a kid doesn't learn trigonometry? Really?
A tenant of the unschooling movement is that children, and adults can learn what they want to, but that it is much easier to do so when (and possibly how) they want to.
The goal of defining learning standards for homeschooling should be more along the lines of "what skills, if not learned, would prevent most students from acquiring further knowledge that they want to acquire?" than "what should students know, according to me, (rebuilding everything from the ground up to be better than the schools)?". You have to leave enough room in the standards that every learner can answer the later question for themselves- or you do the students a serious injustice, I believe.
"I don't expect everyone's education to cost less than $1000/year, but that's about what my Dad says mine cost."
Except for the loss of one wage earner.
That bumps that up, for the USA, to 36,000-45,000 p.a. for the median income in the USA.
"I don't expect everyone's education to cost less than $1000/year, but that's about what my Dad says mine cost."
Except for the loss of one wage earner.
This is an important point I almost brought up.
In general, we have to factor wages lost into the 'costs' of homeschooling. To do otherwise 1) isn't logical 2) would have the same nasty sexist ramifications that not counting "homemaking" as work has in the past.
That said, in our particular case, it may be worth noting that my father was a house-husband before we were unschoolers. He had serious medical issues when I was in second grade, in and out of the hospital for quite some time (thus likely contributing to my not growing out of crying at school that made me such an alluring target for bullying). There were also other issues impacting his employment prospects. I will never forget when, as a thoughtless jerk teenager I asked him, harshly, why he didn't get a job and he said "did you ever think maybe I couldn't?"
When unemployment is as high as it is, it's rarely safe to assume that any homemaker is going that route solely because they turned down a 36,000-45,000 a year job.
Thanks for saying that, becca.
I was worried you were being rather blindly partisan there!
Also remember that if you're over around 35 years of age, your parents were working and finding a home for you when the price of a home was possible for a person on a low middle income, covered by a mortgage for 2.5x-3x the salary.
Nowadays, even with a joint income of on average $80,000 the price of a home in the USA is now 3-5x the average income total.
You can't afford to have only one working member of the family unless you're in the upper quartile (and then only if you scrimp or go downmarket).
Wow -- there are homeschoolers who are making much less than that. One thing that changes the equation is a disability. If it costs more to hire someone to take care of the disabled family member than one of the wage earners currently makes, then it makes more financial sense to quit the job and take care of the disabled family member directly. At this point, homeschooling may not be economically disadvantageous.
My hypothetical case was one special needs child and three average children, and I wasn't thinking of the special needs child who is fully mainstreamed and just gets some special exemptions to disciplinary policies or is allowed to type their spelling test instead of writing by hand. I was thinking of the severe cases, where the child requires more one-on-one treatment.
I'm not sure what the special ed classrooms in your part of the country are like. In my daughter's school, there are several options for disabled students, depending on the specific child's needs. She goes to homeroom with the regular kids, and some of the specialists like art and music; there, the student-teacher ratio is about 35-to-1 (there have been budget cuts lately). The bulk of the day, however, she is in the CIP classroom. There are nine students, one full-time teacher, an assistant, several paraprofessionals, and an assortment of other assistants who come in for their specialty (like the adaptive PE teacher). She is a pretty functional kid; I think this is a reasonable class size for her. She just gets lost in the noise and fuss of a full size classroom. In fact, even at this class size, there used to be times when she had to be removed in order to allow the other students to get an education. She has matured tremendously since then. But there are students who are far more severely disabled. For them, the school district will assign a paraprofessional to be with them all the time; it's not just the student-teacher ratio that you need to examine when evaluating a school.
I could see parents of a child with severe autism electing to use ABA or a similar system. If you cannot afford the intensive therapy, you'll have to do it yourself, much as Temple Grandin's mother did (making it up as she went along, because nobody had invented ABA yet, nor would for decades). This is most successful if you can have intense, one-on-one time with the kid. I could see a parent deciding to put their average kids into school to allow that sort of focus to happen, and that was what I had in mind.
Wow- that's assuming home ownership is a priority. We lived in a co-op. That's not a solution for everyone though, and I'm quite dismayed by the decline in real earning-power for most workers in the US in recent decades.
As far as income, of the 1.5 million homeschoolers the census had data on (as of 2007 data), 67% were in families that made < 75k/year (compared to 63% of all students). In other words, homeschooling families are less likely to be in that higher income bracket than other families (http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2012/01/homeschooling_by_the_census_nu.html). Though I haven't broken down the numbers, I've read they are also less likely to be in the much lower income groups. If you had to to generalize for some reason, homeschoolers are a very middle-income sort of group- perhaps a bit higher than the median, but not dramatically so. Also of interest is the number of homeschooling families with two parents in the workforce. People forget that older kids can often do well with part-time guided instruction, and families often have one telecommuter or part time worker, and grandparents or other extended family may be around. There are lots of ways people make things work, even if the SAHM/quiverfull model is publicized.
That's really interesting. I've heard of quite a range of experiences for special needs kids. It sounds like your daughter's school district is actually doing a pretty good job with the CIP classroom. Though 35:1 in the regular class... yeouch. I'm glad I'm not the superintendent of your school district- I'd imagine that's not sustainable and they have some tough choices ahead. I see why you'd be worried about burdening the local schools with assisting homeschoolers.
Certainly some parents would make the choice you describe (home-educating the special needs kid while sending the others to school).
But I think you overestimate the hands-on time required for decent homeschooling.
Even for homeschoolers who follow a very rigid curriculum and a school-at-home model (not unschoolers), I know of many families who find that 'doing school' takes about 2 hours a day instead of 6.
These are the kinds of families which do standardized testing and where all the kids are about two grade levels above their age-group peers (not an atypical scenario in homeschooling- of the families that test, a lot look like that). If teaching regular kids becomes enormously more efficient through the improved student: teacher ratio, then there is often enough time for special needs kids. Not to mention many activities that are good for multiple kids at once (field trips, reading allowed to both a special needs kid and a younger child, ect.). How things play out depends a lot on the specific family, so it's hard to generalize, but I think I've heard a lot more families saying they did homeschooling because all their kids could get more individual attention than families that say they chose a public school for the special-needs support (though I've definitely heard of both).
(Sorry! forgot to hit preview. Part of my last comment got cut off due to stupidly placed less than sign being read as an HTML tag)
The second paragraph should read:
"As far as income, of the 1.5 million homeschoolers the census had data on (as of 2007 data), 67% were in families that made less than 75k/year (compared to 63% of all students). In other words, homeschooling families are less likely to be in that higher income bracket than other families (http://www.mlive.com/education/index.ssf/2012/01/homeschooling_by_the_c…). Though I haven't broken down the numbers, I've read they are also less likely to be in the much lower income groups. If you had to to generalize for some reason, homeschoolers are a very middle-income sort of group- perhaps a bit higher than the median, but not dramatically so.
