Saturday, March 22, 2008

Homeschooling, Abuse and Qualifications

Dana Hanley's post combines a mixture of misinterpretation and criticism in response to my recent video outlining my position on home schooling. In this post I respond to the first part her post, that dealing with abuse and qualifications. This post does not deal with the remaining four sections (content, accountability, resources, and equity).

On the 'Abuse' Remark - What I Actually Say

Before getting into detail, let me address what is probably the most persistent of the criticisms: that I "essentially equated homeschooling with abuse." This is a persistent misreading of what I in fact stated in my original post.

I said: "it is a form of child abuse to subject children to an education at the hands of a person who is manifestly unable to provide it." Hanley and others are misreading the word 'it' to mean "homeschooling". This is an error.

I am using the word 'it' in the sense "It is wrong to steal." Or "It is a crime to steal." This should be clear to any reader. Substituting 'home schooling' for 'it' in my sentence is grammatically absurd.

I hope we will have no more accusations that I am equating 'home schooling' with abuse. This is a transparently incorrect reading of my assertion.

I stand by the assertion that "it is a form of child abuse to subject children to an education at the hands of a person who is manifestly unable to provide it." If some people wish to dispute this assertion, I will debate with them in another post.

On the Abuse Remark - What The Court Said

Hanley writes, "I dedicated an entry to the false assumption that credentials have anything to do with quality education." Let me address this argument first.

Hanley states that my statement regarding abuse is "not in line" with what the court ruled. She then cites the appellate court ruling to support this position.

The petition granted by the court is not found in the appellate ruling, but rather, in the original judgement. It is a bit difficult to locate because of the discussion of all the other forms of abuse taking place in the family in question, but it is clearly enough stated, with my emphasis added:
A first amended petition was filed on March 1, 2006, the day of the scheduled pretrial resolution conference. It is the operative petition. It addresses all three subject minors and alleges father’s physical abuse of Rachel, mother’s failure to protect Rachel, the sexual abuse of Rachel by Leonard C. and the parent’s failure to protect her from him in that they allowed him to frequent the family home, Rachel’s refusal to live in the family home, the older siblings’ having been dependents of the court due to father’s physical and emotional abuse, the parents’ failure to provide the children with regular medical and dental care and provide Rachel with therapy when they discovered she was practicing self mutilation by cutting herself, the threat to the minors’ physical and emotional health that these matters pose, and the parents’ failure to keep the children in regular attendance at school. (In re Rachel L. et al., Persons Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law, JONATHAN L. and MARY GRACE L., Petitioners, Versus SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES, Respondent. It can be found in its entirety at the state of California's government link to the judicial branch. [Also found here.])
To support her position, Hanley also cites from the appellate court ruling an extract to the effect that home schooling does not qualify as schooling "whatever the quality of that education." She perhaps should have read the entire paragraph, including the footnote:
The parents in this case assert that when the mother gives the children educational instruction at home, the parents are acting within the law because mother operates through Sunland Christian School where the children are “enrolled.” [Footnote 4: In support of the parents’ home schooling, Terry Neven, Sunland Christian School’s administrator, submitted a letter in which he stated the school is a private school and the two younger children are enrolled there. The letter fails to mention that the children do not actually receive education instruction at the school.] However, the parents have not demonstrated that mother has a teaching credential such that the children can be said to be receiving an education from a credentialed tutor. It is
clear that the education of the children at their home, whatever the quality of that education, does not qualify for the private full-time day school or credentialed tutor exemptions from compulsory education in a public full-time day school.
The court is very clear on this point. You can't sign up for a private school, keep your children at home, and then pretend that this constitute enrollment in private full-time day school.

There is another remark in the ruling, that "“[h]ome education, regardless of its worth, is not the legal equivalent of attendance in school in the absence of instruction by qualified private tutors.” However, this is not a part of the ruling itself, but rather, a citation from a previous ruling (specifically, Turner, supra, 121 Cal.App.2d Supp. at p. 868-869; accord Shinn, supra, 195 Cal.App.2d, at p. 694.)

It is clear that both courts made the same ruling, specifically, that the instrucion was not provided by qualified instructors, that "enrolling" (but never attending) in a private school didn't make it so, and that this constitute a part of the more general child abuse taking place in that family.

Why home schoolers would want to leap to the defense of the family in this case is beyond me, as it appears to be in every way an appalling mistreatment of the children involved.

