Monday, May 24, 2010

Response to the Almost Government Official

There was a blog post today here:
It is a response to a home educator who contacted a California Candidate and questioned him on his stance on homeschooling.

Contact Information
Leonard James Martin for the State of California
Superintendent of Public Instruction 2010
P. O. Box 802888
Santa Clarita, California 91380-2888
(661) 297-4815

The above information came from public website and oh-that's his cell phone number I'm told.
Mr. Martin's responses on home education so angered me that I sent him an email correcting some misconceptions he had on home education. I don't expect to change his viewpoint nor do I expect a response (his homeschool stance has since been removed from his blog). Please feel free to contact Mr. Martin at your convenience.

Here is my response to him this afternoon.

Good Morning Mr. Martin,

We would just like you to know that your stance on home education has reached the home education community in Rhode Island and has been spread across the United wildfire.

We would like you to know that the information you assume to know about home education is incorrect and you seem to lack any significant exposure to the reality of home education . We are not here to change your mind-everyone has their own point of view however, that point of view should be based on correct facts.

Considering there are now over 2 million homeschoolers in the United States ( you might want to look again at your misunderstandings on home education before speaking out further.

This blog post came to my attention this morning.

I would like to offer some further points for you.

Point #1- "Home schooling’s appropriate for children who have special difficulties that make it impossible for them to participate in traditional schooling. But under California law, a parent has the right to home school provided the parent is qualified to offer instruction. "

What would those "special difficulties" be that would make it impossible for a child to participate in school in a traditional setting? Learning disabilities? Psychological disabilities? Or are you referring to physical handicaps? What makes us more or less qualified to teach children with disabilities than those without? Parents who home educate have a vested interest in their children's education and learning. We tend not to base that decision on ability or disability. The right to home educate is a Constitutional right. Home educators are well versed in research, curriculum, methodology and practice when it comes to instructing our children.

Point #2- "Many parents home school for religious reasons, because they still hold outdated views on race or ethnicity, or for what they consider to be moral reasons."

Many families do homeschool for religious reasons and last I checked that was still a Constitutional right. Many homeschoolers do not homeschool for religious reasons. This is because their decision to homeschool was not based on their religion, but on other factors such as quality of education or educational theory. So although religion may be an integral part of a homeschooler's life, it may or may not define their educational goals, agenda, and curricula of a homeschool family. The reasons for homeschooling are vast and wide and vary from family to family.

I have never met a family that home educated for "racial" reasons. There is only one race-the Human race, to which we all belong. Religion and views on race and ethnicity are two separate entities. Traditional schools do not perform a necessary purpose of bringing children of different races, ethnicities, religions, etc. together. In fact, it is done quite poorly in public schools and few if any schools offer teachings on racial diversity. One small fact that you overlooked-if you come from a racially diverse area you will be exposed to racially diverse people. It has nothing to do with homeschooling and has more to do with geographic location.

Homeschoolers are actively involved in all aspects of community building, volunteerism and voting and I can assure you that we are actively exposed to vast racial diversity and ethnicity because we are out there working side by side in our communities. In fact, many of us come from racially and ethnically diverse families. To assume that we have "outdated" views on these subjects assumes that every homeschooling family is white and religious and assumes that our children are not exposed to the greater community and world.

And yes, Mr. Martin-We home educate for moral reasons. Isn't that a parent's job to instill moral character in their children? It has always been a parents job and not that of the public school system. Most of us prefer, whether we home educate or not, to not have peer groups shape our children's morals. Our children are exposed to moral dilemma in our great world but this means that as a family we can discuss good choices vs. bad choices. Public schools do not raise our children.

Point #3- Since we have provisions for students to attend a school outside of their local community when there are legitimate reasons to do so, home schooling as an alternative to “unsafe” campuses is hardly a legitimate alternative. For the most part – overwhelmingly – the public schools of California are not only safe but are providing a high quality education."

Why would children need to attend school outside of their local community if they are not being bullied? Wouldn't this mean that bullying is occurring in public schools and therefore not safe? Is the answer to move the students being bullied to another district instead of addressing the bully? Is this the "provision" you speak of?

In regards to "unsafe campuses", perhaps you might like to check out especially their Youth Voice Project and the impact of bullying in schools.

Our children need and deserve our protection in public schools. This is an absolutely valid reason to home educate when voices of children continue to be unheard.

Regarding a "High quality education:"

I believe this quote came directly from your blog. "It has caused me great pain throughout the last forty years to see the California education system lose its credibility and quality.” and “The results are that schools are now housing students in an unhealthy, often hazardous environment and offering a less structured and well-rounded curriculum.”

So which is it Mr. Martin? Are California schools performing or are they hazardous? You can't choose both.

The American public school system is in a state of disrepair. California is no exception.

(from the above site) "Half of our students are now proficient in English-language arts. This is particularly impressive if you consider that seven years ago, only 35 percent of students met this bar. The improvement trend in mathematics is also impressive, with 46 percent of students now at the proficient or above level."

If public schools think that 50% of students being proficient in English-Language arts and 46% being proficient at Mathematics is "providing a high quality education" then that is disgraceful and undervaluing our students.

Point #4 -There has also been a tremendous amount of fraud connected with home schooling. Corporate organizations have sprung up to drain precious taxpayer dollars from the state budget to “supervise” home schooling. That has been to the detriment of those children, who by necessity, must be home schooled."

May I see your facts and resources please that connect home education and fraud? What "necessity" to be home schooled do you refer to? Exactly what "Corporate organizations" are you referring to? Would it be Non-profit home education support groups that are well advised of our constitutional right to home educate our children? If they are Corporate Organizations then shouldn't they be privately funded and not receiving Federal or State government monies or tax dollars to "supervise" homeschoolers?

Home educators continue to pay taxes that support public schools. Every American pays taxes and that money in turn supports public schools.

Point #5 - "I did not expect any home schooler to be satisfied with my response. Nor will I change it to appeal to the thousands of home schoolers who are voters. If this election were in the 1950s I would have received a question from someone representing tens of thousands of parents who opposed the racial integration of our public schools. They would have been looking for a candidate who agreed with them. My response would have turned them off and they would have urged me to read all the arguments in favor of segregation. I know those arguments, as I know the arguments for home schooling. Now, I’m not equating home schoolers with segregationists, but the situation is the same. As I would not edit my response to the segregationists to win their votes, I will not shape my response to home schoolers to seek their votes either."

Well, in fact you are equating home educators with Racial Segregation and the above response is insulting and has no comparison value to home education. It appears that you have all the facts already with regards to homeschooling and don't care to listen to the public on matters of any concern. You believe what you are going to believe even if those facts are incorrect. No need to reshape your response so that homeschoolers will vote for you. There is no chance of that now. Even as far away as Rhode Island if we could vote for you.

Post script to my blog readers: Would love to hear your thoughts and will post any replies that I receive from Mr. Martin's office.



Tammy said...

How brave of you to respond to him.

If he does respond to you, please do put it up!

Barefoot Liz said...

It's people like him who feed misinformation about homeschooling to the general public.
It's sickening.

Melissa R said...

Good for you, Bev! Obviously this kind of person doesn't have any connection to any sort of real life homeschoolers.