Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Part 10- Continuation

Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness – Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks (II Timothy 2:24) – Bill Gothard
by RazingRuth

One of the goals of homeschooling, for ATI and I’m sure other communities that homeschool, is to forge tighter bonds within the family unit. As my teacher and the only other female in the house (prior to the first sister), my mother and I developed a very tight bond. I looked to her as my mother, of course, but also as any small child looks upon their teacher – I thought the sun rose and set with her. She, in return, shared similar feelings about me. I was the girl she longed for (secretly). A wish fulfilled, she would say during the quiet moments we shared together.

One of the quiet moments she insisted on, in a house full of chaos, was our “reading time”. I was always allowed to stay up later than the boys. This was something they always wanted to express their opposition to but rarely did because of the consequences of questioning an authority figure. After all, I was younger than three of them! Yet, the boys were all bedded at precisely 8:20 every night. As I said, the reasons for my later bedtime were several. For one, I helped my mother get everyone ready for bed. She and I would give the smaller ones their snack and supervise their baths. Then, I would dress the smaller ones for bed while she got the older boys in bed clothes and tucked them in.

After the boys were in bed, mother would come to my room and climb into my bed. She’d continue my “homeschooling” by reading to me for thirty minutes. I have no doubt that, had it been allowed, she’d have done the same for the boys, but when my father was home, the routine was for him to go have “Bible study” with the boys (after they’d been put in bed). When he wasn’t home, they were made to listen to inspirational and devotional tapes.

Mother would always read one passage from the Bible and then put the Bible down and read to me from a collection of fictional novels she’d saved from her girlhood. The books were always approved by my father, so they usually weren’t modern, children’s literature (I never read Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary, for example). I was, however, exposed to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jack Wild, Lewis Carroll, E.B. White and Patricia McLaughlin. She didn’t just read to me, either. She would expand upon what we were reading and talk to me about vocabulary, history, and the bigger theme of the books. It was heaven. (See! It wasn’t all bad.)

Still, the “formal” homeschooling was ruled by Bill Gothard’s ideas and (at the time) new trends and trials. Because of this lack of rigor, when I left ATI and started looking at colleges, I was overwhelmed by what I didn’t know.

Science. I was hopelessly lost. I was educated as a strict creationist. We learned the scientific method – sort of.

Step 1: Read the Bible.
Step 2: Ask a question.
Step 3: Form a hypothesis.
Step 4: Read the Bible to find evidence to support your hypothesis.
Step 5: Devise an experiment.

You get the picture. I’d been taught the anatomy of the human body in Wisdom Books but that was limited to coloring pictures of the organs and knowing, generally, what it was that they did. I didn’t understand “how?” they did what they did or what the scientific reasons were. If you asked those questions as an ATI kid, you were told “God made it that way” and shushed. Evolution was strictly taboo and mocked incessantly.

History. I’d been given a neo-conservative, white-washed, Christian evangelical version of history. My version mentioned nothing of the founding father’s deism or the Treaty of Tripoli. I didn’t know that slavery was as bad or as rampant as it was. I was taught that the civil war was a Godly war over state’s rights. I wasn’t taught about Martin Luther King. I knew about the Crusades, but I didn’t know about the Black Plague or pre-Biblical peoples. Ancient cultures were briefly discussed and the caveat was always tossed in about how they couldn’t have existed in the times ’secularists’ claimed they did because there were no men on earth further back than about six thousand years ago. Dinosaurs? They walked with humans before the fall.

When I left and decided that I wanted to continue my education, I had a long row to hoe. I was over the age of 18, by the time I decided I wanted to repair the damage my ATI education had caused, so I had to go through an adult school. I had a GED, but I needed refreshers in basic high school courses. My math skills were exceptional (all thanks to my mom!). My writing skills were so-so. Reading comprehension was great. History and science – the counsellor looked crestfallen as he told me the results of my evaluation. I took two years of remedial courses through the adult school before I could take college placement exams.

I know not all ATI kids come out the way I did. Sadly, I know most of them come out worse! They’re “educated” in only the barest sense of the word. They’re educated in the same way a talking parrot is educated. They can regurgitate. Most ATI kids are horrible at advanced math. They know how to balance a checkbook and “figure”, but unless they were being apprenticed for careers involving higher math, it wasn’t offered to them. I know girls who went through the midwifery training that BG approves and to say their midwives is to say it using the 19th century understanding of the term. They can deliver a baby, sure. I think most of us could if we had to. They’re taught most of the skills that modern medicine would teach and certify a doula to provide. They are not taught true anatomy/physiology classes. It’s all practical experience.


  1. Aha - does that explain why the Duggars always seem to be learning about "the eye" in "science" lessons?! I've wondered about that for a while...

  2. You probably get this a lot, Ruth, but you truly are an inspiration to me. I don't know how many people would have forged ahead with the difficulties that you faced, but I'm guessing not too many. I'm also guessing I wouldn't be one of them.

    I'm so glad you decided to share your story with the world via this blog. I know you did it to help yourself, but I bet we, the readers, are getting even more out of it. I thought this blog would be one more "look at the trainwreck of my past" sort of thing (which is valid, don't get me wrong), but it is so much more than that.

