Indiana now joins the official Pushout trend in the United States of America. The National Charter School Watch List had an article and issue pointed out by Indiana Home Education Network‘s Ben Bennett:
Mooresville High School officials criticized over student dismissals Parents also concerned home-schooling is only alternative for education
Parents of current and former Mooresville High School students have raised complaints about the way students are being dismissed from school, and parents are being told they have to home- school their children.
The parents questioned the school’s conduct in releasing the students, although no legal action has been taken. In releasing those students, school officials told the parents it was their responsibility to home-school their children.
Illinois school officials are mandated to document the reason a student was "transferred", if known, for a quarterly report submitted to the Regional Superintendent and Secretary of State. [Why the Secretary of State? That will be in the next post.] If students are transferring, as opposed to dropping out or being truant, the records look so much cleaner (for state and federal funding purposes). [See 105 ILXS 5/26-3a-
Such list shall include the names and addresses of pupils formerly in attendance, the names and addresses of persons having custody or control of such pupils, the reason, if known, such pupils are no longer in attendance and the date of removal from the attendance rolls.] The parents might not have any idea what those documented reasons are on those reports. For example, they might not know that their children are "home school"ed as opposed to being a dropout. We can likely thank NCLB for that. This below was one of my experiences.
From a previous post: Absent 10 days=Homeschooled: Go figure
I remember 2 men (public school staff; not a truancy officer) here in central Illinois made a surprise visit at a single mom’s door with a piece of paper to sign. The paper said that she was going to homeschool that year. They had to provide the paper and pen, I would imagine, because she couldn’t find one when I visited her. No transportation, no computer, no library card, a whole lot of nothing. I didn’t think the school district was looking out for their best interests (understatement), but it probably helped out their test scores and truancy rates.
From the Sun-Times in January of 2004:
"The dropout problem is largely a push-out problem for kids who’d like to stay in school," said William Leavy, director of the Greater West Town group. "Our neediest kids have the least support."
So very true, but I’m still looking for some accountability from the schools. From an article about a very young Pennsylvania mom:
School officials also have encouraged A.C. to switch to a home-school program or attend the district’s vocational high school because it has a day-care program, the lawsuit said.
But school districts are allowed by state law to have a policy to deal with parenting and pregnant students, but the district has not addressed the subject in their truancy policy, Cliatt said.
If the schools don’t have a policy, then maybe the unwritten policy will be to Push Out. It’s easy to do unless they go a little bonkers and start doing it in bulk as they did in Mooresville, Indiana or in Chicago. Then the media gets wind of it, as there will be some outraged parent somewhere who wants to know what is going on.
Well, the term “dropout” is equivalent to bum, slacker, quitter, and other negative descriptions which put the burden on students and children for not finishing school. Dropout indicates that the student/child quit or gave up. That’s rarely the case.
Sit down with young people who have not completed their secondary education and you will find that they did not wake up one day and “dropout.” Unbearable pressures from school, standards and testing, difficulties at home and within the family, financial insecurity, hunger, and other inequities combined to PUSH a student out of school.
Homeschool advocates know it’s happening. Very often, we’re just busy trying to figure out the best way to help the families even as these kids/families and our homeschooling name gets dragged through the public school mud.
Update: reminder on the NCSW list of Home Education Magazine interview by Peggy Daly Masternek of Susan Ohanian
Homeschoolers know something about "push-outs." We have heard their personal stories for years in homeschooling forums. Happily some have found their way to a commitment to homeschool. Many more, we know, have not. What do you see happening to children who are now being pushed-out to boost school district’s test scores?
I’m a board member of the World of Opportunity (WOO) in Birmingham, AL, the starkest example I know of push-outs. In 2000, an adult ed teacher, Steve Orel, noticed a high number of teenagers seeking to enter his GED preparation program. Steve began to question why three different high schools were using the same forms and language–"Lack of interest"–to withdraw students. He investigated, discovering that 522 African-American students had been involuntarily removed from the Birmingham schools right before the spring administration of a high stakes state test. The schools were under threat of state takeover if they didn’t improve their scores. Anyone familiar with testing can tell you: The easiest way to raise test scores is to get rid of probable low scorers. [more at site]
[Update numero dos] Another article came to mind from an interview on HEM Support Group News:
“Homeschooling Under Fire: The Iowa Homeschooling Crisis of 1989-90 A history of the plot to depict homeschoolers as truants and child abusers” By Lynn and Sarah Leslie, August 30, 2004