“Home-school testing debated,” by Terry Woster, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com/news/Sundayarticle1.shtml, 26 December 2004.
If you can’t do the job right, stop someone else from doing it
PIERRE – A Garretson lawmaker wants the state to monitor home-school testing and tell parents of low-achieving students that their children might be required to return to public school for further education.
The measure, offered by Republican Sen. Clarence Kooistra, is sure to spark emotional debate in the next Legislature about the relative balance between state and parental interests in a child’s education.
Kooistra and co-sponsor Democratic Rep.-elect Elaine Roberts of Sioux Falls say it’s an issue of quality control, a way to ensure that children tested at home meet the same standards and take their tests under the same conditions as those in formal school settings.
“I don’t think you can consider valid the scores reported by home school people, since there’s no state monitoring,” Kooistra said. “There’s no accountability.”
Clearly the good Republican Kooistra is completely honest. After all, there’s no accountability. Oh wait, there is
Advocates of home schooling – formally called alternative instruction in state statutes – say it’s an unnecessary intrusion into a family’s choices in educating their child.
“We do have to turn in scores. We can’t make them up,” said Peggy Schoon, a Brandon mother who has testified on alternative-instruction issues in the past.
“I think what he’s suggesting is unnecessary,” Schoon said. “I don’t think Mr. Kooistra has made a case that there’s a problem.”
The immediate issue is the Kooistra-Roberts bill that would change “may” to “shall” in a couple of sections of state law dealing with alternative instruction. Currently children educated at home must take a nationally standardized test at grades two, four, eight and 11, as do public school students. The law says the test may be provided by the state, but it also may be another nationally standardized achievement test the parent or guardian chooses.
The law also says the state may monitor the test. Kooistra wants the law to require that home schools use the state test and that the state monitor those tests.
The United States has some of the worst public schools in the industrialized world. Tunisia isn’t better than us, but almost everyone else is. At the same time, U.S. home scholars score high above the average. Both in American standardized tests and international settings, American students schooled at home have better academic and social skills than their state-warehoused colleagues.
If Rep. Clarence Kooistra was serious about education, he would be hard on our failing public schools. He would demand strict monitoring of these child ghettos, and notify parents of areas of concern on a semesterly basis. When a school is underperforming, he would pay for student vouches directly out of principal and teacher salaries. At the very least Kooistra would insist that home-teachers monitor public school students during standardized tests, to prevent conflicts of interest.
That’s if Representative Kooistra cared about education. As he seems more concerned with state power and valueless educational uniformity, he’s attacking home-schools instead.