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.

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.


Welcome Matt said...

It's a glimpse into the liberal mindset that they can suggest such things without realizing the overtly totalitarian nature of what they propose.

Henry Cate said...

Another point: Public schools are accountable to the government, and look at all the problems they have.

Anonymous said...

"liberal mindset" means:
-totalitarianism is bad unless I (and others who believe like me) am the one doing it.
-tolerance is good unless I (and others who believe like me) happen to not want to tolerate somebody else.
-hate is bad unless I (and others who believe like me) want to hate somebody for who they are or what they believe.

Basically, it is all about honoring MY beliefs, or other beliefs that I agree with.

In sum, to be a liberal means that I am right and others I disagree with are wrong.

Anonymous said...

When you consider that the VAST majority of home schooled kids DO graduate and, in fact, get better SAT (and other) scores than the VAST majority of public school kids ... If I were a politician or a school administrator, I'd keep my mouth SHUT.

gus miller said...

Also notable is that the chart at the bottom of the article shows a declining trend in the number of Multnomah County home-schoolers since the 2003-04 school year and that Trib e-articles now allow reader comments.

Mick said...

Why do we have public schools? Clearly, there is a belief that America will benefit from an educated population. I think we can all agree on that.

Why do we have laws that require school for children? Probably to support the above and for the benefit of the children. Just like DHS has a place in our society to ensure that kids are not neglected.

Can one make a case that an uneducated kid is neglected? Also, if there are no standards for home-schooling, couldn't any parent keep there kid out of school for whatever reason they wanted?

Chris McMullen said...

"Clearly, there is a belief that America will benefit from an educated population..."

Don't count on our current school system to properly educate our kids. Have you seen drop-out rates and test scores lately?

Hit them said...

Listen, parents have no right to teach their kids things that will result in them growing up and being bigoted or racist. Thats why home schooling is so dangerous. who knows what those kids are taught? Their parents could be teaching them all sorts of religious right stuff like anti gay, anti welfare etc, and if they didnt go to school there would be no way to make sure that the parents belief systen wasn't passed on to the kids.

Don Smith said...

I assume Hit Them's tongue is very firmly placed in his or her cheek.

...if they didnt go to school there would be no way to make sure that the parents belief systen wasn't passed on to the kids.

That's one of the scariest statements I've read in a long time if it's meant seriously. It shows exactly what the public education system is after - installing their belief system in the children - and exactly what people like Rob are fighting against.