Archive for Tuesday, August 14, 2012

State board discusses home-schooling requirements

August 14, 2012


— Several Kansas State Board of Education members on Tuesday said they are hearing reports of children being kept home to babysit younger siblings while their parents claim they are being home schooled.

Board chairman David Dennis of Wichita said the state needs more information on home schools to ensure that children are being taught.

Dennis said there are examples of great home schools in Kansas, but he had heard from public school principals of instances where a parent will keep a teenager home “for day care for the other kids.” Then after a couple of years, the teen returns to public school, several years behind, Dennis said.

Dennis suggested perhaps the board should propose legislation to increase the state reporting requirements for home schoolers.

But board member Ken Willard of Hutchinson said he has heard no complaints about home schooling. “It would be premature to try to push legislation at this point,” Willard said.

Board member Sally Cauble of Liberal said she would rather “engage in a conversation” with home schoolers before deciding what, if any, action the board should take.

The board agreed to discuss the issue more at its next meeting in September.

Kansas doesn’t specifically authorize home schooling, but it does recognize what are called “non-accredited private schools.” Non-accredited schools are not required to employ teachers who are certified by the state, but their courses must be taught by competent instructors, and classes must be held for about the same number of days as public schools.

The only requirement to have a non-accredited private school is to register the name and address of the school and custodian of school records with the State Board of Education.


gccs14r 5 years, 9 months ago

How about having the homeschool kids take an online assessment exam once a year to gauge progress? If the parents don't have/can't afford a computer, have the kid take the assessment at the library or local school. Fail grade-appropriate assessment twice in succession and the kid has be enrolled in an accredited school the following year.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

Rather than having them take standardized tests or mandating that they go back to school, they could just require some light paperwork to document that they're covering school things and not babysitting things.

There are lots of parents who decide to homeschool to take their kids out of the test, test, test environment.

gccs14r 5 years, 9 months ago

There is a big difference betweeen test, test, test and having one annual assessment. Just because some people think there is too much testing doesn't mean there should be no testing.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

While that's true, that's presupposing that they're weighting learning the same way the standardized test does. If they decide to emphasize reading over math for a year and then loop around or use some "unschooling" curriculum that doesn't teach the child to be very good at guessing bubble answers in a fill in the blank test, they're not going to score as well, but they may very well be better educated in the long run. A kid going to a private school may very well bomb two "grade level tests" in a row, too. As long as we're cool with unaccredited private schools that want to deemphasize reading for the first several years, why should we put homeschoolers to a higher standard?

I'm fine with letting parents pick their own way as long as they have some light documentation to show that they're making an effort to actually teach the kids and not using them as a daycare service. That was the original complaint, right?

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't think "making an effort" to teach is enough.

We want children to actually be well educated, don't we?

bishc01 5 years, 9 months ago

While I can't speak for all home schoolers, I know that we keep ALL of the English and composition papers our kids write, all of the end-of-level tests from the math curriculum, all the tests for the geography, history, science, and social studies curriculum in a portfolio for each child at every grade level. My wife and I have set a pass fail level of 80% correct on the written tests, or for our children to demonstrate orally that they know and UNDERSTAND the material presented. We keep attendance records and a journal for each child to document how they respond to the material presented, We go to school the entire year, usually with breaks of a week or two every three months, with an emphasis on starting a new grade level at the same time the local school does. We use documentaries, museums, the great outdoors, and anything else we can to teach and educate our kids. We created and taught a citizenship class to help our kids understand civic duty and pride in our country regardless of political affiliation. We bust our back sides to make sure we exceed the public school standards, and we document as much as possible so we could send our kids back if that was the right choice for our family. I shudder to think that any "test" of a homeschool parent would really become a test of parenting ability and from there a test of whether people should be allowed to become parents.
I would like to remind everyone, that this country now ranks 25th or worse in math and science...when I graduated in 1990 we were still ranked third, if I remember correctly. We home school because we want to give our chidlren the best possible education. While there are many wonderful, dedicated teachers in the public education system, they cannot offer any child the focused learning that home schooling parents can. And while more money has been poured in the public education system every year for the past 2 decades, graduating students retain less general knowledge, lack more basic skills and have more trouble communicating verbally and in writing than students graduating pre-1990. Lack of discipline in the classrooms & an entitled attitude fostered in public education (participation trophies, prohibition of competition & promotion of the idea that everything should be "fair") does not prepare our children for reality once they are out of school.
There may be examples of people who claim to home school their children but do not put the effort necessary to actually teach them. But the majority of home school families are dedicated to not only educating their children academically, but also to building strong, creative, well-rounded people who will be productive members of society. Most of our country's founding fathers were home schooled, as was the majority of society around the world until public education became available just over a century ago.

