Attacking Success

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.

5 thoughts on “Attacking Success”

  1. Hope your holiday was wonderous! Due to the new “Community” offering – a request that came to me earlier can be addressed. I put this paragraph on my “blog” – I may “can” the idea if we aren't interested?!

    PARAGRAPH:
    Communities?!?! Good idea – I think?! Anyway – I remember an interesting “stop” I made at a web log here at Blogspirit where I read frustration by a “blogger” that they felt there were (or couldn't find) too few “English Speaking” web logs?!? There are quite a few “blogs” in English. But – whoever/where ever we are – this is the purpose behind the “English Words Community” – to put a lot of us in the same place so it's easier to keep track of each other – especially since we're all over the world speaking English ;-D

  2. Aaron quizzles

    And the countries that are outperforming us are doing it how? Via homeschooling?

    Every nation uses its own method. France is different than Germany is different than South Korea. We know that it's not our way, because U.S. public schools are terrible.

    A question that can be definitely answered is how are we outperforming other countries with tertiary (college education)? We use a ton of different methods (DSU is different than USF is different than Harvard), but there is one common theme — choice.

    From community colleges to research parks, we have the best post-18 educational system in the world. This is because of tertiary education's hyper-free-market. You want to spend 100,000 a year to attend Harvard? Go ahead. You want to spend $180 and get a diploma mill degree? Feel free. You want to waste $200 a credit at a Diploma Mill that gives you a laptop — CTU? Fine.

    This allows popular programs to expand. Britain has some of the best architecture schools in the world, but they're shutting down because quality education is too expensive on the public dime (or ten-pence).

    Students also get a better value for education in the U.S. While in nations with terrible univerisites tuitition is typically free, the time spent is value-free as well. The U.S. system encourages students to amortize their educational funds over their lifetime, leading to better return on investments.

    So what is the solution for our horrid public schools? The same as the secret of our great public (and private) universities. Choice.

  3. Should more be done for our public schools? You bet. Unfortunately, the state of South Dakota has a governor with a dismal record on education, and he holds most of the power in the state; especially compared to the legislature, much less a single legislator like Kooistra.

    This comes down to a question of accountability. Should home-schooled students be subject to the same standards as public-schooled students? I would ask why should they not be?

  4. No, the answer then isn't choice. The answer is money.

    I'll be the first to tell you that my low-cost university education was sub-par at best. I know I'd have learned a ton more and had many more opportunities at MIT or even UMN or U. of IA. However, I couldn't afford to go to them.

    At this point, I would posit that Dan would have a bevy of “amortize the cost of education out over your whole life” arguments. However, the difference between Billy Cheney having an expensive schooling paid for and walking into the real world debt-free, and Dan tdaxp leaving college with a fair amount of debt is astronomical. Why move this harsh reality up 15 years in a student's life? Do mom and dad have to mortgage the house to send Dan to a good primary school? Do they have to jump through endless hoops and tax chicanery to qualify for vouchers?

    So the distance between the rich and poor increases. The poor kids attend poor schools, the wealthy kids attend good schools. What will the requirements be for the voucher program? Hard to say.

    I know I was happy to come up in public school. I know the people who wanted to get ahead did. I know the people who were content to revel in a social experiment didn't.

    Again, I make my case, the problem isn't the school, it's the culture. America equals football and cars. You have a choice in school. Succeed or don't.

    Would people prefer their children to have a one-sided education, where they could be indoctrinated to solely their parents' values? Dan might say that's a good thing. His parents were “right”. That was convenient for him. Let's say Dan's parents had been crazy Jehovah's Witnesses or worse and Dan learned that the solution to life's problems, financial and otherwise, was a hefty dose of self-flagellation… At least in a public setting, he could've learned about the wonders of “science” and “math” and all these other crazy things that you need in life.

  5. “I'll be the first to tell you that my low-cost university education was sub-par at best. I know I'd have learned a ton more and had many more opportunities at MIT or even UMN or U. of IA. However, I couldn't afford to go to them.”

    So you attack the power of choice by citing as an example — tertiary education, one of the most competitive businesses in the United States?

    “At this point, I would posit that Dan would have a bevy of “amortize the cost of education out over your whole life” arguments. However, the difference between Billy Cheney having an expensive schooling paid for and walking into the real world debt-free, and Dan tdaxp leaving college with a fair amount of debt is astronomical.”

    The best response to this are university vouches, not socialism. So I don't see how this is a defense of public schools education.

    “You have a choice in school. Succeed or don't.”

    Earlier you said the problem is money, but this implies the problem is whether or not the student chooses success.

    “At least in a public setting, he could've learned about the wonders of “science” and “math” and all these other crazy things that you need in life.”

    This is shown through the performance of US high schoolers on standardized tests in math, or in international science competitions?

    I didn't think so.

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