Friday, July 28, 2006

Rants, Raves and Oh well

I know I shouldn't have done it, but I sent a follow up email to the person who recently left anti-homeschool comments on our blog. It's the psychologist in me that wants to know why people do what they do and believe what they believe. After my series of posts on Anti-homeschooling Views (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4), I was hoping to see inside the mind of someone whose attitudes are so different than mine.

This is what I sent:


I'm conducting an informal survey on attitudes about homeschooling. Would you be willing to share a few of your reasons for not liking homeschooling?

Give as many or as few as you like, but be specific please.

For example you could share an experience such as "My next door neighbor homeschools and their kids harrass my dog" or something more philosophical like "I believe that children at home are more at risk for abuse."

Any input you have would be appreciated.

Thank you.

Janine Cate

This is the response I received:

It is near illegal in the state of Florida.

It is stupid. And go to the florida dept of education to check on our standards.

I was hoping for a reason, not just a reiteration of the same opinion.
So, I sent a follow up email:

Thank you for your response.

I'm having a little trouble following what you mean.

>It is near illegal in the state of Florida.

Are you trying to say that you dislike homeschooling because you think it is illegal in your state?

> It is stupid. And go to the florida dept of education to check on our standards.

Are you trying to say that you dislike like homeschooling because you think it doesn't meet the educational standards set by the state?

I'm not trying to offend you, nor am I trying to change your mind. I'm just trying to understand where you are coming from. Do you have any first hand experience with homeschooling (A friend, relative, neighbor, acquaintance)?
Or are your feeling based on something else (a news article, data from a study, something a professor said in class, the opinion of someone you admire)?

Again, thank you for your response.

May I share your feedback with other people interested in homeschooling? I can keep your name and email address unlisted if you prefer.

Janine Cate

This was the response:

Most who homeschool in this state do not pass the Florida Comp Assessment Test


I still don't know why she dislikes homeschooling.

I'm trying to track down the FCAT results. It's like wandering through a maze.

This is what I've found so far for public school children:

In science, 33% of 8th grade students performed at grade level or above.
In reading, 46% of 8th grade students performed at grade level or above.
In mathmatics, 60% of 8th grade students performed at grade level or above.

For seniors, 14% passed the reading portion of the test, and 29% passed the math portion.

I haven't found the scores posted for homeschool students. I'm not that convinced that test results mean a whole lot, but don't think it would be very hard to beat a 14% and 29% pass rate.

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derek said...

I'm not surprised either. I went to this woman's blog a few weeks ago to see what she was about. I even posted a comment encouraging her to look at your response to her. You had cited a bunch of statistical data to back up your claims about homeschooling. I asked her what she thought of that data. Her response was basically: "How do you know you can trust that data or that it's accurate?" That's the typical response of people when they're faced with facts that contradict their theories or beliefs.
At least you tried to be civil and professional. You can't help it if she won't respond in kind.

homegirls said...

I just moved to Missouri from Florida. Having only lived there for a year, I'm not an expert on Florida Department of Education by any means. But my children attended the public schools in Indian River County last year. While I wasn't as displeased with the public schools in that county as I am with the ones I'm withdrawing my students from in Missouri (to homeschool), The overall attitude I discovered within the Florida schools was "THEY HAVE TO PASS THE TEST" All the lessons, daily interaction, EVERYTHING had an underlying agenda to make sure the kids passed the FCAT! Starting from the 1st grade... (they don't even test until the 3rd grade.)

I worked for the Indian River County School board at the Administration office, and I noticed this attitude was prevalent at that level as well.

It didn't seem to matter that my child (who was in 2nd grade at the time) was more artistic in nature, and more of a visual learner. Her natural learning styles were looked at as negative and she struggled with the "pass the test" system because she didn't fit into that mold.

SO, even though the system "worked" for the school district as they mostly consisted of "A" ranked schools, I didn't see the system working individually for my children.

Anyway, I don't know if that really related to your post and the crazy lady who can't even address your questions... but... it's a little insight to our experience in Florida!

Thanks for your website... I read it often as a valuable resource.

derek said...

That's an interesting point. I have 6 relatives that are either public school teachers or administrators in Texas. They all tell me how stressful it is getting the kids ready for the TAKS test every year. My mother-in-law, a U.S. and Texas history teacher, has often expressed frustration that she never has time to teach the kids interesting and important stuff that is not on the TAKS test because she has to spend all year getting them ready for it. She feels they're missing out on a lot of great info. There's just not enough time in the year.
Surprisingly, a lot of these relatives are supportive of our decision to homeschool. They don't necessarily think its a "better" option, but they think its a fine alternative to public school.

Janine Cate said...

Teaching to the test does limit other types of learning. It can easily kill a love for learning, aw well.

I really don't know how you reform such an unweilding system. Testing at least makes the school accountable for something.

I have one child who tests really well. I have another child who thus far hasn't. The one who doesn't test well is likely the "smarter" of the two (though they both bright).

If I was basing our homeschooling on test results, it would not be useful.

Janine Cate said...

Ahh...don't you just hate typo's in comments.

not "aw well" but "as well"

not "though they both bright" but "though they are both bright"

lara said...

I do live in Florida and find her opinions quite laughable. Florida does not require FCAT testing for homeschoolers nor has there been any push to that end. Taking the FCAT is an option for fulfilling state homeschool requirements. However, most parents I know opt for private testing or portfolio review instead.

The FCAT is really not that hard. I had my first grader do the 2nd grade FCAT practice workbook out of idle curiosity. The only question he missed was the one that asked him to use the "guess and check method" to solve a math problem.

"What on earth is the guess and check method, Mom?"

My answer, "I have no idea."

Maybe that's what she thinks we're missing by homeschooling in Florida.

Janine Cate said...

Thanks Laura and Betsy for the insider's view of Florida and testing.