Homeschooling and Public School Partnership Programs

Homeschooling and Public School Partnership Programs Homeschooling and Public School Partnership Programs by Kenneth Knott   For many homeschoolers, August represents a time of final planning for the upcoming academic year.  In doing so, wise parents naturally ask themselves if they are employing the most effective methods of instruction possible.  While some parents are content with implementing only minor adjustments to their routines, other parents are desperate for solutions for the various challenges they perceive.  It is not surprising, then, to witness a growing number of homeschoolers joining the various “partnership” programs offered by the public school system. There are a number of reasons why public school partnerships generally represent less-than-ideal approaches for most homeschoolers.   Before we discuss some of these reasons, it may be useful to review the historical context in which these partnerships have emerged.  While doing so, I’ll occasionally share certain firsthand experiences to help illustrate the shortcomings of these approaches. From Grassroots to Mainstream to Partnerships Homeschooling as commonly expressed today began as a grassroots movement in the mid-‘70s to early-‘80s.  Back then, the pioneers that initiated the movement didn’t call what they were doing “homeschooling.”  They simply schooled their children at home, intuitively knowing they were providing a better way for their children than the one offered through the public school system or through private education. As homeschooling gained initial momentum, a number of public school systems challenged its legality.  Many school districts did not recognize nor respect the God-given right for parents to be directly involved with their children’s education.  The arrogance of certain districts was so extreme that lawsuits were sometimes filed against parents for allegedly refusing to abide by certain compulsory attendance laws.  As providence would have it, virtually none of those lawsuits were successful.  By the mid-‘90s, essentially every state in the union formally recognized homeschooling as a viable and legal option.  Thankfully, Michigan emerged as one of the more “homeschool friendly” states. By the end of the millennium, homeschooling became essentially mainstream and, for the last couple of decades, has enjoyed certain reputable notoriety.  However, many educational professionals remained uneasy, most notably those in charge of budgets who resented the fact that thousands of dollars were no longer being received for every homeschooler who was no longer enrolled in the system.  Also at play was a general “the experts know best” attitude on behalf of many professionals; they were just sure homeschoolers were somehow neglecting their children.  Conversely, certain homeschoolers expressed their own resentments, sour...

Classical Education: Is it a Good Idea?

Classical Education: Is it a Good Idea? This is a guest post by David & Shirley Quine (founders of Cornerstone Curriculum) on Classical Education: The Three Pillars of Classical Education Some time ago Shirley and I were in a conversation regarding Classical Education with a small group of Christian educators. We were told that this was the growing trend among Christian home school educators and that we should consider embracing it as well. Although we mostly listened, we asked a few questions in the discussion — especially, regarding the notion of Truth. We were shocked to be introduced to the three pillars of “truth” being embraced by Classical educators: Christianity – the Spiritual Pillar Greece – the Philosophical Pillar Rome – the Governmental Pillar We were told that the union of Greek and Roman thought with Christian truth is the basis of Classical Education and that it actually yields a much broader and more comprehensive understanding of truth. However, this wasn’t the Protestant Reformation idea of Truth Shirley and I had been taught by Dr. Francis Schaeffer in his writings and lectures. Rather, this was exactly the opposite. Dr Schaeffer wrote extensively that Protestant Christianity provides good and sufficient answers in all three spheres: Spiritual, Philosophical, and Governmental. He warned us of the dangers of mixing Greek and Roman ideas with Christian Truth. A person must ask “where does this mixing lead?” I continue seeking greater understanding of the goals and objectives of Classical Education. Just recently I found a graphic from a Catholic web site showing the three pillars of Classical Education which we were encouraged to embrace years before. I was shocked to see the close connection between Classical Education and Catholic teaching. Protestant Reformation teaching does not mix Greco-Roman thinking with Christian Truth. Paul, writing to Christians living in the city of Colossae which would have been under the influence of Greek and Roman thinking, states: Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:6-8 PS. Teaching involves both curriculum (content) and instruction (the delivery). My greatest concern is not over the Trivium per se (although I do not...

