HST Notes, California, the Olympics, homeschoolers at school and the gifted

Update: This week’s show is posted, but there is some dead air at the beginning of the program after the intro.  Once I got the sound working, I didn’t realize it was working so you can listen to the introduction twice, at least until I have time to edit it.  If you fast forward to about ten minutes into the program, you will have sound.

Home School Talk Notes

Join me Monday, August 18 at 1PM CST to discuss news, homeschooling “as it should be” and homeschooling the child with special needs.

Coming feature: The show should soon be available via iTunes.  My understanding is that it can take up to a week to be included and may not immediately show up in searches, but I will announce as soon as the show is there.

Last week’s show (8/11/08), available here:  Home School Talk, The Gifted Child

I.  California Appellate Court ruling regarding homeschooling

The first article I read regarding the decision actually popped up in my feedreader from OneNewsNow, a conservative Christian news site.  After summarizing the case, I focused on the closing paragraph of their report.

Farris says groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, Liberty Counsel, HSLDA, and Focus on the Family teamed up and were armed with new information that compelled the court to uphold parents’ constitutional right to educate their children at home.  OneNewsNow

From the beginning of this case, I was impressed by the ability of so many disparate groups to work together for one common goal.  HSLDA and the three statewide California homeschool associations were even able to issue a joint statement showing their commitment to the preservation of homeschool liberties for all.  But suddenly, now that the case is over, the only ones of relevance are conservative, Christian groups?  Rather than commending the efforts of California homeschoolers, all recognition goes to a handful of national interest groups.  Annoying, and I’m not even from California.

II.  The Olympics

In 2004, the US diving team failed to bring home a medal for the first time in 96 years, raising concerns that perhaps the program needed to change.  One of the biggest challenges the team faced was the fact that US athletes tend to train part time whereas athletes in other countries train full time.  The answer?  Homeschooling.

USA Diving established a national training center three years ago in Indianapolis and continued to identify young and talented athletes.  Wingfield and Chen started to sell athletes and their families on the idea of training full-time and being home-schooled.  JCOnline (original article removed)

For students who see homeschooling as a sacrifice to be made for their Olympic dreams, they seem to be doing pretty well.

My daughter also had a comment on the story, but you will need to listen to the show to hear her (along with her lovely introduction to the show, of course!)

Links for lessons:

Summer Olympics 2008 Lapbook

Debbie’s Digest, with a variety of links and information

III.  An Unschooled Child’s View of School

This was a brief discussion of Kevin Snavley’s essay “Education From the Free Eye,” and included some thoughts on the introduction, which I discussed here last week in A homeschooled child’s view of school.

IV.  Gifted education

My guest this week was Susan of Life on the Planet who spoke from her experience homeschooling a gifted child.

If you have questions, comments, show ideas or would like to be on the show, please email my at homeschooltalkshowATgmailDOTcom.  Or leave a comment here.  Also, if you have any lessons you would like to share or have come across, let me know.  I would like to at least occasionally feature lesson plans and unit studies, especially when they are relevant to the news of the day.

A homeschooled child’s view of school

Over on Snavley Freebirds is an interesting essay written by a young man who has always been unschooled until he decided to try a year of public school as a freshman, Education from the Free Eye.  It presents an interesting perspective of schooling and education from the experience of someone who has stood on both sides of it.  The entire essay is worth reading, but a statement made in the introduction by one of his parents particularly caught my attention:

I regret that he felt that I talked about public school as a “bad thing” because I really didn’t mean to portray it as “bad”. I often countered (or defended) my stance to unschool and often mentioned some of the negatives about public school and he took that as my thinking it was ALL bad.

My daughter frequently asks questions about school, why we homeschool and why other people do not.  The second question is for me the easiest; the other two are too easy to misrepresent to a child who has no point of reference other than what her parents tell her.  Interestingly, however, if you ask my daugther what she likes about homeschooling, her answer will focus on what is wrong with public schools, a system she has never set foot in.  Her criticisms are true, in a caricatured sense, but without experience to draw from they come across as rather comical to me.  I know that she doesn’t really know what she is talking about, and regret that out of all our conversations, these few points against the public school system seem to have stuck in her mind.

When my husband and I talk about the homogenizing affect of schooling, most people would recognize in that criticism a tendency and a challenge of going through the school system, not an absolute rule that the system turns out only automatons of the state.  And while I have heard that term as well, I think it is used and understood largely as hyperbole, although I know there are those who do mean it in a more literal sense.  My daughter, on the other hand, does not have the benefit of experience or study and she hangs on my words.

I am like a translator between two worlds:  her homeschooling world, and the somewhat mysterious school world which seems so normal to everyone but her.  I don’t want her to grow up with the same sort of stereotyped view of the school system which so many in our society seem to possess of homeschooling.  I also don’t want her to go off and explain her limited view with “My mom said…”

It has made me a little more conscious of how I talk about school around my daughter.  But it also makes me curious.  How do you answer these questions?  And have you noticed your children coming away with a somewhat distorted view of what school is based on your discussions regarding education?

Hat tip:  Just Enough and Nothing More

Cons of homeschooling

This list is from an article which appeared in TCPalm out of Florida.  The article itself is actually quite good, and even refers to the sozialization problem as a myth.  But it ends with some summary information, and I guess for the sake of “balance” included some cons to homeschooling.

