Everyone who homeschools has a different reason. Far fewer than you might realize do it for religious reasons. And socialization?? When you are low dog on the totem pole, you may not
Source:Bielick, S., Chandler, K., and Broughman, S.P. (2001).
Homeschooling in the United States: 1999 (NCES 2001–033).
Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
really be missing that much. It doesn't take much to get there, either.
I had a couple of friends who homeschooled; my brother and his wife do, too. Because my son had a label and received special services, I never thought I would. I didn't have the patience. I didn't have the time. But sometimes, love is stronger than whatever you are up against, and you make decisions to do what you never thought you would do.
Besides, it's been done for generations by mothers whose children didn't fit the mold, who were, perhaps, too scattered to learn, like Mrs. Edison's son, for instance:
Edison was a poor student. When a schoolmaster called Edison "addled," or slow. his furious mother took him out of the school and proceeded to teach him at home. Edison said many years later, "My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had some one to live for, some one I must not disappoint." At an early age, he showed a fascination for mechanical things and for chemical experiments.
Some people think it is "white flight", but how does that explain the following? African American homeschoolers are increasing in numbers. In 2003 they were the fastest growing segment. Minorities make up nearly 15 percent of the approximately 2 million home-schooled students in the country,
according to the National Home Education Research Institute, whose founder and president, Brian Ray, has been studying home schooling for nearly 30 years. African-American families are choosing to school their children at home because they can teach their own history and help their children stand taller. They can rescue them from failing schools. It's a powerful pull.
My story and my reasoning follow below the orange french thingy.
I am an observer by nature. I see things with my heart. I file them away in my "remember this" file, and eventually it all gathers together and informs my decision on a particular matter.
I had a nephew who failed the ninth grade. He tried taking it again and failed again. Rather than beat his head against the wall one more time, he quit. Things didn't get any prettier after that, and he has led a bit of a troubled life, but is finally now finding his way. My son's godmother's only son started getting into trouble in the ninth grade, also. She told me how she and the teachers talked and by God, she was just gonna crack down on him and make him suck it up. He just refused to go. She relented, he got his GED. (I think he was 16.) He now is in the Army, a helicopter maintenence man. My son took ritalin for 8 years, but when we changed to the ritalin patch, he began hallucinating. It's a documented side effect that scared the ever loving crap out of us. He was suspended three times while off drugs in about a month. He nearly failed Algebra in that 8th grade year, and grade 9 was looking shaky. (He hasn't touched a ritalin pill since then, another major reason to homeschool.) And the research only backed me up:
Research demonstrates that course success may be the best predictor of eventual graduation. CCSR’s study of the Chicago schools found that students with a B average or better in their freshman year have more than a 95 percent chance of graduating. On the other hand, those freshmen with less than a C average are more likely to drop out than to graduate. In fact, once students’ freshman-year grades are
known, other background information, including test scores, does not improve the predictability of graduation. Course grades also are the best predictors of
improvements on test scores and college graduation.
Source: Allensworth and Easton, What Matters for Staying on Track.
Do you sense a pattern? For some kids, school is a nightmare, a prison of failure that they can't escape. It's probably a bit of the reason why 25% of kids never finish school. It isn't just that it doesn't give them what they need...it's that it destroys them. They can't
have success there. It's not a big deal to quit on a personal level. In fact, it is life affirming for them to leave. Would you stay at a job where failure was your constant companion?? I ain't that
strong and school was easy for me. (Life, not so much.)
When I was in school, after the last ice age, it seems there was a stream for kids who might not be college prep or had hard times. It was no shame to be a hands-on or creative learner and shop/art/music/theatre were available. Even though they are non-academic subjects, they still definitely take a gift. I was one of the few that took upper level math courses because I loved it. It was easy for me. But for others, Business Math was a dynamic way to learn to take on their own money management and prepare for the real world. There is no such escape today for the Math impaired. Children who fail math are more likely not to graduate high school.