Qualifications

Hanley begins reasonably, stating "no one is arguing that it is better to not be certified." But then she asserts that "certification itself is an ineffective predictor of teacher ability and that research shows that there is no statistically significant difference between classroom teachers who are certified via the traditional route, via alternative certification programs and who enter the classroom uncertified."

On the whole, this assertion is implausible. While we agree that certified plumbers may be incompetent, and that uncertified plumbers may be competent, on the whole, in general, we take certification to be a reliable indicator of competence. And this belief is reflected in our behaviour: on the whole, we opt for certified plumbers, certified dentists, and certified doctors.

As evidence, Hanley cites a study of certified, uncertified, and alternatively certified teachers in New York City schools. One would have thought that a more general study would have been relevant, rather than a very focused look at a small number of teachers in one particular environment. A study, perhaps, such as Kate Waqlsh's "Teacher Certification Reconsidered: Stumbling for Quality," published through the Abell Foundation. But this, I guess, would mean acknowledging the many studies that do assert that certification makes a difference. And it would mean responding to Linda Darling-Hammond's extended critique of the report.

We would expect some studies to show that certification is an unreliable indicator. But the study Hanley cites is not one of them. The authors state "On average, the certification status of a teacher has at most small impacts on student test performance." And they admit that the subjects of the study are people who have been selected; they are highly motivated and educated. They are therefore not representative of the much wider population that is not certified.

My own view regarding certification accords with Darling-Hammond's:
certification is but a proxy for the subject matter knowledge and knowledge of teaching and learning embodied in various kinds of coursework and in the evidence of ability to practice contained in supervised student teaching. It is true that certification is a relatively crude measure of teachers' knowledge and skills, since the standards for subject matter and teaching knowledge embedded in certification have varied across states and over time, are differently measured, and are differently enforced from place to place... Given the crudeness of the measure, it is perhaps remarkable that so many studies have found significant effects of teacher certification.
I am rather more interested in the qualifications, rather than the certification, of the person educating the learner. As Darling-Hammond states, certification is but a proxy. And as I have written elsewhere, I expect the larger community to contribute to the education of a child. This will necessarily involve people who are not certified as teachers - but on no account should it involve people who are unqualified.

I know of no research that suggests that a person untrained in carpentry would be as able to teach carpentry as someone who has been trained as a carpenter. Nor am I aware of any studies showing that a person who is illiterate is better able to teach literacy than someone who is literate. Teacher certification allows us to get some handle on those - and other - qualifications. It is by no means perfect, and 'alternative certification' even less so. But it is demonstrably better than nothing.

If parents are not even going to subject themselves to a literacy test - something that would be important, given the levels of functional illiteracy in the United States - then how can we know they are even able to teach their children to read.

Perhaps the best evidence comes from the international studies (some of which I have been reporting in my newsletter). Nations that score well in international tests do not employ 'alternative' and uncertified instructors; quite the contrary. As Lisa Moore reports in U.S. News & World Report, "Perhaps the most potent secret weapon in Finland's success is well-trained teachers. In 1970, as the country began to overhaul its system, it mandated that teachers for all grades must obtain at least a master's degree. Today, teacher-education programs at universities are highly competitive, in part because teachers enjoy high prestige in Finnish society."

Parental Involvement

Hanley follows up her discussion of certification with an alternative theory: "I think it is important to note here that the only factor proven to have a significant effect on student performance beyond all socioeconomic factors is parental involvement."

I have commented on the impact of socio-economic factors on numerous occasions, and need not belabor that topic here.

Hanley continues, "Parents are vital to the educational success of their children, and any system or solution we propose needs to take this into account."

I wish Hanley were more precise with what she means by "vital" - because we know that orphans are able to succeed educationally, as are children raised by guardians or even educated in (some) residential schools (such as Eton).

My own understanding - based on research such as is summarized by the Harvard Family Research Project - is that parents are important not so much as teachers but as role models, " such as reading and communicating with one's child, and the more subtle aspects of parental involvement, such as parental style and expectations."

In fact, even Hanley seems to agree that the teaching that takes place in homeschooling is almost incidental to its success:
This is also the real reason why homeschoolers have traditionally been quite successful academically and socially after graduation. There is no magic formula; it is just that homeschooling selects for the most involved parents.

