Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » WHY I HATE CALIFORNIA

    Filed at 6:22 am under by dcobranchi

    Because their insanely complicated education laws lead to quotes like this:

    Conejo Valley school officials plan to start a program for home-schoolers this fall if enough families sign up.

    The proposed program, for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, would allow parents to home-school their children but still have some ties with the Conejo Valley Unified School District. Those ties would provide them with a teacher to oversee their children’s work, as well as textbooks, supplies and lesson plans.

    That can be helpful for families who want the independence of home schooling but also welcome district support, said Diane Hawkins, a Thousand Oaks mother who home-schools her two sons.

    “You have the best of both (worlds) without the limitations of the classroom schedule and curriculum,” she said.

    Yes. The best of both worlds. If one of those worlds is Hell, that is.

    How do these home educators not understand that they are selling out?

    16 Responses to “WHY I HATE CALIFORNIA”

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 1:29 am

    Given the responses I’m bound to get, I should probably consider this and read it over more carefully before posting, but I’ve been trying to find time to “do it right” for days and haven’t found it, so I might as well do it now.

    I have a 5 year that we will “officially” start home schooling sometime this summer. I’m new to home schooling, and to all the apparent politics that are associated with it. I’m writing from a gut feeling more than from any research — feel free to correct me based on facts.

    Daryl asked (rhetorically, probably), “How do these home educators not understand that they are selling out?”

    I find even the question interesting. I’d bet that many (not most) people considering home schooling, or actively taking part in it, aren’t doing so for great theological or political reasons. Instead, it is an act of desperation. They haven’t been defending home schooling as a way of life, and aren’t interested in doing so now. They simply realize that public education is sadly lacking. It isn’t providing their children with what they need, socially or educationally. And, I’d be willing to bet that for many of this “desperation crowd,” the social aspects are even more important (or at least apparent) to them than the educational.

    These folks don’t know, or care, about the history of home schooling. They’re overwhelmed with what they are about to do — scared of leaving their kids IN public schools and almost as scared of screwing them up by taking them out. And, since they are driven by social concerns more so than educational ones, they welcome the “opportunity” to take advantage of the state’s “generosity.”

    The quote from Diane Hawkins mentioned curriculum and schedules — so perhaps this doesn’t apply directly to her. But to many of the others also support this initiative?

    I was consistently at the top of my class in HS, college and grad school and do relatively well in my career, but I still fret about doing a good job educating my kids. As I’m learning more about the _politics_ of home education, I’m understanding more of both the well-formed arguments and the arrogant comments made on HEOS [my wife and I have a saying “going Cobranchi on someone” in reference to somewhat aggressively setting them straight on home education], but I don’t think this is information that all home educators have, or want to have, or would even understand. They are educating at home simply because they don’t see any _other_ way out.

    Again though, I’m new to all this and the community. I’ll accept that I’m naïve or simply wrong.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 6:47 am

    I think your point of view is very relevant. Too often, it is easy to make value judgments about the reasons why people do certain things. In general, I think when parents choose to use public charter home-based programs, that they don’t want to affect homeschool freedoms. I do believe it is in my best interests to point out why I do not recognize the program they are enrolled in as “homeschooling”–the program not the person. That seems to be where the controversy happens when the focus is on the person and what they call themselves and not the program. I’m interested in cataloging HOW homeschooling is being or could be impacted by these public-funded programs. I’m not interested in a campaign to eradicate those programs; those decisions need to be made by the taxpayers in those states. I’m interested in keeping my homeschool freedoms and not having those freedoms eroded. But if in the process of watching my homeschool freedoms, I steamroll over those who disagree with me, making enemies out of strangers, then maybe it is fear not information that I’m communicating. I’d rather gain informed friends and acquaintences who can see in what ways their choice intersects with my choice.
    National Charter School Watch list:

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 9:20 am

    I stongly agree with Ken on the point that many hsers “go radical” on newbies to their own demise. It is easy to put down a newbie for having the “wrong” ideas about homeschooling since it was done to me. I appreciated when I ran across a well thought out arguement for one’s belief regarding homeschooling that was not an attack on my “stupidity” and these essays changed some of my thinking.

