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on Homeschooling!

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Progressive homeschooling sparks strong reactions in Kossacks,
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The opinion piece, “Liberals, Don’t Homeschool Your Kids: Why teaching children at home violates progressive values”,  by Slate magazine contributor Dana Goldstein, touched a nerve with political progressives on Daily KOS who  strongly second Goldstein's call and also others who as strongly disagree.  Whatever you think about homeschooling, the piece touches on some fundamental issues about how those of us who believe in equality and justice for all (and particularly in the area of education and human development) can continue to work together to move our country towards realizing those goals.

As I see it, the gist of Goldstein's argument is that homeschooling is a selfish practice that is antithetical to concern for the entire community, a concern that authentically progressive people should share.  “Liberal homeschoolers” in particular are naively undermining a crucial public institution (public schools) that needs not only their tax dollars but their kids sitting at desks in those schools, for those schools to survive and continue to serve the entire community and promote a truly democratic society.  

Writes Goldstein...

Although the national school-reform debate is fixated on standardized testing and “teacher quality” — indeed, the uptick in secular homeschooling may be, in part, a backlash against this narrow education agenda — a growing body of research suggests “peer effects” have a large impact on student achievement. Low-income kids earn higher test scores when they attend school alongside middle-class kids, while the test scores of privileged children are impervious to the influence of less-privileged peers. So when college-educated parents pull their kids out of public schools, whether for private school or homeschooling, they make it harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.
Per Goldstein, though a middle-class family may believe they can improve their own kid's development by pulling that kid out of public school, they are certainly doing a disservice to the less advantaged kids who are left behind, as well as the whole fabric of a democratic society that should not divide people into “us and them” or “haves and have nots”.  This even if that middle-class family continues to pay taxes for public schools while educating  their own kid outside of public school on their own dime!

To get a sense of the scope of this issue, the latest U.S. Department of Education statistics I've seen show that some ten percent of kids in the U.S. go to private school, while only one to two percent are homeschooled.  So I'm assuming Goldstein highlights homeschooling in her piece because it is trending upward, while private school enrollment is a longstanding reality (which is actually trending downward).  

As a person who generally considers himself a progressive, but also a strong supporter of homeschooling, I acknowledge her concern.  I see it as the same concern that was one of the motivators behind “No Child Left Behind”, federal legislation which most progressives would agree has gone horribly wrong in setting measures that have led to “teaching to the test” and will likely soon define the majority of public schools in the U.S. as “failing”.  (And as Goldstein notes in the excerpt above has encouraged some of that flight from public schools to homeschooling.)  

Ironically, it was no less than liberal icon Teddy Kennedy who co-championed the NCLB legislation.  I wonder if he sent his kids to public school?

I share with Goldstein a belief that we need to provide an opportunity for all our kids to get a good education.  I would also hope she would acknowledge that what constitutes a “good education” for one person may not be the same for another.  Every human being is unique, and we acknowledge that different people have profoundly different ways we learn.  We can't simply require and ensure that every kid in America learns the same curriculum, in the same manner, on the same schedule, and then say we have done our due diligence in offering an education consistent with equality and justice for all.

Promoting Educational Diversity

We progressives acknowledge that we live in a diverse society and that we should celebrate and encourage, rather than squelch, that diversity.  We do not support promoting one religion as right while others are wrong.  We do not celebrate one cultural heritage at the expense of others.  So following that same logic, we should not promote one approach to education and human development to the detriment of all others.

But unfortunately, our current public education system is not honoring educational diversity and is in fact promoting one educational approach, the method that involves sitting kids down in front of a teacher in a classroom who then presents academic material and generally stage-manages the entire learning process.  Given that people do have a range of learning styles, this classroom approach really only works for some of our kids.  Other kids wither away in a classroom and need more real-world settings (such as say apprenticeships) that provide more practical context for the knowledge and skills acquired.  Still other kids are determined to direct their own learning and will continually butt heads with a teacher in their face constantly redirecting them from their natural instincts for self-directed inquiry.

Is the human right to a good education served if we insist on providing a learning environment that suits the first group of kids but not the other two?  Sure they are all getting the “same” education, but is that a “good” education for all of them?  Don't we as progressives have common ground in promoting an educational system that allows for a diversity of educational approaches?  Don't we owe it to the fundamental human rights of a person to not force them to learn in a classroom at the direction of an orchestrating teacher if that is antithetical to how they naturally learn?

The Recent Historical Challenge to Progressive Education

As progressives, it seems that we should take the words of the greatest American progressive philosopher of the 20th century, John Dewey, to heart...

Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.
Candidly, I think Dewey would likely be troubled with homeschooling, since he saw public education as an institution to help build an active and effective adult citizenry for a democratic society.  But given that, I think he would be equally troubled by what is going on in our public schools.  Quoting Dewey again...
The notion that some subjects and methods and that acquaintance with certain facts and truths possess educational value in and of themselves is the reason why traditional education reduced the material of education so largely to a diet of predigested materials.

Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.

I think Dewey's words ring true today, since “traditional” education has reasserted itself to dominance in the past 30 years.  

Since the 1983 publication of the profound critique of U.S. public schools by the Reagan administration, “A Nation at Risk”, policymakers, business leaders, academics, and the media have pursued a renewed campaign to harness American education to the values of the economic system – productivity, efficiency, accountability, standardization, and rational management.  Students’ intelligence and creativity have arguably been appropriated by the corporate state as “intellectual capital.”  In line with that framing, federal and state governments defined “goals,” “standards,” and “outcomes” and demanded that all young people achieve certain milestones by predetermined ages.  

This shackling of public education came to a head with Rod Paige and the “Houston Miracle”, which led to the George W. Bush administration partnering with Ted Kennedy to pass “No Child Left Behind”.  A compromise at best between “corporatist” conservatives looking to exercise top-down control over the education system and progressives trying to ensure that that system would not continue to “leave behind” our most economically disadvantaged communities and their young people.  A compromise that has led to our current state of increasingly regimented curriculum and teaching methodologies in order to “teach to the test” and avoid the coercive remedies built into NCLB.

Our Path Forward & Its Historical Precedents

We come together here on Daily KOS because we see ourselves sharing a movement for human progress that acknowledges the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.  As a veteran activist, I know that the most successful movements are multi-faceted and challenge an entrenched system from all angles including from within and without.  For example,  the eight decade U.S. movement for women's suffrage that culminated in final ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 comes to mind.  Did not that movement finally succeed by leveraging the leadership of its “good cop” Carrie Chapman Katt, lobbying respectfully in the halls of political power, while its “bad cop” Alice Paul and her followers challenged the status quo with provocative street actions and prison hunger strikes?

When it comes to developing a truly humanistic education system, don't we likewise need to fight the battles from within and without?  And if we progressives just get riled up by Goldstein's piece and take opposite sides, aren't we guilty of fighting with each other rather than coordinating our efforts to continue to humanize and democratize entrenched aspects of our American culture?

As a “liberal homeschooler”, I truly believe that I and my fellow homeschooling travelers are not part of the problem but can and should be part of the solution.  Not by forcing our kids back to school against our judgment of their developmental needs, but by sharing with the majority of other progressives (who continue to have their kids in public or even private school) a goal of transforming a recalcitrant American institution towards achieving the goals that John Dewey envisioned.

Those of us with kids who do well in that conventional classroom environment should keep our kids there to add their positive energy to that educational venue.  This while at the same time lobbying teachers, administrators and school boards to move away from centralized and regimented curriculum enforced by “teaching to the test”.

Those of us with kids who do not do so well in that conventional classroom environment, and choose another educational path, should continue to do so while continuing to raise our voices in the educational debate, playing a role as a sort of “bad cop” or “canaries in the coal mine”.  I really don't think we are doing teachers and the other students any favors by forcing kids to be in a conventional classroom environment that is against their developmental nature, and which risks turning teachers into jailers and poisoning an important learning environment.

We should honor those among us who are willing to be public school teachers by doing our best to ensure that the kids in their classrooms are happy to be there and resonate in this instructional academic approach to learning.

We also need to be realistic that educational transformation towards a more holistic and humanistic vision of a John Dewey is a long-term effort.  It will probably progress incrementally and not come to fruition until most or all of our kids in K-12 schools today are adults.  Our American young people are not an abstract mass of humanity to be dealt with in abstract mass terms.  They are over fifty million unique souls who we are individually responsible to to provide them with the opportunity for their own development towards achieving “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” within the context of our human community.

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Comment Preferences

  •  asdf (15+ / 0-)

    I just don't get it. How are homeschoolers not "the little guy," a minority to be protected and cherished in the interest of diversity? How can there be diversity if everyone comes out of the same public schools where every child feels the peer pressure to conform?

