Monday, April 20, 2009

Here I Go Again.....

I received a call last week from a co-worker in the company I drive school bus for. This woman told me she had some questions about homeschooling and was given my name as someone who might be able to answer them.

Cool, I thought. The topic of homeschooling just happens to be one of my passions, and if I can encourage anyone along the pathway, or help them to decide to take that route, I'm very eager to help.

She asked me how a person would go about getting registered, how records are kept, that sort of stuff. Then, just when I was warming to the subject, she burst my bubble. The reason she was asking me these questions was because she was planning to "report" a negligent homeschooling mother, and was hoping that I could tell her whom she should call. I gave her the information she sought, and hung up the phone, much troubled.

It stuck with me all day and into the next. So, I decided to give her a call and have a little chat.

I asked her, very kindly (honest....), how she knew for sure that this mother was being negligent. I informed her that some of the benefits of homeschooling was that school could be done at many different times of the day, many hours less a day than the typical public schooler, and with many different learning styles or approaches to schooling. Just because she didn't see this child having school did not necessarily mean that they weren't doing their schoolwork. She informed me that she just knew (reassuring me that she understood all of the points that I made), but that she just knew because she knew the family.

Here is what I really wanted to ask her if I could have asked her with the right spirit:

1) Have you ever reported the parent and/or teacher of a public school child?
2) If not, then why not?
3) Can you honestly tell me that in all of your years of dealing with public schools that you have not met at least one child who was not doing well in school?
4) If a child had "slipped through the cracks", then whose fault was it, the parent(s) or the teacher(s)?

Like I said, I am a very strong homeschooling advocate. However, I do realize, especially since driving a school bus, that there are situations where attending a public school is in the best interest of the child. I drive these types of children around all the time - children whose parents would be incapable of teaching their child themselves. I have very much come to admire the service that these teachers and schools provide for these children.

But..........this is what I also see: I see children that do not know how to spell their last name IN GRADE THREE. I see a grade eight girl who told me that it was only three years ago - in grade five - that she was able to read for the first time the type of chapter books my daughter is reading now, in grade one.

When I was in grade 12, I had an excellent English teacher, one who actually still believed in oral reading. She regularly had the class read out loud. In GRADE 12. Guess how many could actually oral read at a Grade 12 level? About a half dozen. That's six, total. Out of over 20 students.

And so I wonder, if I, or anyone else for that matter, were to take the approach that my co-worker is planning to take on a homeschooling mom - then where on earth would we even begin with the public schools? Whose fault is it when a child is passed on from grade to grade without even knowing how to read? Whose fault is it when a child in grade three can't even spell her last name? How do kids make it through to the end of their public school education with the oral reading level of a grade school child?

WHO IS AT FAULT? The parents or the teachers? Or both?

I realize that there are some negligent homeschooling parents. However, statistics hugely support the success of homeschooling as a whole, in every aspect - not just academically, but socially as well.

And it comes down to this: If a person is going to take to task the negligence of a homeschooling parent(s) - real or imagined - then please use that same principle to ensure that everyone in your circle of influence is getting as good an education as possible in the public system.

Maybe it will even help out the public education system in the long run......


Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but comment on this post.

As a once-homeschooled kid who eventually went to public school, it aggravates me that there are still people who assume one needs a degree to teach children. If there was one thing I learned when I went to high school, it was that public education is embarrassingly undependable, and proudly produces to the world upon graduation almost as many non-readers as entered its 'stable system' 12 years earlier.

It seems as though the best way to make a child succeed in this world is to lower our standards for them, instead of educating them better.

Darla said...

Thank you, "Anonymous", for your comments. I must admit that when I first saw an anonymous comment without a name, I thought for sure I was going to get blasted. I would be interested in knowing who this is from.

One - of the many - problems with teachers is that there are not enough of them that are passionate about their job. Not enough who are really "called" to teach. Of all of my teachers, only about 3-4 stand out as being truly passionate. These were the ones who "really" taught and had methods of making it stick in my brain. A truly "called" teacher would have the passion required to help the children as individuals in their specific needs, as well as the ability to hold the children's interest.

