A few years ago, many news sites reported on the cooked books of the “Texas Miracle” from the current President Bush’s home state, a “miracle” that was the bedrock for the No Child Left Behind legislation. The mis-recording by some schools of the reportable reasons for young Texans leaving school hid the decline in numbers between schools’ freshman and senior classes by making the withdrawals appear as transfers rather than out and out losses. Transfers = Good. Dropouts = Bad. Better a Code 60 than no code at all.
- High School Graduation Rates in the United States, November 2001 (revised April 2002), Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (use Ctrl+F to search for “Texas”)
- A Lost Generation? A Million Left Behind?, 2003, NoChildLeft.com
- How Are the Kids?, March/April 2005, Columbia Journalism Review
Other links are also available.
What made me remember these reports is a current news item from Texas whose main topic is the rebellion of “distressed parents and exasperated students” over the enforcement of new school policies, and the roping-in of homeschooling at the end of the article.
Mutiny at Bandera ISD, 22 November 2007, The Bandera Bulletin, Bandera, Texas
Possibly a case of comparing apples to oranges, Dyes said that the overall failure and drop out rate of previous years prior to his tenure may not have been recorded factually, and that he believed former practices at the high school level masked the truth regarding dropouts. He said that 62 students either dropped out or withdrew to home school during the 2005-06 school year, yet none of them have shown any record of graduation.
The question, in my mind, is not whether the kids who left school were in fact homeschooled, or if they did use homeschooling to mask dropping out. My question, concerning the ending of this article, is how would Superintendent Dyes know if these young Texans graduated?
- Texas Home School Coalition, What is required for graduation?
Home schools in Texas are private schools and not regulated by the state; therefore home schools, just as with other private schools, set their own graduation standards. There is no minimum age requirement for graduation.
At this point in this blog post, I’m feeling a bit like the old maiden lady in curlers who is holding a rolling pin as she checks under the bed for bad guys. The Texas state government doesn’t regulate private schools so it is unlikely that anyone will start checking homeschooling families to make sure the kids are ‘in school,’ so why do I bother posting? I bother because to let stand the linking of homeschooling to topics with which it has no integral connection, is to agree with the conclusion in the article. I see that conclusion as being, in part, ‘the dropout rate is not the fault of the schools, it’s the fault of parents who say they’ll homeschool.’
Yes, I concede that the superintendent says that faulty recording masked former dropout rates, but including the homeschool graduation rate is what brings out my inner old lady in curlers. The ending leaves me with the impression that Texas superintendents have access to the graduation records of Texas private schools and homeschooling families. I believe that impression is wrong, but if the article’s conclusion is correct, I’d be glad to update what I know about Texas homeschooling.
posted by Valerie