    Daryl, you have an opportunity to educate newbies on the fundementals of homeschooling from a long term political point of view. Why not post on your blog several well thought out essays on your positions on homeschooling that a newbie can read, digest and perhaps even debate with you? Come down from the mountain and mingle with us common folks once in a while.

    Comment by
    Mary Nix
    June 1st, 2005
    at 10:16 am

    This is a revised version of a response I recently posted at the
    AHA-Political Action Discussion group- groups...ction/
    in regards to the new public school programs that are promoted
    as homeschooling either directly or indirectly.

    Of course anyone can call himself or herself what they wish. I could
    call myself a young mother of two daughters if I wanted to, but I’d
    still be a middle-aged Mom with two sons. All are wonderful
    descriptions, but the latter is the only accurate one.

    When we started home-educating eons ago, others stressed the
    importance of knowing the rights and responsibilities that
    accompanied our educational choice. I believe that is relevant
    advice for any educational choice or endeavor.

    Homeschoolers in particular have historically been a grass roots
    group of folks who knew that there was no magic formula to living and
    learning with children. We know that educational experts are
    not a necessity, but a choice.

    In 2000, as an Ohio homeschooler, I started getting mail about a new
    public school called the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (e-Cot).
    One would get a computer, a curriculum, a teacher and learn at home
    via public school funding. Some decided to try it and for some it
    was a good fit. At that time there weren’t as many testing
    requirements for the e-schools as there are now and some felt that
    perhaps they really could homeschool via the public school without
    any strings attached.

    Others of us felt we should be watchful because of the principle I
    spoke of above, which again is to know the rights and
    responsibilities that accompany a choice. Even though e-Cot’s
    requirements were not as rigorous as a brick and mortar school, to
    utilize it one had to enroll in public school. Ohio home educators
    are excused from compulsory attendance laws and do not enroll in
    school here. Public e-schoolers are not excused from compulsory
    attendance laws. Several years later, these e-schools have
    multiplied and their programs have become more rigorous, not less and
    they still are not excused from compulsory attendance for the purpose
    of home education.

    Many of the e-school’s educational management companies provide
    services to homeschoolers and e-schools. This often confuses the
    user, the media, the general public and the legislators.

    K12, Inc. is one that offers both. K12, Inc. provides their
    curriculum for the Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) and many other state e-
    schools across the country. The K12, Inc. curriculum that they use for
    public e-schools at home is also packaged and sold to home
    educators. Which is K12, Inc., a service for homeschoolers or a
    service for public schools? They are a corporation that first
    developed a program for homeschoolers and have since marketed the
    same program for public e-schools at home.

    When one purchases the K12, Inc. curriculum on your own in Ohio, one
    can still be excused from compulsory attendance for the purpose of
    home education. When one is enrolled in the Ohio Virtual Academy
    (OHVA), the K12, Inc. public e-school in Ohio, one is enrolled in the
    Ohio public school system. Using OHVA, the child’s education and
    academic achievements must line up with state and federal standards;
    they must take the state and federally mandated tests, follow
    immunization laws, and more. Yes, the base curriculum is the same,
    but the choice and the day-to-day requirements are not.

    White Hat Management is another educational management company and
    they have several ventures including schools for dropouts, a new
    homeschool curriculum and their longtime, online publicly funded e-
    school, OHDELA. They are aggressive in
    calling their e-school homeschooling:
    and home education

    They started out with their publicly funded e-school and just
    recently have started a program for homeschoolers that offers
    different levels of curriculum and access to experts that
    homeschoolers can now purchase. You can view the new program at

    Again, with many of these corporations, the curriculum they use
    for the public school and the curriculum they offer to the
    homeschooler is one and the same. Certainly that is not illegal,
    but since they often say or infer they are home education programs,
    one should be aware of the rights and responsibilities that go
    along with an educational choice to avoid confusion. They might be
    similar, (some are banking on the similarities) but the differences
    are crucial.

    Most importantly, none of these programs are necessary to
    homeschool. Many left the school system or never entered it because
    they didn’t want to participate in the one size fits all
    methodology. As others attempt to bring this same method of public
    education into homes, calling it homeschooling, but a bit better due
    to their experts, homeschoolers will not and have not sat by silently
    allowing home-education to be reformed.

