In discussions elsewhere, I’ve been asked why I don’t support the cyber/virtual/distance learning programs that are as ‘free’ as public school. The implication is that I’m a purist homeschooling gate-keeper who works to discourage parents from exercising the fullest range of choice possible.
My answer is that it isn’t that I don’t ‘support choice’ or that I’m ‘against’ public education. I just think that with the example we already have of a taxpayer-supported public education empire, that the ‘bigger voice’ of that near-monopoly could totally eclipse homeschooling. I wonder about the fading of the independence that was inherent in the word ‘homeschooling’ when the choice first caught the national imagination. I hope that it won’t come to pass that the word ‘homeschooling’ will change so much that it will be commonly understood as ‘school-at-home-with-oversight.’ To get a feeling for the change in how the word could be understood, trying singing the Civil War tune, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”
- The men will cheer, and the boys will shout, the ladies they will all turn out.
And we’ll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.
How do contemporary children understand “we’ll all feel gay?”
Gee, if I reprinted “The Owl and the Pussycat” here, how many Google hits do you think this post would get?
I’ve been told either that word change is inevitable (close your eyes and think of England), or that the chances that independence will disappear from the meaning of homeschooling are low.
Still, I wonder.
No Child Left Behind Homeschool, 16 July 2007, Homeschool 2.0 Blog
Homeschooled students in Alaska who are part of a public homeschool program are required to sit for the Standards Based Assessments (SBA’s). That includes most of the homeschooling families in the state.
The irony is that Alaska has one of the most hands-off homeschool laws in the country, and was used as a ‘worst-case example’ by Kimberly Yuracko in her recent paper, “Illiberal Education.”
Sec. 14.30.010. When attendance compulsory.
(a) Every child between seven and 16 years of age shall attend school at the public school in the district in which the child resides during each school term. Every parent, guardian or other person having the responsibility for or control of a child between seven and 16 years of age shall maintain the child in attendance at a public school in the district in which the child resides during the entire school term, except as provided in (b) of this section.
(b) This section does not apply if a child …
(12) is being educated in the child’s home by a parent or legal guardian.
Consider, for example, Alaska, one of the most explicitly hands-off states with regard to homeschooling. Alaska exempts homeschooled students from its compulsory education laws and imposes no subject matter or testing requirements on homeschooled students. 34 “Homeschooling” of virtually any sort is legal under Alaska law.
Despite the liberty provided by Alaskan law, the blogger at the Homeschool 2.0 Blog says that most of the ‘homeschooling’ families in Alaska participate in public ‘homeschool’ programs that require testing of the children.
Given this trend, how long before common use of the virtual/cyber/distance learning providers becomes law as is happening with preschool, and as happened with school? How long before the ‘public homeschooling industry’ ‘provides’ all ‘homeschooling’ families with the ‘service’ of continuous observation?
Snaring cheaters long distance Webcam flags suspicious noises, movements by online test-takers, 24 June 2007, Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas
This fall, Troy University in Alabama will begin rolling out the new camera technology for many of its roughly 11,000 online students, about a third of whom are at U.S. military installations around the world.
It locks down a computer while the test is being taken, preventing students from searching files or the Internet, and the latest version also includes fingerprint authentication, to help ensure the person taking the test isn’t a ringer.
But the new development is a small Webcam and microphone set up where a student takes the exam.
The camera points into a reflective ball, which allows it to capture a full 360-degree image.
When the exam begins, the device records audio and video. Software detects significant noises and motions and flags them in the recording.
The attitude of some in the general public can be seen in articles about virtual schools. This one was in my morning paper last week.
As new virtual schools open in Kansas, questions remain, 23 July 2007, Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri
The state doesn’t have a prototypical virtual school. Some serve just high school students, others offer classes for kindergarten through high school. Some target home-schooled students, others students at risk of dropping out. Some restrict their enrollment to students within the school district boundaries, others recruit across the state.
High schoolers are ‘served,’ other kids are ‘offered’ classes, schools ‘recruit,’ but homeschoolers and at-risk students (funny how they’re in the same sentence) are ‘targeted.’
Instead of being a gate-keeper of homeschooling, I hope my work is that of being a gate-opener.
posted by Valerie
homeschooling, home education, Alaska homeschooling, public school at home, homeschool oversight