This may well be. But at the same time, this - and the research cited - suggests that some parents may play a significantly negative role in their children's education: parents who are not involved in their education, who do not (or cannot) read to their children, who have limited, or negative, expectations of their children.

Hanley writes, "it is just that homeschooling selects for the most involved parents." Perhaps. But it may also select for any number of other types of parents - including, for example, the abusive parents at the center of the court case that spawned this discussion.

We cannot depend on some mysterious 'self-selection' mechanism to defend children against parents who would use the cover of homeschooling to perpetuate the sort of abuse cited in the court case. We need some sort of evaluation, some sort of assessment. Something that would indicate to us, incidentally, that the 'involved' parent can also fill some of the functions of the teachers they are replacing.

Certification seems like a very small requirement, for such high stakes.

What Does This Have To Do With Homeschooling

There is an old adage: the law is made for other people. This applies in this case.

Hanley agrees with me that "many parents are simply not qualified to teach their own children. They lack a proper knowledge base, capacity for reason and any grounding in pedagogy or communication theory."

But then she asks:

what has that to do with homeschooling? I know many competent adults who have graduated from college who say they could never teach their own children. While I think many of them could if they let go of some of their schoolish notions of what education means, it still points to a fundamental aspect of homeschooling rarely considered in these discussions: Homeschooling is self-regulating. Most people do not and will never try it…most will not even ever seriously consider it. And many of those who do begin homeschooling find it too difficult and seek out other options for their children.

Quite so. Many people do not try homeschooling.

But it simply does not follow that the only people who try homeschooling are those who are qualified for it.

Some people are manifestly not qualified to offer homeschooling. The subjects of this court case offer an example of this.

Hanley is using a logic that only applies to people like her:

So long as the parent-child relationship is healthy, no one wants to see that child succeed more than the parent. Thus the parent who is failing at educating their own child will seek alternatives.

The problem is, there is a certain number of parent-child relationships that are not healthy. "During FFY 2005, an estimated 1,460 children died due to child abuse or neglect." A certain number of parents who will not seek alternatives, even if they are failing. A certain number of parents who will not even be able to recognize that they are failing.

The law must be made, not just for you, but for those other people. We need to know that you are not one of those people. 1,460 children died due to child abuse or neglect. Is it too much to ask for some guarantee that your children will not be among those statistics?

33 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your response! I'll get to some of the actual points later, but essentially, the central problem relates to some misunderstandings. I am quite happy to see that you don't include all homeschooling in general with abuse. The way you worded it in the first entry:

    My own criticism of homeschooling has always been in line with the ruling by the court: it is a form of child abuse to subject children to an education at the hands of a person who is manifestly unable to provide it.

    Seemed to say that either parents were inherently incapable of educating their own or that only certified ones were. I'm glad to have misunderstood you there, because now it sounds we are talking more about what kind of controls need to be in place in order to protect children while preserving rights.

    That is a wholly valid discussion.

    Homeschoolers do not defend abuse, nor do I defend the family in question. There is some discussion regarding what this ruling actually means, and the CA State Board of Education has already issued a statement that this ruling will not affect their acceptance of affidavits from "homeschools" as private schools.

    I have no objection to THIS family not being allowed to homeschool. And the course being sought by the homeschool organizations in CA center on having the Supreme Court depublish the ruling so that it will not serve as precedent.

    Current law, as it was interpreted prior to this case, should have been sufficient to stop this family from homeschooling because the law states something about competent adults and anyone with a record of abuse is not competent to educate a child.

    Anyway, I'll take up the certification issue in more detail. It is a subject of great interest to me since I taught with Teach for America, a program which frequently comes up in this research. : )

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  2. About Stephen's,

    "My own criticism of homeschooling has always been in line with the ruling by the court: it is a form of child abuse to subject children to an education at the hands of a person who is manifestly unable to provide it."

    Dana says:

    "Seemed to say that either parents were inherently incapable of educating their own or that only certified ones were."

    I don't understand this extraction (i.e. "Seemed to say") based on the quote. I'm sure Stephen realizes that some parents are capable of teaching and others are not. Furthermore, though there is nothing wrong with certification programs (they can actually have value), it is possible for someone to be a very capable teacher without certification.

    Not sure if you've seen Jesus Camp, but it contains an example of psychologically abusive home "schooling".

