News Nov. 29 – Dec. 5: No Child Left Behind Update Coming and ESSA’s Impact on Homeschoolers

No Child Left Behind Update Gets Closer

The biggest news of the week is that the House of Representatives passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, in a 359-64 vote. ESSA is being called a bipartisan, “undeniable improvement” on the disastrous 2001 No Child Left Behind law. The Senate should be voting on the bill this upcoming week.

Though the ESSA promises an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, it shouldn’t affect homeschoolers too closely, based on this statement from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The original section 9506 of NCLB that exempts homeschoolers, is, according to HSLDA, retained in the ESSA:

(b) APPLICABILITY TO HOME SCHOOLS.-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect a home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, nor shall any student schooled at home be required to participate in any assessment referenced in this Act.

Both Sides

Critics of the law claim the ESSA
* increases federal education spending 2% per year,
* does not adequately protect student data collected by the Department of Education,
* erodes parental ability to opt their kids out of testing, and
* massively expands unnecessary early childhood education.
Proponents say the law
* raises standards, readying students for college or careers,
* demands accountability for poorly performing schools,
* supports charter and magnet schools,
* levels the funding playing field between poor and rich school districts.

My Take

Homeschoolers will engage with the ESSA and their local school districts with regard to how the ESSA changes funding. Many districts are already trying to attract homeschoolers to increase the federal funds they get. When (presumably) the ESSA passes, some districts will be seeing fewer federal funds than they’re used to. These districts may make a renewed effort to attract homeschoolers to their online and other programs. Homeschoolers will need to recognize that marketing for what it is.

The bigger problem is that the push for even more Early Childhood Education is culturally unhealthy. Federal regulations that take more kids out of their home for more hours per day may help some families in particular, but we should be making every effort to keep small children with their families as much as possible.

This bill is a huge step away from the nurture of the home. So, culturally-speaking, we homeschoolers may be seen as even more unusual, ten years from now, when our three-year-olds aren’t attending some sort of “educational programming” outside of the home. But so be it. You know the work you’re doing is the most important, homeschooling mama.

Kansas Homeschooled Child Dies

I hate to post such awful news here, but cases like this will affect how the culture views even the best homeschoolers, and can always impact regulation nationwide.

In Kansas, 7-year-old Adrian Jones was presumed dead when human remains were found at his father and step-mother’s home. Police only incidentally discovered Adrian was missing when they responded to a domestic dispute at the home of Michael and Heather Jones, where the couple lived with their 7 children. DNA tests are pending, and Michael Jones is being held on a $10 million bond. More on the case here.

The discussion about homeschooling and oversight always brings up cases like this. Some, like the Coalition for Responsible Home Education want more oversight, and mandatory yearly meetings with mandatory reporters. I don’t think that’s a bad idea, but I can understand why many homeschoolers — especially those who fought for years to get homeschooling legalized — are leery of any kind of government intervention.

From all the reports I read, it sounds like abuse was rampant in the home, but we’ll let the justice system prove what happened. Regardless, I’ll be adding Adrian and his family to my prayers and I hope you will too.

Miscellany:

Dr. Steve Turley makes the case that secular universities are destroying themselves

< As to the self-absorbed cult of offense, I think we have to understand that the equivocation between personal offense and blasphemy is itself a symptom of the loss of what Augustine called the ordo amoris, or the ordering of loves. Central to classical Christian education was the ordering of our loves in accordance with the economy of goods that God has created. In such a world, there are legitimate and illegitimate offenses. It is right to be offended by evil, and it is wrong to be offended by good. Such orientations were once the mark of an educated person. We however, are living in a time when the transcendent basis for ordering our loves has been erased by a conception of knowledge defined by secular norms, which expels a moral world from the realm of what can be known. As long as universities continue with this charade that a divinely authored economy of goods no longer exists, they are going to be contending with an increasingly offended student and faculty body.

Meanwhile, mothering in real life…

I’m looking forward to this series over at Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife.
Some moms just can’t handle criticism.
Lastly, those of us who are tired can chant this Tired Mother’s Holiday Creed all season long.

Leave a Reply