Interesting conglomeration of articles and posts and information about counting homeschoolers recently. I was just reading Dana Hanley's most recent article in Heart of the Matter. The HotM article is chock full of information, but the comments also got my attention as Sallie noted this:
Dana — The Marine Corps is now conducting a poll, at least on the west coast, to get an accurate number of homeschool families within its ranks, and all because of the hubbub of California. I will definitely be staying on top of this story because of that!
No oo-rahs for that military effort.
Dana followed Sallie's comment noting there and in her blog that a Nebraska legislator unfriendly to homeschoolers has a proposed resolution [LR 369] for more homeschool data because of her apparent problem with the increase in homeschoolers.
Fortunately, in Illinois, there is little scientific data about any increase (or decrease) or maintaining of the homeschool population. We do not report to the state. The ISBE business of trying to coax families to fill out a Home School Registration Form should always be considered unfortunate. It's non-mandated. As evident on their website, a question of why ISBE puts its time and effort into Home Schools when homeschoolers are compulsory attendance exempt, reveals information some might want to ponder.
But back to the Count and Data issue. Unfortunately, some in the homeschool community are joining the fray with some data searches. I like to follow trails and Mary at HEM Homeschool Support and Networking has several of note in three recent posts:
Among other background information, this quote was pointed out from the NHERI site; from Kay Coles James, Virginia State Cabinetmember
“Whoever has the data controls the policy.” (NHERI.org/The-Impact-of-NHERI.html)
Personally, I haven't been been particularly happy with any HSLDA interference with national and Illinois legislation, I'm sorry to say. This is not comforting:
NHERI IMPACTS – The Courts
"Ongoing quality home-schooling research is essential for success in both courts and legislatures. Your participation with NHERI is vital." Michael Farris, President, Home School Legal Defense Assoc.
Wise words came from this article by Harvey Bluedorn back in 2003 at a time when HSLDA went through Illinois Senator Rutherford to present a state "home school" bill. Senator Rutherford was trying to be helpful, but backed out when he learned what IL homeschoolers didn't want in the form of "home school" legislation.
Looking at this link below, I wonder how much input was taken from all parents about their children's test results being used in these "independent evaluations". HSLDA is touting state education department stats, of all things:
Several state departments of education or local school districts have also gathered statistics on the academic progress of homeschooled children.
In the spring of 1987, the Tennessee Department of Education found that homeschooled children in 2nd grade, on the average, scored in the 93rd percentile while their public school counterparts, on the average, scored in the 62nd percentile on the Stanford Achievement Test…..
Unfortunately, there are more states listed at the site. Question being, HSLDA rightly states that homeschool parents don't need to be certified, but what is HSLDA pushing regarding testing? They did mention it in findings in the HoNDA bill written by HSLDA and presented in the Senate and House:
(3) Education by parents at home has proven to be an effective means for young people to achieve success on standardized tests and to learn valuable socialization skills.
Here's some background in HEM from Kathleen McCurdy, founder of Washington Family Learning Organization:
An Ohio homeschooler got a surprise in her testing packet this year in the form of a NHERI survey. Mary listed some more links about what could and can and has been done with this data:
I say to homeschoolers that even as we can't control the huge entity called public education and their compelling interests, that I hope they refuse to be counted or surveyed, if at all possible. Then we can protect ourselves from potential financial gains on the backs of our homeschooled kids.
I have kids who love standardized tests and do well by them. I have other kids who don't. But yet they're all educated and thriving. Let's protect the ones who don't do well in the narrow bounds of a Number 2 sharpened pencil and filling in blanks. Homeschoolers shouldn't have to teach to a test. NCLB requires this in public schools. It's turned ugly and we don't need that as a looming prospect. Especially from our own homeschool community.