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Author Topic: I am vindicated! (Homeschooling is legal in CA)
BannaOj
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Belle, I can't speak for other families, but my family definitely specialized in the "suck it up and deal" response to situations. In my entire life, I only remember one exception, and that exception (which was in a church context) was notable for exactly that reason.
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scholarette
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I was pretty anti-homeschooling for most of my life. However, after my husband started working in a public school (a very bad one), we have started discussing home schooling. Ideally, we just will never live in a district that bad, but we know that we will never send our daughter to a school like the one my husband taught at.
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BannaOj
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I bumped the old thread for reference, since I found it.
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Belle
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AJ I think we may be talking past each other - and I know that you and I agree on many things more than we disagree so I hope I'm not being too confrontational here - 'tis not my intent. [Smile]

But, the "suck it up and deal" situations are so completely different between family and authority figures outside the family. When my daughter has to accept what I say and my authority because I'm her mother - that's a completely different situation than being forced to accept the authority of someone who is not related to her, does not have a parent-child relationship with her, and quite frankly, isn't even a nice person.

We all have to learn to deal with family - no matter whether we're public schooled, private schooled, or homeschooled. Every child gets that experience. I submit that the ability to work with authority figures who are not your family is something that has to be learned, no one is born with it. And, kids who go to school outside of their home get more practice at it.

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kmbboots
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It is not the only way to get practice at it, though. My neices were involved in many activities where they had non-parental authorities. Scouts, sports, theatre, choir, Sunday School - lots of opportunities to practice.
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BannaOj
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I guess I view dealing with difficult or irrational authority figures somewhat independently of one's relationship to that person. This could be a direct result of being homeschooled.

I find it much, much easier to deal with a non-related difficult or irrational authority figure, than it is to deal with my mother. In fact give me the not nice non-related person any day of the week, compared to my mother, they are a piece of cake!

And, if I didn't get enough practice with my mother, there's always my grandmother to consider... as far as Unpleasant Authority Figures That You Can't Escape From, she takes the cake.

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romanylass
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quote:
Originally posted by steven:


Seriously, I have never heard of a home-schooled kid being even average at math. I'm sure there's at least one exception out there, but, unless the teaching parent has a degree in math, math education,

My son's Stanford math score from the end of 4th grade was overall grade level of 6th grade 5 th month. His overall science was 12th grade 3rd month. His sister's math scores are always grade level.

ETA: I have discalclia ( like dyslexia with math) and they have never been to a math tutor.

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kmbboots
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My eldest niece got all A's throughout high school. I assume that would have included math. My sister does not have a college degree in anything.
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steven
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Mmm-hmmm. My point still stands. Almost nobody has ever heard of Gwendolyn Bart. Plenty of people have heard of Christopher Paolini. You can say it was Paolini's parents that caused him to be published so young, but that (sort of) misses the whole point of the discussion...that homeschooling produces extremes of all kinds, except extremes of real-world accomplishment in math and science. This is true for isolation in general, which I have ably pointed out earlier, random anecdotal evidence aside.
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Rakeesh
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Dude, the only points you've been making say a lot more about your own preconceptions and opinions than they do about actual realities.
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kmbboots
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steven, your entire "evidence" that homeschooled kids are below average in math was that you had "never heard" of one. Well now you have. Several in fact. Your point doesn't stand at all.
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T:man
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Thats it I'm gonna homeschool my children!
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Belle
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quote:
My neices were involved in many activities where they had non-parental authorities. Scouts, sports, theatre, choir, Sunday School - lots of opportunities to practice.
Each of those type activities meets one, maybe two or three hours per week. Far cry from 8-3 five days a week.

Look, we're not going to agree here. I obviously believe public schooling is best or I wouldn't have my children in public schools and I certainly wouldn't be working hard to become a public school teacher.

I actually have the choice you know - I'm a stay at home Mom right now, I could homeschool my children and my husband and I could also afford private schools. We choose, out of all those choices, the public school. For lots of reasons - not just the learning to deal with conflict and authority figures one.

Many of you have reasons why you choose differently. I don't have a problem with that. I am not a proponent of making homeschooling illegal.

I am however, a proponent of holding homeschooled and private schooled students to the same standards that we hold public school students to for state issued high school diplomas and college entrances. That means, at least in Alabama, that students have to take and pass a standardized test before they can graduate and for most colleges, attaining a minimum score on the ACT or SAT.

I'm not sure how I feel about mandatory testing at certain grade levels. I'm inclined to think any tests the state makes mandatory for public school students should be mandatory for all students, but I have to think about it some more.

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neo-dragon
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I've been following this thread with great interest and thought I'd finally chime in.

