Last night I was at a public meeting with three state representatives. One State Representive, Arthur O'Neill hosted the meeting. Rep. O'Neill is proposing legislation that will help parents easily withdrawal their children from public school. The aim is to help prevent more abuse by school staff. It will hopefully help prevent (illegal) false claims of abuse and neglect made on behalf of school staff to DCF.
One State Rep asked for a statistic or two to show that homeschoolers are actually learning. To paraphrase, he wanted some number to show that homeschooled children are learning or being educated on par with public schooled children, or maybe are even performing above it.
I say, give him what he wants. It was clear to me from what he said he wants to share a statistic or two with all the other legislators to quickly show the adequacy of homeschooling. He was not at all discussing increased legislation to try to increase monitoring of homeschoolers by any government worker. He was trying to address the concern that some other legislators already hold, that worry of “how do you know the homeschooled child is actually learning”.
I am happy that a legislator is trying to help homeschoolers. Again I say, give him the statistic. He wants it to use as a tool to help the homeschoolers.
However some homeschooling parents in the audience were not just happy to agree to supply him with a statistic or two. They wanted to share their opinions and philosophies about other things, and a handful of them spoke to share their viewpoint. The bottom line is that they wanted the legislators to see that THEY were right, that they shared a different view, they live with a different paradigm and it seemed to me they wanted to convert these legislators to agree with their viewpoint. I think that is a pretty big job, to try to instantly convert a person to that other mindset over the course of a couple minutes by simply listening to a person’s own testimony and opinion. What I am saying is that whatever the person is saying will probably fall on deaf ears or be wasted breath. Yes, it is true, maybe hearing those things will be placing a seed in the minds of all who listened. However there is a pressing issue on the floor, a current attempt to rectify a situation, we have a person in front of us willing to help get that task done—let’s stay on topic.
That other perspective which they dove into was the whole idea of testing in general. The con’s of testing, how imperfect testing is, that testing that is done in public schools. How imperfect test scores are, in general. How some kids who know material have poor test taking skills. How some kids take tests easily and score well but may not know a lot. How government supports public schools but they regularly churn out graduates who are illiterate or who are already known by test scores, to not have learned what was taught in those schools. How kids who tested well in school may not turn out to be adults who are very educated. In fact, some may have been so under-served by public schools that they, for years or forever, don’t read another book or learn another thing. (One father said that he gradated high school as a low-level reader and had a really hard time when he enrolled in college at age 30.)
Then they brought up that American students know less than students in other countries. This segued into the discussion of “public schools are supposed to teach their students and they are failing and the government knows it”. This snowballed into a discussion of the mess that American public schools are in.
One legislator hit the nail on the head when he said the issue is that some educrats don’t want anyone to know of the success of homeschoolers who were taught at home, some by non-teacher parents, or parents who even lack a college degree. It is hard to explain why the public schools have a hard time producing children who, the statistics show, have FAILED to learn what the administrators themselves feel the students should have learned. When so much money and personnel and overhead (buildings etc.) are used to administer a public school education to those students--who are under-performing or under-achieving. How can that be? Compare that to a homeschooled child with a non-teacher parent and a very low budget can successfully educate a child, in a non-multi-million dollar building. But I digress from my main point.
It frustrates me when this general thing happens in a discussion. To me even discussing those issues is going off topic and going off on a tangent. The issue at hand is a request for a statistic. The legislator wants to HELP homeschoolers. Let’s give him the statistic and let him do some work to help those in our community.
Let’s keep to the topic at hand. Let’s not ignore the open request and the open task at hand and move on to broader topics which this legislator cannot do anything about. We can talk all day of how imperfect standardized tests are, when used in schools, but that discussion will not stop the current thing happening with numerous parents in Connecticut. The issue is when some parents of public schooled children try to withdrawal their children from school and follow all the correct protocol, some are being harassed by their town/city’s school staff and some are being turned in to DCF with false allegations of various kinds of abuse and neglect. (Note again making false allegations to DCF is illegal, but despite that, it continues to go on.)
Again the goal is to stop the harassment and coercion by school staff and DCF of parents who are new to homeschooling, whose children formerly were educated at public school.
The legislators are there to get certain tasks and jobs done, let them do their job. If that means giving them a statistic, then give it to them. Period. Don’t refuse to give them a statistic. And don’t give them a statistic then tell them how test scores and statistics are sometimes flawed!
To read related information on the issues with DCF and Connecticut homeschoolers, click on the label below titled “Connecticut DCF Investigating Homeschoolers Issues" to access my former blog posts on this topic.
Related Article: Consent of the Governed:
CT Legislators Attempt To Help Homeschoolers
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