    That is not being exclusive. Lumping all choice into one pot and
    calling it all the same thing only causes all the choices to lose
    their distinctiveness. Each are wonderful choices, but to utilize
    them to their fullest, one needs to know what they are. The
    American Homeschool Association, Home Education Magazine and folks like Daryl
    have empowered people as they encourage them to understand the
    distinctiveness of each choice and to take responsibility for knowing
    what their choice involves. That is a gift, not a hindrance. It is truth in advertising.

    Mary Nix

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 11:12 am

    Ken and JAMM,

    I often see that new homeschoolers are “put off” by the seemingly or actual radical positions that longer-time homeschool parents may hold.

    You may be interested in my article
    about how homeschooling began affecting my other beliefs — when I started out as a very traditional, mainstream (whatever that means) type.

    PLEASE NOTE, as I suspected I would and alluded to in the article, my views HAVE continued to evolve. I mention in the piece that vouchers seemed to make more sense to me at that time — but I admit that indeed, having read about, thought about, and listened about this issue, I no longer have any interest in vouchers for homeschoolers, and realize that my interest at that time was part of my getting to where I was going. Once I saw how strings are attached to money that comes through the government, I became opposed to vouchers for homeschoolers. Just another example of how stepping outside the mainstream, over time, may cause thoughts and tenets to change. I have, I suppose, become increasingly libertarian in this regard.

    My views have also changed over time with regard to why it matters what is *called* homeschooling. Having homeschooled in 3 different states and started more political networking with homeschoolers on a national basis, I realize that my first thought that it didn’t matter and it was divisive was actually because I was seeing my own personal trees and not the forest. In my state, it did not yet matter. But at the very same time, in other states, the stage was being set for government officials and educrats to begin expecting all homeschoolers to meet public school requirements because there were many folks who called themselves homeschoolers or who were called homeschoolers by the charter or e-school with which they were affiliated — and, if they were getting public money, they indeed DID have to meet those requirements.

    And I gradually began to see the forest.

    I think something that is a funny ingredient in all this is the kids. I think if you have a child who is “typically academic,” your views on this may change less. That is, with my extremely round peg oldest child, I kept having to get further and further from the traditional institutional vision in order to meet his educational needs. This has no doubt contributed to making me more radical on these issues, because I can feel my blood begin to boil when people start to insist on things like homeschooling with a “proper curriculum” or “proper oversight” or “proper accountability and testing.” On the other hand, had my middle son been my only, I may have never found this to boil my blood — he’s a left brain mathematical-logical/linguistic kid — a perfect fit for an e-school, a curriculum, or public school methods of accountability.

    So new homeschoolers might be where I may have never moved from had I only had the kid for whom those things weren’t a big deal. I may have continued to cling to the institutional vision and not realized that for some children, this contruct of curriculum/testing/accountability is extremely damaging. I might have continued to think, “what’s the big deal?” if public e-schoolers called themselves homeschoolers, because, after all, we’re all just doing what is right for our families.

    I do think that e-schools/public cyber charters may be a good solution for some families, as long as they realize that if they are enrolled in public school, they have to march to that drummer. But I don’t want it to be a bad thing for MY family, for whom marching to the public school drummer did not work. One of the ways I can keep that from being a bad thing for my family is for me to keep pointing out what I have learned — that while these other options may indeed be good schooling opportunities, they should not be confused with independent homeschooling. That protects my ability to continue to develop a homeschooling style that meets my particular children’s needs — the signature as to why the whole weird thing of homeschooling works.

    You may not be weird yet. If your child functions well with the very first homeschooling method/curriculum you choose — and it’s a very traditional academic-type curriculum — you may not even have to get weird. If your child doesn’t function well but you continue to insist on that paradigm as the structure that your family will work with, you may not have to get weird (but you quite possibly will return to public schooling and, I feel for you during your child’s adolescent and teen years.)

    But, if any of your children begin to show you the way to something else and you respond to it –or yours don’t but you rub elbows with homeschoolers whose kids seem to be flourishing because they are doing things like apprenticing in a bike shop for six hours a day and never cracking a book (but mysteriously learning to run a cash register, figure taxes, fix the computer, master the physics involved in bike building, etc) — then you may begin to get weird.

    I guess until then, there truly is a gulf that is difficult to bridge. I can’t bring you here to live with us for me to show you the emotional health and incredible competence and knowledge of my kids — and how lumping their education with other educational choices called *homeschools* but which still require government restriction might harm what we are doing.

