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Three Smart Rules for Home School Regulation


Homeschooling is the sleeping giant of the American education system. There are at least 1.7 million children being taught at home, a rough estimate because good data is hard to find and the number has been growing about 9 percent a year for the last decade.
Home-schooling parents and their concerns don’t show up often in our debates over public schooling. They are too busy getting through the day, both making a living and teaching their children. We will likely hear more from them as they serve a larger and larger portion of the nation’s schoolchildren.

Some public school educators I know are uneasy about this. They don’t know home-schooling families well. They worry those kids are being ill-served by well-meaning but inexperienced parents. There is potential for more battles over regulating home-schooling. In the last several years, due to the efforts of groups like the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va., home-schooling parents’ rights to teach their children as they see fit have expanded. Regulation has been reduced. But the political winds could blow the other way. What should we do about that?

One sensible answer appears in a new book, “Write These Laws On Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling.” The author is Robert Kunzman, an associate professor at the Indiana University School of Education and a former high school teacher, coach and administrator. Kunzman knows than many parents have chosen to homeschool for non-religious reasons, but focuses on serious Christians because they are the ones that public school professionals are most worried about.

Six home-schooling families, each in a different part of the country, their real names changed, let him observe their daily lives and record their reasons for what they were doing. He finds a mix of good practices and bad, just like public schools, and finds — at least in my view — little to worry about. I was impressed that he quickly dismissed what I have found to be among the most common and least justifiable concerns about home-schooled children — that without public education they will not be socialized and will not learn how to deal with the annoyances of the real world. Home schoolers go outside often and get just as big a dose of pain and joy and ignorance and wisdom as regular school kids.

Kunzman admits, however, that political and education leaders in the future may not be so tolerant of what they might see as homeschooling excesses. Anticipating future clashes, he comes up with three rules for regulating homeschooling that he thinks all sides could accept as a way to protect both the families’ freedoms and their children's futures.

Home-schooling regulations are only justified, Kunzman says, when (1) vital interests of children or society are at stake, (2) there is a general consensus on standards for meeting those interests, and (3) there is an effective way to measure whether those standards are met.
Kunzman offers only one possible regulation that meets all three criteria: he thinks home-schoolers, like regular school children, should be tested for basic skills in reading, writing and math.

In a Tennessee family, for instance, the father tells Kunzman the only classes he can teach competently are art and music, so he handles those and lets the children to work independently on the rest. His wife checks their English and math work and answers occasional questions, but that’s it. “The consequences of this relative neglect of other subjects aren’t difficult to see,” Kunzman writes. “During the art lesson, for instance, twelve-year-old Aaron struggles with his math, which involves multiplying two-digit numbers. He continues to use his finger to multiply, even with problems such as ‘five times nine’ — counting forty-five fingers in all.”

Existing academic accountability regulations for homes-choolers, Kunzman says, range from virtually no rules in places like Indiana to required testing in Oregon to curriculum approval in Vermont. But the families he interviews find it easy to subvert some regulations’ intent. A family in Vermont, for instance, has a friend sign a required letter to state authorities that the home-schooling mother writes. Kunzman also sees a news article about a Coloradoan who mails in a progress report for his 6-year-old Missy and receives a satisfactory evaluation, even though Missy is a dog. .

Basic tests, administered every two or three years, makes more sense to Kunzman than easily corrupted curriculum assessments and progress reports. “Wouldn’t homeschoolers prefer a simple, straightforward assessment that most students would (I suspect) easily pass so they can get on with their studies?” he asks.

At one point Kunzman, the former public high school educator, expresses concern about a Vermont mother’s fondness for what he calls the “read the book, answer the questions, take the quizzes, and move on” style of learning. By contrast, he notes, one of the social studies classrooms at the school where he worked often had “an animated buzz of thoughtful, informed discussion about historical and current events.” Ever the realist, Kunzman admits there was another social studies class at the same school where “students were invariably hunched over their desks, staring blankly at the endless stack of worksheets they were required to complete.”

Like most educational issues, bad teaching is something that both regular schools and homeschooling parents have to worry about. All surveys of home-schooled students so far indicate they have higher achievement rates on average than regular students. I think this is in part the result of having unusually motivated and involved parents. Kunzman says the data is iffy because it only covers home-schooling parents willing to test their kids and share the results. But, as far as we know, their kids are mostly well served.

