Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What the Connecticut Department of Education’s Commissioner Thinks about Homeschooling

If you are concerned or interested in Connecticut education laws and the legal issues with homeschooling, I would like you to read Judy Aron’s blog entry dated August 21, 2007. This contains new information about (hired in 2006) the State of CT Dept of Education Commissioners’ (Mark McQuillan) views on homeschooling in general, and his views on government oversight and monitoring of homeschoolers. He was hired in 2006 and used to work in Massachusetts, a state with much more strict homeschooling regulation and government oversight than Connecticut’s. Judy’s blog post includes verbatim transcripts of an interview he did on the radio on 8/15/07 so you can read his own words and judge for yourself what you think about what he is saying.

If you are a Connecticut homeschooler I want you to know that I am sharing this for your information and knowledge. I am not trying to scare you, just to inform you, your emotional reaction is up to you!

Perhaps after knowing this information, the issue is now ‘on your radar screen’ and it is a good advance warning to not be surprised if some tighter homeschooling regulation is proposed in the future. If you read McQuillan’s words, if in the future tighter restrictions and monitoring are proposed, you won’t be able to say that it came as a surprise to you or it 'came from left field'.

Here are a few of my thoughts if you are interested.

First I am annoyed that he implies that all homeschoolers are homeschooling for religious reasons and the content of their homeschooling curriculum is religious and not in line with public school’s curriculum. It makes it seem like any homeschooler who is Christian is teaching something very different and ‘unacceptable’ as it makes even Christian homeschoolers seem ‘weird’ or at least ‘very different’ than mainstream society. It also ignores the fact that anyone would homeschool for reasons other than religion, or that some homeschoolers are not Christian at all, they have other religions or are atheists.

Second I don’t like when he says that most homeschoolers he knew from Massachusetts were military families, even though that may be true because that combined with the religious statement add to yet again the pigeon-holing that some love to do with homeschoolers, to cram us into narrow categories of ‘types’ of people who homeschool. Doing that, I feel, is an attempt to label us and to put us into a category of being very ‘alternative’ and ‘different’.

I am meeting more and more people who are pulling their kids out of school to homeschool due to various problems that happen in the school yet note that McQuillan doesn’t mention that. I know, I know, he thinks public schools are great and it would go against his propaganda to admit that some children have such problems in schools that their parents would remove them from the schools to homeschool them. Admitting that true fact would make public education look bad, so he did not mention it.

I know many homeschoolers in Connecticut who are not homeschooling for the only or main reason being their religion. Also even with homeschoolers who are Christian not all use boxed curriculums from Christian curriculum companies, some use curriculums that would be ‘just fine’ with the public schools, but of course, in addition, the families provide other instruction on the religion and worldview, of course (just as parents of public schooled children already do, teach religion at home). I perceived what McQuillan said about the curriculum that Christians are using is ‘way out there’.

I also know Christian homeschoolers who have many reasons to homeschool, most of which are negative views on various things with public schools that have nothing to do with their religion. If Christians only reason to homeschool was to have a Christian worldview, some or many would just use Christian private schools instead of homeschooling their children, right?

The best things that McQuillan said were the complimentary words of the dedication and time that a homeschooling parent gives to the endeavor. However some may perceive that as a 'negative' or a 'homeschooling con', that in order to homeschool yes, it does take a certain sacrifice and hard work and time.

Lastly I just hope that this Commissioner is busy dealing with the public schools in this state, too busy dealing with the many issues, to get into the business of forcing regulation on we homeschoolers such as he ‘enjoyed’ in Mass. I really hope we don’t end up dealing with new proposed legislation for more government oversight and regulation of homeschoolers!

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1 comment:

Judy Aron said...

Thanks for the mention Christine.
His comments surely are of concern despite his trying to convince people that he is pro-homeschool. He obviously wants to control homeschoolers.

One must also realize the prime reason why he was hired for this position and that was to bring universal pre-school to CT.