    Thank you.

  3. Thank God for that extra time with your mother each night.

    If the boys ever want to go to college, do you think they will be able to get in? Or keep up with the work?

    I join the many others in saying we are so proud of you Ruth! You deserve every success.

    And as for your writing, you have come along way from so-so..=)

  4. "You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother who read to me."

    — Strickland Gillilan

    I love that poem. My mom's kinda nuts, as I've mentioned on here before, but she did read to me. There were some things she did right. It meant everything.

    Creationism drives me 'round the bend! Congratulations for accepting reality! I have two friends who are creationists, and they've been exposed to the evidence for evolution, they just won't accept it. One doesn't like to think about it much; the other immerses herself in Creation magazine. They weren't raised as strictly as you were, either. They have both bragged about arguing about it with their teachers. Their poor, poor teachers, lol.

  5. Ruth....your mother totally rocks. She gave you the tools to truly educate yourself when you had your chance to do so.

    Thanks for the ati homeschool I know why those Duggar kids sound so backwards. What these ATI parents are doing to their kids is nothing short of criminal neglect.

    I will keep you in my prayers...good thoughts...

  6. I like that poem, not sure I've ever heard it before. My mother also read to us a LOT and I agree that it was a fountain of riches for my life in so many ways.

    Ruth, you go girl. The more you write the more proud I am of you.


  7. If your writing skills were 'so-so' when you left, you must have worked incredibly hard because you're one of the clearest and most eloquent bloggers I've read.

    I'm sad for the brothers who didn't have as much of a chance to get non-ATI education (not to mention develop such a bond with your mother), but she clearly did the best she could within Gothard-approved limits. I hope that you still have that strong bond and that, through you, your family can see that non-ATI education isn't automatically evil.

    ... and since you mention young-earth creationism, I thought I'd link this (this page worksafe):

  8. I honestly believe that you should have to be a certified teacher in order to home school. I'm shocked at the differences between kids whose mother's are teachers versus the ones that use a computer to teach or who parrot instruction books.

    If a doctor can't practice without a license, why can a mother educate without a license?
    Now we know why the Duggar kids are so backward.

    Ruth, do you think homeschooling is a way to isolate kids rather than build bonds between family members? Do parents not worry that their kids are seriously deficient in their ability to get jobs or find education? Or is that reinforcing the isolation so that if one does get the crazy idea to go to college, that they can't get in?

    I'm happy that your mom read to you and even happier that you've found higher education. What kinds of history questions did the adult test ask? I'm curious because I'm shocked at how little history most public school kids don't know.

  9. As a secular homeschooling mom without certification, I really find this comment offensive:

    "I honestly believe that you should have to be a certified teacher in order to home school."

    Really? Do you think I also need a degree in nutrition science to feed them well? Or that parents of young children should be required to complete Early Childhood Education courses before they are allowed to raise their own children?

    Do you think that a teaching certificate automatically grants someone the skills to inspire a passion for learning or even the knowledge in their field to guide students past the ultra basics? There are plenty of certified teachers I know personally who can't explain even the rudiments of their subject outside of whatever textbook they are using. And statistics on schooled children who graduate without skills beyond functional literacy or numeracy abound.

    Just because some examples of homeschooling turn out horribly badly, don't tar us all with the same brush. Grant me the same respect, please, that I grant school teachers as a group despite the resounding failures that occur in schools.


  10. I think if you "educate" children who can't pass anything more basic than a GED test, yes, you shouldn't be allowed to teach. And for the record, I think if I need a license to own a dog, most people should have to have a license to have a kid. If more parents had nutritional education, then perhaps so many of our children wouldn't be obese, n'est ce pas?

    We live in a society that is two steps above illiteracy on a good day. Compared to other industrialized countries, our education level is sad. While there are some home schooled kids whose education is truly superior (Yes, the kids who get perfect SAT scores and whose education is truly out of the box awesome)...I bet the majority of home schooled kids are deficient in two or more areas. And those two areas are more than likely whatever the mother doesn't know well enough to explain.

    I have a masters in education and yes, I feel I'm better qualified to teach a child than a mother who doesn't have a college degree.

    While I am NOT a teacher in my career path, I did tutor learning disabled students for 8 years and I am certified to teach. There is a method to education. There is a process of building skills and imparting knowledge in a manner that enables children to learn in a systematic manner. If you don't provide the solid foundation, the upper level knowledge will be shaky at best.

    You under-value education (and professional teachers) if you think you can open a canned guide for home schooling and "teach". Teaching is a lot more complicated than that.

    And while our educational system is floundering in places, there are a lot of great teachers and good graduates that come out of public school. I put the failure of public education failing on the students who aren't motivated, the teachers who are often overwhelmed with large classes, the underfunding of the school systems, and parents assuming it's someone else's job and letting their kids play video games all day.

    You might be a qualified, non degreed home school "teacher". However, I bet for every qualified mom, there are four that are reading wisdom books and using the school of the dining room table as "education".