Also of interest is the number of homeschooling families with two parents in the workforce. People forget that older kids can often do well with part-time guided instruction, and families often have one telecommuter or part time worker, and grandparents or other extended family may be around. There are lots of ways people make things work, even if the SAHM/quiverfull model is publicized. "
While I agree that some oversight is a good thing to reduce the potential for children to fall through the cracks, I think your position that it should be banned if it can't be sufficiently regulated is drastic solution to a mostly non-existent problem. It's like the voter ID laws that are intended to crack down on a type of voter fraud that largely isn't happening. While in both cases its plausible that abuses are happening, there is little evidence that the abuses are so widespread that any dramatic corrective measures are needed. Quite frankly, I don't see any evidence for the need to have any more than some very basic monitoring and followup.
And I really don't by the socialization argument. I had home schooled friends (elementary) who got plenty of socialization in scouting, soccer, baseball, basketball, swim team, playing with the other kids on the block, playing with the other kids at the playgrounds, etc. They had absolutely no trouble fitting in when they started public school their freshmen years, and they seem to have gone on to successful college and professional careers.
Very few homeschoolers belong to the "Quiverfull" movement. I dare say most of us find the "Quiverfull" philosophy abhorrent, and the laws already on the book concerning educational neglect would already be applicable to these "Quiverfull" families. Unfortunately underfunded Departments of Children and Family Services are not doing their jobs, but that is no reason to ban an educational choice that has benefited many children and their families.
Kagehi, there is absolutely NOTHING that prevents homeschoolers from using the same textbooks that the public schools use, you can buy them directly from the publisher or online from the Home School Supercenter (just choose the secular option) You can also get textbooks from Community College/University book stores. Homeschoolers are not stuck using Fundamentalist material.
MarkH, Homeschooling doesn't need to be regulated and it is insulting to homeschool parents to imply that they will not properly care for and educate their children without government interference.
Standardized Testing cost money. Money that homeschool parents can better spend on textbooks, field trips and recreational sports. We do not need to be burdened with extra expenses.
BTW: Santorum isn't a homeschooler.His children were attending a PUBLIC ONLINE CHARTER SCHOOL. Homeschoolers do NOT receive any public funds.
You can find data on Homeschooling at this link
@Wow: Why is it that these children can't also be taught at home AS WELL AS SCHOOL?
@me: Because, for many kids, if they are forced to spend 6+ hours at school, sitting through boring classes between being bullied during recess and lunch breaks"
@Wow: So instead you make them sit through 6+ hours at home, sitting through Mum/Dad lecturing them on boring subjects, being unable to make friends because there is no recess and no break, and their peers are at school.
You're making excuses. That's what you see as bad about sending your kids to school.
You apparently know very little about how homeschooling works. Perhaps the quiverful types go with an implementation of group schooling at home, but for my kids, the bulk of their time was spent on independent learning (reading, video, computer based), with periodic assistance from parents.
Recesses and lunchbreaks are often the worst times of the day for kids who are bullied, and don't have friends at school. My sons participated in a number of activities in which they had interactions with other kids, as well as adults. For example, my older son was in a youth orchestra, was a member of a "Venturer" group (Canadian scouting for 15-17), as well as a leader of a "Beaver" group (5-7 year-olds).
I was employed full time while I was home-schooling - I was fortunate to be able to work from home most of the time.
That IS NOT why you can't make them sit down after shcool and teach them yourself.
How much homework (work at home) do kids get lumbered with nowadays? Tons. But you either want to do it ALL and tell "the man" to GFTO and away from your kids or wring your hands and let junior suffer alone with their homework or school problems.
I'm not clear what the point is here. My son was actually in public school until he was 15. I was very involved with his schooling up to that point, and made extensive efforts to work things out inside the system, assisting with his schoolwork/homework, and trying to work with the school and teachers.
The problem isn't the school.
OK - please tell me how my choices are causing problems for you. (Since I know that they have not caused problems for my kids.)
Banks don't need to be regulated and it is insulting to bankers to imply that they will not properly handle their finances without government interference? It's the same reasoning you're using, but I think we can all agree that it would be a terrible idea.
Can you imagine if the discussion had gone down like this...
Abuse and neglect of infants occurs, and is a major problem. Ergo, anyone who does not...
*breastfeed until at least 6 months (barring medical barrier)
*practice Back To Sleep and also provide 3-4 waking hours of 'tummy time' environment-exploring curriculum (and the same kind of tummy time we'd provide in daycare centers too!
*provide an appropriate instruction in walking and talking and demonstrate age-appropriate progress in these activities
IS ABUSING THEIR CHILDREN!!!!!!!1111!!!
If infants are not smiling and cooing by 4 months, they must be evaluated for autism.
If infants are not successfully executing the "pincher grasp" by 9 months, they must be removed from the home and provided with physical therapy. Otherwise, their writing skills will not develop appropriately.
If infants are not walking by 12 months, a test should be done to determine if the baby is disabled, or if the parents have chosen a grossly inadequate walking curriculum. If the later, the infant should be immediately removed from the parent's house for 6 hours a day and go to a government approved walking school.
The logically coherent position is not "all government regulation is ideal" anymore than it is "all government regulation is terrible"
Too much hyperbole here. Again and again I'm accused of saying homeschoolers are doing a bad job. Maybe they are, because their reading comprehension is nil.
What did I quote as a potentially problematic population of homeschoolers, wasn't it 1%. 1%!
Seriously. Read for comprehension, because I'm tired of arguing with hysterical hyperbole about things I have not said.
For the thousandth time. Homeschooling needs some form of monitoring, just like public schools, just like private schools, just like everyone else. Evidence of schooling failure should be investigated. This could determine if the problem is truancy, cognitive deficit or neglect etc., and one could then determine if better resources, standard schooling, or nothing should be done.
Just because they're your children doesn't mean that society as a whole doesn't have an obligation to make sure they are not being denied their rights or their education. Society as a whole has to deal with the bad outcomes of poor education. We should monitor all types of schooling for performance, and homeschool should be no exception.
As far as the "data" you guys link to, there is nothing there. I read those links Corin, you have no hard data about performance or outcomes. Similarly with the NCES data. It says absolutely nothing about performance or quality. It's just surveys of parents asking them why they homeschool. Why link these things and say you have data? Do you understand what data are? What science is? Because you don't have it, and you're not linking it.
