IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 2

This is a continuation of the testimony from here. 

TESTIMONY: Pg. 80. “We actually based our thesis on the question of what happens to African American students from low income marginalized communities living in single female head of household with high crime when they accept the option of home schooling in place of an expulsion. Are they falling into this loophole as a percentage of home schooling among African Americans increased nationally and across this state, and do these current factors regarding Indiana’s Home Education Guidelines allow and enable a student to be pushed or counseled out of school.”

IAHE Action’s response: This is NOT a homeschool problem. This is a PUBLIC school problem. When we recently learned this was occurring, we immediately sensed this was a strategy for public schools to avoid rising expulsion numbers while preserving the school’s A-F grading. Unfortunately, attempts to hold public schools accountable have created incentives encouraging schools to coerce families in unsuitable situations into an inappropriate educational option. An out-of-control student and a single parent working three jobs to provide a basic living with little to no knowledge of home education is not a logical candidate for home education. Homeschooling is HARD. A parent must be willing, able and motivated to take full responsibility. Under such conditions, Indiana Code for home education is more than sufficient to ensure academic freedom and outstanding results. Tragically, public schools in Indiana are resorting to educational slight of hand to hide the real state of affairs inside the public system.  SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

TESTIMONY: Pg. 81. “The question is does the policy that home schooling is considered a transfer option without penalties entice a student and parent to select this option over an expulsion. Does home schooling as an option entice the school as well for it lowers the school’s suspension/expulsion count and increases its graduation rate.”

IAHE Action’s Response: If a public school presents only two options to a struggling parent, expulsion or signing a piece of paper to make it all go away, I know which one they will choose. It is the red pill or the blue pill. Just as Neo discovered the ugly reality behind the red pill, the reality behind this decision does not end in home education, but in the lack of education. How many of these families know what home education is when they are posed with this dilemma sitting next to their child in the Principal’s office? Does the principal tell the parents that home education is home-based, PARENT-led and PARENT-funded? Based on the calls Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) has received in the past the answer is a resounding no. The parents have not been given adequate information to make an educated choice.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a homeschooler is a child who is taught at home instead of in a school. IAHE contends instruction from a parent needs to actually occur in the home before a child can be given the title “homeschooler”. As previously noted, Indiana Code requires parents to provide an equivalent education to the public system. A parent who was never told what home education is in the first place will not likely have proper documentation available upon request by the SPI. The Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) can, at any time, request the home school attendance record of any child over the age of seven. If an attendance record cannot be immediately procured, the Superintendent’s office can make further inquiry. If the child is not a homeschooler, then he or she can only logically be classified as a public school dropout. One can quite easily discern a homeschooler from a public school dropout in a few short questions. Of course, proper adjudication of the law as it currently stands by the Indiana Department of Education is first required.

Again, unintended consequences have created an environment rife with misuse of educational options. If a child leaves the public school as a Code 20 homeschooler or Code 31 virtual schooler, it does not affect the public school’s graduation rate or the A-F grade. If the child, however, drops out, it negatively affects both thus providing a strong incentive for the principal to funnel children into specific categories despite the child’s realistic situation. Disincentives for abusing the system should be put in place. IAHE Action has suggestions to share with the Indiana General Assembly.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 81. The next table is an example. This is a school that began way before 2004 but at grade 9 it has 66 children for the year 2004 and 5. By the time of graduation in 2007, they had 14 children. I’m sorry, I am going back a minute. In the following year you have seen a pattern of a number of youngsters that are decreasing yearly within this school. The question is where are these children, where have they all gone? Were they home schooled, were they transferred to other states, where are they?

IAHE Action’s Response: Homeschooling has exploded in growth. Virtual public schools have as well. The pioneers of the modern homeschool movement felt called by God to teach their children for faith-based reasons. A good number still feel “called” to do that, but lately, the two largest reasons are due to safety concerns and due to Common Core.

To avoid truancy charges, IAHE instructs those who plan to home educate to send a letter to the school at the time they remove the student to home school.   Therefore schools should know when a student exits to home education. Do virtual and private schools recommend the same thing? Schools should send a truancy officer to any student’s home that does not show up for school and does not notify the school of their whereabouts.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 82. “The next one is a table of a public school, same situation. Numbers start high, by the time of graduation the numbers are 50 percent. Where are these children? Are they in this loophole? Are they in this School-to-Prison Pipeline?

