Home School News & Info May, 2001

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Sent: Friday, May 04, 2001 10:40 PM
Subject: Home Schooling Sweeps Across Indiana

Friday May 04 06:05 PM EDT
Home Schooling Sweeps Across Indiana
Home schooling is sweeping across the country and Indiana.

Ten years ago, there were about 7,000 home-schooled Hoosier children,
according to the National Home Education Research Institute. This year, as
many as 39,000 students will learn at home. That's more than a 550 percent
increase in the last decade.
The Green family has been teaching their nine children at home for 14
Their day begins with a bowl of cereal and a peek at the newspaper.
"By around 9 o'clock they're supposed to be dressed, have their teeth
brushed, their faces washed and eat breakfast," mom Julie Green said as
"students" arrive.
The "classroom" fills with Betsy, 19; Laura, 17; Jessica, 16; Peter, 13;
Katherine, 11; Emily, 9; Kurt, 6; Anne, 4; and Jake, 18 months.
"I'm pretty sure it's better than school at other schools," Emily said.
They use textbooks and the computer to study grammar, geography, history
Green is flexible with her lesson plans.
She doesn't keep grades until high school, but periodically checks the
children's aptitude.
Critics argue that home-schooled children aren't able to acquire the
intellectual and social skills that they need to succeed.
The Green family disagrees. Peter plays basketball on an organized team.
Emily is trying to master the French horn, and both Laura and Katherine
synchronized swimmers.
"Some people think you don't have a social life, but it's not that way at
all," Jessica said. "We have outside activities and Branch on Mondays."
"Branch" is where home-schooled children and their parents go to interact
and supplement their studies.
"So if you would take a chemistry class here, you would get the equivalent
of what you'd get in a school," leader Leanne Barta said.
The experts believe that can be important because science and foreign
language are two areas where home schooling can be challenging.
Parents must be highly motivated to make this learning experience work.
According to the Department of Education (news - web sites), there aren't
many rules for home schooling.
Children have to start school no later than age 7.
There have to be 180 days of instruction. The curriculum has to be "equal"
to that of the public schools, although state law doesn't define what is
"I think there are some really good schools out there -- some excellent
schools," Green said. "But I think they're getting a better education here
just because it's one on one."
The Green children said that there really is no place like home, at least
for now.
"I kind of want to go to a college that has gymnastics and try to get on a
team," Jessica said.
"I'm going to Ohio State University in Columbus and I'm going to study
meteorology," Laura added.
Laura is going to Ohio State on academic scholarship. She earned a 1,360
the SAT. The average score is around 1,000.
Watch RTV6 Friday to learn how home-schooled students adapt to the college



Thursday May 03 02:39 AM EDT Home Schooling Gains More Acceptance Home schooling is no longer considered strange or unusual, KMBC 9 News' Natalie Moultrie reported.

More than 1 million children in the United States are home schooled. In Kansas City, about 1,600 children are home schooled, Moultrie reported.

Margie Stump home schools all four of her children.

"Each child is individual and (doesn't) school the same way, so you have to adapt," Stump said.

Stump started home schooling when her oldest daughter, Natalie Stump, was 5.

"I didn't want her to go to school for most of her waking hours and never have any religious instruction," Stump said.

Keeping God in education is the main reason the Stumps went with home schooling.

They said the biggest advantage is one-on-one attention.

"If I'm ready for something higher than my grade level, I can do that. I don't have to stick with what other kids are learning," Natalie said.

Stump said that most of her children get As and Bs, and one gets Bs and Cs. When Natalie took her first standardized test, she scored in the 99th percentile, Moultrie reported.

"I thought she was going to do well. But, yeah, it felt really good to see actually how she did well compared to other kids taking the test," Stump said.

Nationwide, home-schooled children average 30 points higher than public school students on standardized tests. Two studies in West Virginia and Alaska showed home schoolers consistently outperformed public-school children.

DeSoto High School principal Debbie Lynn said she doesn't have the time or subject knowledge to home school.

"In order for home schooling to be successful, you have to have a parent that looks at this as their full-time job," Lynn said.

All of the Stump children participate in sports and other outside activities so they have social interaction with other children, Moultrie reported. Many of the activities are specifically set up for home schooled children.

For more information on home schooling, call (913) 397-9506 or click here.



