Friday, July 20, 2007

WNPR Piece on Homeschooling in Connecticut (Listen or Read Online)

Here is a link to the WNPR Connecticut broadcast about homeschooling that aired on July 19, 2007.

WNPR interviewed NHELD’s Attorney Deborah Stevenson (who homeschooled her two children), and they interviewed a homeschool support group leader in Connecticut. They also interviewed a representative from the Department of Education and someone form Massachusetts that runs a program for teens transitioning out of school to be homeschooled.

Using the Internet, you can read the written transcript or listen to the podcast of the NPR "Where We Live" show.

I was going to tell you to enjoy this piece. However I just listened to it and it is not all positive so I’m not sure if one can say that the piece can be “enjoyed”. Or perhaps the reason I can’t say I enjoyed this is because I am too close to the controversies or that I know too much about some of the families who are being investigated by DCF for educational neglect who were reported to DCF by the schools their children were exiting from.

The piece includes yet more discussion of the Connecticut homeschooling law, the statute (10-184) versus the “suggested procedure” (C-14 Guidelines). I am unsure if listeners will leave the program more confused or clearer about what the law vs. the “suggested procedure” in the C-14 guideline is. Because I know these issues through and through I was able to follow the debate. I don’t know if others could follow it.

I feel that the Department of Education staff member who was on the show gave some misrepresentations. It was said that if a family does fill out the Notice of Intent (to homeschool) with the school system then they will not be reported to DCF. However I know for a fact that this is not true as right now some families who I have met in person did file the NOI and within days were reported to DCF for “educational neglect”. As I have said before if a family has only been homeschooling for a few days how could anyone make an accusation that quickly that the child is being educationally neglected? There cannot be enough evidence in a matter of days or even a couple of weeks that a child is being ‘educationally neglected’.

Also I laughed when I read that the DOE staffer said the he felt that every homeschooler in the state files the NOI with the school staff. He later said that “an isolated few” who disagree with the idea of it might not be filing the NOI. The reality is that I only know a few people who fill out the NOI. Nearly every family that I know who has been homeschooling for YEARS does not file the NOI and therefore are flying “under the radar” and with our interpretation of the law vs. the “suggested procedure” they are not breaking any laws.

He then reports the statistics for homeschoolers in Connecticut which are based on these NOI’s, I assume. He says that point two or point three percent of students in Connecticut are being homeschooled which he says is far less than in other states. (Other states report anywhere from 1 to 2 to 3 percent of students in the state as being homeschooled.) Then he says that homeschooling is actually ‘eroding” in the state. That was the first time I’ve heard that because it seems to me that every day more and more families are starting to homeschool, especially those whose children were in the schools and are leaving them due to issues or the parents unhappiness with the schools.

Lastly he says that what is most common is for a child to exit the public school system for a time, then to homeschool, then later to reenter the school system. In my experience many families start off from birth homeschooling. Others start at birth then continue for many years and may end up enrolling their children into middle school or high school. I have a feeling the DOE thinks most people are homeschooling in that manner because those are the families who they have NOI’s for and who have filed the forms to withdrawal the children from school (as required by law).

There were also three negative callers from the public who don’t homeschool their children. So I didn’t think those came across in a good light although the responses from Attorney Stevenson were good.

The show did start off on a positive note with a discussion about why would a family consider homeschooling. That part of the show was positive.

Overall the hour long show was a mix of positive and negative, of clear information and unclear information, and of clashing perceptions of the laws.

I am not sure how members of the public or even how other homeschoolers will perceive this show.

One thing that came across to me was evidence of Attorney Deborah Stevenson’s professionalism. Although I sensed that she was annoyed at one point with things that were said by the DOE staffer, she did keep her composure. I am not sure I’d have been that calm and collected.

Take a listen to the show and let me know what you think.

Technorati Tags: , , , , .

No comments: