Sunday, October 14, 2012

Voting for Homeschool

With the girls and Matt at Chess Club, I've sat myself down to do some voter research for upcoming state and local elections.

Unfortunately, my research got stopped cold when I made to just quickly double-check that I knew who I was voting for in the state school superintendent race: the Republican dude who's run the public schools into the ground for the past four years, stymied its kiddos with huge testing burdens, and tried to punish teachers who are less successful at force-feeding context-less standardized testing information into their students' brains for years on end without a break, or the Democratic chick who has the support of the teachers' union, and wants to basically spend her term undoing all of the current superintendent's requirements concerning high stakes testing and teacher evaluations?

Simple, right? Just let me check on one tiny detail, first...

Crap. Looks like she hates homeschooling.

It's common knowledge here that Indiana's public schools are struggling (Is that common knowledge for every state? I have no idea). Our governor has taken funding from them and added a bunch of standardized tests, and from what I can gather he and the superintendent have acted like assholes to the public school teachers, because all the ones whom I know personally hate them.

With all this turmoil, and all these miserable voters who teach in or have kids in the public schools, you'd think that both candidates would want to focus entirely on these glaring concerns, these many issues. Homeschooling families are a small population, and they're not complaining that their kids are illiterate, or that they don't have access to foreign language study and music programs, or that they're being over-stressed by yearly standardized tests.

But here's what the challenging candidate, Glenda Ritz, nevertheless has to say about homeschooling: it needs regulation.

Seriously? I mean, she knows that it IS regulated, right? She knows that homeschooling families are required to school for a certain number of days each year, and are required to maintain curriculum standards at least comparable to the public schools, and that these requirements can be checked on? So that if families actually were pulling their children out of school just to serve as caregivers for their grandparents (Seriously?), the homeschooling regulations already in place could be used to stop them?

So either she's ignorant about homeschooling but still willing to trash it for applause (and thanks for THAT, teachers in attendance at that discussion--I try to vote in support of y'all!), or she knows the regulations but is willing to lie about them in order to give evidence that they need to be changed.

Should I vote for the dude who's trashing the public schools but has basically left homeschooling alone for four years, or should I vote for the chick whom the public school teachers support but who may trash homeschooling, and trust that the teachers, if called upon, would not applaud further regulations but would instead support my rights the way that I supported theirs?

No, really. I'm asking you.


kirsten said...

sseriously. who do you vote for at all?

anyway, this is random, but you and several other bloggers have talked about 'story of the world' recently, specifically the audiobooks. we tried the books a few years back for one year and weren't too happy with them. i thought the audiobook might be a good/fun supplement + car entertainment. And can I say? I hate that guy's voice!!! hate it!! his cadence and intonation are just weird and grating to me. and the boys were bored. oh well. we did like the audiobook of 'story of US' though, have you tried it?

(please do not dissect for grammar mistakes. they're there, I know. ;)

julie said...

I STILL don't know which superintendent I'm voting for. I'm pretty sure that Ritz would be better overall, but I just don't know if I can bring myself to vote for her, knowing how she feels about my specific population. BUT I also voted to raise my own property taxes to support our county public schools after Bennett and our governor, Mitch Daniels, ran them into the ground and took away all their money, so Bennett's poor management is still affecting me, even if he is leaving homeschoolers alone. Ugh!

I feel the same way about the narrator of the Little House audiobooks that you do about Jim Weiss, the guy who does Story of the World. On a positive note, I actually have reconciled myself to the Little House narrator, but only because Sydney is OBSESSED with audiobooks, constantly has one playing, and I've heard that specific voice so many times that I've just gotten used to it, I think.

I'll try Story of US--thanks! That might be good for the road trip that I'm taking the girls on next month. We're going up the East Coast a bit, across Virginia and D.C., and I was thinking about how to get some knowledge of the Revolutionary and Civil War and colonial history into their heads without "studying" it.

Unknown said...

I would seriously ask you to consider voting for Glenda Ritz. I'm a teacher who has considered homeschooling myself (one of my children has Down syndrome and the other is gifted). I know, without a doubt, that I could homeschool and do a great job of it. I also know (as do all teachers), that many homeschool parents do an awesome job.

The problem is, at least in my area, many of the students withdrawn from our schools to "homeschool" are actually dropouts. They sign up for homeschool and never follow through with it. We're in a rural area with high poverty . . . homeschool is used as a way out of the schools without having any accountability.

I personally know of several parents who have withdrawn their children for "homeschool" and the parents themselves don't even have a GED (and wouldn't be able to pass the GED test if they tried).

I'm sure that most of the homeschool parents that you associate with do not fall into this category. The homeschool parents who make sure their children actually learn the material are not the ones that teachers (including Glenda Ritz) are concerned about.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

julie said...

I'm going to vote for Ritz this time, even though I'm profoundly against further homeschool regulation. The regulations already in place would, if authorities bothered to enforce them, prevent drop-outs from pretending that they're homeschoolers, and I am NOT for preventing parents without GEDs from homeschooling; homeschooling simply isn't the kind of top-down, "information goes from my brain into yours" set-up that traditional schools are, and I am not okay with the assumption that adults who lack a formal certification cannot mediate their children's educational experiences. If they do a bad job, and their children are not receiving instruction equivalent to their grade level then, again, there are regulations already in place to deal with that.

Anyway, parents whose children are in public schools have convinced me that they are in dire straits with Bennet, and I plan to vote for a person whose views on homeschooling I don't support solely to help the public school kids. But if Ritz fixes public schools and then starts trying to regulate my homeschool, I am going to be so pissed, and I am going to fight her.


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