    And you can’t jerk us old-timers back to newbie-ness — when leaving one of society’s most revered institutions behind feels radical enough to inspire aversion to further weirdness.

    But we can definitely reach across that gulf. I will believe you when you tell me how radical we seem. I hope you will believe me when I tell you that it is borne of concern that homeschooling be kept free and independent — a real choice to do things differently than they are done by the institution of school — so that other prospective and new homeschoolers (YOU) can benefit as my family has.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 12:05 pm

    I just wanted to thank everyone for this dialog. My son is only 2, but I’ve been reading homeschool blogs for, well, over two years now. My own opinions have shifted a lot, from trying to figure out if I could afford private school to being pretty sure I don’t want to use it even if we could. I remember thinking cyber-charters were a great idea — planning 12 years of schooling by myself seems daunting! Over time, I’ve come to realize that I’m up for it. Or at least I can handle kindergarten so we’ll just start with that. I think talking about all of the alternatives to g-school while pointing out the different rights and responsibilities of each does a great service to people like me who are still formulating their plans.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 12:21 pm

    I am also planning to homeschool my kids and I have just begun to research the possibilities. I had no idea what cyber-charters were until I hit on this site. I have a question though, is enrolling in a school program like this one: mother...x.html still considered homeschooling or is it called something else? Is it all around better to not enroll in any school and just buy the children a yearly curriculum. I obviously still have a lot of research to do.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 12:31 pm

    Ken – I can definitely identify where you are coming from. We were in the same spot 1.5 years ago. We were unhappy with the education (or lack thereof) that our kids were getting in the g-schools, and pulled them out to educate at home. At the time, we joined up with the school district’s HSAP (homeschool assistance program). We thought it sounded like a good idea because it met our state’s requirements and we could get some “free” books, too. Then I started reading opinions here on HOES (and some other sites too) and started to think about how government involvement in homeschooling does come with strings attached. Although g-school involvment of this sort (HSAP’s, charter schools) is generally voluntary, it’s not hard to imagine where states could begin to require it of all homescholers, and that scares me. After our HSAP teacher started to try pushing us away from certain curriculum decisions and into others, and started complaining about our schedule, I could see that the g-school interference is not just thoeretical. We dropped out, and are now proudly independent homescoolers.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 2:28 pm

    You have to really figure out what’s best for your kids. Some kids can thrive in public or private schools, or with a curriculum at home that’s similar. Others, however, cannot work within those constraints. Your best bet is to keep on researching (and don’t feel like you’re asking stupid questions, you’re not), and do a little trial and error with each of your kids.
    The coolest thing about home education is that you have a lot more time. In a public school, teachers have to waste a lot of time with crowd control, helping other kids, filling out paperwork, etc. You get that time back in a home setting. So, having a child struggle with an approach isn’t going to make them “behind” or “slow” compared to others. You have the time to figure out what’s the best for your family and make sure they are actually learning.
    Another way to think about it is that everything you’re doing with your children is teaching them. They’re learning every second of every day, whether it be how to outsmart a teacher, how to play soccer better, or how to do math better. Even if I refer to finding the best way for them to learn as “trial and error,” you and your kids are both finding out how they learn best, how they react to certain approaches, and, ultimately, how they can be successful for themselves. So, it’s not really lost time on a “mistake,” it’s time learning some really important parts about them.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 3:07 pm

    Getting back to Ken’s original comment…

    I think a lot of this fear of not homeschooling properly is the result of years and years of school propaganda that only education majors with government certification are capable of teaching.

    That, quite frankly, is horse crap.

    Kids are resilient, very resilient. The fact that so many so somehow survive the public school system is testament to that. Our experience with home education has taught me that in the vast majority of cases, a parent would have to consciously try to screw up their kids, and even then they might fail and the kids will be fine, or at least no worse than they would have in school.

    If the birds and the bees can raise their young into responsible adults without certified teachers, people can too. It’s a natural process. It really isn’t that difficult. Pick a curriculum or course of study that makes sense to you, and just do it. If it’s not working, you can change something over the weekend without needing to get the state textbook committee involved. Over time you’ll figure out what works best for your kids. And as Kate indicated, the built in time advantage means you can screw up multiple times every year and still come out way ahead every year.

