Thursday, October 17, 2013

Home-school inspectors intruding? Well, no ...

This week brought a confusing flap over inspection of home schools in North Carolina.

On Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest sent a strongly worded press release headlined "Random Homeschool Searches Need to Stop."  It said the N.C. Division of Non-Public Education plans to "resume the 1980s-era practice of randomly inspecting homeschools" and raised questions about the constitutionality of such visits.


“This policy is intrusive, unnecessary, and has the potential to infringe on the constitutionally-protected privacy rights of tens of thousands of North Carolina homeschool families,”  Forest said in the release.  It says that Forest,  a Republican,  plans to work with state senators to  "clarify when, where, and how the Department of Non-Public Education may inspect homeschool records under the law without doing so in people’s homes."
Erica Parsons

It certainly seemed possible that the state might revive inspections of home schools.  The question of oversight arose this summer,  when officials learned that Erica Parsons,  who was allegedly being home-schooled by her adoptive parents,  has been missing for two years.  "Parsons Christian School"  never filed progress reports or test results,  and adoptive mother Casey Parsons never met with state officials during regional home-school meetings,  the Observer learned.  Erica has not been found,  and police suspect foul play.

But when I called the DNPE to ask about inspections, spokesman Chris Mears sent me a two-paragraph release that was labeled a joint statement of his division and the lieutenant governor's office  (it's not posted on Forest's web site).

"The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) and the Lt. Governor’s Office have conferred with regard to site visits of North Carolina home schools, and agree that it is the joint mission of DNPE and the Lt. Governor’s office to support NC’s home school families,"  that statement says.

"As DNPE communicated to North Carolinians for Home Education, no site visits have been conducted and none are planned. DNPE’s review of home schools includes requesting home schools to voluntarily submit records via email or attend a meeting, typically held in a location such as a church basement, for records reviews. At that time, DNPE asks for review of test results, immunization records, and attendance records showing that schools have operated for nine months. DNPE is mandated to annually inspect records according to State law."

Mears said he couldn't comment further.  I tried several times Wednesday to reach Kami Mueller,  the name on Forest's news release,  and got no response.  I got Forest's chief of staff,  Hal Weatherman,  who referred me back to Mueller.  Update:  I got a voice mail from Mueller on Thursday citing the two news releases.  "We're kind of leaving it at that,"  she said.  "It explains everything anyone would ever need to know."

So what's going on?  The best clue I found came from an interview DNPE Director David Mills gave to Andrew Branch, a freelancer for the Asheville-based Christian magazine World.  Mills is quoted as saying he wanted to revive home visits,  which had fallen by the wayside as the number of home schools increased.  Last year North Carolina had 53,347 registered home schools serving almost 88,000 children,  including 6,573 in Mecklenburg County,  according to a state tally.

Mills told World he considers home visits a way to  "open up a rapport,"  but said some families  "expressed distrust"  over the prospect.  He said he had scrapped plans to inspect homes even before Forest's statement.


Anonymous said...

I'm in favor of inspecting home schools as much as possible. I have 7 cousins in Tennessee that are home schooled. Each of the boys didn't learn how to read until the FOURTH GRADE. Two of them that are now over 18 had to join the marines because there is literally nothing else they can do career wise with their education.

Beau said...

Anonymous: Anyone can point to one poor example or one great example--that proves nothing. For example, we could use George Washington as the poster child for home schooling. It is better to compare the current public education population and the current home-school population. That comparison shows that home-school children out perform public education children. For example, home-school children have higher percentile scores than those educated in the public schools.

Aubrey Moore said...

There is a deep absurdity here. As they should be, public schools are put under microscopes. But, they are defined by many, including our legislature, by their failures, not their successes.

Anyone who pays attention knows that home schooling has many great success stories. But their failures are as numerous by proportion as those of public schools. All to often, home scholars are the children of control freak parents who are unable and unwilling to oversee the education of their children.

The question is, does the state have the same obligation to all children? If we do, then proportionally we are failing as many home schooled children as we fail public school children, but we have little ability to change the situation because of the sanctity of the home. There is a monstrous problem here that we have no way of solving.

Anonymous said...

Too bad the Marines is such a poor choice for anyone to make...we all know you wont learn anything there. Especially those traits not taught in any college or home school like integrity, honor, discipline, work ethic and of all actual skill to be trained in, employed with, and to be able to use once they are discharged..ooh bad ole Marines. Take it form me..looks good on any resume!

