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HOMESCHOOLS, PRIVATE SCHOOLS, AND SYSTEM EDUCATION

 

 

By Lynn Stuter

May 20, 2003

NewsWithViews.com

One of the "alternatives" parents have been encouraged to pursue, in circumventing the un-education being used in the government (aka, public) schools and the cost of private education, is homeschooling.

Homeschooling, up until the advent of Horace Mann and compulsory education, was how many parents educated their children. John Quincy Adams, son of John and Abigail Adams and sixth president of the United States, was homeschooled. He graduated Harvard College at the age of 20 and entered the study of law.

An added advantage, in homeschooling, is that the child is educated according to the world view of the parents, whatever that world view is. This was the intent of our Founding Fathers and conforms with the First Amendment prohibiting the government from establishing a state religion or interfering in the free exercise of religion.

Since the advent of Goals 2000 (aka, systems education) funded by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 -- also known as the Improving America's Schools Act in the Clinton Administration and the No Child Left Behind act in the Bush Jr Administration -- the rise in the number of parents homeschooling their children has created a problem for the system. It is apparent that those implementing systems education never anticipated the number of parents who would turn to homeschooling as an alternative to the government un-education and the cost of private education.

As such, there is a movement afoot to pull homeschoolers back into the system. This is being done by offering homeschoolers incentives such as computers, money for curriculum, testing, supervision and assistance in weak areas ... this type of thing.

One "incentive" that has reached across the nation is William Bennett's K12 Virtual Academy program. Many will remember William Bennett as Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration. Bennett was/is also a contractor in one of the original nine design teams funded by the New American Schools Development Corporation to oversee the transformation of American education to systems education. Bennett's design team was called the Modern Red Schoolhouse. For all his talk of virtues, Bennett is an avid supporter of systems education. The K12 Education for a Lifetime website www.k12.com states very clearly that the curriculums offered are standards-based, a term synonymous with outcome-based and performance-based education (aka, systems education).

Many homeschool parents are buying into Bennett's K12 Virtual Academy program under the assumption that it is free from government control. That is an assumption they should not make. The K12 Virtual Academy program receives from the state coffers full-time equivalent (FTE) money as though the child were sitting in a classroom in a government school. This means that if the parent joins Bennett's K12 Virtual Academy program, the child is no longer considered to be homeschooled but is enrolled in a government school.

Indications are that parents are not being told this before they join the K12 Virtual Academy program. There has been at least one instance in which parents came by this knowledge when the local school district called their home and requested their children's immunization records. Having joined the K12 Virtual Academy program, the local school district was able to include their children in its FTE count for state apportionment monies. As their children were now considered enrolled in the government school, the government school was required to ensure the children's immunization records were current in accordance with federal law.

But there is a far more sinister side of all this, one that is not being spoken of except in whispers and certainly not publicly.

As way of explanation, in the 2003 Legislative Session, a House Bill 1658 was introduced by a supposedly conservative Republican, Gigi Talcott. The bill tied the ability of teenagers to obtain a driver's license to passing the Washington Assessment of Student Learning -- the infamous WASL. (see Washington State Ties Assessment to Driver License.) Protest ensued when the bill became public knowledge and Talcott withdrew it.

But what Talcott proposed has been the intent all along. Remember that under systems education, all really does mean all. The system must include everyone. To that end, homeschoolers must be drawn back into the system. This is to be accomplished in one of two ways: 1) offer the homeschoolers incentives (carrots) sufficient enough to encourage them back into the system whether they know they are back in the system or not; 2) force the homeschoolers back into the system.

The first is being accomplished via such means as Bennett's K12 Virtual Academy program. The second will be accomplished by laws such as HB1658 introduced by Talcott in Washington state. Undoubtedly, the bill will be back either as a bill unto itself or as an amendment to another bill.

