IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 8

This post is our eighth of nine installments regarding the transcript from the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing that was held on February 17, 2016.  You may read our other posts herehere, here, here, hereherehere, and here.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 215 MR. DOUGLAS: Thank you all. Principal Sanders, you mentioned that something like 500 kids went off to charter or parochial schools and something like 404 came back, and we have also heard from some earlier testimony that sometimes kids are sent — go off into a home schooling environment, transferred into that environment as an alternative to expulsion, sort of a way of getting them off the books it sounds like.

Have you — I guess it was sort of a question earlier, but are you saying kids coming back from a home schooling environment and are they coming back from a home schooling environment and what level of preparation, to what degree are they up to speed with their classmates? And then this sort of speaks to a much bigger question and that is Indiana is now sort of it seems nationally a leader or an advocate of choice in the voucher system, and the question is this choice environment, is it — do you feel that it is ultimately contributing to improvement in education or do you think that it is ultimately creating disruption?

MR. SANDERS: Excellent question, and sufficiently complicated. So 588 students, and these were students specifically going to charter or parochial schools, so this did not go into — plan to account for home schooling, which is another caveat, and 68.7 percent of those students did return back to us.

I think the situation that we are experiencing is that you are right, that is kind of the trend to move into the charter experience, but what happens is that we forget about the purpose of this public education situation, which was the center of the community in so many ways, and there is great value in this anchor that was the community school, and we have seen the fragmentation and the value for that unravel in my experience in nearly 20 years in South Bend Public Schools, I have witnessed that. I was at this school both as a teacher and as an assistant principal and saw a time when we had an enrollment of 1500 students and we were shining brightly.

Pg. 222 MR. DOUGLAS: On that topic of people coming — home schoolers or people coming back from alternative sources of education back into public schools, are you seeing whether they are returning at pace with their peers or behind? And I have to admit, I have anecdotal evidence from a principal in Kokomo years ago who was making a comment to me that kids were coming back from home schooling badly behind, I was curious whether that was just an anecdote or a bigger problem.

IAHE Action’s Response: IAHE Action wondered if this was a problem, too, when we read this part of the transcript.  Originally we would not have been surprised if they did.  We assumed that those going from home school to public school may have enrolled because they had difficulty with home education.  We also assumed that perhaps the teaching style was different between one-on-one and the classroom of thirty students and may take an adjustment for the student. IAHE decided to ask families in a survey who enrolled their homeschooled child into public school. Here is what we learned: a few struggled, but the majority did not. They excelled.  At Work For You

IAHE then wondered if public school students who switched to home school were behind? They asked  homeschoolers, and they wanted to share their stories. They decided to list them publicly on their testimonial page. As you can see, these students are thriving with our low regulations.

TESTIMONY: P. 241 Ms. Garcia: As a result, many of us spend hours writing grants so that we can buy the materials we need to engage our students. We need legislators to get out of our way so we can teach and do what’s best for our students. We need more time to spend on character education, conflict resolution, and relationship building without feeling like we are not going to prepare our students to pass a myriad of assessments over the course of the year, including the ISTEP.

IAHE Action’s Response: We agree! Legislators need to get out of our way, so we can teach. The fact we do not take any government money grants us the ability to do what we see fit for our students. Without taxpayer money, legislators cannot inflict upon our students the burdens it has levied on public school students, nor should it. As home educators, we know exactly what these teachers mean. Thirty-three years of an environment unencumbered by legislative mandates has allowed countless students to thrive.

TESTIMONY:  P. 243 We know that if the student is not in our room then they cannot learn. We also know that sometimes no one can learn because one student is in our room.

IAHE Action’s Response: Many parents have chosen homeschooling for a variety of reasons. Home education gives options for those “other” children to receive one on one instruction and excel.

TESTIMONY:  Pg. 251 As a result of no child left behind over the course of my 18-year career as an educator in urban schools, I have seen the shift away from teaching children and toward teaching curriculum. Because of the pressure of tests, I am bound to a fast-paced curriculum map that crams a nine-month school year into five to seven months to get it all in before the ISTEP.

