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  • “COLLINGSWOOD” SOUTH UPDATE

    Filed at 6:03 am under by dcobranchi

    Just a bit more about the Florida starvation case. Homeschooling appears like it will be on trial, too.

    [Barbara Bennett-Woodhouse, director of the Center on Children and Families at the University of Florida’s Frederick G. Levin College of Law] said she’s written about the aspect of home schooling as it relates to child abuse cases and thinks it is a dangerous precedent. It’s not that home schooling is bad, she said, it’s just that abuse is easier to hide in those situations.
    She has written papers on a number of court cases where children are taken out of school because they are, in fact, abused.

    OK, y’all, we have a problem. At the very least, it’s a PR nightmare that these cases crop up on a regular basis. At worst, the bureaucrats may be correct that homeschooling “enables” those predisposed to abuse their kids to hide it (for a while, at least). Either way, I think the homeschooling community is going to have to do something. Otherwise, we may see continued legislative calls for increased regulation. Those are battles we can certainly win. I’d just rather not have to fight them at all.

    Of course, saying the community may need to respond is a whole lot easier than coming up with a rational response. We certainly don’t want (and won’t stand for) nanny-state educrats looking over our shoulders at every turn in an effort to “Gotcha!” us. Likewise, NJ’s idea for mandatory health “inspections” (i.e., annual physicals with results reported to the state) is right out.

    Ideas?

    UPDATE: I’ve corrected the typo in the title. Thanks, Tim.

    21 Responses to ““COLLINGSWOOD” SOUTH UPDATE”


    Comment by
    Chris
    June 29th, 2004
    at 7:43 am

    One word, underground.

    Florida has always had a very screwy social services system. When my wife work in the adoption biz they would move biological moms out of Florida until after they gave birth because the Florida child welfare system was so anti-adoption. This is the same system that lost a bunch of kids last year right? What we need is an all out offensive pointing out ALL the problems in Florida child welfare. I bet it’s so screwed up that the alleged HS case will pare by comparison to some of the stuff going on.


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    June 29th, 2004
    at 8:22 am

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe there is a concerted effort by the NEA to squash homeschooling by any covert means necessary. Because of their structure, the cash can be laundered a number of ways and buy influence. I think they are the Goliath homeschooling has to fight (because it’s all about the money). I believe their influence is the cause of some of the off-kilter reporting we see. The other is leftward leaning media majority does not like religious fundamentalists (surprise, surprise). They associate trashing homeschooling with trashing the religious right. I.e., it doesn’t matter if the story is objective – it’s the right wing wackos. I have lost what respect I had for most print media and 48hrs type programs. If you ever see one presented on a subject you are knowledgeable of, you will know what I mean.
    The media and the public at large are ignorant of what homeschooling is or can be. I mean, weren’t you until you considered doing it? Unfortunately, they are being ‘informed’ with the “Dark Side of Homeschooling”. News just isn’t newsworthy any more unless it is some horrific, sensational story (see coverage of Iraq). I believe we have to be countering idiotic news ‘stories’ with the facts. Not just with feel-good posts on a homeschool blog (no offense), but to let the public know through your local paper, community group, etc. what homeschooling is really like. Call the reporters on the carpet with a letter back to the editor. I.e., some nuts own guns, but not all gun owners are nuts – if you know what I mean.
    I don’t mean we should pick a fight or make our efforts totally finger pointing at how bad the g-schools are. At some point, we homeschool because we believe it is the right thing to do, not a last resort.
    The biggest thing in our favor is, of course, the truth. The public schools had 84 school related deaths last year. Homeschool-related is less than ten and can be argued that those folks weren’t homeschooling. Fact is, the government was involved in “monitoring” each and every one of these kids in some form or fashion. More deaths are resulting from the monitored environment some suggest homeschools are hiding from – not to mention academic performance.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 29th, 2004
    at 8:54 am

    Devil’s advocate here.