Frankly, the poor level of argument, hyperbole and hysteria from the homeschoolers is making me increasingly disinclined towards trusting the educational merit of this alternative.
Frankly, the poor level of argument, hyperbole and hysteria from the homeschoolers is making me increasingly disinclined towards trusting the educational merit of this alternative.
Why? Do you think that internet comments on a blog post titled "Homeschooling needs....to be banned" provide data for an accurate assessment of the merits of homeschooling as an educational approach?
I expect the time required to vary tremendously, depending on the teacher/parent, the children, and exactly what it is they are trying to acheive. I'm a bit skeptical of 2 hours per day being successful. I know that with *me* as the teacher, it definitely would not be. ;-)
Which is where much of my reluctance to endorse homeschooling comes from. I am aware of my own inadequacies as an educator; given how many crappy teachers persist even *with* regulation and standards and things, how reasonable is it to expect quality education out of completely unregulated teachers? That is to say, if my horrible 10th grade health teacher didn't realize she was inept, how many homeschooling parents do? (There have to be inept homeschoolers; no demographic is perfect. I worry that the percentage will be worse in an unregulated group than in a regulated one.)
One big drawback, though, is that then you get into the ridiculous fees that publishers charge for their material. It's absurd how much some of these textbooks costs. That's why I suggested districts make materials available, either free of charge (perhaps with an income test) or for a reasonable rental fee. There are certain economies of scale, and I believe publishers do have different pricing/licensing options for larger institutions.
A lot of homeschool parents will properly care for and educate their children. But there are enough examples of parents who do not properly care and educate their children for me to be wary. Too many tragedies have been in the news lately, where an abuser was using "homeschooling" as a shield to avoid police inquiry. Regulation won't catch all of them; this is an imperfect world. But it will reduce the number.
There was a week where I experimented with homeschooling. Not with any intention of a long-term thing, but because there was an unexpected one week gap between two school sessions. (Long story.) I couldn't take the week of work, but I did have the ability to work from home, so that's what I did. I had my daughter do worksheets, and we did science projects together. It was pretty cool, but I am certain I could not have maintained that indefinitely. Multitasking isn't usually a good idea; rather than being twice as productive, you get twice as many things done but at reduced quality.
No, but nsib didn't say it was. The reductio ad absurdum isn't warranted in this case.
To all those arguing that because you are a good homeschooler, homeschooling doesn't need to be regulated, please remember this:
We are not worried about you or your children. We are worried about other homeschooling parents, the ones who are not so noble, not so dedicated, not so skilled. And honestly, I'm less worried right now about the "abuse" of religious indoctrination than I am about the much more coherent abuse of starving, beating, isolating, kidnapping, enslaving, raping, or even killing a child. There are some really horrific things that go on out there, and I have read too many newspaper accounts recently where the authorities investigated a complaint of truancy, were told the families were homeschooling, and just left it at that. What these people do is clearly not homeschooling. But as long as we just take people's word for it, it will remain a haven for nightmares.
I'm not asking for much. Just some very basic procedural steps to weed out the liars.
Calli: Your reasonable comments are appreciated.
With respect to working at home, etc, it depends on the job It was easy for me, as I was already working from home about 80%, and had flexible hours - I could put in half my day before the kid got out of bed.) Agreed that multitasking can be an issue for some kids and some jobs, but by all accounts it worked for me. (This was easier for me since my kids were in highschool, and highly motivated, since homeschooling was at their request).
As for regulation, I have no fundamental objections, though as becca and others have pointed out, the details of implementation are likely to be problematic. Here's what I do object to (and this is *not* a straw man, but a position that I have often seen advocated, at least here in Canada):
There should be a blanket ban on homeschooling because of the potential risks it presents to society. For kids like mine who were failing in the school system, but thriving in the home environment, the onus is on the parents to work through the school systems to get these issues addressed. If, as happened in my case, the school systems are not able to address the issues, that's too bad for the kids - it's too risky to allow exceptions.
(By the way, for my older son, I did have oversight from a representative of the local board of education (a retired teacher), who checked in with me monthly, asking questions about programming etc. I was happy to comply, and they were satisfied with my answers. For my younger son, he had permission of his school to take computer-based courses for his last semester of highschool.)
Calli Arcale- There are undoubtably some less-than talented homeschooling educators out there. Some of them are probably even unaware of it and unable to 'farm out' something that may be difficult for them (like my Dad did with math). I'd argue the consequences of that, on a societal level, are probably smaller than a truly awful teacher teaching 35 kids year after year (although honestly, I think many more teachers are "bad for a particular student" than "generally awful". Generally awful teachers are very rare in my experience).
But it would seem many people's initial attitudes toward that issue boil down to whether you see homeschooling as *an alternative to schooling* or as *an extension of parenting*. There's phenomenal parenting and atrocious parenting out there, but I see a lot less call to "regulate" than I do for homeschooling (didn't the example with the infant education officer seem a bit ... not-ideal? I really don't want the government enforcing any of that, even if *I* think it's good for infants).
It's not like I think laws about child abuse are a bad idea, so it's not like I'm opposed to any form of regulation of parenting (which is what child abuse laws are, among other things). It's just that I don't think the default assumption should be "prove your life choices to the state" when it comes to homeschooling anymore than I think it should be the default approach with infant care. Actually, the vast majority of the issues you're bringing up really are matters that *would* come up with good enforcement of existing child abuse laws. If that's the case, I'd like to see some analysis by people that study child abuse and see if they think new laws about homeschooling would be more useful than e.g. better funding to prosecute under existing child abuse laws.
None of which is much consolation for the kids subjected to incompetent (not abusive outright, just far sup-par) parenting or teaching, though. I suppose ultimately, what I see missing from these discussions about regulation are the kids views. If a kid feels like their parent or their school is failing them, and they can come up with a socially acceptable alternative, I think that those wishes ought to be taken into account. But I'm not sure how to codify that into law in a world where minors have no rights, they are basically parental (or state) property, and all the approaches to "they are entitled to a good education!!!11!!11" come across as so much more well- meaning paternalistic bullpockey.
Then what exactly is your argument? You disagreed with the idea of there being some sort of oversight for homeschooling, so I assumed that your position was against any sort of government regulation.
Also, basic infant care is totally a necessary thing to regulate that is indeed regulated in the US to a degree. Sending an infant home to a family that doesn't know how to feed it is criminal negligence, so we try to avoid that. Oh, and that example I gave about families not knowing how to feed their child? I'm not even making that up.
