Change in whose interest?

Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2002

As a home-schooling parent in a state correspondence program, I am very concerned about the changes proposed by the Department of Education and Early Development. The new regulations will add hours of burdensome busywork to parents' and teachers' schedules. They will also limit our choice of curriculum. I wonder, what are the reasons for these proposed changes?

One concern is these proposed changes were written with the assumption that home-schooled children are at risk for educational failure or neglect. There may be a few cases of this as there are in all types of programs. What needs to be realized is that parents in home-school programs are very closely monitored through written learning plans for each child, submission of progress reports and participation in standardized testing. The results of the standardized tests are posted on the Web site and are on par with other schools in Alaska. Is the increased monitoring suggested by these proposed regulations necessary? I don't think that it is.

Another possibility is that the changes have been written in ignorance about how these programs function and what is involved in home-schooling our children. These programs have provided parents with wonderful options for educating their children. They have allowed us to use creative approaches that would not otherwise be available to us here in Juneau and in other communities around Alaska. They also allow us to have our children at home and to be directly involved in their day to day lives. They have provided high quality and inspiring workshops for both students and parents to help us succeed. Teacher support services are available all day, every day.

It has been proven that parental involvement is directly correlated with success in school. It has also been shown that home-schoolers can excel. Look at recent winners of the National Spelling and Geography Bees. Home-schoolers have been strongly represented here. These proposed changes by the DEED will give both the programs and the parents tons of burdensome paperwork and reporting details that will take away time that could be spent directly involved in educating their children.

The question in my mind is, "Who is going to pay for these changes?" If approved, it will be expensive to hire staff to fulfill all of these requirements. I am certain that there are not extra funds available for this. The money will most certainly come from our children's educational allotment. So ultimately, our children will pay for these changes. They will have less educational time as well as funds.

If children are the primary concern, then are these changes really in their best interests?

Mary Neary


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