First, let me explain where I'm coming from. I'm a relatively new public school teacher, which of course means that I'm a certified educator. However, I have only one year of experience under my belt, teaching high school science. I should also mention that I'm Canadian, and thus the system that I'm familiar with as both a student and a teacher may not be quite the same as what most of you are familiar with. Also, I don't (to my knowledge) know any products of home schooling personally.

I believe that unless a public school system is exceptionally bad, the vast majority of students can receive a fine education in public schools. Like Belle, I'd be quite a hypocrite if I didn't think so. However, far too many parents don't seem to realize that they still need to be involved. Hell, I didn't even realize quite how important parent involvement is until I became a teacher. I've always been rather self-motivated and therefore did very well academically without my parents needing to do very much (not that they weren't willing or interested), but most kids aren't me. Anyway, public schools often appear to drop the ball when parents expect them to do EVERYTHING. We (teachers) can't make your kids stay home and complete assignments or study instead of go out and smoke weed (for example). That's when it's time to stop complaining about being too busy and do some damned parenting! I also agree with what Belle and some others have said about the importance of peer interaction, group work, and dealing with authority figures. However, based on the success stories I've read in this thread I'd say that those issues may not be as much of a downside to homeschooling as I might have previously assumed.

I know that homeschooling can have marvelous results but it obviously takes a certain type of kid and a certain type of parent. There's a lot to be said for not being just one of 30 students in the room, but the parent has obviously got to be VERY committed and know their stuff, both subject material and ideally a thing or two about pedagogy. Not to mention, they have to be able to view their kid's achievements objectively. I imagine that such parents are actually quite rare. I really don't know how those who don't have a background in science or math can do an adequate job in those areas without employing a private tutor (which I guess is what often happens). Still, I wonder about the practical aspects of science, ie. lab stuff.

Finally, I think that any standardized tests that are required of public school children in a state/province should be required of home schooled kids. For instance, here in Ontario kids must pass a literacy test (usually completed in grade 10) in order to gain a secondary school diploma. I see no reason why a homeschooled kid should be exempted from that. They have to be held to the same basic educational standard as any other student

So to summarize, I guess my personal opinion is that only an exceptionally rare breed of parent (and to a lesser extent, child) can successfully pull off homeschooling, but I acknowledge that those that do can produce kids that are stronger than the average public school kid in many areas. But for the vast majority, you'll probably get the best results by sending your kids to school (public or private) while monitoring their progress and development, and doing your part as a parent.

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Jhai
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I had a nice long post written up, and then I accidentally hit back and my browser ate it. Gah.

In short, I think the decision to homeschool (or choose private schools) comes down to opportunity cost & marginal benefit, like so many other things.

First off, I think my husband and I could do a smash-up job of homeschooling. Any hypothetical kid would get a great education in math, science, English, philosophy, a few languages (at least German, Bengali, & Hindi), the social sciences, etc. We've got pretty much every displine, outside of art & music (private lessons) covered between the two of us. And I think we'd enjoy it, for the most part.

However, neither my husband nor I are particuarly interested in being a stay-at-home parent in the long-term, so homeschooling would require one of us to leave the workforce. That loss of income, even taking into account possible part-time work, childcare costs, commute, etc, would be at least $30K right now, and who knows how much by the time we actually have school-aged children.

For the average child, in the average school-district, there's just no way I can see the benefit of homeschooling over public schools to be greater than the missed enriching opportunities that 30K could provide. I mean, the value that you could get out 30K in international travel, music & sport lessons, unique summer camps, and so forth? Way, way more valuable than the marginal benefit for the child of homeschooling, especially when you take into account enriching academic things we'd do with in the evenings & weekends if he were going to public schools. Even the cost of private school tuition - around 10K in this area - would be better spent IMO on a couple of good trips to South America or India or Europe. (Of course, we're in the Fairfax County school district right now, so we'd have to be insane to pull a kid out of the public schools for a private school.)

However, the marginal benefit of homeschooling (or private schooling) might outweigh the opportunity cost for exceptional cases. If the kid was highly gifted or had other special needs requiring individual attention, then we might consider not going with the public schools. Or if the district was exceptionally bad, we'd think hard before sending a kid there, especially given the effects of peer groups.

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BannaOj
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Do you want to argue the overall quality of Bart's work vs. Paolini's? Bart's work actually stands up against scientific peer review.

Literary critics tear Paolini to shreds. Even though it might make easy entertaining reading, his work reads more like a D&D game than it is a profound literary work.

(The above was to Steven) Belle I absolutely agree with your points about graduation standards. I also generally agree with both Jhai and neo-dragon.

[ August 12, 2008, 12:48 PM: Message edited by: BannaOj ]

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Primal Curve
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I'd just like to say that I agree with Belle. I'd join the discussion myself, but she's made just about every point I'd like to make and done a much better job of it than I'd likely do.

