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BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS

Filed at 4:02 pm under by Tim Haas

Since Chris and Daryl have gone and roiled the cyber-charter pot again, I just wanted to point everyone to two great comments from Valerie and Mary N. over at Chris’s place that explain the crux of the matter in an even-handed way.

And a note to Jana, the blogger in question: Nobody is questioning your choices or your approach — just your terminology, and it’s not because we’re snobs. What you have to realize is that there is a huge battle brewing over the future of educational freedom, and hybrid programs like your cyber-charter are perhaps the best weapon the other side has come up with.

I’ve said this before — home education, representing as it does the most sustained assault on the government’s primary tool of social control in decades, is inherently political. Every family who thinks little Johnny and Jill would simply learn better at home is really taking part in a revolution that fundamentally questions both the competence and the right of the state to determine what and how our children learn.

Education officials see this, but have become generally powerless to stop it — our numbers are now such that outright attempts to regulate are routinely crushed in committee or never even raised for fear of an onslaught. So they’ve had to get sneaky and create something that blends the best physical and emotional characteristics of homeschooling with the financial, curricular, and legal control of public education.

And it’s working — states that offer charters and part-time enrollment are seeing a leveling off of the number of statutory home educators. That’s phase one. Phase two is to continue to build a hybrid constituency while waiting out the current generation of “freedom or death” home educators that make their lives so difficult. Once the numbers are in their favor, phase three kicks in — changing the laws to herd the much-weakend FODers into the public system.

This, Jana, is why your comments have provoked such an intense reaction — your insistence that “school at home=homeschooling” no matter what is clear evidence that the plan is working. You are unwittingly undermining the educational and parental freedom of a bunch of ornery people who have been fighting battles for 25 years and have no intention of losing now. And it’s not just you facing this kind of opposition — every time a reporter or a local official equates hybrid schooling with homeschooling, they face the same blast that you’ve been getting.

On a more positive note, charters and other kinds of hybrids could end up being a concurrent revolution — just about anything that removes children from industrial schooling, even part-time, is a step forward in my book, and one I’m happy to help support — but first their users and proponents have to recognize their category error and adjust their rhetoric accordingly.

14 Responses to “BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS”


Comment by
Eric Holcombe
April 25th, 2005
at 4:24 pm

So, don’t go away mad – just get mad?

I wasn’t able to see her site. I can understand the logic and appeal of a fund and teacher-assisted cyber charter, but I can’t believe there is no accountability to the state (especially in PA). Maybe she hasn’t been following all the rules? I’ll bet Howard is knocking on her door right now ;o)


Comment by
maryalice - PA
April 25th, 2005
at 6:44 pm

I got to her site. She has shut off comments. I actually doubt whether her 2 older kids are even compulsory age (above 8 yo). She frets about getting hours in (200 for one child, 125 for another) in one of her posts. She talks about making the decision between (public) cyber charter school or a private Christian cyber school (under the home education law). PA cyber charter schools are highly regulated. They have to be accountable to a “teacher” for attendance and testing. They have schedules. They use secular texts. She is not being honest in her post on Chris’s site if she claims that the government has not been involved with her educational process. They chose the curriculum, monitor the hours, check in each week, test….

You can’t take a Happy Meal home and call it home-cooked. You can’t take public school home and call it home-schooling.


Comment by
Chris
April 25th, 2005
at 9:15 pm

:You can’t take a Happy Meal home and call it home-cooked. You can’t take public school home and call it home-schooling.”

LOL. That is brilliant!


Comment by
Daryl
April 26th, 2005
at 7:58 am

Tim,
Your short essay should be required reading for every cyber-charter parent. Well done!


Comment by
julie
April 26th, 2005
at 6:26 pm

Word McWordy.


Comment by
Tim Haas
April 26th, 2005
at 6:46 pm

Is that agreement, literary criticism, spam, or some combination thereof?


Comment by
Kay Brooks
April 26th, 2005
at 6:47 pm

I’m finally getting around to reading Jana’s post. I think she’s confused, bless her heart.

A. She’s in PA where parental freedom to ‘homeschool’ is strangled by ‘homeschoolers’.
B. She somehow thinks she and her family cannot learn under the shade of a tree.
C. She’s seriously considering Grace Academy.

But, as Tim seemed to say, a step away from industrial schooling, is a step in the right direction.

And, bless her heart, Jana probably didn’t know that some folks make it their business to define homeschooling for us all and can be quite agressive about it. She was unprepared for them. She’ll probably won’t be next time.


Comment by
Tim Haas
April 26th, 2005
at 6:53 pm

Seemed?


Comment by
Victoria
April 28th, 2005
at 12:21 am

As a new homeschooler and one who is encouraging more people to homeschool, these kinds of discussions about categorizing different types of homeschooling is concerning.

I see the point of “veteran” homeschoolers feeling that you have fought hard for the gains of homeschooling over the years.

I understand that cyber charters funded by the state are not the same as homeschool families buying curriculum and planning their family’s education.

However, I feel after reviewing all these posts that the overall sense that an outsider or new homeschooler (such as myself) gets from this discussion is that one set of homeschoolers are the “real” homeschoolers, meaning those that are completely free of government interference and the rest are somehow beneath that level of wholesomeness.

The fact is that many (especially urban, less-educated individuals) may feel very intimidated by homeschooling entirely on their own, especially in the beginning.

For instance, many of the parents I have met here in Ohio who are homeschooling through state-run cyber-charters are urban, low-income African-Americans who before the existence of state cyber-charters felt that they did not have the option of any type of homeschooling for their children because that was very intimidating for them.