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  3. It doesn't really matter and the misunderstanding was not mine alone. Most people who have commented drew the same conclusion. I am not arguing about what Stephen meant. He says he doesn't equate homeschooling with abuse, so he doesn't. There is no need to go through the circle in every post he makes about it.

    No, I haven't seen Jesus Camp, but it appears to be something which has come under public scrutiny and has been shut down. But even the person who did the show was impressed by the passion and articulateness of his subjects.

    I would have to know a lot more before reaching a conclusion that anything was taught was actually dangerous, but not everything I disagree with nor everything which teaches children things I or the majority of society believes in is "dangerous."

    All teaching is indoctrination.

    1. To instruct in a body of doctrine or principles.
    2. To imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view


    The only question is who should be given the power and who needs to have oversight.

    I maintain that in a free society, it is the people which checks the state, giving maximum liberty to individuals. Good government doesn't put forth any particular plan of education, but protects the rights of all.

    Certainly there are times when the government needs to intervene to protect children, but not just because something might be taught with which we disagree.

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  4. And Peter, if you read my comment, it is quite clear that I was looking at the wrong "it." Mostly because I think Stephen misunderstands where the misunderstanding took place, for it was not in the antecedent of the word "it," whose intent in that sentence was so clear that I didn't even notice the first it, but perhaps more in the colon. Two ideas were presented and attached: "I have a criticism of homeschooling" and "it is a form of child abuse to subject children to an education at the hands of a person unable to provide it." Without a qualification, and perhaps because we here in the states have read a few too many posts related to California, the statement seemed to connect the two ideas more closely than needed.

    Now it is clear that his concern is not for the act of homeschooling itself, but for the fact that he doesn't see enough controls on the practice to ensure that is not the case.

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  5. You wholly misunderstand my comments regarding the CA court case, else this statement would be utter nonsense:

    Why home schoolers would want to leap to the defense of the family in this case is beyond me, as it appears to be in every way an appalling mistreatment of the children involved.

    No where do I defend the Long family, nor their ability to homeschool. Read what I wrote closely, and you will see that my statements are in relation to the connection of homeschooling and abuse, not the Long family and abuse. Since I misunderstood what you were trying to say with your original comment, I went off on an unrelated tangent which has little bearing on the discussion. I was in any way trying to say that the Long family was not abusive, just that the court did not rule anywhere that homeschooling itself is abusive.

    Homeschoolers who are upset about this decision are not upset about the Long family not being able to homeschool, but by the ruling which might be extended to all families, requiring all to be required to become certified.

    That is why the homeschooling groups in CA are working toward having the decision depublished, something that would make it applicable to the Long family, but not be allowed to serve as precedent in other cases.

    CA law states that the teacher "must be capable of teaching." That alone should have been enough to stop this family from teaching since they have an abuse record.

    If you want to look more at this history, you can look to the older court cases which show that this family has had ongoing contact with CPS for twenty years, having other children removed and placed in foster care. Child abuse is inexcusable, and this case is primarily an abuse case.

    But please do not misread my comments as in anyway defending the Long family or their homeschooling. I utterly fail to understand how anyone with sustained allegations of abuse would be allowed to homeschool.

    Again, I thought at the time that you were connecting the very act of homeschooling with abuse, and trying to say that the court was ruling that homeschooling itself is abusive.

    Since that is not what you were doing, but merely pointing out a case in which the limited controls over homeschooling failed to protect the children, my points are irrelevant.

    The only discussion to make on that point is to point out that the system did catch this family, and the current application of the law should have been sufficient to stop them from further educating at home.

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  6. I answered the issues of qualifications and abuse at greater length in my response, but the point really is that teacher certification has not been shown to have such an effect on student performance that current programs allowing alternate paths to the classroom should be stopped. These are incredibly high needs situations, in America's most difficult public schools.

    That anyone would have any measure of success in these classrooms without specific training, experience and a wealth of support amazes me. I do not know if you are familiar with the problems facing schools which allow uncertified teachers, but these are not your typical schools in your typical suburban neighborhoods.

    Your analogies are commonly brought up ones, but do not really follow. I may not hire an uncertified plumber, but that doesn't stop me from changing out my own toilet. Certification helps the consumer choose between various unknowns and helps to keep the system accountable to parents.

    When the parent has taken over the education of the child, the parent does not owe the same level of accountability to the state.