I will say that I know lots of people who were or are home schooled. They run the gamut from completely "normal" to barely functional. I think that homeschooling has some merit given the right circumstances. I think I'd do an OK job at it, but OK is not enough for me. I'd much rather put my children in the public school system and give them all the opportunities provided there (professional educators, peers, extra curriculars) and involve myself in their education as much as I can to enhance what they are getting there than to place their future solely in my lap.

Besides, the more I hear about how diverse the local school system is (the most in our region), the more excited I get. I'd love for my kids' birthday parties throughout school to include other children from all backgrounds and cultures. They can't get that if they stay at home with me or my wife.

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katharina
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The problem with comparing home schooled to publicly schooled kids is that there is not comparable amounts of parental involvement.

More parental involvement equals a better experience, but I suspect that the same dedication to their kids' dedication combined with the resources and expertise found at public schools would equal a much better education than either homeschooling alone or a public education with no parental involvement.

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BannaOj
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I believe on the earlier "homeschooling" thread that I bumped Rabbit made the same point about parental involvement. I generally agree that this would be the most useful experiment if data could be collected. Involved parenting is obviously key. One does *not* need to homeschool to be an involved parent, obviously.

http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbmain/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=052169;p=3&r=nfx

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kmbboots
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And some school districts are lousy. This is an issue of such variability, I am not sure why it is som tough to agree that some kids are better off in school and some are better off home schooled and that some parents will do a better job than the public schools and some won't. Why do we have to keep insisting that one way is better for "the average" child?
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BannaOj
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I don't know kmb, I wish I did. I hate that it has become such a hot button "defensive" issue both ways. It does become personal to me when wholesale denigration of homeschooling takes place.

This is not to say that the issues with homeschooling aren't real. I believe they are more real than many homeschooling parents ever dream they are, no matter how many reasoned arguments to the contrary exist and how many other circumstances you are able to expose your children to.

I believe there is a genuine trade-off that happens, but neither side really can understand the validity of that trade off, because both sides are in partial denial that a trade-off even exists.

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The Rabbit
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I don't think there is any question that homeschooling can work very well for some students and some parents. I'm still convinced that these cases are the exception rather than the rule.

I'm concerned about several aspects of homeschooling but since I've expressed those before, I'll limit my comments here to two key points.

First, I am concerned about the fanatic devotion to homeschooling I've observed in many parents. Because of that fanaticism, they are prone to exaggerate the value of what they do, denigrate public schools, their students, teachers and parents unfairly, and ignore the many real weaknesses of homeschooling. That fanatic devotion to the cause keeps them from objectively assessing whether or not homeschooling is really the best option for them and their child and making changes when they are needed. Certainly not all parents who homeschool are fanatics, but it is very common.

Second, I'm very concerned about the enormous growth in popularity of homeschooling. As I said earlier, I think the cases where it works well are the exception rather than the rule. While I don't have any studies to point to, my opinion is strongly supported by my experience and the experience of many education professionals like Mrs. M.

I think that as a society, we have an obligation to ensure that all of our children receive an adequate education. Children aren't the property of their parents. They are members of the community. What they learn or don't learn will impact on the whole community. We are failing in our obligation to our children if as a community we allow parents to raise functionally illiterate children. If parents are able to provide their children with an education that exceeds the communities minimum standards, then I think parent should have the right to homeschool if they choose. But I think we are failing in our duty if we do not intervene when homeschool parents aren't meeting the minimum standards.

I think at a minimum, homeschool children should be reqired to take a reading competence test before age 8. Many studies have shown that this is a critical age and if kids haven't learned to read by this age they are unlikely to ever learn to read fluently. We can't wait until they are 18 to find out they can't read, early intervention is important to correct problems.

I'm not suggesting that every homeschooler who fails a literacy test at age 8 be forced to attend a public school. That is as ridiculous as most of the no child left behind rules. What I'm suggesting is increased oversight. If a home schooled child can't read by age 8, then we should evaluate them for learning disabilities, offer special tutoring, and closely monitor to determine if they are making progress. Those are all the same things we should and usually are doing for kids in public schools. If kids are not making progress in a homeschool environment, we need to find out why. If why is that the parents are doing a terrible job, then we shouldn't allow them to keep home schooling.

There comes a point when homeschooling is denying the child the opportunity to learn. That is abuse and we shouldn't tolerate it in our society.

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kmbboots
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And lots of kids get through public schools (even high school) without ever learning to read. I agree that a lot of homeschooling parents are fanatic and that is a problem. A lot of public and private schools are underfunded, overcrowded, lacking resources and sometimes dangerous. Also a problem.
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BannaOj
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:

I think that as a society, we have an obligation to ensure that all of our children receive an adequate education. Children aren't the property of their parents. They are members of the community. What they learn or don't learn will impact on the whole community. We are failing in our obligation to our children if as a community we allow parents to raise functionally illiterate children. If parents are able to provide their children with an education that exceeds the communities minimum standards, then I think parent should have the right to homeschool if they choose. But I think we are failing in our duty if we do not intervene when homeschool parents aren't meeting the minimum standards.

