Monday, November 12, 2007

NEA against children

Please sign this petition protesting the National Education Association's resolution against homeschooling. Please send this link to all your friends and ask them to sign it, too. If you want to know why I think you should do this, please read the rest of this post.

The National Education Association has made it their official policy that they oppose homeschooling.

Now, if you look at their website, there's really nothing there that would make you suspect that they would be irrational on the subject. They're strong advocates for public schooling. That's good. I'm sure we'd all like to see public schools as the shining beacons of enlightenment and education that they have the potential to be.

Would we, however, advocate for improving schools by forbidding private schools? I think not. That would be crazy. So why is it OK to attack what is, in essence, the most private of schools, the homeschool? (In fact, legally, there is no homeschooling in California. Here, students are either enrolled in a very small private school, such as the Aquitaine Academy, or they are doing private home study through a charter school, such as Ocean Grove.) It's clear, however, that the institution of children being educated in the home by their parents is what the NEA's resolution opposes:

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.

This statement about licensure really gets me, because with all due respect to the many fine teachers out there, my perception of the licensure process is that it filters out all the individuals who are too intelligent to jump through its many hoops in order to make a lousy salary at a job that has been reduced to enforcing discipline in oversized classes while force-feeding children information to be regurgitated later on tests. Or, to put it another way, I've known plenty of teachers who were both a) not very bright, b) not well educated, or c) both. Especially about math. Don't get me started about math education in elementary schools.

Here's another problematic sentence:

Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians.

Goodbye, homeschool coops! Yet coops are one of the best ways for homeschool children to work together (socialization, anyone?). They are an extremely effective piece of the puzzle for many homeschooling families.


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

This just seems flat-out mean. Homeschooling parents pay taxes, just like anyone, they are doing the best they can for their kids, just like anyone. To me it makes no sense to say they should be shut out completely, just because their families feel that they would do best academically in the home rather than the classroom environment. If public schools are so all-fired great, shouldn't we be trying to get them involved there, to the degree that we can, for their own good?

Tellingly, if you examine the pdf document of their 2007-08 resolutions, the section on homeschooling is under the heading:


Which goes, I think, to the heart of their objection to homeschooling. It has little to do with the welfare of homeschooled children. Any objective look at homeschooling will reveal that homeschooled children are as non-homogeneous a population as you would expect any group to be. Some thrive, some don't. Some excel academically, others don't. Is there some reason that homeschoolers should be required to outperform public school students?

So if it's not about the welfare of children, what's it about? Funding. Homeschooled children take funding away from public schools when they don't park their little behinds down in a classroom. Theoretically, this should be a zero-sum situation. They don't bring in money, but schools aren't spending anything on them either. Apparently, though, it doesn't work that way. According to the NEA, homeschooled children are a threat to public school funding.

Which lead us to resolution B-75, Homeschooling, right after B-74, Classroom use of Animals. These people have a policy for everything. And this huge, unwieldy document that contains their resolutions also serves to illustrate my huge problem with their organization, and with public schools in general. Way too many people, so weighted down by their collective concerns that life becomes unliveable. People going to school, becoming experts, paying lip service to my role in my child's life while telling me that they really know best.

To reiterate:

My children would NOT be better off in public school.

I did not bring them into the world in order to funnel tax dollars into the public schools.

I categorically reject the notion that state licensure of teachers creates individuals who know more about what's best for my children than I do.

I support the right of all children to public education, and I just as firmly support the right of my children to the private education that I am willing and able to provide to them.

Here is the link again.

Please sign.



Blogger Jennifer said...

That is ridiculous. I signed the petition. Argh.

12:04 PM  
Blogger zelda said...

Well, I started to leave a comment but it was insanely long so forgive me for turning this into a spin-off blog post.

Bottom line: absurd and alarming.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Thank you both. Jennifer, I especially appreciate the support since you have your kids in public schools.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

I signed too.

Which reminds me... last week I spoke with a mom (her son is in Audrey's class) and I asked how her older son was doing. She reminded me that she had 3 sons. (The youngest is at LA, the oldest at Holy Spirit, the middle is being home schooled.) I was wondering about the middle. She said that he was doing great. Catching up on his lessons, right where he should be etc… (He had been in public school the year prior.)

My point is this. She has discovered, through trial and error, which school program (be it public, private, or home-based) each son responds to successfully. When it comes to school, every parent should have options.

7:43 PM  

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