"Then what exactly is your argument? You disagreed with the idea of there being some sort of oversight for homeschooling, so I assumed that your position was against any sort of government regulation. "
Actually I personally did not take that position. I "reluctantly agreed" with the general form of part of Mark's idea- i.e. that increased scrutiny and regulation of of homeschooling could be net-beneficial.
Basic infant care is not regulated in the sense anyone is talking about for homeschooling. Yes, some people don't know how to feed their newborns. However, if an infant fails to achieve more than the 30th % of weight gain for their length, we don't talk of taking that child out of the home for state designed feedings.
Offering education to caretakers is not the same thing (As far as I know, one is not legally required by law one to listen to the no-juice lecture at the hospital, and one is certainly not required to allow the no-juice inspectors into one's home and check that only breast milk or formula is being used).
Only in the case of demonstrated gross physical abuse or neglect (where the courts have already gotten involved), or in the case of foster parents whom the state must certify people and has an exceptionally compelling interest in the treatment of the kids, have I heard of a presumption of ignorance/incompetence of parents or any specific mandated rules about infant care.
We homeschool our two older children because they have special needs that the public school they were in simply could not support. We use a standard curriculum (K12.com) that many states also use for what they call "options school" (public school virtual academies, etc.--free, no tuition), that has my 10-year-old learning to distinguish appositive from adjectival and adverbial prepositional phrases for 6th-grade level English and balancing chemical equations. It is not a religious based curriculum (which is why it is a public school curriculum), and my son also does two or three hours a day of life and physical sciences. We are lucky because I'm trained in English literature, music, and languages with a minor in history and have a PhD in biology, so I can cover a lot of ground with them without outside help. We ensure inputs from other sources through various extracurricular activities and time with other children their ages through other extracurricular activities including chess club, sports, etc. Not all homeschoolers are quiverful science denialists--in fact, a large percentage cite "special needs" as one of their reasons for homeschooling.
We have been involved in two homeschooling communities in two states, and I've not run into any apparent cases of abuse, etc., or even "quiverful" types, although there's a lot of holy rollin' out there among some of them. Most of the homeschooling families I know are secular, but that's clearly a self-selected group.
I would be fine with a state's providing (we do still pay taxes, so why not?)/requiring annual testing for my children to ensure that they are on target for their age/grade in each subject, but I've got little interest in having the public system that could not appropriately support my sons (who have autism and ADHD) try to oversee our day-to-day process that has proved to be quite successful for our children. That alone makes me quite wary of any state interference in home education. If I recall correctly, Germany does not allow homeschooling (or maybe it was Sweden?), and I am just not sure what we'd have been able to do for our sons had we not had the option simply to remove them from a public school situation that had become utterly nonfunctional for them.
The basic problem with this reasoning is that to be consistent, it should be followed to its logical conclusion.
That being- most child abuse and neglect, especially abuse that results in child fatalities, occurs BEFORE a child is school age. When those who support more homeschool regulation ALSO call for oversight and supervision for all mothers with children under compulsory school age, I'll buy the argument. Until then, it is a weak, unreasonable attempt to criminalize a basic parental right.
"The basic problem with this reasoning is that to be consistent, it should be followed to its logical conclusion."
That would be:
unless you're *really* careful.
"When those who support more homeschool regulation ALSO call for oversight and supervision for all mothers with children under compulsory school age, I'll buy the argument."
So you're saying that those who are FOR homeschooling and less or the same regulation not applied (i.e. status quo) are also for child abuse?
"I'd argue the consequences of that, on a societal level, are probably smaller than a truly awful teacher teaching 35 kids year after year"
However, since the set of such observations that have been shown is actually the null set, this does rather beg the question: is that actually any problem at all?
You're arguing that it's true, but assuming it to argue it.
It isn't an absurdist reduction. The hue and cry for regulation of every aspect of our lives is increasing at an alarming rate. I can almost imagine a day when you have to show a picture ID to buy a large fry at the drive thru.
Why not identify and regulate the homes of obese children? They are at risk too, ya' know. Healthy children are as much a public concern as educated children.
Homeschooling parents have opted out of a system that regularly fails kids. It is ironic and not a little ridiculous that the system that can't get half its students to read and master math concepts at proficiency level wants to regulate parents who couldn't possibly do worse and statistically do MUCH better.
The gov't should not intervene until someone actually breaks the law. You don't increase regulations on law-abiding citizens. We do not assume that 2 million American parents are guilty by default because they homeschool. It is discriminatory and bigoted to hope that by burdening homeschoolers with an increasing number of hoops to jump through that it will somehow prevent a parent from doing something YOU don't like with THEIR child.
We homeschool on our dime, on our time. When federally funded, taxpayer supported, gov't regulated schools can regulate themselves, perhaps there will be a reasonable conversation to be had.
"The hue and cry for regulation of every aspect of our lives is increasing at an alarming rate"
OK, so you're a strong libertarian, ergo ANYTHING done by government is wrong.
Pop over to Somalia and see how a lack of government regulation aids the wealth of the people...
"Why not identify and regulate the homes of obese children?"
Well, why not? Since it's not the topic of the post, why answer?
Why not identify and regulate paedophiles? Oh, we do. I guess you don't mind them being regulated, though.
"Homeschooling parents have opted out of a system that regularly fails kids."
And homeschooling parents have opted into a system that regularly fails kids.
"The gov't should not intervene until someone actually breaks the law."
And when a law regulating homeschooling is made, then the government SHOULD intervene?
"We homeschool on our dime, on our time."
And so what? You are in the highest earning brackets. You can afford to do it, and you WANT to do it in case your children don't grow up thinking, like you do, that anything done by government is wrong.
"When federally funded, taxpayer supported, gov't regulated schools can regulate themselves"
The gov't should not intervene until someone actually breaks the law.
Isn't that what you said?
And your problem is rather whacked out: you say federal schools fail children because they can't regulate themselves, then say that homeschooling SHOULDN'T be regulated.
Wouldn't that mean that homeschooling needs even less to regulate itself? How does that help?
There will be a reasonable conversation to be had when you drop the ideological blinkers.
The hue and cry for regulation of every aspect of our lives is increasing at an alarming rate.
If that's true at all, it's probably because so many people are starting to see that Republitarian DEregulation has been such a total failure.
I can almost imagine a day when you have to show a picture ID to buy a large fry at the drive thru.
You don't have to "imagine" that -- it's already happening to some Americans. You may have noticed them, they tend to have darker skin.
Homeschooling parents have opted out of a system that regularly fails kids.