That, in turn, will keep the home-schooled population growing. What will this often overlooked corner of the schooling world look like in another decade? I am keeping Kunzman’s e-mail address in my source file, and his fine book on a nearby shelf where I can refer to it regularly.

By Washington Post Editors  | August 21, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  
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Comments

Homeschooled students should be held to the exact same requirements that private school students are. So if private schools are not required to have their students take the state's standardized tests, submit portfolios for review, have their curriculum approved, or employ state-credentialed teachers, then neither should homeschools.

Neither homeschools nor private schools receive taxpayer money for their operation, so the government should not micromanage the way their are run.

Posted by: CrimsonWife | August 21, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Oops, that last sentence should read "they're" not "their".

Posted by: CrimsonWife | August 21, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Jay, one of the primary reasons parents homeschool in the early grades is that children at ages 5, 6, and 7 vary widely in their abilities to attain proficiency in things such as reading and basic math. Many boys who struggle to read at age 6 are able to easily learn at age 8, unless they've spent 2 years being made to feel dumb by a school system intent on forcing them to read before they are ready.

So, yes to testing - but only in grades 5 and up.

My eldest son, by the way, couldn't read until age 9. Within 2 months, he read beyond grade level. 2 days ago, we dropped him off at University of Mary Washington (a year early) equipped with a full ROTC scholarship to study Arabic. In other words, his late start in reading hasn't hurt him any - but it might have if he had been in a standard school system.

Posted by: coreyfam | August 21, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

This seems like a clear case of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Adding more regulation because "the winds could blow the other way" seems uncalled- for.

In my state, NY, the regulations have not changed much since the mid-1980s. Standardized tests are required in certain years. But as the column notes, these tests are easy to pass -- and to my mind, indicative of nothing more than the ability to do well on standardized tests.

If there is no hue and cry for raising the quality of homeschool instruction, then why add more regulation? And if there is a need, why use meaningless tests?

That's not even getting into how a book that focuses on religious extremists can be used to judge the general population, let along make recommendations for such a diverse group.

Posted by: junkklc | August 21, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

As an education professor, Kunzman has determined three rules to regulate homeschooling that he says all sides could accept. Who in the homeschooling crowd accepts recommendations from people who don't homeschool, but writes books about homeschooling AND also makes a living from the school edu-industry? One wonders about the motivation to make him a go-to guy on homeschooling.
Mr. Matthews reports these recommendations are made in order to prevent future intolerance of homeschoolers. How about the anti-homeschooling crowd learns to be more tolerant? Kum Ba Yah, and all that.

Our homeschooled kids' educational successes speak for themselves. We don't need fear to guide us towards and through a bureaucracy.

Posted by: Accountabletomykids | August 21, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse


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Posted by: morse99 | August 21, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

This article neglected to mention several important issues in this debate. First, there have been several states that implemented testing and regulations for homeschooling. The academic progress of homeschoolers didn't improve as a result of the testing and regulations. In fact, in one state the progress acutally dropped a bit.
Secondly, testing and regulations exist in public schools because there is taxpayer money at stake which requires accountability. Since homeschool families are paying taxes to support public schools, but don't receive any funding for their teaching efforts, why should they be held accountable?
I understand that some public school advocates don't like the fact that homeschoolers don't have to deal with all the burdensome regulations that they do. If that is the real underlying issue, then they should reduce those regulations instead of trying to impose new regulations on the rest of us.

Posted by: pauladem | August 22, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Kunzman needn't make a big deal about a 12 year discovering no reason to memorize his multiplication tables. Home educated children often question everything around them. It's part of the process.

I recall what fun we had teasing our 12 year old son when he insisted on using his fingers to multiply. We laughed that he was going to wear his finger down to nubbins. He just received his PhD in physics from Harvard and we still laugh about it.

It's not the way children do things that matters but whether they understand what they're doing. One size doesn't fit all, which is the whole point of home education.

Kunzman make a very common mistake in his misguided attempt to regulate home educators. He doesn't understand that home educators are private teachers and should be treated equally with other private educators. It's not up to the public sector to decide how best to evaluate home educated students, unless, of course, they are prepared to overturn years of court precedent and start regulating private school students too.

Posted by: TigerMom | August 22, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

What is the goal of homeschool regulation? Testing is not an ideal method of evaluating a homeschool because there aren't enough kids to make it clear whether the scores are a reflection of the quality of teaching the children are receiving or the abilities or disabilities of the students. I have known families that homeschool their kids through elementary school because they're dyslexic. These kids would do poorly on a standardized test wherever they were schooled for early elementary.