    And another point. There's this focus right now on women and their control of their own reproductive bits. Everyone on the left seems to feel as if that's an innate right (including myself). We don't need husband or boyfriend or doctor or insurance company or employer or Congress or any damn one to tell us what we can do. Our bodies, our choice- for our girly bits. Rah, rah. Yet you just wait until she does have a child. The you pick any three random people here, and it's shocking how they'll agree that the average woman is incapable of teaching and encouraging a love of learning in her own offspring, whom she was qualified to choose that they'd exist, without a whole slew of professionals to guide her and hold her hand and tell her which set of information "should" be taught at her child's age, so he can be just like every other child.

    So when it comes down to it- screw diversity, screw choice, screw women's autonomy? Thanks.

    In all 50 states, any parent who hasn't been deemed unfit has a legal right to homeschool their kids. It's a valid option for myriad reasons, and can be made to work under most circumstances. Yet here we have a bunch of people arguing against a minority right which, at worst, causes no more harm than any other method of education, mainly to discomfit their political opponents. Kids aren't a political football. Hold all the personal opinions you like, but please refrain from moving to legislate restrictions on our freedom.

    Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

    by jennifree2bme on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:59:33 AM PST

    •  This is a subject that concerns me a lot: (15+ / 0-)
      it's shocking how they'll agree that the average woman is incapable of teaching and encouraging a love of learning in her own offspring, whom she was qualified to choose that they'd exist, without a whole slew of professionals to guide her and hold her hand and tell her which set of information "should" be taught at her child's age, so he can be just like every other child.
      And it isn't just about women being incapable... a lot of time it's about a certain element of society being incapable. Sometimes it's women, sometimes it's poor people, sometimes it's religious people. And I worry whenever we start to talk to that way.

      Much better to do as leftyparent suggests and find ways to work together to expand options in the current system so that more children have the best opportunity to learn.

      •  When we have so many apparently unqualified and (0+ / 0-)

        incompetent teachers, should we a assume that a parent is the best teacher for a child? And of the expert, talented, educated, and experienced teachers, do all parents offer the same benefit that they do?

        "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

        by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 04:11:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The cool thing is that the parent (5+ / 0-)

          doesn't have to teach every subject.  Instead, we are a sort of gatekeeper to finding the resource to teach the subject we may not be strong in.  I find this especially true as my kids get older.   I am much more shifting into guidance counselor mode.  

          Here's what my 15 year old freshman is up to this year:

          History:  he takes a class at our homeschool co-op.  It's $20 per month, one hour a week, teacher gives weekly assignments. They are doing 20th Century history.  There are about 12 kids in the class.

          Science:  He is taking astronomy with a group of homeschool kids organized by some moms with a man who is a certificated teacher.  $24 per month.  He is also doing physics with my husband, who is an engineer, using a text we bought online.

          Math:  I am doing Algebra with him with a used textbook we bought online.  We work together when he has questions or needs guidance, otherwise, he works independently with the text.  His dad is coordinating the physics with the algebra text in order to pull him along as he is much more interested in the physics than the algebra.

          Writing:  He writes for the history class, he writes with me, and he writes as part of his debate participation.

          Economics/Government:  He is participating in team policy debate, so he is largely teaching himself economics and government through the research for this, helped by a Paul Krugman textbook, and my mentoring, he and his partner are arguing for elimination of the Social Security cap. They also have to prepare arguments against a variety of proposals put forth by other teams. The topic this year deals with the government's revenue generation policies.

          Literature:  He participates in two different book groups. One of 5 homeschool teen boys who are reading classics together.  They meet once a month to discuss a book that they choose.  The other group is about 12 kids that I facilitate and we also meet once a month to discuss books that are chosen by a nominating/voting process.

          Programming:  He has lately decided to teach himself programming.  He is reading online, getting books from teh library, and our friend who works for Amazon just gave him a bag of books to help him out and has offered to mentor him however he wants.

          So, you can see, there is not much school going on here around the kitchen table, and not much where I actually act as the teacher.

          In addition, we do a lot of family sort of things, games, history channel, movies, day and weekend trips.

          I'd describe it as more of a lifestyle than an educational plan.

          I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

          by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:10:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  They all offer different benefits & liabilities... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radical simplicity, angelajean

          as educational facilitators I suppose.  But learning IMO is more about how the learner likes to proceed rather than an adult facilitating.  

          Given the nature of their interests in storytelling and gaming, my own kids did most of their teenage "unschooling" work on their own or with their peers, without our intervention at all.  We just provided them the Internet access and some allowance money to pay for their Internet community subscriptions.  I would suggest sci-fi and fantasy books that my daughter might enjoy.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:11:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure that teaching is just about (0+ / 0-)

            facilitating education. I think the best teachers in a subject are themselves experts in that subject, who can assess the quality of what is being learned, in addition to their other abilities as educators.

            "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

            by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:30:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agreed, there is that occasional... (3+ / 0-)

              "sage on the stage" teacher that a kid can just be in the presence of and learn so much, but certainly not the norm IMO.

              Confessing my personal bias as an "unschooler" myself, I believe that most real learning is self-initiated (which of course can include find that "sage on the stage" that is worth just listening to).  I think adult parents and teachers often spend way too much time in a kids face trying to stage-manage their learning process, mostly to that process's detriment!

              You and I are speaking to two very different paradigms for the learning process!

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles

              by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 06:02:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Another paradigm (3+ / 0-)

              In the self-directed learning paradigm, people generally want to know how they are doing and will seek out ways to evaluate that.

            •  Again (0+ / 0-)

              Most Teachers especially in the elementary grades have a Degree in Education which means they are not "experts" in Science, Math, History etc.

              Even at the High School level you sometimes find a teacher, teaching a subject he/she did not minor/major in.

              University Professors on the other hand have a degree in the subject they are teaching.

              If we want our children in K-12 to be taught by experts we need to insist that they have a Degree in the subject matter they are teaching NOT a Degree in Education.

              "High-minded individuals are more dangerous than criminals. they can always find hypocritical excuses for committing acts of violence." Amelia Peabody Emerson

              by TheRealAlasandra on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 07:35:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  & again, what helps facilitate the learning... (0+ / 0-)

                process.  I've found often letting a kid take a "deep dive" on their own into something and come to you as an adult when they hit an obstacle or need a resource that they can not resolve themselves.

                Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                by leftyparent on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 08:25:27 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  education systems, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          radical simplicity, angelajean

          including public education, do not have as a goal providing the "best teacher" for your particular child.  

          In special education, this is spelled out very plainly to parents when they have problems with their child's program and  find that a child's IEP is not required to be  the "best" education for their child but rather is required only to be "adequate."  

          •  That makes sense to some degree. (0+ / 0-)

            Sometimes, I think providing the best education for one individual child is seen as being at the expense of other children, in part because of limited resources.

            "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

            by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 06:28:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Patriarchy in education & parenting politics... (7+ / 0-)

      The public school system in the U.S. has historically been staffed by mainly women teachers, unlike most of the countries in Europe.  In a male dominant society, teaching used to be just about the only "profession" that women could enter, so all those talented and trained women were a captive (and subsequently lower paid) labor pool to staff the burgeoning public schools throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.  But consistent with a male dominant society, all those teachers ended up being managed not by the best among them, but by male bosses in the form of principals, superintendents and other educational administrators.

      The same for parenting.  Women were given the task of raising the children at home, but hopefully under paternal authority.

      I think what you are calling out is this ancient patriarchal world view, perpetuated thru the centuries from ancient times, of "us and them" thinking and a paradigm of control by "us" (the men) over "them" (the women & the kids).  It works the same for white over of color and rich over poor.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 08:31:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Next week, FloridaSNMOM will bring us a diary (8+ / 0-)

    on Homeschooling on a Shoe String Budget.

  •  There's a lot of lip service done (13+ / 0-)

    about different learning styles, diversity, etc. But the purpose is accommodation into the system as it is already defined. The schools determine within narrow limits what needs to be done to fit certain approved types of atypical kids into a system intentionally characterized by a one-size-fits-all approach which is authoritarian, regimented and standardized by the division of knowledge into two categories: things are important enough that everyone should study them, and the other things, which are unimportant and irrelevant. And those things that are important enough to study should only be studied in a certain way.

    While you clearly want a school system that is "humanistic" (existing for the purpose of dealing with the needs of students as human beings rather than making the students fill the needs of the system), and reading what you have written I would agree with you, this is not valued within our present education system. If this is what a parent wants, there is no way to deal with it except to homeschool their children.