    Homeschoolers represent approximately 2% of the total school-age population. If there were 84 deaths in the g-schools last year, statistcally speaking, homeschoolers should have experienced two or three. So, are homeschoolers 3-5 times more likely to die as a result of less “supervision”?


    Comment by
    Christina
    June 29th, 2004
    at 9:37 am

    This does not seem to be a homeschooling issue to me, no matter which way you twist it. It seems to me that in every high-profile case, the state’s child services has had these families under their not-so-watchful eyes. We ought to be putting the blame back where it lies. (Pun intended 😉 If you want to talk stats, someone provide the numbers of public schooled children that are abused by their parents. Does sending a child to public school keep child abuse from occurring? Of course not. Sending a child to school does not mean that the authorities will spot or even act upon abuse. Sometimes it is even the source of abuse, as Daryl points out frequently. These are the arguments we must use. Will it help? I hope so.


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    June 29th, 2004
    at 11:48 am

    I know what you mean Daryl. It’s a question/comparison that will be asked regardless of the causation. Of course, g-school respondents would say you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being killed at school. On the other hand (using their reasoning), how many K-12 aged g-schoolers are killed/die at home? I believe suicide is still a leading cause of death for teens. I’d say 95% of them attend school outside the home. Does public school cause the kids to kill themselves before the parents can?
    If the homeschool response is kept in the Constitutional arena (like gun control arguments), they will have a hard time arguing in-home monitoring as long as the homeschooler doesn’t use public funds. Right now I don’t think the g-school proponents have the ‘right’ argument. More monitoring is their solution – but the problem families already are/have been monitored. Most of the ones involved have criminal records. The fact is, the police can’t be everywhere all the time.
    As Christina says, it’s not a homeschooling issue, but it is being made into one. It’s a great union tactic. Move away from the task they are actually supposed to perform and how well it is being performed and let’s concentrate on creating some new responsibilities (translation union jobs>>union dues) the union should be providing ‘for the children’. Remember, the NEA’s mission statement doesn’t mention students. It’s all about the money. I see their work against homeschooling as defensive – preventing home instruction secures union jobs. Same with NCLB protesting. Stuff like promoting pre-K programs, cutting down class size, etc. is offensive – creating more union jobs.


    Comment by
    atlas
    June 29th, 2004
    at 4:32 pm

    Just a small point here from a long time NEA member. I don’t think we have any position at all regarding home schooling. I’ve never even heard it discussed at meetings.

    If the NEA is working against home schooling would someone politely tell me where and how?
    atlas


    Comment by
    DeeJay
    June 29th, 2004
    at 4:38 pm

    Under the guise of confidentiality, DCF will cover their behinds. Homeschooling will be blamed, as that seems to be Bennett-Woodhouse’s agenda.

    In round about ways, many states are monitoring. There are laws that parents have to show their curriculum, be supervised by a certified teacher, have 45 college quarter credit hours, or have completed a course in home education or be deemed qualified by the local superintendent. A certified teacher employed by the approved private school must evaluate progress. There’s quarterly evaluations, imposed mandatory testing, with a child’s failure resulting in a return to a government school, permission required annually, and curriculum must be the same as public schools.

    Um…I don’t know if this really pertains, but school employees do abuse students. It just doesn’t come out as the districts keep those types of things hush-hush.

    Where I live, if a parent reports abuse about a school employee, the police and social services do not check into it. The report is kept in-house so to speak. Justice isn’t done in most of those cases.

    The district has the right to report abuse about parents and social services checks them out, but not vice-versa.

    Do you know if it’s the same in your area?


    Comment by
    DeeJay
    June 29th, 2004
    at 4:52 pm

    NEA Resolution B68 2000/2001, which read:

    B-68. Home Schooling. The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state requirements. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

    The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public school

    The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2000).


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    June 29th, 2004
    at 5:13 pm

    Atlas – A couple of quick ones from the horse’s mouth:

    In 1988, the NEA adopted Resolution C-34, which said:
    The National Education Association believes that home-school programs cannot provide the child with a comprehensive education experience. The Association believes that, if parental preference home-school study occurs, students enrolled must meet all state requirements. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state educational licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state Department of Education should be used. In 1993, the same resolution quotes above, C-34, was once again adopted — this time as Resolution B-58.

