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  • HEADS UP: MISSISSIPPI

    Filed at 12:43 pm under by dcobranchi

    A follow-up to the piece from the other day.

    The “legitimate home-schoolers … are interested in ensuring they are differentiated from those parents who are abusing the system and using home schooling as an excuse to remove themselves from what’s happening with their child,” [Hank Bounds, state superintendent of education] said.

    [HSLDA attorney Dewitt] Black said people who do that should be investigated.

    “If there are families neglecting to teach their children, they are really just truant,” he said. “They’re not really home schooling. The law in Mississippi requires parents who make this choice conduct a legitimate home instruction program. (Signing the form and then not teaching) that would not be a legitimate home instruction program. It would be just a truancy matter that ought to be investigated and prosecuted, if in fact that’s what they’re doing.”

    House Education Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said he shares Bounds’ concerns but doesn’t see lawmakers taking any action in the 2007 session. He hopes to assign the issue to a special House subcommittee for further study.

    “Most (parents), I believe, are sincerely doing what they believe is in the best interests of their children,” Brown said. “My own feeling is that the state has an interest in being sure that kids are given the opportunity to obtain a quality education, in a public or private school or home school setting. … It is our obligation to somehow ensure that the kids who are being home schooled are, in fact, receiving a reasonably effective course of study.”

    The problem with Black’s comment, of course, is that there’s no way to investigate the (allegedly) “fake” homeschoolers without, by necessity, catching all of the “real” ones in the same net. So the question boils down to: Are MS politicians willing to pay the political price for inconveniencing a bunch of law abiding citizens in order to possibly find some of these supposed “fake” homeschoolers? (via HSWatch)

    11 Responses to “HEADS UP: MISSISSIPPI”


    Comment by
    Natalie
    December 18th, 2006
    at 4:11 pm

    I blogged it at the Cafe. When I read Black’s comments, my initial interpretation was that “fake” homeschoolers are already breaking existing laws by (a) failing to provide “legitimate” instruction and (b) using homeschooling to circumvent the compulsory attendance law. In other words, no new regulations are necessary to separate the “real” homeschoolers from the “fake” ones.

    I can see (but not at all agree) that the lack of clarity regarding what constitutes “legitimate instruction” concerns people. But, I don’t think that Bounds really cares about the quality of home education as much as he does for his 2007 budget, which will have to be trimmed. Even then, it will not receive full funding.

    Homeschoolers=$$$.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    December 19th, 2006
    at 8:11 am

    This real versus fake homeschooler construct did some damage in Florida with its needless competition between equals, dividing support groups and confusing important principles. (What was Dan Rather’s stock sign off — “courage”? Courage, MS families.)

    If my vision of educational freedom and self-determined learning doesn’t match yours, why then — philosophically, morally, reasonably or any other way — should yours prevail? Simply because your political machine can enforce it more ruthlessly? Sounds like “might makes right” to me, not real freedom.

    Education and principled self-control (not raw power used to control others) is the answer to all its own questions. I think most citizens know this in a Jeffersonian sense, and are willing to support any public resources that help create it, which is why they’re so frustrated with schooling that demonstrably fails to teach future citizens this all-important lesson.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 19th, 2006
    at 8:37 am

    JJ,

    I like the sentiment but disagree with your conclusion. I think the vast majority of Americans (on both the right and the left) are afraid of Jeffersonian/libertarian principles. For all but a tiny minority in the libertarian “middle,” might does indeed make right.

    I intentionally used the scare quotes around “real” and “fake” to point out the arbitariness of the labels. Here at HE&OS, the only “fake” homeschoolers are Jana and her cohorts.


    Comment by
    Nance Confer
    December 19th, 2006
    at 8:38 am

    House Education Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said he shares Bounds’ concerns but doesn’t see lawmakers taking any action in the 2007 session.
    ***
    The important part, imo.

    Nance


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    December 19th, 2006
    at 10:14 am

    Hi Daryl,
    Ack! – the “real versus fake” fight here in Florida wasn’t over homeschool versus public school labeling.