  •  A valid point from another diary (12+ / 0-)

    written and released today by a public school teacher, our own TeacherKen (I know I'm crossing diaries a bit, but it seemed a good and appropriate point for this diary):

    Too many of the students are still, even after 2/3 of a school year with me, somewhat passive about their learning, waiting for information to be given to them.  
    Later she goes on to explain why this is:
    Too much of their educational experience through Middle School has been a focus on improving test scores, for tests now exclusively multiple choice.  They don't have to LEARN the content, they just have to be able to recognize it - something very reductive of real learning.
    Now, given this is truth, and we've all heard from many many teachers that this is a BIG problem with NCLB methods and the state mandatory teasting, how does homeschooling those of our children who don't thrive in public school NOT help the progressive 'cause'? In many different support groups of a mix of special needs, typical children, progressive and conservative communities one of the biggest problems I've heard is "my child no longer LIKES learning, they don't want to take part in it, they don't want to learn any more". Is this not why channels like Fox News do so well? Children have been more and more taught to sit and accept whatever is taught to them, whatever is told to them as 'facts', not because teachers want to do this, but because they have to teach to a test. There is less room in the curriculum for exploration, free thinking, critical thinking, and child led curiosity.
    Without these qualities being given to our children, and indeed with them seeming to be taken away from many, how do we expect them to be able to continue to move this country forward? How do we expect them to continue to bring new ideas and improvement? How do we expect them to continue our efforts to improve the public school system itself? This won't get done most likely from our efforts alone, as leftyparent said, it's going to take time, longer than the time our kids spend in public school. Which means it goes into their children's education, our grand children's.
    If our home schooled children can't learn well in that environment, and we pull them out to teach them in ways that work for them, in ways that open up that curiosity and love of learning, how is that NOT being good progressive, liberal citizens? Not that no liberals can come out of public schools, they can and do, but how are our children supposed to be good liberals if what they are learning is not to question and learn?

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 06:39:10 AM PST

  •  Don't bother... (6+ / 0-)

    ...lobbying teachers, admins and school boards. There hands have been tied by state and federal lawmakers.

    Teachers, by and large, do not want to teach to the test. And they do not want to "stage manage" learning. They want to find each child's potential and help each one find their passions and creativity and interests. But the system will not let them.

    They are not the enemy in all of this.

    •  Teacher aren't the enemy in this (7+ / 0-)

      we all know that I think. There are some teachers who add to some of the problems but the majority of teachers are loving, wonderful,  helpful people who do their best in a very very poor situation.
      But the teachers are in an even worse position to get this system to change than the rest of us, because when they speak against it they are seen as biased, and wanting to protect their jobs and their perceived "high pay".
      But many of the state and federal lawmakers aren't listening to anyone but the corporate interests. The "fact" that it's the teacher's fault is one of those things that people are seeing on some news networks and not questioning. Unfortunately, this behavior of absorbing 'news' and not questioning the "facts" is a behavior that's being reinforced by NCLB policies.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 07:08:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Now... (7+ / 0-)

        ...that I have been subbing, I sit at a lunch table with a new group of teachers every day that I work. They are frustrated with the state of things. They are tired of their energy and creativity being taken away by testing and assessment and "school improvement goals" and other nonsense. They are tired of saying to a classroom full of kids who are excited about examining a topic in more detail, "sorry, we have to move on to the next standard". They are tired of remembering how they used to assign self-directed projects where kids could pick their own topics and their own final product and dive into learning in their own ways and now they've been forced to ditch those activities for meeting standard 5.2.1, letter b, and giving a multiple choice test over it to practice for the high stakes one.

        The diarist suggests lobbying teachers in your local district for change. They aren't the ones who need lobbied. Call your governor, your state education officials, your congress reps and senators.

      •  Agreed, teachers are forced to be unwitting agents (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k8dd8d, Moody Loner, Renee, angelajean

        of the control model of top-down authority.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles

        by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 08:59:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Teachers aren't the enemy. (7+ / 0-)

      One enemy is mandated testing. Another enemy is the blaming teachers meme.

      A big enemy is corporate privatization of government functions - everywhere of course, but perhaps nowhere more than here.

      Are you on the Wreck List? Horde on Garrosh.

      by Moody Loner on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 07:35:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Point take BB Jam Fan!... (6+ / 0-)

      In the top-down control model of our education system, real control is up at the state level, where decisions on curriculum and pedagogy are made.  And in the last three decades the federal government is fighting to take the reins of education themselves and create one more degree of separation from the students, parents and teachers  who are actually impacted and those who call the shots.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 08:56:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  16 years... (6+ / 0-) the classroom. I would not return to K-12 education full time now for anything.

        Teachers have no autonomy anymore.

        I loved facilitating real learning. In the last few years, I was not really allowed to do so.

        My mark of a good lesson was always how much I heard my own voice. If I heard it all period, something had gone awry. Meanwhile, a new department head was foisted on us the last two years I taught (hired from outside the system, less experience and younger than all of us while teachers in the department with 30+ yrs experience were passed over for the position--but they didn't care to flirt with the principal). Her classroom was two doors down and she was louder than loud. And all we ever heard coming from her room was an endless monologue by her. Her students--6th and 7th graders--did nothing but sit at their desks and listen to her talk at them.

        Bet you can't guess who got the best evaluations.

        The system is broken. But teachers aren't the ones who broke it.

        •  I bet there is a homeschooling (5+ / 0-)

          community in your area who would love to have you as a resource, teacher, mentor, tutor, whatever.

          There are co-ops and classes for small groups, etc and I bet within that community, your passion for facilitating learning would be matched by a group of kids who are passionate about learning!

          I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

          by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:38:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Critical point yours! We need to move the nexus... (4+ / 0-)

          of educational authority back to the student, the parent and the teacher (when "the student is ready").

          The story you shared is truly a sad one.  It is classes like the one with the loud droning teacher that really intimidated me as a junior high kid and also soured my own kids on going to school.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:40:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've had teachers and college professors (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Renee, Andrew F Cockburn

            like that. I always hated it, and always did worst in those classes unless I took it upon myself to teach myself what I needed to know. I'm NOT an auditory learner by any means. When I had college professors who did nothing but read from the text, my comment on the exit form always read something like: "why did I pay to come to this class, I could have done better studying the text book at home. I know how to read, thank you, please use class time to expand and teach."
            These are the classes where I'd find my mind and attention wandering, or I'd read something else, work on a paper, etc. Class time was a waste of my time and attention because nothing that I hadn't read in the chapter the night before was covered. These also tended to be the teachers/professors who answered student's questions by telling them to 'read the book'. If I'd been able to get the answer from the book, trust me, I wouldn't be asking the teacher!
            Most of my teachers and college professors engaged the class, ran group sessions, discussions, related experiences that connected with the material, and made sure we understood the practical aspects of what we were learning.
            But I went to school in the days before state mandated tests, before at least as stringent state mandated curriculum.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:50:25 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I can remember being so excited to take a class (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              in Anthropology at my local community college. And then being so disappointed when all the instructor did was lecture directly from the reading she had assigned the day before. She held one of the only classes on campus that was graded by attendance. We could have passed the tests just from reading the book - we didn't need her so she had to make sure we showed up somehow. It was so sad.

              Then my best teacher was in 6th grade and he was allowed to just drop the entire curriculum for a group of students who had already met our curriculum requirements for English. We became puppeteers for an entire years - we designed puppets and sets, produced entire shows, and shared our work with other students at school and with retirement homes. It was the most memorable school year of my life.

              •  There came a point... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                angelajean, TheRealAlasandra

                ...when lecturing from the text was highly recommended to us by administrators because it was assumed the students would not read it and the textbook was tied to the standards and thus more important than anything else.

                As a history teacher, I considered the textbook only useful as a source for names, dates, timelines and definitions of important terms. History was better taught from primary source documents, pictures, paintings, video---why read a dry boring account of FDR and Social Security when we can start with a video on youtube of him signing it into law? (available here:

                Except that most schools I sub in have disabled youtube access, including for teachers.

                •  History class can be the best or worst... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean, k8dd8d

                  a compelling narrative or the driest predigested stuff!

                  I had an elective "Modern Russian History" class my senior year of high school taught in my progressive university hometown by a very colorful character who was a card carrying "out" communist.  He had my rapt attention for weeks sharing with us the story of the run up to the early 20th century revolutions in 1905 and 1917 in Russia.  He was flamboyant and great at telling a story and we loved listening to him and chiming in with our own thoughts.

                  Then my daughter had a 9th grade history teacher who tried initially to have class discussions on the the history topics from the textbook, but because most of the kids were doing poorly on the test, resorted to having the kids outline the chapters in the history textbook instead, hoping they would somehow "osmose" the right answers on the test!

                  Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                  by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 11:03:38 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Outlining chapters... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    leftyparent, k8dd8d, angelajean

                    ...I was encouraged, by the principal who used to be a math teacher, to make the kids outline chapters of their history book because outlining non-fiction text was a skill on state standards that the English department couldn't always cover. I was also in the English department. I finally cracked and told him we weren't emphasizing it there because it is a less than an important skill in the grand scheme of learning. It is, in fact, arguably, a totally useless skill.

                    I rarely made my kids read their boring history textbook, let alone outline the chapters. I found better stuff for them to read.

                    •  good for you (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      BB Jam Fan, angelajean

                      I try to do history as more storytelling, and in some cases, I am learning it along with my kids.

                      We combine it with geography and social studies in a way to mostly have a family discussion about various time periods and eras, the people and the land.

                      Throwing the maps on the table really makes a difference too, because so much of the time you can see why certain things were fought over, why a certain people wanted a certain piece of land, etc.

