I wish I could share some of the information I have received in private emails and also on the email discussion list where we are talking about this, but I don't have permission to do so from the writers and some of it was already made clear to have been told to me in confidence.----
Update 1/20/07 9:50 am EST: It was hard to come up with a short title for this post so maybe the title is misleading my readers to think something other than what I meant. I didn't mean, when I used the word "monitor" for example, a panel of homeschoolers evaluating other homeschoolers. I meant a more casual addressing of something if something is known. I am sorry for any confusion but at the moment I can't think of a better title!
I am getting some very interesting responses especially in private email from those who fear sharing their true opinions on this blog or even to other homeschoolers on the email discussion list that I originally posted this on, they fear their name being attached to their opinion.
So as you read the below blog entry just know I didn't mean some homeschooling panel of monitors or anything formal or like a review team.
My original suspicion is being confirmed especially from the private emails --that homeschooling parents are very opionated and no one wants to hear any kind of opinion or evaluation or even a sincere concern about their children. (Actually I am different as I have nothing to hide and feel my kids are learning enough and doing alright and that my plans are good.)
Additionally I have heard from some who state they knowningly and intentionally do not follow the law out of not agreeing with the educational philosophy behind it, so in fact they don't care if the state would accurately deem their children 'educationally neglected' In their eyes to not know subject X is not to be educationally neglected in the parents eyes. This type of attitude is what may burn the rest of the homeschoolers and may lead us into more government regulation.
I have been thinking about this for a few days. I just posted this note on my local homeschooling email discussion list. I thought I’d post it here. If you would like to comment with your opinion I’d love to hear it. If you don’t have a Blogger account you can email me by clicking on my profile and following the link to access my email address.
I would ask that you really think about what I am trying to say and not just read this quickly or else perhaps the full gist and depth of what I am saying would not be understood.
I am not suggesting that we homeschooling parent all suddenly become police officers to police other people. At the core the most important thing to me is that every parent is aware of the homeschooling laws in their state and that they know what is generally taught in certain grades in the public schools. I would hope that people are keeping up with their homeschooling laws, to follow the law. I also encourage people to educate themselves on different educational theories and alternative educational paths. I fully encourage research and self-education in that area. I am supportive if parents choose to do something a certain way for a real, stated reason. For example if a family chooses to study history more in depth so they are not matching up exactly with what is studied in public school that year, they will know and also can show others that what they are doing is actually deeper and more comprehensive than what the public schools do. In no way am I saying I don’t encourage learning MORE than what is taught in public schools. Frankly though I see no reason to teach less or to end up giving our homeschooled children an inferior education than they would have received at a public school.
Lastly before you read my entry I will remind you I am from Connecticut. Our educational law was written in 1650 and we have very lenient laws regarding homeschooling compared to other states. In a subsequent year an outline was made to just say that a child will learn certain subjects at home (reading, spelling, math, etc.). We are not given a lot of detail as some other states give (and science is not even on the list of required subjects to be taught, can you imagine that?). Homeschooled children in Connecticut are not required to take any standardized tests. So here in Connecticut we homeschoolers do mostly self-monitoring of what our children are learning and we also decide how we will homeschool them and what content they’ll have (the state doesn’t ‘give’ us curriculum, books, etc. as so many citizens assume).
So here is my post---
I have been having some questions from people and some from other states about the fear of increased regulation to homeschoolers to help make sure that homeschooled kids are really learning what they should be learning or shall I say in the ‘outsiders’ eyes to be learning at least what the public schools teach and what the government has decided is a list of basic stuff that children of grade X should be learning. Some that I speak to are those curious of homeschooling and they might start doing it but they just don’t understand how it is monitored or how we monitor ourselves.
I got to thinking about a certain situation and thought that I’d bring this up for discussion here as I am curious what you think.
It is my understanding at least in Connecticut that since such a big part of the homeschooling planning and monitoring is self-monitoring by PARENT to their own children, that is what MOST of we homeschooling parents think that is right and feel it should be done that way.
However I am curious what you think about the situation when a child is NOT learning what is typically taught in a certain grade or by a certain age and the parent seems to have no clue that the child is behind. I am not speaking of being 6 months behind or something short term like that, but even of a situation where a child is years behind. Or maybe they are 1 or 2 grades behind in something but the parent seems to have no clue at all about it and therefore may indeed be “educationally neglecting” their child.
I am speaking of when a parent has not intentionally chosen to teach at a different pace for some important reason, such as rearranging history to teach world history in grade 2 instead of teaching American History in grade 2.
I am speaking NOT of children with learning disabilities or some medical situation that has them learning at a different schedule.
My question is should the homeschooling community itself not help in this way by gently telling the other parent or something? For example let’s say that you become aware that a certain child can’t do something very basic and they are years behind. What should you do? Should you say something to that other parent in a gentle manner? Or keep your mouth shut?
What about homeschool support group leaders, do we have an ethical issue with this? For example if someone comes to us for advice and we are expected to help them, but if we are made aware of something that is a glaring problem with “educational neglect” do we not then have an ethical issue to at least say something to the other parent?
In the past I have kept my mouth shut, and I am both a HS parent and also a HS support group leader.
Lately though I am thinking that would it not help a family if someone from WITHIN the community gently brought up the subject and made the parent aware so it could be fixed rather than having others from outside the community upset about that child then have them persuading their government officials to make laws or do even call the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to investigate educational neglect.
I am not speaking of me or another HS parent phoning DCF to report “educational neglect” of another homeschooler. I am just asking about talking to the other parents. I am of the opinion that other HSing parents would not want anyone including a HS support group leader to even gently say “Did you realize your child is way behind in math” or something like that (but in a nicer way and very gently).
And also if we know that a person in our community is really falling behind are we doing the CHILDREN a disservice by turning the other cheek? Should not we have all the children’s best interest in mind? (Or is this just not our business what another family does?)
In case you are wondering what some of the standards are this is a free list online that you can easily refer to if you want, it is the World Book Encyclopedia Typical Course of Study. Just click on the grade level. If you reference this be sure to look at prior grades as maybe something you assumed would be taught in grade 4 was actually on the list for grade 2 or something like that.
I am really curious about what everyone thinks.
Today my opinion on this is that if we want to keep regulation out and keep the most monitoring from the individual parent to the child then perhaps to keep that most intact legally/with the government it would be best if also within our small HSing community we helped each other out if we see something that doesn’t appear good or right. I think this can be done in a respectful and gentle way, it isn’t about being confrontational or negative or bossy or anything like that.
I think this is a touchy subject and I am not saying that dealing with it would be easy or comfortable but sometimes doing the right thing is not always easy or comfortable.
From the other perspective would you not prefer to have another homeschooling parent gently ask you why your child is not learning X than have DCS knock on your door? Wouldn’t you rather be gently approached by a friend or acquaintance from within our HS community than to have people trying to persuade our legislators to make stricter laws, to require standardized testing or stuff like that, of ALL of us? Also from what I have heard in other states sometimes the ones calling for increased regulation of homeschoolers are sometimes even the homeschoolers themselves. There are some people who don’t care about regulation of homeschooling because they don’t fear that their own children would pass any tests with flying colors.
What do you think? I know this is a touchy subject and I am really curious what others think.
Okay now that snow play is done, it is time to go do some math lessons. Can’t wait to see if anyone responds.
(I am hoping for some deep thought on this serious matter and not just a glib "Everyone should mind their own business" type of response.)
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