The Home School Court Report
VOLUME X, NUMBER 3
- disclaimer -
MAY / JUNE 1994
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Cover Stories
HSLDA Opposes Breyer Nomination

Home Schoolers Score Another Victory: Update on H.R. 6/S. 1513

Features

Tennessee Bachelor's Degree Requirement Dropped

Colorado Passes Home School Bill

Congressional Action Program

Across the States

National Center Reports

Across the Provinces

President’s Page

National Center Reports

Welcome Thomas Jacobson!

The National Center for Home Education is pleased to announce the appointment of its new Executive Director, Thomas Wayne Jacobson, effective June 6, 1994. As a writer, Mr. Jacobson avidly defends the U.S. Constitution, and he has extensive experience in administrative and governmental responsibilities.

He received a B.A. degree in Psychology from George Fox College, an M.A. degree in Public Policy form Regent University, and he studied under Dr. Francis Schaeffer at the L'Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. Mr. Jacobson has traveled throughout Canada, Europe and Central America, and lived in Brazil for four years.

His most recent accomplishment is the authorship of a book manuscript, entitled Will America Remain Free?, which he hopes to have published. Thomas and his wife Lisa are looking forward to teaching their son Gabriel (7 months) at home.

Inge Cannon will continue to serve state home education leaders as the National Center's Director of Public Relations, assisted by Angel Fessler. Doug Phillips will continue his work with the Congressional Action Program as Director of Government Affairs, assisted by Timothy Teepell.

Major Test Publisher Invites Home Schoolers to "Bias Review" Panel

The Psychological Corporation, publisher of the nationally-normed Stanford Achievement Tests and the Metropolitan Achievement Tests (MAT), has invited Inge Cannon to participate in one of its bias review panels on behalf of Home School Legal Defense Association and the National Center for Home Education. This 16-member panel will focus its attention on items to be used in the ninth edition of the Stanford Achievement Test battery, scheduled for release in 1995.

HSLDA established a testing service for our members in 1991. The two years that we operated this service provided the opportunity for first-hand observation of the problems created by inadvertent test bias. Questions for young children about conventional classroom procedures (fire drills, recess, playground etiquette and typical time schedules) tended to assume that the traditional classroom experience is universal. We also received complaints from test administrators that children trained with a distinctly Christian worldview found it difficult to answer test items which reflected society's shifting values.

Our awareness of potential bias against home-educated children was reinforced three months ago. South Dakota law mandates that home schools and private schools use the "same test designated to be used in the public school district where the child is instructed." When State Superintendent Dr. John Bonaiuto and the school districts formally agreed to use the new seventh edition of the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT7) this year, home schoolers found themselves on a collision course with authorities.

The MAT7 was to be imposed in all the school districts as a pilot program for the 1993-1994 school year. Many South Dakota home schoolers became concerned that the "correct" answers to some of the MAT7 questions required affirmation of objectionable values and "political correctness." Eager to resolve any misunderstandings about MAT7's test content, The Psychological Corporation provided Inge Cannon with several test booklets at varying levels of the MAT7.

A thorough review of the tests with HSLDA attorneys Michael Farris and Christopher Klicka led to the conclusion that home educators had some legitimate concerns, particularly in the social studies assessments. Mrs. Cannon was able to share these concerns in great detail with key staff members at The Psychological Corporation, and we are delighted to report a deep sense of professionalism and careful concern for children of every walk of life.

It has been very interesting to learn about the many pressures a test publisher faces in producing a product that simultaneously answers all the demands of public school districts throughout the nation and strives to allow every child to "see himself" somewhere in the test. We look forward to working closely with The Psychological Testing on bias review for potential Stanford 9 items.

[SIDEBAR] Bias Control at The Psychological Corporation

The presence of any kind of bias in a standardized test is not only undesirable from a civil rights-educational point of view, but it could result in inaccurate scores. The use of dialectical or regional expressions or items that assume background information that is possessed by only some of the students can lead to unfair assessments of students' actual achievement.

Some forms of bias are so subtle that a test item or reading passage may be read by a dozen editors before finally being identified as containing bias against some minority group. In order to check all items for apparent bias and to identify subtle forms of bias, a panel of minority-group educators should review the test for items that inadvertently reflect ethnic, gender, socio-economic, cultural, or regional bias. The composition of the panel should reflect these concerns.

Diversity in the advisory panel is a fundamental concern. Panels at The Psychological Corporation are usually comprised of twelve to sixteen minority-group members representing Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, women's rights and rural communities. They also represent all areas of the country. In addition, each panel member is a prominent member of the educational community.

Excerpted from orientation bulletin, May 1994, The Psychological Corporation.

[CAPTION] On May 19, 1994, the National Center's Inge Cannon (back row, third from left) joins the bias review panel at the Psychological Corporation to evaluate new standardized tests.

American Spectator Cheers H.R. 6 Victory

The American Spectator treated its 450,000+ readership to a dose of "Home Rule" in its June 1994 issue. Authored by Grover G. Norquist, the "Politics" feature focused attention on a home-schooling community which is often "underestimated" in terms of its political sophistication. "But the most powerful union in the country recently tried to pull a fast one on them and got burned," reported Norquist.

Norquist offered a chronological account of the showdown as "home schoolers waged a grassroots campaign of phone calls, faxes, and personal visits to Congress" to combat the issue of teacher certification proposed in H.R. 6. The author quoted Roll Call's statistical claim that "more than 800,000 calls rained in on members [of Congress]—more than they received over gays in the military, the Clinton tax increase, and NAFTA combined."

Summarizing the conflict, Norquist concluded that "this was a battle that will be studied by conservative activists—in and out of Congress." He reported that "Armey gives credit to the home schoolers for being prepared. 'They knew the Clinton administration would make a move against home schoolers on behalf of the NEA. They didn't know when, but they were ready.' [Michael] Farris adds that home schooling is the central organizing principle of the lives of hundreds of thousands of parents. They were defending their homes and their children. 'They are exhibiting enormous personal responsibility in their families and they want enormous personal freedom.'"

Norquist went on to explain that "members of Congress who watched the precision drill of Dick Armey in the House and Mike Farris and the home schoolers on the outside attribute the home schoolers' success to several factors:

"(1) They picked the right champion. Armey was willing to fight it out. He refused to compromise, knowing that almost every member of Congress from the speaker on down had promised home schoolers in their districts that they would vote for his amendment and that compromises like the Ford amendment would not suffice.

"(2) They went for total victory, not simply protecting themselves from attack, but rolling back the other threats to home schoolers in the bill and also protecting private schools.

"(3) They did not fall for the Democrats' ploy of 'Get them to stop calling and then I'll vote for you' (as in 'Put down that gun, and we'll talk'). Their pressure was unrelenting.

"(4) Within ten days, Farris had sent out five faxes to his network, and his message went out repeatedly to all Christian radio stations, so that home schoolers knew, hour by hour, the exact state of play.

"(5) Home schoolers were sophisticated enough to know what procedural votes were important, and didn't allow Congress to fool voters with meaningless votes that are canceled out by procedural motion."