(...)

There comes a point when homeschooling is denying the child the opportunity to learn. That is abuse and we shouldn't tolerate it in our society.

Rabbit, as stated previously, to me, the larger issue is parents rights vs states rights. The perspective you come from puts community and society before individual parental rights. The line where it crosses into "abuse" is a very very sticky line for me, partially because there are religious freedom implications involved, and divorcing the two can be extremely difficult.

As far as I can tell, it appears that parents have the constitutional right to religiously brainwash their children. edit: at the expense of that child's education.

For example: I know you think creation science is bogus, but private schools are allowed to teach it. There is no actual law aganst teaching children false "facts" particularly if they are religiously motivated. Private schools are almost never held to public school standards, because they are private. Homeschooling can be viewed as an extreme form of Private schooling... and I think a lot of the rights of a parent to teach their child whatever the heck they feel like as long as it is religoiusly motivated, is mostly protected by our Constitution (I know there have been compulsory education rulings, but I think it requires a broad interpretation of the Constitution to get them.)

An example of this is the whole FLDS mess. They aren't going after those people for brainwashed religious beliefs learned at their "private schools." They are going after them for sexual abuse of minors. The latter is on much, much stronger legal ground than the former.

[ August 12, 2008, 01:37 PM: Message edited by: BannaOj ]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by BannaOj:
[QUOTE]Rabbit, as stated previously, to me, the larger issue is parents rights vs states rights. The perspective you come from puts community and society before individual parental rights. The line where it crosses into "abuse" is a very very sticky line for me, partially because there are religious freedom implications involved, and divorcing the two can be extremely difficult.

As far as I can tell, it appears that parents have the constitutional right to religiously brainwash their children.

I remember you asking the question about states rights vs parents rights but I don't think I ever answered the question. I thought about it quite a bit but never really resolved the issue because I don't see it as an issue of rights. I see it as an issue of a responsibilities. I think that the entire community has a responsibility for its children. I recognize the difficulty in defining both what constitutes the 'community' and in deliniating which members of the community are responsible for which aspects of nurturing children. But simply because its difficult to clearly define does not mean the obligation does not exist.

If you insist on framing it in terms of rights, then I guess I would have to choose the child's rights. Children deserve the right to learn certain skills that are essential to their survival and success in the community. Neither parents nor the state have the right to deny them that opportunity. In fact, all members of the community have a moral obligation to ensure children have that opportunity.

Since we live in a pluralistic society, the list of 'essentials' in every child's education should be very short in appreciation of the diverse values of our community. But we are negligent if we don't have some list. We agree that parents have the right to decide appropriate disciplinary measures for their children, but we also agree that there are limits to that right because the child also has certain rights.

Similarly, I hold that parents have a right to decide how their child will be educated, but that right has limits also becaues the child also has rights.

As a community, we are negligent of our duties if we don't intervene when parents physically abuse their children. Because children are not generally able to defend their own rights, the community has an ethical obligation to defend those rights. We are negligent as a community if we do not intervene when a parent is interferring with a child's right to learn.

[ August 12, 2008, 02:13 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
As far as I can tell, it appears that parents have the constitutional right to religiously brainwash their children. edit: at the expense of that child's education.

For example: I know you think creation science is bogus, but private schools are allowed to teach it. There is no actual law aganst teaching children false "facts" particularly if they are religiously motivated. Private schools are almost never held to public school standards, because they are private. Homeschooling can be viewed as an extreme form of Private schooling... and I think a lot of the rights of a parent to teach their child whatever the heck they feel like as long as it is religoiusly motivated, is mostly protected by our Constitution (I know there have been compulsory education rulings, but I think it requires a broad interpretation of the Constitution to get them.)

An example of this is the whole FLDS mess. They aren't going after those people for brainwashed religious beliefs learned at their "private schools." They are going after them for sexual abuse of minors. The latter is on much, much stronger legal ground than the former.

BannaOj, I'm not sure whether you are arguing about whether a minimum standard should exist or what that standard should be.

I suppose I should clarify that what I'm asking for is a very minimal set of standards regarding the most basic skills that are essential in American society -- those should include English literacy and basic math. Everything else can be negotiable but those 2 are essential.

I recognize the difficulty of religious issues, but if people belonged to a religion that demanded they never feed their child protein -- we wouldn't even argue that parents should enforce this diet on their children.

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Belle
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quote:
Why do we have to keep insisting that one way is better for "the average" child?
That question falls apart at the outset because let's face it, homeschooling isn't an option for the "average" child. Homeschooling almost always requires a two-parent home, with one parent making enough income that the family can live on that one income.