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  7. We cannot depend on some mysterious 'self-selection' mechanism to defend children against parents who would use the cover of homeschooling to perpetuate the sort of abuse cited in the court case.

    And we do not. We set policy to manage the rule, then we manage the exception. Just because some teachers have been guilty of sexually abusing their children, we do not put electronic monitors on every teacher or in every room. We balance the danger against rights, and put some checks in place.

    Those checks uncovered the abuse in the Long case, and it is wholly possible under the older reading of the law to keep this family from homeschooling.

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  8. > And we do not. We set policy to manage the rule, then we manage the exception.

    Right. And the policy should be:

    a) ensure that people who homeschool are qualified to do so

    b) monitor children who are being homeschooled for evidence of mal-education and mistreatment.

    > Just because some teachers have been guilty of sexually abusing their children, we do not put electronic monitors on every teacher or in every room.

    No, because that would be ineffective. What we do is:

    a) ensure that teachers do not have a history of sexually abusing children,

    b) put into place policies (such as 'no closed-door private meetings') to protect children

    c) ensure that children are seen by a number of different people every day

    It's the same formula: qualifications plus monitoring. Nothing special, really.

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  9. > I answered the issues of qualifications and abuse at greater length in my response, but the point really is that teacher certification has not been shown to have such an effect on student performance that current programs allowing alternate paths to the classroom should be stopped. These are incredibly high needs situations, in America's most difficult public schools.

    Well the link you cited shows nothing of the sort - unless you consider New York City as a whole to the the sort of 'high needs' case you had in mind.

    In any case, the studies focusing on the specific circumstances of high need show at most that teacher certification is not a *sufficient* condition for improved student performance.

    There are numerous cases where certified teachers would made no difference. During a war, for example. With starving children in Darfur, perhaps. With child soldiers, perhaps. When the conditions are bad enough, they overwhelm anything the teacher, no matter how qualified, can do.

    But the appropriate response to this isn't to substitute unqualified teachers. Because then what you are doing is undermining any reform that *could* made a difference.

    I have in my other writing recommended things that address the issue of high-needs -- which I consider an issue of equity -- such as hot lunches, after-school support, resources, and more. As well as a more enlightened social policy.

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  10. > No where do I defend the Long family, nor their ability to homeschool.

    I never said you did.

    But homeschools, collectively, rallied to the defense of this family - for otherwise, it would have been just another case of child abuse, one of the thousands annually, and forgotten.

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  11. > I think Stephen misunderstands...

    I don't misunderstand; I know exactly where the misundersatnding took place.

    And this sort of response seems to characterize many of the criticisms I have been receiving.

    It's very annoying. Instead of referring to my failure to understand, or my failure to research, or some other personal deficiency, people should focus on what I said, and show where it is right or wrong.

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  12. //But homeschools, collectively, rallied to the defense of this family - for otherwise, it would have been just another case of child abuse, one of the thousands annually, and forgotten.//

    That's simply wrong. There was a lot of discussion over the ruling in the homeschooling community but the vast majority of it discussed the legal ramifications of the ruling on homeschoolers in California. In the early days when details were unclear there was some concern about the particular family but as the details became clearer attention shifted. Certainly in the online community there was a LOT of debate with people holding a wide range of views on the matter. The only move I've seen in reaction to this with any "collective" force (and that was limited to the HSLDA groupies) was a petition to have the ruling depublished. Something that in no way "defended" the family in question but in fact was an attempt to defend the larger Californian homeschooling community from the consequences this one family's action had wrought.

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  13. //It's very annoying. Instead of referring to my failure to understand, or my failure to research, or some other personal deficiency, people should focus on what I said, and show where it is right or wrong.//

    A failure to research or understand doesn't represent a personal defiency, simply a problem with your arguments or peoples perception's of your arguments.

    Personally, I find that what often makes an argument wrong is a lack of research or understanding. What makes your assertions about how homeschooling might affect single mothers and the working poor wrong for instance is your misunderstanding of who homeschools and the lack of research that led to that misunderstanding.

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  14. > Personally, I find that what often makes an argument wrong is a lack of research or understanding.

    That might be what causes a person to be wrong, but you are not in a position to make the call.

    You have no idea what I - or anyone else - understands or has researched.

    The only thing that shows that an argument or assertion is wrong is evidence. Not speculation about the mental state of your opponent.

