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.
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?
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.
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?
In checking around to see if there were any stats on the number of good little parents who are pledging to do what the schools can’t seem to do, I came across this, from over a year ago: 1,500 Parents and Counting, from GreatSchools.org.
Nothing about how many have been added to their rolls since then… but my guess is not much.
So, if a national organization can only find less than 2,000 parents to take their pledge (in a sweepstakes, no less!) then what do you think the results of the recent pledge push from the Indiana DOE will be?
Not that results matter to government. All they want to do is divert people from thinking about the REALITY of what is going on in our public schools; and it’s not a lot of actual education.
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.