    In the NEA’s annual edition publication, Today’s Education 1983-1984, the NEA made it clear how it feels about parental authority:
    “The National Education Association believes that communications between certified personnel and students must be legally privileged. It urges its affiliates to aid in seeking legislation that provides this privilege and protects both educators and students.
    At the same time, the NEA would be highly opposed to communications between a parent and a child being legally privileged.”

    (excerpted from The National Extortion Association by Brannon Howse)

    The NEA is under investigation by the IRS for illegal funding of Democratic candidates, the DNC, etc. who are the agents that propose all of the anti-homeschool legislation – essentially promoting the NEA agenda. You might want to rethink your membership – it could get real expensive in the near future. This was a result of complaints filed by Landmark Legal Foundation. They are in possession of some rather damning evidence.


    Comment by
    Anonymous
    June 29th, 2004
    at 6:00 pm

    Thanks for posting that Eric.

    I was wondering about communications between certified personnel and students must be legally privileged. It urges its affiliates to aid in seeking legislation that provides this privilege and protects both educators and students. At the same time, the NEA would be highly opposed to communications between a parent and a child being legally privileged.

    After I took my children out of p.s. they told me that they were told not to tell their parents about certain things. A few examples: a movie (bee rules) they had to watch daily the first week of school and if they were spanked at home to tell the principal the next day. The weird thing, they didn’t tell me these things, until they were home for about a year.

    It sounds like the NEA wants to turn children against their parents. We’re supposed to feed, clothe, and house our children, but they want to raise them.

    An interesting book is The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto. I’m a conspiracy truth-seeker, and he hits the nail on the head, worded much better than me, 😉 but backs up what I’ve thought for the last few years.


    Comment by
    Anonymous
    June 29th, 2004
    at 6:43 pm

    Daryl, You wrote, “At worst, the bureaucrats may be correct that homeschooling “enables” those predisposed to abuse their kids to hide it (for a while, at least).”

    I think the point needs to be made that these kids are usually not hidden. For instance, in the Collingswood case, lots of people knew of these kids: DYFS, the extended family, the neighbors and the church community. These kids were known and active in their community, not hidden. Saying that they’re hidden by homeschooling just takes the focus off of all the people who were aware of the situation and did nothing.


    Comment by
    atlas
    June 30th, 2004
    at 7:45 am

    Thanks for citing the reference on NEA position. I looked all through my stuff and didn’t find anything.

    Pers


    Comment by
    atlas
    June 30th, 2004
    at 7:51 am

    Whoops, sorry about the partial post.

    Personally I, and I think most teachers have, seen some great examples of home teaching. For a lot of kids it is a wonderful opportunity. I can’t just pile 25 kids in the car and head off to the local interesting experience on a daily basis.

    Now, what do we do about the kids to whom homeschool means no school? That happens. How do we handle that? Do we handle that? Is it child abuse? I think it is.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 30th, 2004
    at 7:59 am

    The problem is that you’d have to have some external organization (such as the local schools) judge an individual homeschooling program. That ain’t gonna play. After all, do you really think the local educrats would be inclined to see “unschooling” as legitimate? Yeah- it’s sad if a kid gets zero education and is neglected by his/her parents. I’m not willing to give up an ounce of freedom, though, in order to accomodate those few (and the educrats who would “save” them).


    Comment by
    Christina
    June 30th, 2004
    at 9:19 am

    Amen, Daryl! I’d love for someone to name one department that government has total control over that is better for it. When government steps in, common sense sneaks out the back door. Let’s see, public school, no. Welfare, no. Social services, no. Anyone?


