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 7

This post is our seventh 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, herehere, and here.

TESTIMONY:  Dr. Susan Lockwood and I am the director of Juvenile Education for the Indiana Department of Corrections…..
Pg. 141 Then when it comes to how we are measured, one of the things, I found the testimony about the home — or the home school very, very interesting and we — I spoke with the presenter earlier and said it is very easy for us in our schools to add a field in our data system and just start tracking that. What we do is when a student comes to us and we do assessments and try to — we get all the records and place them where they need to be placed as far as education, we look to where the school corporation where he would have attended if he were out on the street, and so that’s the program that we enter into our system.

So we know that when the school goes back — or when the student goes back, we know where we are going to first contact, you know, which school we are going to contact to try to facilitate that re-enrollment. We are measured on being able to connect a youth to a credible program and so obviously it is hard to establish whether or not a student who is home schooled is actually connected to a credible home school program. So that’s what we do.  SMALL 300 Join Action E-List

So what we can do is start asking the youth have you been home schooled, track that data, but basically what we would be doing would be saying these are the number of youth who have come to us who have reported that they are home schooled, which is some data but it is not something that we would really be able to validate because it would be, again, what youth reports to us. So it is not — there is not really a way that we can validate that, but we can definitely do that.

IAHE Action’s Response: Tracking a student’s educational history is a good idea. However, in tracking educational history one must be aware of the different forms of educational instruction including the difference between Public Virtual Charter schools, traditional homeschooling.  Indiana Association of Home Educators would also take great issue with classifying students who have never received instruction in their home or outside of a brick and mortar school building as homeschoolers. As we have stated before, one must actually have received academic instruction in his/her home to be a homeschooler.

Pg. 208 Ms. Hiner: So previously we heard that by — that what often happens is that when a child is ready for expulsion then the alternative is not really an alternative and those are kids who don’t really get educated afterwards and they get lost in the system and are counted as missing children.

IAHE Action’s Response: We would agree that the alternative to expulsion is not really an alternative for these kids. Homeschooling requires cooperative students and a present parent instructing his/her children. Regardless, there does appear to be confusion in the recordkeeping and the categories given. Are these children really missing or are they homeschooled, public virtual school students, dropouts or simply transferred out of the district?

 

IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 6

This post is our sixth 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.  Neither Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) nor IAHE Action knew about this meeting until after the fact.  You may read our other posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 99 MS. DAVIS: Tammi Davis, thank you all for your presentations and I also have some challenges with the home schooling issue, at least as it relates here in Indiana. I do have family members who were home schooled and matriculated very well going on to college and post college studies, but one of the challenges that we face with our children, particularly as they are being defined as troubled kids, is that there are challenges at home. So if you have problems at home, you are expelled from school because of behavioral issues and then some adult, whether it is the parent or legal guardian on paper says, well, this child is being home schooled when they may not be actually home schooled because they are not regulated, then that becomes an additional challenge for our kids just being out there in the system.

IAHE Action’s Response: First, let us establish the context of “homeschooler” above. In the second half of the above excerpt, Ms. Davis is clearly talking about public school families who have been forced into homeschooling because of disciplinary actions of the public school administrators. These children are not homeschoolers, but public school dropouts who are not given the support required in their individual cases by school administrators. Contrast this context with that of homeschool parents who have actively chosen from all available educational options to take on the responsibility, expense and labor of home education. The family members Ms. Davis mentions would undoubtedly fall into this category. Equating the two situations requires a gross suspension of reality.

Hard cases make bad law. The answer should be to fix the problem at its source: the public school. Just as forced charity is no charity at all, forced homeschooling does not beget homeschooling.

Parents actively choosing to take a primary role in their children’s education are not the problem here and do not require regulation to do their jobs.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 99. So there are two things that I would like to know, how does one get classified as missing? What has to happen for a student to be determined as a missing child, missing student, number one; and then secondly, what correlation of study has been done relative to the number of homeless children, homeless students as would relate to this issue? Either one of you have done any research or work in that regard?

MS. DANIELS: Well, what I was told in terms of missing is that the child has not shown up to school, either the attendance clerk or social worker has gone to the home and no one is there, they can’t find the child, there is no track record. And so when you have to fill out your little codes at the end of the year what happened to all of your children, you just mark missing.