No, the "system" does not "regularly" fail kids. And to the extent that it does, that's probably because of people like you who keep on voting for legislators who promise to short the schools so you won't have to pay taxes.
...wants to regulate parents who couldn't possibly do worse and statistically do MUCH better.
If that's true, then you should have no problem with reasonable regulation. That's all that's being called for here: just a means to be sure that kids aren't being abused, and are getting the education they need. If homeschooling is so much better than other methods, then you should have no problem with regulations that only ask you to prove it.
The gov't should not intervene until someone actually breaks the law.
Not even to determine whether the law is, in fact, being broken?
It is discriminatory and bigoted to hope that by burdening homeschoolers with an increasing number of hoops to jump through that it will somehow prevent a parent from doing something YOU don't like with THEIR child.
So it's okay for you to question public schools, but it's "discriminatory and bigoted" to question homeschooling? Get off your emo high horse and try to think straight, willya? (Oh, and the child is not YOUR property, it's your responsibility. There's a diference.)
When federally funded, taxpayer supported, gov't regulated schools can regulate themselves...
Um...actually, public schools are regulated quite a lot. That's one thing so many of you so-called libertarians have been complaining about for the last half-century!
If ultimate authority and responsibility for education lay with the state, I would agree that we should regulate homeschooling more. As it stands now in the United States, parents hold both the responsibility and the authority. You might look at Supreme Court opinions in Pierce v. Society of Sisters , Wisconsin v. Yoder  and Gaston County v. United States  (or I can tell more about them in another post.)
Any attempts at regulation should provide a variety of ways to show that parents are providing an "equivalent education". For some, standardized tests would be a poor choice. Those who choose Waldorf should not be penalized if their children are not reading at age 8, since reading instruction does not begin until then. Most public schools are worried about children who are not reading by that age.
That is why I think my own state handles regulation well: those who choose to homeschool must provide written notice to their public school superintendent. Children must either take a standardized test or be regularly overseen by a certificated person. 11 subjects must be covered, but the law is to be "liberally construed".
Homeschooling regulation will not right every wrong and, if not done carefully and minimally, may do very great wrong.
"If ultimate authority and responsibility for education lay with the state, I would agree that we should regulate homeschooling more"
Why only then? And what defines "ultimate responsibility" because as far as I can see it, the ultimate responsibility and authority for social issues DO lay with the state.
"As it stands now in the United States, parents hold both the responsibility and the authority."
Because either you need 80 million civil servants to go running round or you let the 80 million parents do the chasing and you supply some thousands of civil servants to chase up those lagging.
"For some, standardized tests would be a poor choice."
So then you are applying privilege and unequal protection under the law.
The killer of democratic rights.
"Most public schools are worried about children who are not reading by that age."
They ought to be worried. Learning such a skill happens better before the age of 6, and if you start after 4 you're on average less likely to manage to achieve your potential reading grade by adulthood.
"Homeschooling regulation will not right every wrong and, if not done carefully and minimally, may do very great wrong."
How? You state this but begs the question.
If schools are failing children because they can't even regulate themselves, how can you justify demanding homeschooling get even less requirements to regulate?
There are so many red herrings and straw men here- I thought there would be some reasonable points made, but instead we've got the Psychic Friends Network declaring that they know the intimate details of homeschoolers personal lives?
I'm in the highest income bracket? That's news to my checkbook.
This country functions best when citizens are not overburdened with regulations that do nothing to ensure that they can be safe and productive. The only thing a locked door does is keep honest men honest, so more regulations only burden those who would actually observe them.
If we are going to declare that children who are not in a public or private school must be observed to prevent abuse, then what are you going to do with kids that are not yet compulsory school age? Especially when most incidents of abuse and child fatalities occur before the age of 6?
The most recent articles I've read about the supposed links between abuse and homeschooling have neglected some very important FACTS: that social services had already been contacted about those families and had visited the home, that medical personnel were also aware of the failing health and signs of abuse in the child. The school districts also neglected to do even the minimum of follow up on their end. No homeschool regulation you can imagine would impact these situations in the slightest.
I have no problem notifying the local school district that my kids are being homeschooled. But any more than that is an unnecessary intrusion into our private lives. We don't invade someone's home unless there is reasonable cause. The police don't knock on your door and ask to search just because they feel like it, and say "If you don't have anything to hide, you shouldn't mind." That is a very bad precedent to set for American citizens.
I regularly read publications like Education Week, and blogs by teachers. There are many MANY school officials, teachers, and admin that are concerned with the problems in schools. I just read an article about a boy who declares, in no uncertain terms, that the system had failed him- Education Week published his article. I applaud them for facing the problems and trying to solve them.
But the federal/public school system is just that- a system. Regulations are part and parcel of gov't programs, because the gov't is to a large extent accountable to the citizenry.
Home education is not a system, and it IS a Constitutionally guaranteed right. Children are not property- that is for certain- but they are not the responsibility of the state, but of the parents. Parents are not accountable to the state for their personal, private choices, nor should they be monitored as if there is reasonable cause to suspect them of wrongdoing.
"but instead we've got the Psychic Friends Network declaring that they know the intimate details of homeschoolers personal lives?"
You know, that's rather amusing coming after you whinge about straw-men and a lack of reasonable points.
You're not big on self-assessment, are you. Probably why you think you're teaching your kids well.
"This country functions best when citizens are not overburdened with regulations that do nothing to ensure that they can be safe and productive."
Libertarian dogma completely at odds with reality.
Banking crisis ring a bell? The Great Depression? Robber barons? All because there were no regulations, or inadequately persued.
Worse, you whine about how the schools ARE failing children because they don't follow regulations. But, here, you whine about how there shouldn't be so many.
Joined up thinking is not your forte either, is it.
"If we are going to declare that children who are not in a public or private school must be observed to prevent abuse"
And since we don't (this, by the way IS a straw-man, another amusing whine from a self-obsessed idiot libertarian), not a problem.
"Especially when most incidents of abuse and child fatalities occur before the age of 6?"
So, since you're against regulation and government interference in private lives of families, you are FOR the abuse of children before they are six years old.
"nor should they be monitored as if there is reasonable cause to suspect them of wrongdoing"
But that's PRECISELY what you whine about NOT happening enough in schools.
Your idiotic faith in libertarianism is blinding you as much as any suicide bomber dreaming of 21 virgins in the afterlife.
That authority is not absolute, though. At its most extreme, we all agree that infanticide is wrong, and that parents who deliberately starve their children are not fit, and that parents do not have the authority to make their children perform illegal actions. These are extreme examples, but they do happen, and that means that parental authority can never be absolute. There is a line somewhere; the difficult question is where, precisely, to draw it. Homeschooling is not abuse; I don't want to imply that. The point is just that we must be careful not to assume that parental authority is untouchable. I like that you mentioned parental responsibility; I think that's far more important.