    Of course this is all my opinion. I'm sure that there are many successful examples out there. Unfortunately, you're not on TV nor posting on boards with horrible grammar. And I'm smart enough, educated enough to know that I'm not an accountant, I'm not a mechanic, and I'm a nurse. That's why I take my taxes to a CPA, my car to a garage, and my family to a physician's office.

    I think it's arrogant to assume you can do a job better than someone with specific training.

  11. Ditto Sandra.

    My daughter is a sophomore at college. Her Freshman year she made the Dean's honor roll both semesters. She switched to a bigger campus and the social adjustment hit her GPA hard- from 4.0 to 3.49 I am not complaining. =)

    Last semester she was awarded a $1000 Chancellors scholarship based on merit. She continually thanks me for home schooling her.

    My youngest is a sophomore in high school. He is getting ready to CLEP Spanish, is making a 93 average in Pre-Calculus (pretty much self taught there) and practiced his electric bass for two hours today (self-taught). He went to a home school science camp at App State that included working on a human cadaver. That same professor taught him Anatomy and Physiology, and now my son has three aspirations: rock star, surgeon or CSI. What to choose!?

    Both of my children have a much more thorough education in history than I ever recieved! The have had more than a cursory study of the abolition and civil rights movements, the labor movement and women's suffrage. We spend two years on US History, reading important source documents, well written important historical fictions (like All Quiet on the Western Front, the Grapes of Wrath, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Jungle, etc.)watching good movies and documentaries and then we use the secular textbook as filler.

    I do not have a teacher's certificate. In fact, I didn't finish college.

    I can attest along with Ruth that it is DAMN HARD to finish college without family support. I got into college with stellar ACTs and a GED. But struggling with homelessness at the same time, I just couldn't make it. Kudos to Ruth and all who help her!

    It's not home schooling that's the problem. It's batshit crazy Bill Gothard devotees.

    He and his minions are the fricking problem.

  12. Cynthia wrote:

    I think if you "educate" children who can't pass anything more basic than a GED test, yes, you shouldn't be allowed to teach.

    Over a third of freshman in my metropolitan school district will not graduate high school. It's 40% for minority teens.

    Hmmm, should we fire a third of the public school teachers then? Of course not!

    And I guess I'm arrogant then, because I am doing a much better job than many of the trained professionals in my district. I know, I tutor their failing students and bring their grades up to Bs and As.

  13. Hi,

    Cynthia, I hear where you're coming from. After hearing all these horror stories, I don't blame your reaction.

    Now, I normally don't go around telling people what I am about to tell you, because, frankly, it's going to make me sound like a tool. A major tool. Seriously, I came back twice to erase this then decided to post it anyway because I have a point to make and I think it's the only way someone may actually hear what I'm trying to say. I homeschooled. My son ended up at an Ivy League school. He was a total jock who also happened to excel in science, history and math. (But don't ask to see anything he wrote. It's completely illegible.) He was also kick-ass socially speaking. At his college, fraternities fought over having him in their houses and at all their parties. (OK, so that part doesn't make a mom's heart all that glad but it's part of my point.) He somehow ended up escorting the gorgeous blondes to their formals and he's an all around fun guy. (Married a sexy as hell chick who is earthy and sweet and amazinlgy smart. And yes, I know I sound like a complete ass here.) My daughter graduated with honors (shocking to all of us) and received a double major in both business and economics when she graduated from her college. The acceptance rate the year she was accepted there was 1 out of every 11 students. She refused to join a sorority her first year as not being a member didn't slow her down a bit. But so many of her friends wanted to call her "sister" that she joined the next year and was pretty soon a major part of it. (Again, not anything I'm thrilled with but, whatever, it's her life.) She graduated, made good money and then decided to go back to school for yet another degree. This one is in science. She has had the same boyfriend for the past 7 years and is not in a rush to get married until he has finished his second degree and get his practice up and running. (Btw, this guy works out a lot and is more ripped than most men I've ever met. Yes, yes, I know, total ass on my part.)

    Now to my point. I homeschooled. I have my own Ivy League education (and am considering going back for law school, but lawyers are just soooooo boring to hang out with). BUT (OK, now here's the point), when I homeschooled my kids I didn't have any teaching certificate. I didn't have any college degree. I was just a girl who got pregnant while she 16 years old and wanted to give her kids the best life she possibly could. At times I thought the best for them was homeschooling. At times I thought the best for them was public school. (When the ritzy private schools in the area came calling, offering scholarships to my kids if my son would play sports for them I always turned them down. I'm sort of a private school snob.)

    Do I think I would have made a BETTER teacher for my kids had I homeschooled them AFTER I got my degree, after I spent four grueling years learning? No. Do I think they would have gotten a DIFFERENT education? Yes. But not better and not worse.

    All that to say, I don't think it's fair to judge a system based on some really screwed up people nor would it be fair to prevent parents with brilliant minds and creative spirits from educating their children merely because life circumstances barred them from having a piece of paper. That would be cruel. (Though I don't think for a moment that you are cruel. I think that you are such a compassionate person that you would like to see a system set up to prevent the kind of abuse and neglect that Ruth and others like her have suffered. For that I say, "Huzzah!" for you and hope that some day we find a way.)