    With apologies to Nike, stop worrying and just do it.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 3:41 pm

    Actually, Daryl, as a citizen of CA, I don’t think it’s the education laws so much as the fact that most Californians have lived with big, pervasive government so long that the impulse to question its involvement in anything has disappeared.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 1st, 2005
    at 4:57 pm

    From their website: “When you enroll in Mother of Divine Grace School your child becomes a student in a legal and accredited private school under our Independent Study Program.” CA law doesn’t recognize homeschooling. What we would describe as home educators frequently organize their own private school by filing an R-4. So, to answer your question, legally you wouldn’t be homeschooling (I think).

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 1st, 2005
    at 5:11 pm

    Coming down off the mountain…

    I try not to blast newbies unless they seem intentionally obtuse. That is, they’ve had the issues explained to them– how cyber charters are not homeschools and how confusing the two puts us at risk– and yet they insist on using the incorrect term anyway. Those newbies deserve to be blasted. Long term (former) home educators who think that cyber charters are the “best of both worlds” are just as, if not more, guilty.

    I’d like to point out that I am NOT opposed to charter schools (B&M or cyber), and I’m generally in favor of vouchers, too. I just want to keep the categories separate. If I had my druthers, the terms “home education” and “homeschooling” would never appear in the same article as “cyber charter.”

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 8:56 pm

    I’ve been travelling again and am just now catching up with some of these discussions, so I’m going to post something here that I posted on the AHA-PoliticalAction list last night, in reply to an individual who’s been having trouble understanding why blending the terms is a problem. I’ve edited it slightly for clarity, but I think it’s quite relevent to this discussion:

    Thousands of people are doing the same kinds of things you’re doing – helping young people learn, or helping parents help their children learn, or doing whatever they can to help broaden the understanding that learning is good and right and important – and many of them are using school resources – or helping others use school resources to achieve their goals.

    Many of these people – and the people they’re helping – consider themselves homeschoolers. And I don’t have a problem with that.

    I’ll repeat that, because I think it’s key to this discussion: I don’t have a problem with what people choose to call themselves, their children, their program, whatever.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea, I wish they’d call themselves something less confusing to the issue, and I think as long as people who are enrolled in public school programs continue to call themselves homeschoolers we’re going to have trouble holding onto the freedoms homeschoolers have gained through many years of legal and legislative battles. But what people choose to call themselves is, in fact, really none of my business. We still live in a free society, and that means anyone can call themselves anything they choose if they so desire.

    I DO, however, have a BIG problem with public schools and for-profit companies masquerading as homeschooling to sell their programs. Much has been written, here and elsewhere, about the complexities of that issue, and how and why the people behind these entities continue to work hard to change the meaning of homeschooling. In many places, like my home state, Alaska, they’ve grandly succeeded. When someone says they’re homeschooling in this state most people casually accept that they’re doing school at home through one of the dozens of charter schools which have sprung up in the last ten years. Independent homeschooling, as our family has always done (and is still doing via our grandkids), is outside the norm. I can easily foresee a day when children learning completely independently within their own families – as Alaska’s law still allows – will be a thing of the past. I doubt you’ll grieve much, but in my book it’ll be a sad day. (And FYI, yes, we did try to do something before it was too late, but I don’t think anyone could have stemmed the flood of people clamoring to sign up for their “free” computers and thousands of dollars to spend on whatever they wanted to.)

    For anyone interested, we’re compiling information and resources about the topic at the American Homeschool Association’s site:
    AHA Focus:Charter Schools and Homeschooling

    I’ll be linking to this discussion at that site.


    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 9:48 pm

    Thanks for answering my somewhat OT post. I have made a decision to homeschool my kids, not to cyber school them or enroll them in a distance learning private school. Thanks to places like this on the web, I am slowly learning some ins and outs of homeschooling and the terminology.

    Comment by
    June 1st, 2005
    at 9:51 pm

    For the record, it should be noted that when I first started to pay attention to this issue I was very much in the “it doesn’t matter” camp.

    I was wrong.

    It matters a lot. For many people, the price of freedom is apparently a PC and some free workbooks. Unfortunately, they are selling my freedom at that price too.

    “This is how Liberty dies – with thunderous applause.”