    No, we had what I think was a similar “homeschooler versus truant” labeling game, set up by some public school Child Catchers (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) too willingly enabled by pious homeschool advocates feeling strong in their new conservative majority and the Rightness of the One Way– in Dewitt Black style, these homeschool “leaders” defined good homeschool parents as the ones who school and test just like the schools, only more so and with prayer.

    So of course “bad” homeschoolers were everyone else! We all deserved to be ferreted out through regulations of various kinds, required to report to schoolfolk and committees of “good” homeschoolers for judgment, stripped of our decision-making rights as parents and if need be, prosecuted as truant (which lumped child neglecters and abusers and families in crisis needing help, in with all us perfectly happy unschoolers, intellectuals, civil liberty and academic freedom defenders, atheists and variegated iconoclasts)

    If your eye offends you pluck it out, was the thrust.

    No doubt this colors my view of the other kind of real-versus-fake labeling —

    About whether my centrist hopes for the Individual are but a tiny insignificant sliver or the coming transformation for us all, I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but Time Magazine suddenly sees the light of collective individual influence and at least WaPo’s David Broder stands on my side! 🙂

    But still the forces of the independent center are gaining. . . And the political environment is changing. . .

    The tide is turning against dogmatism — and toward political independence.“


    Comment by
    Mary
    December 19th, 2006
    at 1:06 pm

    what about fake lobbyists and lawyers that masquerade as non-profit advocacy groups?

    That’s life. Some people just aren’t who they say they are. I doubt we could round them all up. What would we do about all those people who pad their resumes? Lie about their income?

    Why is he singling out just homeschoolers?


    Comment by
    Natalie
    December 19th, 2006
    at 3:17 pm

    My theory is that Bounds wants to create oversight that would “encourage” homeschoolers to sign up for the state’s new, yet-to-be-implemented VPS program by creating barriers to entry for other “homeschooling” options.

    MS public schools would benefit from our rumored ability to nail standardized tests and, of course, the funding that would come follow increased PS enrollment.

    He’s also battling the legislature again on the budget.

    And on and on.

    BTW, Cecil Brown introduces scary, anti-homeschool-freedom bills every session.

    HELP.


    Comment by
    Carlotta
    December 20th, 2006
    at 2:20 am

    Whoaah, this is all sounding horribly familiar…ie: there is a move afoot in the UK Department for Education and Sklils to increase the degree to which HEors are monitored. This is coupled with another DfES move to tie home educators in to the school system by offering free courses, exams, etc.

    I am therefore very curious to know how the Florida situation played out. ‘Fraid to say, I don’t know and will go off on a trawl, but if anyone…JJ perhaps, is happy to give me a potted history here, I would be very grateful.


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    December 20th, 2006
    at 11:47 am

    Hi Carlotta, the LEGAL damage was negligible in the end, but I personally believe this was only because so many of us refused to throw our noncomformist types under the regulatory bus.

    We wound up mostly with amendments to the “juvenile justice” sections rather than the home education statute, so that the only increased oversight was for PS families already in legal truancy trouble and desperately seeking to become homeschoolers as a way out. Originally the schools wanted to slam the door on this option altogether so they could proscecute and tighten the noose.

    It ended up with a compromise of empaneling voluteer veteran homeschoolers to review and “approve” the initial efforts of any such families to home educate. Long story, more if you want it, but the net result legally has been no change and the panels have fallen into instant obscurity as far as I hear.

    BUT – significant internal damage was done in the process of working through it, damage that split support communities similar to what Daryl is facing in NC, resisting the teacher’s pet class-proctor type of leaders who suggest we ought to overcomply and preen and show what good do-bees homeschoolers can be. And that we should self-police and stamp out the riffraff in order to elevate our own acceptance by society . . .


    Comment by
    Carlotta
    December 21st, 2006
    at 3:36 am

    JJ.

    Thank you very much for this. Would it be possible to quote the above at mine?


    Comment by
    JJ Ross
    December 21st, 2006
    at 8:31 am

    Absolutely! Which goes for anything I post online; the whole point is to build collective wisdom where we can, share ideas. 🙂

    And I’m happy to join in strategy spit-balling, to wrack my brain and hard drive for details and references etc. — just wish I could get the full benefit of British accents through the keyboard –