Homeschooling as a “Microtrend”

I guess it is.  But it's a bit of an eye opener to see it described as such by a political analyst such as Mark Penn in his book: Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes.

His homeschool review anticipates our future in and out of the homeschooling world and is a heads up from someone who advised Bill Clinton and is currently providing expertise to the Hillary campaign.

America's Homeschooled

He refers to the 2005 federal legislation written by HSLDA and sponsored by Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who bears that controversial legacy (among others). Penn suggests looking for "increasing litigation and legislation regarding home-schooled children" and "increased calls to regulate home-schooling".  It appears his concern is that those states requiring little or no notification such as in Illinois "might result, at a minimum, in an undercounting of students getting educated, or an overcounting of students "missing" from the system".  And that's a problem how, you would ask?  Why the need to count students being educated unless you are building up a bureaucratic system of counters or statisticians (as they like to call themselves).  I would think an undercounting of students (pushouts or dropouts) would be a bigger educational concern with all the connivances from public school people to hide their failure rate.  

Statistics

Penn states that "home-schoolers are looking for more recognition and more services".  That might be the case for some, but isn't the case for many homeschoolers.  Wisconsin homeschoolers refused an introduced bill to allow an educational tax credit:

Now who exactly was state Sen. Tom Reynolds trying to help?

Last week, the West Allis Republican agreed to vote for the budget bill after he pushed through an 11th-hour proposal to give a state tax credit for home-schooling families. But his attempt at grabbing some budget pork isn't winning him any friends among its intended beneficiaries.

In fact, they sound downright annoyed.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Jim Doyle said the office has been flooded with calls and notes from those opposing the $100-per-child tax credit. "Most of the e-mails and calls are from parents of home-schoolers," said Doyle flack Melanie Fonder. The office had heard from only one person who urged the Democratic governor to keep the Reynolds item in the budget.

The messages from the home-schooling parents are unequivocal in asking Doyle for a veto of the credit, which would cost the state $14.6 million a year. It would be available to taxpayers who teach their children at home or send them to private school.

Wisconsin homeschoolers Larry and Susan Kaseman say this about educational expense credits in Home Education Magazine:

Conclusion

Tax credits for homeschooling expenses are one more example of an idea that might sound good at first, but further examination shows that they would end up diminishing our homeschooling freedoms. In addition, tax credits would be carefully structured so that no family would get very much money. As homeschoolers committed to maintaining our homeschooling freedoms, we need to seriously consider opposing tax credits for homeschooling expenses. 

Illinois homeschoolers didn’t do the same as in Wisconsin.We now have a separate  Home School educational tax credit form which takes us into the storm away from the non-public school umbrella. From the Public/Non-Public Publication 132 to the specialized Home School form. This shouldn't have slipped by us anymore than any other "home school" legislation should have…..:

This publication does not apply to home schooled students. For information about the education expense credit for home schooled students, see Publication 119, Education Expense Credit General Rules and Requirements for Home Schools

Penn continues with this no kiddin' observation about homeschoolers: "they are obviously passionately consumed with home-schooling-you know what they get asked about when they go out for cocktails or dinner".   He went on to compliment homeschoolers about "cutting through the "reams of rules and red tape to secure a place in the nation, and have already grown beyond anything the movement expected".  I can only speak for my family, but I wasn't expecting anything "movement"-wise.  We were just using the best means possible to educate and enjoy our children as they grow.  While trying to protect those inherent freedoms for our family.

Penn foresees a potential backlash against homeschoolers.  Where's he been anyway? Obviously not seeing the backlash macrotrend against homeschoolers.  NEA chose to put this gem on their website:

Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs
Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds
by Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois.

As Penn sees the bottom line of "public schools becoming increasingly worrisome to parents, more and more of them-from every sector-will take it into their own hands to educate their kids".  He wondered whether "Home-schooling may eventually be replaced by Internet-based school at home, with traditional public school becoming unnecessary for more and more families". Now there's an issue that has been raised a time or two in the homeschool community.  He went on to go over international homeschool trends while noting the Muslim homeschool community as well. 

He does seem to get the picture that the homeschool community is very diverse and so, very drawn to their autonomy.  And even adds these words of encouragement for prospective homeschoolers:

Now 1 million families who want to home-school their children can find like-minded allies and share resources on the Internet-rather than feeling isolated, unprepared, or thwarted in their preference.

This is an interesting section from a seasoned political adviser about what he considers microtrends that will draw legislators' and politicians' attention as well as voters' attention.   I am encouraged that he didn't sling arrows at homeschoolers, but drew some cool headed conclusions.  Many of his thoughts are often up for debate in the homeschool community on a regular basis.  He seems to have a handle on most of his research, minus the 'number of homeschoolers' garbage from NCES.  But thorough investigation would make sense as his ventures have been fairly successful (in terms of getting his clients elected at least). 

With a hat tip to COD, if  homeschoolers let Ron Paul know a bit more about minimal legislation really means regarding homeschoolers, we might be getting on the right track in regards to the Constitution.  I was disappointed to see his recommendations in presenting federal legislation.  I think he's getting bad advice.



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Homeschooling as a “Microtrend” — 1 Comment

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