Home schooling and missing children is a big factor here. Indiana has a whole list, thousands of names of youngsters who are missing. That blew my mind when I talked to IDOE and they named me every school that turned in missing children. This one school had 55 children missing over a two-year period and they had 21 students during that same period that were also removed by the parent to do home schooling. Where are these children?”

IAHE Action’s Response: Removing children from public school does not mean bad things are happening. Due to drugs, violence, and Common Core many desire education alternatives. Unstable single-parent families often move frequently into and out of a school system based on the family’s ability to afford living accommodations. It is an often-repeated refrain regarding the educational challenges of this demographic. One must also ask could faulty record-keeping be a problem on the part of the school? IAHE has had experiences with school administrative staff not knowing the difference between public virtual school and home education. Another possibility could be the transient nature of the children of undocumented workers in the local education system. There are many reasonable explanations for the children a school system can no longer find. Again, IAHE’s advice to families removing their children to homeschool is to send the school administration a letter notifying the school of the parent’s intent.

TESTIMONY:  Pg. 82. DOUGLAS: “I’m sorry, would they be called missing, those that are removed for home schooling? Would they be called missing in this?”

IAHE Action’s Response: Children who have never received anything other than a public school education cannot, by definition, be considered homeschoolers. IAHE is concerned public school children, missing or otherwise, are being lumped in with traditional homeschoolers to mask true “public school” problems with manufactured “homeschool” problems.

Traditional homeschooling is defined by IAHE as: home-based, parent-led and parent-funded. We are seeing great confusion among educators and families alike in discerning the difference between traditional homeschooling and other educational options. Schooling that occurs in the home, but is funded by taxpayers or is controlled by someone other than the parent do not meet IAHE’s definition of home education. There is substantial public confusion regarding what constitutes homeschooling. Numerous families enrolled in virtual public schools such as Hoosier Academy Virtual Charter, Connections Virtual Academy, EVSC Virtual Academy believe themselves to be homeschoolers, but are legally identified as virtual public school students attending an accredited, public school. Homeschools are non-accredited, non-public schools and fall under different legal requirements from the state.

After IAHE made a request, the Indiana Department of Education submitted the following numbers of homeschoolers reporting enrollment for the past five years. Here are the numbers that were provided on December 15, 2015:

2010: 8318
2011: 8530
2012: 6983
2013: 5691
2014: 4257

On February 16, 2016, in a House Education Committee we were told during testimony for SB 334 that the IDOE reported 10,000 students a year were transferred to home education. Which numbers are accurate?

TESTIMONY: Pg. 82. DANIELS: “So in the others, here is one more school that is looking at the enrollment, started with high grade, high numbers, ending with very low numbers. And you have to read this chart in a diagonal, that’s how that’s being read. This is what’s very enticing for us, as we looked at the first school, you will see across the top what those numbers are, 66 started, 14 graduated, the state says they had a graduation rate of 53.2, but we used a different formula, and that formula that we used, this school would have had a 21 percent graduation rate. Where are the children that allow this school to have a 53 percent graduation rate?

Here are our recommendations: There is a statement of conditions and we strongly recommend that the commission investigates the impact of the practices of offering home schooling as an option to expulsions. Training is recommended to be offered for parents around the resources and to understand their role that they are taking on when they say they are going to home school their child. We further recommend that the Commission investigate the factors of missing children and truancy as impacts of this practice.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Current Indiana Code relating to home education does not need to be changed. We do agree the practice of principals encouraging home education to unsuitable candidates due to serious discipline issues and lack of parental support must be stopped. Homeschoolers are not the root cause of this problem at all. More regulations of homeschoolers will not end principal misuse of the homeschool category. IAHE Action has suggestions to curb the problem without harming the freedom of conscientious homeschoolers.

Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) already offers a plethora of avenues for parents to become educated on home education, rights and responsibilities of parents. For 33 years, IAHE has made it their mission to support and encourage families who choose a homeschooling lifestyle. As a means of connecting new homeschoolers to the support needed in their local area, the IAHE has selected 16 experienced homeschooling couples as Regional Representatives. Each Representative is a ‘veteran’ homeschooler who can answer questions from families starting their homeschooling years. They maintain an active Facebook page with over 5,000 likes, a website with resources, podcasts and recommendations for new homeschoolers and publish The Informer magazine with articles of interest to home educators. Every public library in the state of Indiana is sent a copy of The Informer for their patrons’ use. Once a year, we host a large homeschooling convention featuring guest speakers, vendor exhibit hall and activities at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Last year’s attendance at the convention drew 5,000 people. IAHE regional representatives host free “You Can Homeschool” events all across the state to give families a boost when starting out.