    A failure to make this distinction is insulting and pointless, for it adds nothing to the debate but the proponent's baseless (and off-topic) speculation.

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  15. > The only thing that shows that an argument or assertion is wrong is evidence.

    Actually I should qualify this remark a bit.

    A person can be wrong by committing any of a variety of fallacies. As I discuss here.

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  16. //You have no idea what I - or anyone else - understands or has researched.//

    True. Which is why I'm left wondering at some of your conclusions. If you cited some sources that might clear the matter up some.


    //The only thing that shows that an argument or assertion is wrong is evidence. Not speculation about the mental state of your opponent.//

    Research meaning sources, studies, data - evidence. Nothing to do with your mental state.

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  17. Dawn, perhaps you didn't read the post (the big long thing at the top of this page), which actually contains links to a number of research studies.

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  18. Oh, and while I'm at it, do feel free to browse through my research archives, which will give you a good idea of the reading and the work I've done in the field.

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  19. mbijhApologies. It's still your video commentary that concerns me and the strange assumptions made about who homeschools and how it's done. There was nothing cited there. Admittedly, that's hard to do in a video post but a follow up text post might have been helpful.

    Is there a response coming on that front?

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  20. Stephen wrote: [the government should] monitor children who are being homeschooled for evidence of mal-education and mistreatment.

    Statistics show that children of poor never-married mothers are at significantly higher-than-average risk of a negative educational outcome and also abuse/neglect. Would you advocate intrusive government monitoring of *ALL* those children "for evidence of mal-education and mistreatment" simply based on their mom's income and marital status without any other reason?

    If the answer is no, then why would you impose an intrusive monitoring program on *ALL* homeschoolers when there is *NO* actual data to suggest their children are at higher risk? Critics love to point at anecdotes like the Long family or Banita Jacks, but policy needs to be based on objective research, not highly publicized anecdotes....

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  21. > Would you advocate intrusive government monitoring of *ALL* those children "for evidence of mal-education and mistreatment" ...

    Yes. For all children.

    Never mind the divisive and incendiary stipulations.

    Having children show up in a public school once every weekday is a very effective form of monitoring. And it applies to everyone except homeschoolers (and certain private schoolers).

    Whether you consider this 'intrusive' (or some other loaded adjective) is another matter...

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  22. "Having children show up in a public school once every weekday is a very effective form of monitoring."

    No, it isn't. There are predators in public schools as well. Public education does not prevent or identify abuse, monitoring does not prevent or identify abuse, and the system often does not address the abuse once it has occurred.

    There is a fundamental philosophical difference that cannot be bridged here. America was founded on principles of liberty for citizens and limited gov't, which is why most responders from this side of the border cannot fathom your POV.

    There isn't enough legislation or monitoring in the universe to prevent all forms of evil. We do not limit the freedom of the innocent in an attempt to control the less desirable side of human nature. "Innocent until proven guilty" is still a guarantee of our Constitution, and all parents, homeschoolers and public schoolers, are protected by that principle, as they should be. Oppressive gov't has never benefited any country in history.

    Attempting to dismiss the comments of those who disagree with you only illustrates the weakness of your argument. I thought you might be up for a conversation and an exchange of ideas, but it appears that there will be no meaningful discussion on your blog other than the ideas of which you approve.

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  23. > monitoring does not prevent or identify abuse

    Well this is just ridiculous.

    It's like saying that traffic cops don't prevent speeding.

    Obviously speeding still occurs.

    But a lot *less* speeding occurs when people are spotted speeding.

    Same thing with abuse.

    But - I agree, there is very much a disconnect here.

    For some reason (which I honestly cannot fathom) you equate monitoring with some sort of finding of guilt and as some sort of abridgment of your freedom.

    I don't know why you feel so guilty. But it's not my problem.

    The monitoring isn't for your benefit. It's for the children, to make sure that we minimize the possibility of abuse.

    Obviously, you have other priorities.

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  24. The working assumption then is that parents do not have their children's best interests at heart and should not be trusted?

    The counter to those that question that is an emotional one assigning feelings of guilt or the implication that Sunnie, for instance, doesn't have the best interests of children at heart. This isn't logical or rational. It's emotional and defensive.

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    Replies
    1. Thelma Marie SmithFriday, February 22, 2013

      Gosh, I dunno! Are you referring to the parent who punches her child in the face for getting one math equation wrong, after solving nine equations correctly?

