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.


8 thoughts on “IAHE Action’s School to Prison Pipeline Response – Part 8”

  1. I have personal experience with students moving between public and homeschooling, and back again. Not my own children … they have never been in public school. But, I was twice called upon by neighbors to help them homeschool a child *short-term* as a way to help them succeed in finishing public school. Both girls hit an academic wall in fifth grade Math, leading the teacher to recommend retention. Actually, I heard this story several times from parents in our town, during the years 2004 – 2007. I don’t know what the local district was doing with 5th grade math at the time, but it was not succeeding for many students. Several parents in our district chose to begin homeschooling their children then, and continued to graduation, with success. But, these two neighbors of mine wanted their daughters to succeed In Public School while staying with the classmates. For both families, I recommended they focus on the 3 Rs at home, the basics – reading , ‘riting, Arithmetic. Just that. And keep a daily log of the lessons or learning activities they did. One girl used a math program from our home library that included lots of manipulatives and real-world math problems, to fit her learning needs. The other girl used GED math workbooks. Yes, an 11 yo girl – who had been getting ‘F’s in public school math – succeeded with math studies through a full year of GED math workbooks at home. When both girls returned to the public middle school, they tested two grade levels or more *ahead* of where they were when they left public fifth grade. The girl who used the GED math workbooks tested into highschool algebra. (If someone wants confirmation, I could contact the mothers for a testimonial.) The principal was impressed especially by the mothers’ daily teaching Logs. I was told that he was surprised to see such documentation; usually, those who returned to the public school from homeschool were behind, he said, and the parents had little proof of schooling while the child was at home. The principal’s comments lead me to agree with the IAHE team: those who return to public school from homeschool are likely, often, families who were unable to succeed at home-education, or had initially removed the child from public school for some reason other than a desire to actually teach at home. Genuine Homeschooling – one on one tutoring – has frequently, throughout history, been proven to be the most effective learning method.

      1. I am trying to contact mother(s) and daughter(s) now. Life moves on, and so have they. How soon do you need the testimonial?

  2. I take exception to this statement: “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.”
    I have almost never seen a child not learning. A child may not be able to clearly express what he is learning. A child may not be able to pass a timed bubble test on what she learned. But there are almost no children who are not learning something, all the time. I have graduated four of my own children from homeschool, and am currently homeschooling three more. I have also participated in homeschool groups, church groups, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, and some sports in several states over many years (at least 17 of those years spent actively homeschooling). The issue I see with the quoted statement above is the assumption that a child not in a school classroom is not learning. There is a second assumption, that when a child misbehaves badly enough, no one in the room learns. Both assumptions are wrong. The problem is two-fold: define learning, and then determine what they’re actually learning. Generally the assumptions come about because there’s a specific list of desired outcomes that are not being met in an easily measurable way. That’s pretty hard to meet, even in a group of adults (note the current emphasis on “team-building” and “working together in a group” for how hard it is to measure what was learned and how hard it is to get everyone to learn the same objectives from an activity). Part of the reason for these assumptions is that the adults who set the objectives, or who have set objectives imposed on them, do not and sometimes are not allowed to, consider what the children are actually learning, and then address what’s actually being taught in an effective way. Many times the subtext of a classroom is that what is taught here is only valuable because it’s on the test, which can afterwards be tossed out as useless. It’s also force-feeding, at a pace that would be difficult for most adults, for so many consecutive years that even if children had longer perspectives, they would be daunted. There’s no escape from this academic slavery, unless a child has parents who can provide an out, or unless a child takes matters into his or her own hands and chooses to do something about it. My personal choice, as a public student child, was to read everything put in front of me, and remember it, ace tests, and then read what I wanted to read. There were and are a variety of other ways to deal with this untenable situation, some terribly destructive, some merely passive, some totally departing from schools, either mentally or physically. Every child is learning something every day; it’s when they’re learning to shut out their teacher or when they’re learning to revolt against a system based entirely on force, that we object loudest to what they’re learning. But never say that they’re not learning. They’re imitating our coping skills and our attitudes, a little too perfectly.

    1. Melinda, if we would have included other parts of the 600+ page transcript, it would have given additional perspective was to why this comment was made. IAHE Action was focusing on the parts that mentioned homeschooling, but here is additional information that we didn’t include. It will help you better understand the context of the statement. Public schools are a totally different environment than our home schools. They have changed considerably since we attended public school.

      Pg. 151 It does, and I am sorry, I will turn it over to Billy. I have actually been in some classrooms, you know, had career day, and students walk into the classroom like at 7:30 in the morning and they smell like marijuana. I mean some of these kids show up at school and they are high, they have got a contact high because of the environment that they are coming from.

      Pg. 234 This is the reality of teachers who teach in urban communities. Just within the past two weeks one of my students committed murder. This week I looked 9 in the most wanted section and another one of my students under the same umbrella of special education with the same diagnosis going straight to prison.

      Pg. 236. So just case in point, a lot of children , if you look at a child , one would just get upset and go off, and so you have to diffuse the situation. Sometimes children will take another child up on their threat and they will actually become physically abusive to another. In the meantime, I have other children to be responsible for and I have to take the time out to actually sit there and go through paperwork to write up the incident.

      Pg. 253 I had a student that brought a gun into school, a student that tried to set another student on fire, I had a student that was shot in the stomach by his brother; students that come to school high, sell drugs, a student that set himself on fire while he was huffing. These are our students, these are the students that walk through our door, these are the children that we are trying to protect. This is an elementary school building.

      Pg. 258 We have students that run out of the classroom and run out of the building; students that hit, bite, punch their classmates and the teachers. We have had numerous teachers this year that have been sent to the health clinic because of injuries from students. We have students that throw chairs, desks, and destroy classrooms; students that fight in the classroom.

      Pg. 279 I am teaching second grade and the kids are throwing chairs at me, I can’t do it.

      Pg. 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.

      Pg. 253. I know two boys that sit up at night to protect their sister from their older brother.

      Pg. 273 if you look at Indiana there are drug problems now everywhere in Indiana, I mean in rural, white communities there are drug problems.

      1. Thank you for this perspective. I’m sad to hear about these incidents and glad my children are not in that environment. I still hear the justification for forcing children to attend school, “if they’re not in the classroom they’re not learning.” If the classroom is that hazardous, I assume their neighborhood also has severe problems. The difference is: in the neighborhood children can change their location or their reaction appropriately. In the school they are severely limited in their reactions and are not allowed to remove themselves from the danger. I don’t say that would fix all; I know that it would not remove them completely from danger. But trapping children inside the school building without the means to protect themselves, and then punishing them when they do fight back, is not the answer. Having security there is of limited usefulness, like having the police around to file a report After your car gets hit. Teachers can only do so much; our society needs to allow children and parents the option to decide for themselves whether an education is worth the risk they run every day in the classroom. And then we need to abide by their decisions, without being punitive. We live in a time and place when education is widely available, when written materials and the spoken word, with stereo sound, are everywhere. It would be a very secluded child who did not learn in our environment. Could we measure exactly what they’re learning? No. Can we help? Yes, by encouraging instead of forcing, by persuasion instead of locking them in.

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