I coined a word about three years ago, to describe a condition that I believed would only worsen with the passing of time and lack of scrutiny: Ex-Schoolers.
Ex-Schoolers are public school students who are convinced by school officials and sometimes their own parents, that the best course of action is not to try harder to actually educate a difficult child, but to simply allow the student to leave the school with no strings attached, as a transfer student to a private school. Here’s the catch–or rather, the golden opportunity for public schools in trouble–in many states, homeschools are considered private schools. This is the perfect way to “excommunicate” the undesirable students so that the school can appear to be improving. And if anyone is called on it, then it’s the parents’ fault for using some loophole in the law. The schools will have a nice list of all those bad parents, I bet.
As they should be. You can read more about Indiana’s problem with excommunicating some of their students in my post about Public School Push-outs from earlier this year.
There’s nothing illegal-ish about transferring out of public school to homeschool, by the way. It’s been like this for ever, because we still respect our privacy in this country. Our children are only required to attend a State School if we are not choosing to educate them otherwise. So don’t get all bent about forcing all children to get some kind of tracking chip to make sure they’re attending school somewhere. K?
But not all parents are truly interested in homeschooling… especially if their child is receiving a poor education at their State Compulsory School. And not all public school administrators/teachers/superintendents are interested in working triple-time to educate a disinterested child… especially if that child is starting to go rogue.
Enter the easy way out!
If the student (and the parent) is convinced that the school has pretty much given up trying to give this rogue child a chance to graduate, and all their problems (and the school’s problems) will go away if they would just call themselves homeschoolers and leave, do you think they would take it?
In Texas, they believe a good portion of around 22,000 transfer students did exactly that–excommunicated themselves from public school in order to avoid flunking out or dropping out, and in the process… saved public schools from having to report an embarrassing dropout rate.
And keep tabs on this site for the latest news as Richmond Community Schools in Indiana is trying to explain how they went from a “dropout factory” to an award winning super-duper graduation school in just two years.
Wow… I wonder what goes through the heads of bureaucrats, that makes them think wasting time on an “I will be responsible for the education of my child” pledge is worthwhile?
The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has recently released [10/2010] their Parent Pledge which—and I quote—is supposed to create “a caring, involved and accountable [public schooled] parent.”
[Update: 12/2016 – After a couple of administrations have come and gone, obviously this important document meant to create a caring and involved and accountable parent… has vaporized from the IDOE website. In fact, a search for “Parent Pledge” returns ZERO hits for the entire DOE IN.gov website. This should serve as a lesson to everyone that anything the government does to help you… is never intended to really help you. Requesting you to, “Sign zee paperzz,” is the first sign that the government wants to hold YOU accountable, not the other way around. PS: How many tens of thousands of dollars were spent on something that ended up being this uselss?]
After rereading the document [view the PDF copy here], I had an epiphany! What Tony Bennett, the State Super of Schools really wants all good Hoosier parents to do … is HOMESCHOOL!
Holy Cow! I couldn’t believe it myself, but it’s right there, all in black and white, ready for everyone to sign and GET BUSY WITH HOMESCHOOLING THEIR KIDS!
But believe it or not, I think this form is a little TOO simple. Maybe it’s written for a certain grade level of adult reading. (What grade level is “Sheeple?) Anyway… Here’s what the pledge is really asking parents of publicly schooled children to do, in a “what they say” vs. “what they are really saying” fashion.
Buckle up! What they “say” vs. what they *mean:
As a parent, grandparent or caring adult I hereby affirm my commitment to the academic achievement and career success of my child. I promise to make the pursuit of knowledge a priority in my household.
* I promise to not abdicate my responsibility as a parent to direct the education of my own children. Therefore, I will not expect any government agency, including public State Schools to raise my children. I will also promise to be the sole arbiter of the definition of academic and career success.
To demonstrate my commitment to this goal, I pledge to adhere to the following principles:
* To demonstrate my newly reclaimed responsibilities as a parent, I will proudly call my child MINE, while gently reprimanding anyone (public school employees, politicians, social workers, nib-nose neighbors) who refers to other people’s children as the collective “ours.”
i.e. “We need to raise everyone’s taxes because it’s in America’s best interest to assure all our children receive the best free government accredited education possible.”(Verbal spanking follows if gentle reprimands don’t work.)
Here are my core principles according to the State:
My child will read with an adult or be encouraged to read independently each day.