Also, it's easy for a homeschooling family that is disinterested in testing to set their child's grade level such that any test results are meaningless.

If the goal here is to prevent children from falling through the cracks, I have a different suggestion. Every homeschooling parent I know is aware of the subjects they aren't up to teaching themselves. Most arrange somehow to have their kids learn these subjects from someone else, but a handful don't have the community support or funds to outsource one subject. They are forced to decide between putting their kid in school all day (which may be a bad fit for a range of reasons) or struggling through their weak subject on their own. If more states allowed homeschoolers to attend public school part-time, this would be less of an issue.

Posted by: batty1 | August 22, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I’m glad to learn about Kunzman’s book and will definitely read it. But if his only recommendation boils down to more testing, I’ll be disappointed. Too many of today’s education experts worship at the testing altar. Arne Duncan, shortly after being named Secretary of Education, called for more rigorous testing standards and better data analysis, with the possibility of nationalized exams. Meanwhile in Virginia, elementary schoolers are tested on everything from basic economics to Virginia state history, while teachers in our district regularly complain about “the monster that is devouring our schools.” (One veteran teacher’s assessment of Virginia’s SOL tests.)

Testing is a valid part of education, but it’s rarely a panacea for complex issues, and it can cause more problems than it solves. With a subject as emotionally charged as homeschooling, it is hard to imagine consensus on testing content, administration, and consequences. If a homeschooled child fails a reading test , who is to say that child’s chances of success would increase through placement in a public classroom with thirty or more children?

Three years ago I homeschooled my oldest daughter for one year in a carefully planned “fifth grade sabbatical”—an experience I’ve written about in past articles, and in a forthcoming HarperCollins memoir. Our year was designed, in part, as a break from a testing culture than had left my child torn between boredom and stress. I wanted my daughter to do a year of writing across the curriculum, because, as an English professor, I encounter students each fall who have mastered multiple choice tests but who have trouble forming an original thesis and writing an eloquent essay.

In the process, I gained great respect for homeschoolers, though I encountered some red flags that I hope Kunzman addresses. When I informed my school district of my intention to homeschool, no one did a background check to make sure that I had no record of child abuse, sexual predation, or drug addiction. I was also surprised to learn that in most states, homeschooling parents are not required to have a college education. One of the comments above compares homeschooling to private schools, but private institutions usually have higher standards for their teachers, while in many states a parent who barely finishes high school with a D average can then teach high school to his or her own children. I am not saying that all homeschoolers should have a B.A., and the vast majority of homeschoolers are well-qualified to “teach their own,” but if you want to talk about minimum standards of regulation, parental competence and child safety concern me more than test scores.

Posted by: LauraBrodie | August 22, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

These are wonderfully erudite comments. Please keep them coming, as I do something about removing that EasyEssay.com ad that wandered in here. I hope that reference to Kaplan doesn't mean our corporate partners are invading our sacred journalist turf.

Posted by: jaymathews | August 22, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The problem with requiring a formal education to homeschool is that some people homeschool precisely because they were failed by formal education, and want something better for their children. To force them to send their kids to the same institutions that failed them is just wrong.

Screening parents for their history of abuse based on schooling choice is just offensive-- there is no relationship between homeschooling and child abuse, and parents of children in traditional schools have ample opportunity to abuse their children during non-school hours (not to mention the abuse of children by school employees, which is rare, but not rare enough).

Getting back to the topic of regulation, I think a cost/benefit analysis would be appropriate. Given that all the information we have suggests that homeschooled children are not at any particular risk of being poorly educated, forcing tax-payers to finance additional regulation seems wasteful.

Posted by: batty1 | August 22, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree that “formal education” in institutions is not the measure of a good homeschooler, but the question of whether there should be any parental qualifications for homeschooling remains. On a pragmatic level, I think there is no way to adequately measure parent academic readiness—testing of parents would pose the same problems as testing of children. On a hypothetical level, does the state have an interest in ensuring that a homeschooling parent demonstrate the ability to read and do math at an elementary level (not always guaranteed by a high school degree)? My own feeling is that the only time the state should intervene in any aspect of child rearing, including education, is if the child’s health and safety are at risk. My point above about parents with a documented history of neglect or addiction is not meant to suggest any link between child abuse and homeschooling, but to acknowledge that the public schools serve a “social worker” function for some of America’s most vulnerable children, providing them with their only hot meals of the day, and acting as a point of intervention in dangerous cases of abuse. If a parent with a history of neglect wanted to remove their child from the public schools in order to homeschool, does a school superintendent have the right to say no? Perhaps some do—I would want to hear more about that.