Anywho....., more of my two cents.

Laura said...

This is one of my "many" soapboxes, and a subject very close to my heart.

I know it did't take all day to teach the girls, (quite often done by noon each day) and we were often done the school year by March or the latest, April because they worked their little hymies off to have an extra long summer. So I am sure people "assumed" I was a negligent homeschooler because you would often see me with my children out and about doing anything but school. They were already done for the day or the year!

What actually makes me see red even faster is when someone chooses to remain ignorant about homeschooling and the statistics. When talking to a "friend" several years ago, I was told I would have "social retards" because my children were not going to be subject to the public school system when they were small. When I offered to get this "friend" some statistics, their response was, "No thank you, I won't read it anyway." Ignorance is one thing. To wilfully remain in ignorance and try and spew out information about something you know nothing about, really gets my dander up.

Oh dear, I am off on a tangent....sorry. Told you this was my soapbox.

Like you Darla, I had one or two teachers in highschool who made their mark on me as a teenager and that is sad.

I will end it on this note though. I chose to put my girls into the public school system to get their diploma. That is a story in itself, but the school we chose made the transition as smooth as it ever could be for kids who never went to public school. They worked with us, and I would recommend this highschool to any homeschooler who chose to do it the same way we did. The girls had some pretty amazing teachers there that helped them and worked with us. And you can't ask for anything more than that.

Okay, I am done now.

P.S. Teachers don't quite know what to do with teenagers who, when they are done their work, in class (imagine that) go up to them and ask, "I am finished. What would you like me to do next?" Jenna's gr.9 English teacher was literally speachless. Never had that happen to her before. Had a good chuckle over that one. :-)

Darla said...

Ah, Laura, we all know how socially inept your kids are. What were you thinking? And of course, the fact that your eldest daughter entered the advanced program when entering public school all.

I'm their auntie, I can brag.

Thanks for the comment.

Jenna said...

Why, yes, we are clearly inept. :)

Rachel Roberts said...

My amazing momma home schooled me from K - Jr High. After that I did online school from Jr High to grade 12 where I got my diploma.

I was one of those students who probably would have gotten higher grades overall had I been in a class room in high school, with more in depth instruction and illustration than what the online teachers could offer. (I'm a highly visual learner verses text book learner).

However, had I chosen that path, I probably (most definitely!) would be a completely different person today with little to no faith in God.

The high schools in our area where I grew up were anything but Christian. I saw first hand, young people go into high school as wonderful Christian young people... and leaving as wounded, tattered souls.

The reason for this can't really be explained except for the fact that satan likes to start with the young.

Laura, Thank God that your girls were able to attend a good public school, and that their faith in God is deeply instilled in them as so not to waiver.

Good on you Darla for sticking up for home schooling your babies. :o)

Graceful Threads said...

Honestly I think our world puts a little too much emphasis on acedemics and never even considers character training,Biblical instruction, lessons in integrity and morality. These are all things that should be considered when trying to determine wether on not someone is getting a proper education, its not just math and phonics.

I'd rather have a late reader who knows how to serve others than an academic genius who has been jaded by things he sees and hears in public school.

Graceful Threads said...

One - of the many - problems with teachers is that there are not enough of them that are passionate about their job. One more thought on this quote. I totally agree and think teachers are ridiculouly underpaid. We spend millions of dollars on football stadiums with taxpayer money for our kids to play sports but neglect to pay our teachers a decent wage.

Darla said...

Jenna: Yep, "clearly".

Rachel R: Hindsight is always 20/20, but thank God we have it to learn for future reference. I am 100 percent against sending my children to high school. I believe there is enough material and help out there nowadays for homeschoolers that they don't need to, and statistics clearly show that homeschoolers integrade just as well into college and excel academically. My husband, however, does not see things exactly like me and I am praying desperately that we can come to an agreement when the time comes. Even though there are homeschooled kids in my church that were put into high school and have turned out to be very good kids, I still believe it is a risk too big to take - much like Russian Roulette - at the most vulnerable time of their lives.