  14. Again, this is my opinion. I'm sure that there are numerous kids failing in public school. But I'm sure if homeschooler's had to report stats in detail like public schools, you'd see worse failure rates than public schools.

    I live in a state that is always at the bottom of education ratings (47th or below). However, at least they are failing against known standards. What homeschool standards are there? Passing a GED? Reaching the age of 16 and moving on to teach the younger kids?
    I'm sure there are standards, of course, but they aren't reported on like national standards.

    So, I wouldn't hold homeschooled kids up as being better educated than public school kids based on national graduation rates.

    And there are some kids educated at home that are vastly better off. I said that. However, what I stated is my opinion and I stand by it.
    A large number of the homeschoolers are not qualified to teach. I'm sure that number sky-rockets for ATI based groups.

    As for firing large numbers of teachers, that's already happening. A district up north did just that.

  15. Cynthia,

    After all I said above, I also have to say that I agree with you regarding the fact that MANY homeschool families should NOT be homeschooling. It makes me sick to think of all the children trapped at their dining room tables, learning things rote. This is seldom the best manner of learning for most people. Sad that many homeschoolers equate this with learning. Sad.

    I still think it can be done, but I respect your opinion. It's so nice to be among people that you can agree to disagree with.

    (Btw, the best part of having homeschooled is that I feel free to joke about homeschoolers. Bobby socks with white sneakers under your denim jumpers? They make me roar with laughter every time.)

  16. EDavis,

    I agree. I tend to spout off a lot. And while I know I'm right (lol), I do respect that what's right for me is not right for other people.

    I have friends that home school. They have great kids. I have a brilliant cousin (like MIT brilliant) whose wife wasn't so smart who home schooled with disastrous results. I think a lot of it has to do with organization and sticking to a plan. The families I've seen the worst results from are those that have a mix of bad planning, little education skills and no organization.

    And for the record, I also believe that most people I know are over degreed and under educated. I do realize that just going to school doesn't make you educated.

    However, I do feel that teaching is more than rote learning. It's a process that I'd rather have left to effective professionals.

    For those who aren't teachers who home school and have brilliant children, good job! And I am sure that the other posters who home school without degrees have had successes. I'm just saying I don't know if that is the norm, based on what I've seen, read and experienced.

    Bobby socks and jumpers, LOL. I think the best jokes come from people who have walked through any particular situation. My catholic friends tell jokes that make me cringe and I have no religious beliefs at all.

  17. Cynthia said, "And for the record, I also believe that most people I know are over degreed and under educated. I do realize that just going to school doesn't make you educated."

    AMEN, AMEN and AMEN! So true!

  18. Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I do not mean to be intrusive, but if you could tell us a bit of what your life was like when you were attempting to go to adult school- where you lived, if you worked, any contact you had with your family etc. I know you are 25yrs old now and a freshmen and the years between 18-25yrs are an interest to me. If you don't want to share I completely understand.

    Also, because I am nosy, I am wondering how your parents handled puberty- from a scientific standpoint, were you and your brother's given a scientific explanation?

    I cannot believe you did not learn about MLK- he has a holiday! I am just joking. Looking forward to reading more entries. Best to you.

  19. Ruth, you are amazing! Kudos to your mom for giving you a little bit extra.

    As far as the homeschooling issue is concerned, I think that we have seen that some moms are capable of homeschooling. And some schools are just awful. That said, it seems reasonable that home schooled children be subjected to standardized testing at regular intervals, just as public and private school children. It is necessary to identify any sort of schooling that is inadequate to prepare kids for higher education and for life outside the classroom.

  20. Randi said "That said, it seems reasonable that home schooled children be subjected to standardized testing at regular intervals, just as public and private school children. It is necessary to identify any sort of schooling that is inadequate to prepare kids for higher education and for life outside the classroom."

    Ah, if only standardized testing actually indicated whether kids were prepared for life outside classrooms or higher education (two entirely separate things, neither of which is adequately measured by national tests).

    In states where homeschooled kids are required to be tested find that as a group, those kids score far and away above schooled kids. As one pundit in NM quipped at a homeschool park day when I lived there, "does that mean that if a schooled kid does poorly on the tests that he should be required to homeschool?"

    The very question of holding homeschooled kids to certain standards on nationalized tests "or else" assumes that institutionalized schooling will necessarily be able to provide what the kids need. Obviously, that's not true.

    Every person who grows up has "deficits" in their education, regardless of where or how they were educated. The best venue with the most motivated students and the most passionate teachers will still produce graduates who couldn't pass a standardized test five years later.

    I think all our comments boil down to one thing: that no one system of education will be a "Best Practice" for all students or teachers. The successful teachers in schools or at home are the ones who are excited and passionate, who have chosen to teach because they love seeing the glow in someone's eye when they understand a new idea. The worst teachers in either arena are those who think they can apply a "one-size fits all" formula to produce certain results or who feel trapped into teaching for any reason other than that they absolutely love it.

    If we as a society want to ensure that our citizens are critical thinking, innovative, productive people with a basic understanding of who we are and where we came from as a country (or anything else), then we should quit throwing stones at the many diverse ways to educate and instead put our energies into making sure that the passionate, compassionate, and excited teachers among us ALL have the opportunity to share our love of learning with children.