In fact, IAHE is having their Convention at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on April 29-30, 2016, and they will have specific classes to get people started off well and others to help them continue to improve as they homeschool their children. This will be their 31st annual Convention.

This year, IAHE has invited the National Black Home Educators to speak about the National Home Education Research Institute’s study on “African American Homeschool Parents’ Motivation for Homeschooling and Their Black Children’s Academic Achievement”. We would love to have you be our guests to learn more about how home education has been a blessing to these families.

As you can see, IAHE is not invisible. They are quite easily found for anyone seeking information on home education in Indiana. Parental training and education in homeschooling is readily available to those who want it, regardless of income. As a matter of fact, they are listed as a resource on the Indiana Department of Education’s website for homeschooling. Institute for Quality Education also lists IAHE as a resource for further exploring this form of education.

TESTIMONY:   Pg. 83. “On the back there is the references that we have used to do our research. This is the very beginning, it is not the end, and we just started this research with IU School of Social Work and the Policy Institute in January and it is still ongoing. We have talked with the Department of Corrections this week, everyone is baffled. This state does not have any statutes that govern home schooling except the ones that we have just shared. Thank you.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Homeschoolers are well organized and have ample resources at their disposal to be successful. Homeschooling is not the issue here. Public schools passing off hard cases appears to be the real problem. Rather than penalizing families who work hard, sacrifice and take responsibility for their children, we need to find a solution to the root cause inside the public school system.

These non-homeschool dropouts have a place to go.  The Crossing, a faith-based school, provides educational services in twenty-eight locations across Indiana to hard case kids. This school wants them. Seeks them out. Loves these kids. Even better, the families do not pay out of pocket for this alternative school. They are change agents ministering to troubled teens through mentorship, education, and job training. Real heart change is happening in these kids under their guidance.

This trend in public schools has been identified and a service has sprung up to handle it. Government oversight and control is not needed in the homeschool community. The potential public school dropouts and expulsions should be referred to an alternative school setting like The Crossing instead of being shoved out of school entirely. As a community of parents who love children and hold education to high esteem, IAHE Action does not understand why the public system does not make better use of the resources available to them.
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IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 1

U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS INDIANA ADVISORY COMMITTEE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE IN INDIANA

This is the first installment in this series.

IAHE Action blogged about this hearing in March. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Regional Programs Unit sent Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) the 600+ page transcript of the hearing and has given IAHE the opportunity to respond after IAHE Director of Government Affairs, Debi Ketron, wrote a letter expressing concerns about the hearing after receiving negative reports from those in attendance. Many times hearings only allow for three minutes of public testimony per speaker, so we feel compelled to publicly respond on our blog to be certain all issues related to home education in this February 17, 2016, hearing are thoroughly addressed in public.

Background from the hearing: “In each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia an Advisory Committee to the Commission has been established and they are made up of responsible persons who serve without compensation to advise the Commission on relevant information concerning their respective state.

Today our purpose is to hear testimony regarding the Civil Rights impact of school discipline policies and practices in Indiana. The committee is seeking information on school disciplinary practices and policies that may also have a desperate impact on students of color and students with disability and possibly the intersection of the two. The Committee is examining the dynamics that are leading to a disproportionate number of students of color being involved in the juvenile justice system and ultimately the adult justice system and the impact that has on a student’s educational experience and their ability to compete. Furthermore, the topic being discussed today has been coined the School-to-Prison Pipeline”….

We are sharing excerpts that would be of special interest to Indiana home educators. IAHE’s response is in BOLD.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 76 Testimony of Ms. Daniels with the National Council on Educating Black Children.

“Indiana does not have a home school statute on the books. They do have statutes that govern compulsory attendance from age 7 to 18. They do have laws that require students to attend school 180 days, and they do have laws that say a school that is non-public, non-accredited, and not otherwise approved by the Indiana State Board of Education is not bound by any requirement set forth in IC-21 with regard to curriculum or the content of educational programs offered by the school.

We began to look at this homeschooling because we interviewed three principals at one of our meetings and they talked about the fact that if a student gives them lots of problems within the school, they will refer that student to transfer into home schooling. I never heard that term before in my 50 years of teaching.”