ThePilgrim 5 years, 9 months ago

This is a non-issue. Many homeschool kids have switched to K-12 online learning, which is fully funded and taught by the public schools, but simply online. And the schools don't have any problems with the kids staying home for this curriculum. It would be just as easy to do the K-12 online learning in spare time and still be watching after the younger siblings in the background.

BTW - I am a fan of the K-12 program. I have friends who have pulled their kids out of the public schools to do K-12. The students stay more focused without the bullying, peer pressure, and hormonal circus. And their kids have scored so high on tests that they easily win scholarships to college.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

The program is actually a charter school. I think it's a great resource, but not everyone who homeschools uses it.

workinghard 5 years, 9 months ago

Heck, the way things are going in Kansas, the homeschool kids are probably getting a better education than the public school kids.

Enlightenment 5 years, 9 months ago

I would like to know more about home schooling in KS so please inform me if anyone can accurately answer.......

  1. Do the parents (teachers in this case) that home school have to prove they are capable of teaching their children? Are the parents tested prior to allowing them to home school?

  2. Do the children being home schooled have benchmarks they must meet to show progress throughout the year?

  3. Are the students tested and if so by who, the parents or the education system?

  4. Do the parents pay for the educational materials (i.e. text books, examines, etc.)?


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 9 months ago

  1. Are the parents members of the NEA or other union?

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

If the kids are enrolled in the Lawrence Virtual School or some other charter in the state, they have virtual teachers, tests, benchmarks, tests, and the parents don't pay for most of the materials. They can also be kicked out of the system if their child isn't making any progress.

If the kids are not enrolled in the virtual school, the parents don't have to prove they're capable or qualified, they aren't required to meet any benchmarks, do any testing, etc, and they're responsible for their own supplies and materials.

HomeSchoolParentAndProudOfIT 5 years, 9 months ago

To Be honest... (Not to be rude)... But that isn't any of your business. Nor is it the business of the School Board. We Home school our Children and are proud of it. I would say 16 years of College Education makes me more than qualified to teach my children. However, that is a non issue. The issue is More and More people are taking their children out of the Public school environment and it is disturbing to the school board because they are loosing money. It Cost us over $800 a year to Home school our children. They take weekly, quarterly, and yearly progress tests. As well as tests at the beginning of the year to make sure they are where they should be. If the Public school kids were tested as much as our children are tested, maybe the over all grades of the public schools would come up.

Enlightenment 5 years, 9 months ago

thx for the response.

If you are correct, this seems troubling that there may be unqualified parents who are inadequately teaching their children. There are really no benchmarks or testing done by the education system?

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

I'd say neglectful parents using "homeschooling" as an excuse to use their kids to babysit is probably the exception instead of the norm. However, since we don't really have any data on it, we don't really know.

Since we could send kids to a parochial school that tells them that the sun orbits the earth or a private school that seriously believes kids shouldn't be taught to read until around age 8 and should be encouraged to believe in gnomes, I'm not going to say we need to impose harsher teacher qualifications on the homeschool set. I've known plenty of diligent homeschoolers who did a great job of working around their own subject matter deficiencies.

slider88 5 years, 9 months ago

We home schooled for 10 years in KS. Both my wife and I have four year degrees from KS colleges. We do not have a teaching certification. Our oldest son completed his schooling in the public system. He had taken the ACT while home schooled and scored a 29. The average in his HS was 21. In the public system we dealt with apathetic, tenured teachers. Some of them did truly care and did a great job. From our experience though, a good teacher, like most career positions is not based on a certification but rather if one cares and is gifted to teach!
We home schooled because we care and love our kids. Our desire is to be part of their lives until they step out on their own. ALL venues of schooling have their strengths and weakness. I would encourage we tread lightly and caution against generalizing homeschooling. And by the way. I still have to pay the same taxes and mill levies you do AND THEN pay for curriculum out of my pocket. We are not affluent or live comfortably.

HomeSchoolParentAndProudOfIT 5 years, 9 months ago

No, because then it would not be homeschooling. Do some research. there is plenty of evidence out there to show that Home School children place higher on tests than public school children. The reason being... If they are using a good curriculum, they are pushed by both the parents and the curriculum to excel.