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

Actually, if those homeschooled kids in Tennessee were qualified for the Marines then they probably got a BETTER education than MANY in the public schools...

Most Americans Not Fit to Join,13319,90736,00.html

SHOCKING: Nearly 1 In 4 High School Graduates Can't Pass Military Entrance Exam

Now, I could tell you about dozens or perhaps hundreds of kids educated in public schools of Alab ama who are probably worse off than your homeschooled cousins in Tennessee.

But I'd be cherry-picking my examples, and that would be wrong.

Besides, I pretty much homeschool my own kids (but send them to the pub schools for "socialization") and everyone should know by now what little geniuses they are :)

Wiley Coyote said...

All type schools of instruction should be inspected.....

To 9:18...Joining the Marines or any other branch isn't as easy you think.

If your two cousins were accepted, they had to have graduated high school (or GED) and also pass an ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test to get in plus jobs had to be availble based on their scores. Not to mention pass 12 weeks of basic training. (there are some exceptions but a recruiter would have to explain them)

Unless they joined during Iraq or Afghanistan and the requirements were lowered, then they have to meet the requirements above.

As 10:17 said, those two Marines will learn things no book can ever teach and many parents never do.

Semper Fi!

Anonymous said...

Both of nieces attended the Waldorf school, where students do not learn to read until the 3-4 grades. They also do not use technology at their schools. They are both outstanding college students now.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Anon 10:52, so you are bragging about not learning to read by 4th grade, and not being able to use technology in their schools growing up? If they are good students in college.....that is IN SPITE of what you are bragging about. Not sure what college they go to, but you better read up on your stats of "advantages" for young education, and stats on those that are "successful" as adults. The OVERWHELMING majority are kids that learned to read early, and also integrated and conquered technology at an early age.

Shamash said...

There are so many absurdities out there that it's hard to know where to begin...

But homeschools SHOULD be inspected just to make sure the kids are getting a "good education".

And as gubmint defines "good education", at a minimum that means:

1) free meals
2) free transportation
3) free iPads
4) free Internet
5) free healthcare
6) free daycare
7) a path to citizenship if their parents brought them here illegally...

Anything less would be denying "the children" their constitutional rights.

Unless, of course, they are homeschooled Christian evangelicals from Germany seeking asylum in the US - who should be deported immediately (e.g., Uwe and Hannelore Romeike.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Willy, my nieces are doing quite well at the University of Oregon and the Univ of Washington. My point was that there are different types of schools, homeschool and the Waldorf schools being two examples. It's more the culture of learning, especially in one's home, that will dictate how a child does academically. A young child does not have to use technology to learn (frowned upon by many experts, tech is used as a crutch in the classroom), nor do they have to know how to read by Kindergarten. To teach curiosity, imagination and passion for learning about new things is more important in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, the culture of learning.

That's the one they won't cover in diversity training.

For what its worth said...

..The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE)..

Sounds like another candidate for the ax to streamline NC government and save the taxpayers some money.

Anonymous said...

TO Everybody:

I didn't mean for this to turn into a marine bashing thread, but my cousins' standard test scores would not be accepted in any University in Tenneesee.

The "GED test" you speak of most 8th graders could pass. It doesn't even have Algebra on it. So basically if you fail that test you don't understand basic proportions. I took the ASVAB test back in high school. The only kids that take that test are people interested in joining the Armed Forces or people in the ROTC. Most high schools count ROTC has 2 credits for an elective (so more people will join). Therefor the majority of the people taking that test are academically lower level students which skews your poll results.

The military teaches you tons of things that you can take throughout your life. But besides pilots, what career opportunities does it give you if you without furthering your education?

Shamash said...

Hate to burst your bubble, but I took the ASVAB in high school, too.

Of course, we still had the draft back then and just about EVERYONE (well, at least if they were male and reasonably capable) had to at least consider the possibility that they might be cannon fodder, so nearly everyone took the test in my school.

Of course, that was in the bad old days, and we're much less "selective" in who gets to "serve", so you might be right about the typical person who takes the ASVAB today.

Even then, many HS graduates can't score high enough. Must be the new "high-tech" military that has them stumped.

I scored well on the test, though, even if I couldn't identify a few of the mechanics tools.

I even went to a recruiter and asked them if they had any computers or anything I could help them with.

They said no, not here. We don't use computers. Maybe at headquarters.

Two separate recruiters told me I should go to college and avoid the military.

Seriously. That was their advice.