While home-schoolers are enjoying their autonomy, one of the
biggest fights at the moment is over accountability. Many public-school advocates, including Caruthers, of the Oregon Education Association, say home-schoolers must be held to the same standards as public-school students.
If not, home schooling “could lead to kids being miseducated, uneducated,” said Peter Cookson, dean of the Lewis & Clark
College Graduate School of Education and Counseling and a national expert and author on school-choice issues. “Kids deserved to be protected at that level,” he said. “It seems to me to be a safeguard.”
To that end, Cookson said, he thinks home-schooling parents
ought to make some sort of presentation to the school district on what type of curriculum they are providing.
Over at former schoolteacher Terry Olsen's blog, he agrees:
But on the other hand, if public schools must be held "accountable" with test scores, why not home schools? The state has a legitimate interest in demanding that school-aged children be provided an education sufficient to make them functioning members of a civil society. That's why we have compulsory education laws and truant officers (or at least we did.) Are we supposed to accept a parent's word that the children they keep at home are actually learning something of value as opposed to, say, merely being locked safely away in some back room?
This is a pretty common viewpoint in public school establishment circles, but I couldn't disagree with it more. This idea completely misunderstands the concept of accountability.
The government should be accountable to the people, not the other way around. Our public schools are government entities - paid for through tax dollars. They should be accountable for using those dollars effectively.
Individuals are NOT accountable to the government. The notion that individuals should be required to go in front of some form of government tribunal and justify their actions in the absence of some sort of criminal or civil complaint is really quite scary.
Oddly enough, both Caruthers and Olsen also misconstrue how the public schools are held accountable. What happens to a public school if 30% or 40% of their kids fail to meet standard? Nothing. Some accountability.
One wonders what these folks would like to happen to home school parents if the state or the school board decided they weren't teaching their kids the right things. Force them to attend public school?
It is a reasonable sounding argument, I suppose, that home schoolers should be held accountable becuase society has an interest in making sure every child gets an education. But it is specious.
Doesn't society also have an interest in making sure every child is well fed? Absolutely! So are parents supposed to appear in front of the government nutrition board and justify their family eating habits? Of course not.
It's ironic that the people who share this view are generally also the people who are quick to protest supposed civil liberty violations in our war on terror. I guess all civil liberties are not created equal.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Should home schoolers be accountable to the government?
The Portland Tribune ran a long article on home schooling this week. One of the questions discussed was whether home school parents should have to prove to the government that their kids are learning.