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    June 30th, 2004
    at 9:30 am

    Interesting to see how C34 progressed to B68 isn’t it? If homeschool isn’t even a blip on the radar, why has the NEA actively opposed it from its legal onset (and before)? Atlas, I’ll give you (and a lot of NEA members) the benefit of the doubt. As an ex-UPS management employee, I’ve seen what brainwashing by the 2nd largest labor union can do to sheeple. I’m sure the largest is even better at it. I know several educators who are in the NEA/TEA solely for professional liability insurance. They are never aware that there are alternative sources for the insurance – or that they are funding Planned Parenthood with their union membership. Not exactly what they signed up for. Check out the Howse piece. The NEA doesn’t give a damn about students and frankly (my dear) doesn’t care much for the union members judging by their actions. It’s all about the money – and the root of evil.


    Comment by
    atlas
    June 30th, 2004
    at 10:41 am

    thanks for the comments all. I’m not trying to start a fight, I just wish we could figure out a way to have some kind of safety net in place for some few kids. A society may be judged on it’s willingness to protect the helpless. And ten year olds fall into that category in my opinion.

    And yes, a public school teacher is nuts to walk into a classroom without that liability insurance that comes with NEA membership.
    atlas


    Comment by
    Eric Holcombe
    June 30th, 2004
    at 11:43 am

    One more from the TEA: “Don’t believe everything you hear…except from TEA. Rumors abound, people misunderstand, and others are just plain wrong.”

    teatea...ry.htm

    I don’t think you’re picking a fight Atlas. I think a lot of union members in general are oblivious to their condition. TN is a right to work state so it is ‘different’ here. People have alternatives.

    My response on protecting the kids is to enforce the laws already in place. I don’t want big brother in my home – period. If you outlaw guns, but continue to ‘catch and release’ killers, people will kill you with a new weapon of choice. If child abuse is important to our society, it should have some painful consequences for the offenders. That’s why I say monitoring will fail, which leads to ‘qualifying’ people as parent-worthy to prevent children from potentially abusive parents in the first place. It also removes freedoms/privacy from innocents – on their private property. Kinda messes up the innocent until proven guilty thing. It’s also quite hypocritical coming from government educators when they have an almost daily poster child like the professional educator in Tampa servicing a middle schooler in the back of an SUV. But then again, the union says I misunderstand…


    Comment by
    Chris
    June 30th, 2004
    at 3:05 pm

    There is a no such thing as a fail safe safety net. Hosing the freedoms of many in a vain effort to protect a few is the exact opposite of the principles this country was founded on.

    “Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” It is the very embodient of the presumption of innocence.

    And as had been noted above – its not like we can count of the education buearacracy to actually do a good job anyway. According to todays Washington Post, 1 in 10 kids will be sexually harrassed while in public school.


    Comment by
    Sherry M
    July 3rd, 2004
    at 12:24 am

    It is absurd that homeschooling is being *blamed*. In these cases, social services, police officers, and the courts were involved BEFORE homeschooling took place. If the finger is to be pointed, then let’s point it in the right direction. Big brother messed up. BTW, if we are going to talk about abused kids then I think it is only fair we discuss abuses in schools, too…
    Sherry

    Study: Sex Abuse Prevalent in Schools
    Wednesday, June 30, 2004 9:20 AM EDT
    The Associated Press
    By BEN FELLER

    More than 4.5 million children are forced to endure sexual misconduct by school
    employees, from inappropriate comments to physical abuse, according to an
    exhaustive review of research that reads like a parent’s worst nightmare.

    The best estimate is that almost one in 10 children, sometime between
    kindergarten and 12th grade, are targets of behavior ranging from unprofessional
    to criminal, says the report for Congress by Charol Shakeshaft, a professor at
    Hofstra University’s School of Education.

    “Most people just don’t think this can really happen,” said Shakeshaft, hired by
    the Education Department to study the prevalence of sexual abuse in schools. “We
    imagine that all teachers are like most teachers, in that they’ve gone into
    teaching to help children. Most do, but not all. We need to acknowledge that’s
    the case and do something to stop it.”

    The report, required under the No Child Left Behind law and delivered to
    Congress on Wednesday, is the first to analyze the field of research about
    sexual misconduct at school.

