We were able to bring balance to the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights draft School to Prison Pipeline report. Homeschooling is discussed beginning on page 30 under “3. Non-traditional Education and the Pipeline.” You may review the latest draft at the link below. We understand the committee must complete this topic by early December.
IAHE Action expressed its concern to the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding the DRAFT report about the School to Prison Pipeline. It is troubling to see home education scrutinized instead of focusing on public schools where the problem was created and should be corrected. Home education should not be used as a way for public schools to remove “problem” students from their school. Homeschooling requires solid parental commitment and motivation to be successful. It is wholly inappropriate for public schools to encourage families who are uninvolved with their children toward this type of education.
This post is our ninth 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 IAHE nor IAHE Action knew about this meeting until after the fact when we were informed about it by a concerned special needs advocate who was in attendance to testify about dyslexics in the School to Prison Pipeline. You may read our other posts here: intro, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth.
Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) expressed concerns about the 600+ page transcript to Melissa Wojnaroski, Civil Rights Analyst for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Regional Programs Unit. Debi Ketron was invited to join the Committee for a conference call on April 20, 2016. An opportunity was permitted to submit written testimony which was provided by IAHE Government Affairs team member, Alison Slatter, and Debi was called upon to provide public comment which was limited to three minutes. It was decided that IAHE should submit the written testimony since it has been serving Indiana homeschool families for 33 years and doing the very things that were discussed in the transcript. Attorney Tj Schmidt of HSLDA was on the call as well. Homeschooling was not mentioned at that meeting by the Committee. It was noted by the Committee that they now had to consider the conflicting testimony that was submitted for consideration. You may read the written testimony that was submitted by Indiana Association of Home Educators IAHE School to Prison Pipeline Testimony (1), Home School Legal Defense Association HSLDA-IndianaAdvisoryCommitteeTestimony, National Black Home Educators NBHE Letter April 18_2016, and Nevada Homeschool Network 2016. NHN ltr to US CCR.BKD. Public comment was provided by IAHE SPP Oral Testimony 20160420. We will know the results of the report on June 15.
Donations are NOT tax deductible.
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 here, here, here, here, here, here, here, 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.
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.
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 here, here, here, here, here, here, 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.
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?
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.
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.
IAHE Action recently received questions related to the National Household Education Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S Department of Education. Some homeschool families in Indiana have reported that they have received this survey as many as four times.
We asked Home School Legal Defense Association attorney, Tj Schmidt, if families are required to fill out the survey. He informed us that the National Household Education Survey form is not mandatory. The name changes a little bit from time to time but here is the general information about these types of questionnaires. Note that the long form listed in the link is mandatory.
According to the NHES website:
What types of questions will be asked?
First, all households are asked to answer some initial questions in order to help us understand their household characteristics. Depending on the characteristics of the household, some will receive additional questions asking about more specific experiences with young children’s care and education, students’ and families’ experiences with schools or homeschooling, or adults’ education and training.
This post is our fifth 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, and here.
TESTIMONY: Pg. 96. So on one hand it sounds like really this is a bad situation is going on here in Indiana and then on the other hand if it is done, if home schooling is done properly, it has been a saving grace for an awful lot of kids from across the country. So I am just wondering if in your work if you have attempted to isolate this issue as to home schooling as it relates very specifically to expulsion and would there be a way under those circumstances to, I don’t know, to determine whether or not if something could work for this child who is about to be expelled, or if not, if there is an intervention that could occur there so we don’t lose these kids?
IAHE Action’s Response: The key in this part of the testimony is “homeschooling done properly”. Homeschoolers use a variety of methods, curricula, etc., to successfully educate their children. It takes dedicated, engaged parents. The student must respect authority. When both are present, homeschooling works!
“Homeschooling done properly” does not include encouraging a teen with serious behavioral issues and a parent who is unavailable to home educate. The necessary ingredients for proper home education are an involved, present parent; a cooperative, obedient student; and parental time available to instruct the child. If any of these ingredients are missing or disproportional, homeschoolers know it is a recipe for disaster. A student who is unruly cannot be forced to learn.
These students DO have a good life-changing option. The Crossing is an alternative education option seeking to serve students whom would otherwise be government school dropouts. Find more about The Crossing here.
TESTIMONY: Pg. 96. MS. DANIELS: We interviewed three principals, two public and one charter, and they both said, yes, we have engaged in the practice. But we know those kids are not home schooled, they are probably out there. When we talk with the Department of Corrections, on their intake process they do write down what kind of schooling the child has, but it is not in their database. You have to go through every court placement through those records and see who was going to be or who has had home schooling. It is not in a database. So that’s a task in itself to go through all of those records.
But essentially the Department has been notified, they have been really trying to find this information and really trying to do something — find out about what can they do. In long conversations with John Nally, he has been very, very supportive and very, very involved in wanting to see what can we do here.
IAHE Action’s Response: Once again, government school principals engaged in this practice knowing “home” education is not occurring are breaking public trust and running roughshod over the spirit of the law. They are sullying the reputation of countless home educators who are sacrificially educating their children while victimizing dropouts by counseling a path toward the child’s personal failure.