These parents may not be as sophisticated as some “veteran” homeschoolers but we all want our children to reach their potential in a safe, nurturing environment.

While I agree that one should be clear which types of homeschooling are state-supported and controlled (and I find it impossible to believe that anyone could sign up for a cyber-charter and not realize that), the tone of “real” vs.”fake” homeschoolers will only hurt the overall movement to encourage parents to take more control over their children’s lives.

I do not know about you guys, but I would like to welcome “cyber-charter” and other homeschoolers into the fold.

Hopefully, by doing so, we can educate and empower them and hopefully help them to understand the larger political battle at stake in this country.

By alienating them, we make ourselves look bad and we could make them retreat from homeschooling altogether.

And that would be a shame.

My heart goes out to this Jana and I hope she continues to keep her children at home to educate them, state-supported or not.


Comment by
Tim Haas
April 28th, 2005
at 7:49 am

I do not know about you guys, but I would like to welcome “cyber-charter” and other homeschoolers into the fold.

I want them to create their own fold. We’re not talking about park days and field trips here, but the fundamental issue of who controls the education of children. If the cyber segment does well and lobbies intelligently, it could create more opportunities in a less-regulated environment for all g-school kids. But it can’t do that unless it knows what it is.

By alienating them, we make ourselves look bad and we could make them retreat from homeschooling altogether.

Frankly, I would rather alienate them than jeopardize hard-won independence from public education.

I repeat myself from a comment on an earlier post: Please understand that we’re not making these complaints out of a desire for ideological purity — I don’t care how you choose to educate your children. The problem is that education officials want to redefine “homeschooling” to mean parent-proctored public education at home rather than parent-directed education completely outside the public system, and your buying into that conception jeopardizes my freedom (or, as hybrids represent the first major offensive in a long campaign, my grandchildren’s).


Comment by
Valerie
April 28th, 2005
at 3:29 pm

The word “recapture” has been used in conjunction with the cyber-charter programs.
homeed...h.html
“Who Is Pat Lines and Why Is She Writing About Homeschooling?”
==========================================
“Lines’ monograph [for your purchasing pleasure: tinyur.../5mp3o ] encourages school districts to establish programs to draw homeschoolers into public schools. ‘Quite practically,’ she writes, ‘districts are seeking to regain some of the students they have lost to homeschooling.’ (p. 7) She describes one district working to ‘recapture students lost to the district because of homeschooling.’ (p. 24)”
==========================================

Kay points out concerning Jana (and I wish Jana well with her kiddos), “She was unprepared for them. She probably won’t be next time.” Now _if_ homeschooling goes down the tubes and another generation has to start the process anew, do you think that the legislative precedents requiring the accountability that will then be in place will be easier to overcome than no laws in place? ‘They’ll’ be prepared.

_If_ the public gets up on its hind legs to ‘ensure homeschool accountability,’ who is going to mount the campaign to educate the public about the homeschool/cyber-charter difference? And who will pay for this education campaign, asks the Little Red Hen? Which group will have more money? The group wanting to keep laws in place, or those who wish to change them?

_If_ there is a loss of homeschooling because of an erosion of the concept of what homeschooling is (whatever _that_ is), how hard will the fight be the second time?


Comment by
Anonymous
April 28th, 2005
at 9:27 pm

Thanks Tim.

I was at a home education information meeting last night that I participate in monthly. We start out every meeting by handing out a copy of the Ohio Administrative Code that governs home education and we review it. It’s very empowering for families to learn the law and to know their rights and responsibilities. We also make the citations available for the other OH educational choices so that a family can look those up for themselves.

Almost every meeting we are asked about the e-schools and last night was no exception. We explained the e-schools are one of the choices in OH, but if they choose it their child would remain enrolled in a public school, must take the required tests, follow other accountability measures and would not be excused from compulsory attendance. Some didn’t realize this until we discussed it. They have been told so many times by other users and the promoters that they do think it is homeschooling.

I reiterated that the e-schools are a workable choice for many, but it’s vital to know that although they take place in the home, they are not able to enjoy the freedoms as outlined in the home education code that we had just reviewed. They easily understood that and did not take any offense. Those I have met who inquire about this seem to appreciate knowing the difference.

Folks can stomp their feet, accuse people of being unfair, but I’ve always found that people
deserve to know that the freedoms we enjoy are worth protecting.

Perhaps public school needs to be reformed, but home education does not.

I do resent the lobbying that is being done by e-schools in the name of homeschooling, something I was assured would NEVER occur.

Mary N.


Comment by
Lynda
April 29th, 2005
at 12:54 am

“the tone of “real” vs.”fake” homeschoolers will only hurt the overall movement to encourage parents to take more control over their children’s lives.”

When one decides to homeschool their children, they don’t sign on for some movement to encourage other parents to take more control, nor do they sign on to go out and recruit more homeschoolers.

Nor are they responsible for the way some people may choose, frequently deliberately, to hear what is being explained as an attack.

Bottomline, using certain techniques to reframe and point fingers by calling the requests for clarity in language a *real* vs. *fake* issue isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. There is homeschooling and there is public school at home. Come on over and join our support groups, come to our playdays, hang out on our e-lists but just don’t expect us to call your apple an orange when we are discussing oranges.

Lynda


Comment by
Helen
April 29th, 2005
at 4:02 am

Just FYI, I just posted a note about this discussion at the new AHA Focus: Charter Schools blog:

aha.ty...arters

Just a little different application of the weblog format.

Helen