Toto We’re Still in Kansas, with Bible and Computer

14 05 2007

Here’s a news story to stir up ALL the homeschooling arguments, about who calls which shots what — an unclenched, reasonable reading of which imo, suggests that the central plot confusion everywhere, including Kansas and even the Emerald City, is between schooling and education. Wicked! 🙂

Get that right and the rest of your story can’t go too far wrong. Ruby slippers and the yellow brick road to Oz

Now click your heels and say three times, there’s no place like home . . . education . . .


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11 responses

14 05 2007
NanceConfer

Well, isn’t Mr. Barfield just special.

No matter what he thinks, the families seem pleased with their choices and whatever they want to call it.

Good for them! 🙂

Nance

14 05 2007
Not June Cleaver

In Virginia, if you enroll in a virtual charter school such as the one in the article, you are officially enrolled in the public school system. You do not file a Notice of Intent to Homeschool and you are required to take the state Standards of Learning tests (meaning you must teach the same subjects at the same times as the schools do).

They can call themselves homeschoolers if that makes them happy, but it makes the non-public school homeschoolers wary of regulation of homeschooling in general. The lines between the two become very grey and we worry about attempts to regulate all “homeschoolers” without making that distinction. In my opinion, it is best to call it what it is — public school at home — so everyone is clear.

14 05 2007
JJ

Hi NotJC 🙂
Yeah, I know that drill, believe me. But it’s way down my list of real concerns, for reasons I won’t articulate yet again. Let’s put it this way — I’ve never met anyone for whom this hypothetical worry is a BFD, who I don’t fear more directly as a threat to my own family’s safety, sanity and independence than what they are so worried about!
Seriously, I see more justified concerns about our independent unschooling being blurred with Bible school-at-home, and getting us all regulated THAT way. I do think the public and the government have arguable cause right now, to say the “religious freedom to homeschool” has been pushed past the point where it’s good for any of us including the kids.
To date, independent seculars like Nance and me have worked hard, gotten involved, to defend all homeschoolers as one united community on principle, including the most rigid and irrational religious wackos, but some are so scary they’re practically poster children for regulation. So I’ve been seriously rethinking that as a wise strategy. There is really nothing BUT the name “homeschooling” that we seem to have in “common” and helping those differences be blurred hasn’t helped protect us imo, on the contrary.
Put it this way, I fear the radical Christian dominionists who happen to homeschool much more than I fear bumbling school bureaucrats whose power peaked 40 years ago and has been crumbling ever since. (I used to be one of those; I can deal with them confidently on my own.)
There are laws that still protect our home education from the schools, but what protects me from being defined by other home educators and then dominated by THEM? Wackos have been coming out of the woodwork for years now, involving themselves in MY private and public business as a woman, mom, educator, book and idea lover, taxpayer and citizen. They publicly define homeschooling and marriage and every other important aspect of my private life much more brazenly than charter school marketers ever did or could do. They intend to make my decisions for me with or without law that says they can!
So which is scarier, really?

14 05 2007
Not June Cleaver

Aaaaack! And admittedly since I only recently found your blog, I am not up on Nance’s and your work on this. It does sound like precisely the reason I do not belong (nor will I ever belong) to HSLDA. That organization just plain freaks me out. They definitely don’t speak for me as a homeschooler!

In Virginia, the virtual charter school thing is new. This year was the first year that one county in Virginia (Nelson County, I think) started using K12. We are wondering what will happen as more and more counties do it.

I’m in a bit of a hurry now, so I can’t give much thought to it now. I’ll poke around in your archives when I get some more time. 🙂

14 05 2007
JJ

No intent to give you nightmares! 🙂
VA should be just fine, as our state of FL is; I think OH and PA were the big problem children but then they have trouble with everything else school-related too, near as I can tell, why focus on just this? 🙂
Compulsory attendance laws are the root of all regulation, what I’d like to see changed that would improve independent learning (including real home education rather than school-at-home) throughout the culture. I suggest some NHEN forum discussions for poking around in, at your leisure — maybe this and this to start. Here’s what I wrote about it all,after some entrenched “veterans” tried to define ME personally out of homeschooling because I wouldn’t go along with their literalist definition police who cared not a whit for my state laws or my kids’ learning here in a state that doesn’t share the legal problems of OH and PA:
“To Our Diverse, Politically Active Homeschooling Community” by JJ Ross, Ed.D.