    Some educators immediately took issue with its approach, mainly the combining of
    sexual abuse with other behavior, such as gestures or notes, into one broad
    misconduct category.

    But another prominent researcher supported the findings, suggesting, as
    Shakeshaft did, that they may even understate the problem. And the American
    Association of University Women, whose surveys of students were at the core of
    the new report, stood by its research.

    There have been no nationally financed studies to collect data about how common
    sexual misconduct is in school, one of many areas Shakeshaft suggests must be
    addressed. Her analysis covered almost 900 documents and reviews that have dealt
    with the topic in some way, from private research and newspaper stories to
    reports for government agencies.

    What she found portrays a problem that, no matter how uncommon, united groups of
    teachers, superintendents, parents and education leaders in concern – and
    disgust.

    The report describes schools as places where abusers come to prey, targeting
    vulnerable and marginal students who are afraid to complain or unlikely to be
    believed if they did. It describes adults who trap, lie and isolate children,
    making them subject to unwanted behavior in hallways, offices, buses or even
    right in front of other students in class. And the offenders work hard to keep
    kids from telling, threatening to fail or humiliate them.

    Misconduct is defined in the report as physical, verbal or visual behavior, from
    sexually related jokes or pictures of sex to fondling of breasts and forced sex.
    Shakeshaft did not limit her review to sexual abuse because, she says, that
    would exclude other unacceptable adult behaviors that can drive kids from school
    and harm them for years.

    Yet spokesman Michael Pons of the National Education Association, a union of 2.7
    million education workers, said: “Lumping harassment together with serious
    sexual misconduct does more harm than good by creating unjustified alarm and
    undermining confidence in public schools. Statistically, public schools remain
    one of the safest places for children to be.”

    The NEA, he added, takes any sexually inappropriate behavior seriously, training
    teachers and working with the Education Department on rules banning harassment
    in schools.

    The other large teachers union, the American Federation of Teachers, also found
    fault with the report’s description of misconduct, and Eugene Hickok, the deputy
    education secretary, said the findings were so broad they may be viewed as
    “insufficiently focused.” But those officials, too, did nothing to downplay the
    importance of the problem.

    “Clearly, sexual predators have no place in public schools,” said John Mitchell,
    deputy director of educational issues at the AFT. “We support background checks,
    and when someone has gotten through, they need to be removed. And other
    inappropriate behaviors must be attended to, also, we just really need to have
    an effort to separate the two.”

    The report found teachers are the most common offenders, followed by coaches,
    substitute teachers, bus drivers and teacher aides. Among students, 56 percent
    of those targeted are girls, and 44 percent are boys, a smaller gap than
    commonly expected, Shakeshaft said.

    Robert Shoop, a Kansas State University professor of education law and expert on
    sexual exploitation in schools, said the estimate of one in 10 children affected
    is not high. The actual number may be larger, he said, because of historical
    underreporting of the problem.

    “Children need to be very clearly educated about inappropriate behaviors, and
    teachers do too, so when children see the earliest signs of this behavior, they
    have someone to tell,” Shoop said. “But often, parents say, ‘Mind your teacher.’
    So it’s very unlikely that this 10-year-old kid is going to rip the teacher’s
    hands off and say, ‘Back off.’ ”

    __

    On the Net:

    Education Department: ed.gov


    Comment by
    Anonymous
    July 3rd, 2004
    at 12:31 am

    I must comment on this statement:

    “Yet spokesman Michael Pons of the National Education Association, a union of 2.7
    million education workers, said: “Lumping harassment together with serious
    sexual misconduct does more harm than good by creating unjustified alarm and
    undermining confidence in public schools. Statistically, public schools remain
    one of the safest places for children to be.”

    What? What planet is he from? We are talking about the same public schools where kids are shooting each other, fighting each other, hazing each other, etc.??? The same places where kids walk through METAL DETECTORS in order to get their “educations”? Now, I grew up in a small town and even there, 15 years ago, there was more than one instance when I genuinely feared for my safety…