Following is how the second "option" works, in effect. In order for the child to obtain the CIM -- the Certificate of Initial Mastery or Certificate of Mastery -- the child must demonstrated proficiency of the new basics: team work, critical thinking, problem solving, communications, adapting to change, and understanding whole systems (WTECB, 1994). The new basics are defined by the exit outcomes established at the state level -- the state "academic" standards -- and benchmarked to varying grade levels. The tool used to demonstrate proficiency is the state assessment. The result of demonstrating proficiency is receiving the CIM at or about the age of 16. (Note: for the purposes here, generic terms are used, such as state 'academic' standards and state assessment as these instruments, although reading much the same in every state and being for the same purpose in every state, are called something different.)

It has been the intent, from the outset, that the child who does not have the CIM will not be able to 1) obtain a driver license; 2) go on to higher education; or 3) get a job. This will affect students in homeschools as well as private schools that do not pursue un-education under the federal/state system. These "sanctions" also fall under the heading of "accountability."

Will any child be able to take and pass the state assessment? In a word, "No." Remember, the state assessment is to determine if the child has demonstrated proficiency of the new basics: team work, critical thinking, problem solving, communications, adapting to change, and understanding whole systems. Does this sound like math, science, history, English, geography ...?

Very few homeschool or private school education programs focus on these new basics. Too, the state assessment is looking to see if the child is performing the wanted process defined as behavior/procedure or product defined as result of doing (Stiggins, 1986). In other words, systems education is a process to inculcate in the child the wanted behaviors and procedures to assure the wanted product.

The documents forthcoming from the Schools for the 21st Century pilot project for education reform in Washington state (many states piloted this program) were very enlightening. It became very apparent from these documents that ..

content is defined as excellence in terms of the change agenda;
process is the product; the destination; what learning is about;
emotionality and affectivity are the means by which content and process will be achieved;
feelings are paramount (SBE, 1995).

To this end, subjects are "integrated" or taught across the curriculum in the context of unit themes or thematic units focusing on four areas: world ecology (environment), world economy (globalism), world security and world population growth. Knowledge is only incorporated as it is used and applied in teaching the unit themes or thematic units. If the child needs to know that 2 + 2 = 4 in the teaching of the unit theme or thematic unit, the child will be taught that. Otherwise, the child will not be taught that 2 + 2 = 4.

The same is true with career paths where the child will be taught what the child needs to know to pursue a career path. The child will not receive a liberal arts education. Systems education follows the socialist/communist/fascist mantra of "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs." This falls right in line with the purpose of systems education: to produce a worldclass workforce (WTECB, 1994).

Should parents not pursue homeschooling or private education? Yes, they should. It is imperative that parents remove their children from harms way. But, once they have secured the immediate safety of their children, parents must pursue the long term safety of their children by getting involved to help stop the system that is being built and is almost complete at this time.

In stopping this system in its tracks, in returning to the intent of our Founding Fathers in the wording of the First Amendment, then and only then will future generations of Americans be able to enjoy the freedom that their forebears enjoyed, that their forebears fought and died for.

Sources:

State Board of Education; Final Report, Schools for the 21st Century; unpublished; 1995. (This document was 782 pages of haphazard, unorganized scribble, written by Peter Holly of Cambridge, England, who was paid at least $143,000 over the term of the pilot program as a consultant, including $15,000 to write the 782 pages of scribble. This mostly handwritten document was later typed by Lynn Stuter, proofed by many loyal Washington citizens, and reproduced in quantity by Senator Harold Hochstatter.)

Stiggins, Richard; Evaluating Students by Classroom Observation: Watching Students Grow; Washington, DC: National Education Association; 1986.

Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board; High Skills, High Wages; Olympia; 1994.

2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved

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Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: www.learn-usa.com E-Mail: lmstuter@learn-usa.com


 

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"Many homeschool parents are buying into Bennett's K12 Virtual Academy program under the assumption that it is free from government control. That is an assumption they should not make. The K12 Virtual Academy program receives from the state coffers full-time equivalent (FTE) money as though the child were sitting in a classroom in a government school. This means that if the parent joins Bennett's K12 Virtual Academy program, the child is no longer considered to be homeschooled but is enrolled in a government school."