Following the series on Iowa homeschooling and the freeing up of regulations, the opportunity comes from Pennsylvania to look at their excessive homeschool regulations. The Altoona Mirror posted an extensive article last weekend where Pennsylvania homeschoolers reflected on their frustrations as educators and taxpayers.
Home schooling presents opportunities, challenges By Russ O’Reilly
The Pennsylvania Home Educators Association advocates deregulating home schooling in the state.
“Paperwork does not educate the child,” states research by PHEA Advisory Board member Maryalice Newborn.
Newborn has been home schooling for 20 years.
“Pennsylvania Home Education Law does not increase education. It only increases school district costs and paperwork for all,” she said
“All of my children and son-in-law, (home-schooled in Michigan, an unregulated home-school state) graduated undergraduate with highest honors,” she wrote in an email.
The Mirror gave Newborn the opportunity to explain further: “The reality is that government involvement in home education does not educate the children; it only costs taxpayers money,” she said.
The article started out with an interview of a Penn State college student who was homeschooled. The theme seemed to be along the Joshua Powell lines of muddle and discontent. Neil Meyer was homeschooled in Kansas and had a surprise for his mother:
He was recently honored with the Penn State Outstanding Adult Student Award and is pursuing clinical psychology graduate school next year.
He said his home schooling is a sensitive and complex topic within his family. Meyer’s mother did not return a phone call, but Meyer said he spoke about the story with her.
“She seemed a little disappointed, and she definitely had her own take on the situation. Prior to today, my mother was unaware that the extremities of my childhood have played a major part in my personal statements and past successes,” he said.
This apparently successfully educated young man suffered the same turmoil many homeschoolers went through regarding their alternative education. When you’re running parallel to the public school mainstream of socialization and testing, there are times when you must step in the public school playing field that seem a bit intimidating.
The Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency had their say in the piece too. Just like many anti-homeschooling legislators across the country, they used the “slip between the cracks” phrasing to justify the extreme amount of bureaucratic nonsense for Pennsylvania homeschoolers.
From Susan Richman:
“I think Pennsylvania law helps students not fall through the cracks,” she said.
“A school district employee in charge of reviewing home-school portfolios once called me to vent: ‘There are two types of home schooling families. Those who know what to do, nicely done portfolios including photos and drawings — we knew they were treasured family items.” And there are the other types, he said, referencing one a dirty file folder with five pages torn out of a spiral notebook, no log of studies or standardized testing and a one-sentence statement from an unqualified evaluator. That child has since been enrolled in public school because of the school district’s review.
“With some, you got to be honest that home schooling is not serving the child well,” she said.
“As much as people grumble about government accountability, it can be a good thing,” she said.
By their very name, Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency, homeschoolers could reasonably assume that Susan Richman and her husband make their living because of the current Pennsylvania homeschool law.
The latter example given by the school district employee might be a family wishing they could concentrate more on learning and less on portfolio evaluator appointments, continuously logging their education, setting up standardized testing times – let alone having their children fill in the dots correctly, and finding a “qualified evaluator”. The tedious tracking of Pennsylvania children seems exhausting.
Towards the end of the article, O’Reilly explained a bit more of Neil Meyer’s off-notes concerning his homeschooled path. His pastor father tasked his son with a public speaking assignment. He was to give a sermon in front of his church congregation. Meyer didn’t receive his diploma from his parents because he refused to fulfill that intensely personal charge.
Then, eighteen year old Meyer moved to Pennsylvania and it appears he adjusted well to his new social norms, starting out by earning his GED.
Socially, Meyer adjusted quickly to the workforce and his life outside of his home. He made friends; and he met his partner who he’s been in a relationship with for eight years now.
“In the workforce I realized I had skills I wasn’t aware of. I learned I had interesting opinions and people liked them,” he said.
It appears Neil Meyer found his gifts and ran with them. Kudos to him.
This article had some rough patches on socialization and other homeschool stereotypes. But the focus was often on the oppressive demands on homeschoolers. PHEA’s board member – Mary Alice Newborn -had a direct response and remedy for what works in home education. We’ll hope Pennsylvania homeschoolers find the same sort of relief Iowa got.