So, only middle to upper class homes really even have the option. For many if not most American children, public schools offer the only option either because they're being raised by a single parent or both parents in the household must work.

quote:
First, I am concerned about the fanatic devotion to homeschooling I've observed in many parents. Because of that fanaticism, they are prone to exaggerate the value of what they do, denigrate public schools, their students, teachers and parents unfairly, and ignore the many real weaknesses of homeschooling. That fanatic devotion to the cause keeps them from objectively assessing whether or not homeschooling is really the best option for them and their child and making changes when they are needed. Certainly not all parents who homeschool are fanatics, but it is very common.

I would have to agree with Rabbit on this. The new church we go to is also a cover school, and probably half the parents there homeschool.

I have found in my conversations that most of them are completely ignorant of what the public shcools are really like. They imagine dens of iniquity with students having sex and shooting guns and taking meth and teachers doing nothing but handing them a standardized test and saying "hey, go learn this."

It's amazing how quick the conversation falls apart when I ask them when they were last in a public school classroom. I've been in lots lately, as part of my preparation for my teaching degree. I've even been in urban schools, that are supposed to be crime and drug ridden, and I will admit I was nervous at first, simply because of the bad reputation.

Guess what I found? Dedicated teachers, well-behaved students, learning taking place, no fights, no disrespect (maybe more profanity than I would have liked), and engaged students who were involved in the lesson and participating in class.

As I've stated multiple times, I've no problem when parents decide to homeschool their children. What I do take issue with, is them putting down my profession and questioning my faith - I'm tired of defending the choice I made as a Christian to go into public education. I'm tired of people telling me no true Christian would ever do such a thing. I'm tired of people telling me that I am betraying my faith if I don't teach in a private Christian school (which is considered a slightly better choice than public school to them.) One woman actually asked me why I didn't think my children deserved the best of me and why I would waste my time and energy on other people's children!

I don't know, maybe because I believe in the right to a good education for ALL children and I believe that being the best teacher I can be actually IS giving my children the best of me? And, as unpopular as the view might be here and elsewhere, because I think public education is in fact in my children's best interests?

I'd like to say that the view I've stated above is even in the minority, but it really isn't. Most homeschooling families have reacted extremely negatively to my telling them what I'm in school for.

The only saving grace for me is that this church is only a temporary stop for us, we're part of a core group that is planting a new congregation elsewhere. Not to mention that the pastor has his kids in public school so I don't feel as if the leaders of the church are questioning me, just some of my fellow members.

It's incredible how people who profess such Christian values are then so completely intolerant not only of people who make different choices for their kids but also of the people who go into the teaching profession.

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kmbboots
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Goodness, Belle, that would make me tired, too. I think those people are horrid and I will slap them for you, given the chance.

I don't think that anyone here is saying that, though. I applaud your decision to be a teacher. I have spent some time teaching in an inner city school myself and also found dedicated teachers. I also found rats, moldy school lunches, plumbing that didn't work, no extra curricular activities (until me - I was the librarian), and a shortage of everything. And this was a private school that was a step up from public school! On the other hand, their parents would likely have done worse.

My sister, faced with lousy schools in her distract, and able to stay home (though firmly middle class - the family did have to make some sacrifices for her to stay home) thought she could do a better job. And she did. She works really hard at it. She makes sure that the girls have plenty of outside activities. She is not homeschooling for religious reasons, so she isn't trying to isolate her kids.

Her success doesn't mean that it works for all kids or that everyone should emulate her. It is evidence, though, that it can work and is sometimes a better alternative.

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ketchupqueen
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quote:
For instance, here in Ontario kids must pass a literacy test (usually completed in grade 10) in order to gain a secondary school diploma. I see no reason why a homeschooled kid should be exempted from that.
I have no problem with this. I have no problem with any exit exam required to get a diploma. (Currently in CA there isn't one. Well, there is if you want a diploma from an ACCREDITED school-- but unaccredited schools, including homeschools, are exempted.)

My problem is with requiring standardized testing at certain grade levels-- in some states, every other year past a certain point-- that are geared toward a curriculum that homeschoolers are (or should be) exempted from. Homeschooling often moves at a different pace than public school, and standardized testing leads to the possibility of interference from the state because of that. I am not as opposed to keeping a portfolio of work done and the state having a teacher certify that there is indeed learning going on, though I still see it as undue interference.

As for our public schools, well, we live in the LAUSD. Corruption is rampant, teachers sometimes don't get paid because funds are misappropriated, bureauocracy is twenty levels deep, so the teachers can't do what they'd like to for the kids if they tried (I'm friends with some of them-- they send their kids to private schools) and I've read the police reports for our local school (yes, elementary school) and they're not good. Assault, weapons violations, drugs... And we live in a GOOD part of town.

