Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

July 20, 2007

San Antonio Homeschool Conference

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 8:47 am

In case you’re wondering what I’ve been doing instead of blogging about education (I really want to get to Perry’s column on community colleges), take a look below. We’re getting ready for our 4th Annual Homeschool Roundup. If you’re in San Antonio on July 28th and have any interest in homeschooling, be sure to drop by. As soon as the conference is over, I’ll get back to all the wonderful opportunities Perry has provided for blogging.

SA-HERO Roundup Conference Workshops

Special Programs and Activities Mentoring: Sign up for one-on-one mentoring with an experienced homeschooler.

Used Book Sale: HERO will be selling avariety of books and other items to support its resource center. In the exhibit hall, table 13.

Teen Socialization Lab: Room 302 of Metz Hall will offer teens the opportunity to develop those “lacking social skills.” Drop by to test your skills at games, conversation, and munchies.

Concessions: Hotdogs, chips, drinks, popcorn, and more will be sold at the concession stand in the lobby.

Children’s Sessions

9:00 am Jewelry and Small Sculpture with Polymer Clay
  ITC: Folk Medicine
10:00 am Charcoal Gesture Drawing
11:00 am A Relief on Tin Metal
  ITC: One-Room Schoolhouse
1:00 pm Peruvian Rock Art
  ITC: Archeology in Texas
2:00 pm Boston Tea Dyed Flags
3:00 pm The Glass Blowers Art
  Dinosaur George
4:00 pm A Painter’s Life
All art classes are free. Art class attendance is on a first come, first served basis. ITC: Institute of Texan Cultures presentation



Teen SAT Test Prep

9:00 am SAT Math
1:00 pm Instant Improvement in Writing
3:00 pm Free College at Your Fingertip
For high school students who have at least one parent registered for the conference.Space is limited. You must pre-register by sending an email to collegePrep@sahero.org with the following information: Student Name
Student Age
Parent Name
Parent Phone
Parent Email

Demonstration/Lessons

9:00 am Fencing
11:00 am
Mexican folklorico and castanet playing
1:00 pm Fencing
3:00 pm Martial Arts
Space is limited. Instructor reserves the right to determine participation. Release forms may be required.


9:00 am

Room104

Rebuilding Your Education Paradigm: Writing, Thinking & the Essence of Teaching

Room 109

Homeschooling 101

Room 110

Dyslexia, Auditory Processing or Both Hindering your Child?

Exhibit B

Jewelry and Small Sculpture with Polymer Clay

Stage

FolkMedicine

Metz 102

College Math Test Prep (reservations required, continues to 11:30)

Metz 103

Mentoring (sign up at registration table)

Demo Room

Demonstration/Lesson: Fencing by Dreams for Youth

10:00 am

Room 104

Learning Through Living – Unschooling

Room109

Look Forward to Teaching Language Arts and Writing

Room 110

Math can be Fun with Math-U-See

Exhibit B

Charcoal Gesture Drawing

Metz 102

College Math Test Prep cont.

Metz 103

Mentoring (sign up at registration table)

11:00 am

Room104

GottaLove ‘Em

Room109

Unit Studies for Dummies

Room 110

Spelling and the Brain

Exhibit B

A Relief on Tin Metal

Stage

One-Room Schoolhouse

Metz 102

College Math Test Prep cont.

Metz 103

Robotics Information Session

1:00 pm

Room 104

Online Homeschooling Resources at the San Antonio Public Library

Room 109

Files, Foldables, and Fun! (limited seating)

Room 110

Homeschool Dads

Exhibit B

Peruvian Rock Art

Stage

Archeology in Texas

Metz 102

Instant Improvement in Writing

Metz 103

Homeschooling 101 (repeat)

Demo Room

Demonstration/Lesson: Fencing by Dreams for Youth

2:00 pm

Room 104

Getting Through Middle School

Room 109

Don’t Panic Curriculum

Room 110

Homeschooling on a Shoestring Budget

Exhibit B

Boston Tea Dyed Flags

Metz 103

Odyssey of the Mind Information Session

3:00 pm

Room 104

Herding Cats or How EVERYONE Can Have a Great Time on Fieldtrips!

Room 109

Homeschooling while Working

Room 110

Good Citizenship: What does it mean and how do I teach it?