May 2, 2001

Decision Leaves Iowa Student

By Catherine Gewertz </info-epe/staff/CGewertz.htm>

A high-achieving Iowa student who was home-schooled for all but the last two years of her education will not graduate from her local high school, or even participate in commencement, because she lacks enough credits for a diploma, the district school board decided last week.

In a case that has focused attention on the dilemmas faced by families who school their children at home, and the related policy questions for school officials, Hannah Eddy, 17, had asked earlier this year for a diploma from Grinnell High School. She has been enrolled at the school for two years and has maintained an A-minus grade point average.

When officials of Grinnell High and the Grinnell-Newburg district made it clear that no student can receive a diploma without the district's required 47 credits, Ms. Eddy asked if she could still take part in the graduation ceremony, or receive some other form of recognition for her accomplishments.

In an emotional April 25 meeting, the district school board in Grinnell, 55 miles east of Des Moines, agreed to present Ms. Eddy with a certificate at the school's May 24 honors ceremony, three days before graduation. It also agreed to investigate ways that home- schooled students in the future could have their work credited toward graduation.

The issue of Ms. Eddy's receiving a diploma or participating in graduation was never put to a vote because board members made it clear they were not in favor of either option.

For Ms. Eddy, the decision was bittersweet. She lost the chance to be part of a ceremony that has come to have great sentimental value for her, but she may have helped ease the way for other alternatively educated students.

"I know I'm going to be pretty sad when I'm watching graduation, and that I'll have a hard time keeping myself together then," she said the morning after the board vote. "But I'm very glad that by talking about this, it might help other kids like me in the future."


Upholding Standards

Ms. Eddy, an aspiring medical missionary from a devout Baptist family with seven children, was home-schooled until her junior year, when she decided to enroll in school for the advanced science work that Grinnell High could offer.

When she enrolled at the 565- student school two years ago, Ms. Eddy said, she did not feel the need to be included eventually in graduation, only to take the courses she needed for college. But as time passed, and she made close friends, the ceremony took on more meaning for her.

She already has been accepted to Pensacola Christian College in Florida, which she said does not require her to have a diploma.

Ms. Eddy's mother said she had abided by Iowa's regulations for home schoolers: notifying the state of the home instruction, submitting annual curriculum descriptions to the local school district, and administering annual evaluations, by standardized test or student portfolio.

In Iowa, each district is empowered to set its own graduation requirements, so Grinnell- Newburg technically had the authority to grant Ms. Eddy a diploma if it chose to do so. But that choice, district leaders said, would have rendered meaningless the standards the district had hammered out.

"To earn a diploma and go through graduation is a reward for a real accomplishment," said Clement Bodensteiner, the superintendent of the 1,850-student district. "To give people the right to participate in the ceremony or receive a diploma if they haven't met our requirements greatly lessens the integrity of our high school diploma."

But even while district officials defend the policy, it can be a wrenching experience to enforce it. Each year, students who fall short by as little as a half-credit have to be denied their diplomas, said David Stoakes, Grinnell High's principal.

Making exceptions, however, would set a bad precedent, officials decided.

"Personally, I'm disappointed. I wish we could have done something more. She's a nice person," Mary Curphy, the school board president, said of Ms. Eddy. "But the way the policy was written, we couldn't.

"What would happen if we said, 'You can graduate with 29 credits,' and next week, a student comes up short and says, 'You should graduate me?' We would end up going to court because we showed favoritism."

Judy Hunter, another school board member, said the decision was painful, but correct. Credits can't be given when a student is educated at an unaccredited institution, she said.

"We have no way of knowing what a home schooler who comes to our door has been doing," she said. "Everybody likes standards, but no one likes to apply them. There is some wisdom in what we've required."

Ms. Curphy expressed the hope that the district can devise ways to evaluate the work of students who have been home-schooled so that their at-home studies can be applied toward graduation. It's an issue that has to be addressed, she said, because an estimated 100 home-schooled students live in the district.


Accreditation Dilemmas

Mike Smith, the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va., said there is little law to guide disputes like the one in Grinnell. Schools must abide by basic principles of fairness outlined in state and federal law, he said, and taking a position that a student's home-taught work cannot be evaluated for possible credit toward graduation might violate such laws.

Mitchell Stevens, an assistant professor of sociology at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., whose upcoming book on the history of American home schooling will be published this summer, said the home schooling community has responded to such difficulties by creating "alternative certification mechanisms," such as correspondence programs, through which parents and students can obtain guidelines, curricula, and even diplomas.