Sis. C: As usual, I agree with you. I really believe strongly in giving my children as good of an education as I can. However, I am not willing to do that at risk of forfeiting all that really matters in God's eyes. I am not even really (here come the rotten tomatoes) comfortable with college educations - as a rule. I think each case should be measured individually and with much prayer, but college/university nowadays scares me spitless, too. However, they would be adults by then so ultimately the choice would be theirs.

Just more of my two cents, for what it's worth.......

I'm enjoying these comments and discussions immensely, ladies. Thanks.

Rachel Roberts said...

While I think we need to protect our kids from as much negativitey as possible, I don't think that God wants us to be "scared" of the things in the world. To be so fearfull of letting your child go to college that you would hinder them from doing so is (in my opinion) saying that you have more faith in the world to influence your children than you have faith in God to protect them.

Daniel went into a literal den of lions, yet God close the mouths of the lions to save Daniel's life.

God is gracious and kind and will protect those who will allow His protection.

I believe that satan will only "get to" those who simply allow it.

palmtreequeen1 said...

Good for you!! Well said!:) (APPLAUSE) tehe

Darla said...

Rachel: I said, "I am not even really (here come the rotten tomatoes) comfortable with college educations - as a rule. I think each case should be measured individually and with much prayer, but college/university nowadays scares me spitless, too."

I think I should clarify a couple of things. First of all, Daniel would qualify to me as "an individual case weighed with much prayer" as in someone who could handle college. He was full of faith, prayed three times a day and had a walk with God. Obviously that is ultimately the kind of relationship I would want my children to have. However, if they are in any way struggling, I do not think that a college education would help them at that time in their lives. That's what I meant by that statement.

I am not someone who believes that "knowledge is power", any more than "ignorance is bliss", although both are true at times. I've seen cases where a parent had equipped their child with too much knowledge and the result was a child stripped of innocence (literally altering their personality). I've seen a parent shelter their child with the result of a child making a stupid choice because out of ignorance (the side I personally will struggle with, I know). It requires delicate balance for each child individually.

When it comes to university, I really don't think God places a huge value on whether one of his children go or not, truthfully (again - speaking generally). Having one niece and a friend currently attending university, I've heard HORROR stories of some of things they are exposed to that make high school look like a cake walk (which is why college education scares me spitless). I can only imagine what it will be like by the time my children are that age if things keep declining morally as they are.

So, to completely clarify my position:

1) I don't think acquiring a university education is the be all, end all for a child of God and is over-rated. I think they can have gainful, fulfilling employment without one;
2) I wouldn't hinder my child, it would be their choice (although I might have a strong opinion one way or the other);
3) A university education is absolutely necessary for God's children who feel a definite "calling" for something that requires that type of education;
4) If my child happened to be, in your words, one that "might not allow His protection", I would definitely try my hardest as their mother to at least have them put off their college education until such a time as they were more stable, praying that they would become more stable.

So, whether or not we still agree or disagree, I'm not sure. I am sure, however, that we both ultimately want what's best for our babies.

One of these days, however, I will post on the subject of "sheltering". After reading much about it, I was very surprised at how much God has to say on that subject. Needless to say, it has influenced my opinion on everything in this regard.

Take care.

Darla said...

Deanna, what a surprise! I just recently discovered that you had a blog.

I'm not sure exactly who you are "applauding", so I'm curious.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I read yours regularly, now that I know it's there.

Rachel Roberts said...

Hi again, Darla :o)

Thanks for clarifying your viewpoint (not that you needed to...but just for my own understanding).

I, of course understand your point of view 100%. You're right, it is a delicate balance, as is life in general. If one is too extreme in either direction, eventually they will fall off the scale, so to speak.

I am not college educated, so I don't support it for my own personal justification.