Exhibit B

The Glass Blowers Art

Stage

Dinosaur George

Metz 102

Free College at Your Fingertips

4:00 pm

Room 104

Reaching the Reluctant Writer

Room 109

Homeschooling through High School

Room 110

Conference Wrap-up: Get answers for any questions you haven’t had answered

Exhibit B

A Painter’s Life

Metz 103

Mentoring (sign up at registration table)

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July 1, 2007

Schools and socialization

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 3:36 pm

Hands up if you’re a leader in the playground | Uk News | News | Telegraph

Schools have always had them, the sporty all-rounders with lots of friends and the quiet wallflowers who stand alone in the playground.

Now, however, teachers are being urged to carry out detailed analysis of how pupils get along, as part of a drive to improve their emotional, behavioural and social well-being.

But I thought that’s the main reason why homeschoolers should send their kids to public schools–opportunities for socialization?

Hands up if you’re a leader in the playground | Uk News | News | Telegraph

However, Frank Furedi, a sociology professor at Kent University and author of Therapy Culture, said: “Kids have to learn to interact. This is like getting a teacher to ride a bicycle for you. Children make friends and lose friends -they have to work out strategies to deal with it.

“This is trying to short-circuit that organic process. It is ineffective, unrealistic and utopian.”

So socialization is an “organic” process. I would love to hear the argument then that this “organic” process can only happen in an appropriate, controlled, school environment.

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June 11, 2007

Maybe it was an oversight?

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 12:13 pm

Amazing! Not a single “opposing” view of homeschooling in the article.

Giving Proper Credit To Home-Schooled – washingtonpost.com

Admissions officers accustomed to evaluating class rankings, transcripts and recommendations from professional teachers have long faced challenges in evaluating home-schooled applicants. How much weight should be given to student performance in a class of one or two? Or credits assigned for horseback riding or hiking the Appalachian Trail? Or glowing recommendations from Mom?

June 10, 2007

Keeping the playing field “fair”

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 7:00 pm

Where is all the evidence for homeschoolers stacking teams?

TSO – homeschool policy

It is presumed that a home school team will be composed of children who have a pre-existing relationship of working together on a regular basis. We will require a statement from the coach as to the nature of that relationship. An “all star” team assembled by student abilities rather than by their pre-existing regular study relationship would not be allowed. Since this is a new aspect of the Texas Science Olympiad, we may establish additional criteria as the home school activity materializes and unforeseen problems become known. Our desire is to provide this opportunity to as many children as possible while, at the same time, keeping the playing field level.

How many of these teams come from magnet schools–you know schools that draw kids from all over a school district, maybe even outside the district, but certainly not from the same assigned school?

Do these kids all attend the exact same science, English, history, classes at school? Is it possible that many of the public school teams have kids that share an advanced science class but no others?

What’s sad is that I’m sure many of these public school teams do consist of kids who all attend the exact same honors or advance classes. These teams are undoubtedly “assembled by student abilities.” I bet in some of the more competitive magnet schools, there are even “try-outs.” They in no way represent the greater student population of the school. And these teams are more “fair” than a homeschool team formed of kids who just want to share their passion for a particular subject–whether they’re good at it or not?

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June 6, 2007

Regulating Homeschoolers

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 9:39 pm

I made the following post believing it was from a publication by Robert B. Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration. It looks like there is another Rob Reich who is a professor at Stanford and I believe the actual author of the proposed regulations I quoted.

I sincerely apologize to Robert Reich for the mix-up. Although I really wish that I hadn’t made the mistake to begin with, I am glad to find out that these comments were not made by him.

The Rob Reich in this post does not refer to Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Clinton and currently professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Geeze, I hate having to stand up for the right of religious conservatives to homeschool their kids since I know a lot of them wouldn’t stand up for me, a liberal homeschooler, but the situation isn’t as black and white as some would believe.

Talk To Action | Reclaiming Citizenship, History, and Faith

The homeschooling movement is one of the most disturbing developments associated with the rise of the Christian Right. Even though there is an increasing amount of criticism directed at the Christian Right, there have not been many energetic critics taking on the homeschooling movement.

Let me start by saying that there are lots of people who homeschool and teach a specific ideology. Regulating homeschooling won’t do a damn thing to stop it.

The post has a comment that links to Robert Reich’s chapter on why homeschools should be regulated. I happen to like Robert Reich and generally agree with him but his provisional regulatory framework for homeschooling is for the birds. Or at least it isn’t going to address the problem he sees with homeschooling, it being an illiberal education.