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BannaOj
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
BannaOj, I'm not sure whether you are arguing about whether a minimum standard should exist or what that standard should be.

I suppose I should clarify that what I'm asking for is a very minimal set of standards regarding the most basic skills that are essential in American society -- those should include English literacy and basic math. Everything else can be negotiable but those 2 are essential.

I recognize the difficulty of religious issues, but if people belonged to a religion that demanded they never feed their child protein -- we wouldn't even argue that parents should enforce this diet on their children.

Rabbit, it is something I haven't fully decided in my own mind. This is the USA. We might believe someone like Fred Phelps is vile and evil and off his rocker, but he still has the right to be completely wrong while he demonstrates. For me, it really comes down to how much the government is allowed to control the lives of its citizens, and individual rights, vs state's rights vs federal rights. While the Supreme Court has upheld State compulsory education statutes, there isn't a Federal compulsory education statute. Many of the original compulsory education lawsuits were with regards to the Amish.

I am extremely wary of infringing on parental rights. Many homeschoolers profoundly believe that their parental rights trump the states interest. And their belief in those parental rights is religiously based. So it gets sticky really fast.(Christian Scientists are another group that has to deal with similar sticky issues, as far as immunization and the like.)

I'm not saying that I agree with their educational techniques, by and large I don't. But do they have the right to use them on their own kids? I suspect so. To deny them that right makes me very squeamish. I don't think the fanatics are right, but I think they have a right to be wrong. [Wink]

(Many homeschoolers invoke Godwin's Law on this point too, saying that the Nazi educational institutions usurped the moral authority that the parents should have had with their own children... and Godwin's Law or not, they have a legitimate point.)

[ August 12, 2008, 04:00 PM: Message edited by: BannaOj ]

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MightyCow
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I don't really see how a standardized test once every two years can really count as undue interference. If a home schooled child is more than 2 years behind in a subject, the parent should be held accountable.

There ought to be these kinds of milestones, so you don't end up with 18 year olds who still read at a 3rd grade level, because their homeschooling just didn't think that would be an important skill.

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ketchupqueen
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But that's forcing the state's definition of "behind" on the parents/children. Some kids don't even start official schooling until they are 8 or even 10 years old (the "better late than early" delayed schooling philosophy.) Many of them read just fine by the time they're 10 or 12 but wouldn't be able to pass a test at 8, for instance.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Some kids don't even start official schooling until they are 8 or even 10 years old (the "better late than early" delayed schooling philosophy.)
That sounds like a ... very bad idea. You want to start learning to read and write and do math far earlier than this.
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neo-dragon
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What on Earth do these kids do until they're 8-10? If they're not receiving some form of structured education, it seems to me like an unspeakable waste of the years when the brain is rapidly developing and capable of learning vast amounts.

quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
For instance, here in Ontario kids must pass a literacy test (usually completed in grade 10) in order to gain a secondary school diploma. I see no reason why a homeschooled kid should be exempted from that.
I have no problem with this. I have no problem with any exit exam required to get a diploma. (Currently in CA there isn't one. Well, there is if you want a diploma from an ACCREDITED school-- but unaccredited schools, including homeschools, are exempted.)

My problem is with requiring standardized testing at certain grade levels-- in some states, every other year past a certain point-- that are geared toward a curriculum that homeschoolers are (or should be) exempted from. Homeschooling often moves at a different pace than public school, and standardized testing leads to the possibility of interference from the state because of that.

I can see where you're coming from. In the case of the literacy test I mentioned, that's why I said that it's usually completed in grade 10. That's when students write it for the fist time anyway. If they fail they will have an opportunity to try again the next year. The important thing is that they pass before they are ready to graduate. The idea is of course that no one should receive a diploma without demonstrating basic literacy skills. There's also a 9th grade numeracy test, but at the moment passing it is not a requirement for graduation (I don't know why not).

[ August 12, 2008, 08:35 PM: Message edited by: neo-dragon ]

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ketchupqueen
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Unschooling, I guess.

I'm not saying I agree with it, but there are people who strongly believe in this educational philosophy. I don't think, if they're willing to take charge of their kids' education and strongly believe in this educational philosophy, that I have the right to say they shouldn't do it.

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MightyCow
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It should be quite easy to show that a child with a sub-standard education will be severely disadvantaged later in life, regardless of his or her goals.

Why should we allow parents to do real and lasting damage to their children's chance at a bright future, simply because they think a 14 year old doesn't need to know how to multiply or read?

It's no wonder the US is falling behind other countries in education, if this is the stand we take on teaching children.

I'm not a fan of governmental control of people's lives, but some people make very poor choices, and it's a real shame that we should support those choices, which will be harming their children.

