Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fredrik deBoer gets it wrong

deBoer seems to have an overly inflated sense of himself; parents aren't suppose to homeschool because it offends his sensibilities. The first mistake deBoer makes is in assuming that all Public Schools are like the public school he attended.
deBoer says: I grew up in a racially and socioeconomically diverse hometown with a similarly diverse public high school, and I couldn’t be prouder or happier to have gone to school there.
Well good for you deBoer I am really happy that you enjoyed your Public School experience that doesn't make it right for everyone. (Sigh) Just because I know you will ask this is the racially and socioeconomically diverse makeup of the school district I live in.

Female                  307           47% 
Male                     346           53% 
Asian                      63           10%
Black                       94           14% 
Hispanic                  16             2% 
Native American        4             1%  
White                     476           73% 
Multi Racial                0              0%

Poverty Percentage 356             56%  

deBoer also makes the assumption that diversity isn't found inside the homeschooling community. Nothing could be further from the truth there are White, African-American, Hispanic and Native American Homeschoolers (click here to see more info). There are rich, middle-class, poor, single parent and two income households that homeschool. There are straight and gay families that homeschool. Secular, Atheist, Protestant, Catholics and many other religions including Pagans are all represented in the homeschooling community. Pamela J. Stubbart's article The Moral Status of Homeschooling and Public Schooling Motivations was actually reasonable.
why examine the motivations of homeschooling parents any more rigorously than those of parents who choose the prima facie more progressive, egalitarian, and diversity-minded option of public schooling? I grew up attending the public schools in Cobb County, an affluent suburb of Atlanta, Georgia
My parents and those many of my peers chose this district and its schools at least in part to avoid the exposure of their children to socioeconomic diversity, not to pursue it! And due to the religious makeup of the area (i.e., Bible Belt), students attending Cobb County schools were not typically exposed there to any religious diversity, or secular challenge of religion (indeed, this is the district that placed stickers in biology textbooks claiming that "Evolution is a theory, not a fact"). It's easy to assume that those who share our educational philosophies are motivated by sound considerations, and that those who oppose them are motivated by illegitimate ones. But let's not fail to take seriously the multiple motivations upon which parties to all sides of the issue may be acting.

And before we debate the pro's and cons of homeschooling less be clear on what homeschooling is. Homeschooling is;
1. Not a public school choice.
2. Homeschooling is not a government program. It is an education option as separate as non-government funded, private education.
3. Options such as charter schools and public virtual schools are choices which are not independent of public schooling.
4. Homeschooled students are not under federal NCLB requirements, nor are they required to keep state learning standards.

For further reading
 Racism and Homeschooling
 Why Homeschooling Is a Boon to a Liberal Society

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Santorum flap isn't about Homeschooling

Santorum's children were enrolled in a public charter school. They were public school students who received their education at home.
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum should reimburse $100,000 to the Penn Hills School District for taxpayer money used since 2001 to cover online charter school tuition for his children, four school board members said Thursday. The senator will not respond until the board makes a formal request, said Santorum's deputy chief of staff, Robert Traynham
The flap  is because his children were enrolled in a public school program that they didn't qualify for based on their residency.
"He's admitted he's not a resident. I'm going to put up a motion for him to pay back the entire amount," said Penn Hills School Board member Erin Vecchio, chairwoman of the local Democratic Committee. Penn Hills Superintendent Patricia Gennari said she phoned the senator Wednesday afternoon to arrange for the district to query him about his residency. Santorum issued a statement late that night saying he had decided to pull his children from the online school and home-school them instead after being told by district officials that "only children who live in a community on a full-time basis" are eligible for the tuition money.
Homeschoolers are self funded, they do not receive tax/tuition money and the State does not assist them with textbooks, materials or supplies.

The issue here is clear Senator Santorum was doing what many public school parents do, illegally sending his children to a public school in a district they do not reside in. The waters are a little murky here because Santorum actually does own a home in the school district, they just don't live in it most of the year. Santorum could have honestly been unaware of the full time residency requirement for the "free" tuiton to the public charter school.

But it underscores the need to be clear on the educational alternatives available to parents and the regulations regarding each one.

Homeschooling laws vary from state to state. But for the most part Homeschoolers do not receive any tax money or support from the State.

Private Schools - parents pay tuition out of their own pockets for their children to attend.

Charter Schools -
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter.Charter schools are opened and attended by choice. While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition.
Cyber Schools are online schools and can either be public or private.