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.

Quote: Homeschoolers are Breeders

Sometimes people write things that are just too good not to share.

I participated on a newspaper’s comment forum this month, taking them to task for suggesting that Home-school transfer students must be held accountable (and regulated.)

There were a couple of the usual trolls (people who make wild claims but refuse to put their own names to them) that make these kinds of forums fun, but rather unpleasant for people who are sincerely trying to understand a situation.

The topic was — to my mind — about how a school was encouraging parents to transfer their children out as homeschoolers, rather than dropping out. In then end, everyone is happy, since the school’s dropout record improves while they also get rid of trouble-making youths that are too young to legally drop out anyway.

As for the parents and kids? They get out of a school that was at best, a lose-lose situation. They couldn’t do any worse if they sat in front of the TV watching PBS and Discovery Channel all day. In fact… they would probably do better.

Now the school officials are looking like miracle workers with their new awesome-low dropout record, when it’s more than likely several of those transfers were encouraged by the administrators to leave. I call them Ex-schoolers.

Meanwhile, posters to the comments section of this particular op-ed article have these nice things to share about homeschoolers:

[Richmond Community Schools] is clearly using the phony, but legal, loophole created by the very powerful home-school industry lobbyists that allow the garden variety breeder to “home-school” their child in order to avoid prosecution for, among other behaviors, educational neglect.

I know of two or three educated adults who do a clearly commendable job providing a great education for their children, but they do so while supporting, tacitly or otherwise, the much more prevalent practice by negligent, uneducated breeders who simply wish for their child to get knocked up, or moved out, while protected by the unaccountable practice of designating one’s self as home-schooled.

Knocked it out of the park!!

We can keep laughing only as long as people like this aren’t taken seriously. I suppose once they start using their real names, watch out.

RCS Should Define Abuse

It’s been awhile since the accusations flew from RCS (Richmond Community School) board member, David Stidham, who said: “When [Indiana education law is] abused, we gain.” [See Richmond Pal-Item Op-ed: Home-school transfers must be held accountable.]

This leads us to the obvious question: “When public servants accuse citizens of crimes and educational abuse… do they make a sound?

In this case, apparently not. Other than a lengthy discussion thread on the original op-ed above (which included invectives like “breeders” — referring to the apparent ‘crisis’ of parents saying they’re homeschooling, but really just letting their children run loose, out from under the thumb of school authorities) there seems to be little evident follow-up on the alleged crimes of educational law abuses.

I wonder why that is?

As a fifteen-year homeschooler, and project director of a statewide networking organization, I am fully aware it’s in the best interests of all parents who educate their children privately, to make sure that the law is followed to the “T” and that “abuses” are not going on.

Maybe the RCS employees and board members are just a little confused. If they would take some time to read the actual law… maybe they wouldn’t be so worried about homeschoolers abusing them. I wrote an article about the Indiana Code (in English) a year or so ago. Feel free to check it out here: http://www.ihen.org/incode/

Maybe… it’s not the parents who are doing the abusing?

For everyone who apparently didn’t hear the accusations fly, here is what I think I heard (from reading the op-ed): Everything seems to boil down to a surprise (a miracle really) positive bump in the graduation rate at RHS. It seems the good news can be attributed, in part, to the fact that there were over 100 student transfers from Richmond schools… many of whom allegedly left Richmond to attend private schools and to homeschool.

Big numbers!! This led the good board member to suggest that most of those transfers were due to parents “abusing” the law and yanking their kids out of school to avoid punishments of some kind or…. or what?

Problem is, we don’t really know what the numbers are. It shouldn’t be hard to find out how many kids transferred to another public school, and how many transferred to a private school and/or homeschooled. It’s very likely RCS records would tell… but for some reason, no one is asking and no one is telling. Why?

I have a theory.

I have had this theory for about two years. I’m also thinking I’m right; because immediately after the accusations against rogue homeschoolers was made, it felt like someone somewhere said, “SHUT UP!”

You see… it really all comes down to motives and means. Is it possible that RCS has a greater motive to “abuse” the “lax regulations” (it’s subjective whether they are ‘lax’ or not) if by doing so, they could slash their dropout rate by over HALF? Maybe it’s just me, but I think a reasonable person might have to agree RCS has more to gain by more than a few troublemakers leaving school.

Click to see more from DetentionSlip.org
Pretty soon so many students will be expelled or transferred, the schools will REALLY start to make money.

The cold hard facts are these: There are way too many children under the legal dropout age of 17, who are desperate to get out of a school they KNOW isn’t doing them any good. Delinquents or not (I’m sure many are) they find themselves in a situation where they feel the need to fight, rather than acquiesce and ride their prison terms out for 12 years.

If the school finds they can not control these children, and they likewise can not let them drop out (legally) then it serves both parties to find an equitable solution. The question again is: Who has the most to gain? On the one hand, kids get out of state schooling, but later get the dogs called on them for not being “accountable”. On the other hand, the school system gets Miracle Numbers and possibly MILLIONS in new tax dollars for suddenly doing such a great job educating kids!!!

Hmmmm.

Well, since no one is speaking up, here’s how I believe this abuse thing works: Someone (maybe a school official? Maybe a mom who’s worked the system with her child?) tells a parent that their child can’t legally drop out, but all they have to do is “say” they’re homeschooling, fill out the homeschool enrollment report form at the IDOE, and they ALL (parent, troubled youth, and of course, the school) are ‘free’.

Done. Now to avoid possible trouble (for the government employees) wait a few months and scream ABUSE! UNACCOUNTABLE! Look out! There are a ton of parents out there “saying” they’re homeschooling and their kids are running in the streets causing trouble! Crisis!

You can make up your own crazy plot… (Wait. Hear that? Crickets chirping.) but this is the ONLY crazy plot that MAKES SENSE. The puzzle pieces fit.

The question is, of course, whom is doing the ILLEGAL THING? Are the parents abusing the education of their own child or are school employees “abusing” the law to try to return sanity to a school system that is having a hard enough time just teaching, let alone running a prison camp? Tough questions to be sure, but I’m thinking the answers aren’t that hard to figure out.

Oh… Did I mention any school that does this, gets a great miracle graduation rate and low dropout rates!?

There are still some people out here in the woods, waiting for some answers. Will we hear a sound?

BbB

[Original post is here.]