The original post was linked here: http://www.pal-item.com/article/20101001/NEWS03/10010314/What-do-we-do-with-home-schoolers- but may have been moved. The entire article is reprinted below so it’s easier to find. All rights are reserved by the original authors and publishers… of course.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH HOME-SCHOOLERS?
SOME OVERSIGHT SEEMS REASONABLE COMPARED TO COST OF LIFETIME DEPENDENCY
October 1, 2010
Time to offend everyone. How can you write about education, and do otherwise?
The subject of the week is home-schooling. More and more people in Richmond are doing this — or claiming to do this. One result? Our graduation rate is improving, for when a student leaves the district for home-schooling, the departure does not count against the rate. Does this explain the whole increase? Maybe not. But it sure helps.
Let’s be real. Something is happening here, and one doubts it is a citywide divine revelation about the glories of home-schooling.
Are our local administrators quietly encouraging parents of troubled and troublesome kids to sign the form that promises home-schooling?
Are parents claiming to home-school, so they can dodge the law that now requires kids to be in school until they are 18?
I don’t know and I don’t know. But we do have a way of finding and using loopholes in laws, and this one is a mile wide.
Yet behind all that, is this: What do we do with home schools?
Leave them alone? Regulate them? Ban them?
I run in circles where home-schooling is often present, and sometimes popular. Home schools are like anything else: Some are good, and some are bad. Some parents are passionate, diligent and competent. Other parents are lukewarm, negligent and unqualified.
I admire those who do it well. My kids surpassed my home-schooling skills somewhere around first grade.
So I ask: is it in the interests of the state, to keep an eye on this? I say yes.
Let’s say the schools do happily say goodbye to frustrating and failing kids through this home-school loophole, and never see them again. Or let’s say exasperated parents do sign the form, then allow their children to enjoy a curriculum of potato chips and ESPN. What is the result? Uneducated, unskilled, unmotivated people who will barely survive in the work force and might eventually drop out altogether. Then, since we are so generous with our social programs, we will have another group of people who take far more than they give.
Is this what we want? I hope not. Some oversight and regulation seems reasonable. This might include submission of a curriculum, occasional visits and participation in the standardized tests. Yes, this addition to our bureaucracy will cost money, but how does that compare to what we pay for a lifetime of dependency?
As with many issues these days, we tend to run to the extremes.
One side might say, “Do not touch my home-schooling!” The other side might say, “Just outlaw it!”
But can we do better than that? Home-schooling is an excellent path for some. But it is not for everyone — especially those who merely sign a form to evade a law.
If we believe we need to help people who need help, we need to help them when they are kids, so we do not need to help them when they are adults.
Let’s not stick our heads in the sand about what is happening or what could happen. We can value freedom and urge responsibility.
Hello, legislators. Anybody … home?
Tom Stein is senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Richmond.