In September, a newspaper’s fancies turns to thoughts of school. It must be because Congress isn’t in session, the President’s on vacation and there is still square-paperage to be filled. That’s what the subscribers are paying for.
I’ve got yesterday’s small weekly paper sitting here on my desk, and only just found out that it’s also online, so I’m taking the easy way out this time in finding fodder for the column by letting it come to me, and rolling up a letter to the editor with this column. The article is the first of the three-parter, so we’ll have to wait to see what the next two weeks bring.
All in all, the coverage is well-done, so kudos to the reporter for that, but a few minor niggles still appear, as they invariably do. Where would commentators be without niggles upon which to comment? (unemployed, that’s where)
- Democrat-Missourian, Cass County, Missouri, 26 August 2005, Home Schooling On The Rise
According to Families for Home Education, which is based in Grandview, an estimated 1.6 to 2 million children are being taught in the home by their parents. And home schooling is growing at 11 percent per year.
We all know that the ‘number’ of homeschooled kids is of continuous concern to those who watch these kinds of things. Still, to assign a specific growth-percentage to a porous pigeonhole clouds the reality that homeschoolers are merely those parts of the general public that have chosen to privately home educate–this year. There is also the reality that in some states homeschooling is growing, while in others, it seems to be slimming. There isn’t so much a growth in educational style, but more of a migration between systems.
Then there is the perennial legal concern.
- State statutes also require parents who home school to maintain records of subjects taught, activities engaged in, samples of the childs academic work with evaluations and a written log showing the hours required under attendance. Unlike other states, Missouri does not have an annual testing requirement for home schoolers. [emphasis added]
Just as an anecdotal aside, my three kids weren’t ‘tested’ until they took the SAT … after they received their ‘high school’ diplomas. (they did fine, and are doing fine, just like their older, publicly-schooled brother)
Some parents find that daily life with their children keeps them well-informed about how well their children are assimilating information deemed necessary for growing into productive, self-sustaining adult citizens. Other families may decide that they like testing–perhaps the children view the testing as an enjoyable game, and for them, three cheers! In a voluntary situation it comes down to "different strokes for different folks" (an antique phrase that’s still valid)
Then there is the sacrifice concern:
- Home schooling is not for wimps, Bird said. It takes time, hard work, perseverance, discipline, especially for the educator, being able to handle frustration and a great deal of sacrifice. You have to put your child before your wants. It may mean sacrificing a job for money that would be used for nonessentials and being able to have time alone.
I always find this argument out in left field because, through all our military moves, I held just one full-time job, for one year, in a civilian personnel office (I don’t count my later stint as a GS-2 lunchroom & playground monitor–yes, the government has a GS-rating for lunchladies and meanies with a whistle). We didn’t have a lot of *stuff,* but the photos from those times don’t show undernourished, blank-eyed waifs with aluminum plates begging on the street, any more than the photos from my childhood do. So we didn’t have everything, who does?
- Parents must be dedicated to their home schools and minimize distractions that may interrupt the school day, she said. It is important to be organized, disciplined and have a plan for success.
I viewed the experience as a marvelous adventure, not as an exercise in discipline. Where someone else apparently sees hard work, perseverance and discipline, I saw the longest, funnest hooky I ever played. Distractions were what we lived for. I wasn’t so much an ‘educator’ as an unindicted co-conspirator, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It reminds me of the description of life at the Yahoo group of one of my husband’s former co-workers, "Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, ‘… Holy crap … what a ride!"
I look forward to the next two reports on ‘home schooling.’ I hope there are fewer niggles.