Posted by: LauraBrodie | August 22, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

There are already laws about neglect and abuse and these issues are irrelevant to homeschooling and homeschooling regulation.

Testing is not education, and preparing and taking tests prevents actual education from taking place. If testing were implemented I would first want to see evidence that there is any necessity for testing. Second, the consequences of poor test results would have to be clear. Are we going to force homeschooled kids with poor results to go to public school? Is there any evidence that enrollment will improve outcomes on the tested subjects? What about public-schooled kids who test poorly? Will they be served first? And first and foremost, if the public school isn't working, then don't apply the same standards to homeschoolers.

Educational philosophies differ, and by testing certain subjects in a certain way, the government is imposing its philosophy on homeschooling families. As a previous poster noted, some families are willing to wait for their kids to develop reading skills. Some families emphasize real-world experience over academic skills. Tests are never value-free.

There is also an assumption in the discussion of parental qualifications that things must be taught, i.e., the child listens and absorbs while an expert pontificates. In fact, much of learning occurs in response to a sparked interest, followed by questions that are answered by people or books or articles that are read on the subject. Children who keep their interests alive and know how to find answers are way ahead of children who only absorb (some of) what is presented to them. Not only that, but having interests gives a clearer path to productive adulthood with an enjoyable vocation than having interests killed by the system of filling up too much of children's time. If I'm right, the qualifications of the main educator are not relevant, as long as the adult can help the child find the answers to their questions.

Posted by: alisonbr | August 22, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

What I find interesting is that each organization and/or segment of the population that Obama made promises to prior to his election are finding this man to be unworthy of the office to which he was elected. He has turned his back on so many of his constituencies. Now it is the NEAs turn to see his true colors. Remember teachers, this is the person for whom you voted.

Posted by: PittAlum | August 22, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

It seems fairly obvious what the consequences of poor results on these "smart" tests would be. Applying this thinking to the other side, public school students who do poorly on standardized tests should be required to spend a year homeschooling, just to be fair.

All the concern about the suitability of parents to educate their own children pales in the light of a recent study on homeschooling by Dr. Brian D. Ray president of the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI, www.nheri.org).
In "Homeschooling Across America: Academic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics", the academic achievement of home-educated children was actually shown to be lower for students whose parents happened to be certified teachers. So much for the unqualified parent theory.

In fact, the degree of state regulation for homeschooling was shown in three different analyses to not make statistically significant differences in the academic achievement of homeschoolers, making all of this a bit of a moot point.

For those who feel that there must be some sort of accountability to the government for parents educating their children, I favor a system free of testing (smart or otherwise) of the student, the teacher, or the curriculum. Basic attendance quotas are sufficient to rule out cases of gross neglect. Anything more than that is majoring in minors, as far as true risk is concerned.

Posted by: aerieview | August 23, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Another thought: for many of us who do not homeschool for a selected *year,* homeschooling is merely an extension of our parenting. It feels pretty shocking to think that some might advocate that authorities should do a background check for a record of child abuse, sexual predation, or drug addiction just because I'm not choosing to send my child to an institution for seven or eight hours a day when he is five or six years old.

What really bothers me is why this does not sound backward to most people! How did things get turned around so that caring people who continue to spend generous amounts of time with their kids in order to nurture and educate them past age 4 are more "suspect" and in need of "background checks" than those who grudgingly, willingly, unconciously, or happily send their kids away for the majority of their waking hours?

Posted by: Jeanne7 | August 23, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I am a homeschooler who was raised in the public school system and that system failed me. I did end up graduating from highschool by the skin of my chin and went on to a JC and then never finsihed getting an AA.

I homeschool for this very reason. If you were to look at my educational background you would never think I was qualified to teach, however I spend more time researching, learning and taking the time with my children then the teachers in my schools ever did take with me.

My son (7) reads and does math at a 3rd grade level instead of 1st which is where he would be in public school. My daughter is right where she needs to be for age 4.