* I will read to MY child or encourage him to read on his own, as long as he likes, from books that interest him, each day.
My child will complete all homework assignments given by school instructors and will be encouraged to ask for help when it is needed.
* I will encourage my child to complete whatever project he begins, as well as any work I assign. I will–of course–answer his questions in a timely fashion and help him learn difficult tasks when asked.
My child will arrive at school on time, well rested and prepared for a full day of instruction and learning.
* I will not stress my child with busy-work so he’s well rested and healthy. He will be able to learn at his own pace, with an emphasis on what interests him. Instruction will take a back seat to learning and I will model the difference in our new learning lifestyle.
My child will treat teachers and fellow classmates with respect and compassion. I will make positive behavior the expectation in my household.
* My child will treat EVERYONE with respect and compassion. PERIOD. No matter what the situation, or whom my child is interacting with, positive and proper social behaviors are expected. I will provide models for this proper social behavior by being present in his life as much as possible (acting like an adult) and not expecting other adults to provide this important form of socialization.
My child will graduate from high school and will understand the importance of a strong education in determining future success.
* My child will graduate from high school and be prepared to lead an independent life as an adult. (I have no interest in rearing my children into their thirties. Really.) They will learn the true meaning of success–it is based on one’s character, not one’s diploma–before they graduate. (See next principle.)
I will encourage my child to dream big and always give 100 percent effort.
* My child will learn that 100 percent effort doesn’t always mean 100 percent success. Dream big, but expect to WORK and make lots of mistakes if you want to make your dreams come true. This will provide a balanced and realistic view of the world because there are no self-esteem building programs after high school and employers will NEVER tell you, “Good job!” when you really don’t deserve it. Heck! They will probably only grunt when you DO do a good job. Get used to it now.
I will treat my child’s teachers as a valuable resource and work with them to support academic improvement and classroom behavior expectations.
* I will treat everyone that can positively influence my child as a valuable resource for learning. We will be on the constant look-out for interesting people from whom we can learn interesting things. Our experiences will be broad and diverse because we will socialize with others with broad experiences, age ranges and lifestyles different from our own. By living this lifestyle, I will be modeling proper social interactions for my child. Some people call this “Socialization,” and they are absolutely right. Socialization is best handled in the home by the family. (Thank you so much for returning this responsibility to the home where it belongs! How this would work in a bland institutional classroom with 20+ other children, I’m not sure… but I suppose that’s the school’s job to figure out.)
I will monitor my child’s academic growth and stay as involved as possible in my child’s education. I will let the teacher know right away if I notice any problems.
* I will monitor my child’s academic AND character growth (at home) and then take action right away if I notice any problems. There is no need to notify a teacher, since they are not my child’s parent. Intermediaries aren’t necessary and only delay academic growth, not to mention suppress or counter proper character development. I WILL, however, be sure to notify the school–right away–if I notice my child’s teacher indoctrinating my child with values counter to those of our family.
Together, my child and I, in partnership with Indiana’s educators, will make education our #1 priority.
* Together, our family will take back our responsibility to educate our children and raise them to be responsible and educated adults. We will carefully choose those who are to be in authority over our children. (Possibly including Indiana’s Educators.) And finally, we pledge to make our home-learning lifestyle our #1 priority for our children and our family.
[Addendum: Please provide a similar pledge of responsibilities to the entire teaching staff of the school our child attends. We will schedule a meeting to interview each teacher and witness the pledges THEY sign… just so we know we’re all on the same page. Thank you.]
Yup, sounds like homeschooling, doesn’t it?
*NOTE: These principles were all derived without the use of tax dollars, government programs (or legislation), suggestions from unions, psychological counselors, government employees or state school appointed parent councils. You are welcome.
Question: So how did you get involved in the home schooling movement? I home schooled some, saw a lot of positive out of it. Unfortunately, I also met home school parents who didn’t do a good job.
Answer: The short answer is, No. At least not in the sense of a movement that is organized. I think many people believe a movement isn’t a real movement until there are some non-profits involved, hiring lobbyists to give the movement ‘a voice’ in Washington. That’s not a movement. A movement is something where a huge number of people end up doing the same thing without the need for mailing lists, newsletters, calling trees and fundraising campaigns.
IF we are using the later term, then yes, I am part of the homeschooling movement. And I got into it by simply not forcing my kids to attend their local public school.