LadyJ 5 years, 9 months ago

If you know for a fact a child is not being properly homeschooled, a simple call to child protective services or SRS will take care of the problem. I saw one case where the parent was made to return the children to school when it was determined the children were not being educated or they would remove them from the home.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

Since they are technically truant, the schools should report them each fall just in case. Case workers don't bother the ones who try. The white slavers, free babysitting, stay home and work in the house types will generally get caught.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't believe there is a need for legislation. There is over reaction taking place considering there is no hard evidence.

Home schooled children are tested daily. Everyday the parent knows exactly how the child is moving along. Unlike most other educating situations.

There are many many home school curriculums available. I am not aware of any that do not monitor. Leavenworth for instance assigns students to a "teacher" who goes to homes periodically to monitor the situation with tests etc etc etc. This is a Calvert curriculum.

USD 497 online has an extensive "teaching " program.

" hearing reports of children being kept home to babysit younger siblings while their parents claim they are being home schooled." Need way more than this like hard evidence. Then the local school district and parents resolve the matter accordingly.

Oak Meadow out of Vermont hires educators which are assigned students/families. Oak Meadow has students worldwide. Online and phone contacts keep student and educators in touch. This is an excellent program. My wife was an educator for this school for a few years and had a family in Russia.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

No new law is good. In rare cases force the truancy issue. Most parents who want this do pretty well. Tutoring is always the best teaching model; that's why the emperors used it. HS parents network well. Leave them alone.

paulveer 5 years, 9 months ago

No! We don't have the right to take funds from public schools, which is where it would come from. I was happy to home-school my children because we wanted something different for them, but I wouldn't dream of asking the system to fund my choices. Instead, I would ask for more funding for public schools, so that fewer people (like me) would see them as lacking.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

How about no. You also don't get a tax break for not having school age children.

Centerville 5 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't Dale Dennis have a big, fat conflict of interest on this issue? He's in charge of the education bureaucracy and a huge devotee of throwing tax money away.
I agree with Cauble and Willard: Dennis been there way, way past his retire date and no one is taking his manuvers seriously (except, as usual, Scott Rothschild).

bevy 5 years, 9 months ago

You are confusing Dale Dennis, Deputy Commissioner at KSDE with David Dennis, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education. Two different people, as far as I know not related to one another.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

True. Dale Dennis is a state treasure . Look up his bio. Go see him . He would love to talk about school.

Cassie Powell 5 years, 9 months ago

I feel home shooling can be a great thing for the kids. It would allow them more time with their families and people that truly care about them. It would also eliminate the bullying. However like with most good things, there is always a bad... My niece who got pregnant at 14 because her mom kept her at home to clean house and cook and "home schooled" her is now trying to home school her 3 boys and she doesn't even have a high school diploma. Maybe she could teach them up until 7th grade where she dropped out, but what then? As long as the parents have some regulations like high school diploma, monthly/yearly evaluations on campus so that the "child" is actually the one taking the test to prove they are learning and penalties applied so that the children aren't just built in sitters, homemakers would be great ideas. It should be a parents choice yes, but it should also be "for the childs best interest".

Paul R Getto 5 years, 9 months ago

The best and worse schools are home schools. Kansas has such liberal rules there is no way to tell which is which. Most parents do a pretty good job; most kids go back when they get old enough to like boys/girls and sports.

mykidsmom 5 years, 9 months ago

I was educated in one of the worst performing states in the US, and went on to get a bachelor's degree in teaching. After teaching two years, I decided the politics and all the other "fun stuff" involved with "teaching" was just not something I could do for 30 years. About 10 years later, I began homeschooling my first child in the state of KS. Since then I have homeschooled both kids as a single mom for 6 years, putting them in public school for one year while I worked as a para. Being back in the school was mind boggling. We promptly returned home for the next school year and I vowed to never do that again. What I personally saw were teachers who passed out worksheets everyday while they played on the computer/ cell phone; teachers who were too tired or worn out to teach over the incessant chatter of the kids; pushovers who let the kids run class; children who were out of control; kids getting bullied on the playground while the monitors chatted away. I could go on. And THIS was a "School of Excellence!" Everyone knows there is good and bad in everything. I suggest the BOE focus on THEIR problem and not someone else's. For those of you worrying about taxes and homeschoolers pulling money out of your "system..." I can tell you, money will NOT fix anything. And the more kids who go home for school, the more education money that is available for YOUR kid, not to mention, there will be smaller class sizes. I know you don't get that, but it's not the homeschoolers' faults that the government doles out the money the way it does. Eventually, there will be MORE per pupil available for YOUR child to get that crappy education at public school.

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