Homeschooling Upgrade?

On February 28th, Judge H. Walter Croskey of the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles said that homeschooling is only legal if one of the parents is a certified teacher.

Many homeschooling parents are crying fowl and that this is a breach of freedoms, even discrimination. However, this statement shows what is lacking in homeschooling.  I have had to pick up the pieces from many failed homeschooling experiments where parents have underestimated the rigours of teaching.  I have had a mother in Afghanistan tell me that her child did technology because he was allowed to use the satellite phone.  I have had many parents excel in teaching reading and social studies, but mathematics, science and spelling were just not as well covered.  Rather than an even education so many homeschoolers I have tested have had ‘peaks and troughs’ in their academic profile almost as pronounced as learning disability.

A positive response to this statement from a California judge could lead to the credibility of homeschooling increasing.  I find the idea that a well-meaning parent with a high-school diploma and a prescriptive curriculum can be equivalent to a teacher with at least four years training and years of experience to undermine the professional status of teaching.  That parents might learn to teach their children to think critically, to engage in the latest technology and teaching methods could be a breath of fresh air.

Of course there are some well-trained amateurs who read deeply into the philosophy of education and understand children’s development.  But a dose of the trivium, For the Children’s Sake, and Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning does not make a well-trained teacher.   

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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11 Responses to Homeschooling Upgrade?

  1. rookie1987 says:

    So what about the people who can sub without having to be certified teachers? I have known certified teachers and schools to produce students who are deficient as well in many areas. So I don’t think that you can knock on homeschooling alone. Homeschooling just tends to have more of the extremes. Extremes in excellence tempered with in horrible failure to have taught other crucial things.
    Salt and Light

  2. Response to Silver
    Having non-certified subs is not an argument against certification.  Because other arenas get things wrong it doesn’t make wrong practice right.
    I am not saying that other educational arenas always succeed.  However, if you have more tools in your bag you are more likely to succeed.  The responsibility is to have more tools.
    I am not knocking homeschooling alone.  I am saying that they are not regulated and that is bad.
    I don’t understand the ‘extremes in excellence …’ sentence.

  3. Loren1350 says:

    @theplymothian – I would assume Silver meant “Extremes in excellence are tempered by horrible failure,” but I could be wrong.I agree with the point I believe he is trying to make about substitute teachers. It is hypocritical to hold homeschooling to a standard that “normal” schooling is not. Requiring certification is restrictive to most homeschooling situations; no one can pretend that making this change will not cause significant difficulty to homeschoolers — and eliminate many.Consider and compare this with voting and literacy tests, with grandfathered substitute teachers.It’s actually a pretty apt analogy. Voting and teaching should both, ideally, be executed by competent individuals, and a test is a logical solution. But it smacks of discrimination, and unless implemented very carefully, that’s exactly what it is.It is worth noting that in the actual legal case in question, the homeschooling parents whose credentials became an issue “were repeatedly referred to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services over various allegations, including claims of physical abuse, involving some of their eight children.” Now, I’m not involved with the case, and I can’t seem to find a listing of what abuses, specifically, were alleged; I don’t know whether they were simply keeping the kids isolated or if they were beating their kids. But it should be noted that this case was not about homeschooling, at least on the surface. Sympathizer bias aside, this looks like judge has turned a child abuse case into an anti-homeschooling platform.

  4. Though I respect that child abuse is not homeschooling and that the judge may have developed a platform it does not discount the validity of teacher certification.  Also, that many homeschooling situations would be eliminated does not speak to the point.  the word eliminate evokes sympathy but proves nothing.  The point is whether they should be eliminated.  Also saying that substitute teachers are poor would indicate that the present supply of substitutes should be reformed – not that the present situation with homeschooling should be allowed.

  5. rookie1987 says:

    @theplymothian – That sentence is a bit tricky. I am refering to homeschoolers who excell in say math for example but have a horrible lack of writing skills or something else. So the places of excellence where the homeschooled student is ahead in some areas and behind in others.