Many of these kids may have a background like my son, although they may not have a label. He was echolalic until grade 4. This meant he used words/expressions he heard on t.v. to attempt to communicate. He had a severe language impairment, couldn't memorize math facts, and found the physical act of writing so laborious, he couldn't use it as a way to communicate his thoughts. To me, he is nothing short of a miracle. He has made it so far!! Some might call it dyslexia. How many other "failures" are of average or above intelligence, but have differences that serve as disabilities in school? How many are just thought to be lazy?
Okay, so you are having a hard time in school. Maybe you are a little less likely to follow the rules, a little more anti-authority, as they have been your constant critics for years. The ACLU speaks of the school to prison pipeline. Check out their talking points:
• Growing numbers of school districts employ full-time police officers, or “school resource officers,” to patrol middle and high school hallways. With little or no training in working with youth, these offi¬cers approach youth as they would adult “perps” on the street, rather than children at school.
• Children are far more likely to be arrested at school than they were a generation ago. The vast majority of these arrests are for non-violent offenses such as “disruptive conduct” or “disturbance of the peace.”(3)
• Children as young as five years old are being led out of classrooms in handcuffs for acting out or throwing temper tantrums. Students have been arrested for throwing an eraser at a teacher, breaking a pencil, and having rap lyrics in a locker. These children do not belong in jail.
• The explosion of school-based arrests cannot be attributed to an increase in youth violence. Between 1992 and 2002, school violence actually dropped by about half. Despite the fear generated by a handful of highly publicized school shootings, schools remain the safest places for young people.(4)
• Resources that could be put towards improving under-resourced schools are instead used for security. School districts spend millions of dollars for police officers and security personnel,(5) despite the fact that these very schools are the ones lacking basic educational resources like textbooks and libraries.
Yeah, ever hear of "zero tolerance"? I worked in a public school, where some of us teachers just kept our classroom struggles to ourselves. For the kids' sake.
I remember in the 1970's, when schools in California began having police in the halls. (My son's own school had full time officer.) African American parents complained about it then, but said nothing would be done until it began to hit the white population. Well, that day is here...Maybe if schools weren't the size of small cities, and teachers could get to know their students... ah, too idealistic.
Stay and work from within, at the cost of my son's future? I don't think so. Maybe you can.
Anyhow, to make a long story longer, I started homeschooling my son in 9th grade, all kosher, and the exact same books the public school used. Next year, he did 90% of his work online, and finally passed Algebra. The next, we unschooled, except for a class at the local Tech college. This year, his "senior year", he has nearly finished his freshman year at college. This wouldn't be the story if he had stayed in school. He took classes that he didn't need his GED for...he'll get it this summer. His major is industrial electronics. Hopefully, his junior and senior college years will be spent at Georgia Tech, which his tech school feeds into. They like people who think outside the box, kids with labels...they know visual thinkers hold the key to innovation. You may think learning disabilities equate low IQ. My son's is 130. Places like Georgia Tech get it.
I hope, if nothing else, I've made you think. And maybe next time you think of high-school dropouts, you'll be less quick to judge. You may not know the real reason why so many parents homeschool, when 20% of children have language based disabilities or Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, or information processing disorders. This doesn't include those with mental or psychological disabilities, like ADHD, Autism, or Intellectual Disabilities. We all come to our own way in our own time. Kids with learning differences fight greater battles than we know, and they are over-represented in the drop out population. Being learning disabled doesn't mean you are stupid, unless, a quote I came across recently is true:
If you are poor, you are stupid; if you are rich, you're dyslexic.
Learning disabilities are also highly over-represented in prison populations, and in child suicides. Many teachers/administrators refuse to accommodate these kids in any way, because "it isn't fair to the others." Like it is fair to be born with a learning handicap any more than to be born blind or deaf, which are accommodated. Some states supposedly plan for future prison populations by looking at low scores of third and fourth grade reading levels. Teaching kids with learning differences is difficult, but it has been done.
Pay now or pay later.
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