      Who could have guessed that that parent might not really have her child's best interests at heart!

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  25. > The working assumption then is that parents do not have their children's best interests at heart and should not be trusted?

    Gak! No. You have to deal in something other than absolutes... please do not recast every assertion as an absolute!!!

    The working assumption is that:

    (a) SOME parents do not have their children's best interests at heart, and

    (b) Without monitoring, we cannot tell WHICH parents do, and which parents don't, have their children's best interests at heart.

    The evidence for (a) is (in part) the tens of thousands of child-abuse cases we get every year.

    The evidence for (b) is that, in these cases, the parents lie (sometimes under oath and on the stand).

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  26. A classmate of mine was molested by her stepfather for *YEARS* and the school officials had no clue. How he finally got caught was when one of her friends got creeped out by the stepfather and confided her suspicions to her babysitter. The friend's babysitter then called the cops.

    According to the statistics from the U.S. National Child Abuse and Neglect System, 84% of reports come from someone *OTHER* than a teacher or childcare worker. Almost half of the reports came from a parent, other relative, friend, or neighbor.

    Homeschooled children typically interact with plenty of adults outside the family such as sports coaches, Scout leaders, dance and/or music teachers, clergy, Sunday or Hebrew School teachers, doctors, dentists, other health providers, etc. In most jurisdictions, these individuals are considered "mandatory reporters" of suspected abuse.

    The vast majority of abused and neglected children of mandatory school age attend traditional schools...

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    Replies
    1. Thelma Marie SmithFriday, February 22, 2013

      Homeschooling enables isolation, so that the child does not have any friends or adult contacts. Nobody outside the immediate family knows the child, interacts with the child, or detects the signs of abuse. This enables the abusive parent to continue beating her children without any consequences.

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  27. > A classmate of mine was molested by her stepfather for *YEARS*

    A single case is neither evidence for or against a statistical generalization. Citing this example is irrelevant; it serves no purpose except to inflame passions.

    > 84% of reports come from someone *OTHER* than a teacher or childcare worker...

    Which means that 16 percent come directly from the school system. In an environment where a number of students are already hidden away from the school system.

    > Homeschooled children typically interact with plenty of adults outside the family...

    This may be true. But there is no mechanism for ensuring that this is the case.

    > The vast majority of abused and neglected children of mandatory school age attend traditional schools...

    The vast majority of all children attend traditional schools, so this statistic is meaningless.

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  28. So your saying that is abuse to your children to home school them? I dont think so, you were a primary school student say about 30years ago. The school systems have changed and just because 30 years ago traditional schooling might have been the best way to go does not by any means mean that it is the smartest (best) way to go now. I am a primary grade student.And I have gone to a regular public school for six years and will be homeschooled starting this August will give me a better education than these so called certified educators. The certification does not mean anything to me if their teaching is crumy. My teacher this last past year new less than her students.I think that those parents or grandparents who do choose to home school their kids ae very wise and will most likley give their children a better education than those who are certified.And the last point I will make is that in the school system here in Florida revolves around the FCAT and teaches only the material on the FCAT which by the way is useless in the real world.
    sicerley Student with a voice

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    Replies
    1. Thelma Marie SmithFriday, February 22, 2013

      Homeschooling is a great way to evade any consequences for abuse. A parent can beat her kids all she wants when they don't have to show up at school and have anyone see the bruises or otherwise detect the violence.

      Delete
  29. i am sorry for my typing mistakes
    scincerly
    student with a voice

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  30. Thelma Marie SmithFriday, February 22, 2013

    The issue isn't just about homeschoolers' attitudes about abuse. The issue is also about the rest of society.

    I have encountered numerous people who insisted that anyone who did not attend formal school must be illiterate, retarded, behaviorally disordered, etc. The other popular angle is that anyone claiming that she did not attend formal school is lying.

    I have witnessed an individual being socially abused and even denied employment as a result of this attitude.

    I have witnessed a student in higher education with excellent grades and skills being bullied over the fact that she had not attended formal school as a child.

    The abuse issue is wider. I have witnessed numerous situations where an individual was socially ostracised and branded as a liar for daring to be open about having been chronically physically beaten in the context of homeschooling. Pointing to a mother as the violent abuser inspires this attitude to go off the scale of social hostility.

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