But with a population of home-schooled students estimated at 1 million and growing, and with many home schoolers opting at some point to enter public schools, the question of wanting their work accredited by established institutions is one that will arise with increasing frequency, Mr. Stevens predicted.

It would not be difficult, he argued, for school districts to craft assessment methods than enable them to assign credit for home-taught work.

"At some point, the issue becomes a question of institutional will," he said. "A district has to ask, 'Are we going to welcome home schoolers and figure out how to get them into our system, or are we going to be skeptical and wary of their contributions?'"




Home School chess team scores high
St. Joseph News-Press

The St. Joseph Home School junior high chess team placed fifth out of 72 teams in the Blitz division for those in the ninth- grade and younger at the recent "Supernational 2: Battle of the Minds" chess tournament in Kansas City.

Blitz chess is a timed event where the players have five minutes to complete a game.

More than 4,000 school-age children from across the United States competed in the event.

"What Supernationals is, is all three of the major scholastic tournaments taking place at one site," said Jeff Bird, coach of the St. Joseph Home School chess team. "Normally, the high schools, the middle schools and the grade schools have tournaments throughout year in different places. Once every four years all the tournaments are held in the same place."

This is the first time the event has been held in Kansas City in its more than 30-year history, Mr. Bird said.

Area medalists in the Blitz chess event and their finishing places were Michael Morehead, 50th; Trey Goolsbay, 67th; Joshua Bird, 76th; Sara Heitz, 82nd; and Benjamin Howe, 84th.

In the regular tournament, where each player is given two hours to complete the game, the St. Joseph Home School ninth- grade and younger team placed 27th out of 150 teams overall.

Michael Morehead scored 4.5 points out of a possible seven to medal at 68th place.

Joshua Bird and Trey Goolsbay also placed 32nd out of 174 teams in the ninth-grade and younger Bughouse division.

Bughouse is a two-person chess game where teammates can share captured pieces for points.

The St. Joseph Home School chess team members who competed for the national honors were Sara Heinz, Benjamin Howe, Philip Howe, Michael Morehead, Ryan Schmidgall, Joshua Bird and Trey Goolsbay.

Also competing were Josh Chester and Nathan Howe in the high school division, Drew Wilson in the third-grade and younger division and Drake Wilson in the kindergarten division.

"It was a great experience," Joshua Bird said about the tournament. "It was great to see all the chess boards and the kids."




Home Schoolers Promote Educational Tax Credits

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2001 (Web Today)—Many politicians and even some educators have come to the conclusion that America’s learning system is broken.

The question remains what can be done to fix it?

Big-spending liberals have suggested throwing billions of our tax dollars at the program. Critics counter that costly educational programs already instituted have brought our public school systems to the current crisis stage. Not only can Johnny not read. All too often, his teacher can’t read, either.

Private schools generally show better results with a smaller per capita expenditure. But many parents cannot afford to pay high taxes to their public school system and parochial school tuitions.

Home schooling is the answer for many families with one parent who has chosen to remain at home with their offspring.

Those who choose the home school or private school educational systems complain that their tax dollars are being spent to badly educate other people’s children.

School vouchers have been promoted by some well-meaning public servants as the definitive answer but conservative groups have discovered that any funds returned by the state often have strings attached.

This brings us to another option that strikes many observers, including the Home School Legal Defense Association, as the fairest and freest means of restoring true parental choice to the education arena…educational tax credits. If adopted, the educational tax credits would allow families to retain that portion of their taxes that would normally be allocated to public education. Those families would then be free to oversee the training of their own children without interference from outside sources.

Coincidentally, the implementation of educational tax credits of $2000 per child/per year would be likely to help public school teachers achieve a long sought-after goal, reducing class size. If just ten percent of public school families choose to enroll their offspring in private facilities or homeschool programs, the size of public school classes would fall by a corresponding ten percent.

It’s clear that would allow teachers to provide more personalized instruction for each remaining student.

While some states have chosen the route of direct educational tax credits for parents, others have chosen to allow a tax write-off for families who make contributions to non-profit scholarship funds. Such scholarships would permit low-income families to send their children to private or parochial schools.

In Virginia, legislation has been crafted that would allow both forms of tax relief.

Polling data, independently conducted among Virginia voters, indicates widespread support for the passage of such a bill.

Some have questioned whether educational tax credits are considered legal but the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld the Minnesota educational tax deduction plan while ruling the Arizona program does not violate the separation of church and state.


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