  • Parents have a much greater role in their children’s academic life.
  • Curriculum and home-schooling resources can get expensive.
  • Some children have trouble adjusting from school to home school.
  • There is less available free time for parents.
  • Providing adequate instruction for advanced or gifted children can be difficult.  TCPalm

Parental involvement as the first con of homeschooling?  Who is this a con for?  The parent?  The child?  The system?  I want to know because every study I know of researching the topic concludes that parental involvement is the number one indicator for academic success, regardless of socioeconomic status.  I personally believe that is why homeschooling parents with a GED seem to be able to educate their children well enough to out perform public schools.  It isn’t that the schools are that bad.  It is that parental involvement is that important.

Even the NEA recognizes the importance, but of course won’t draw the obvious conclusion.  In fact, a year ago (also in a Florida paper) Barbara Stein of the NEA stated:

“There are concerns about deputizing whoever happens to be at the kitchen table as a teacher.”

It is actually an amusing quote in a police state sort of way.  Who is the sheriff deputizing me?

The next three cons are really pretty normal, and a consideration for anyone wanting to homeschool.  There are ways to alleviate each concern, but they are still factors to consider, especially if you are removing your child from a school environment.

Point five is true, I guess, but teaching advanced and gifted children is difficult no matter the setting.  In schools, they are often trapped.  Hence the high drop out rates of gifted children.  But that we shall be discussing at greater length on Home School Talk today at 1PM CST, so please join me and Susan of Life on the Planet!

Update: The show is up, with only a minor glitch at the end.  A little about the California decision, the Olympics, how we talk about school to our children and and unschooler who went to school.  And of course Susan discussing gifted education!

And the piece de resistance…my daughter introducing the show and making a brief comment on one of the stories.  It is so much more enjoyable when the technology just works.

Good news for California homeschoolers

The California Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of homeschoolers earlier today.  The entire decision is available here, but a few excerpts.

Most important, of course, is the actual decision.

We will conclude that:  1) California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education; and 2) the statutory permission to home school may constitutionally be overidden in order to protect the safety of a child who has been declared dependent.

No arguments from me there!

I found this part interesting, which goes into the confusion and explains why the court ruled as it did.

Thus, as of that time, given the history of the statutes and the Legislature’s implied concurrence in the case law interpreting them, the conclusion that home schooling was not permitted in California would seem to follow.  However, subsequent developments in the law call this conclusion into question.  Although the Legislature did not amend the statutory scheme so as to expressly permit home schooling, more recent enactments demonstrate an apparent acceptance by the Legislature of the proposition that home schooling is taking place in California, with home schools allowed as private schools.  Recent statutes indicate that the Legislature is aware that some parents in California home school their children by declaring their homes to be private schools.  Moreoer, several statutory enactments indicate a legislative approval of home schooling, by exempting home schools from requirements otherwise applicable to private schools.

We are therefore confronted with:  1) compulsory education statutes which were apparently intended to eliminate the permission previously granted to home school; and 2) later enactments which reflect the Legislature’s understanding that the compulsory education statutes permit home schooling, as a species of private school education.  Under these circumstances, it is our view that the proper course of action is to interpret the earlier statutes in light of the later ones, and to recognize, as controlling, the Legislature’s apparent acceptance of the proposition that home schools are permissible in California when conducted as private schools.

And of course there is this very important bit, which I have no disagreement with.

Because the United States Supreme Court has held that parents possess a constitutional right to direct the education of their children, it argued that any restriction on home schooling is a violation of this constitutional right.  We disagree.  We conclude that an order requiring a dependent child to attend school outside the home in order to protect that child’s safety is not an unconstitutional violation of the parents’ right to direct the education of their children.

Because if you have abused your children, you lose some rights.  The state, in my view, needs some form of probable cause and in this case, they seemed to have it.  Abuse cannot be tolerated, and I have no problems declaring that families with a history of sustained allegations of abuse cannot homeschool.

Book discussion on Homeschool: And American History

In an earlier post, I had mentioned hosting a book discussion on Dr. Milton Gaither’s book, Homeschool:  An American History and we shall finally get started with that.

Circle Reader, who knows much more about this sort of thing than I, suggested bringing out some broad themes rather than going through the book chapter by chapter, but there really are eight themes, neatly organized into eight chapters.  Since the central thesis is that homeschooling has meant different things in our culture at different times, it seems only logical to me to look at each of these trends on their own.  Which means one chapter at a time.

I have decided I will put up a chapter summary over the weekend, and then respond with my thoughts the following Friday, along with links to all other participating blogs.  It could get interesting when we get to the modern history of homeschooling.  Hopefully those I have spoken with thus far who have objected to his portrayal of these events will have time to contribute to the discussion.  They have thus far been on the so-called “open communion” side, but then I haven’t talked to anyone who would be considered a “closed communion homeschooler,” has read the book and has been homeschooling long enough to remember any of these events.  When I read the book the first time, I knew no one would likely be particularly happy with the portrayal, but we’ll see where that discussion leads, I guess.

Barring the unforeseen, here is the plan for the next few weeks:

Week of August 17: The Family State, 1600-1776

Week of August 24: The Family Nation, 1776-1860

Week of August 30: The Eclipse of the Fireside, 1865-1930

Week of September 7: Why Homeschooling Happened, 1945-1990

Week of September 14: Three Homeschooling Pioneers

Week of September 21: The Changing of the Guard, 1983-1998

Week of September 28: Making it Legal

Week of October 5: Homeschooling and the Return of Domestic Education, 1998-2008

I am looking forward to reading your thoughts and reactions to the book!  You can also listen to my interview with Dr. Gaither on my radio show.  The interview starts about half way through the program.