My Voice: Less bylaws key in home-school success
Source: Argus Leader
By: Scott A. Woodruff
May 14, 2012
The Argus Leader article titled “Few Rules on Homeschools” from its May 6 issue advocates for more regulation of South Dakota homeschools and avoids the elephant in the room: Would more rules help kids?
Home-schooling now is a well-studied phenomenon. One of the most important conclusions from the studies is that home-schooled children living in states with light regulation are just as strong academically as children in states with heavy regulation.
But heavier regulation means officials must spend more time administering the additional rules, and that means more expense to the taxpayer.
If the state actually has a little more money to spend on education, it would be better spent improving public schools. Pouring money into administrative expenses for new regulations that help no one looks like a poster child for foolish government spending. Widening our focus a bit, is home-schooling something that policymakers need to worry about? Let’s look at some facts based on previous studies on this subject:
■ In Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner’s landmark 1999 study, the average home-schooled eighth-grader scores the same on standardized tests as a public school 12th-grader — and kids home-schooled for all grades score better than kids home-schooled for a few grades
■ Dr. Rudner’s study showed that 40 percent of students nationwide watch at least four hours of TV daily versus only 3 percent of home-school students.
■ It’s well recognized that parental education has a strong influence on their children’s academic performance. For example, if neither parent has a college degree, their children score at the 55th percentile nationwide. But home-schooled children of parents of the same educational attainment score much higher — at the 69th percentile, acording to Rudner’s findings.
■ 28 Percent of young adults nationwide report that they are “very happy.” Twice that many — 58 percent of homeschooled graduates — say they are very happy.
■ 29 Percent of young adults nationwide — but 95 percent of homeschool graduates — voted in the past five years.
In contrast with home-schooling, public schools operate under mountains of regulations. (I expect many teachers and administrators would like to be free of them!) Do those regulations help kids?
Take a quick look at some headlines and excerpts:
“Most Schools Failed Federal Standards,” (Leesburg Today, Aug. 11, 2011).
“Education Schools Flunking Math,” (CBS News, June 26, 2008).
“Why Johnny Can’t Read: Schools Favor Girls,” (FoxNews.com, July 19, 2006).
“6 in 10 students were suspended or expelled at least once from seventh grade on,” (The Washington Post, Aug. 21, 2011, citing a Texas study).
“Schools Fail to Educate at least 30 percent of our Students,” (PsychCentral).
“Investigation into Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Finds Unethical Behavior Across Every Level,” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 6, 2011).
“Last month, South Dakota announced it would not evaluate its schools under the tougher 2011 federal standards,” (Statesman.com, Aug. 4, 2011).
It’s no coincidence that advocates for public charter schools believe the factor that will guide charter schools to better achievement is being relieved of some of the regulations to which public schools are subjected to.
Regulations aren’t the solution. They might be part of the problem. The current South Dakota home-school law is satisfactory. It goes against common sense and logic to think that increasing the level of home-school regulation would help home-school kids.
Homeschooling is an independent, largely autonomous and parallel form of education. It can’t be regulated like an institution, because it’s not.It’s a family. And it works.