Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How do I stand?

February 4, 2009
>
> Idaho--Legislator Contemplates Homeschool Restrictions
>
> Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
>
> We have been receiving calls from Idaho members who have been
> contacted by Representative Donna Boe. Rep. Boe told these members
> that she is planning to introduce a bill in the Idaho Legislature to
> require homeschools to be registered and be annually tested.
>
> She told these members that according to the Idaho Constitution, it is
> the state's responsibility to educate the children. She indicated that
> she wants to know what homeschoolers think about this proposal.
>
> To help her, homeschoolers may want to email her through the Idaho
> legislature website at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=6074 or call
> her at (208) 332 1038 and let her know whether you would support this
> proposed bill. You may want to briefly share with her the benefits of
> your homeschooling and your thankfulness for the current freedom you
> have to teach your children in Idaho.
>
> Thank you,
>
> Chris Klicka
> HSLDA Senior Counsel


This lovely missive was waiting in my inbox this morning when I logged on. Truthfully, I don't know enough about the proposed bill to be for or against it. My gut reaction is that I'm opposed to regulating homeschooling. On the flip side, it might be a good idea to register our homeschooled students with the local school district- just so they're accounted for somewhere. Idaho is one of the least regulated states in the nation for homeschooling. We simply fall under child abuse and neglect laws- there are no laws specific to homeschoolers. Is that a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Possibly it just is what it is.

We're in a budget crunch at the moment so I also have to ask how the testing and registration will be funded. Will the money come out of the state budget? The school district's budget? My budget? Who will administer the testing?

Will the testing establish parameters for "acceptable" education at home results? If a child is special needs (or simply a poor test taker) how will that affect and effect the results of the testing? Will there be a limit on how poorly a child can test before they're forced to enroll in a public school? How will this affect private and parochial schools? Homeschool in Idaho is on equal legal footing with private school now- will this bill change that? What happens if the public school children fall below the "acceptable" limit that affects homeschool enrollment? Will those children have to change schools? Is there a possibility their parents could lose custody?

If there is no limit on how poorly you can test- what is the point of the testing? How will compliance be enforced? Who will fund enforcing compliance? What will the total real cost of this bill be? Is the cost an acceptable expense during this time of economic crisis? Is there an indication that Idaho homeschool students are being neglected and that this legislation is necessary? If there isn't any sign of a problem- why is this legislation being introduced?

Why? Why? Why? How? How? How much? How Often?

I think a whole post of questions must set a new record for me, but I wanted to get all my thoughts down and out there for public consumption. There are no deep thoughts here. If anyone has input on any of these questions (or new questions you came up with on your own) please leave me a comment.

7 comments:

katie said...

Hmmm...yes, it sounds kinda scary to me. I guess it all comes down to how the legislation will be worked out practically and maybe that's hard to predict until it's put into place. I guess I just wonder about the "tests". Isn't that what alot of homeschoolers want to get away from? Interesting...and goodluck!

j4luck said...

I have been reading a lot about the school systems and education since I have decided to major in Elementary Ed. It's my understanding (from the experiences and thoughts of several teachers who I've read blogs and articles by)that the public school system places far to great of an emphasis on testing and too little emphasis on actual teaching. The testing, while I agree to some extent is important as an assessment tool to make sure that a child is learning at a normal rate and to help identify any learning disorders early on, when in excess seems to be nothing more than a way for the states to gauge their placement on the educational scale- almost making it seem like the children are being comprimised for political ends. Maybe I completely misunderstood, but most teachers complain that testing is taking too much time from doing the real work. It definately deserves some scrupulous research and questioning from home-schoolers such as yourself.

Janet said...

I think this new emphasis on testing in our schools (thanks "No Child Left Behind") is cheating students and teachers out of unique, wonderful learning opportunities because the emphasis of the current legislation is on testing, not learning.

It is a great worry that people will want to make homeschoolers conform to current traditional models of education. The beautiful (and successful) thing about homeschooling is that it allows us to study what we want, how we want, and when we want. Delight driven learning means that we don't have to teach spelling every day. Of course we may make our children re-write their essays 10 times until all the words are spelled correctly, but we don't have to separte spelling from english, from history. If we find a great interest in a certain subject we do not have to abandon that subject in order to keep pace with our annual syllabus. There's a great freedom in being able to pursue each type of knowledge when our kids are ready for it and interested in what they are learning.

Janet said...

I think this new emphasis on testing in our schools (thanks "No Child Left Behind") is cheating students and teachers out of unique, wonderful learning opportunities because the emphasis of the current legislation is on testing, not learning.

It is a great worry that people will want to make homeschoolers conform to current traditional models of education. The beautiful (and successful) thing about homeschooling is that it allows us to study what we want, how we want, and when we want. Delight driven learning means that we don't have to teach spelling every day. Of course we may make our children re-write their essays 10 times until all the words are spelled correctly, but we don't have to separte spelling from english, from history. If we find a great interest in a certain subject we do not have to abandon that subject in order to keep pace with our annual syllabus. There's a great freedom in being able to pursue each type of knowledge when our kids are ready for it and interested in what they are learning.

Simplymom said...

I'm against this legislation simply because the testing in Idaho is grade specific, not general knowledge. For example, the 4th grade test may have questions about the solar system, but nothing about plants, so if we covered botany, because my kids are fascinated with it, they would do poorly on the test simply because that is not the science we covered. I don't think all families should HAVE to follow the schedule of learning set out by the state. I also worry about what they would do if kids scored poorly-- that they would expect homeschoolers to meet a higher standard.

At the same time, I do love that Idaho has several virtual charter schools where my kids are still accounted for and tested, if I CHOOSE to enroll. We are using www.idahoidea.org right now and it's working great, but I want the freedom to do what I think is best for my children in the future.

Renae said...

This is unrelated, but I'm from Idaho. Please do all you can to keep homeschool free from regulation, because I may move back there some day. ;)

The line that stood out to me is that this legislator believes it is the state's job to educate our children. That role belongs to the family; children are given to families.

State education almost seems to be a conflict of interest to me. The purpose becomes to aggrandize the state, to help people get jobs so they can pay taxes. Is school practice for punching the time clock? I don't know, but it's something to think about.

(Glad I stopped by your blog. It is a nice place to visit. I'll be back. :D)

Janet said...

Renae, I agree that her statement about the state being responsible for educating children also rubbed me the wrong way. Aren't parents ultimately responsible? At what point do we trade our parental responsibility for state help? Which one of us bears the real risks when it comes to decisions affecting my children? I tend to be very, very conservative politically. I've already contacted Rep. Boe three times trying to get more information about her proposed legislation with no response. I suspect she's already given up on introducing it this legislative session.

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