Testing? Are you kidding me. I froze on tests during school. I failed almost every test put in front of me in school. As a homeschooler, why do I need to test? I know exactly what my children knows and can do. My goodness, I spend 24 hours a day with them. I better know! If there is a concern about these children fitting in society academically, well then we need to fix the goverment school system first and pick on the majority instead of the minority. There are more problems there then there are in the homeschool world.

I am sure there are those few that do a poor job at homeschooling, but I feel those people are far and few. But how many kids in public school are graduating and still count on their fingers (I did) or can not spell well (that was me) or can not read or worst yet dropping out and lets not bring up the self confidence issues that a public school system can take away from a kid (me once more).

As a homeschool mom, I am learning right along with my kid and if I do not know an answer I run to the internet. Look, I loved the one readers comment...If it is not broke, then don't try to fix it. When the government starts paying me to teach my children then they can put their noses in my business. Meanwhile, lets work on that public school system that I still pay for. OK?

Posted by: KristinN1 | August 24, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

According to GreatSchools.net, my county spends over $10,000 per year to educate one public school student. When I receive that $20,000 per year from my county, I'll be happy to have my two children take a required standardized test.

Until then, please, county school board, leave me alone.

Posted by: italiascuola | August 25, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

So, Mr.Kunzman is most worried about conservative Christian homeschoolers and therefore all of us should be tested?

Does Mr. Kunzman believe standardized testing will force parents to teach a more secular curriculum?

Although I am a secular homeschooler (and a Christian), I would venture to guess that most conservative Christian homeschoolers would just make room within their day to teach to the test. And, (I read the preview at Amazon) he acknowledges in his book that homeschooling is a part of the homeschooling family's life, not just a cut off portion of 'school', so why does he conclude that testing would have any effect? Those children will learn what their parents want regardless of ANY testing.

Frankly, I find the premise of his book frightening. Do we, once we become parents, need to be watched by the state because our beliefs may not be the most widely accepted?

Let it be. Homeschooling is a success. We have seen what massive amounts of testing does to the public school system, so why would you want to take a model that is so obviously failing, and place it on those who are succeeding?

Standardized testing will only serve to anger homeschoolers more and have the opposite effect of his goal. While I appreciate the concern he obviously has, I believe his remedy is misguided.

Posted by: briana1 | August 25, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I have a fundamental question with regard to testing and homeschooling that is not often asked. By what authority would the state have the right to force my children to be tested?

If a state were to (as some already do) make mandatory the testing of homeschooled children they are essentially usurping the authority of the parent. The state inherently understands the idea of parental authority when they charge a parent for neglect or abuse and rightly so. Why doesn't that understanding of the parental rights to watch over the well being of the child extend to education?

Unfortunately, we as a society have forgotten that the God of the Bible has given parents and the state distinct roles. We should be able to discuss the delegation of authority over to a public school but the authority over and responsibility for the child should always remain with the parent. Therefore, it should be my decision as a parent how my children are educated and if they are to be tested.

Posted by: JoeR3 | August 26, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

In response to LauraBrodie: "does a school superintendent have the right to say no? Perhaps some do—I would want to hear more about that."
I wouldn't WANT a superintendent to have that kind of power. If that situation DID exist, a social worker would have to become involved, maybe law enforcement.
All school employees are MANDATED reporters, so if they see a child in danger, they are required to report it.

The fly in the ointment of 'for health and safety' is that one could argue (erroneously ) that for the psychological health and social well-being of the child, he should be in public school system where he can learn and interact with children his own age.

Posted by: moronberg | August 26, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I think it is important to point out that the author is a prof. of education in Indiana, and state that requires no testing at all of home schooled students.

Posted by: moronberg | August 26, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the idea that tax-payer supported and federally controlled public schools should be accountable for their efficiency and effectiveness, but why the same accountability for parents who have opted out of the system?

One of the reasons I home educate is that I reject the One Size Fits All approach of the traditional age-segregated classroom. Testing forces parents to artificially speed their kids up in some areas while slowing them down in others. It doesn't allow for a child to develop mentally and physically as an individual, and the labels that children receive while they are young are incredibly damaging. IMO it is abusive to tattoo LD on some poor kid's forehead because they haven't mastered sitting still at a desk for hours at a time. Grade levels are for organizational purposes only, and have nothing to do with real children receiving a quality education.

I would also like to know where the evidence is that supports the validity of testing- do standardized tests accurately measure a student's understanding of particular subjects, especially since testing deconstructs and disconnects information that may have been presented to a student in a more cohesive fashion?