IAHE Action’s Response: In a public school, someone else is teaching a child. The tests are reports to the parent about how their child is learning. These tests are accountability measures parents, legislators and the public use to monitor the value of their public tax dollars in education. As homeschoolers we are thankful we are not forced to cram nine months of lesson plans into five or seven months due to testing. Once again homeschoolers, free from government funding, are able to do what is best for the children we teach and not what the legislature mandates. Tests in the homeschool world serve a different purpose.

Homeschool parents are with their child each and every day giving one-on-one instruction. The primary instructor, or teaching parent, knows the strengths and weaknesses of each child. Testing in the homeschool world merely confirms for parents what is already known. Some parents give standardized tests or tests that accompany curriculum. Others simply observe their child completing lessons and know precisely how their child performed using the results to structure their future lessons. Homeschoolers are able to individualize each and every lesson to meet each and every child, which minimizes the need and impact of high stakes testing.

 

IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 4

This post is our fourth of nine installments.  If you would like to read more, here’s our original post and the firstsecond, and third installments.  We will post more after the IAHE Convention on April 29-30, 2016.  Support the IAHE Convention to help protect Indiana homeschool freedom.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 94. MR. DOUGLAS: “Do we know what percentage of children in Indiana are home schooled, fall in that home school category?”

MS. DANIELS: “That number, the Department of Ed can’t tell you that because it is up to the parent to call and say I am going to home school my child and enroll that child as being in the home school program. The state, there is no obligation or requirement, it is optional. So most parents that do that do not call the state and say I am going to home school.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Families have a right to privacy. Reporting to the state is not mandatory in Indiana because the laws in our state recognize parents as the primary authority in children’s lives, not the state. Certainly, the state has an interest in an educated citizenry, but it must fall within the compelling interest test, meaning the interest must be met by the least restrictive means. In layman’s terms, the state can only ensure their interests without overly burdensome regulations. The state of Indiana correctly balances the interest of the state with a healthy respect for family autonomy. Parents must keep attendance for 180 instructional days, for children 7 years to 18 years of age or until graduation and provide an equivalent education to the public school. If a parent is in violation, truancy charges can be leveled which lends muscle to the state’s education interests.

Parents, not the state, have a responsibility to provide for their children’s education as set forth by Wisconsin v. Yoder.  Many parents choose to fulfill this obligation using public, private or public virtual schools while home educators take on the task themselves rather than utilizing outside providers. Parents retain the right to direct the education of their child. The overwhelming majority of parents will make the best possible provisions for their children and their particular family situation. It is highly unfair to penalize responsible parents with greater regulation and red tape when irresponsible school administrators have created this problem.

Regardless, we do recognize schools do have some responsibility in knowing what has happened to the children in their schools. Out of respect, IAHE advises families to send a letter to inform the school administrator when a child is no longer in the public school system, but has transferred to a private option. This action also safeguards parents from undue truancy charges.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 95. MS. HINER: Leslie Hiner. “So my question about home schooling is this, that I have — I do work across the country and so I have seen places like Oklahoma in their state constitution, home schooling is a right under their constitution and there is not a single regulation of any kind whatsoever. But this is the part that troubles me, on one hand if these kids are being sent into what they are calling a home school environment in lieu of expulsion, that’s just deeply troubling to me, deeply troubling. The other side to this though is the part that I am more concerned about because I have seen in other states where home schooling is very, very free and open that you will find black parents who come together in home schooling co-ops and educate their kids, especially when they are in a bad situation in the public school, whatever school that they were in prior, take their kids out and the families come together and they home school their kids and they’re doing great. Typically they take nationally learned reference tests and there is access to curriculum, et cetera. And there are an awful lot of home schools across the country where people will communicate and network with each other so that this can actually happen.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Forcing families with troubled children into homeschooling is profoundly troubling to IAHE Action as well. As home educators, we know first-hand the tremendous responsibility involved. Parents unable or unwilling to devote the time, attention and detail needed to homeschool should not be homeschooling.

