Homeschooling discussion at Rockridge Nation

Eric Haas and our friends over at the Rockridge Institute have a great Monday Weekly Workgroup feature that I encourage everybody to investigate. Today the subject is homeschooling, and that’s obviously one that’s going to matter to a lot of folks here. Several of us at S&R either are or were educators and it’s a topic our readers have demonstrated a good deal of concern for, as well.

Eric frames this week’s conversation nicely:

In sum, the key is that this accountability encompasses both personal and societal responsibility. We all have a responsibility to provide every child with a level and quality of education so that they are likely to develop into healthy and competent adults—both society and individual parents. This means that there is two-way accountability. Primarily, there is societal accountability — has the community, usually through the government, provided the infrastructure and policies needed so that students can get a high quality public education? Parents shouldn’t feel they must pull their students out of school because they are unsafe or have, let alone, detrimental learning environments.

He then poses some questions:

  • What is the community’s role in protecting children?
  • How does infrastructure (empowerment) relate to interventions (direct protection)?
  • How far should homeschooling accommodations go?
  • When is homeschooling not an appropriate education?
  • How far can progressive protection go?
  • Is homeschooler protection different than public school protections?
  • Did the California court go too far when it required homeschoolers to have credentialed instructors?

As I note on the thread, over there, this is a sticky issue that’s bogged down in several centuries of ideology.

As I contemplate the issue of homeschooling I can’t help empathizing with all the parents out there who feel a need to do so because our public system is such a failure. If I had a school-aged child right now I’m not sure what I’d do.

Ultimately I think this is a symptom of our nation’s foundational estrangement between individual and government. I’m not sure if any nation in history has been more thoroughly founded on the idea that the government is not to be trusted than ours, and while I see why it happened (and harbor a measure of distrust myself), this ideology breeds an irrational faith in the wisdom of individuals – to listen to conservatives talk, it’s almost like there’s no such thing as an idiot who shouldn’t be trusted with a decision – and a pathological refusal to invest in collective structures to our own benefit. It’ as if we’re incapable of understanding that the word “invest” DOES apply to public institutions. As I wrote a few months ago, a dollar spent on education is at once a dollar spent on health care, the environment, arts, and every other form of human endeavor imaginable.

All my yarping doesn’t suggest much in the way of actionable tactics, I know, but it seems to me that this is one that can only be truly solved once we evolve a more enlightened understanding of the role of government in our society, and that’s a long war on centuries of misguided paranoia, isn’t it?

Thanks to Eric and his colleagues at RI for addressing these kinds of important topics in such a thoughtful way.

6 replies »

  1. Since they require registration over there, I’ll give my thoughts to those questions, here.

    What is the community’s role in protecting children?

    Children come first. They come before “parental rights.” They are not chattel. They are not little adults. Society owes its all to children.

    How does infrastructure (empowerment) relate to interventions (direct protection)?

    This question isn’t phrased well enough to suggest an answer. I assume the question relates to whether society should provide only the means by which parents can do the best for their children or whether it should coerce parents into doing the right things, intervening directly when necessary.

    Of course, the answer is “both.” Society can provide the means so that students get fed enough, for instance, and then step in make DAMN sure that kids actually get the food. When it comes to education, we already do both. There is educational infrastructure to allow kids to learn and laws making schooling mandatory.

    How far should homeschooling accommodations go?

    A parent gets to home school if the kid is showing adequate progress. Accommodations? What accommodations are necessary?

    When is homeschooling not an appropriate education?

    On several accounts. If there is no actual schooling going on, so the kid is not learning. If kids are being homeschooled so that they can be raped and/or beaten without the authorities catching on. If a parent insists on teaching things that aren’t either true or verifiable. If the parent is in no way qualified to teach an advanced subject. In other words, anything that interferes with the welfare of the child, because that comes first.

    How far can progressive protection go?

    Define “progressive protection.” If you mean “how far can and should society go in providing children with all the protections they deserve,” I;’d find it hard to think of an example of “too far.”

    Is homeschooler protection different than public school protections?

    Why not?

    Did the California court go too far when it required homeschoolers to have credentialed instructors?

    It went sideways, not too far. Instead of requiring certified teachers, it should have required certain outcomes from home schooling.

  2. For the record, a very effective way to disguise escalating dropout rates is to coerce, that is, convince parents or guardians to sign completely unenforceable homeschooling agreements when their children leave public school…

    Hypothetically, of course.

  3. JS,

    Why should homeschoolers be held to a more stringent requirement than the schools? When schools produce D students, are those students removed from the schools?

  4. I home school my son and send him to public school. He is five and could read and write and do basic math and can count to over 100. He is learning his times table. These are things they would never teach in Kindergarten. He is no genius and really quite lazy at times when it comes to learning topics he doesn’t love.
    I really have very little faith in the school system. I figure if he is to get a good education we will have to take it into our own hands. We leave public schools to give him a social connection and allow him arts and crafts and athletics. I do think homeschooling has its place but disagree with the religious zealots that educate their children in what they think is the truth rather then useful information. I guess there is no perfect system being that some parents choose home school for academics reason whilst others choose it for a religious agenda.
    I would urge every parent to take responsibility for their children’s intelligence and not be so naive to leave it to the school system…public or private…the only person that has a true vested interest in your child is you. It will save you a lot of frustration. My parents never helped me with school I was 100% on my own Lucky I was smart enough to figure it through out lower grades. Then I got even smarter in Highschool and realized no one really cares. I don’t want my kids to feel alone. I hope I can teach them until they have the confidence to push themselves and know that Dad and I will always be behind them 100%
    My personal experience with teachers is that 90% of them are idiots and could care less and are just watching the clocks like everyone else. Bad parents and Bad teachers there really is no cure. Except maybe replacing us all with robots….hmmmm My whole life I can only remember 3 good teachers out of the bunch. I wish I had a robot teacher…lol

  5. Oh and I want to add that states don’t want to test home schooled kids because they know that the test scores in most cases would be off the roof compared to public scores which would make them look bad and cause them nothing but problems in terms of how much money the feds give them.