I think we have to be careful as Christians to not become so exclusive that we suddenly have little or no personal connection with any part of the "world" (not speaking of sin, but of those still "living in sin"). For example: If our Christian young people aren't walking the halls of secular colleges, who else and where else are those young people who haven't found God yet ever going to be positively impacted? However, that's another topic for another time I'm sure :o)

Good discussion. Thought provoking.

Rachel said...

As a mom of a little girl finishing 1st grade from public school, I have mixed feelings on both sides of the subject. I do not have the patience to teach our children and do not think it would be fair (to any of us) if I were to force the issue of homeschooling. I am very happy with my daughter's progress the last two years, and gratefully applaud her teachers.

However, I think her teachers have only been as successful as we, as parents, have made them. I believe a large part of the public school's problems lie with the parents. There is no support for the teachers from the parents. They (the teachers) must do the best they can with what they have. If the parents do not support the teachers at home, then why should the students do their best and do as the teacher encourages them?

Both my pastor and his wife are teachers in the public school system and they see this problem as well. They love teaching and greatly enjoy helping the students be the best they can be, and are both very good at what they do.

So, I guess I'm not an advocate for either. I think you must do what's best for you and your children. Right now, public school works for us, and we have been blessed with a wonderful elementary school that supports us in our beliefs. We, in turn, support the teachers. For now, all is well.

Just a rabbit trail- but doesn't it work the same way spiritually? If the parent doesn't back the pastor at home, can you expect the child to grow up and do what's right all on their own? Isn't that where setting the example comes in? I've seen parents be pillars in the church, yet not back the pastor at home to their children- all 5 children are lost today. I think the principle applies in both situations....

And, I have done more than enough thinking for today, My room is getting smoky from grinding gears..... Wonderful, thought provoking discussion!!

Love you all!

Rachel said...

Just a clarification- That last comment was from Rachel Goff. There are so many of us, I thought I should take credit for the nonconventional, rotten things I said!!

Darla said...

Rachel G: I've missed you! I do agree with you 100 percent that parents should support teachers - and yea, do their part at home to help. This alone would solve a lot of the public school problems - parents and teachers working TOGETHER. Novel idea.

And your "rabbit trail" is true as well. Parents must back the Pastor (and learn to keep their mouths shut in front of their children about issues of any kind!)

I realize, Rachel, that sometimes I come across very strong in my opinion about things - homeschooling being just one of them. I hope I never make you, or others who do not homeschool, feel like the choices you make as parents are BAD and I'm sorry if I do. I truly believe you love your children just like I love mine and want what is best for them. I think I take strong stand about homeschooling in particular because sometimes I feel alone in it. Right now I am alone in my church as a homeschooling mom. I know homeschoolers in other churches as well as past homeschoolers, but none in my local church.

Thanks for commenting. I thought maybe you had "flown to the moon" - (ha, ha).

Rachel said...

Darla, thanks for missing me! Nice to know I'm loved- like I don't get enough here at home!!

I wonder if people working together wouldn't solve a lot of the world's problems, not just at school. But when 2 people that live together and say they love each other can't get along.... well, it just breaks down from there. an ineffective family unit cannot make for an effective community, and it goes from there.

And, you haven't offended me at all. Just opened my eyes to a different view point, which I'm sure I need. There could be no better fight than the one for your children. A lot of parents don't bother, as I'm sure you've seen on your bus run. I feel just as passionately about fostering and adoption. When one is passionate about something, it tends to show. And you're not standing alone- you have God behind you, which means you really don't need anyone else, but, I'm all for your decision. In a way, I wish I could, but I know myself too well!! If I had no other option, I'd do what I had to.

My sister-in-law home schools, and does a fantastic job. I don't feel threatened by either of you, although you do tend to "gang up" on me!! We've just been very blessed by having teachers that truly care at our public school. If we didn't, I'm sure I'd be on your bandwagon, not just cheering you on!!

So, you go girl!! Do your best, and God will do the rest. Rest well in knowing you're in HIs will for you and your children. It's working!!

Love you!!
Rachel G