He proposes three basic regulations. The first:

1. All parents who home school must register with a public official. The state needs to be able to distinguish between truants and home-schooled students, and it needs a record that specific children are being home schooled so that its other regulations can be enforced.

Giving Reich the benefit of the doubt, I will take him at his word and interpret this to mean that he thinks homeschoolers should be registered to distinguish them from truant students. Truant students are already registered, that’s what makes them truant. You can just as easily, more so if you think about it, identify what school the kid is supposed to be attending as figuring out is he is a homeschooler.

Don’t they have to contact the parent anyway? Wouldn’t they find out from the parent if the child is supposed to be in school or not? If you can’t trust the parent to state whether or not the child is actually homeschooled, the following two proposed regulations are just as worthless.

Furthermore, I hate to tell you this Robert, a lot of these homeschoolers that you are concerned about have absolutely no qualms about registering with the state. In fact, quite a few of them would think you’re doing them a favor if you implement attendance rules and such to get those pesky unschoolers out of their hair.

2. Parents must demonstrate to educational officials that their homeschool curriculum meets some minimal standard. The minimal standard will include academic benchmarks as well as an assurance that children are exposed to and engaged with ideas, values, and beliefs that are different from those of the parents. For instance, every home-school curriculum should include information about a variety of religious traditions (I believe this should be the case, as well, for public and private schools.) Parents are free to teach their children that their own religious faith is the truth, but they cannot shield children from the knowledge that other people have different convictions and that these people are, from the standpoint of citizenship, their equals.

Well, I live in Texas and I don’t believe that the public schools are required to teach anything about different religion traditions. They may be taught to respect those differences but no one around here really wants to discuss them, that would be going too far.

But that’s not really the point of this regulation, is it? The point is that he thinks someone from the government should certify that a curriculum meets a minimum standard. Again, this is something that liberal homeschoolers would be more upset about than the ones Reich is worried about. Trust me, as soon as there was some sort of “standard,” all the companies that publish homeschool curriculums would ensure that their materials meet those standards.

Big deal.

Because the state will never actually test a student’s knowledge of “pluralism,” it’s happy just to have graduates that can read and write and complete their own tax forms. Can you imagine the state testing public school students knowledge of different religions?

No, what the state will do is test basic academic skills and I assure you that these illiberal homeschoolers will score of the scale. Think about it, they are experts at teaching to the test.

3. Parents must permit their children to be tested periodically on some kind of basic skills exam. Should home-schooled children repeatedly fail to make progress on this exam, relative to their public or private school peers, then a case could be made to compel school attendance. Label this educational harm. (The same kind of educational harm surely exists in some public schools, of course. And this is one reason that I believe parents should have the authority to hold the state accountable for public schools by pulling their children from failing schools and enrolling them elsewhere.)

I love this argument. You will trust parents to make a rational decision to pull the child out of a failing school and enroll them in another school because it is in the best interest of the child. But if the parent chooses not to, the child remains in a poor performing school until society gets around to improving the school. Currently, they get four years. I have a feeling that Reich wouldn’t allow parents four years to show improvement for their children. If they do allow four years, I’m sure even the latest reader or most unschooled unschooler would meet minimal standards.

The only thing regulating homeschooling will do is drive out the growing number of “non-conservative” homeschoolers who keep the homeschool movement from becoming the illiberal monolithic movement Reich and others are worried about. As groups like HSDLA and their “minions” try to keep homescholing pure, they show themselves for the intolerant, totalitarian organizations that they are. And believe it or not, as more “run of the mill” Christians are exposed to their true beliefs of such groups, they are rejecting them. Yes, they are Christians and their beliefs guide their teaching decisions but they do recognize “that other people have different convictions and that these people are, from the standpoint of citizenship, their equals.”

So unless you plan on outlawing homeschooling all together, all your regulations will do is to play to the strengths of those that want to keep homeschooling “pure” for their brand of Christian ideology.

June 5, 2007

No comment

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 3:22 pm

A newspaper reporter contacted me about doing a story on homeschoolers and socialization and was looking for some homeschoolers to contact. I told her that I would try to contact some families but that many homeschoolers are pretty media shy. I went two for four in finding families willing to be interviewed. I can just see people asking, “well, what are you hiding so that you don’t want to be interviewed?”