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ketchupqueen
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MightyCow, there are very, very, very few homeschooled 14 year olds who don't know how to multiply or read. (Perhaps more that don't know how to multiply than read, but I could show you a broad selection of public school students who don't know how to do that, either.)

I think that assuming that every single homeschooling parent is going to fail his or her children is doing them, and their children, a great disservice.

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Jhai
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kq, that's a pretty nice strawman you have of MightyCow's argument.
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ketchupqueen
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Jhai, I was responding to his attitude, not his words. I've heard over and over again people say that homeschooled kids are poorly educated. In the majority of cases it is just not true. The curve is a bit different, for sure-- more fall on the ends than in the middle in comparison to public school, perhaps-- but judging by the failures and ignoring the successes just doesn't work for me, especially when you account for the fact that there are ALSO failures in public and private schools.

I should probably leave this thread for the next day or so because I'm starting to get really irritated by the discussion and have knee-jerk irrational anger.

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Jhai
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Fair enough; I've been there. [Smile]
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The Rabbit
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quote:
But that's forcing the state's definition of "behind" on the parents/children. Some kids don't even start official schooling until they are 8 or even 10 years old (the "better late than early" delayed schooling philosophy.) Many of them read just fine by the time they're 10 or 12 but wouldn't be able to pass a test at 8, for instance.
I don't believe it. You are going have to show me the data before I'll even consider that this isn't a fantasy. It flies in the face of decades of research on reading and cognitive development. Numerous studies have shown that there are critical windows in the neurological development of the brain when certain skills must be learned to be mastered, in particular language skills (including reading) as well as music and arithmetic.

Eight years old isn't a number I just pulled out of thin air. I am not suggesting an arbitrary government standard, I'm talking about the known facts. Studies have shown that over the long term there are no significant differences between reading skills in children who start reading at 3 years and those who start reading at 7 years. But 8 years old is a critical threshold and children who are not reading fluently by that age will almost always have poor reading skills throughout their lives. It isn't a matter of pedagogical styles or teaching environment or arbitrary curriculum choices, its a matter of brain development.


Any parent whose child isn't reading well before age 8 should be very concerned and seeking extra help whether that child is in home school or in public school.

If homeschool parents don't even start teaching children to read until they are 8 or 10, that's negligence pure and simple. It is something that is very likely to do permanent damage to the child. They have missed a window in brain development and the damage is usually permanent. And yes I think the community has a moral obligation to intervene when parents choose to do something that is highly likely to cause irreparable damage to a child's brain.

Because there is a lot of variation in maturation rates between humans, I'm sure there are exceptions, but they are just that -- exceptional. Reading skills have a great deal in common with other language skills. Some kids start talking at 1 year old others don't until their over 2. Those differences aren't a concern. But even though its difficult to draw an exact line, we know that if a child isn't talking at all by the time they're 4, something is seriously wrong. If a child isn't talking at all by age 3, good parents will be concerned and looking for answers and help.

Not requiring literacy tests until 10th grade would virtually eliminate the possibility of successful intervention. By 10th grade, the damage is done and the child will almost always suffer from it for his entire life.

I'm willing to entertain the possibility that those decades of research on reading and cognitive development have some critical omission and that most children if placed in a homeschool environment where reading wasn't taught until age 10 could learn read just as well as if they had been taught to read at age 6. But I'd have to see more than anecdotes from home schoolers. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Until there is good solid data that this kind of educational plan is likely to work, I think the community has a moral obligation to intervene for the sake of the children.

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Belle
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quote:
Not requiring literacy tests until 10th grade would virtually eliminate the possibility of successful intervention. By 10th grade, the damage is done and the child will almost always suffer from it for his entire life.

I'm willing to entertain the possibility that those decades of research on reading and cognitive development have some critical omission and that most children if placed in a homeschool environment where reading wasn't taught until age 10 could learn read just as well as if they had been taught to read at age 6. But I'd have to see more than anecdotes from home schoolers. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Until there is good solid data that this kind of educational plan is likely to work, I think the community has a moral obligation to intervene for the sake of the children.

I could not agree more. As a student of language arts education, I have seen the research on the importance of early literacy and the data that shows what happens when kids don't get the intervention early.

There are lots and lots of studies out there, but should anyone want to see them, I'll try to locate some that are available full text online. Most of my research is done through a library database with educational journals, which may not be available without a subscription.

Waiting until 10th grade to test is virtually useless - what do you do at that point if the child cannot read well enough to earn a high school diploma? Send them back for remedial reading instruction in the 10th grade? Send them to adult literacy classes? Your options are very limited at that point.

No, there needs to be evaluation much earlier so proper intervention can take place.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
I have no problem with this. I have no problem with any exit exam required to get a diploma. (Currently in CA there isn't one. Well, there is if you want a diploma from an ACCREDITED school-- but unaccredited schools, including homeschools, are exempted.)