  21. Love Sandra's comments! I wish people could join in mutual disgust at ATI/Ruth's father without coming to the conclusion that ATI=homeschooling and homeschooling=ATI. So frustrating.

    I'm neither college-educated nor certified, but standardized testing and the charter school through which we homeschool report that my children are not suffering in the least from learning "at the dining room table" (but not only there, also on the couch, in the park, at the library, at museums, on field trips...), but rather thriving and excelling.

    The list of things Ruth's parents failed to teach her is so astounding to me because it seems like it would have to be the result of an active avoidance of common knowledge. Not just poor teaching but deliberately avoiding facts that are unavoidable to most of us. Even with creation/evolution, I think people who believe in a God who created the universe need to be aware of all theories, and allowed to ask questions, and consider the answers from various sides. IOW, yes it is OK to ask questions about the creation story our faith presents, and it is OK for me to say "I don't know", too. It's also OK to question evolutionary assumptions or theories when they're stated as fact. It's actually a fun game, for us, spotting flaws and questioning premises. And anybody is fair game, even ourselves. :)

  22. In the interest of consistency, I've posted before as CappuccinoLife. Google isn't letting me on today.

  23. I do agree that ATI's version of homeschooling is pathetic. However, there are many homeschoolers doing a good job. There are many doing a poor job. I homeschool 2 of my children, not for religious reasons at all. One of my son's was having a horrible time in school. He was on prescription reflux meds due to stress. He'd pretend to read when he was supposed to, but would not. He hated reading and never read if it wasn't essential. So we are homeschooling. After 2 years, he reads for pleasure. I never thought I'd see the day. We keep up with state standards in math and English, we study History and Science as well. He's in 6'th grade now. I am educated, I have a BA in Chemistry and an MBA. Most subjects I have studied at the college level. So that makes a difference. I don't think that homeschooling per se is bad, but some people do do it badly, big difference.

  24. Okay, now that my panties aren't in a bunch any longer and I can speak to the real point of this post about ATI homeschooling. Cynthia's comment about certifying homeschooling moms was missing the tree for the forest: Ruth's mom actually was or had been a certified teacher. She actually did know what she was supposed to be doing and, indeed, did do with Ruth (share her passion for story, for learning, for critical thinking), thus she fit the best criteria we've all put forward for good teachers. The education that her children ended up with, however, was severely constrained by her religious system's fears.

    Any educational endeavor undertaken from a position of fear, whether to homeschool because we're afraid of the public system or to school because we're afraid of what parents might do to their kids, is bound to be less than successful. Fear is never as good a motivator as passion.

    And as Ruth has proven, the best education is learning how to think. If one can think, question, reason, then facts can always be looked up and memorized as needed. Go, Ruth!

    Learn to keep information free and available to all of us and lobby for all people, especially children, to be taught how to find, use, and love information.

  25. I agree that standardized testing is an imperfect measure. It is however, a tool that we currently have. If home schooled kids are doing better than public or private school kids, we need to know that as well. I personally am appalled at what I have seen of the public system in the last several years. This kind of testing will underscore the emergency in education that we have.

    I heartily agree that the most important part of educating a child is to teach them to think. Additionally, it is to teach them to love learning. This is a parents' job regardless of the kind of formal education the child receives.

    I do not think that the purpose of testing is to make the home school parent feel oppressed. I totally agree with all of the enthusiastic posters who simply want their children to be lifelong learners with great critical thinking skills. We live however, in a standardized world. In order to succeed in the world, our children need also to be learn this skill as well. If a home school parent is doing a superior job, then they need not fear this testing. It is just another life skill.

    For schools (home or institutional) who are deficient, we as a society need to know. We do not live in a void. If the children in school are really that far behind home schooled kids, we need to know this too. Remember, that public school child will eventually build homes or cars or computers. I want to know if (s)he can think and reason, add and subtract.

  26. Very interesting post Ruth. You should be very proud of yourself for working so hard just to get to the point of being able to apply to a college, let alone be accepted and go and do the work.

    I am currently taking a Bioanthropology course, and I just had to share something the professor told us on the first day of class. A 2004 National Science Foundation study on science and technology literacy found that 66% of Americans lack a basic understanding of science and the scientific process. The report also suggests that the US is more suseptable to pseudoscientific data and explanations, mainly because of the Creationist movement. Teaching both evolution and creationism together is foolish. Science is science, and religion is religion. He suggested that the people like the ATI, and other fundamental Christian groups, are ruining our science education in this country with their demands of including creationism in school curriculum, and I tend to agree.


  27. Pam,

    Interesting data. Thanks for sharing it. My state has started putting "Evolution is just a theory" stickers on biology books, which I think is sad. Yes, it's a theory, supported by science, research, and data. Creationism is supported by ????

    I read about several kids in California that had their acceptances into Berkeley rescinded because they fell three credits short of a state standard graduation, since their science classes were deemed to be religiously focused and not true science classes.

    I'm not sure when we started blurring the two of areas began, but it's probably one of the reasons that America is so far behind other countries in innovation and research.

