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.

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.