I didn’t get involved in the “movement” so much, as I just decided to become an involved parent. We decided to be involved in the raising AND education of our children. We decided early on that one of us was going to stay home when we had children, and as it turned out, I was self-employed in a business that was not conducive to a steady income and my wife was. Choice made.
While the kids were growing up, I used my skills to develop a web based and user-group based homeschooling network http://www.ihen.org. I also joined a few other, like-minded parents to found http://www.indianahomeschoolers.com. For about a decade now, we’ve supported, helped, networked with other parents who need help with their homeschooling. We’ve (collectively) answered literally thousands of questions and pointed thousands of people in the right directions, finding co-ops, internet resources, hard resources (like museums, libraries, etc.) and generally Helped Hoosiers Homeschool. In fact, that’s our motto: Helping Hoosiers Homeschool since the turn of the century.
Are we a movement? Nah. We’re a project. A work in progress. We aren’t so much a “movement” as we are a simple networking hub for information and ideas about alternatives to public, state schooling.
So, am I a part of the movement? I suppose so. But it’s not like I have a fancy placard on the wall making it official.
Now… What About Those Other People?
The end of your question reflects a condition I like to refer to as: TOPS (Those Other People Syndrome).
If I can encourage you to think outside of the box a little, I would like for you to think deeply about your last two sentences.
You say you experienced a lot of positive things. Were those experiences more positive than you might have experienced with a public school? If so, then isn’t that the entire point of having the freedom to choose the educational paths for your family? You did great! Kids are great! Life is good!
But you say it’s unfortunate that (in your opinion) there were some parents who weren’t doing a good job homeschooling their own kids.
First… so what? Does the fact that (in your opinion) some people don’t do such a good job, impugn the entire enterprise? (I ask that because there are a surprising number of people who believe that a few bad apples should indite the entire barrel.)
Here is where I would like for everyone to do a little deeper thinking: If that is the case — bad homeschoolers make homeschooling an undesirable lifestyle for everyone — then what are we to do with other failing things? What about failing government schools? Bad teachers? Uninvolved and neglectful parents? Are not they just as, if not more, influential and destructive to the lives of children?
And what about those parents who are just plain bad? They send their kids to public schools because it’s convenient to not have to care for your own children 24/7, they don’t have to take responsibility for the kids’ education — and it’s free. The State Schools teach the kids next to nothing in a values-free vacuum, because they believe that kids that don’t learn things just don’t have involved parents. The kids don’t get any instruction at home, so in essence, we have millions of kids being raised by government schools adopting Lord of the Flies philosophies and nurtured by the media culture. The kids are screwed until they can leave home and make a mess of their lives all on their own.
It’s at this point where we can easily tell which young adults were homeschooled and which went to public institutions. And I can say without doubt that the worst homeschooler I’ve met has never been worse than the best public schooler I’ve met. See, I don’t judge the parents; I judge the fruit (once it has matured.)
Are the bad parents doing a good job? Can we more easily point to those families on the street and say, “I’m worried about the way they’re raising their kids.” Sure we can.
But we don’t. Do we. So why the scrutiny on homeschoolers… who are most likely sitting quietly in a library, reading or researching or doing something relatively useful with their lives, with some involved guidance from their parents?
Homeschoolers are easy targets because they’re not doing things the way the rest of the Sheeple do, and that makes the Sheeple nervous.
The point is: at the end of the day, there isn’t much we can do about how people raise and educate their children, can we? We can’t conduct junk food raids on the homes of fat parents with fat kids (yet) and we can’t conduct “educational neglect” raids on the homes of homeschooling families (mostly because most public schools are doing much worse at that teaching thing.)
Fact is: Homeschooling families are always “suspect” and under suspicion for somehow harming their own children by doing something so out of the ordinary as RAISING THEM. Why is that? Please think about it a bit.
If there is one thing, dear reader, you come away with after reading this post, I hope you begin believing that it’s more important to watch out for the people who are REALLY affecting, abusing, indoctrinating our children and stop worrying about how parents — you’ve seen or heard about — are raising and educating their children. Here’s another motto I’ve used for years:
All Parents are Educators. What are you teaching YOUR children?
And THAT is what I do. I help people make progress and think for themselves and stop worrying about Those Other People by busting a few myths. If this is something you call a “movement” — to that I say, “Whatever. I’m in.”
OOPS! I see the problem: The truth makes headlines too long!