                      I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

                      by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:00:45 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Sounds more like fun to me!... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        k8dd8d, angelajean

                        Tho I'm a real history geek!

                        Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                        by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:07:04 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  and there is nothing more exciting than (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          leftyparent, angelajean

                          when kids make connections.  My 13 yo daughter is a difficult one to engage, she is much more concerned with her friends, clothes, etc. and isn't intrinsically a motivated learner.

                          She recently read Animal Farm, and I was surprised at how much it impacted her.  I hadn't realized how much until we were talking Washington history and how the Indians were pushed off their lands and she got really excited and said, this reminds me of Animal Farm where the pigs wanted everything for themselves!

                          I finally knew she would be ok!!

                          I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

                          by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:37:22 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  hiSTORY (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        k8dd8d, angelajean

                        I used to write it on the board that way the first day of class.

                        Another issue I had with administrators was the use of art, literature and music in history class. They didn't find it relevant. I told one idiot administrator once that if the point of teaching history was to prepare students to be Jeopardy contestants, the standards were fantastic. If we wanted students to understand history and why it is important, they were useless.

                        I also had conflict over asking kids to recall previous units. For example, connecting the end of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles to the rise of Nazism and World War II was considered asking too much of the kids. They were not to be troubled with those kinds of connections which were deemed irrelevant to the standards as well.

                        •  The "story arcs" of human history... (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          k8dd8d, angelajean

                          are what make it the "human story" that we all share a role in.  Those administrators were truly idiots!  And I think I would have enjoyed your history classes!

                          World War I in particular was such a needless apocalypse, mostly an exercise in power politics and macho nationalism, and being "boys with toys" compelled to use those big metal battleships.  From my more recent reading of its impact on Western culture, it pretty much obliterated any remaining joy in the artists and other looking to the future, and laid all the seeds for WWII, cold war and even the "war on terror" into this century.


                          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:19:48 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Oh, I ALWAYS include the literature piece (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          it is what really makes the human story connect.  If you just learn the facts and stuff, then you have no way to connect how the real people lived and felt about what was happening.

                          I think that is especially important to making it relevant to kids.  They need to understand why history is important and it's the human stories that make it personal.

                          I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

                          by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:40:31 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  It's the connections that make it real. (0+ / 0-)

                          Connections are how my kids learn.

                          •  Connections (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            k8dd8d, angelajean

                            One of the first things we did, for our Civil War unit, after we covered background and the causes , was take out a video from the library on the schooling of four of the main generals during the war who were trained at West point together. Seeing them as boys, as friends who then later went on to fight against each other, into their lives together and how they interacted afterward has made it much more real for my son.

                            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                            by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 03:47:47 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sounds like very cool approach! (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            To get inside historical characters.

                            Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                            by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 04:07:35 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Sounds good to me... (0+ / 0-)

                      though nothing could beat my Russian History teacher, Mr Peacock, telling lurid stories of the group of Russian anarchists who plotted for years to kill the Czar.  It drove me to the sub-basement of the University of Michigan graduate library searching out dusty volumes written by Bakunin and Kropotkin.


                      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:05:34 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I was... (0+ / 0-)

                        just reading about Kropotkin for a graduate class yesterday.

                        •  A relevant Kropotkin quote... (0+ / 0-)
                          The history of human thought recalls the swinging of a pendulum which takes centuries to swing. After a long period of slumber comes a moment of awakening. Then thought frees herself from the chains with which those interested — rulers, lawyers, clerics — have carefully enwound her.

                          She shatters the chains. She subjects to severe criticism all that has been taught her, and lays bare the emptiness of the religious political, legal, and social prejudices amid which she has vegetated. She starts research in new paths, enriches our knowledge with new discoveries, creates new sciences.

                          But the inveterate enemies of thought — the government, the lawgiver, and the priest — soon recover from their defeat. By degrees they gather together their scattered forces, and remodel their faith and their code of laws to adapt them to the new needs.

                          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:22:33 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  I had my son ask me how to outline a chapter once (0+ / 0-)

                      I sat down, taught him in about 10 minutes and he wondered what the big deal was all about.

                      •  Outlining as (supposedly) learning (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        In the case of my daughter's 9th grade history class, the teacher had them spend most of class time sitting and outlining the chapters as a technique to get them to read the chapters to take the tests.  When he had spent class time in discussion and gave tests based on the chapters most of the students failed, which he took to mean they weren't doing the reading, thus the in-class outlining.

                •  To me, the administrators missed an important (0+ / 0-)

                  point... rather than trying to force feed the text they should have been trying to figure out why students weren't reading it. My guess is that it was dry and boring and a waste of their time. I mean, if you read something that is boring, it is very hard to retain the information.

                  I like your methods much better. My oldest son learned more about history by working on two projects for National History Day. They encourage primary source material. He learned a ton but better yet, he learned how to research other history topics as well. He has the whole past at his finger tips, if he so desires.

                •  Oh, goodness! (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  angelajean, FloridaSNMOM

                  Just this semester, I've been blessed with a classroom big-screen Internet hookup.  We look up everything online now. Contemporary writers read their stuff on YouTube. We watch, the students are riveted.  We go onto the Poetry Foundation website and shop it like Amazon -- except everything's free!  We look at Cubist paintings and free verse side by side and talk about how technologies released art from its previously more necessary formalities, etc., and they can actually see what that's all about!  

                  My community college classes are not packed with arts enthusiasts.  But when we surf through the lecture notes, they tune in.  

                  Technology can be a fabulous teaching assistant.  Pass it on.

  •  I hated school when I was growing up and (5+ / 0-)

    dropped out in the 8th grade.  I wish there had been alternatives then.  When I was older many in my generation formed their own schools with different learning styles.  I saw many of their children not learn a thing and get pushed back grades.  Later after I got my own schooling straightened out I became a HS librarian to help students like me.  Being in education I noticed there were a lot more options and choices available to students, early college classes, flexible schedules etc. than I had.  Many, many students do not have a choice to be home schooled.  I think we need to help make the schools they go to as good as we can and fight for them.  I also worked with mentally and physically challenged children and adults for years and taught many of their classes.  If we don't support our public schools we will leave many at risk kids behind.  That is not acceptable.

    •  Homeschooling and (8+ / 0-)

      fixing the public school system is not an "either/or" proposition.

      Are you on the Wreck List? Horde on Garrosh.

      by Moody Loner on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 07:39:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We can support public schools (6+ / 0-)

      and advocate for reform while still educating our children at home. I personally participated in the protests and petitions against the Florida FCAT being used attached to teacher wages and evaluations when Governor Christ was in office, so did my home schooled son. It was even easier for him to participate because he didn't have to miss school or worry about being penalized for it with the school administrators.
      Just because we choose to education our children at home, for a myriad of personal reasons doesn't mean we stop working for the public schools. And it doesn't mean we stop raising our children to be a voice for public schools when they are grown.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 07:59:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for sharing your story... (7+ / 0-)

      I went to junior high in the 1960s and hated most all of it as well, while thinking it was all my fault.  And speaking of 8th grade, that is when our son Eric wrote "Fuck Math" as his only answer on a state standard math test and we ended up pulling him out of school to homeschool.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:04:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  our moment was when our then 4th (6+ / 0-)

        grader said, Mom, do you think we could do something besides plant seeds in science in 5th grade, cuz we've planted seeds for science ever since preschool?

        that one opened my eyes.  then I was in his classroom as the teacher was preparing the kids to take the state standardized test the next day.  her test prep consisted of things like, no looking at your neighbor's paper, and raise your hand if you have to go to the bathroom.  sounds harmless, I know, but something in me snapped.  I was horrified that stuff like that had to be taught to 4th graders.  I mean, these kids are 10 and 11 and they are being treated like 4 year olds.  Not that I was happy they were spending time on test prep, but if you are going to do it, I expected things like how to handle multiple choice (eliminate the ones you know are the wrong answer, etc).

        I walked out of that classroom, called my husband and said, We are done!  Everything I had been seeing for 5 years in the public schools just came to a head at that moment, the futility of trying to make change, the desire to learn crushed in our culture, just all of it.

        I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

        by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:45:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  sorry about all the errors in that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Moody Loner, k8dd8d

    I'm not really awake yet LOL.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 08:00:34 AM PST

    •  No problem, thanks for participating... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Moody Loner, angelajean

      in the conversation, we get your point!

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:04:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

        I just hate reading one of my posts and groaning over mistakes I should have caught. I think some of it is that I had been up for hours, but hadn't eaten yet (I have almost no appetite any longer due to my own disability, I have to remind myself that I still need to eat more than once a day), now with some caffeine and some food hopefully I'll be more coherent!

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:24:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hear you! I come across mistakes... (0+ / 0-)

          in my diaries all the time.   At least those I can edit out!  

          The important thing is to engage in dialog, which this wonderful Internet facilitates so nicely!