False. The CAHSEE is only required to graduate public schools. Accredited private schools do not give the test, their students do not need to take it or any other exit exam (although many do have one). There is no such thing as a California state diploma (which has seriously confused some people I have dealt with in NY and Israel, both of which have the equivalent).

That's something I would very much like to see change. Especially since I agree with Belle and Rabbit.

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BannaOj
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Yes, anecdote is not data. But here's an anecdote anyway.

http://www.unschooling.com/library/essays/essay12.shtml

Here's the rub. As far as education goes, I do believe in educational freedom. I had the opportunity to do a lot of interesting things as a child. Yes, some children might not learn to read until 8 or older. But, I believe those parents have an equal right to raise their children that way as mine did to raise me in my mother's particular version of homeschooling Which, with the exception of math, leaned towards the unschooling direction.

My mother felt free *not* to test me. For example, she listened when people would ask me what subjects I liked. Marine Biology and history normally topped the list. Around 2nd or 3rd grade, I started leaving history out. Why? Because there were these tests you had to take at the end of each chapter, with names and dates and the like.

So what did she do? Rather than wreck my interest in history, she quit with "normal" curriculum. Instead, we read biographies and some carefully researched historical fiction. She never even really told me to read them, she'd just check them out from the library on her card and when I got done with all my books I'd start reading hers. The ones I didn't read myself, she'd read out loud to the family.

Unschooling *doesn't* mean the children run wild all day. It means the children can look into whatever they are interested in, it's about exploring Nature.

You start imposing all those educational requirements on homeschoolers, even if there are bad apples, and you lose all the good that is possible. So I have to defend the educational freedom of the bad apples, because the same laws will affect both good and bad, and I believe that allowing the freedom for the good superceeds the drawbacks of the latter. I guess I tend towards the libertarian on this issue.

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The Rabbit
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BannaOj, I don't see anything in that essay you linked to that contradicts any of the points I made. You will note that even the third daughter who was a late reader, started reading when she was eight which is still inside that critical cognitive window.

Lots of kids, even kids who attend traditional schools learn to read just like this woman described. But some kids, even some very bright kids, have difficulty learning that way, that's why there are so many different approaches to teaching kids to read. No one way will work for every child.

My big question is what this mother would have done if the daughter had reached 9 but still wasn't reading? What if she reached 10 or 12 and still wasn't reading? I've known home schoolers who were exactly in this position but whose parents fanatically insisted on continuing with the same style of non-teaching.

I am perfectly OK with an unstructured learning environment. It can work well for some children and some teachers. My point is that at some point, it is necessary to decide whether its working or not and change approaches if its not. Since, as Mrs M. and others have witnessed, many parents who homeschool are not doing this voluntarily, I think it is essential that the community do it.

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Boon
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Why should the cutoff be 8 for every child? Why do you* get to decide what standard to use in evaluating my children? If there are different approaches to learning, why must you* assume my approaches are deficient simply because I don't have a teaching degree? What if 8 is simply too early for my child? What happens then?

*collective you, as in the community

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kmbboots
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I think that at some point (and that point is pretty vague) the community does step in. "I get to decide for my child" is not absolute. The community would step in if, for example, a parent decided that their child must read by age two and their approach to teaching was to zap them with electricity. Or decided that their child never needed to learn to read because she is a girl.

There are bounds outside of which, society overrules parental decisions. I don't know exactly where they are - eight may or may not be right - but those bounds do exist.

I don't know that

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katharina
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Because we know something about how people learn and what the windows are. The age of eight isn't being pulled from the air - there is a wealth of data to back up that if a child still can't read by the age of eight, they are in for serious trouble for probably the rest of their life unless there is intervention.
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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
I think that assuming that every single homeschooling parent is going to fail his or her children is doing them, and their children, a great disservice.

That's completely unfair, and not at all what I'm saying.

I'm not suggesting that all homeschooling parents are going to fail their children. I am pointing out the fact that not holding the homeschooling parents to a high standard of education is doing their children a disservice, because as other people have pointed out, if children fall too far behind at an early age, it becomes difficult if not impossible for them to fully catch up.

I wholeheartedly support the good homeschooling parents. I also support regular testing, so that those children who are not receiving a good education won't fall through the cracks.

You seem to be arguing that bad homeschooling parents should be allowed to keep their children ignorant and allow them to fall behind. I can't figure out why you would argue that homeschooling parents should be not required to give their children a good education.

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BannaOj
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It's that notion of "falling through the cracks" that bothers me. It ends up being much more punitive to all homeschoolers, not just the "bad ones", especially when the definition of "bad ones" is so subjective. What do you think the current system would do with a Thomas Edison for example?
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