Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NY Post on Homeschooling in NYC

The title is distasteful, but the article is sort of positive... It does trot out some of the extremes (there *had* to be a creationist homeschooling to avoid Darwin in there, as well as a radical unschooler!) and tends to ignore the center, as usual. It gives credence to the "parents are unqualified" myth, citing a misspelling in an email as evidence of doubt regarding the same, and raising the glorious alternative of paid tutors (our "expert" worshiping culture rears its ugly head), but at least it debunks the religious fanatic, banjo playing hillbilly myth... and mentions how diverse homeschoolers are, at least partially debunking the countervailing wealthy white elitist racist foe of diversity myth (while at the same time choosing to highlight parents in elite professional occupations, so backsliding somewhat there). In the negative column, the quoted expert's comments raise the specter of the socialization red herring... A further quibble is that the quote provided regarding the NY Regulations does not give a completely clear or accurate picture of them, and may exaggerate in referring to NY as the "most regulated state" -- Pennsylvania may actually be worse! Anyway, here is the link:

Is home schooling for freaks? Or the best option for NYC parents?

An excerpt:

[T]he New York home-school movement is surprisingly diverse. The Bagleys are part of an increasingly visible network of local parents who’ve given up on regular school, for wide-ranging reasons — some religious. But many others think institutional learning turns kids into robots, worry their child is being bullied, or feel the curriculum isn’t challenging enough. “It isn’t a scene out of ‘Deliverance,’” Bagley says with a laugh, referring to the image that many have of home-schooled kids.

Given the dire state of the city’s — and nation’s — educational system, it’s not hard to understand why families are taking matters into their own hands. Charter schools are overflowing, private schools are unaffordable for many families — the Chapin School on the Upper East Side, for example, costs $33,400 a year — and even if they’re not, most have lengthy wait lists. Public schools vary in quality from one district to the next, and it can be next to impossible to transfer a child to a better district.

According to statistics released by the NBC-sponsored Education Nation summit at Rockefeller Center last week, American students rank 25th in math and 21st in science compared to 30 other industrialized countries. And 68 percent of eighth-graders can’t read at their grade level.

Look at the stats in that last paragraph! I am so tired of people questioning parents' competency to teach their own. How much worse than the "expert" results cited above is it possible for a committed parent to do? I'll give you a hint-- my kid reads high school level science books for fun. He's 7.

Maybe instead of trying to ridicule and regulate us out of existence, the experts could take a look at what we do and try to figure out what's working. Maybe there's something there that could help them help the kids. After all, isn't that what is supposed to matter? Not professional bragging rights, job security, or dissing the "competition", but actually helping kids to learn? The numbers in that paragraph are simultaneously pathetic, laughable and scary, if you buy into the idea that standardized testing is a reliable measure of performance... Which many homeschoolers don't, but the system claims to. Hoist on their own petard, methinks...


jugglingpaynes said...

Have you seen the page for The War on Kids?
Part of the problem is that the reporters have gone through the school system. Since school doesn't really teach fair, impartial and balanced journalism anymore, articles like this are to be expected. (And it's the Post. My parents wouldn't even buy the Post when I was a kid. It was always sensationalist journalism.)

Anyway, I did not find this article to be all that positive. We were again cast in a skewed light. The citing of an email as proof we aren't all capable of homeschooling was ridiculous. (Did you notice the reporter believed she spelled homeschooling wrong?) And they wonder why some homeschoolers are hesitant to talk to reporters.

Anyway, I suppose this was better than I would have expected of the NY Post. I simply wish for a day when mainstream media does not feel the need to even mention the word "freaks" when referring to us.

Climbing off my soapbox...

Peace and Laughter!

Chele said...

Thanks for the link, Cristina. I'll be checking it out after we come home from the park.

The Post article was more balanced than I expected, but yeah, there is more than a little room for improvement there... At least they had a clue about secular reasons to homeschool. That's head and shoulders above most of what passes for journalistic wisdom on homeschooling!

The spelling thing is soooo not a surprise. I snarked about it in comments to a NY Times article recently... People would rather [sic] the grammar police on homeschool parents than consider for a minute that there may be a different choice... I do try to proof read before I hit send, because I know that straw man is waiting in the wings...

FairyLover said...

I thought it was a great article when you factor in that it was the Post. There were many favorable points in it.