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:42:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I was homeschooled (10+ / 0-)

    Although in my case, I was homeschooled by fundamentalist Christian parents who didn't want me exposed to ideas like multiculturalism or evolution. My scientific and cultural education suffered greatly as a result, but in all other aspects my education was superb. Our school systems are designed for conformity, and they may not be the best option for every child. I think a homeschooled education, absent the intensive religious indoctrination I got (none of which took, I'm a pagan socialist), could be extremely beneficial, especially to a child with learning disabilities.

  •  Thanks Lefty Parent (4+ / 0-)

    for a great diary.

    I want to make a brief comment about the Teddy Kennedy thing and NCLB.

    It is my understanding that NCLB was written to be a remedy for the public schools.  The idea behind it was to identify the schools having trouble, and provide them with resources and help to build them back up.  This is why Teddy Kennedy signed on to it.  It was modeled after something that had been done (I think) in North Carolina.

    Anyway, when the law was administered, it was administered punitively so rather than providing resources and helping build a school back up, they instead punished it, withdrew resources, etc.

    I think Teddy got suckered by an administration who wanted to starve the beast so they could impose vouchers.

    I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

    by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 08:01:00 AM PST

    •  Maybe you are right there, but... (3+ / 0-)

      don't you think that there are many progressives, including Obama and his ed sec Duncan, who buy into that control model through testing accountability as well?

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:13:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, and one thing that strikes me (3+ / 0-)

        is that Obama did not attend public school, and neither do his children.  I wonder if it's one of those issues that he doesn't have direct experience with, and so relies on experts, etc to guide his choices.

        Lots of people have strong opinions about what the system is and what it should be, but they have never spent time and effort actually IN a school, and observing what works, what doesn't and what the influences are.

        I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

        by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:19:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You may be right there! & Interstingly... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, Moody Loner

          his other former associate more on the anarchist side, Bill Ayers, had a very different take on that social control model.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:46:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I had never thought about it that way before. (0+ / 0-)

          His kids didn't go to public school even in Chicago?

          •  no, they were in a private (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            school attached to a University. I forget the specifics, and don't have time to look it up right now.  I'm off to run kids for the next several hours.

            And his grandmother worked to put him in a private school in Hawaii.  Something about her knowing that's what would be necessary for him to get ahead.

            I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

            by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 10:19:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Google is my friend (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Chicago Lab Schools is where they went.

              love this intro, sounds a lot like what we are all about as homeschoolers!

              Learning by doing has guided the efforts of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools since Professor John Dewey first began testing his educational theories in 1896. Beginning with a handful of primary grade children from Hyde Park and growing to over 1770 students (nursery through grade 12) from throughout the metropolitan Chicago area, the Laboratory Schools have earned a well-deserved international reputation for excellence.

              Our mission is focused on students. We are more than just test scores and college admissions statistics. We are about learning well and complementing the work of one of the world's premier institutions of higher learning, the University of Chicago. Our academic program is rigorous, but we are as interested in the development of character as we are in scholastic achievement. Alumni from all over the world regularly attest that it was at Lab where they learned how to think deeply and thus learned how to learn. In short, we are among the leading independent schools in the nation and pride ourselves on creating conditions for a purposeful search for knowledge and truth.

              The Laboratory Schools represent the best that America has to offer with students who come from a rich variety of backgrounds. We view this diversity as a strength, representative of the world in which we live. In fact, we believe that Lab needs to be experienced in order to be appreciated. Prospective students and their families have been visiting us for over a century to determine if the Laboratory Schools are the right fit for them. To arrange a visit, please contact the Office of Admissions. To visit the Schools for other purposes, please contact my office. We look forward to meeting you.

              I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

              by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 10:30:06 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Diary.. thank you ! n/t (4+ / 0-)
    •  You're welcome Kay... (4+ / 0-)

      Your piece inspired some of what I ended up trying to highlight in my piece.  We are not the enemy of progressive thinking!

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 09:14:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I kept going through your piece and trying to (7+ / 0-)

        find my favorite part. You've made it make so much sense, so that really anyone coming from any POV could understand it, unless they just didn't want to.

        "Our American young people are not an abstract mass of humanity to be dealt with in abstract mass terms.  They are over fifty million unique souls who we are individually responsible to to provide them with the opportunity for their own development towards achieving “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” within the context of our human community."

        I finally settled on that one. But I like this one, too:

        "We come together here on Daily KOS because we see ourselves sharing a movement for human progress that acknowledges the inherent worth and dignity of every human being."

        As perfect an explanation as to why we homeschool as any I've ever seen.

  •  Great diary, but it doesn't capture our experience (4+ / 0-)

    We live in a college town that has great schools based on test results and about any other measure you want to use. There are ways that they could be improved, but they are better than 90% of the schools in the rest of the country.

    Our daughter did not fit in. Her learning style was too out of synch with the other kids. It was impossible for her to get anything useful out of school and she was miserable.

    When we pulled her out to home school her teachers told us that we had made the correct decision. There wasn't any realistic way to change the school system to accommodate her, and if we managed to do so we would break it for a bunch of other kids. Keeping her in wouldn't help achieve some mystical liberal goal of perfect schools.

    No matter how much you improve or redesign public schools, there will always be some kids who don't belong in public schools.

    •  How about smaller schools with different (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew F Cockburn, k8dd8d

      focuses? Not that I don't agree that there won't always be some kids that aren't served well by a traditional school, but I do think our current system could do a better job offering more public school choices - I'm a big proponent of successful public charter models like the one we used in CA. I think there are solutions to be found that can make all education alternatives available and affordable to everyone.

    •  In what ways would you say (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew F Cockburn, k8dd8d

      her learning style was out of synch with the other kids?

      •  She is profoundly gifted. (4+ / 0-)

        She got a perfect 800 on the SAT quantitative and over 700 on the verbal when she was 12. That put her in the top 1% of graduating high school seniors when she was in middle school.

        She decided to accelerate herself in math and took the Johns Hopkins online geometry class that summer. She finished it in three weeks and got an A.

        She participated in the Davidson Young Scholars program starting when she was in 1st grade. We met many other families with profoundly gifted kids (some considerably more gifted). At least half were home schooling simply because there was no way that the school system could deal with this sort of kid.

        I think that any type of program like the public schools can be fine for those within few standard deviations of the mean. For anyone outside of that it isn't worth trying to modify the program to fit. It is more efficient to deal with their special needs individually.

        •  Your story recalls quote from radical educator... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          John Taylor Gatto...

          I've come to believe that genius is an exceedingly common human quality, probably natural to most of us.
          Perhaps in his always provocative style he is overstating, but I do firmly believe that each human being has a unique gift to give to the world, if only that person, with the help hopefully of their larger community, can figure it out.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 02:03:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good point. But someone with a genius (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            k8dd8d, angelajean

            for something outside of standard academics-art, for example- might be fine in regular public school, although they would be frustrated as hell in art class. When the frustration is in all the academic subjects it doesn't work.

            •  IMO when your focused on conventional... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              k8dd8d, angelajean

              academic curriculum, most genius is below the radar.

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles

              by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 03:28:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  depends-- (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              angelajean, FloridaSNMOM

              I have a bias towards homeschooling for the profoundly gifted, but I followed closely the progress of a local child who fell into that category.  Her mom was a fellow speech-language pathologist, although not one I knew personally.  They did homeschool her very briefly around 2nd grade, but other than that she went to the local public schools and was written about in the local papers several times.  Basically they kept having her skip grades so that by the time she was 10 she was in high school and was going to the "prom" with chaperones so she could "do all the normal things".  Her mom stressed that Kelsey had always loved all the trappings of school, even as a toddler.  So for her, conventional school worked, allowing that they did make all kinds of allowances for her in terms of bending rules.  

              She graduated from University of KY at age 14:

              Kelsey Ladt

              •  Thanks for sharing that anecdote of a kid... (0+ / 0-)

                who totally resonated with conventional school, albeit at an accelerated pace.

                It brings up an important point about pacing one learning.  Should that pacing of when to learn something be up to the learner or the state?  I think it is the learner who should make those calls!

                Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 06:06:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  in her case, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  the schools were pretty much forced to let the learner set the pace because they had no frame of reference for how to deal with a child that outside the norm.  It is telling that they bent a ton of rules for her, rules they would not have bent for other bright kids that were not so extremely different.  But maybe they learned something from that.  I hope.  This is a school system with some pretty atrocious history with special needs kids.  One child we knew was confined to a janitorial closet for days on end as punishment (this made national news).  

          •  John Taylor Gatto is a Conservative Libertarian (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            freedapeople, blue jersey mom, marykk

            He ran as a Conservative Party Senate contender in NY State against a Democrat. As I see his name appear cited in this series quite a bit, that the fact that he's a Libertarian, with Libertarian and Conservative views, ought to at least be known by people calling him a radical or espousing his point of view to people seeking educational alternatives which fall in line with Leftist ideologies.

