Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dr. Phil on homeschooling

Word went out a while back that Dr. Phil was doing a show on homeschooling and that it was going to be a hit piece. Apparently that piece is going to air Friday, and from the preview on the website it doesn't look pretty.

If you're curious look under Next Week on Dr. Phil and click on Friday.

I don't like Dr. Phil, but I'll probably watch it next Friday so that I can see what he says.

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.