What, then? Standardized tests are relatively simple and low-cost to administer; I would not want the regulation to be burdensome to anyone, and standardized tests do have a lot of advantages when it comes to efficiency. It has to be the right tests, of course, and a child with a learning disability might be excused from completing portions or even excused from testing altogether, depending on the diagnosis.
There's a good reason for that -- most schools have been teaching reading for several years by then, so a child who has still not picked up on it clearly has some sort of a problem. I think it's fair to require some level of reading competence by age 8. If Waldorf schools cannot achieve that, then I would question the value of their education. Reading is the single most important skill in any child's education, since it opens the doorway to self-education, and because so much education is not possible without basic literacy. If Waldorf schools really don't start teaching reading until age 8, I'm actually a bit shocked that they consider themselves to be schools. That's appalling.
Here's some perspective: my five-year-old child currently reads at a second-grade level. She learned this at a Montessori school, but my husband and I have been heavily encouraging it at home. Meanwhile, my eight-year-old, who reads at a fifth-grade level and is in the public school system, is a voracious reader and a competent speller who can even write "coelophysis" (which was also her first word; yeah, she's a bona fide nerd, and I couldn't be prouder!).
In which case, I am puzzled by your objection to standardized testing. I agree that this is a reasonable system of regulation. I believe it is comparable to what my state does as well. (Perhaps we are in the same state.)
If done wrongly or not at all, it will also do very great wrong. We must not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or let fear of failure put us into a free-for-all. Some states have regulation which consists of "tell us that your kid is being homeschooled" and nothing else, and it is hard to deny that these states have much lower rates of academic success. I don't think that's causal; I think it's just that both things result from the same cause: a generally poor attitude towards education in general. A state which cares about education will care about their homeschooled kids and their public school kids. A state which doesn't, won't, and the result will be no surprise to anyone.
I define âultimate responsibilityâ as having the final decisions and also being accountable for those decisions. (As an aside, unfortunately many parents donât realize they still have responsibility when they send their children to school. I wish they would remember they are merely getting help with educating their children and not turning over responsibility for them.)
I suggested you look at several Supreme Court decisions because they form the basis for my statement that parents are ultimately responsible in the US. In Pierce, Justice McReynolds wrote,
"The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."
From the opinion delivered by Burger in Yoder:
"â¦Stateâs interest in universal education, however high we rank it, is not totally free from a balancing process when it infringes on fundamental rights and interests, such as those specifically protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendmentâ¦".
Quite aside from the court decisions, I believe parents are generally in the best position to advocate for their children. âThe Stateâ is a nebulous entity concerned for the welfare of children generally. Parents are particular people concerned with the welfare of particular children. No system involving humans being perfect, the latter has the better chance of working for more children.
I do not agree with Waldorf's methods, but I am glad that in the US, people are free to choose Waldorf. I gave this example because obviously you should not expect children to know how to read who have not been given an opportunity yet. On the other hand, children do indeed learn to read in Waldorf. They also learn to read in "free schools", which are even less restricted than many homeschools. Let's continue to be open to a wide variety of educational options and not force our own idea of best practices on others.
In my own state of Washington, parents do not have to do standardized tests. They may choose the other option. I am far less bothered by Mississippi's minimal law, however, than New York's over-the-top, in-your-face laws.
BTW, I am a Montessori elementary teacher who also holds a public credential for K-8.
Are you suggesting the standards should be adjusted to the nature of the education? By that logic, what is the point of standards at all? One could merely decide "oh, reading isn't important" and legally produce an illiterate 18-year-old. I am *not* glad that people in some parts of the US are free to neglect their children's education in the name of "liberty". There have to be minimal standards, or what's the point in even requiring education? Seriously. I actually worry that if our public school system is allowed to erode any further, it will severely deepen the divide we now have between the poor and the wealthy, because the poor will no longer send their children to school at all. They'll put them to work to help feed their families.
For what it's worth, the Montessori teachers at my daughter's school (which runs through a grade 8 or 9 equivalent; age-wise it's grade 8, but the students tend to test into grade 9) are all also licensed for K-8 at minimum. (All teachers in Minnesota must be licensed, including private school teachers.) They're hoping to upgrade to K-12 now that they had an opportunity to gain some more floor space. (Long story.) So I know a lot of teachers with comparable credentials as you. The Montessori system can be a very effective way of promoting self-motivated learning. It didn't work out well for my eldest, who really needs a highly structured environment with her particular learning disorder, but my youngest has been thriving there. Due to cost, we're going to have to move her into the public schools soon, but we're blessed with a particularly good local elementary school, so I'm not worried.
Let's be clear: public school programs worry about non-reading 8-year-olds because in those particular programs, kids who go that far without reading tend to struggle. This statistical likelihood does not apply to kids in Waldorf programs. They learn to read just fine.
In no part of the country are people "free to neglect their children's education in the name of 'liberty'." I'm not sure where you got that idea from what I wrote. People do have a wide variety of ideas of what constitutes education and how education should be done. We do not have "standards" to which all must adhere, and I consider that a good thing.
It sounds as though you would like more regulation for private schools as well as homeschooling, but you are simultaneously concerned about the "erosion" of the public schools. I would suggest a paradigm shift away from the idea that anyone at all could "produce an illiterate 18-year-old" (or even a literate one.) Children are not products manufactured in the education system and the amount of education each gets depends even more on the children themselves than on parents, schools, or the state.
"This statistical likelihood does not apply to kids in Waldorf programs."
How? By magic pixie-dust in their wheaties?
"In no part of the country are people "free to neglect their children's education in the name of 'liberty'.""
But you and Susan want to have such a place exist.
"We do not have "standards" to which all must adhere"
Homeschooler parents don't, or at least don't want to. Don't want anything other than clones from your loins.
"and I consider that a good thing."
One thing about teaching a basic curriculum, even if NEVER EVER using "the sine rule" in their life again, they had the chance to find out if maths ticked their fancy. Or music. Or cooking. Or the career they eventually get happens to need some maths, they at least don't have to start right from step 1.
"It sounds as though you would like more regulation for private schools as well as homeschooling"
That would neither be a problem, nor be any different from what Susan wants: she believes that the failure of state schools is because the regulation isn't being followed. Since neither private nor homeschools have much in the way of independent assessment, we don't really know how much these institutes are failing children.