Indiana, like every other state in the Union, has a large network across the state providing resources, activities and information. These organizations are not hard to find. Our sister organization, Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE), makes a concerted effort to communicate with people throughout the state through various mediums. They have a webpage, Facebook page, Twitter pageblog, a published print magazine, available for free in every library in the state, Pinterest resource pages, Instagram and regional representatives covering every county. Co-ops, which are groups of parents coming together to provide educational support and enrichment to each other’s children, meet regularly. Our regional representatives make it a point to be aware of groups meeting in their areas to better connect new families to a support group or co-op that best suits them. Alternatively, many homeschool parents and families thrive in a more independent environment without joining local support groups. Direct parent involvement is the important factor for home education success.

According to a Statehouse source, Indiana now spends on average $12,443 per pupil which includes all federal, state, and local funding sources.  No matter how you slice it, that is a considerable sum when multiplied by the number of students in the state. Understandably, taxpayers have a right and a responsibility to keep the state accountable. The need for governmental scrutiny has resulted in things like school A-F ratings, tracking graduation rates, teacher evaluations and student standardized assessments. Every single one of these programs were put in place to give the taxpayer concrete ways of evaluating the government’s performance in educating children. In home education in Indiana, no tax dollars are used. Hoosier homeschooling parents control the curriculum and fund all educational pursuits themselves. Nationally, most homeschoolers spend less than $600 per pupil per year in educational costs (2009 Academic Progress Report, HSLDA).

Since no tax money is at stake, what right does the state have in demanding homeschoolers take standardized tests? Home educating parents are already keenly aware of their child’s progress. While many parents freely choose to test their children through various means, some opt to forgo the testing process in the best interests of the child.

Homeschooling parents have regularly proved that standardized testing and vast sums of money are not required to achieve academic excellence. Instead, responsibility, character, and motivation are necessary resources for success.

Read Part 5 here.


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IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 3

This post is our third installment.  If you want to read more, here’s our original post, and the first and second installments.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 87 Ms. Hanger of Children’s Policy and Law Initiative of Indiana. “I do want to point out that some of the rates are involved with charter schools and the schools that Diana Daniels mentioned, I saw one in particular, in a school that has a very high suspension rate. So I have always looked at these issues as far as school discipline is concerned, it is a continuum. You can’t just look at suspension, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, you have to look at the entire continuum of discipline which includes alternative education, home schooling, and the like or you can’t see what’s happening to these children. I am getting behind.”

IAHE Action’s response: This is a curious purpose for homeschooling. The assertion that homeschooling is a form of discipline simply does not hold up under scrutiny. Among the reasons reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, not one cited disciplinary problems. The closest possible candidates would be for physical or mental health issues. I think we can all agree those are valid reasons far more complex than getting in trouble. 

Home education is an honor and a joy, not a consequence of bad behavior. In response to this transcript we asked our members to share their homeschool success stories. The ability to tailor a child’s lessons to their needs is education at its finest. It is sad to read public educators think so poorly of a completely natural form of education.


TESTIMONY:
Pg. 92.  MR. DOUGLAS: “My apologies for my interruption earlier. I just have a point of clarification on these numbers which are alarming, and that was on your slide in which you said that this Northwest High School report that 55 missing children in a two-year period, 21 students were removed by parents for home schooling in the same period, so that is saying that in addition to 55 who are missing, there are 22 that were transferred over to home schooling?”

MS. DANIELS: “That’s correct. Those come out of the mobility rate and under that listing of codes, each code has a different number and so there is a code for home schooling, there is a code for removed by parent, which is for home schooling. Then there is also a code for missing children. So the 55 are missing children, kids who just can’t be found. The home schooling number is that number 21, those were students that were removed by their parent to take home and to teach. That’s just one school. We have schools that we are looking at across the state and as those numbers come in, we will be able to really be able to tell how many of these students are missing in those schools. When I say missing, they can’t be found, they just walked away and the school doesn’t know where they are so they mark this Code saying missing.