MS. HINER: Pg. 97. If I could get just a quick follow-up, so in the state of Nevada, the public schools will — and they have this expulsion thing also, but what they do is they refer that student to a home schooling expert, someone who isn’t a home schooler and who works within the network of home schoolers in Nevada and they also have very, very few regulations up there as well, but this woman though will talk to the parents, talk to the students and, you know, oftentimes advise against home schooling as an option.
But there is a communication there between the home schooling community and the public school. They work in partnership together so that if it is not right, it is not right and it is not happening. If it is right, well, then that’s a good thing. But there is that linkage there between the public schools and the home schooling community and I was wondering if that sort of thing could work?
IAHE Action’s Response: IAHE Action, curious by this assertion, contacted our friends at the Nevada Homeschool Network (NHN). Their refutation of Ms. Hiner’s testimony is enlightening. You can read their response here: 2016. NHN ltr to US CCR.BKD
TESTIMONY: Pg. 98. MS. DANIELS: That’s not the case here. That’s not the case as I understand it from the principals that we have talked with, that is not happening. I did speak with charter school, virtual school people, and they are getting lots of — when they started the virtual schools, it was for that affluent family that really could go to the museum and mom was at home and could take the child this place and that place and they would go to the virtual school if it is a hybrid model two days a week, have contact with other children and come home. The virtual schools are basically for high school students and there is very little contact with anyone except through Skype, and the teacher grades a paper and it comes back through the E-mail system. But no one is working with the parent who has accepted the responsibility of home schooling, that’s that loophole that allows this to feed into the School-to-Prison Pipeline or I would call it the Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse Pipeline, but that is exactly what is occurring, at least that’s what I am being told by people who man schools.
IAHE Action’s Response: Let us first establish two definitions. A child enrolled in a virtual charter school cannot be a homeschooler. While the child’s location is physically in the home; the grades, curriculum, programs, and teachers are administered and controlled outside the home by an agent paid by the government with taxpayer funds. Home education has three hallmarks: home-based, parent-directed and self-funded. Virtual public students do not exhibit two of the three criterions for being homeschooled.
As homeschoolers who diligently document our children’s attendance, we have a few questions. If administrators KNOW this is happening, does the Superintendent of Public Instruction or other entity send a truant officer to the home? How many have been prosecuted under the Indiana laws currently in force? Seems to us a good place to start combating this problem is through enforcement of current law.
If one looks at the Homeschool Help Sheet on the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) website, the individual will find Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE)’s phone number and website link. It says, “While not a source for textbooks, these organizations can provide guidance about local support groups, choosing curricula, and the “how to’s” of home education.” IAHE has been helping Indiana homeschoolers since 1983. Help is only a call or email away with our 16 Regional Representatives. They can connect families with local support groups and/or co-ops. IAHE publishes the Home Education in Indiana book to provide more in-depth information about how to have a solid foundation for homeschooling. The public libraries across the state have carried this book for many years. Indiana home educators can find helpful information in IAHE’s The Informer magazine which is also available in libraries across the state and in IAHE podcasts on iTunes; both are available for free. IAHE’s yearly Convention offers continuing education workshops. IAHE has discussion groups for encouragement and support. Finally, IAHE Regional Representatives hosts informational workshops to educate parents about home education throughout the state of Indiana. Local groups may offer these types of events as well. Homeschoolers who have moved to Indiana from other states claim that homeschool information and support is much more accessible here than in other states where they lived. IAHE makes it a priority.
IAHE has been doing this for over 30 years. They have an annual convention and bring in curriculum vendors, speakers, and continuing education workshops. They recruit regional representatives across the state who field phone inquiries and network with other groups. This provides a volunteer network to help home educators get connected and encourage them in their homeschool journey.
IAHE’s trained regional representatives can correctly evaluate a parent’s true interest in homeschooling in just a few questions. They explain to prospective parents they are taking full responsibility for their child’s education. Some of these parents tell us they are not interested. We then refer them back to their school or the IDOE for other options.
Home education is a privately-funded and parent-directed educational option. Inserting government oversight into homeschooling effectively guts the characteristics of home education. It will no longer be parent-directed, but government directed. It will no longer be self-funded, but taxpayer funded. The only thing remaining would be the child’s location, which is the least meaningful characteristic to the child’s outcome.
A parent wanting or needing another entity to teach, provide curriculum and resources, is not interested in homeschooling. Indiana is blessed with many more suitable options for this parent and child to explore. IAHE encourages them to find the best fit for their child and their situation.
Homeschool parents take personal and financial responsibility for the education of their child. This commitment requires sacrifice and stretching to achieve excellent results. Government school principals who value home education so little as to use it as a disciplinary measure are belittling and besmirching the patient, careful work done in Hoosier homes by parent educators. These principals should be ashamed.
Read Part 6 here.
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Donations to IAHE Action are NOT tax deductible.
This post is our fourth of nine installments. If you would like to read more, here’s our original post and the first, second, 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 page, blog, 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.
Support IAHE Action’s work of protecting Indiana homeschool freedom.
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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.
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.