urban home school

Cityjournal.org in Homeschooling in the City reports on the home schooling growth in the suburbs and cities and the reasons why more and more parents are turning away from the public school system.  There are several reasons:

  • Safety concerns (Ninety-one percent of homeschooling parents cited school environment as at least a contributing factor)
  • Dissatisfaction with the quality and content of instruction at local public schools
  • Substandard physical buildings which created health safety issues (mold)

This article shows how these parents are providing educational opportunities to their children they could not access in a public school (learning Latin, reading classical literature, being able to question without a time limit).  There are some critics who believe that parents who withdraw their children from public school are not serving the collective of children, but these parents are nonplussed by such criticism:

Homeschooling has its critics. Some say it’s a choice reserved for those with the household wealth to get by on one income—a notion most homeschoolers reject. Too often, they say, the extra money that comes from having both parents work goes mostly to cover day care or after-school expenses, making the choice of one parent (typically the mother) to stay home and teach the kids a financial wash. Other critics charge that by withdrawing their children from struggling public schools, homeschoolers do a disservice to the system. But Wade and others point out that they still support the public school system with their dollars. “I pay school taxes,” she says. “But my children are not sitting in a school all day costing the city money.”

The parents want more than what the public system is offering: Above all, they want a better education than their children can typically get sitting in a traditional classroom for six hours every day.  They probably don’t buy into the incessant testing and the authoritarian nature of school administrators, state agencies and Federal Government mandates/threats.  These parents should be applauded for being astute and not accepting the talking points of the intense need for testing and comparing your child to others for the good of the work force and data researchers:

Some critics claim that homeschooled kids won’t be prepared to do college-level work, but available data suggest otherwise. In 2009, NEHRI’s Ray looked at the standardized test results of 12,000 homeschoolers from all 50 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. He found that homeschoolers scored 34–39 percentile points above the norm on the California Achievement Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and the Stanford Achievement Test. A recent study published in The Journal of College Admission found that homeschooled students had higher composite ACT scores than their non-homeschooled peers and graduated college at higher rates—66.7 percent, compared with 57.5 percent. “In recent years, we’ve admitted ten or 12 homeschooled students” per year, says Marlyn McGrath, admissions director at Harvard, where each class numbers about 1,600.

Other skeptics, still focused on socialization, warn that homeschoolers may have trouble in the less structured environment of college life. Not true, says Celine Cammarata, a 25-year-old graduate of the William E. Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. A native of Greenwich Village, Cammarata was unschooled. She never wrote a paper or took a test before sitting for the SATs at age 15. It was her traditionally schooled peers, she says, who found freshman year so challenging. “A lot of kids struggled with the autonomy they were given. I was already used to taking care of my own education, so it was less of a big transition for me,” she says. Despite never receiving a grade before entering college, Cammarata earned a 3.98 GPA while majoring in behavioral neuroscience. She works as a lab manager at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology and is thinking about graduate school. Her brother, also unschooled, graduated from Harvard Law School.

Did you catch a very important remark from the young woman who had not taken a test before she took the SAT?:

A lot of kids struggled with the autonomy they were given. I was already used to taking care of my own education, so it was less of a big transition for me.

That is a sentiment that I rarely, if ever, read in educational reform talking points.  Public school teachers are evaluated on whether a student succeeds or fails based on NGO academic/behavioral/social assessments and if the student fails to achieve the NGO expected level, the teacher is penalized on his/her evaluation.  A critical difference in the educational direction of public education today vs home schooling is outcome vs opportunity.  Public students are expected to reach a pre-determined outcome.  Non-publicly schooled children are expected to make the most of their opportunities and the outcome they reach is primarily due to their individual responsibility and work ethic.

Parents in Missouri, revisit our post from yesterday in which Anne reported on the convoluted and spinning rhetoric on what Missouri current test results meant.  If you are confused about exactly what DESE is saying about the testing results, you are not the only one.  We don’t know what ‘proficiency’ means.  What are the cut scores?  Why are these incessant phrases about comparing students with other students being used when states did not use all the same tests?  How can valid comparison exist when technology snafus invalidated many of the testing results? Why aren’t we concerned with individual student development vs students conforming their learning to be assessed on unvalidated assessments?   What DESE stated at the State Board of Education is just plain ludicrous.  Isn’t your child’s education more important than to leave it in the hands of a state agency that can’t even explain the meaning of proficiency?

Read the entire home schooling article here.  The ed reform crowd must be becoming increasingly desperate to label the ever increasing number of families opting out of public school because of what it offers (and what it doesn’t):

Neither dropouts nor go-with-the-flow conformists, the new urban homeschoolers defy easy labeling. They don’t like what they see in the public schools, but they don’t necessarily want to tear them down. They want control, but mostly in the service of flexibility. They tend to reject newfangled educational theories, but they aren’t such traditionalists that they can’t see the educational value of Skype.

They don’t like what they see in the public schools and they quickly realize they have little to no power to affect meaningful change in their school district.  Maybe the continuing mass exodus of children from the common system of education will collapse the system as it currently exists and the people can once again have a voice in the educational direction/development in their local schools.  It’s a rebellion that unites not only devout Iowa evangelicals and countercultural Mendocino hippies, it unites parents concerned with the lackluster education public schools currently offer.  Public schools are increasingly delivering an education more concerned with data than children and The Chambers of Commerce agenda than students’ individual learning style/ability.

You know this movement is causing consternation with these stories:


Not Quite Mainstream

While homeschooling has become more mainstream in recent years, it remains in the eyes of its critics a threat to public schools, public health—and even democracy itself. Social welfare officials and local politicians in some states have subjected homeschooling families to treatment bordering on harassment. Last year, for example, the Lee County, Florida, education department sent a letter falsely implying that homeschooling families had to participate in an end-of-year assessment. This year, the Goochland County, Virginia, school board was forced to back away from a proposed policy requiring that teenagers being homeschooled for religious reasons provide a statement about their beliefs to local officials. In Connecticut, a blue-ribbon panel investigating the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown has drawn fire for wrongly tying the tragedy to homeschooling.

Critics of homeschooling have support in academia. Stanford University political scientist Rob Reich has argued for tighter regulation of homeschooling to ensure that “children are exposed to and engaged with ideas, values, and beliefs that are different from those of the parents.” Georgetown Law School professor Robin L. West laments the “virtually unfettered authority” that state laws afford homeschoolers. She worries that homeschooled children grow up to become right-wing political “soldiers,” eager to “undermine, limit, or destroy state functions.” She, too, would like to see homeschooling more tightly regulated and homeschoolers subjected to mandatory testing and periodic home visits—“to give the state a window into the quality of home life, and a way to monitor signs of abuse.”

In practice, such home visits can lead to violations of homeschoolers’ constitutional rights. In November, on behalf of homeschooling parents Laura and Jason Hagan, the Home School Legal Defense Association filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against two members of the Nodaway County, Missouri, sheriff’s department. The sheriffs had forced their way into the Hagan residence after being called by a child protective-services caseworker investigating a report that the home was “messy.” The Hagans refused entry to the investigators, so the sheriffs pepper-sprayed them, tasered Jason, and threatened to shoot the family dog—all in full view of the Hagan children. The sheriffs charged the Hagans with resisting arrest and with child endangerment. At trial, however, a judge ruled that the lawmen had violated the Hagans’ Fourth Amendment rights by entering their home without a warrant.

If public school was working, would you see the number of homeschoolers growing every year?


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