    My point about testing standards (no trees, no forests) is that if you use them to show why public schools are bad, they should be used to evaluate home schooled kids, as well.
    Goose, Gander.

    Randi has an excellent point about teaching kids to love learning. It's a societal problem, not just inner cities or public school based. And it's best handled by both teachers and parents fostering a love of learning.

  28. I totally agree about standards and holding home schools accountable! I have no problem with standardized testing and actually prefer more regulation (like daily logs of work done and texts used) BECAUSE it separates true home EDUCATORS from people using ATI!

    But in the state I lived with the stricter home schooling regs (FL- love it! Best place to home school ever!) the ATI people simply...broke the law.

    Yep. They did not register with the county. They lived out in the country and so avoided detection or if they lived in the city they hid their kids in the house during school hours.

    In the area of FL I lived in the average age of citizens was 55 yrs old, so it's possible even likely that there were no other kids on the street your kids age. Not that ATI kids would be allowed to play with them anyway. >:[

    Being a libertarian and a Gomer Pyle optimist, I didn't know that these people were (as they call themselves) "underground" at the time. I just assumed they were doing the best for their kids, and that it was goofy and weird but I didn't know they were home schooling illegally.

    Yes, I would've turned them in if I had known at the time. In spite of my libertarian ways.

    It's so easy to home school legally; there's no sound reason to be "underground". Unless you're hiding something, like that your educational standards are so sub-standard and your educational environment so nutrient-deficient that a judge would in fact find your children truant.

    I even blogged about it one day. I am all for home school regulation! I want someone to see what a great job most home schoolers accomplish, and I want the child abusers weeded out from our midst.

    I for one am not afraid of a little scrutiny, and am glad to live in a country where children matter to society.

  29. I lived in Florida for a few years and I can understand why you'd home school. I heard so many people say they'd put their kids through school and didn't want to pay more in taxes to support schools. And then you see those horrible trailers they call classrooms and its infuriating.

    I'll never have kids. I'll never get a single use out of the money I pay in taxes for schools. And yet, I'm fine with paying taxes for schools. It means having educated people who can apply my "5.00 off" coupon off my total bill correctly. It means being surrounded by competent employees.

    I hate it when people don't want to fund things that make society better. And for the old people in Florida to complain about their time for supporting kids to be over drove me crazy.

    I can see why you'd want to home school there. I found the buildings depressing just to look at. I'm sure going to school there was horrible.

  30. Yeah, the beaches, the state parks, the museums, historical sites, and my own yard/home were a dream come true educational environment.

    Much better than the under-funded, over-crowded mess down the street.

    Having said that, I would put my children in any public school over an ATI experience! No question- mediocre education beats educational neglect every time.

  31. If I believed standardized testing had much value and if I believed we could trust all test givers as being consistent, then I'd say it's a good idea.

    Unfortunately, I've seen one too many teachers (in every form of schooling) teach for the test and NOT for the sake of learning or thinking. When a child does well or does not do well all it shows what that child knows about those specific questions. (And let's not even begin to get into all those people walking around with a variety of rich knowledge but for the way their brains process knowledge they could NEVER pass any standardized test, though they know the information contained within.)

    I myself have worked for families who homeschool and have administrated standardized tests myself. When I've called for the pencils to be put down, I've seen a young man run to his mom and complain that he wasn't yet done. I've seen the mother allow him to continue to allow him to finish for a few more minutes. (Trust me, that was the last time I wanted to work for that family.) I would have reported them to the testing company, but the boy was brilliant and was passing it just fine without the extra time. It just taught me how duplicitous even "good, Christian" moms can be when it comes to their children. When I homeschooled I had a certified teacher administer these tests to my daughter, without me there. (Integrity needs to be kept.) When we got the tests back it turns out my daughter had been given the wrong test so the data we retrieved from that standardized test was useless. I had two other certified teachers overseeing all my children's work and I kept an ongoing relationship with the school district (where I volunteered) so my kids could be included on field trips, etc.

    Not to mention the nightmare that some states can become when they try to demand rigid standards across the state level. (New York anyone?)

    Again, all to say, if standardized testing was effective, I'd be all for it. But it ain't.

    Any other ideas for how to protect kids from this?

  32. PS. With all this public school bashing I have to say there are some EXCELLENT public schools there. It really grieves me to hear people making gross generalizations about drug use, etc. unless they know first hand about a specific place. 'Cause between you and me there is PLENTY of drug use, teen aged sex. lying, cheating and other vices among homeschoolers. They're just better at covering it up and pretending to be good little boys and girls when the grown ups are around.

  33. I'm not sure what the answer is for the school problems. No child left behind teaches to the test, with little regard for what knowledge the kids have. My bro in law is a history teacher who tells me he has to be creative to find ways to teach history and not the test. Yet his daughter has trouble with simple historical things I thinks she should know.

    Tests are not the end all be all. I realize that. But they can give an indication where help might be needed. I know there are diligent home schoolers (ED you really have a great oversight with your program), just as there are great public schools.