My reason for finding the issues that now revolve around “We Stand for Homeschooling” important — because I believe that individual homeschooling freedom, for all who choose it, is better served by expanding our concepts and language than by contracting into separatism or limiting our borders in the hopes of making them easier to defend.” . . .No matter what we want or believe, or how justified we feel in any of the above, I think the effects of political and cultural protectionism as a tactic tend to fail, meaning that they cannot forestall the evils against which they promise to protect, and that they generally create new problems as well.
Meanwhile, other strategies become lost opportunity costs –reframing family autonomy for the public, helping to create new and better hybrid programs that can serve interested homeschoolers without threatening side effects to their freedom or ours, helping to fight standardized testing and government encroachment on all fronts, with many strong allies from the nine out ten parents choosing “public programs,” et cetera. . .

15 05 2007
NanceConfer

Poke away, June. Or Not June. 🙂

Here’s a real life story about how this virtual hsing stuff actually works. A typical story. Boring in its lack of originality.

Mom is unhappy with ps.

Mom enrolls kids in virtual hsing (K12) program. Does that for one year.

Hears more and more about hsing and decides to register her Home Education Program with the county (that’s one of our options here in FL). That means she’s not using the virtual school but has an annual eval (not a horror show either — just the way this choice works). Does that for one year.

Hears more about hsing options and decides to enroll her kids in my private school for hsers (another option here in FL). Now she reports attendance to me but doesn’t have the other set of requirements including the annual eval.

Boring enough for you? Yes, each state has its own laws and the details are stultifying. I really think this is why some people feel free to comment about who is or is not a real hser and what we should all call ourselves. They really don’t know what other states have for options and they may even try to find out but then their brains freeze up. It is not their fault. Getting a handle on FL’s laws as a FL hser is enough for anyone, let alone trying to really understand the nuances of other states’ laws.

Then there are the HEMites and others who feel it is some sort of duty to inform all of us about whether or not we are real hsers and whether or not we are a threat to hsing as we know it. It gets really hot, really fast. A big division developed among and between people who had previously all thought of themselves as and/or called themselves homeschoolers. (You can read all about it at the PDE website if you want to — http://www.ParentDirectedEducation.org — see Nance’s Notes — and the links JJ provided.)

The Mom I wrote about above is a real live person who is just one example of the sort of Mom I deal with all the time. She is on a learning curve and has now accumulated, over several years, knowledge about all the legal options hsers have here. During this entire process, after they physically left ps, she has been hsing. Even when, legally, she knew she was in a different category and could explain that to anyone who cared. But in her real every day life, she was and is hsing. Under the virtual school option, under the HEP option (the one some people in our state have insisted is the only legitimate category where anyone should be allowed to call themselves hsers!), and under the private school/umbrella school option.

Thank goodness and the internet and this Mom’s tenacity that she has done all this learning and has found out about all of her options and did not have some blowhard shut her down by telling her that she wasn’t really a hser.

She’s not a threat to anyone and neither are any of the rest of us using all of the choices we have at our disposal.

Right now my DD is set to begin volunteering at a local privately-owned art school and start a course through our state-run virtual school (which is different from the charter K12-type virtual schools) all the while unschooling the rest of the time and legally a private school student. Our DS is having none of this organized activity and continues with his private Tae Kwon Do lessons and teaching himself guitar and lots of computer stuff that I don’t pretend to understand — an unschooler who is legally a private school student. And another unschooling teen we know is about to dual enroll at the local community college for his selected courses — while legally an unschooling private school student.

I don’t expect you to know or care about the boring details of the legal options we enjoy in FL. I know, however, that none of this activity is a threat to anyone’s freedom to homeschool and would resent like hell anyone telling my kids or me that we are not homeschoolers.

You, I am sure, have no particular axe to grind. Others in the hsing community do. They make a living off of promoting their magazines and online activities and it behooves them to keep this controversy alive. A controversy created out of thin air, imo. They push fear and division and are not the best of what the hsing community could be.

You caught me with 10 minutes to rant about this so take it all with a grain of salt. Nothing personal. Just a sore spot for a long time now — that anyone thinks it is their place to tell me or any other parent whether they are hsing and to suggest, a la the recent and discredited cries about lack of patriotism, that anyone who disagrees is a “threat to hsing.” Bull!

