Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gimme types vs. cooperation

I had a comment on my last post that really deserves a post of its own in response. I see a definite difference between what the commenter is talking about and the "gimme" types and I want to clarify.
Beth states that in Illinois homeschoolers can join in individual classes at the local schools if they are not full, and that her child has taken several classes in this way and that she has developed a good relationship with the school. That is great! I'm all for that kind of cooperation if it works well for your family.

In Indiana it is up to each school to determine what calsses homeschoolers can take.The reason we haven't pursued such an arrangement is that our needs haven't been of the academic sort--or we have instead gone the route of taking college classes-- but I have known people for whom it has worked nicely. One of our younger sons has been invited to take part in music activities at a local school and has done so.

Beth says:

I'm not quite sure why you call homeschoolers who feel that their kids could benefit from these things 'gimme types'. Homeschooling is not just about keeping the kids away from public school, but doing what is best for each individual kid.

As Beth says, homeschooling is about doing what is best for each child. The kind of arrangements that she is talking about aren't the things that we're seeing people asking for that I call the "gimmes." Just a couple of concrete examples are in order:

Recently we have had discussion on the IndianaHomeschoolers email list about homeschoolers getting money from the state since we don't use the schools. The suggestion was that they give us a debit card to use for educational materials. When it was pointed out that this might mean some oversight of homeschooling or some definition in Indiana code of what we do, there were a few people who felt that it would be worth it to sacrifice homeschool freedoms for the money. (And I think that these people forget that the childless and older people don't use the schools either and still pay. The abolition of universal mandatory funding for schools is a different issue.)

Another suggestion was that the state should pay for our kids to take achievement tests. When it was pointed out that the state might then ask for some kind of accountability or begin to require testing, that was okay with them. They didn't care if other homeschoolers didn't want testing; they just wanted someone else to pay for theirs.

Then there's the issue of sports. High schools sports eligibility in Indiana is decided by the IHSAA. Member schools must abide by the rules in order to participate. One of these rules is an enrollment and attendance rule. There are parents who think that they should be able to opt out of the public schools, but that their child should get to play on athletic teams anyway. These enrollment and attendance rules protect against all sorts of abuses in competetive high school sports. Any exceptions for homeschoolers would open a huge can of worms for the IHSAA and the backlash against homeschoolers would be huge.

There are choices we make when we decide to homeschool. There are a tremendous number of benefits that we realize from homeschooling our children. But there are also opportunities we give up. Even schooled children have trade-offs and choices. If you don't join the French Club, you can't take the club trip to France. If you want to be in a top marching band you give up a good portion of your summer freedom. When we chose to homeschool through high school our daughter gave up the opportunity to play varsity soccer, but for us the trade-off was worth it.

We can't always have everything our way. And I still have a problem with homeschoolers who want to pursue gain for themselves at the cost of homeschool freedoms for everyone else.

4 comments:

Susan said...

Regarding the public-school attendance requirements to play on sports teams. To play in Wisc, some schools also have citizenship scores that must meet a certain level. The teachers "grade" kids weekly on cooperation, kindness, politeness, etc. Probably it's just a scheme to knock a mouthy bully off the team, but the rules are written down in some schools. And just how is a homeschooler going to prove his "citizenship" is up to snuff to stay on a sports team?

Oh, and the drug-testing too. No more poppy-seed buns for people with high-schoolers!

Like we really want to open homeschoolers up to either of THOSE oversights from the govt? Talk about asking for invasion of privacy!

Melanie T. said...

I agree with you. Homeschoolers function as a private school. I can't think of a single person that would enroll in a private school that didn't have band or athletics and then expect the public school to allow them to participate in those activities. But it seems to be an expectation among homeschoolers. Like you said, we have to accept the sacrifices along with the blessings of homeschooling.

In South Dakota we are allowed to homeschool with virtually no oversight from the state. Homeschoolers are allowed to participate in public school extra-curricular activities, but I don't think that is a good arrangement. I don't know how grade and attendance standards are applied to homeschool students' particpation in extra-curricular activities. I think it just sets us up for more intrusion from the government, costing all of us more than just tax money.

Beth said...

Melanie,

There are many school districts that cooperate with private schools to provide opportunities that the smaller schools cannot afford children. Our town's Lutheran school kids (6th, 7th and 8th) go by bus several times a week to share in the junior high band program at the public grade school. Kids also go over for speech and other special help. The track and field program is opened up to the Lutheran school kids as well.

Back when my son (now 16) was a 4 year old and needed speech therapy, I took him to the school for an evaluation by a speech therapist--sure enough he needed some help. They had no speech therapist on staff and offered us full time Head Start for him ( I laughed hysterically). I wondered how being in a pack of kids fighting for the attention of 1 teacher was going to help his speech:) Knowing we were going to homeschool, of course we did not want this, so I asked for private speech, which he had for 9 months and was fine. This particular situation was outside of my ability to help Micah on my own, and the resource was available. I think that there are lots of times when homeschoolers can access this kind of supplementation without fear.

Melanie T said...

Beth,

What I am really addressing here is the idea that when people make a choice to educate their children, either in a private school or at home, that there may be some sacrifices involved. The public schools do not receive any income from our homeschooled children, yet, if they participate in activities at the public school it costs the school money. How is that fair to the school? If your child is enrolled part time, there is some tax money given to the school for your child's attendance. As homeschoolers we have made intentional choices to forgo some benefits of public school education to reap the bigger benefits of home education. Unless the school receives some compensation for a child's participation I think it is wrong for a child to participate. Just because we are taxpayers doesn't mean we automatically have a right to those services or activities. In South Dakota, school monies are received from property tax. There are many homeschoolers who are not property owners. Do they have a "right" to participate in public school activities?

Adding children to an activity without compensating the school for the expense of a child's participation costs all taxpayers. It also gives the goverment an invititation to hold my child to the same standards as public school children whether I like it or not.

In the case of your Lutheran school participating in ps activities, is it free, or does the Lutheran school pay a fee for each child who participates in those activities?