Sunday, January 16, 2011

Homeschoolers and tax credits (Part 2)

If you would like to read  Part 1 of this article, please click here

     I've given a brief overview of my thoughts on tax credits for homeschoolers in Part 1 of this post, so I'll become more specific in this one. First, all citizens who pay taxes contribute to public education in their state and well they should. An educated public is one that has options and can contribute to the society that they are a part of.  However, since regulation from the federal government was overhauled in the late 1970's, there has been a significant decrease in parental involvement in institutionalized learning, and a very definite increase in federal interference and teacher "incentives" that encourage teaching to be designed with nothing more in mind than "passing the test", and thereby receive more federal and state funding for their school. (the money carrot, again!)

Where are the children factoring into this game of educational Olympics and greed?  What are the repercussions for outsourcing our parenting to a government who sees not individuals with dreams, plans and goals of their own, but instead an economic tool that can be manipulated for the "common good", also known as a collective? Do not allow money to sway you into believing that you can get a little of the money without a LOT of the regulations that go along with that.  Regulation that is NOT in the best interest of the children, but in the best interest of the government. We should ALL be concerned about that, not just homeschooling parents.   Let's do some research...

Public Law 96-98, known as the Department of Education Organization Act, established the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) on 4 May 1980.It was established to increase the commitment of the federal government to assuring equal access to educational opportunity; improving the quality of education; encouraging greater involvement of parents, students, and the public in federal education programs; promoting federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information; enhancing the coordination of federal education programs; improving the management of federal education activities; and increasing the accountability of federal education programs to the public, Congress, and the president. The department was the first cabinet-level education agency of the U.S. government. It superseded the U.S. Office of Education, established in 1867, and replaced the National Institute of Education, established in 1972.

It must be noted that the Constitution SPECIFICALLY does not mention education as within the boundaries of federal intrusion. It, therefore, SPECIFICALLY places it in the hands of each state. With that being said, since the federal government has already overstepped it's bounds by implementing a Department of Education (ED), we can safely assert that they have no qualms with continuing to overstep their bounds into the rights of the family to make choices for their own children. And to be proactive to those side stepping the real issue and offering up comments about abusive homeschooling parents, I am obviously not discussing parents who beat, and physically abuse their children.  Let's get for real, here.  Parents who willingly give themselves over to the education of their children most commonly do not fall into this category.  Certainly no more often than do their compulsory learning counterparts, so let's stay on track.

First, note the area that I highlighted in the ED's own directive.  They are completely opposing when viewed in reality.  They cannot encourage greater parental involvement by reducing parental rights and regulating individual homes, which is exactly what they have done since the inception of the department.  Parents have no say in curriculum choices. They are now pushing for "national standards", but that is for another post. Parents cannot even venture into public schools without first being approved by the school staff in our area, and then they are monitored while there.  Parents are not allowed to question the length of time subjects are taught, nor are they allowed into the classroom to monitor what state-certified strangers are doing with their children.  But, it's perfectly acceptable to the federal government that they question what the parents of the child are doing, even if there is no evidence of anything other than loving parents who are perfectly fit?  Does no one see the convoluted reasoning there? 

Students are being taught that parents are to be feared and that they are not doing what's in the best interest of their child.  All knowing bureaucrats know best for the collective?  No, I think not. Students will one day grow up and BE the community, and therefore should be encourage to grow their natural talents, their own goals and their own dreams at the pace in which they can LEARN with the most success so that they can impact their community in the most positive way possible.  Can anyone look around them and even begin to suggest that this is happening?  Seriously?  The ED has failed miserably.

Second, supporting federally regulated research, evaluation, and sharing of information is a SCARY concept and also highlighted in the ED's own directive above. Research for what?  Sharing the information with whom? Evaluating for what purpose? Who determines what is "standard" for individuals?  Who determines what information should be shared and who determines what information should be learned by those doing the learning?  Who determines what research is done and by what standard do they determine who receives the information?   For what purposes are the results used?  Aren't those questions that all parents have the right to know about their own children?  Unless, of course, we live in Nazi era Germany.  Children are not economic tools and they should not be viewed as such.  By "standardizing" them, we are stripping them of their rights, not guarding their rights. 