Have a great day! 🙂

Nance

15 05 2007
JJ

Gee, good rant! I forgot how good some of your classic rants were too, like:

A little name confusion, a variety of overlapping political agendas, and the “accountability” muddle all work together to bolster a lack of respect for parents and an animosity that is aimed at all forms of parent-directed education. The disrespect is not limited to homeschoolers who choose the private school option or only those who accept vouchers. It is aimed at all parents who would dare to choose for their own children — no matter which option you choose for your child.
If you don’t trust parents, you don’t trust parents.
Today, private schools that accept vouchers are making headlines, with negotiations to limit choices for parents already underway. They are an easy target. But they are only part of the larger target for those who don’t approve of parent-directed education in general.
Parents must not let forces that work to divide us, and undermine homeschooling and choices for all parents, pick off one option at a time as we succumb to different political lines and tactics and allow ourselves to be isolated from each other. Together, each supporting the other’s right to choose, we strengthen the idea that choice is a right, not a favor bestowed.
Even as our politics and religions and methods of schooling differ, even when there are problems and issues to be dealt with, even as options continue to evolve — let us resist division.
You are a home education program homeschooler and I am a private school homeschooler and neither one of us takes vouchers. But our neighbor needs that option and wants to utilize it. There is no reason we shouldn’t support her in that choice. And no reason we should allow threats to our own choices to be used to bully us into allowing burdensome regulations to be placed on her.
Resisting division upholds and strengthens parent-directed education.

But I need a refresher course, maybe. Lately I have been feeling like giving up on that “resist division” principle — everybody else seems so determined to factionalize and split their identity into little image fragments. The Carnival of Homeschooling censorship thing, and the HSB blog awards process before that, sap one’s sense of “community” no less than the bitter party politics of the last decade. Homeschool organizers and sorority officials and politicized evangelicals . . .

. . .trying desperately to deny and defy changing cultures and manipulate reality back into the shape their lifeform requires, by cannibalism if necessary?

15 05 2007
Not June Cleaver

You two are great. Thanks so much for all the helpful information and sources. Nance, I suppose I could have been that mom 5 years ago, except I never did it. I wanted to but I was overwhelmed by having had three boys in 3.5 years and I freaked out and sent them to school. I’m sure at the time, I would have bought something like K12 or Calvert.

Lucky for me (and my kids), I kept my homeschooling eyes and ears open for the next few years and continued to learn about it. The advantage of that was that when I finally decided it was time (boys in K, 2nd and 4th grades), I knew better than to try a full scale school-at-home curriculum. I wasn’t ready to unschool either though, despite believing in it. As this first year of homeschooling has progressed, I have become more and more relaxed. Yay me.

As I read through yours and Nance’s comments, I see that it’s all been done before. All these thoughts that run through my mind about the divisiveness and reasons for it have been pondered and addressed ad nauseam by those before me. I’m just glad that I have the internet and access to all the varied opinions and sources for educating myself. I am amazed at anyone who waded through this homeschooling muck without it.

Thanks for the insight. Can you send me a few more hours in the day so I can read everything thoughtfully? 😉

15 05 2007
NanceConfer

“ad nauseam” — that about sums it up. 🙂

And since I have no extra hours (sorry 🙂 ) until you and JJ stirred me up this morning I haven’t given this particular ugliness much thought in recent months. It had all been said. Sides had been chosen up. “Inclusives” wanted to include; HEM and the We Stand petition signers didn’t.

It ended badly but it ended.

Or not.

Now JJ seems to have even deeper concerns or evolving concerns. . . my initial response to your concerns though JJ is that the evangelical right is a laughingstock. They are on the way out of political power. The hsers who align themselves with such non-thinking parents and bloggers are not the ones anyone sensible will be listening to.

The exclusive “my way or the highway” folks had their moment in the sun but I really think we’ve all had enough of THAT for a while.

Until we forget again and mistake niceness for sensible sanity and think we are all going to be able to get along. We aren’t because they don’t want to. They want us to change to their way of thinking and THEN all get along. Which is a problem when they are actually in charge.

But I think on many levels and in many fields they have had their moment on stage and are now being shown the door.

So take heart! Thinking is catching on again! 🙂

Nance

15 05 2007
JJ

Maybe it’s like the home education or the parenting experience itself. We each have an unfolding experience that is unique to us while it’s happening, but it’s also uncannily similar to the journey of those who have gone before. I’m just getting old enough to understand how these can both be true at the same time. 🙂
I am really enjoying reading back over some of this as a whole different self with even more perspectives and experiences now, so thank you for prompting it, NotJC!
I wrote the following myself but because it was several years ago, it’s also true that it was written by a different mom, one whose identity I remember but no longer inhabit. So the ideas seem fresh all over again now, like they are coming from someone else. Hmm, like reading Favorite Daughter’s essays and recognizing all the conversations and events she’s describing because I was there too, yet I enjoy it as a reader rather than the author who crafted that particular power of story.
This is a great feeling, almost like getting to be multiple people in one lifetime. If this sounds ridiculous now, come back and read it in five years and see if it resonates, when you are another self! 😉

DEFINITIONS
The debate about keeping homeschool’s identity and boundaries clearly drawn and separate has been going on for years, every point dissected to exhaustion, and we’ve resolved nothing — I keep thinking we’re all trying to get to the same place but can’t get moving in the same direction somehow. It’s like we’re standing in the middle of the road slugging each other over who gets to read the map.