There’s also another problem I have: When private citizens know things about a situation that the media doesn’t (or just won’t ask about) we run into a frustration factor as we listen to or read speculations on the part of the public that are so wild and not based on reality (let alone the facts) that it’s laughable.
It would be great to blog about what we know, but we aren’t “the professionals” and for some reason (probably reasonable reasons, like we aren’t professionals) our information isn’t going to get the respect needed to give our facts the legs they need to make the story complete.
What most people see (and think) when they read The Journal Gazette’s story, is that there seems to be a problem with homeschooling, when parents can “educationally abuse” their own children without the State or any other government agency getting in there and saving those children. There appear to be “loopholes” in the law that “some people” are using as a means of hiding the fact that they are ABUSING their children! It’s as if people think that the act of homeschooling alone breeds violence. Right… and being poor causes armed robbery. The problem is, the law (any law) has nothing to do with what a person will or will not do, given the lack of moral character typical law breakers posess.
But let’s stay on homeschooling laws, since it’s alleged that the breaking of these laws, led to the “educational abuse/neglect” of children. You want to know what Indiana Homeschooling law says? Here it is:
There. Surprised? Why? Didn’t you know that there is no mention of “homeschooling” in Indiana Law anywhere? There’s no “Homeschooling Law” anywhere on the books. If you want to read (in English) what the Indiana Education Code really says, check it out on the IHEN.org web site. (There’s a link to the Indiana DOE site from there.)
In a nutshell, parents who educate their children at home, are running private schools. Most all laws and rules that apply to private schools in Indiana, also apply to parents who homeschool. There is one rule that private schools and homeschooling parents must follow in order to meet the requirements for Indiana’s Compulsory Attendance Law: Parents must “keep attendance.” Don’t take my word for it. Read it from the IDOE web site:
No. Home educators (the term is interchangeable with home schoolers) must, upon request of the local or state superintendent, show attendance records. There is no format to the records required by law. See I.C. 20-33-2-20. Home educators must also register with the State Department of Education as a private school. See I.C. 20-33-2-31. They do not have to use any specific type of curriculum. See I.C. 20-33-2-12. One interpretation of educational law as it applies to home educators is that it is legislative intent that there is a form of accountability (attendance) but not of quality control. Consequently, the public schools do not have any jurisdiction to demand that home schools provide anything other than attendance records. Issues of equivalency or neglect are questions of law that should be referred to the proper authorities in your county. The proper authorities include, but are not limited to, Child Protection Services, the Prosecutor’s office, and law enforcement.
Yup! My kids are here, in the house (or at the library, or visiting the museum) and they are “attending” our little private school. That’s it. State laws are satisfied. The State just needs to know that all children are ATTENDING a school of some sort. That’s because the State mandates ATTENDANCE, not EDUCATION. If the State actually mandated “education” then by all accounts, every Government School Employee who socially promotes or graduates a child that can’t read and write should be fired and jailed.
But wait! That’s what happened to these two moms! They ended up with one year probation, whereby if they fail to inform the court of every single excused and unexcused absence of their children (in public school) they could face jail time for breaking their probation agreement. I call that slavery. But I’m a blunt kind of person.
Actually, aren’t ALL public school parents on probation? I mean… if their kids skip too much school, we do fine and eventually jail them, right?
Now you ask: “So… they weren’t really abusing their children by not teaching them anything?”
I don’t know. For some reason, the actual teaching of the children was never brought up. Probably because the law does not allow for the state to dictate curricula. Only ATTENDANCE was brought up. The moms didn’t keep attendance while they were homeschooling, and when they put their children BACK IN PUBLIC SCHOOL ABOUT A SEMESTER OR TWO AGO!! (oh… don’t remember THAT fact, did you? That’s because it wasn’t reported.) the school’s control freak in charge asked them for attendance records, so they could “prove” the kids were being homeschooled before coming BACK TO PUBLIC SCHOOL. (It’s a vindictive thing that some Government School Employees do because they can. It’s not like they believe that ATTENDING something actually means you LEARN something. Heck! Just look around where they work and you’ll have to agree.)
Well, it seems these kids have been back in public school for more than enough time to make this entire thing a moot point. (That means meaningless.) But for some reason, these two women were brought up on charges anyway.
I believe some reporters and publishers who care about the truth, should either start asking questions and reporting with a little more depth, or maybe trying to put a little more truth in their headlines.
Yeah, I know… too long.
[Stay tuned for more on “attendance” issues and what really happens when children are independently educated outside of State Control.]