Archive for Sunday, August 19, 2012

Learning at home

August 19, 2012


There are many examples in Lawrence and elsewhere in Kansas of families who do an outstanding job of educating their children at home. However, the concern of some Kansas State Board of Education members that not all home school situations in the state are beneficial for students seems worthy of further discussion.

The possibility of increased reporting requirements for students who are being home-schooled was raised this week by state board members. Although board chairman David Dennis of Wichita acknowledged that there are many good home schools in the state, he also said he had been told by public-school principals of cases where students were being reported as home-schooled when they actually were being kept at home for other reasons, perhaps to care for younger siblings. In a number of cases, those students would return to public school after a period of time and be woefully behind their classmates because of the lack of instruction at home.

Dennis suggested the board consider legislation to increase state reporting requirements for home schools, which currently have a surprising lack of state oversight. Home schools are included in the non-accredited private-schools category in Kansas. By statute, those schools must register with the state and notify the school that students previously attended of their transfer so they won’t be considered truant. State law also requires students to attend school from the ages of 7 to 18, but provides little way to track the attendance or academic offerings in a home-school setting.

As noted above, many children are receiving a great education at home, but the current lack of state oversight also leaves open the possibility that some children who supposedly are being home-schooled aren’t receiving proper instruction.

A couple of state board members correctly noted that the board shouldn’t move forward on legislation that would set new reporting requirements without further studying the issue, including discussions with home-school families and organizations. The goal of any legislation should be to provide a safety net for children who are receiving inadequate instruction at home, not to upset home schools that are doing a good job.

A number of Kansas families have made the valid choice to educate their children at home. The state should respect that choice, but it also needs to make sure that children who aren’t attending public schools are being educated at home and not being kept out of school for other reasons.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

Public school is not for everyone. Neither are private schools. Neither is a homeschool.

If a person reports a family it might be a good idea to ask why? There might be a personal conflict in the mix bringing on vindictive behavior.

There are truancy laws on the books now. Who is to decide if a child is being educated? There are so many ways to educate beyond conventional means which work.

How will increased reporting requirements change anything or stop parents from keeping their children home? It won't.

Actually this is not necessary. This has been done over and over and over. There are some guidelines in place which are more than adequate. This is not new thinking.

Be armed with productive suggestions such as home school choices.

Calvert -

Oak Meadow -

Waldorf Live Education -

Accessing a college campus for classes in Natural History for example such that we have done at KU which proved to be a substantial experience for all. And a local rock club in which members are from the Geology department.

In the past USD 497 has worked in harmony with home school families.

There are numerous types of museums available in a community and the USA. KCMO metro is loaded with opportunities.

Classes in the nations national parks which are a wonderful source of education.

The Crayola FACTORY Discovery Center in Easton, PA

The Gila Cliff Dwellings in New Mexico

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument -

Union Terminal | Cincinnati Museum Center - Cincinnati's art deco masterpiece

The Franklin Institute - Philadelphia

Public Parks of Seattle or the nations zoo collection are more examples of educational resources throughout this nation.

Most everywhere we travel there is an educational opportunity. How about using the home kitchen to teach fractions?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

There is "art center" activity which involves young people from throughout a community.

tomatogrower 5 years, 10 months ago

" I think there could be some conflict if they mandate curricula for homeschooling and not local schools, though."

They do mandate curricula for local schools.

tomatogrower 5 years, 10 months ago

I do too. But mostly they have been people who think they know it all already. They think reading is for nerds. You would be surprised how many homes don't have books, magazines, or any reading matter. Their parents either could care less or let them party with the adults at an early age, providing them all the drugs and alcohol they want. Their parents let them stay up and play video games and place no bedtimes or no rules on their kids. The kids get to school and have to follow rules. Some find it a haven, where they have boundaries. Some think school is lame. The biggest predictor of success in school are the parents. Teachers can lead these kids to the river of knowledge, but how do suppose they can force them to drink?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 10 months ago

Kansas has been through this. Unfortunately some public and private school students may not measure up to the "assessment" exam as well. Home schools can register as private schools.

What then?

Most accredited home school curriculums come with education advisors all along the way to keep parents on track. And to be available when concerns surface.

Homeschooling is time consuming and not for everyone this is understood.

No new legislation or exams are necessary. Just contact the family of concern to see what might be necessary to rectify the situation. No need to panic.

Ragingbear 5 years, 10 months ago

I have met a handful of home schooled children that are doing it correctly and are far ahead of their public school peers academically (I met a 12 year old ready for her GED but the state would not allow it.) as well as socially with special programs and sport activities to address the concern about social development. However, those are the exceptions to what I see a lot of when I meet those that are home schooled.

Oftentimes religious zealots, or those trapped in the 1930's use the home school concept to enforce their ideals upon their children. Commonly this results in 18 year olds that aren't even close to being able to qualify for a GED. Women especially are hit as I met a family that home schooled their girls to "grow up to be wives" and only taught them a prolonged version of Home Economics. They barely were able to read. However, their boys went to public school(one which was well funded and had a good reputation) and were poised to graduate in good standing and prepared to enter college.

Homeschooling needs more government oversight. Requiring a type of standardized testing a few times a year may be all that is needed, providing that the children go to a government endorsed facility rather than sending the forms to the home so the parents can fill them out to make it look like their slave children are borderline geniuses.

Ragingbear 5 years, 10 months ago

Perhaps you need to read my comment again, as I listed both pros and cons of the entire home schooling system. Perhaps you aren't as informed as your sign in name suggest.

chootspa 5 years, 10 months ago

Assessments a few times a year? Even public schools only have high stakes testing once a year, and they don't start AYP measures until third grade. Requiring all these tests to be in a government-run testing environment is even more silly. Not only is that an unfunded mandate, many homeschooling parents do so to get their kids out of the high stakes testing atmosphere. What if the child has test anxiety? What if the parents elect to use an alternative assessment to gauge progress?

Parents can enroll their kids in private schools that teach (or don't teach) them all manner of nonsense. Why can't they keep them home to do the same? If the objective is to just make sure the kids aren't being neglected, some minimal documentation of curriculum, educational philosophy, and progress should be sufficient.

Ragingbear 5 years, 10 months ago

You should show this comment to Informed. This was a rational, well thought out comment to counter my earlier statement.

The big issue about Home Schooling I have is that there is very little to prevent the abusers of the system. Those that don't want their kids to learn, learn garbage like religious zealots, or those that just don't want the hassle and basically take their kid out of 4th grade and "home school" them, which just means they run rampant on the streets.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

No - not if we want all children to achieve at least a certain minimum level of competence that we can determine.

Minimal documentation of those 3 things doesn't show the above.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 10 months ago

A number of Kansas families have made the valid choice to educate their children at home. The state should respect that choice, but it also needs to make sure that children who aren’t attending public schools are being educated at home and not being kept out of school for other reasons. === Good points, but difficult with the current liberal rules for homeschools. Kansas has some of the loosest regulations in the country. Trying to sort it out will be hard. Good luck with that, but no new laws are needed.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

That's odd - you say Kansas has some of the loosest regulations, and it will be hard to do because of that, but then also that no new laws are needed.

Seems to me that stricter regulations would make it easier to sort out.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 10 months ago

A law without money would be useless. KSDE has no money to do the audits. The Legislature is not likely to fund a program. Legislators are afraid of the home schoolers and parents of the gifted.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

That's different from "no new laws are needed", though, isn't it?

Of course you're right that with our current political climate in KS, nobody wants to spend more money on education.

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