Nothing.

The problem is that the media has a tendency to portray homeschoolers as “getting away with something.” Or maybe it’s more a result of how people interpret the information presented but ultimately it’s the media that chooses what is presented.

Let me try to explain. Pretend that a reporter wants to interview a vegetarian family. The reporter interviews the family and finds out why they don’t eat meat. The children are quoted as saying that they don’t think they’re missing out on anything by not eating meat and they even have friends who do eat meat.

Then the reporter interviews a dietitian who explains that it is possible to have a nutritious diet if the family is careful to include a variety of proteins. And then she says something to the effect that it requires extra effort and probably isn’t a good idea for everyone.

Most people would read the article and just think “hey, I’m not giving up my cheeseburger” and go on to the next article. But how do you think people would react if the general population was required to buy/prepare meals with meat in them five days a week? Don’t ask me how this would work because I don’t know and that’s not really the point. The point is that when people read about how families who decide to become vegetarians don’t have to follow the rules everyone else does, they start to think that somehow these vegetarians are getting away with something.

That’s what happens with homeschooling. Most people I encounter don’t have much of an opinion about homeschooling even with the “socialization” concerns until they find out homeschoolers don’t have to take the TAKS test or aren’t required to be in school for a certain number of hours or days. Then it becomes, “homeschoolers can get away with that?” and “what about socialization?”

Furthermore, whatever “expert” the reporter contacts inevitably lists the problems with homeschooling and how it’s not a good idea for most people and that the children will have social issues. Gosh, now why wouldn’t any homeschooling family want to subject themselves to that sort of publicity?

The part that I always find amazing is that the reporters always feel obligated to consult some sort of academic expert to talk about the limitations of homeschooling. Do they consult an expert to talk about the “dangers” of joining the Boy Scouts? No. But by consulting these “experts” they are feeding into the “they’re getting away with something” mentality.

If they really want to get an idea about socialization, reporters should talk to people who deal with homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers outside a school setting. I can think of several businesses around here that provide classes to homeschoolers during the day and evening classes to traditional school children. They would probably have a much better handle on the “socialization” issue than some education PhD who has limited interactions with traditional students, much less homeschoolers.

But they don’t. Too often they just focus on the differences and then get an expert to talk about how these differences are actually negatives. And since most homeschoolers I know realize that they aren’t perfect, they have no desire to have their flaws, flaws that any family might have, magnified to the public and attributed to homeschooling.

Homeschoolers aren’t perfect, they’re just tired of the lack of perfection being attributed to homeschooling. Homeschoolers have no desired to be criticized simply to make the rest of the population feel better about sending their kids to public school.

April 2, 2007

Homeschoolers going to Odyssey of the Mind World Competition

One of our three local homeschool teams placed second at state this past weekend and will be going to the World competition.

San Antonio Home Education Resources and Opportunites:

San Antonio HERO will be representing Texas at the Odyssey of the Mind World Competition on May 23rd at Michigan State University. The Division III team, won second place at the state competition in Houston in the technical problem category. They also won a Renatra Fusca award which is the competition’s highest recognition for creativity. Odyssey of the Mind is a creative problem solving competition in which the teams are not allowed to have any outside assistance, ideas, or criticism from non-team members, coaches and parents included. The team members in the picture are from left to right, top row, Hannah Kane, Ellie Pavliska, Katie Kuplac, Galen Schmidt, bottom row, Juliana Hernandez, John Doyle. Congratulations and best of luck at Worlds!

OM World Team

The team will begin raising money to fund the trip to Michigan. We will post all fund raising events on the website and you can contribute directly through Click and Pledge.

And for those of you with children in Odyssey of the Mind, Little League, 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or any organization run by volunteers, be thankful that there are people out there willing to give their time to make these organizations run and provide wonderful experiences (mostly) for your kids that is no where nearly covered by whatever fees you are paying. Some may do it for their ego, some may do it for power, but most do it for the kids and because they believe it makes the world a better place. And you couldn’t afford to pay them what they’re really worth.

