Speaking before the education committee during in defense of LB 1141 which would place heavy restrictions on homeschooling in Nebraska, Senator Schimek said a number of things we have heard before. Nothing new to those of us who have been homeschooling and have had the opportunity to discuss it with those who disagree, but it takes on a new dimension coming from a legislator as opposed to my neighbor. This is the foundation set for this bill:
There is anecdotal evidence of homeschoolers running around during school hours with little to identify truancy.
For which she cites a meter reader who emailed her to tell her about homeschoolers running around unsupervised in his community while he is reading meters.
In discussing the bill, she also noted that the original floor debate was intended to apply to unaccredited schools, not homeschools. From the discussion, there seemed to be a desire to define homeschools as something separate from “unaccredited private schools.”
In closing, she reemphasized that she thought the state did have a prerogative and responsibility to oversee the education of all children. And she asked some questions:
How do we get empirical evidence if there is no oversight?
Do we know what is going on in parochial schools?
And some more justification:
I just want to make sure there aren’t some homeschooled students out there who can’t live in the real world.
And criticizing current law, which many of the testimonies suggested were adequate for pursuing those who truly were not educating their children:
Anybody can be a monitor, unless they are illiterate.
Nevermind that the parent determines who the monitor should be. The state, with its emphasis on certification, is certainly a better judge of a person’s ability to monitor education than the parent who may take into consideration things like character and experience, right?
Tom Vickers, a proponent of the bill and author of the original bill that has become current law had an interesting thought.
The cream rises to the top no matter the container.
So that explains all the homeschool successes which were cited, including the statistical evidence.
This seriously is the basis for this bill: anecdotal evidence and fear of what might be going on in some homeschools for the simple fact that we do not have the oversight to guarantee that it is not. My question is, how do we as homeschoolers defend ourselves not from reasoned arguments, but from this fear? It is the hypothetical few, these “weird” or uneducated homeschoolers someone in discussion always brings up, that is driving this legislation as well as public debate.
Is it possible to re-frame this debate? While we as homeschoolers tend to speak about educational liberties, most respondents say,
Yeah, but if homeschooling is so superior, why couldn’t your kid pass a math test?
Which was actually asked a few times by the senators on the education committee. This question says a lot about our assumptions regarding education and testing, but how can we answer it? Especially in a debate where anecdotal evidence is allowed to stand as researched evidence?
For more information on LB 1141, you can click on the category LB 1141 and find everything I have written so far.
[tags]homeschool, homeschooling, LB 1141, Schimek[/tags]