Sunday, August 19, 2007

Here We Go Again...

Dana over at "Principled Discovery" had a link a few weeks ago to a very interesting article on the National Association of Elementary School Principals' criticisms of homeschooling. As if the NAESP doesn't have more pressing concerns about the quality of education students in government-run schools receive. The real "elephant in the room" is the loss of funding that each student who is homeschooled rather than enrolled in the local district school represents. Also, since the typical home educated child scores very highly on standardized tests, the loss of such students hurts the school's statistics. Needless to say, these two concerns did NOT make the NAESP list!


1. Deprive the child of important social experiences.

Such as being one of the 80% of high school students and 44% of middle school students who reported witnessing illegal drug use, drug dealing, or drug possession at school? Or being part of the 90% of 3rd-6th graders who reported experiencing bullying at school?

2. Isolate the student from other social/ethnic groups

Public schools today are less racially integrated than in 1970. According to the Harvard University Civil Rights project, in 2003 the percentage of African-American children attending schools than are overwhelmingly minority was 73%. Even in schools that have a diverse student population, self-segregation means that there are often little social interaction between different racial & ethnic groups. A 2002 study by Ohio State sociology professor James Moody found that teens at more diverse schools were not any more likely to have interracial friendships than those at less diverse schools.

3. Deny students the full range of curriculum experiences and materials.

Such as art, music, phys ed, or even science & social studies? Since the No Child Left Behind act was instituted in 2001, almost half of public school districts surveyed by the Center for Education Policy have cut time from one or more subjects or activities in elementary schools to extend time for longer daily math and reading lessons.

4. Provide education by non-certified and unqualified persons.

"Certified" and "qualified" are NOT synonymous when it comes to teaching. Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute did an extensive review of the research evidence in his book Education Myths. He showed that possessing a teaching credential doesn't result in any significant increase in teaching effectiveness, and neither does possessing an advanced degree in education. Studies of home educated students found that there is no significant difference in standardized test scores of children taught by a parent with a teacher's credential compared with those taught by a parent with a bachelor's degree in another subject.

5. Create an additional burden on school administrators whose duties include the enforcement of compulsory school attendance laws.

Huh? Here in California, homeschoolers are treated the same as private schools. We fill out a simple form that is sent to the State Department of Education in October and that's it. The local school district has nothing to do with us whatsoever.

6. Not permit effective assessment of academic standards of quality.

If I want or need an objective assessment of what my kids are learning, I can arrange for them to take standardized tests. Both Seton and Kolbe offer the California Achievement Tests. If we decide to homeschool through high school, they will take the California High School Proficiency Exam and either the SAT or the ACT. They may also choose to take Advanced Placement exams.

7. Violate health and safety standards.

Where is the evidence that home educated students are at any greater risk than students enrolled in traditional schools? As many as 10% of public school students have been sexually harassed or abused by a teacher or other school worker. In 2006, 18% of male teens and 9% of female teens reported being involved in a physical altercation on school property. Not to mention the occasional massacre such as at Columbine or the Amish school in Lancaster County, PA.

8. Not provide accurate diagnosis and planning for meeting the needs of children of special talents, learning difficulties and other conditions requiring atypical educational programs.

Gifted & Talented programs have been absolutely gutted in the public schools in recent years. Even regular ability-tracking has been eliminated in many places in favor of "heterogeneous" classes that teach to the middle. Homeschooling allows the child's individual needs to be met in a way impossible in a classroom of 25-30 students. I can go as fast or as slow as is appropriate for my child so she's not stuck waiting for the rest of the kids to catch up or having the rest of the class move on before she's mastered that particular skill.

Clearly the NAESP has no clue about homeschooling!


Dana said...

Very nice analysis! It never ceases to amaze me how many times public educators criticize homeschools for things they are guilty of.

lynnak said...

Well done. I'm sure they really, really, really think they do the best job teaching kids in spite of the evidence and the many students/families who flee public schools.

If they do such a great job, why are the public schools subject to the greatest remediation program ever? That is, NCLB. Isn't NCLB the gov't telling schools to teach the right stuff? And make sure the kids learn it. And there will be a test.

Thanks for a great rebuttal. I'll be linking to this.

Barb said...

Excellent job on this post. Thank you for pulling it all together in one spot. You can bet this one is getting a bookmark!

Barb-popped in from the Carnival

Nissa said...

Excellent! Very well said, Crimson. Thank you so much for a marvelous post.

Deirdre Mundy said...

The whole "teaching credentials" thing really drives me nuts...

Teachers are trained how to handle a classroom of 30 kids, all the same age, all learning the same material.

How on EARTH does this relate to homeschoolers? Home-schooling is more like being a tutor. You work with each child as an individual and tailor your teaching to his abilities.

And, last I heard, noone offered a master's degree in tutoring!

In fact, all a tutor needs to be able to do is to explain the subject matter clearly and patiently.....


The anti-home-school folk never learn, though.... because they don't want to....

Alasandra said...

Great post.

Sebastian said...

Very nice. I like to say that I'll listen to comments from my local education officials when they can get 50% of their enrolled students performing on grade level.