Here is a quote that I've taken from anti-homeschooling proponent Professor Rob Reich, who is of the Department of Political Science (go figure), at Stanford University:

"Children are owed as a matter of justice the capacity to choose to lead lives--adopt values and beliefs, pursue an occupation, endorse new traditions--that are different from those of their parents. Because the child cannot him or herself ensure the acquisition of such capacities and the parents may be opposed to such acquisition, the state must ensure it for them. The state must guarantee that children are educated for minimal autonomy."5

The state must ensure that children are minimally autonomous?  The state must ensure that children have the right to lead their lives and pursue new traditions?  Really? At what age does this begin?  At what age should someone else be allowed to indoctrinate your children with THEIR beliefs?  Yes, their beliefs.  If Mr. Reich didn't BELIEVE his statements, he wouldn't make them.  What, gives him, or the state, the right to trump my beliefs with his?  At what point do we buy into one belief being superior to another and therefore the only one because it's superior?  That would most assuredly reduce autonomy of individuals.  And that is a scary, scary thought, regardless of your personal belief system.

Let's examine Rob Reich a little more closely.  The NY Times article on this same subject, which you can find here, also has Reich write his say and here's what his circular reasoning on the subject was:

The sad and hidden truth about home schooling is that no one knows whether home schooled students are performing well or poorly. We have no shortage of anecdotes – home schoolers who end up at Stanford or who win spelling bees. Astonishingly, however, we know practically nothing about the academic performance of the average home schooler. The studies that grab headlines use a biased and unrepresentative sample of home schoolers.

Well, which one is it?  Do you not know whether homeschooled students are performing well or poorly, or are all the headline grabbing stories biased and unrepresentative?  It can't be both. The sad truth is that Reich KNOWS that homeschooled students who take the SAT/ACT that almost all college/University bound students must take are doing exceptionally well. There's the "testing" that so many "think" that homecshoolers must take, so that should satisfy that argument.  The ones that don't take those exams weren't going to college or University anyway, just like their public schools counterparts, so where is his beef? Does he believe that a human beings worth lies in his/her career goals? You can find the information for homeschooled vs public/private schooled children's test scores all over the place and they ALL concur; Homeschooled students are essentially spanking the compulsory schooled students, and Reich IS aware of this fact, as is the NEA. I do not think this is a reflection on the students, but on the education that they are receiving. Institutionalized learning has been overtaken by a system that is greed driven, not learning driven.  Again, the ED has failed miserable and their "regulations" do not work.

One last Reich excerpt:
"Federal dollars come with strings attached, and these particular strings are in the best interests of children, anyway."

The only thing we can agree on is that federal dollars come with strings attached. To factually claim that those strings are in the best interests of the children is Reich's belief system, again.  And he has no right to push his ideology onto anyone but his own children, which I have no doubt he will do. 

I recently presented Mr. Reich with a challenge on his Stanford blog.  He summarily deleted my post and offered no reply.  Here was the challenge:

I would send my children to compulsory schooling for the exact same amount of time that he homeschooled his children.  In homeschooling them according to his beliefs, he must introduce them to a "broader view" (another big anti-homeschooling cry that he adheres to), by introducing them to MY beliefs with no persuasion as to his own beliefs. After all, that is what he proposes of homeschooling parents, right?  If there was ANY argument from him, then the truth would be revealed.  He is not opposed to homeschooling itself, what he is opposed to is that parents are introducing their children to THEIR beliefs and not the ones that Reich holds as truth.  By refusing, what he is also revealing is that he isn't interested in "broader views", he is interested in HIS view as the ones that all should adhere to.  This is tolerance at it's finest, isn't it?  (insert sarcasm there) 

As a side note:  in his post in the NY Times, Reich comes across as almost gleeful at the prospect of tax credits.  This alone should alert ALL parents, not just homeschoolers, to check themselves when accepting tax credits or breaks of any kind.  We may be silently promoting Reich's views that education is a tool for minimal autonomy and a collective mentality on all levels and becoming more like the Third Reich that this type of education stems from. 

Tax credits are nothing more than a cry for regulation of something that has created NO harms, and in reality has actually been proven to be working for the vast majority of the students involved.  I urge you, ALL parents, to closely monitor what is happening in the lives of our children.  They truly are worth more than any other thing in our lives.  They are not economic commodities to be outsourced to a government who cannot provide them with the individual care they so desperately need and want. They are our future, and our responsibility.  Do your own research and open your eyes.  There is no proof that government interference in education is beneficial...quite the contrary. Ask yourself if a few dollars is worth selling your right to educate your children?  Ask yourself if you, or an entity with no goal but economic ones, has the best interest of your child at heart.  Be honest, be diligent, and be your OWN judge.  Resistance has NEVER been futile.

Quite probably there will be more to come on this... 

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