Monday, September 16, 2013

Compulsory Education

Most of my contact with the public school system has been in behalf of the foster children who have come through my home.  We currently have a little boy, T, who is nearly 6 years old.

This little boy attended Transitional Kindergarten last year.  He lasted 8 days before his parents removed him from the program with the school's blessing.  One of the reasons the parents pulled him out of transitional kindergarten is because the school was putting pressure on them to medicate their active/impulsive son.  They decided to homeschool for kindergarten this year.  Some unfortunately circumstances brought him into foster care but we expect T to return to his family in a short time.

When I registered T for school, my school district wanted to put him in 1st grade because of his age. Originally, our district had a cut off date of December 1st for kindergarten.  This meant that some children started Kindergarten as young as 4 years 8.5 months old.  This doesn't work very well for many children, especially boys.

As a result, the state has finally begun adjusting the cut off date to September 1.  This year the cut of is November 1.  Next year will be October 1 and the year after that will finally be September 1.  Many parents opted to hold them back and start Kindergarten a year later.

T's home school district has already made the transition to the earlier cut of date.  Even though we explained the situation, my school district put T into 1st grade.  I notified the district that the parents (who still have educational rights over their child) say that he is in Kindergarten (which I agree).  They school legally had to accommodate the parents' request but they were not happy about it.  I can't tell you how many times I've explained why this kid is not in 1st grade and why it would be a bad idea to put an immature nearly 5 year old in a class where he will be the youngest child.

I got a call today to let me know that the school will put T into Kindergarten.  That's when I let them know the other issue.  The parents have requested that T attend part day (instead of full day kindergarten).  The educational code states that Kindergarten is only required to be 4 hours long.  More and more schools are going to the full day Kindergarten but parents theoretically still have the option to opt out. 

I'm waiting for the call back from the school district on what they will do about the request.  More and more I'm feeling like the compulsory education laws are holding children hostage. I find myself getting a little annoyed at this tone of "The School Knows best" and "the school can fix all problems."  

I know that the school and district staff mean well, but they really don't know this child and they are not in a place to judge what is in his best interests.

The sad part is that I could easily homeschool this boy with our son, Baby Bop.  That is what the parents want.  It is what I want.  But, social workers get very nervous when you mention homeschooling, so I don't expect to get approval.  Also, if the parents push the issue in court, the social services could make their life very difficult.

I concede that compulsory education does benefit some children, but I wonder how many it harms.

I met with the principal of the school.  They are allowing me to removing T early on Thursday and Friday so that T can attend homeschool activities.  While it is not the 1/2 day the parents requested (state law only requires 4 hours of K instruction), but it is more than I expected.

1 comment:

Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

Please, it's "compulsory attendance at school", not "compulsory education". I know that's fussy, but we (homeschoolers and other parent-power advocates) should always underline the point.

How many children are harmed by compulsory school attendance policies? In the long run, all of them (as T=>infinity, n=>100%). Two large costs of school that appear on no balance sheet are the opportunity cost to children of the time that they spend in school and the opportunity cost to society of the lost innovation in curricula, techniques of matching students to curricula, and individualization of methods of educational service delivery. It's as though we have jet travel, computers, laser eye surgery, and cook all our food over backyard wood-fueled campfires. The education industry is in the paleolithic era because of the State-monopoly school system.