The Definition of Ex-Schoolers: Enter Texas!

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.

In Indiana, homeschools are considered non-accredited, non-public (gov-speak for private) schools. This means that once a student transfers out of public school to a private school, the public school is no longer responsible for making sure that child is attending a school, as per Indiana law. If they want to transfer to another public school, that student is tracked in the public school’s databases just like all other students. But in private school… they’re off the radar.

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.

Read all about it right here: High number of home-schooled students prompts audit | Houston & Texas News – Houston Chronicle.

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.

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So What DO We Do With Homeschoolers?

“Legislators. Anybody home?” Are  you listening?

prepare to find out why government school employees, sheeple, and now, a pastor, want homeschoolers investigated and regulated.

Step One: Read Pastor Stein’s editorial: What do we do with homeschoolers? on the Richmond Palladium-Item web site (if it’s not archived and squirreled away… in which case, read it here in the SkippingSchool Archive.)

Step Two: Come back here so I can attempt to answer the questions: Why is it that people scream the loudest about investigating and regulating homeschoolers whenever the Government Schools are about to get spanked? And secondly, what should we REALLY do with homeschoolers?

Why do people call for the regulation and investigation of homeschoolers?

It’s quite simple, really. Government school employees and anyone else who believes that the State is responsible for taking care of children–more than parents–are deathly afraid that someday soon, people will wake up and realize Government Schools are failing… they’re REALLY failing, if not damaging generations of future adults. Someday, people will actually look at the results of the government controlled, mass instruction of a majority of America’s youth… and say, “This isn’t working!” And… they’ll walk.

The pro-State Schooling advocates are afraid that THEY are the ones that will be investigated. And like little children, the first thing they do is point to someone else.

For decades, this behavior has been working, but as more and more parents are simply leaving the state schools for other options like homeschooling, it’s becoming clear that it’s only a matter of time before someone with a brain cell will openly wonder why Government Schools can not seem to educate children in an efficient and relatively safe manner–especially with all the billions of dollars we send them.

It’s like they’re saying, “Hey we know WE suck at educating the MAJORITY of YOUR children, but what about those homeschoolers over there? They aren’t doing it like we do, so I bet they’re giving their kids a worse education than WE are.”

The heat can’t get too close—which is why I suspect the Government Education Complex is relieved Dr. Tony Bennett (no relation) recently released a “Parents Pledge” encouraging parents to essentially promise to homeschool their children for the public schools. Read my thoughts on the pledge here: I Pledge My Children, to the State.

Now that the spotlight is getting turned on to failing Indiana schools (Richmond Community Schools) that are suddenly creating bureaucratic magic with dropout rates, we are treated to editorials like this one by Pastor Stein.

Shall we dissect?

Some oversight seems reasonable compared to cost of lifetime dependency

The tag line already brings up (what some people consider) the obvious question: To what data are you referring to that suggests a lack of oversight into the methods of privately educated children, leads to a lifetime of dependency? You are starting out on poor footing Pastor Stein.

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.

Sure it helps! … the school. Let’s take the homeschooling “loophole” aside and just look at the table trick going on here: If we have 75 kids who want to drop out of school and have no hope of gaining credits to graduate, what would be better for the school? Keep the under-educated in school two more years, failing ISTEP tests, causing trouble, chronically truant, or suggesting to his parent that if they only would say they’re homeschooling, he could leave school now?

Let’s be real. Something is happening here, and one doubts it is a citywide divine revelation about the glories of home-schooling.

You are absolutely right there. It’s happening state-wide and has been written about in Illinois, Texas and other states for, oh.. about three years now. Again… that’s why THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOMESCHOOLING AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH PUBLIC SCHOOLS EXCOMMUNICATING ITS OWN WORST STUDENTS.

Are our local administrators quietly encouraging parents of troubled and troublesome kids to sign the form that promises home-schooling?

Yes.

Are parents claiming to home-school, so they can dodge the law that now requires kids to be in school until they are 18?

