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RE: Homeschooling

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From: Lawrence A. Parker (occti_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Nov 18 2003 - 17:00:39 PST


I figure it's about time that a homeschooler adds his two cents.
 
In the posts so far I've seen some good thinking about this subject and some
that I consider erroneous, insulting, and almost dangerous. (You'll know it
when I get to it).
 
I should give the following information. Our daughter is 17 and our son 13.
We've been homeschooling them for about 8 years.
We finally found the burden of curriculum planning (the only planned curriculums
out there are for "religious" devotees), buying texts and other materials too
overwhelming. Our daughter has been attending an online school named Christa
McAuliffe Academy, out of Yakima, WA. She attends online classes, does online
presentations, and has gone on two school-sponsored field trips - one to Orlando
and Cape Kennedy, FLA; the other to Hawaii, to study the geology, history, and
ecosystems. Her online classes are live with microphone and earphones. We pay
about $250/mo. for their services. Bryn was also a 2002 People-to-People
Student Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand.
 
Our son just started this year with a school (Connections Academy out of
Maryland) that is licensed as a charter school in Ohio so that it provides him
with a pc, textbooks and other materials free of cost. Geoff is a buzz saw and
will make his mark - he's shooting for the U.N. or scientific research, both
with the same aim - to improve the world for everyone.
 
Of the two, I much prefer Connections for their materials, curriculum, and
staff, but our daughter is graduating this year so there's no point in
switching. Both will get a regular high school diploma. Our daughter plans to
study to be an elementary teacher for deaf children.
 
But we are homeschoolers nonetheless, only slightly more than all parents should
be homeschoolers - helping the kids with their studies, taking a more than
active interest in what they're doing, and bringing to them resources which we
have discovered to supplement the materials they're given.
 
What is your first reaction to the term home schooling?
 
Mixed thoughts. Being both a homeschooling parent and an educator, I can "see"
both sides. It is a basic right to homeschool and this should not be taken
away. At the same time, there should be some kind of oversight (more on that,
see below). There are quite a number of parents who are homeschooling that I
don't think should be, either because of lacks in their own education, because
they are educating their children to skewed points of view and filtered
information.
 
(Do you think home schoolers are religious or political radicals?)
Some are religious(period). Some are religious fanatics to the point of being
paranoid of the public school system. Some think, as others have noted, that
they can give their children what they feel to be a fuller, more rounded, and
safer education. My wife and I are in this last group. Perhaps the most
politically radical aspect of our homeschooling is that we don't want our
children to grow up to be sheep. If it is any commendation, they can tell you
with sound reasons and reasoning why DW is one of the worst things to hit this
country and this world. And they will give their own reasons, not lip service
of what we say. They read the papers, listen to the news, and are neither blind
nor deaf and are well aware of what is going on in the world. If they stand in
disbelief of anything, it's the apathy and ignorance of so many Americans.
 
Are you insulted by home schooling? Are you offended that what we do may be in
question by the parent or student that wants homeshooling?
 
Not sure I can answer this because this doesn't hit me on either side of the
fence I sit on. But I would like to comment about questioning what is done in
public education - I think it should always be questioned, and I am often
gratified to hear many of you question what you do, what others do, what
administrations do, and what the U.S. government is doing. Unfortunately, I
don't think many of you have any idea what to do about it all, just like the
rest of us. From this perspective, supporting homeschooling and charter schools
is one thing you can do. These are your laboratories, where you can look for
new ideas, new techniques, new perspectives. Don't treat them like enemies if
you can learn from them, and they from you.
 
     Who do think home schools? and why?
 
(see above)

    Do you think home schoolers have any district or state mandated
requirements? Are you aware of any requirements?
 
Akron Public School District does, but I don't think they care much or pay too
much attention, so long as the forms are filled out properly and the state is
happy. Other than that, I don't think they give us a moments thought.

    Should homeschoolers be allowed to to participate in curricular(classes) or
extracurricular activities that the public school provides?
 
(Guess what's coming?) Yep, this is a part of my peeve with the Public Schools
and the way that homeschoolers are treated, by the State, by the District, and
by the parents of public school children. Some of you seem to think that we
have no rights to be involved in Public School activities. Let me fill you in
on a few facts of life. Both my wife and I work. We both pay taxes. Some of
our taxes come back to pay for our children's PUBLIC SCHOOL education and some
to pay for the education of other public school children. Let's use a round
number - I think the Ohio per students educational allotment is around $7k. So,
we've home schooled 2 children for 8 years. That's 16 school years. Times $7k.
That's $112,000 that the public school district has received for educating our
children -- when they haven't even been in school, so it's cost the district
nada, absolutely nothing !! Multiply this by the number of home schoolers and
the amount of money runs into the millions of dollars. Which makes it even more
amazing that the school districts are going broke! As homeschoolers, we are
leaving the districts with veritable nest eggs of big bucks.
 
BUT, if a homeschooling child wants to get into an extracurricular activity -
choir, band, sports, they are often rebuked by some of the same arguments I've
read here on the list, and some of you even want them to pay extra!! (see the
last paragraph above). (Hm, if Lebron James we're home schooled, but wanted to
join a school basketball team, I wonder if they would have kept him out or "made
an exception"?)
 
Otherwise, EVERYTHING we have spent to educate our children has been out of our
own pockets - programs, textbooks, computers, field trip costs, testing -
EVERYTHING.

    Why are the numbers of home schoolers increasing? (what needs are we not
meeting?)
 
I don't know as they are; I don't bother to keep track. But if they are, I'm
sure that it's because more and more people are getting frustrated with the way
the school systems are being run, administratively and financially, and with the
poor quality of teachers that are being placed in classrooms. Please don't
argue; I've been in the classrooms; I've met them; I've seen them "teach". It's
shameful, and it's shameful that they have a union to protect them. A good
number of them should be put on a rack.

   My local survey indicates that teachers think that the home schooled child
misses out on the
   socialization aspect of attending school. Is this valid?
 
This is bull. I know the kids who go to the local public schools, I live with
them, and I meet them on the streets. I DON'T EVEN LIKE TO SOCIALIZE WITH SOME
OF THEM!! I see no benefit to our children to expose them any more than is
necessary to the kinds of behavior that are the norms in schools. Are they
socially deprived? Of course not. We're not isolationists (although some home
schoolers are). They have friends in the neighborhood; they have friends at
church; they have friends whom they've known for years and still get together
with. They are friendly, outgoing kids and they understand that they have the
right and the ability to pick and choose whom they want to socialize with.

Can we embrace all alternatives to educating all children and, perhaps,
disregard our notions of what we regard as tradition?
 
We had better. No two children are alike, and it is the biggest mistake to
"group" kids and then teach them as if they were all the same. (My solution -
easy, the old way - more smaller schools, smaller classes, more (capable,
educated, and envisioned teachers)).
 
If any of you think that I'm talking through my pride or radical-ness, then I
invite any of you to talk with my kids directly:
 
Bryn Parker - horsegirl15@mindspring.com
Geoffrey Parker - gpcool@mindspring.com
 
Lawrence Parker,
Philosopher and Educational Consultant
    BA-Phil w/ minor in Secondary Ed/Math, and MA-Educational Foundations
My wife, Susan, holds a degree and expired certification in Music Education,
k-12, with some graduate hours in Music Therapy, but has refused to teach in an
American school since she taught for two years at a private, Christian girl's
school in Uskudar, Turkey, where parents and students respect teachers and are
honored to be able to get an education.

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