March 9, 2007

Preventing increases in the rate of deaths among high school students

Filed under: Accountability, High School, Homeschooling, Texas Education Agency — texased @ 5:34 pm

Given the obscure definitions used by the Texas Education Agency to calculate the high school dropout rate, I can understand why the legislature might feel the need to explicitly define who is a dropout. But I have to wonder about the following requirement:

80(R) HB 3621 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

(e) Each school district shall cooperate with the agency in determining whether a student is considered a dropout under this section. The agency shall require that a school district provide at least the following documentation regarding a student who dies or who leaves school but is not considered a dropout under this section:

(1) for a student who dies, a death certificate;

Maybe I’m wrong and it’s no big deal, but it seems to me that requesting a copy of a child’s death certificate from grieving parents would make the hall of fame for insensitive, bureaucratic, and unnecessary policies. Perhaps the state will come up with a way for officials to by-pass the parents.

It would seem that the TEA should be able to trust the schools to list students as being deceased appropriately. Unfortunately, experience has shown that without requiring some sort of verification, some administrator will start listing students as being dead rather than admitting that they dropped out or have no idea of what happen to them.

Just as an aside, the bill once again unnecessarily distinguishes between withdrawing a child to enroll in another school and withdrawing a child to homeschool. Since homeschools are private schools in Texas there should be no difference. In these situations, it’s generally a case of ignorance on the part of the author. But there are times I wonder if there is this inclination to specify homeschoolers separately from private schools because if the state did decide to increase regulation over homeschoolers, it wouldn’t have to go back and make changes every time a law talked about private schools. But then I realize how little evidence there is of such forethought by our legislature and rest easy again.

March 8, 2007

Basketball saves socially inept homeschooler

Filed under: Homeschooling, Socialization, sports — texased @ 8:43 am

Who knew that sports writers were so well informed about homeschooling to be able to make the following statement?

Sports – StatesmanJournal.com:

Unlike a lot the typical home-schooled students, Berrier (pronounced like Perrier) is well-adjusted and blends in enough with his McKay teammates that outsiders can’t tell the difference.

And then there is the basketball coach:

Sports – StatesmanJournal.com:

“The kids love him,” McKay coach Jack Martino said. “They get along with him great. There’s times you could see it would be a lot better if he was here. He’s socially inept at times. But that was more when he was a freshman and a sophomore — you’re trying to get him to act like a human, and he was a kindergartner at times.

Aren’t most freshman and sophomores socially inept at times?

Looks like his teammates are experts on homeschooling as well.

Sports – StatesmanJournal.com:

“Being home-schooled, he’s around 10 people a day, so he doesn’t take criticism from anybody,” said senior teammate Greg Plater.

Well, if he hasn’t received any criticism in homeschooling, surely he’s received some in college?


Sports – StatesmanJournal.com:

Berrier has finished his home-schooling curriculum for high school — but hasn’t graduated — and is taking classes at Chemeketa Community College.

He figures that he’ll have 60 credits toward a college degree by the end of the school year.

What’s interesting is that they never really give his opinion about the school and why he doesn’t attend although his sister does. They don’t have him saying, “yeah, since I homeschool, people are really easy on me” or something to that affect. The only statement from him is about when he couldn’t get into the high school dance.

Sports – StatesmanJournal.com:

“After that, I was so sick of it, I never went to one,” said Berrier, whose twin sister, Samantha, attended McKay and graduated in February. “I lost interest in it. If they don’t want me there, I’m not going to go.”

Sports – StatesmanJournal.com:

The thing that keeps Berrier coming back to McKay is basketball.

So he isn’t in school for the academic challenge or social opportunities–just basketball? What a resounding endorsement for the benefits of attending high school. Gosh, he’s so lucky to have been able to play basketball to save him from being a typical socially inept homeschooler.

February 8, 2007

TEXAS Grants for graduates of any Texas High School

Filed under: Homeschooling, Legislature — texased @ 6:04 pm

80(R) HB 1250 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to prohibiting discrimination based on a student’s secondary school in awarding certain financial aid for higher education.
�������BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: �������SECTION�1.��Section 56.304(a), Education Code, is amended to read as follows:
�������(a)��To be eligible initially for a TEXAS grant, a person must:
�������������(1)��be a resident of this state as determined by coordinating board rules;
�������������(2)��meet either of the following academic requirements:
�������������������(A)��be a graduate of a public or [accredited] private high school in this state who graduated not earlier than the 1998-1999 school year and who completed the recommended or advanced high school curriculum established under Section [28.002 or] 28.025 or its equivalent; or

If a person meets all has met all other college admissions requirements, does it matter if she went to an unaccredited private school?

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