And yes again. Wouldn’t you? If you discovered a way to get your trouble-making kid out of a mandatory sentence that didn’t promise reform or remediation of any kind, would you take advantage? Our own DOE Super, Tony Bennett, even used the word “escape” in a recent Q&A session for the Pal-Item.


Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana Dept. of Education Superintendant of Schools

Bennett told Palladium-Item reporter Brian Zimmerman during a recent statehouse interview that, as a former principal, he fretted that some parents and guardians might use home schooling as cover to get their students out of school without consequence.

“It bothered me because I always wondered, was that student really going to get schooled as is in the title of home school,” Bennett says. “Or was that child escaping being schooled?”

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?

You do nothing. And any attempt to regulate, legislate, “crack down on” or close loopholes on private home education will end up backfiring on public state schools. What Pastor Stein fails to understand is the reason more and more parents are leaving public schools is because they are finally at the point where they are fed up. Kids make it all the way to their sophomore year in high school, suddenly realize they don’t have the GPA nor the credits to  graduate with a “real” diploma, then get smacked in the face with the realization that even though they are hopelessly unable to meet the demands of the State school, they will nevertheless have to stay imprisoned, like indentured servants, or face penalties.

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.

If I run into REALLY negligent parents, I would tend to report them, or offer to help them. When a pastor runs into a truly negligent parent, what does HE do?

Oh… are you talking about “educationally” negligent? Be careful. By definition, a public school that forces children with minimal credits and failing GPAs to stay in school until they are old enough to legally drop out, could be considered negligent.

By the way: Schools are legally responsible for attendance, not education. This is why when people start to cry for accountability for EDUCATING children, the schools aren’t held accountable. But attendance? Sure. They’re good at that.

I admire those who do it well. My kids surpassed my home-schooling skills somewhere around first grade.

If you are not confident or knowledgeable enough to teach your own kids first grade concepts, then I’m truly sorry. Perhaps your public school was negligent?

So I ask: is it in the interests of the state, to keep an eye on this? I say yes.

If it’s any of YOUR business, then I might agree with you that the State should be involved. But if on any particular issue you would say, “It’s none of my business,” then why would you believe that it’s the State’s business?

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.

By all indications, it seems FOR GENERATIONS there are a significant number of high school graduates who have been doing the very thing you are suggesting above. And they supposedly didn’t have the benefit of the potato chip and ESPN curricula. To what do you ascribe the blame for the generations of welfare families who weren’t homeschooled?

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?

Did it occur to you that we are spending an easy $10,000+ a year for each Indiana high school student that doesn’t have a passing GPA and will never have enough credits to graduate (and go to college and a productive life by your standards) and will be required to stay in school for two to three years longer against their will, before they can “escape” legally by dropping out? Isn’t that wasted money for the exact same results?

So what’s the difference… other than a few million dollars a year for a few thousand under-educated kids that will end up on the ‘loser’ end of society whether they skip school early or late? Again… this has nothing to do with homeschooling.

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.

Are you willing to say the same thing about public schools? Mandatory State controlled schooling isn’t for everybody? And if so… what options would you suggest for the parents who don’t believe it’s the State’s job to educate their children?

Never mind. I think I’d rather not know.

Public School Pushouts: Indiana Pads Grad Rates

I’ve often talked about the situation I call Ex-Schooling–the “excommunicating” of some publicly schooled kids. Ex-schooling is when a public school administrator tells the parents of a poorly performing child, they can’t drop out, BUT they can’t stay at the school either. The ultimatum given to the distraught parent is this: she must homeschool their kids in order to take them out of the school’s hair, and BONUS! the kid that leaves, doesn’t count as a dropout against the school.

Well, here’s a little proof:

Clark County Chatter -> graduation rates.

This is one mom that is willing to go public with her story. Rest assured, she’s not alone.

In a nutshell, some public school employees are exploiting the Indiana private education laws by suggesting that rather than dropping out of school, the parents of the problem child just say they’re homeschooling. The school doesn’t have a dropout on its record. Their graduation rates look better. Sometimes, if the student didn’t do well on his state tests, the school’s overall test scores will be affected positively.