  6. rookie1987 says:

    @theplymothian – You are assuming that not having certified teachers is a wrong thing. In most cases I would agree with you but I also know that states differ as to what a certified teacher is and the requirements to be one. I know of people who have their MA in teaching and were certified in CA to teach but when they went to IA they were not considered certified and yet were EXCELLENT teachers on the same level as you. So certification can at times be just a piece of paper that is really not worth anything is what I am saying. I think an arguement of not certification but testing of the homeschool students to make sure they are keeping up with state standards is better. I know that my family homeschooled and that states differ on what they require in regards to testing. Some require none and some require testing and are monitered by state officials to make sure that there are not the discrepencies that you are talking about. Notice you are refering to homeschooling abroad with your comment about a lady in Afghanistan and so even if laws were passed it would not change what you dealt with outside of this country. I also thionk that states deal with education within the state so what a judge in CA does affects only CA for the time being. You seem to have had bad experience with homeschoolers overall or at least it reads that way so I must ask you if this is influencing your viewpoint.
    Salt and Light

  7. I have the advantage of being both home schooled and going to public school. When I consider this argue my first instinct is that the whole thought is written on the idea of whether the parents are qualified or not. Now I was taught by my mom and I did very well in school. Though she was good in some subjects she didn’t know everything about every subject. However, I was still given the best chance to learn because if my mom didn’t understand something she would find someone who could teach me or she would buy a book and learn herself before trying to teach me. I think that being home schooled in that setting gave me a real advantage. I got B’s and C’s when I was home schooled and immediately became an A student as soon as I joined the public school system.So as someone who has seen both sides of the spectrum I think that it really comes down to the parents and how much effort they put in. If they don’t know how to teach something than they need to find an alternative plan!

  8. Tyson2424 says:

    Certification does not mean that the person is a good teacher. Just because you are able to attain a degree does, not make you a good teacher. There is more to teaching than just knowing the material. You have to be able to effectivley communicate that knowledge to others. The most apt math teacher in my high school was the one with the lesser degree. He taught A.P. Calculus for years, but when the school district hired a teacher with a Masters in mathmatics she was given the higher lvls of math. Even though she had the degree she was one the worst teachers I have ever had. She could do any problem that you put in front of her, but when it came time to teach the class how to do the very same thing she would just ramble on until even she was confused.
    It seems homeschooling also can produce students with insufficient social skills, similar to the song Gameboy we listened too. They are never forced to interact socially and learn rules of society that when they are finnally pushed into the real world they often are socially akward.
    If the court did decide to remove the option of homeschooling, unless the parents had the degree, what alternative would be left. Parents that disagreed with the liberal biast of the educational system would be forced to place their children in institutions that they disagree with on a matter of principle. Some of them could attend private school, but not everyone has the necassary money to pay for costly tuition. It seems that the situation is a Scylla and Charybdis, because the parents leave gaps in the childrens education and the public educational system is extremely biased.

  9. alexgoreham says:

    When it comes to homeschooling, i believe that one of the most important jobs the father and mother have is to allow their child to interact with activities outside the home. Sports is a great way of doing that. If they do not like sport, they can join other groups. For example, an art group or a group at church, or Boy/Girl Scouts. The list can go on and on. But its vital that Children know how to interact with the outside world. There is going to come a time where they must leave and go into the world, and it they have never experienced it, its going to be very hard to get used to it.–Alex–

  10. ashleewilson says:

    I was homeschooled, and was fortunate enough to have received a very well-rounded education.  My mom studied elementary education in college and therefore understood the responsibilities that come along with teaching.  I also have many friends, homeschooled by uncertified parents, who have been well-educated as well.  Therefore, I don’t think it is the certification that makes a good teacher.  At the same time, I have friends who went through public or private education their whole lives, and received teaching from certified teachers, but who have not received a good education. 
    I don’t necessarily think that one or both of the parents has to be certifed in order to educate their children.  However, I do believe that educational accountability has to be much more present among homeschoolers.  All too often, parents decide to homeschool their children in order to “bring them up right,” or to increase family time, but they fail to take their children’s education seriously.  While homeschooling provides great opportunities to instill morals and values into your children, the schooling aspect in this must not get lost. 
    I think more important then certification, is accountability in education.  Without accountability, even certified teachers can get away with educating poorly. 

  11. To have a certified teacher is no safe-guard.  However, the point is made that teaching is MORE than certification and not less.  Parents have an advantage in that they know the child they are schooling better than any other person.  Also parents are responsible for the education of their children.  Is it not true that a pedagogically trained mother would do better than the same mother untrained?  That would be a comparison that would speak more to my point.  Does the mother or father then not have a responsibility to be trained?  It is in this way that homeschooling would be improved.  I want to make it clear that I am not advocating its being made illegal.

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