Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NEA Dislikes Homeschooling

Wow! Shocking news. The National Education Association recently passed this resolution/statement on home education. Not surprising, they favor government regulation of this educational lifestyle:
The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.

The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1998, 2006).
Being a faith-based homeschooler who desires as little connection as possible with the public school and little (or, preferably, no) government regulation of home education, I have a problem with the implication that my daughter needs to study a state-mandated curricula and take state-mandated tests, and that I need to be licensed by the state in order to teach. I also disagree with the idea that homeschooling cannot provide my daughter with a comprehensive educational experience. Just examine our 2007-2008 instructional plan.

Beyond that, I am ok with their point of view. I, too, believe that parents should teach only their own children and that families should carry the financial burden for their educational choice. No government payments should be given to homeschoolers and no hired tutors should be permitted to do all the teaching while both parents maintain full-time employment. As for the school, I believe that if each state is to retain their authority under the Constitution per education, then local school districts are certainly within their rights to determine graduation standards for their students and to set rules for participation in their extracurricular activities. Let government schools be governed by the government and homeschools be governed by homeschoolers.

Apparently, what was more upsetting to some home educators was the NEA resolution/statement on diversity:
The National Education Association believes that a diverse society enriches all individuals. Similarities and differences among race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, geographic location, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, physical ability, size, occupation, and marital, parental, or economic status form the fabric of a society.

The Association also believes that education should foster the values of appreciation and acceptance of the various qualities that pertain to people as individuals and as members of diverse populations.

The Association further believes in the importance of observances, programs, and curricula that accurately portray and recognize the roles, contributions, cultures, and history of these diverse groups and individuals.
My guess is that these words were disconcerting because they did not recognize educational choice as one of the similarities or differences that “form the fabric of society;” nor did the choice to homeschool come up to the NEA standard of “appreciation and acceptance of the various qualities that pertain to people…as members of diverse populations.” This was aptly demonstrated by the aforementioned anti-homeschooling resolution.

Personally, I don’t much care if the NEA recognizes or validates my educational choice, or if they are blind to the fact that educational choice does contribute to “the fabric of society.” In the end, the NEA is nothing more than a labor union. It is not a regulatory body of the United States government; it is an employee organization. Knowing that, why should I, as a homeschooler, be concerned with their policy platform? And, really, that is all their resolutions constitute…a policy platform.

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