Homeschooling in the Big Apple would be fantastic. The New York Magazine is highlighting homeschoolers with The Everything Guide to Urban Homeschooling production.
6 articles lay out some homeschooling details in New York City.
On a positive note, the Harvard Admission Director's thoughts were shared and it's affirmed (again) that colleges do seem to appreciate homeschool applications. We must be doing something right.
Even as this article pointed out the advantages of homeschooling, it had a miscue here and there:
The term homeschool used to evoke images of conservative Christians in the rural districts of western and southern states, who, in protest against secular education and the eroding morals of the nation’s youth, took matters into their own hands. The earliest homeschooling resources—the curricula and the online networks and message boards—were developed by Christian activists. The Internet was a boon for these parents, whose interests were aligned but who often lived hundreds of miles apart. “Do we want our children to be like the ultraliberal teachers that they have in public school,” asked the vice-president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2002, “or do we want them to be like their Christian parents?”
It doesn't seem particularly plausible that rural conservative Christians living in the south or the west were the only families homeschooling just as the 'net came around. That was just about the time we started homeschooling. Being rural myself, I can attest to the expensive and difficult route it took for a long distance phone calls (remember those?) to attach to a server and connection. I'm in the midwest and could be pegged with their description of the old-timer homeschoolers, but it's much more complicated than that. (I'm not a fan of labels.) Those old-time homeschoolers were educating their children at home 10 or more years before I was. John Holt helped that lifestyle change way back in the late '70's.
John Holt coined the word unschooling in 1977 to mean learning that does not look like school learning, and learning that does not have to take place at home. Holt was a celebrated classroom teacher who became the founder of unschooling and one of the founders of the modern homeschooling movement.
These NYC homeschooling experiences were shared. What fun!
But in New York and other cities, where cultural offerings are so rich, many homeschooling families rely heavily on the city’s cultural institutions. The New York homeschool population has grown to such an extent, in fact, that many city institutions now offer classes (often at a deep discount) just for homeschoolers. The New-York Historical Society has a program in which homeschoolers learn American history through Broadway musicals and the artifacts in its collection; this fall, it’s teaching kids about the westward expansion through Oklahoma! and the works of the artists in the Hudson River School. At Robofun, on the Upper West Side, homeschool students work in pairs to learn architecture, computer programming, robotics, and engineering by building their own robots. One of the most popular programs among New York homeschooling families, and one that fulfills the city’s phys-ed requirement, is Wayfinders, a role-playing fantasy program in which kids run around Central Park in teams with large foam swords playing an epic version of capture the flag.
I do have to say these New York state requirements seem like a nightmare to me:
Testing is the great equalizer between homeschoolers or unschoolers and children following the traditional route. Math and reading tests are required at regular intervals, beginning in fourth grade. Parents can choose from a list of accepted tests, or they can opt for the same citywide tests that all public-schoolers take (arrangements can be made for homeschoolers to test at a public school alongside their peers). Tests taken at home must be administered by a certified teacher or another qualified person agreed upon by the superintendent of your school district. Parents must file test results with their end-of-year assessment. Under the city’s regulations, children who score below the 33rd percentile of national norms or show no progress compared with a previous year’s test will have their homeschooling program placed on probation. If that happens, parents must submit a plan of remediation to be reviewed by the school district.
Since many of these homeschooling families are at home because the NYC public schools are so bad, I was curious what the public schools do if the kids don't score well. The money and jobs stay intact, but what about the kids?
Standardized tests do not show real learning.
There were more articles. I haven't read them all yet. Ultimately, with attention like this, we can hope urban and otherwise parents see the possibilities and get out of the schools if they have unhappy children. The possibilities are endless.