If NCLB Poisons, Obama’s RTTT Kills

Look for the NEA and statewide teachers’ unions (like Indiana’s ISTA) to begin to rail on President Obama’s education reform plan. Thanks to Arne Duncan’s idea that MORE MONEY will help failing schools, the unions and public school statists are once again placed in the awkward position of complaining that the money has too many strings, and “the right people” don’t have control of the funds.

Too many of those darn Republican governors will get to hand out the grants. Read “Bennett and Daniels: Using Race to the Top as an excuse to Kill the Teaching Profession” for some, uh… perspective.

For a more tame and realistic point of view, EducationNews.org has this to say:

Instead of triggering a fundamental rethinking of education, Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s billions will simply hasten the destruction of the institution I love – universal, free, public schooling.

Notwithstanding the press releases about the expected miracles from unleashed market forces, the money will be spent trying to salvage the institution rather than transform it (a strategy familiar to those who follow the banking industry).

This is an interesting comparison! Is he saying that all of this money will have the same effect on schools that the TARP money had on the banking industry? One point he misses, is that Government Schooling has never been a private industry. If the banks (then GM) were taken over because they took all that money and still failed, then what happens to public schools that are already controlled by the bureaucracy? (They grouse about having to be accountable, for one thing.)

Public schools have always been  government run and taxpayer supported. (Just like HealthCare will be. Keep that in mind when you don’t get to choose your doctor. How many people are going to get nightmare doctors that remind them of their nightmare teacher in fifth grade?) Schools can’t be “taken over” any more than they already are.

American education, simply and emphatically, is on a wrong track.

My question is: “When did it jump from the right track?” Was it doing fine until an evil Republican with a vial of poison called NCLB came along?

As a vehicle for intellectual development, it began to slow down the day the young were pulled out of apprenticeships and other real-world learning experiences, put in rooms insulated from the real world, and made to sit, hands on desks, eyes front, mouths shut, being fire-hosed with facts.

This perfectly describes public education since the middle 1800’s. Actually, ever since compulsory attendance laws were enacted. None of the above symptoms of the failing nature of  state schooling have anything to do with money or funding schemes. They all have to do with PEDAGOGY and the Prussian Model of national (state controlled) education. [Watch John Gatto on Prussian Education]

The vehicle moved slower still starting in 1893, when the so-called “core curriculum” was adopted, narrowing the focus of study to math, science, language arts and social studies, and ignoring the integrated nature of knowledge.

It came to a stop and reversed when Congress mandated “No Child Left Behind.” “Race To The Top” will accelerate its backward movement.

Complaining about NCLB and now, RTTT, does nothing, and will do nothing to accomplish the real reform that needs to happen. Compulsion and lack of competition is what is killing Government Schooling.

What are the consequences we are headed for, with or without funding and attempts at fixing something that is running as its supposed to be running?

Exodus: We will begin to see an ever quickening exodus from the government schooling sector to the private and alternative education markets. Government will also continue to shove money into the public education pit (unions complaining all the way) until the people finally revolt, pointing to empty school buildings with thousands of government employees teaching to empty seats. Tea Parties of the summer of 2009 will seem weak compared to millions of property tax strapped parents storming public school buildings, pitchforks in hand.

Will our leaders still say, “They’re too big and important to fail?”

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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.]

Getting to the Brass Tacks

Here are some questions I’ve received lately. Let’s just get to the brass tacks and get them answered:

I would like to know who monitors children that are homeschooled?

A: Their parents, of course. Is there a problem with that?

Are [homeschoolers] tested yearly/quarterly to make sure that the children are getting an adequate education? If not, how is the state sure that homeschooled children are just not ‘dropouts’?

A: I suppose you would have to ask the parents of the children in question. Really… if you are truly concerned about any specific child that appears to be in the process of educating differently, you should just get brave and ask the parent(s) yourself. Most homeschoolers I know would be glad to answer sincere questions about the education of their children. However, homeschooling parents are not interested in going through an inquisition over why they choose to not have the State monitor their children.

Think about it: You’re buying some toys for your kids for Christmas. Someone walks up to you and says, “Do you think you should be getting those particular video games for your children?”

You say, “I think I know what my children are able to handle, and at what level they’re at, thank you.”

“But…” interrupts the inquisitor, with an apparent PhD in childhood development, “It’s in our best interests (as a society) to know that your children are receiving the proper games for their level of development. Have you had your children tested?”

The point is that the only people responsible for making sure their children are getting an “adequate education” (whatever that means) are parents. The only responsibility of the State is to make it easy for parents to acquire those learning experiences for their children.

We also need to ask: What is the state doing about the dropouts THEY KNOW ABOUT? What are “we” to do? Seriously!! If someone is so worried about homeschoolers that might also be “dropouts” then any solution that comes to mind should also be applied to those publicly schooled children that are already dropped out or dropping out. 40% dropout rates aren’t uncommon in the Government School realm. What are we doing about THEM?

[I know a child that was withdrawn from school to homeschool.] All the adults in this child’s immediate family would definitely qualify as ‘marginal’ in intelligence and may even qualify as disabled mentally. However, the child, while lacking in social skills, is a very intelligent child.

A: I really don’t know where to go with this question. First, I would probably have to point out that there are millions of parents in the world who are unfit for raising their own children for an infinite number of reasons. Are we willing to even GO THERE? Who decides whom is able to raise their own children or not? Who is doing it right, and according to the standards of whom?

And finally… would you have been HALF as worried about this child, had he been kept in a public school, possibly getting beat up, ignored (educationally) and saddled with the statistical chance he would graduate unable to read his own diploma? What makes you care all of a sudden? The child isn’t where he is supposed to be? That he’s being influenced by his parents more than his school? Do you want to go there?

You say this child is intelligent. How do you know? Do you interact with publicly socialized children much? I do; and I can tell you with almost 95% accuracy when a child is homeschooled, or socialized by the State. I’ll bet you can tell too. Why would anyone want to tell a parent that their children are too polite and well socialized, and they need to go back into a school building to stop that nonsense?

I cannot understand how this child will obtain any sort of education with really no one in the home who can help educate. I feel like the child will fall through the cracks. Is there any system that will follow up to make sure that this child is actually being educated?

A: To understand how this child will get an education outside the influences of the State, you will have to simply spend some more time with his family. That’s really the only way anyone can understand what homeschooling is all about. You have to essentially, homeschool yourself. Homeschoolers learn by asking questions and following their interests in the pursuit of answers. People who can’t think outside of the box tend to believe that something that’s different, is bad or wrong. Unfortunately, there are too many of those types of people who believe that the State is responsible for the upbringing of our children.

Sorry to burst the bubble, but they aren’t.

Enjoy your neighbors and maybe this would be a great time to get to know your little learning neighbor boy. You’ll have a great chance now, since he won’t be cooped up in a State Institution for most of his childhood.

BbB

Moms Plead Guilty to Ed Neglect

The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. said it this way: Moms’ pleas highlight home-school dilemma.” What really happened is a different story. The headline should have read: “Two moms who pissed off their government school by re-enrolling their children last year, now slaves to the state for failing to make and mark up attendance calendars when their kids were learning at home for awhile.

OOPS! I see the problem: The truth makes headlines too long!

Attendance Certificate from 1930 (Click image to go to rootsweb.ancestry.com)

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:

Do home educators have to provide curricula, an educational plan, or other proof of educational services to the public schools to show that they are competent to educate in their home?

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.]

BbB