IAHE Action’s response: Unfortunately the speaker omitted a very important piece of Indiana Code that states Indiana home educators must provide an education that is equivalent to the public schools. (IC 20-33-2-28)

IAHE has long suspected principals were referring problem students to home education. We are glad to see the speaker has publicly confirmed our suspicions. It’s even worse that principals are referring students who are expelled with a lack of parental support to home education. That should be criminal. It displays a complete lack of understanding of home education. Parents must be motivated, prepared and sacrifice to successfully homeschool. Parental involvement is what has made home education successful for tens of thousands of Indiana families over the past thirty-three years. Home education is a parent teaching their child throughout the day by modeling and assisting the student. The student in return must respect and obey the parent to begin copying the parent’s behavior and study habits. Parents unable or unwilling to model proper academic habits and children unwilling to respect a parent are not suitable candidates for home education. Homeschooling is not for every family situation. It is troubling to see principals coercing families into inappropriate educational options.     

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TESTIMONY: Pg. 80. “So we began to do some homework on that and the next two pages are talking about alternative statutes that allow home schooling within the state without a statute on the book. Basically someone said this is the Wild West, you can come and do whatever you want to do in this state when it comes to home schooling and, no, there is no regulations out there at all. So the whole thesis that we base this upon is we assert there is a lack of governance by the state of Indiana on home schooling and other mobility rate factors such as missing children. The Department of Ed tries our best to keep track, but only the parent has to report that they are doing the home schooling and sometimes that does not happen.”

IAHE’s Response: Indiana homeschool families are instructed by IAHE that they must send a letter when exiting their local public school or else they may be charged with truancy. In 2013, IAHE worked with the Indiana General Assembly to correct the public school issue of dropouts claiming to homeschool, but were actually truant. The school should have a record of where these high school students have gone since they must now have a parent and the principal sign a form that acknowledges the parent understands the legal requirements of home education in Indiana.

A number of public school principals seem to believe they are in the Wild West when it comes to homeschooling. By their irresponsible action of pushing a child with severe discipline issues into a form of education that requires obedience and self-control, public school principals have created a separate underclass of Wild West education. These are not traditional home educating families that have been a part of making home education a successful alternative to public education for over three decades. Traditional home educating families may participate in homeschool co-ops or attend homeschool days at museums. Current homeschool laws, when followed by committed families, are more than adequate to assure equivalent education in the home. The parent’s time spent with the child is what makes home education successful.

Teens call IAHE and tell us:

1.) I cannot learn in the public school. There is too much drama. I do not have parental support.  I want to homeschool.

2.) I was expelled, and I want to homeschool, but there is no parental support.

 It would be irresponsible for IAHE to counsel these children to homeschool without parental support. Why are “professional” educators doing this knowing full well the children are likely to be set adrift? Sounds an awful lot like passing the educational buck. As home educators, we know that home education is impossible without a responsible adult overseeing their child’s education.

Home education needs to be a parent-driven decision and not a public school-driven recommendation. It is a weighty responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. The casual attitude with which school principals refer troubled students with behavior issues to home education is reckless and not in the best interest of the child.

IAHE receives calls from parents whose children have been pushed out of public school. They contact IAHE to “enroll their student” for someone else to teach. They do not understand that as a homeschooler, the PARENT is the one who gladly takes full responsibility for teaching their child. Home education is an exciting adventure as we learn along side our children!
When these parents come to understand they are fully responsible, they are not at all interested in home education. Often the school has already reported their enrollment as a homeschooler to the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) despite the fact the family was wholly unfamiliar with this form of education. We refer the families back to the school or to the IDOE for a more suitable option.

Parents who have children with special needs that struggled in an institutional school setting have found success with their children when they began teaching them at home.

A parent deciding to home educate without pressure by the school is a different situation. A motivated and loving parent with an obedient, self-controlled child is required to be successful in this educational choice. Hundreds of thousands of parents have been successful homeschool teachers over the course of the past three decades. Countless low-income families have been very successful as well. Indiana homeschoolers are accepted into schools of higher education and do very well because they are motivated self-learners. One Indiana homeschooler was even chosen to clerk for the late Antonin Scalia. Indiana homeschool graduates are in all walks of life as doctors, lawyers, CPAs, teachers, graphic designers, scientists, authors, blue-collar workers, etc. Indiana’s low-regulations have given these families the freedom to focus on  learning.

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