    I had less than six kids in all my junior and senior classes at a public school. Mostly due to the harshness of the school's AP program. I realize that not every kid got such a great education. My niece is in the same system and there are days I wonder what they are teaching her. She's got a 4.0 but has not read any of the books I consider basic knowledge 101. I can't tell if our society has been dumbed down or if what she knows passes for "educated" now.

    I do wish that she had the love for education that I have. She reads things like Twilight and thinks that makes up for not reading Fitzgerald, Hemingway, or Dreiser. I guess since she's reading, it's all good.

  34. Ruth's experience with a reading mom does support that last statement- "I guess since she's reading, it's all good."

    A child who can read and read fluently can later learn anything they want to learn as an adult. Also reading fiction opens up the mind to the idea that other things are possible than what you are experiencing at the time. Very important stuff. :)

    ED, I had no intention of bashing public schools. My foreign exchange students have all attended public schools. I have esteemed relations who are public school teachers. I believe every American should have access to an education.

    Hope you didn't get the "public school is bad, mkay?" from my posts! LOL

    The problem of elderly citizens not wanting to finance quality education in FL is real though, as are the dour graduation statistics for my district. HOWEVER I only commented on them to point out every educational endeavor has its failures- not just home schooling.

    There is no magic cure for the human condition.

    FL does accept annual evaluations from a FL certified teacher for year-end reporting.

    It's not those in compliance with the law that are the problem, its the ATI nutjobs.

    ps You are 100% right about home schooled kids doing drugs, stealing, having sex, etc.- probably in about the same proportion as public schooled kids. Some straight arrows. Some more adventurous souls wanting to test the waters. And some damaged persons just seeking a little relief from the pain of living. People are people.

  35. Oh shadowspring, no, no, no, I wasn't thinking that of you. You were actually citing real situations and I respect that. I was truly talking about all the people I've heard trashing public schools and specifically their own one down the street without ever having stepped in it. They just don't know so I don't think they should be pontificating upon it without research. (And listening to Rush Limbaugh does not constitute researching the situation in my book. ;-))

    I love the insight you have in your ps. Kids who are doing "bad things" shouldn't be wholesale condemned and avoided like the plague, but seen as hurting people who need genuine help. They need the attention of adults and relationships with their peers.

  36. PS. Just in case you're curious I'm it's E Davis. I'm a woman. Or a chick. Or a girl. Or a WOOOOman. Or a babe (in my dreams). Or a tough broad (ha ha ha, so not). And sometimes a jerk. (OK, maybe more than sometimes.) Though if I were anyone else out there I'd think I had written ED, too. If you want, you can call me E to make it easier. Out and off to work. Bye.

  37. I just realized that ED might have...other connotations. It was just easier than "person I offended at 2pm" and "person whose child I just insulted". Nice to meet you E Davis, chick babe woooman.

  38. For a lot of states, homeschooled children have to pass a yearly exam based on public school standards. This, I believe, is fair.

    However requiring a teaching degree is not fair. Most teaching degrees are geared toward presenting a specific curriculum for the "average" child. Most homeschoolers want to homeschool because they think the public school curriculum is inadequate (my reason for wanting to homeschool my son), or doesn't apply to their child. (I know children with autism, history of abuse, etc... that thrive on homeschooling after failing horribly in public school.) Religious reasons do comprise a large portion of homeschoolers but they by no means encompass the whole. Also, teaching degrees are geared toward presenting information to a large number of students, which doesn't usually apply to homeschoolers.

    I was homeschooled all through high school, and I have an IQ of 130 and got a 4.0 GPA in college. There isn't a single class that I got below a B in. However, I didn't finish college because of financial reasons. My parents couldn't help me, and I simply couldn't pay the bills.

    I plan on homeschooling my son. From the many, many homeschooled families that I grew up knowing, more than half were all-A students, and about 1/3 of all the homeschooled children I knew were smarter than me. A few were below average, a few were average. I consider myself average, for a homeschooler.

    I was homeschooled in Minnesota, and my parents homeschooled me for religious reasons. However this did not prevent them from giving me a good education (although I shake my head thinking about how much time was wasted with Bible study and creation science.) Even with that wasted time, though, I scored higher than average in everything except math. (Not my strong suit.) And even then my scores were marginally below average in math. Here in Wisconsin, there are no rules or tests in order to homeschool. And from what I've seen, the homeschoolers here are getting a worse education than in Minnesota. So it may be a state-to-state issue. I also live in a much poorer community now, and I also can't say much for the public-educated children in the area.

    In short, I don't see any good coming out of mandatory certification for homeschoolers but I do agree with yearly tests.

  39. Ruth, you're really inspirational. I can't imagine how hard it was to pursue higher education faced with such a learning curve. You write very intelligently, and your mom did a great thing in encouraging a love of reading.

    Also, I just wanted to delurk to say that public schools can be really good. There are some mean comments up there from a few people. Like EDavis said, don't complain until you know specifics. I'm in my twelfth grade year, and I was exposed to Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Ibsen, Socrates, Dickens, and many other classic authors. I'm taking two APs this year (after passing two last year), and I truly believe that my parents wouldn't have been able to provide me with the same educational opportunities. Granted, I've had the full range of really horrible to awesomely inspirational teachers, but I think that most public schools provide worthwhile educational opportunities to students willing to challenge themselves. Plus, it's helpful to hear all the different prospectives of historical events or literary analysis from a classroom full of unique students.