            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

            by mahakali overdrive on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:19:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Gatto sources conservative thinkers... (0+ / 0-)

              and did do a run for the NY Senate from the Conservative Party.  But he is in no shape or form a Republican or a right-winger.  He is always the provocateur, but also thoughtful as well.

              mahakali... I think its appropriate of you to call that out!  One should pause and think about that while wrestling with Gatto's thoughts.

              Gatto's work, along with Matt Hern & John Holt have helped move me to more of a what I would call left-libertarian position on education and political issues generally.  Liberty and justice for all within a context of social responsibility.


              Cooper Zale Los Angeles

              by leftyparent on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 07:51:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Andrew... completely agree... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, Andrew F Cockburn, k8dd8d

      We will always need many paths of learning if we are going to accommodate all our kids and their broad range of learning styles.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      Curious... what town did you raise your kids in?

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 11:13:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Morgantown, WV (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We moved here from Gainesville, Fl when they were about to go into elementary school.

        The schools that they would have attended in Gainesville were terrible. Many of the college professors there sent their kids to private school and the ones around us had lots of racial violence and drugs. I understand the argument that having middle class parents pull their kids out of the public school system leads to the destruction of the public schools because I saw it happen there.

  •  Homeschooling may improve schools (4+ / 0-)

    the same way that the home birth movement in the 70's improved hospital based maternity care. Once the alternative became mainstream, the institution responded by adopting some of its features.

    Homeschooling was associated first with hippies, then with evangelical Christians. As more liberals, professionals, secularists, and others who don't fit into those categories choose to homeschool, it is becoming mainstream. That's potentially good for all students!

    My son homeschooled for 12 years, and I have been involved in my local homeschool community for 20 years. It has become much more normalized during that time. That can only encourage all parents, even those whose children attend achool, to imagine that education can be something different for their children than it was for them.

    •  The numbers would have to increase (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      dramatically to have that effect.

      •  Angela... it could be just a matter... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, k8dd8d

        of getting more of our stories out there in the national dialog.  Though statistics are most important  to science types, anecdotes still move regular folks.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles

        by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 11:17:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, it is having that effect in Northern CA (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftyparent, k8dd8d

        The public schools are looking for ways to attract homeschoolers back into the system. They are offering all kinds of options, some traditional public schools and some charter schools but all with a twist. Some 4 day a week programs; some 3 day a week programs. I see a lot of potential.

        •  Agreed... just get out of that damn... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, k8dd8d

          traditional "box" and start thinking in terms of "many paths"!

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 11:27:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  they are doing that in Washington, too (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but it's been about the money.  They are offering all kinds of incentives to homeschoolers because the school district can then get the allotment for your kids, while not providing full services to them.  It's a win for the districts.

          They started targeting homeschoolers a few years ago, and the hooked a lot of people.  They offered families as much as $1500 per kid to participate in "parent partnerships" and "homeschool support programs".  Now for the past few years, they have been changing the game, requiring more accountability, providing less and demanding more.

          People are wising up to it, but it's been a very divisive element in the homeschooling community.  Traditional homeschoolers have shunned people in those programs, arguing that they are eroding the rights of everyone else, but at the same time, those programs are allowing a modicum of choice for some families who may not be able to step outside of traditional school without them, so who are we to criticize?

          My position has been it's fine to make those choices provided you understand the choice you are making, that you are a public school family in an alternative program.  Many of the programs intentionally blurred the lines, and in the long run, the way the law is written here, it's important to make the distinction between who is schooling under public school laws and who is schooling under the homeschooling law.

          I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

          by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:08:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agree with you on choices... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, k8dd8d

            As long as one has the opportunity to make reasonably informed ones, that is what "liberty" is all about.  We are at liberty to decide for ourselves!

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles

            by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:12:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  what was happening here was not informed (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              basically, if someone walked into the office and said, I want to take my child out and homeschool them, then the office would say, oh, contact the homeschool department and they'll help you out.

              Then the homeschool department would say, this is how you do it, you come see our teacher once a week, we'll give you the curriculum, yada, yada, yada, sign here on the dotted line.

              I know people who got this treatment and didn't figure out for a while that there were other options, and a whole lot of choice besides continuing to follow the school district program, ie doing school at home.

              There was a rule that said that the had to inform people, but in an audit, the districts were found to be largely non-compliant to the rule.

              Since that time, much is changing, and the districts have backed off calling their programs "homeschooling", and are being much more clear that they are alternative programs.  But it took a lot of advocacy and education of legislators, etc. to make those changes.

              I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

              by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:33:10 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That is where the Internet can help... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                angelajean, k8dd8d

                Giving more and more people access to info and advocacy on all these compelling education alternatives that are out there but mostly below the radar of conventional educational dialog and options.  I certainly learned about homeschooling and unschooling mostly thru online resources that might later lead me to recommended books which I mostly had to buy online since they weren't often available in bookstores.

                Cooper Zale Los Angeles

                by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 01:58:01 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  And then, once again, we find reasons to be mad (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                with the school district... another reason to hate the government.

                Why does our government do such stupid things. Wouldn't it just be much better to hand out the correct and appropriate information in the first place?

                •  no, because they were helping their (0+ / 0-)

                  budget by keeping these parents in the fold.  Even handing out $1500, which some of them did, netted the district $5k a year per kid.

                  I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

                  by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 04:33:54 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Good comparison to home birth movement!... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, k8dd8d

      Thanks for sharing that.  I will use that as a "talking point" in the future!  The parallel is so very appropriate!

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 11:15:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I really like this analogy. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k8dd8d, Moody Loner

      I will be using it in the future! Thanks, blueisland!

  •  I think exploring alternatives in education (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, k8dd8d

    is a very important topic.  I am heartened every time I see a new diary from Leftyparent, cause I know it will be a good one.

    My interest in education, since my children are actually already grown, stems from my belief that between TV and school, children are socialized to be good little consumers, and in many cases, that consumption is not in their best interests.  I know that this is an oversimplified viewpoint, but it's really what I believe.

    Did you know that schools here in NY have vending machines that the children have unlimited access to no matter what time of the day?  Not sure if that's true in other parts of the country, but I think that's just sad.  No wonder children are having such a hard time with obesity and childhood diabetes.  When I was growing up, my mother gave us our meals and our snacks on a schedule, and the rest of the time we were outside playing.  

    In order for women to free themselves from patriarchal control over their money, we needed to leave the home and become breadwinners.  We've won in many senses in the arena of money, but we've given up the control over socialization of our children.  With the majority of women working, children are receiving their socialization from day-cares, school and at night from the TV.  

    Unfortunately, TV socializes children to be consumers, and the schools are designed to teach the children conformity.  The only socialization they learn is that to be different is bad.  Conformity serves corporatism, since everyone strives to be like everyone else, consequently, they will buy what everyone else has.  

    I believe that the only we will be able to survive the changing global economy is through the strength of the imagination.  You can't be creative and use your imagination in the public schools as they are presently designed.  Therefore, we need to look for alternative methods of educating young people to prepare them for a very complex future.  I still have a stake in the game because I am a part of this society, but more than that, I also have a grandchild and I want what is best for him.  

    Keep up the good work, this is a really interesting topic and again, very important.

    " is believing what you know aint so." Mark Twain

    by nyskeptic on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 02:17:13 PM PST

    •  nyskeptic... thanks for your continuing support!.. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nyskeptic, k8dd8d, angelajean

      I share your concern about this direction toward encouraging our kids to consume rather than transform.

      I know progressive parents who tried to keep their kids from even watching commercial television.  I was actually inspired to do something very different with my kids, inspired by reading Marshall Mcluhan's book, The Mechanical Bride, looking at post-WWII American culture through the lens of advertisements and popular culture.

      I would make a point of watching the commercials with them on the TV shows they were watching and point out the cultural values, messages and propoganda techniques woven into those ads.   It was a great "curriculum" for my young kids, particularly in the area of gender role stereotypes.  In the ads of their youth (1990s) the boys and girls never played with each other, only with other children of their own gender, and only with toys identified with that gender.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 02:44:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks for the title, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k8dd8d, angelajean

        I will look it up.  I am so happy to see all the responses to the homeschooling diaries.  When I first saw your Educational Alternatives group, I did not see any real support for the 'alternatives' part.  I'm glad to see the increase in interest in other than public school.  This is really encouraging.

        " is believing what you know aint so." Mark Twain

        by nyskeptic on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 04:06:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We've now recruited more Homeschoolers... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nyskeptic, angelajean

          to post pieces on our "ed alt" group.  Now we need to find some alternative school types - Montessori, Waldorf, Subury (dem ed), etc - to flesh out some other alternatives.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:22:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah ha! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I know someone who did some time at a Sudbury school; I will see if he wants to share.  Glad you mentioned them.

