Sunday, June 01, 2008

Should Homeschooling Be Illegal?

Under that absurdly inflammatory headline, Parade Magazine is asking their readers if homeschooling parents should be required to have a teaching credential in order to teach their own children. In an online poll motivated by the recent Supreme Court ruling in California, Parade set up the survey by creating a false dilemma in which they quote education author, Richard Kahlenberg,

"If upheld, the California ruling will send shock waves nationwide," says Richard Kahlenberg, the author of a number of books on education. He says the case "pits those who believe parental rights are paramount against those who place a premium on well-educated citizens."
Since when are parental rights and well-educated citizens mutually exclusive? And what exactly is a "well-educated" citizen? Is there really an agreed upon definition?

I once asked Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mike Flannagan, that very question at an education forum about revising graduation requirements in our state. He reluctantly admitted that no one had ever asked him that question before and then stammered out a very ridiculous answer about reading great books and visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts. It was not a very impressive answer for someone charged with the task of overseeing all of Michigan's public school students and making sure they are all "well-educated."

As I have said in a previous post, Why Do We Educate

WHY we educate must be determined before we decide HOW to educate. The public schools have a reason to desire a uniform, "equal" education for its citizens. But an equal education is a fallacy because we will never all have the same educational goal. Thus, what one may call a success another would call a complete failure. This is the great dilemma of the public schools. "Equal education" only works with a uniform goal. A goal which works well for the state but usually leaves the individual out in the cold.

Credentialing is a method of control employed by the state and the teachers union in a supposed attempt to guarantee that all children are "well-educated" and to prevent "educational anarchy." But a quick glance at the graduation rate for the Detroit Public Schools (31.9%) shows it guarantees absolutely nothing, except perhaps increased enrollment in teacher colleges and unions.

If you consider what is being taught to many future teachers by Distinguished Professors of Education such as Bill Ayers, whose "leftist" social justice teachings are considered required reading in many course syllabi, credentialling may actually be a hinderance to many parents' philosophy of education. Incidentally, that's the same Bill Ayers that is good friends with Barak Obama. This makes me wonder where Ayers would feature in an Obama presidency, but that's a blog post for another time.

Currently, the Parade online poll is heavily in favor of homeschooling without a credential. Let them know what you think. Thanks to reader Kay, for sending me the link.

For additional reading on credentialing, Dana at at Principled Discovery considers whether Homeschooling Without Credentials leads to Educational Anarchy.

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