Friday, March 14, 2008

Homeschooling Controversy

I'm sure anyone who reads the news is aware of the controversy in California over homeschooling. About 166,000 homeschooling families in CA may be forced to send their children to public school because a CA court declared that teachers must be "credentialed." This means the average parent would not be "qualified" to teach their own child.

As a homeschooling mom and a former resident of CA this really disgusts me. Of course, I'm also not very pleased about any government involvement in decisions that should be personal for my own family. To insist that parents are not capable of educating their own children is absurd. How dare the government try to place unnecessary restrictions on homeschooling parents.

I'm not totally against public schools. I went to one myself. However, I know from firsthand experience that a public school is NOT capable of meeting the needs of many (most?) of the children who receive their education there. Specifically, the children who fall at either end of the spectrum will not get the best education. These are the children with special needs or learning disabilities and the children who are gifted and learn quickly.

I had a few wonderful teachers during my years in school but there were far more who were mediocre at best. As the years passed I became more and more bored with the easy curriculum which led to behavior issues. Even when I attended a separate school for gifted students I was not challenged to the full extent of my capabilities. In any given classroom you will have a broad range of abilities among students, even those that have been classified as learning disabled or gifted. No teacher is capable of meeting the needs of 20-30 students. The teacher reaches the "average" children and the ones who are slower or faster learners will struggle.

A homeschooling parent has the unique ability to cater their curriculum to their children's needs. They have a smaller student to teacher ratio. They KNOW their children better than anyone else. They understand how they learn best and what interests them.

The mess in CA makes me even more determined to stay away from the states where homeschooling is more regulated by the government. Before I had children I considered becoming a teacher myself so that I could reach the students like myself who were lost in the public school system. Then I realized that I would never be able to help those children because teachers lack the resources and abilities to do so. I decided then that I would instead teach my own children. At home. (And now I'll have my own full classroom!)

Check out this article, "California" Giving Homeschoolers the Shaft." It really sheds some light on the battle between the teachers' unions and the homeschooling community. One of the things that most irritated me when reading it was the reminder of how homeschoolers pay property taxes that fund the public schools that their children don't even attend. We pay over $1200 each year to the public schools. That's about 2/3 of our property tax that goes to a school district that my children will never attend. Hardly seems fair!
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