Common Core Standards — Building the Machine

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve been hearing the debate regarding “Common Core” standards being implemented in government schools. What is it, and should you support or oppose it? Here is a synopsis from www.CommonCoreTheMovie.com: The Common Core is the largest systemic reform of American public education in recent history. What started as a collaboration between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to reevaluate and nationalize America’s education standards has become one of the most controversial—and yet, unheard of—issues in the American public. In 2010, 45 states adopted the Common Core, but according to a May 2013 Gallup Poll, 62% of Americans said they had never heard of the Common Core. Prominent groups and public figures have broken traditional party lines over the issue, leaving many wondering where they should stand. From this website www.hslda.org/commoncore: The Common Core State Standards (“Common Core”) are two sets of K–12 academic standards that outline what students are expected to learn in English language arts and mathematics each year from kindergarten through high school. The goal of this academic checklist is not the acquisition of child-oriented skills such as literacy, proficiency, or increased graduation rates, nor does it embrace the more lofty goal of pursuing truth, knowledge, and wisdom. Rather the Common Core seeks to achieve the utilitarian purpose of making students “college- and career- ready.”1 “College and career readiness” has never been defined by the authors of the standards, notes Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a member of the Common Core Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the standards.2 The motivating force behind the Common Core is not the standards themselves, but the belief that a nationalized, uniform system is the best method of education. The Common Core was written by the National Governors Association (NGA)—an organization of governors, their head staff members, and policy makers—and the Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO). The Common Core should be understood as the culmination of a movement that has simmered in America for the past decade to adopt consistent national academic standards and assessments and build bigger student databases. Today, 45 states are committed to the Common Core: two sets of mediocre academic standards intended to stretch across the nation; two standardized assessments funded and reviewed by the federal government; and detailed data systems that will trace students from preschool to the workforce. As a parent, grandparent, or concerned citizen, you need to be informed on this...

The Death of Truth (Understanding Postmodernism)

If you have been hearing about these terms, “Modern” and “Postmodern” but aren’t certain where to begin, The Death of Truth, (Dennis McCallum, General Editor),  is a great place to start. The topics are dealt with in a scholarly manner, but are explained in an easy enough manner for the common person to understand. One of the most helpful aspects of the book are the wonderful charts, that give a great visual aid to the comparison of these worldviews. This book contrasts the worldviews of Modernism against Postmodernism as they apply to: Health Care, Literature, Education, History, Psychotherapy, Law, Science, and Religion. If there is a downside to the book, it may be that some of the authors tend to defend Modernism a bit too much in their zeal to show the imbalance of its rebellious progeny: Postmodernism. This shows up the most in the chapters on education and health. In health, the author seems so opposed to any form on alternative medicine that I think he goes a bit far and throws the baby out with the bath water. Not all alternative medical approaches are “new age” or bogus superstition. In education, there is more credence given to the modern approach to education that is warranted. Modernist education wasn’t Biblical either. On a good note though, they do have a great explanation of the views of Multiculturalism and the real relatvisitic motives behind the facade. With those disclaimers aside, I really think this book is a very useful tool for anyone who wants to understand the culture in which we live. Ideas have origins and destinations. This book does a good job of filling in the gaps between the two. http://www.xenos.org/ministries/crossroads/dot.htm  Bethany House Copyright 1996 ISBN #1-5561-724-0 288 pages. On a scale of 1-5, I’d give this a 4...

God and Math?

God and Math? Math? How can math be presented biblically? What does God have to do with math? Most of us view math as a neutral subject. Neutral means indifferent or “not engaged on either side; not aligned with a political or ideological grouping.”[1] We regard math as a subject “not engaged” and “not aligned” with either biblical or worldly thinking. Believing that math is independent from God, we approach math as a “safe” subject—a subject we can all see the same way, regardless of our religious beliefs. After all, the equation one plus one equals two (“1 + 1 = 2”) works the same way for a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or atheist. Math is a subject of numbers and facts, and most of us think facts are neutral. But is math really indifferent and neutral? Is such a thing even possible? The Bible warns us that we are in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). It urges us to guard our heart and to test the spirit behind what we are taught (1 John 4:1; Proverbs 4:23). The Bible does not mention any neutral ground. According to the Bible, nothing can really be neutral. Everything will be presented in either a biblical or a worldly fashion. So how can math be presented biblically? What does God have to do with math? Join me now in looking at an equation we are all familiar with: “1 + 1 = 2.” We will examine where this equation came from and why it works. As we examine this equation’s origins and ability to work, we will discover some startling truths applicable to every area of math. Mathematicians throughout history have developed various theories to explain the origin and consistency of addition. Some have speculated that addition exists by sheer chance. Others have claimed man created addition and addition works because man designed it to work. Most modern textbooks do not even attempt to offer an explanation for addition’s existence. Throughout my schooling, not one of my textbooks ever explained where addition originated or why it works. I eventually came to the conclusion that addition, along with all other math facts, is an eternal, self-existent truth. The Bible gives us a radically different explanation for addition. While the Bible does not specifically say, “This is where addition came from and why it works,” the Bible offers us principles that apply to addition, as well as to every other aspect of math. Look at what just two...

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