            " is believing what you know aint so." Mark Twain

            by nyskeptic on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:50:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Waldorf is a mixed bag (0+ / 0-)

            I attended for a while; I have hundreds of friends who attended for all of their schooling though, many of whom now send their kids to Waldorf. It was both positive and negative for me in different ways. I think that much of the thinking which it's based in is intensely silly for most rational people and also that it can be rather cult-like. It is heavily Christian, make no mistake about it. To really understand Waldorf, you must understand the basis of Anthroposophy and Ahriman and Eurythmy. Finally, my other criticism of it is that it's not very responsive to individual children at all, but has a strong preconception of "what an individual looks like" in advance. If you deviate from the social norms of Waldorf, you will be a pariah. This caused many, many students to leave over time. Finally, it uses a great deal of social shame to keep students in line. For kids who fit in or are pretty normal, this never comes up as a problem. Also, it's extremely costly other than at the Charter Schools, which frankly don't really look like Waldorf Schools to me. ADHD kids would not even remotely do well though at Waldorf because it demands strong personal discipline, without which you will simply spend a lot of time standing in the hallway or suspended. You cannot -- CANNOT -- talk out of turn or fidget. At all. It's NOT student-directed either. It's extremely hierarchical.

            Thus said, in terms of how it actually teaches children with the block method, with direct observation, with interaction with nature and the outdoors, with more social integration between families and the school, without text books, and with pretty traditional methods of a solid Liberal Arts education, it does have its advantages there in my view. If you go to a Waldorf school, you will be pretty well-rounded and capable with your hands, probably very creative and thoughtful, very well-read, able to play an instrument, and have exposure to a lot of Literature and languages. It's weaker on math. I also think it is very gender-neutral and teaches social justice-type tolerance well. I think the ideas about no TV are good. I don't think it's right though to teach kids that it's unnatural to kick a soccer ball or draw with black crayons or to delay literacy and adolescence. I do think it's great to teach kids to do lots of different things like it does. It's best for self-motivated kids who don't skew toward non-conformist too much.

            It's got fundamentalist elements to it. That gets glossed over a lot. It also has very strong educational elements. So it's similar, in my mind, to Catholic School.

            You might want to re-think those ties. - Erin Brockovich

            by mahakali overdrive on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:42:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fair overview including the critique... (0+ / 0-)

              I see it as one of many educational paths that ought to be available in either a private or public school context.  

              We looked at a local Waldorf school as a possible education option for our son Eric but balked because of the cost, plus some of the criticisms you call out.

              I am aware of the existence of at least a few public charter schools that use the Waldorf methodology.  

              When I analyze an educational approach (including Waldorf) I look at three key aspects - curriculum, methodology and governance.  Most people just focus on the curriculum part.  Most (but not all) Waldorf schools use the traditional curriculum created by the founder Steiner.  But the Waldorf educational methodology can be applied to other more updated curricula as well.

              Also the Waldorf school governance model I find particularly good.  The teachers run the school by consensus without a principal.  The teachers hire administrative staff as needed to assist them in that effort.  

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles

              by leftyparent on Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:00:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  We've done the same, and now my kids (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nyskeptic, jennifree2bme, angelajean

        simply look at ads and say, they are just trying to get us to buy "x".

        My daughter, however is struggling a bit.  She has both homeschooling and non-homeschooling friends because of some activities she is involved in.  She went to the mall with a group of non-homeschooled kids last night (one of the only times she has ever been free in a mall like this) for a birthday party, and she was really, really unhappy when I picked her up this morning.

        Seems all the other girls had tons of cash in their pockets and were buying all sorts of stuff.  My daughter said, Mom, they were paying like $65 for clothes I know we can buy where we shop, for like $15.  So she was torn between the values we teach at home, and what she was seeing with these other kids who were much more consumer driven.  

        She had money in her pocket (probably not as much as some of them) but she was looking at what we'd taught her, look at the value of what you are buying and be sure it's worth your money.  

        It was a good thing, don't get me wrong, but she was very sad and confused and felt like she didn't fit in.  I know it makes her better in the long run.

        From her perspective, of course, all this would be better if I would just let her have a Facebook account!

        It's tough to be 13 I guess.

        I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

        by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 04:32:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We certainly make it tough to be 13... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          when we insist on surrounding kids that age with other kids the same age.  When I was 13 I was intimidated or otherwise uncomfortable with most other kids my age, always judging myself either (occasionally) superior or (mostly) inferior.  I think I would have been better off spending more time around a mix of kids older that could maybe mentor me a bit and kids younger I could perhaps mentor.

          Somehow we think it is "natural" to jam all these kids the same age together in school!NY Times

          Anyway, maybe I'm a bit off topic to your particular issue.  I think your daughter's challenge may be to find circles of kids her age that more share her values.  My kids were blessed to have a great Unitarian-Universalist youth community that they could be part of for youth camps and conferences, particularly during their high school years.  These were all interesting kids who were generally not about conforming but each being their own sort of quirky self.  That kind of went along with the kind of politically progressive (including ex-hippie type) parents who were U-Us.  Those shared values of acceptance of diversity of inclination and thought was a great milieu for my kids to develop and make lasting friendships.

          See my piece...

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:33:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  you are right, and we've been talking (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nyskeptic, FloridaSNMOM

            about those circles of friends, because hers are very diverse, and only overlap in certain areas.  I'm trying to help her see which ones make her happy and which just don't.  Problem is, she is really into musical theater, and this is the group of kids her age that participate in this area. She wants to be a cool-kid part of them, but when she gets to that inner circle, she is finding she doesn't really identify with them.  For the most part, theater kids are really accepting of diversity.

            We've been talking both about circles within circles, that idea that you have the closest friends in the middle, then sometimes/situational friends in the next ring, then acquaintances in the outer ring.  Also then, having multiple circles for the different communities she participates in (theater, homeschooling, girl scouts, co-op)  Some people overlap in different ways in different circles.  It's just a lot for her to figure out.

            I'm just trying to give her tools to work with because she wants everyone to be her BFF and gets so hurt when someone doesn't treat her that way.  I can remember how tough it was at that age, and how much my mom just didn't get it.  So I'm trying to both help and sympathize, which usually gets me yelled at, but well, that's the way it goes.

            This is much of her work right now.  It's what most of her time and energy is going into.  The focus on friends and social stuff is quite overwhelming, but I do know it's important.

            Thanks for the words of wisdom.

            I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one

            by k8dd8d on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:56:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  great diary, one quibble-- (3+ / 0-)

    I have to disagree with the conclusion that "Those of us with kids who do well in that conventional classroom environment should keep our kids there to add their positive energy to that educational venue. "

    As a parent of two kids, now adults, that unschooled K-12, I have to say, for one thing, that I have no idea if my children would have done well in a conventional classroom or the particular one in our rural area.  I suspect my daughter would have done quite well in many respects (although I also did "great" in terms of grades but not in terms of personal development).  My son might or might not have "done well."  Hard to say.  I did not choose to homeschool because of my children having problems in school that led to me to pull them out, although I know that is a common thread among many who have posted here.  And if I believed my children "would have done well" I do not feel I would have had any more obligation as a progressive to keep them there to "add positive energy".  

    I chose to homeschool as an outgrowth of my progressive values that led me to study and value democratic approaches to child development and learning.  

    The way I feel that our family has contributed rather than hindered progressive values due to our choice is by helping populate our corner of the universe with 2 strong, well-grounded, confident, creative, entrepreneurial  young adults.   They have been a beacon of inspiration to those they come in contact with and their peers learn valuable lessons from them.  One of my daughter's conventionally schooled friends   told her as she entered college that she felt my daughter contributed greatly to her own ability to think outside of the box and dare to be different, despite her inherent tendencies to be a conformist.  That young woman went from being a struggling student K-12 with a goal of maybe being an interior decorator to  getting a degree in Arabic Language and International Politics and is working in DC, spending some time at the Brookings Institute and later with what is our unofficial Palestinian embassy.   My son's peers see him as the go to person for ideas and skills,  and he and a friend are currently cooking up a business idea that sounds  like it could be a real winner that will apply their tech skills.  

    We contributed to progressive values by raising two kids who are empathetic, non-judgmental, and who want to contribute to their communities.  

    I also feel that because my work situation changed due to homeschooling, I ended up benefiting local school children to a greater degree than if I had continued working directly in schools.  As a home health therapist I developed a much deeper understanding of working with children in their  homes and over many more years--I have one individual I have seen for 18 years now.  I have helped these children to function better in the public school setting, helped parents get advocacy help to improve their own child's situation, and overall I feel my professional work has been of greater benefit to particularly low-income families that have dominated my work in the home health and now hospital settings.   By my perspective as an "outsider" to the public school system, many of these parents have particularly seen me as an ally in what are often their struggles with inappropriate actions relating to their children in school.  

    At any rate, each of us is unique.  As progressives, we each possess unique ways we can promote and facilitate progressive values in our communities.  No one has the right or insight to judge the choices of another family when it comes to personal educational decisions that family makes.  

    •  Point taken! I was thinking more in terms of... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      kids I know that just love school and have good schools to go to full of other engaged and interesting kids.

      I get what you are saying!  If you feel you can offer your kids a highly enriched environment full of interesting adults outside of a school venue, then I would definitely agree you should go for it.

