Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » SIGN OF A TURNING TIDE?

SIGN OF A TURNING TIDE?

Filed at 7:02 pm under by Tim Haas

I rather doubt it, really, but I’m still gratified to see such a strong pro-home-ed editorial in a decent-sized paper:

New Jersey is one of only 10 states that does not require parents to notify their local school district if they choose to home-school their children. Those parents would like to keep it that way.

The government is right to butt out. Parents should be in charge of their children’s education, and home schooling is an option many in the state have chosen — up to 70,000 kids, according to a national home-schooling research group.

In our Monday news story on home schooling, a spokeswoman from the New Jersey Education Association said that group is concerned because “there’s no oversight, there’s no way to ensure a child receives a quality education on a day-to-day basis.” Maybe not. But we agree with leaving home schooling as is. We support the public school system, but we also favor school choice. The more choices, the better.

It even makes a pitch for extracurriculars! — Tim Haas

8 Responses to “SIGN OF A TURNING TIDE?”


Comment by
Laura
October 18th, 2007
at 7:39 pm

And to think that this is one that I was dreading. I spoke at length, three different times with a reporter from the Asbury Park Press – about 2 and a half hours of phone conversation, during which there were some um, very heated exchanges. (As in, I think I actually shouted at one point – but then she wasn’t exactly whispering either.)

The reporter was determined to get me to concede that homeschooling should be more regulated in order to prevent abuse. After arguing every which way with her, I followed up our conversations by writing out some thoughts about homeschooling, abuse, her questions, and our discussion, and directed her to the NHEN FAQ on homeschooling regulation and paper “Thoughts on Protecting Children in Homeschool Families” among other things, and I also copied my responses to the editor.

Now, I’ve talked to a lot of reporters about homeschooling (probably well over a thousand at this point), and this was about as difficult as it gets. I was really worried about how the story would turn out. This reporter was previously involved in a dispute at her university paper that made national news, and she has something of a reputation for that.

Anyway, the story came out a couple of days ago, and was of the “fair and balanced” type with the requisite quote from an educrat calling for regulation, etc. I was relieved to see that it was pretty tame and inoffensive after all.

This morning I whooped for joy when I saw the editorial they followed it up with!


Comment by
Daryl Cobranchi
October 18th, 2007
at 7:47 pm

Laura,
You’re brave. I’ve only done one telephone interview. Never again.


Comment by
COD
October 18th, 2007
at 8:06 pm

I did a phone interview for a neighborhood weekly that folded the week the homeschooling story was due. Nobody has ever asked me again.


Comment by
Nance Confer
October 19th, 2007
at 9:14 am

Excellent work, Laura!

Nance


Comment by
Laura
October 21st, 2007
at 2:36 am

Daryl, I suspect it’s plain old stubbornness more that bravery. You’d think by now I’d be over getting nervous, but I’m not. I wish I could do interviews right away when they first call so I wouldn’t have time for my stomach to start flipping – but that’s often not the best thing to do, so I usually don’t, and I just have to deal with the butterflies. Once I actually start talking though, I’m fine.

Phone interviews are the easiest, though still pretty terrifying. Radio that’s recorded is next (you can just stop and say you want to start again and make them have to edit it – which they will because they can’t waste air time). Live radio is always last minute and over quickly and you never remember what on earth you said – and hopefully no one else will either if it didn’t make sense. TV, either live or recorded – OMG. I’ve done some, but I can’t even describe the feeling it provokes. As strongly as I feel about doing media work for homeschooling, I’ve turned down some TV opportunities. Crossfire was one. I just couldn’t do it, and couldn’t see how it would be beneficial.

I know I can be a lot more effective if I try to find out as much as possible about the reporter, the paper/tv station/whatever, and what kind of story they’re expecting to do. That also makes it easier to know what to tell other folks they might be interviewing, too. Some, like the APP writer for this story, I wouldn’t ask anyone to do an interview with – but I wouldn’t have known not to subject anyone to that if I hadn’t done the groundwork first.

Every reporter has a background, a point of view, some hot buttons, and some favorite subjects. Some have kids and some don’t. Many ed reporters have deep ties to the public education establishment, not always. The more I know, the better able I am to connect with them on their terms.

I try to introduce them to a variety of families, so they can see for themselves that we’re not all alike. If I manage to find a homeschooling family the reporter can identify with in addition to that, a positive story will almost always result. (Occasionally editors have their way with the piece before it’s done, and that’s usually when the quotes from educrats get added in for “balance”)

So, there’s a risk every time we open our mouths, but on balance, I’ve seen coverage get markedly better, and people’s perceptions of homeschooling improve. The bottom line for me is doing something that helps create a healthy climate for homeschooling, and I’m willing to keep doing it as long as it’s still effective. I’ve gotten more bold over the years about speaking my mind, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop getting gut-wrenchingly nervous.


Comment by
Tim Haas
October 21st, 2007
at 8:34 am

Based on my experience as a journalist, I always insisted on e-mail interviews. So many fewer gotcha opportunities, plus you have a record of what was asked and can really hone your responses.


Comment by
JJ Ross
October 21st, 2007
at 10:25 am

To COD – you singlehandedly killed a weeky with your homeschool interview? Impressive! 😉

To Laura – you have the best batting average as media representative that I’ve seen in 30 years, not just for home education but for ANY educational cause, program or grassroots group. You are incredible!

Back to COD – and she does it year in and year out without any performance-enhancing substance to game the system (just reading the scandalous Paul Byrd evidence now)


Comment by
Nance Confer
October 21st, 2007
at 12:18 pm

Or any performance-enhancing salary or perks.

Truly a credit to the homeschooling community.

Thanks for everything you have done and continue to do, Laura.

Nance