In Mississippi they certainly are. Oh, maybe it's in the name of apathy rather than liberty, but people can sign a form asserting that they're homeschooling and that's the end of it. They don't have to actually follow through.
If there is no oversight of homeschooling, then homeschooling becomes a way to subvert compulsory education. I would think as an educator yourself, you'd be concerned about that. Or do you not believe that children have a right to an education, even if their parents do not agree?
Ah, so you merely object to the language. Would you care to address the actual point, that a system which can allow a child to grow up without learning to read the local language simply because his or her parents didn't feel it was important is a bad one?
No, Calli, I do not âmerely object to the language.â Language is important because it indicates a personâs thoughts and attitudes. I suggested to you that the manufacturing paradigm of education was a major problem with our education system. Perhaps you didnât intend to align yourself with that way of thinking, but it is prevalent. Ron Miller talks about it in *What Are Schools For?* The point I was making was that all the forms of schooling under discussion are limited by the students themselves: you canât force someone to learn how to read. I find that to be a comfort, though, because the flip-side is that when kids find a reason to read, it is hard to stop them from learning how. Thatâs one thing I tell myself when I see the truly awful ways some people choose to educate their children.
Calli, you wanted me to address your point that a system is bad that allows children to grow up not learning to read simply because their parents donât think itâs important. Sure: I agree that is bad. Where we disagree is whether we should regulate homeschooling more than it already is in order to prevent parents from failing their children in this way. I think if this were a widespread problem, we would see a lot more cases than we do now. As it is, we hear about a case here and there, and it almost always involves children who were already being monitored by social services or children whose families did not follow the current regulations for homeschooling. Homeschooling is just not being used to subvert compulsory schooling in the way you fear.
Wowâs language is either snide or angry, neither of which is conducive to debate. Iâll try once, Wow. Leave the âmagic pixie dustâ and âclones from their loinsâ out of it or Iâll stop responding to you. (If you really think Iâm as stupid or selfish as your language implies, thereâs no point in your arguing with me anyway.)
Okay, Wow. The studies that showed kids having difficulty reading after the age of 8 only involved kids who had been taught reading before the age of 8. They were not studying kids who started learning after that age. That is why those studies cannot be applied to Waldorf kids.
You speak of âbasic curriculumâ as if we have national standards for public schools: we donât. Various interest groups such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics have put out documents for their subject areas that schools are free to use or ignore. Individual states and school districts have standards documents. There is a national push to create and implement a national set of standards, but it is not complete and in use yet. Who do you think should decide what is included in standards that would apply to all children across the country?
Neither of you responded to my quotations from Supreme Court decisions. Do you simply believe the justices to be wrong, want to see legislatures tightening regulation, and let a test case go forward to test the constitutionality of greater regulation?
"I suggested to you that the manufacturing paradigm of education was a major problem with our education system."
You fail to explain why.
Yeah, well, the shoddy careless tinker-in-your-garage paradigm of education is turning out to be even worse, as this article eloquently shows:
Read the whole thing. America's homeschooling movement is a disgrace. Oh well, at least the Taliban would be proud.
"I think if this were a widespread problem, we would see a lot more cases than we do now."
But how can we tell if we refuse to look?
"Homeschooling is just not being used to subvert compulsory schooling in the way you fear."
Raging Bee's article demonstrates otherwise. It's difficult to understand what the real scope of the problem is, but it's clear that yes, homeschooling *does* get used to subvert compulsory education, and often enough that I don't want to just assume it's not a big deal because I don't see the problems myself. Truthfully, I don't see that many Quiverfull horror stories; the movement isn't that big in my part of the country. Instead, I hear child abuse horror stories. A "homeschooled" girl recently escaped her family in Wisconsin. She was illiterate at 14, and not because she chose not to read -- becuase her family didn't want to teach her. She was severely malnourished, had been sexually abused by her stepbrother, had been forced to drink her own urine, was kept in the basement with only a bucket for waste and a sink to wash herself, and was often forced to do chores in the nude to prevent her hiding food in her clothing. She finally seized an opportunity to escape after her stepmother pushed her down the stairs in fury at an inadequate cleaning job; the girl had become convinced that now they weren't merely going to beat her but would kill her, so she left. Barefoot. In the winter. (Fortunately, this was an unusually mild winter.) How had she not escaped earlier? Her parents had registered her as "homeschooled" and there was no follow up.
Or consider the strange case of an abducted infant recently found in Mississippi -- many years later. The girl had been stolen from the hospital where she was born, in another state, and the woman who stole her had spirited her away to raise her as her own. But the thief wasn't a good mother, and was abusing the girl. She registered the child as homeschooled not because she had strong opinions about education but because she could not produce a birth certificate or social security number for the child. The girl has been reunited with her real mother, but they don't know each other at all.
Does this happen often? We have no way of knowing unless we look. But the fact is that there are times when yes, homeschooling is absolutely and *intentionally* used to subvert compulsory education. Our grandparents fought hard to make sure we'd have a recognized right to an education. I'm wary of throwing that away. Even in the name of liberty, because educating children gives them liberty. We're not so far from the time when children were considered chattel. At the very least, we should not be making things any easier for the abusers. There has to be some minimum of followup.
(By the way, you say you cannot force a child to read. This is true. You cannot force a child to do anything, including cleaning their room or eating their greens or getting themselves dressed in the morning. But here is where parental responsibility comes into play. You might as well say you cannot force a child to have good manners, but I think we all agree that it is a parent's responsibility to teach them manners anyway, even if they are, like most children, initially opposed.)
BTW, I did not comment on the Supreme Court cases because I seemed to have missed them earlier. I'll try and come back and read up on that later. I don't know anything about those cases, so would need to research them.
Everyone seems to be missing the biggest issue with home schooling. What is the psychological effect of home schooling?
At least like the author says we need much more information about the efficacy of home schooling including psychological studies.
Sure! Do studies. The burden of proof is on those who think we need regulation and not the other way around. (See those Supreme Court decisions no one wants to discuss.)
The burden of proof is on those who think we need regulation and not the other way around.
And as the article I cited shows, that burden has been clearly met. (And the fact that Mary's only response is "do more studies," while ignoring all of the information brought up so far, pretty much means she's admitting defeat here.)
I certainly do not believe you have made your case, although I am looking at each argument and link brought forward. Which information have you brought up that you would like me to respond to? The article you cited shows there are people who think homeschooling is bad, not that homeschooling should be regulated. Parents who neglect or abuse their children should lose custody. Homeschooling does not per se keep abuse from being detected, just as school attendance does not guarantee detection.
