Home Schooling & Dropouts

Well, the Houston Chronicle published a story today on the continuing issue of Texas public schools who are reporting inordinately high numbers of students withdrawing to homeschool and the scrutiny being drawn because of the practice by some officials to do so to hide the dropout rate of the school.

The news report describes that Texas Education Agency (TEA) has audited several school districts that have reported numbers that do not seem to be consistent with percentages in other areas of the state, and the result was that documentation required was often not available. According to the article, TEA policy is to require a “signed statement from a parent/guardian or qualified student’ or ‘documentation of an oral statement by the parent/guardian or qualified student’ made within 10 days of the time the student quits attending school in the district, signed and dated by an authorized representative of the district’ noting that they intend to attend homeschool.” Audits of several schools in the Houston area showed that this policy was not being followed.

The Chronicle says, “Texas’ lax documentation and hands-off practices make it impossible to know how many of these students are actually being taught at home. It also opens the door to abuse of the designation, which could help school districts avoid the sanctions that come with high dropout rates, experts said.” This of course will lead some to argue, as Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Bill White seems to have done, that Texas needs more government regulation of home schooling.

The solution to public school officials falsifying or misreporting dropouts as home schoolers is to require auditing of suspected schools as the TEA appears to be doing and adding some sanctions or penalties for the practice that is not currently in place – not to add regulation to home schooling. This will apparently be a focus of the Texas legislature in the next session. We will be watching.

Comments

  1. Steve Spencer says

    Tim: Your analysis of the issue is spot-on. There have been hundreds of comments posted on the Houston Chronicle's website today, and many of them call for homeschooling to outlawed, or dramatically more regulated. But, the real problem is public education bureaucrats who try to hide the failure of the public school system by reporting many students who dropout as being withdrawn to be home schooled.

    True to form, the answer of the government establishment is to more stringently regulate home schools?!?!?!? Really? And, exactly how will that curtail the dishonest bureaucrats from simply finding another way to scam the system.

    I hope homeschool families in Texas become more aware of THSC's advocacy on their behalf; and what will likely happen if you relax your vigilance, even for a moment!

  2. Anonymous says

    Great post! Love to read the inside view. Why Bill White and the left wants to kill home schools is beyond me. It takes a very special parent to take the effort and care to take on this duty. God bless them.

  3. Anonymous says

    By attempting to use the the homeschool community as scapegoats for a failed and ever imposing bureaucracy, the Chronicle only magnifies the very problem many disenfranchised parents seek to avoid. Clearly, ther is a concerted attempt to limit the rights of parents in educating their children in accordance with their respective values and beliefs.

    On the Chronicle's site, I found the vast majority of bloggers in support of homeschooling. I would encourage all homeschooling parents ensure their voice heard.
    As home educators, we have a repsonsibility to educate the public at large of the tangible benefits of home directed education. It could mean the difference between local voters advocating for the rights of future generations of homeschoolers…or not.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/facebook/6999109.html

  4. Michelle Potter says

    This is the comment I left on the Chronicle's article:

    "The Chronicle seems to suggest that this problem could be resolved by more scrutiny of homeschooling families after they withdraw from public school, mentioning that other states require parents to "file sworn affidavits" or provide their curriculum. Such a solution would make perfect sense if there were any evidence that it is the parents or students who are lying about leaving public school to homeschool.

    "The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) encourages members to send the school certified letters of their intent to homeschool upon withdrawal from school. Currently the TEA will accept documentation of the parent or student's oral statement of their intent to homeschool. That's right, when a parent withdraws his child from school and says, "I'm going to homeschool," the school officials can just write that down and the TEA will be happy — and yet the schools in question cannot even provide that.

    "In 109 cases of students who Clear Creek ISD claims left to be homeschooled, the district cannot even provide documentation that the parent or student told the school that they plan to homeschool. I want to know exactly on what basis the district classified these kids as leaving to homeschool in the first place? Is someone in withdrawals reading tea leaves?

    "What is so difficult to understand about the fact that it is the school districts, not homeschool families, who need to be more closely scrutinized? Why do the lies of school district officials cast suspicion on homeschooling families, instead of casting suspicion on lying school district officials?"

  5. Silvia says

    Michelle, that's exactly the point. It's not difficult to understand (if they wanted to understand, that is). They are blatantly using this failure on the public high schools to charge at us, Texan homeschooling families and homeschoolers in general.
    Politicians and educrats with an agenda against home education are making noise and appealing to biased listening on the side of the public to gain control of a population that is increasing, gaining power, political voice, and all independently from their radio of influence, control, and manipulation. As we see in other areas of our national policies, government is pushing control, and it's no surprise they keep trying to gain it in one of the emblems of homeschooling freedom, Texas. The fact that we are the ONLY state without a census is something some want reversed badly. I believe the pulse of homeschooling is currently located here in Houston.
    High schools don't want to loose funds by reporting drop outs lawfully, and they manage to place a battle against us. Don't you love the intricacies of our current public education system?
    Thank you Mr. Lambert for informing us and helping us prepare to withstand the attacks, and yes, we'll be watching.

  6. Anonymous says

    Great article, but the real problem with drop out rates is that most schools count Mexican students as moving back to Mexico, when they have actually dropped out. The Lewisville ISD got caught doing just this. The last thing anybody needs is more regulation, we NEED ACCURATE REPORTING from all public schools.

  7. Marjorie Westmoreland says

    Tim,

    It was a pleasure to speak with you at the FEAST convention this past weekend about the Hou. Chronicle story. Thank you again for taking time to discuss THSC's stance on the dropout issue. My family sleeps soundly at night knowing you and the rest of the THSC are on the job. You've got our back and we know we are blessed!! If there's ever anything I can do to be of help, please let me know.

  8. Anonymous says

    Thank you so very much for keeping us all aware of this. Whenever I come across a family who inquires about homeschooling, I always mention how incredible this organization is.

  9. Anonymous says

    I live in San Antonio, Texas and when I signed my children out of school in the East Central School District to be home schooled, they put on their record "Drop Out"!

  10. Nan says

    Again, a simple solution – proper documentation.

    It's a pity that the schools, who are trying to circumvent the pressure put on them, shift it upon the homeschool community.

    It would be in their best interest to evaluate their system's shortcomings, take responsibility, and facilitate change within themselves – IOW, they need to take the homeschool approach.

    ;^)

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