The home schooling is when the parent comes to the exit meeting with the school that’s going to expel the child, and in the meeting the principal can offer a transfer so that there is no expulsion on the record. So the transfer is to the home. And so that transfer to mom, who is probably working if you have to work, living maybe not in the best of the neighborhoods in the city, and maybe not having total control over Junior, takes the responsibility of home schooling that child. So Junior is not getting much schooling and he is probably in the streets.”

IAHE Action’s Response: In 2013, Indiana Code was amended to correct the problem. Prior to this time, administrators regularly labeled children as homeschoolers to pad their graduation rates and maintain school performance ratings. The new law was an attempt by the school to educate the family regarding the requirements of home education. The principal would sign the form to acknowledge that they instructed parents about the legal requirements of home education in Indiana. The parent would sign it to acknowledge that they understood home education requirements. If no education actually took place, the student is not a homeschooler, but a truant. 

Once again, when a parent is faced with expulsion or signing a piece of paper for it to all go away we know what will happen. So does the principal. It’s not rocket science. Everyone sitting in that office knows this is not going to work. The administrator has an obligation to the parent, child and public to make appropriate “change of placement” recommendations. Home education is not appropriate advice for hypothetical Junior or his mother. It is irresponsible on the part of the school.

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TESTIMONY: Pg. 94. MR. DOUGLAS: “Does Junior get tests of any sort?

MS. DANIELS:  No, if you are a home school child, you do not get any state testing. You don’t take any ISTEP or anything, you do not get a diploma, you get a GED if you pass the GED exam at one of the GED centers, which I understand is very difficult to pass according to the Department of Corrections.”

IAHE Action’s Response: Homeschool students are regularly tested with assessments associated with their curriculum. Parents have a variety of options that they may use if they desire a standardized test, such as, the Stanford Achievement Test, Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), and the California Achievement Test (CAT). Testing in the home education context has an entirely different purpose than in the public schools. For home educators, it is merely to confirm what the parent already knows to be true. Many parents use every task given as a “test”. Either the student can complete the assignment or not. If they still need assistance, further instruction is necessary. For others, standardized testing is an unnecessary stressor, particularly in the early years. In homeschooling, learning is viewed as a lifelong, joyous pursuit. An anxiety-inducing exercise of regular standardized testing is the opposite of the parents’ goal.

Public schools use standardized testing to evaluate teaching staff, school curriculum and programs. It also serves as a “performance” review for teachers and students, since parents are not present the majority of the school day. None of these goals are necessary or even advantageous in the home environment. Parents know when their child gets a concept or not.

Homeschool diplomas are legally binding documents. These diplomas are readily accepted by universities, the military and other educational entities. The GED (now called TASC) is neither needed nor recommended.

 

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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Homeschooling and Child Abuse, Child Neglect, and Child Fatalities

By Brian D. Ray. Ph.D.

News stories, anecdotes, and some research regarding school teachers and other personnel doing evil things to students and children have become common in the United States (Shakeshaft, 2004; Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation, 2016). News stories, government data, and research reports on parents harming children is also available (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).   NHERI-LOGO05

During the past few years, some news stories have implied a special connection between child abuse, child neglect, or child fatalities and homeschooling. This brief paper addresses the following question: Has any research been done that provides any empirical evidence regarding the rates of child abuse, child neglect, or abuse-related child fatalities in homeschooling families compared to the rates in the subpopulations of families who engage in public schooling or private schooling?

Read more here.

Is Homeschooling Unfair to Other Children?

The Context
Do parents unfairly advantage their children by paying for private schooling, reading aloud to them at bedtime, or homeschooling them? Just when you thought you (as a parent) were doing something good, philosophers construe it to be bad.
Professors Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift got themselves into a heap of trouble – with some observers – with their book Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships and articles like the following:
We wrote Family Values because we had both worked on justice in education and argued for strict limits on what parents could legitimately do to purchase advantages for their children (e.g. paying for elite schooling). But we did not object to parents reading bedtime stories or spending time with their children, even though that also creates unfair inequalities. To explain the difference, we needed a general account of parents’ rights, of what parents should and shouldn’t be free to do to, with and for their children. That led us to the fundamental question of why children should be raised in families at all. Why not in communes or state-run childrearing institutions?

Read more here.

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