...
Home Schooling Crisis

“We have always believed that our people can stand on no higher ground than the school ground, or can enter any more hopeful room than the classroom. We blend time and faith and knowledge in our schools – not only to create educated citizens, but also to shape the destiny of this great Republic.”

Lyndon B. Johnson, Texas Educator, US Senator, and 36th President of the United States

“It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.”

Mark Twain, American author, and Lecturer

“The path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling, and I think that parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices cannot compete, and cannot come at the expense of what has been — and what must always be — the great equalizer in our society, a free and equal public education.”

Howard Dean, American Politician

“Public education is a great instrument of social change. Through it, if we so desire, we can make our country more nearly a democracy without classes. To do so will require the efforts of us all-teachers, administrators, taxpayers and statesmen. Education is a social process, perhaps the most important process in determining the future of our country; it should command a far larger portion of our national income than it does today.”

James Bryant Conant, American educator and scientist, and President of Harvard University


Introduction

Home Schooling Crisis

Home Schooling Crisis briefly discusses the pros and cons for the United States as a whole in creating a common social structure for collective governance. I write as a retired professor of language and literacy affiliated with and advocate of engaged public education where what we call student-centered teaching and learning. I am a strong proponent of history and civic education and a follower of the idea that if students are having so much fun they don’t know what they are learning is good for them then education is successful. Some of my colleagues would substitute the word ‘engaged’ for my use of ‘fun’ in this meme.

The surge in homeschooling, once a radical choice, has sparked debates about its impact on society. While it offers families unparalleled freedom in education, concerns linger about potential dangers and the societal ramifications of a practice that separates individual families from the collective whole.

Benefits to Society: Home Schooling Crisis

Freedom in Education

Homeschooling stands as a beacon for families seeking an escape from underperforming public schools. The idea behind the movement is to enable them to craft an educational experience that mirrors their values. Of course, the question of “underperforming” is one with a historical component that is overlooked. Here I wish to add a brief history lesson. When Ronald Reagan became President of the United States, he created a commission to investigate public school failure. That commission created a pamphlet with the title A Nation at Risk. This pamphlet made the case for public education in the United States. A decentralized attempt to educate children across the nation was a failure and must be reformed.

The authors manufactured a crisis where none existed to create a need for national standards and student accountability. Also, it called for teacher accountability as well. The latter raises many questions that have yet to be answered. The main question, the one all others are inspired by is simply this; how can a professional teacher be held accountable for the achievement of a student in any meaningful manner? As a teacher, I expected to be held accountable for my preparation. Additionally, for my constant learning and pursuit of advanced degrees, and my ability to engage students. But for specific performance of individual students learning and their performance on standardized tests, I simply refused to be held accountable. I was not alone.

Home Schooling Crisis: Flexible Learning

Advocates argue for the flexibility inherent in homeschooling. They stress the ability to tailor teaching methods to individual learning styles and address specific educational needs. Of course, this raises the question; how do parents identify learning styles without a professional background?

Individualized Attention

Smaller class sizes in homeschooling facilitate personalized attention, fostering deeper understanding and accommodating diverse learning paces.

Home Schooling Crisis: Dangers to Society

Home Schooling Crisis: Isolation from Diversity

While promoting familial bonds, home schooling’s potential drawback lies in the isolation of children. Isolated from diverse perspectives, limiting exposure to varying cultures and ideas, students fare poorly in social situations.

Home Schooling Crisis: Lack of Standardization

The absence of standardized assessments raises concerns about ensuring consistent academic progress, prompting questions about the preparedness of home-schooled children for adulthood. Of course, this aspect ironically ignores the Reagan Administration’s push toward standardization.

Potential for Abuse

Instances of educational neglect or abuse may go unnoticed due to the lack of oversight, as evidenced by isolated cases involving extreme ideologies.

Home Schooling Crisis: Separation from Society

Home Schooling Crisis: Reduced Social Interaction

Home-schooled children may experience a diminished social dynamic, missing out on the diverse interactions found in traditional schools, potentially affecting their ability to navigate various social environments.

Challenges in Integration

As the home-schooling movement gains momentum, integrating home-schooled individuals into the broader societal framework becomes a challenge, potentially hindering overall social cohesion.

Home Schooling Crisis: Accountability for Academic Achievement

Home Schooling Crisis: Need for Oversight

Calls for accountability arise to ensure that home-schooled children meet academic standards, preventing potential knowledge gaps that could impact their future success.

Balancing Liberty and Responsibility

The dilemma emerges as home-schoolers grapple with the acceptance of government funding, which may lead to oversight, challenging the movement’s historic pursuit of educational freedom. Furthermore, in the late 19th century, as public schooling became the norm, the idea of public schools was to assimilate children, especially children of immigrants, into the American dream.

This goal included the teaching of history mainly focused on the history of the United States. Also included was civics education, indoctrinating students into the idea of a democratic republic and a representative form of government to which they might aspire to greatness. Furthermore, the profession of teaching in grades k-12 requires professional education in colleges of education across the nation.

Home Schooling Crisis: The Role of Religious Education

Religious education In the standard public school system, governed by state law and local ordinances and subject to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution stands outside of curriculum practice. It was clear that the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights prohibited such education. Best left to the home, alternatives to public education in the form of religious schools began to emerge. In the best interests of society as a whole, however, religious schools all taught history and civics along with their own beliefs. Home schooling’s beginnings centered on the lack of parental input into non-societal standardization. This led to the lack of parental input into their children’s education.

Home Schooler’s Solution Failing Society

The home school movement rejected the idea of professional educators in favor of the idea that parents know best about issues of education. Rejecting public education, home-schooling parents turned to rapidly forming religious groups that prepared their curriculums for home-schooling parents to follow. The result is both social and religious isolation from society as a whole.

Conclusion

As the home-schooling movement navigates this critical juncture, finding an equilibrium between liberty and accountability becomes imperative. While society benefits from diverse educational approaches, maintaining academic standards and ensuring social integration are equally vital for collective well-being. Striking this balance will determine the movement’s role in shaping a harmonious educational landscape for generations to come.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

Leave a Reply