The Right Thing to Do for Children

 The Daily Beast rolled out a Dana Goldstein piece called: The Tea Party's War on Schools or How the Tea Party Will Destroy Education Reform.  Starts out like this:

As Obama seeks to tighten federal control over local schools and boost accountability, he faces a tough battle with incoming GOP lawmakers, who advocate "parental rights" and tax credits for home schooling.

When it comes to school reform, President Obama and his secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, intend to spend 2011 pursuing more federal influence over local schools—particularly in the areas of curriculum standards and teacher evaluation and pay.  “Am I hopeful? Absolutely,” Duncan told Politico last month. “Am I optimistic? Yes. Do I think it’s the right thing to do for children, for the country? Absolutely.”

Since this article immediately goes into an Arne Duncan cheer regarding the "right thing to do for children", I want to point out a significant contradiction to that statement specific to Duncan's role in Chicago.  We've all heard the edu-speak with this phraseology: "It's for the Kids" or  "Think about the Children", or an education industry professional like Arne Duncan who is explaining his right thing to do pursuing even more federal control over local education. Personally,  I've most often heard those chants surrounding teacher union strikes or universal union pay raises, which strikes me as odd. Teacher strikes aren't about children.  They're about money.

The current Department of Education head, Chicago native Arne Duncan, is advocating for weekend school and longer school hours, along with his boss's plan for a  "seamless and comprehensive set of [educational] services and support for children, from birth through age 5".  Seems like the dropout and graduation rates in the public schools would also make that idea seem counter-productive.  Considering the heckling Duncan received in presenting more school time to public middle school and high school Denver students, it seems kids aren't too keen on the notion.

I want to delve a little deeper into the current Dept of Education administration's motivations from a historical standpoint and as an Illinois homeschooler. 

The Chicago Public School CEO Arne Duncan signed off on over-compliant and onerous demands for Chicago homeschoolers.  You can turn that signature upside down and inside out and it remains the same.  Chicago Public School administrators have some of the worst, if not the worst, unnecessary and non-mandated burdens and hassles laid out to homeschoolers by Illinois public school administrators.  Right there for all to see in the 3rd largest school district in the country.  Explanations of their infractions are in this link below, and I have a direct quote further down in this post:

Just sayin’…as a homeschooler….regarding Obama

Last October, Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch sent a letter to the Chicago Public School headquarters regarding this problem.  The CPS Chief Officer, Flavia Hernadez, sent back a response that would look hopeful.  Except none of it was true. (Some call that the Chicago Way.) Nothing about voluntary in these statements on their website that I just checked on again today. 

The Chicago Public Schools request that parents or guardians who choose to homeschool their children provide the following documents:

  1. The Statement of Assurance provided by the Chicago Public Schools
  2. A letter to CPS which describes the manner in which you will be instructing your child at home
  3. A copy of the Data Analysis and Progress Reporting Form that was mailed to the State Board of Education.

 Illinois homeschoolers, even in Chicago, don't have to do any of that above, but it surely looks like a stinking hassle to fulfill.  Hernadez stated in her response to us that "we have modified our website to acknowledge that the forms linked to the website are not mandatory".  That letter was cc'ed to their lawyer, Patrick Rocks, for one.  As an aside, Patrick Rocks got my attention from this article regarding the Chicago Virtual School approval with his information about 'greedy homeschoolers'  "trying to become charter schools simply to get public dollars".  It might be surprising to the typical legislator or lawyer in this day and age, but many homeschoolers have turned their backs on tax reimbursements and "free" benefits.  See what a Michigan homeschooler has to say about that, and I don't disagree with Spunky about any of her post.  We don't have our hand out, as the freedom to learn as a family is indescribably fun, and we don't want to take any chances compromising that. 

But if you're pushing for a publicly funded cause that seems to resemble those darn freedom loving homeschoolers' way of life, then why not throw us independent rascals under the bus.  I don't imagine that's what pro-homeschooling Senators Rubio or Paul intended, but I am highly suspicious of Duncan and Obama.  Either way, there could be the same result of squashing independent homeschoolers.  Even as I'm more optimistic after reading Bruno Behrend's Heartland Institute article promoting the idea of parents and technology triggering education transformation.

HSLDA was contacted by IL homeschoolers, and basically did the same thing IL Homeschool Freedom Watch did regarding the Chicago Public School authorities messing with homeschoolers.  Except HSLDA is made up of Virginia lawyers and we're not.  We're Illinois homeschooling moms.. that's the difference there.  We do have to know our homeschooling rights and responsibilities because we live and homeschool here.  This is our home.

HSLDA apparently received the same response as us.  

There's a lot more in this article from the view of Goldstein, who doesn't like fads.  Here's another one of her interpretations:

But the White House’s play for a bipartisan legislative victory on education could be slowed by the latest small-government fad sweeping the GOP caucus: the ideology of “parental rights,” an outgrowth of the Christian conservative homeschooling movement that has made deep in-roads among Tea Party activists and the candidates they support.

At least it's admitted openly now. Small government or constitutional intent is and was just a fad.  Dana Goldstein also can't comprehend the intricacies of independent thinking.  Some of us don't like the Parental Rights Amendment.  It's because we are deluded enough to think our natural rights protect us via the Constitutional set up.  Some of us are Christian and conservative, and enjoy the notion of live and let live. I guess that's a small government fad that is certainly fortified with our legislators who tell us they "have to do something….anything".  New laws are not the be all and end all, unless you like Big Government.  I don't like the waste of Big Government.  Worse of all, I despise the tyranny of Big Government.


The Right Thing to Do for Children — 4 Comments

  1. Great post! I'm 100% with you, and am keeping a close eye on the feds. If they attempt to restrict our homeschooling freedoms via the enticement of tax credits, you can bet I'll be fighting it tooth and nail!

  2. Thanks for this post and your views on the political situation for homeschoolers in Illinois.  I couldn't agree with you more!  Homeschoolers everywhere must be vigilant about their rights.
    Merry Christmas,

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