      My development would certainly have benefited spending those three years of junior high anywhere else but in school!

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 05:53:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leslie in KY, angelajean

      IMO you make a good point about how unschooling is compatible with progressive that Dana Goldstein, and others who agree with her point, does not acknowledge.

      Our son and daughter unschooled for their high school years and I feel they too stand as "strong, well-grounded, confident, creative, entrepreneurial  young adults" who are also "a beacon of inspiration to those they come in contact with and their peers learn valuable lessons from them".

      To me it seems that there is something profoundly different that happens when a young person is provided the opportunity to take authentic ownership of their learning early on, when they are able to follow their interests as deeply and broadly as they desire, when they have the confidence to fail and try again, when they chart their own course according to their own timetable with people of all ages at various times.

      I'm thinking that that profound difference may have to do with learning, self-directed, happening naturally in the context living of one's life, which leads to developing one's uniqueness in the fullest sense.

      I know I'm speaking generally here and my experience is limited but as successful as people are deemed to be (attending college, lots of degrees, etc.) coming out of both public and private school, I'm not sure I see some of these qualities above...qualities that I think contribute very much to the fabric of our society.

      I would love to see this approach as one of the many paths in the pubic sphere.  I know that the values currently in the majority do not support it but it is time to advocate for it.

      •  I think that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        connectedness has a lot to do with what happens in homeschooling and particularly unschooling.  I sometimes saw it from the viewpoint of a language therapist, as I noted how vocabulary development was so enhanced for my kids by all of our shared experiences.  As things happened and we conversed, there were all these deep connections with shared experiences for us to mull over and discuss.  When I work with other people's children, what I do to help build vocabulary is a pale shadow of this experience.  

        I also see this connectedness as having to do with engaging in real, meaningful, pragmatic activity.  One time I wrote a diary of a day (many parents do it much more often), and as I look back on that now years later it is so beautiful how everything that happened that day flowed for me and the kids and how it was so clear that they were learning in ways that were natural and connected to things that had meaning for them in real life.   It is such a huge contrast with the kinds of work I see schooled children spending their time on (and I've seen a lot of this as I have worked with kids after school and they often have had a need to share something that they are confused about or having trouble with that they have for "homework.").  

        •  Leslie... I think I understand that too... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          angelajean, Leslie in KY

          I saw it develop in my kids in their unschooling process.  Their lives became really truly their own.  They were no longer following orders or some programmed path.  They became more genuine somehow.  They at some deep level relaxed into themselves.  Not sure how to really describe it, but it was profound.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles

          by leftyparent on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 12:00:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I feel like we might have been twins separated (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades

      at birth :)

      I tried to explain that the Meteor Blades in a comment when he published the piece that sparked all this. He remains unconvinced. I think I started this group, in part, to convince him. I feel like he is open minded enough to listen... if he ever reads the diaries, and that with time, he will understand how making the choice to homeschool can actually be doing more for progressive causes than if we left our kids in the school system in the first place.

  •  It will be hard to truly reform our public (0+ / 0-)

    schools as long as there is public resentment ginned up by the right against funding our schools. The charter schools pushed as a better alternative to public schools have failed to prove their worth. They are not answerable to the public in the same way that public schools are. For-profit education funnels money toward private investors. The education of children is merely justification for those profits and is not an end in itself.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sat Mar 03, 2012 at 07:34:08 PM PST

    •  I understand your position... (0+ / 0-)

      I hear it a lot from other progressives though I think you have it wrong.

      I'm not sure how it fits in to this discussion on whether progressive homeschoolers have common ground with other progressives.  Or are you just expressing your own exasperation.

      Most of the comments on my diary were from my homeschooling comrades who share my wish that we don't see ourselves as opponents but as having a common cause.  The folks who might be naysayers did not choose to join this discussion today.

      I'm curious what your thoughts are on Goldstein's assertion and my counter argument?

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles

      by leftyparent on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 12:09:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I homeschooled my son, but not my daughter (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        because of their individual needs, so does that make me a comrad emeritus?

        As to Goldstein's assertion that middle class kids can spread their values to lower class kids by participating the in public school system, I'd say that I agree with it in general, but my son could not have done that

        1. because his school was overwhelmingly middle class and
        2. because he had aquired a negative label (and an incorrect one) and was being bullied because he was "different."

        I have written a diary about our experiences and would be glad to share my experiences when angelajean thinks would be a good time.

        Can homeschoolers lead the way for public education to improve? I would hope so, but with public education under attack and the pushing of the corporate model for everything from government to religion, I'm not sure that there is much public tolerance for our child-centered approach. And with corporate profits to be made, America's kids are likely to come dead last.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:03:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's also broad generalizations that will kill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the system as well.

      When you make a comment like "The charter schools pushed as a better alternative to public schools have failed to prove their worth," you are making a generalization that just isn't true.

      Seriously, some States have charter programs that have proven to work very well. Other states have lousy programs. A good charter program provides alternatives to traditional education models.

      Instead of attacking all charters, lets start looking at which ones actually work. And let's hit hard on the For Profit model... that's no better than providing health care for profit either. Capitalism has it's place but I think both education and health care should be free of that profit motive.

      You know, at the end of the day, a charter school is a public school... it is run with public dollars. And they are accountable to the public. If they aren't in your state, then that is part of the problem, for sure. But lets tackle that problem instead of trying to take away all charter schools.

      •  Agreed & well said! (0+ / 0-)

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles

        by leftyparent on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 08:30:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Then when charter schools work, why not (0+ / 0-)

        spread that model to the public schools as well? Why are parents fightng to get their kids enrolled in successful charters while those in non-charters languish.

        If charters are laboratories for better educational models, then I say have at it! But here in the South I fear that they are being used to reinstitute social and racial segregation. Rather than pointing at liberal homeschoolers as removing their middle class influence from the public school population, perhaps we should be asking ourselves about the role of charter schools and the much larger populations they remove from the general public school population.

        I think every kid deserves an appropriate educational experience. As far as I'm concerned, if we could find a way to do it, every kid should have and Individual Educaional Program (IEP). But with teachers being vilified and castigated for collecting their salaries and with the neverending drumbeat for tax cuts and salary cuts, I worry that it will be nearly impossible to provide the kind of public school education that people of my generation were given.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 09:17:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The reasons charters work in some communities (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but can't be converted to traditional public schools is because they can operate under the same laws. This is especially true in CA. They wrote an entirely different code for Charter Schools exactly so they could become a method to experiment. It is very hard for a public school to just switch over. For example, our charter decisions were made by a group of parents, the administrator for the school (hired by the parents), and a teacher who represented the interests of the teachers. You just won't find a governance model like that in traditional public schools.

          I am seeing some interest in starting a new series on successful public schools and charter schools. Those that are experimenting with new methods or finding unique solutions to  educating kids. Maybe we will find some people who can write those diaries. That will be a subject to tackle in a few more weeks... after we get our homeschooling series successfully established!

          •  That should have said that they operate under (0+ / 0-)

            different laws... sorry! I edited a sentence and then completely changed the meaning by doing a poor job!

            •  We all do that at some time or another. The (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Rachel Maddow blog has an edit feature where you can catch boo-boos like that. Here we just add our mea culpas.

              I do think that the constant cuts to education often carried out by vilifying educators as parasites is a powerful factor in hurting public education. A guy repairing our air conditioner last summer praised a high school teacher he once had and later condemned teachers for leeching money from taxpayers--all in the same conversation! And he was not able to connect the dots between his good teacher and the current teachers he saw a parasites. That's a powerful message to overcome! Until our citizens see public education as a public good, they will continue to be vulnerable to the drumbeat from the right and public education will suffer.

              "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

              by Lily O Lady on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 10:52:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I wrote a response to your apology and (0+ / 0-)

              naviagated away before I posted! Dopey me!

              I'm concerned about funding. The right, led by Grover Norquist, continue to scream for tax cuts--at least those that affect the rich. They love sales taxes and my congresscritter is being challenged from the right by a guy who wants to replace the Income Tax with the "Fair" Tax.

              The problem was clearly illustrated to me by a guy repairing our air conditioner last summer. In the same conversation he praised his old high school teacher and vilified what he saw as the paracitical teachers who were sucking up all his tax money. He'd heard all about it on talk radio! He couldn't see the contradiction between his two statements.

              Until the public sees public education as a public good in need of our tax dollars, our schools will continue to suffer. And the corporate model seeing all of us a "product" and corporations as people is helping to turn everything on its head.

              "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

              by Lily O Lady on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 11:03:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]


    As the diarist I want to thank everyone for reading the piece and participating in a very lively discussion (though mostly lacking the folks on DKos who would support Goldstein's call).

    It was great to get the stories from both teachers and parents and former homeschooled (and even religiously homeschooled) youth.  Seems like we have a pool of experiences and writing talent to continue to make this case to the wider DKos audience!

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles

    by leftyparent on Sun Mar 04, 2012 at 08:35:39 AM PST

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