Then, if something happens to the child or family that is “homeschooling” the school gets to point to the homeschooling community and remark at what a poor job they are doing. “Oh… they’re probably exploiting the law, just to get out of school!” See my posts on Richmond Community School Corp. and on the women who plead guilty to educational abuse for not homeschooling right. Two better examples of what I’m talking about can not be found, until now.

Read the words of one of possibly THOUSANDS of moms who are getting shafted by public schools that are looking out for their own bottom lines, rather than doing what is best for the children they are supposed to SERVE.

I’m sure there will be more to come. The question is: will the attacks on the homeschooling community come before the facts about the tactics of Government Schools are known?

Homeschool Truants in the Crosshairs

ILLINOIS, INDIANA, MICHIGAN — The year 2010 is going to be the year of “The Hunted Homeschooler.” Some cities are considering new curfew laws, supposedly to counter truancy, but in practice, they will be used to harass homeschoolers. Some cities are just outright picking targets that they know aren’t really homeschooling, and nailing them. (I wonder how they know that education isn’t going on? Read more for my theory.)

My friend, Sue Ryan at Corn and Oil has been writing about what has been going on in Illinois this month, and combined with what we have been discussing here in Indiana and in Michigan, it almost appears like an all out frontal attack on homeschooling.

We need more regulations!

Homeschoolers are unaccountable!

Parents who didn’t fill out an attendance record are educationally neglecting their children!

Parents are skipping school and ‘saying’ they’re homeschooling!

I’m sure there are more.

Conspiracy? Nah. But while I won’t give it that much credit, I do believe that what is going on of late is a result of the practice I’ve called, “Public School Excommunications, or Ex-schooling.” Public schools, in the desperate need to reduce the dropout rates among students (including those who are not old enough to legally drop out) have found that by encouraging parents to simply “say” they are homeschooling, both the school and the parents can conveniently get rid of a mutual problem.

We can all blame NCLB all we want, but the fact is, no matter what was required of public schools to meet the federal demands, teachers and school officials all across the country did everything they could, to either dumb down the requirements so more kids could ‘appear’ to pass, or they sabotaged their classes to prove the point that the Republican’s plan for school reform wouldn’t work.

Part of the sabotage plan (I would argue) was to indict parents for not holding up to their end of the bargain to educate their children after (school) hours. Stupid kids aren’t the schools fault… it’s the fault of parents who don’t appreciate education the way they should. The battle of who’s schooling whom stays on cruise control until those stupid public schoolers get too hard to handle and control; then it’s time to get rid of the problem.

It’s like a getting out of school free card!

The solution is obvious! The school gets rid of a child that doesn’t want to be there and is likely acting out in disruptive or violent manners (not to mention purposely tanking his or her state mandated tests) by forcing the parent to leave the school in the only legal way possible — they are forced to transfer out of public school to a private school. And since they can’t afford a private school, they are told their only choice is to homeschool.

It’s likely the parent is already frustrated with her child’s behaviors, and double-frustrated with how the school handles and miseducates her child. What concerned (or even neglectful) parent wouldn’t be glad to get out of the cycle of  abuse and punishment inflicted by government schooling on her child?

There are questions that need to be asked of every parent from here on out that is accused of “pretending” they are homeschooling:

  • Did you recently decide to homeschool, or have you been doing it for a long time?
  • Why and when did you decide to leave public school to homeschool?
  • Were you told that you were required to homeschool?
  • Were  you told that if you didn’t, CPS would be called on you?
  • Were you informed of the legal requirements to homeschool, or do you feel you were just tossed out?
  • Did you look for local and statewide resources for help, once you decided to homeschool?
  • Would you have rather gone to another school, if you had a choice?

These are the first questions reporters should be asking when they come across cases like this. But instead, we are going to get more and more articles indicting non-homeschoolers for no other reason than NOT going to a government school.

Therefore, this will be the year of The Hunted Homeschooler.

BbB