TESTIMONY: Pg. 100: The other code area that really kind of bothers us is the code area of transferred out of state. We are finding large numbers of youngsters who I don’t believe have transferred out of state but that’s a code that is marked by the school. I just can’t believe 37 kids transferred out of state in one of the schools that we have looked at.

And so there is lots of coding that I think is misplaced in terms of going back to the Department of Ed, which is a loophole which means that these kids are — where are the children? They could be on the streets, they could be — we don’t know. But one of the things that feeds this schoolhouse-to-jailhouse pipeline is the fact that no one knows where — what is happening in that child’s life on a daily basis.

He could be staying with a friend tonight, grandma the next night, somebody else the next night, he is just floating, just floating. So I think that there is things that the state could possibly do in terms of laws and regulations with the Department of Ed and the Department of Corrections which I think would help to identify all these missing children.

We went yesterday to the Indiana Missing Children’s Ledger, thousands of kids from all over the state, different counties, listed. And that was for Tuesday, February 15, that we looked at it and I was just in awe that all those kids are labeled as
missing. Name, birth date, 13-year-olds, 12-year-olds missing? Something is — there is not enough being done. We can talk about numbers, but we have got to talk about lives, we have got to talk about human beings, we have got to talk about our babies, our next, the ones that are supposed to take my place one day. We have got to start talking about where are these babies. And I am just bringing this up because I think that we need to have some help in terms of doing that. We can’t do that by our — we are non-profit, of course non-profits are not funded, we are out of our pockets, but we are willing to do this work because we have deep, deep convictions that we don’t want to see another black child end up in that system. So that’s why we are here today.  At Work For You

TESTIMONY: Pg. 102. MS. DAVIS: Just real quick, do you know the number of days that a student has to be missing out of the classroom before the counselors are dispatched to actually do a follow-up?

MS. DANIELS: They told me the child only has to be at school one day a month not to be considered truant. You know, you miss 29 days, come to school one day, he is not truant. That’s what the principals all told us. So truancy laws is something else that — this is a whole — all that coding needs to be looked at.

IAHE Action’s Response: There are numerous possibilities for why children and their families move from place to place. Possible causes could be immigration status of the parents, frequent relocation due to short-term living arrangements with friends, family or relationships or perhaps a job transfer relocated the family outside the school district. While a stable home environment is best, not all parents are able to provide a consistent living arrangement.

At IAHE, they advise families who leave the public school to homeschool to send a letter informing the school principal of their status change. Anyone not sending a letter could and should expect a truant officer to visit. They also inform their constituency of the laws regulating home education in Indiana. Their members know they must provide the same number of instructional days as the public schools and provide and an equivalent education.

IAHE is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to supporting, educating and advocating for homeschooling parents and their children. Since 1983, they have worked with countless families who are teaching their children and doing an excellent job. IAHE sacrifices to minister to these families, because of the importance of home education in the lives of our families. READ SOME OF THEIR TESTIMONIALS HERE.

Podcast with IAHE Action Board member, Camille Cantwell

IAHE Action Board member, Camille Cantwell, recently spoke on her life, parental rights and home education on the RadioNext internet program with Dr. Mark Eckel. It was very informative as she covered a variety of topics from parenting to homeschool liberty to IAHE Action’s work at the Statehouse on behalf of homeschool families.  You can listen here.

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Why IAHE Action?

In recent years, Indiana Association of Home Educators has observed increased threats to parental and home education rights. The threats have been seen in various forms. Christian home education is particularly egregious to many who oppose homeschooling. WEBSITE RGB Action Logo 400x400

As IAHE assessed these threats, they felt like the time had come to commence a new sister organization that is better prepared to meet these needs. Indiana Association of Home Educators Action 501(c)4 was founded to support the mission of the IAHE (c)3 and to act as its lobbying arm. IAHE Action has greater flexibility than the 501(c)3 and is able to perform unlimited lobbying and limited political work.

It is our desire that all Indiana home educators receive legislative updates in order to protect our freedom. As the majority of advocacy transitions from IAHE to IAHE Action, legislative updates will come from Action. Be sure to sign up here to receive our legislative updates.  IAHE Action will also provide a forum that permits posts that IAHE does not.  We are all in this together to protect Indiana home education freedom!

Please share this information with those who value home education freedom.

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