In Wisconsin v. Yoder  the court found that parents' decision to keep their children from attending school after grade 8 was protected by the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. (This refers to freedom of religion and would protect the quiverful people, too.) What the case did not cover was what are those children's rights if they do wish to continue school against their parents' wishes? I would like to see such a case brought forward, and would hope the children's wishes would be held primary.
The fact is, different people have different ideas of what children should know at any given age (or at all.) Education in our country is diverse, not standardized. Homeschooling helps keep it diverse. When you regulate homeschooling, you will give our government the power to begin a homogenization process that will weaken our country.
I don't see that as a leading issue. Homeschooling is far too varied and the process of growing up far too complex for such a study to be particularly meaningful in any discussion of whether or not to allow homeschooling. There are happy, well-adjusted kids who come out of homeschooling and horrible nightmares that would keep every parent up at night as well. The same is true for any educational system; the individual variation overwhelms trends in this area, I suspect.
I don't think anybody in this thread has suggested regulating homeschooling to anything like that extent. Speaking purely for myself, I'm merely calling for some minimal standards and enough follow-up to ensure education is, in fact, occurring at least through the ages of compulsory education in the given state. If the kids want to drop out at 15, fine. If they can read and write well enough to fill out an employment application, and can make change for a $20, and their parents think that's sufficient, fine. They'll be at a disadvantage when they're turned loose on the world, but they'll have enough tools to have at least a hope of regaining the lost ground.
I'm not calling for homogenization. I'm just calling for enough standards to prevent abuse. I'm not sure why you're opposed to that.
These statements are both true, obviously. But that the system is imperfect is hardly an argument against improving it.
The article you cited shows there are people who think homeschooling is bad...
No, it showed that homeschooling REALLY IS bad when it's done by ignorant, abusive, or incompetent parents, especially when those shortcomings are reinforced by isolation and adherence to backward religious doctrine; and that most of those kids would indeed have been better off in some sort of school.
Homeschooling does not per se keep abuse from being detected...
Yes, actually, it does, as the article clearly demonstrates. Your obvious refusal to address what the article actually said proves your cowardice and dishonesty.
In Wisconsin v. Yoder  the court found that parents' decision to keep their children from attending school after grade 8 was protected by the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.
That was a truly wretched decision that ignored the kids' needs and significantly restricted their freedom to make their own choices when they became adults.
What the case did not cover was what are those children's rights if they do wish to continue school against their parents' wishes?
They're MINORS. They're generally not mature enough to make such decisions for themselves -- especially if their parents have (intentionally or not) denied them the information they need to make the right choices. This is why parents have the obligation to give them the education they need to make informed choices when they bcome adults; and why that obligation supercedes the parents' religious rights.
The fact is, different people have different ideas of what children should know at any given age (or at all.)
Yeah, and some ideas are just plain BETTER for the kids than others; and some ideas are downright evil and harmful.
Education in our country is diverse, not standardized.
"Diversity" is not a good thing if it includes crappy education, backward attitudes, paranoia, and outright lies.
When you regulate homeschooling, you will give our government the power to begin a homogenization process that will weaken our country.
When has "homogenization" of education ever weakened a country? And when have higher standards of learning ever made kids more "homogeneous?" The more kids learn, the more knowledge they're exposed to, the higher standards we set, the LESS homogeneous they become. Truly educated and conscientious parents understand this, and they don't throw tantrums when the state tries to make regulations for the kids' welfare.
You're throwing around a lot of emotionally-leaden words, for purely manipulative purposes, and you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.
Speaking purely for myself, I'm merely calling for some minimal standards and enough follow-up to ensure education is, in fact, occurring at least through the ages of compulsory education in the given state. If the kids want to drop out at 15, fine. If they can read and write well enough to fill out an employment application, and can make change for a $20, and their parents think that's sufficient, fine.
Are you kidding me?! We need FAR higher standards than that, if we want our kids to be truly free and truly civilized, and our country to be anything more than a third-world backwater and a cheap-labor pool for just any robber-baron or loony cult leader.
Raging Bee -- you have to start somewhere, and I'm interested to see whether Mary continues to argue against such low standards as being too burdensome for homeschoolers and private schools.
Whoaaa! I am not arguing "against such low standards as being too burdensome for homeschoolers and private schools." I am arguing that we do not have a right to regulate to the degree several of you would like. Much as we would all like to fix what we perceive as wrongs in education, we run up against the Constitution when you start thinking of regulating more than we already do. I am not protesting low or high standards here: I am protesting that your standards, whatever their level, be made to cover everyone.
Raging Bee, it might be interesting to argue with you except that, like Wow, you rage too much. I know it's not personal because I observed it in your posts directed toward others as well. I have no interest in arguing with someone who accuses me of throwing tantrums, being manipulative, being cowardly and dishonest. Why in the world would you want to spend any time arguing against someone who, in your words, has no idea what they are talking about?
I am arguing that we do not have a right to regulate to the degree several of you would like.
I agree -- we don't have a RIGHT to regulate our kids' education to ensure they learn all they need to function as responsible adults in a free society; we have an OBLIGATION to do so, just as we have an OBLIGATION to feed them.
Much as we would all like to fix what we perceive as wrongs in education, we run up against the Constitution when you start thinking of regulating more than we already do.
Really? What part of the Constitution, exactly, do we "run up against" here? Do you even know what the Constitution says? Or are you just bluffing, like so many other libertarians?
I have no interest in arguing with someone who accuses me of throwing tantrums, being manipulative, being cowardly and dishonest.
Aaaand...splat. By running away from my substantive arguments, you just proved my accusations correct.
Then you are protesting the mere existence of standards, because what is the point of standards if they do not apply uniformly?
If you are not arguing that the standards are too burdensome, then I'm not clear on what your argument is. Why do you object to even low minimal standards for education? I fail to see how any educational system*, including homeschooling, could fail to meet the very low standards I proposed earlier unless it is utterly incompetent.
*I am, for argument, assuming we're talking about real educational systems and not abusers masquerading as educators. I'm sure you're not intending to shield those abusers, after all.
"because what is the point of standards if they do not apply uniformly?"
The point is that if Mary doesn't like it, then it must be regulated and meet standards. If Mary does like it, then it cannot be interfered with by government.
It's libertarian religious catechism.
RB: "Do you even know what the Constitution says?"
No, libertarians know what the constitution OUGHT to say. Much like the religious xtian fundies who KNOW what the bible means, even if it contradicts them.
It's why the Teabaggers got so many numpties on their side: both are identical in their approach to their faith. One based on Rand, the other on Jesus. But the same approach to "correct interpretation" and the need to actually know what it says.