    Granted, I'm a very visual learner who generally excels on tests. I know a more hands-on student who has trouble with some classes because they don't work well for the way she learns. It's not like I've lived in states with stellar reputations, though. I grew up in Alabama and am finishing high school in Florida. (BTW - Yay Alabama for having, I think, the only exit exam that tests history, reading, science, and math instead of just reading and math.) There are truly great teachers in the public school system, of whom I've had many, so it's unfair to judge them all so generally. Also, my social sciences class in taught in a trailer, and it doesn't detract from how great the class is. So, basically, I wanted to say that I don't feel dumber or less self-motivated than homeschoolers just because we were taught in different places.

    However, parents should be able to homeschool. Some kids do better taught with one-on-one attention at their own pace. Yearly tests would help gauge the education a child is receiving; of course they should be tested. Don't some states require homeschooling families to give their lesson plans to a person working for their local school system? I think that's a good idea too, because then parents are held accountable for what they're homeschooling.

  40. Coffee D- Bravo!!!! And the children shall lead them. Well said.

  41. Coffee,

    Every state has regulations regarding home education. The Supreme Court ruled that the obligation of the state to provide access to education to all young citizens must be balanced with the rights of parent to direct the upbringing of their children "by the least restrictive means possible".

    Legislators in each state have complied with what they believe is the right balance. Advocacy groups have been quick to challenge laws that they feel go too far, and have won, so states are pretty good at striking the balance.

    There are only a few states whose laws are written in such a way that there is no testing or reporting of any kind. Oklahoma is one of them, I think.

    I loved your comment about being able to hear all the different perspectives of historical events or literary analysis in a classroom setting!

    It's true. It is an important part of a quality education and one the typical home school can't duplicate.

    Some home schoolers get this input from co-ops of various kinds, but many don't get that until college.

    Well written and presented piece. Your teachers should all be proud! :)

  42. I have a lot to say on the issue of homeschooling. First off, let it be known that my husband was homeschooled until middle school. I, myself, attended private and public schools. My husband is from a fundamentalist (non AFI/Gothard) Christian background. You would be amazed at the things he was taught. That being said, he was/is smart enough to graduate from one of the top three engineering universities in the country. He is incredibly smart... but I cannot tell you the toll that homeschooling took on his social skills. It really is criminal that some parents are so scared of "outside influences" that they literally hide their children away from society... except for church. It has taken the better part of our six year relationship to get my husband comfortable around strangers.

    On this issue of homeschooling itself I don't think that someone who has limited to no education has the right to homeschool their children. As the previous poster said, there is a method to teaching. Opening a booklet and reading what it says to your child is in no way teaching. Both my husband and I have college degrees and I would never feel that I had the capacity to teach my child the skills that he/she would need in order to obtain the same degree of education that his/her father and I have. Can I help my children with their homework, absolutely. But to rob a child of instruction from a qualified teacher is wrong.

    In the state where I live, a child had to take a standardized test every three years. But those test results are not reported to the school system. They have to be reported to the parents who, in turn, have to keep them on file for three years. Big whoopdie-doo! There is no accountability for the education (or lack thereof) for these kids -- who certainly can't speak for themselves. Yes, there are success stories that come out of homeschooling but they are few and far between. If scores had to be reported to the school districts, I think there would be a major crack down on homeschooling policies. Because there is no data (at least in my state) most people don't think that there is a problem. The problem I see (because my husband's siblings continue to homeschool their children) is that parents who do not know the difference between 'two, to, & too' are teaching their children. It is very sad.

  43. As someone who is looking to possibly home school her future children, count me as one who doesn't think a teaching degree shouldn’t be required for homeschool, but that some sort of licensing for the parents should be necessary. If only to make sure the -parents- show proficiency in the subjects they're going to teach their child(ren) If a woman wants to homeschool her children up to the high school level, but only, herself, understands math up to a 4th grade level, there’s going to be a problem.

    So, test the parents as a requirement for homeschooling. If they don’t pass a certain subject, either they should be required to hire a tutor to teach that subject to their children or to take classes/study themselves on it until they do understand.

    I also support the same testing for homeschoolers as for public/private school students, with an out-of-the-home proctor. Most tests are geared towards people knowing the bare minimum of whatever subject that test is covering. If a student doesn’t know that bare minimum, it’s a wake-up call that intervention may be needed, no matter what school environment the child is in. Also, as someone who’s had a lot of friends who were homeschooled, I can’t begin to tell you how many cheated (some of whom had parents who supported their cheating) to pass whatever tests the state required, when they were allowed to take them in the home, without a objective proctor.

    - Dee

  44. I send my son to a good public school (one of the best in the USA according to US News and World Report. Now that he is in high school, I know I can't teach Calculus, Organic Chemistry etc. Furthermore, much of the appreciation of literature is class discussion. Sure, you can sit and read The Tale of Two Cities, but it is enriched in class discussion.

  45. Ruth,

    Your writing skills might have been so-so at one point but they are outstanding now. You express yourself very well.


    Jim K.


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