Here’s a thought that hasn’t been picked over much: someone said recently that “school” is the concept we should be hammering out a definition for, rather than “homeschool,” and when I hear talk about college courses or non-school public programs being great for homeschoolers, but not any “school” public programs, it does lend weight to the notion that it’s the modern concept of “school” fueling our disagreement, not so much the “public” part or the corporate part.

Higher education is public too. There’s virtually (another word with more than one meaning!) no such thing as a completely privately funded community college or university anymore. And corporate influences in higher education are rampant!

So why don’t homeschoolers object to colleges “controlling” or “overseeing” our children’s learning, and to corporations pulling so many educational strings, affecting research, dictating course content and programs of study, perhaps paying and placing professors? I have heard two reasons, one weak — that public funding and rules are acceptable for older students but not younger ones — and one that rings true, which is that college isn’t compulsory. Like libraries and parks, higher education is publicly funded but a voluntary choice. People, including homeschooling families, are fighting to get IN, not OUT, and the public funding is fine with them when they get there. They also don’t care much whether people using those resources are called patrons, readers, citizens, students, etc.

So let’s think about that — college is school in every sense except 1) not compulsory, and 2) not in the throes of high-stakes accountability testing. Thus we have a modern definition of “school” as a highly controlled and controlling compulsory all-or-nothing institution where children under 18 are forced to spend years, to learn and do everything the government prescribes in the ways it prescribes, and to pass required tests or be branded a failure. Yuck!
So parents who want to make their own educational decisions reject “school” in that sense. Me too!
But ah! When we find programs that are not forced on us at all, some ungraded and untested even, programs we seek out and choose, and find enriching, we don’t really think of them as “school” even if they’re public and even if the school system is the provider.

For instance, as XXX describes options, I get excited and think of even more. Chess night at the local Barnes and Noble, city rec programs, the public library, the agriculture extension 4-H programs, my daughter’s private dance academy, the community theatre. Also, the schools here (public and private) offer themed summer daycamps and field trips that are indistinguishable in every way from those offered by private schools and music academies and the Girl Scouts (and don’t get me started on how controlling and accountability-driven Scouting has become with its United Way funding — that’s another series of posts for another day)

As I think of all these options, it never occurs to me to say, “Wait a minute! The only ones that don’t threaten hs freedom are the ones that receive no public funding!” Or to ponder what I will “be” and call my children and the experience, out of concern for clarity and lines.

My son took chess lessons for a while from a Russian doctoral student’s wife living in subsidized housing at the local public university (which btw the local ps system resents because all that property is off the tax rolls, hence less money for it to spend on educating the rest of the children in our community.) I’m sure the couple were here through a maze of government red tape and funding, and they were planning to return to Russia when he graduated, not to stay here and be taxpayers. We were on tax-exempt but public-owned university soil at all times. We even got a parking ticket from the university police one day. She planned all the instruction, gave my son written “homework” assignments and handled everything as a tutor would. We called her his “chessmistress” — just because we liked the sound of it.

And imo none of that is what was important about the experience. It was what it meant to my son. Period.

Our family is able to tailor a very rich learning environment to each child, without compulsion or high-stakes accountability, and we also happen to be legal home educators, but it’s simply not true to say that only homeschoolers can do what we do, or that it can be sustained without public funding of any kind.

I agree with XXX that the ultimate goal is for more parents, virtually every parent even, to escape compulsion and their children being accountable to the State, to experience this kind of flexibility and freedom.

Erode the compulsion part until it is meaningless, stop the standardized testing movement in its tracks, and everyone wins. Then, home educators or not, we’ll all be free to enjoy public resources that are truly resources and no longer the dreaded “school.” JJ

16 05 2007
Can We All Agree "Capitol Ministries" Is Oxymoronic? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] 16 05 2007 To NotJuneCleaver and all Thinking Parents: Heads up if your personal “no place like home” is in Virginia, the Carolinas, or any of the other states below […]

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