As for parents receiving background checks before opting out of the system to homeschool, it is a FACT that most instances of abuse, especially those that result in the death of a child, take place BEFORE a child is considered 'school age'. So what you really mean to advocate is that ALL potential parents receive a background check before they are allowed to conceive. And after reading about a woman who suffocates her toddler and buries him on a playground, I am almost up for that.

Posted by: Sunniemom | August 27, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I smelled a whiff of bogotry when the author claimed that he "focuses on serious Christians because they are the ones that public school professionals are most worried about." Notice how he uses the word "professionals" to bias the reader in favor of the public school advocates. That also allows the public school advocates to hide behind their credentials while they practice intolerance towards us.

Finally, if they get their way, they'll devise a test to make homeschoolers look bad. Don't think for a second that they'll administer the same tests that they use in the public schools. Letting them test us is like letting the fox guard the hen house.

Posted by: pauladem | August 27, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

:::Sigh:::

I wish I could say that I care what non-homeschoolers think about homeschooling but I don't. I think my son is getting an education that rivals ANY private school in the country. Probably better. They want to regulate us to control us, if they actually cared about KIDS, they'd fix the failing public school system and leave the parents who fork over thousands of dollars every year in ADDITION to paying education taxes, alone.

:::Yawn:::

Same old tired debate, yet no more proof that homeschooling is bad for kids now that there was 30 years ago.

www.The-Simple-Homeschool.com

Posted by: simpleschooling | August 27, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

There are always those with a book to sell, as evidenced in this article and comments.
Because of his observations as a public school professional, Kunzman is therefore an expert on homeschoolers, even though he doesn't homeschool.
It's all too strange, but will sadly become applicable to our lifestyle, if the professionals and their tax funded job protection backing win.
Homeschoolers and schools cannot teach everything in this wonderful world. We therefore want to sustain the love of learning. The concerns seem to be based on the teaching aspect, rather than the learning success futures of our children. Skills Tests and background checks? Dropout rates prove testing is so not effective in the schools. Shakeshaft's 2004 school abuse study was ignored. What are the percentages of public school abuse compared to homeschool abuse?
Kunzman's 3 simple (NOT)rules would get in our way.
Please, public school advocates, stay out of our way.

Posted by: Accountabletomykids | August 28, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I went to public schools -- did fabulously well in them, in fact. My kids started out in public schools. But when it became clear that their public school could not or would not engage them in meaningful learning, we began our home schooling journey. We have been educating outside the box ever since.

Testing for basic mastery of math and reading would be fine with me if (1) it were the *only* regulation governing home schooling, replacing current regulations where they exist and (2) the parties involved could agree on testing instruments, what constitutes “basic mastery,” and what should be done if a given child lacks this “basic mastery.” I will not repeat some of the concerns posted previously.

Although I understand that home schooling makes some public school teachers and officials, not to mention unions, very nervous, I wonder how many of them know any home schooling families. Perhaps they should try to be socialized outside the four walls of their buildings and meet some of the home schooling families in their communities. I think they would find, regardless of the popular portrayal of home schoolers, not only a great deal of diversity among home schoolers but also a community of parents who care deeply about their children’s educations. Deeply enough that many are willing to forego a second income and instead spend thousands of hours teaching and learning alongside their kids, researching curricula to best fit their kids’ individual strengths and weaknesses, driving to and from sundry activities, and correcting homework late into the night. Deeply enough that they will make sure their kids are prepared for college, for a trade, and for an independent adult life.

I challenge those of you who do not home school, yet have an opinion on this issue, to go out and meet three or four families that do. Talk to them a bit. You may find that we are not who, or what, you thought we were. You may even find we know a thing or two about education. Just because we have chosen a non-traditional path to educate our kids, we do not deserve to be treated as if we are on probation for some crime against society.

Posted by: 4post_readers | August 28, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I know a few homeschoolers in GA who find MD's homeschool laws to be excessive. They prefer their requirements that include routine standardized tests. Irony at it's best. No reviews and the tests aren't every year. They like being able to choose the test too.
See excerpt below:

Standardized Tests: Children must take a national standardized achievement test every three years beginning at the end of the third grade. "Test scores are not required to be submitted to public school authorities." Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(7). Parent must write an annual progress report and retain it for three years. Ga. Code Ann. § 20-2-690(c)(8).

http://www.ghea.org/pages/resources/stateLaw.php

Posted by: doglover6 | August 28, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

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