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Superintendent "Feel Good"

Bill Bennett first widely broadcast the disturbing disparity between public school student achievement and student self-esteem. American students rank number one in the world in self-esteem about their math skills, and dead last among industrialized nations in actual math performance.

A recent study published in the American School Board Journal demonstrates that public school students come by their invalid conceits honestly. The Journal published the results of a survey of public school administrators which asked them to compare the effectiveness of home education and public education. Guess what? Public school administrators had very high self-esteem for their schools and a very low opinion of home education.

HSLDA wouldn't waste a dime commissioning a survey of home schoolers asking them to compare of our form of education with public schools. What result would we expect? Home schoolers think they're better.

Next, let's survey Hertz employees and ask them if they think Hertz or Avis is a better car rental company. Come on.

The answers to the most of the questions posed by this survey can be objectively ascertained. For example, 34% of the public school administrators responded that home schoolers were required to take achievement tests in their state while 56% said that no testing was required. Why didn't the researchers, or more accurately, pollsters from Xavier University just look at the legal requirements of each state to answer that question?

By the way, testing (or an alternative form of review) is required by 60% of the states and not required by 40% of the states. All that the survey proves is that the school administrators are not actually familiar with the law in their states (or that the "researchers" didn't know how to pick a representative sample).

School administrators do not have a very high opinion of the academic success of home schools. Fifty-five percent of public school administrators believe that home schoolers do not meet the academic standards set by their state. Sixty-three percent say that "home schoolers don't make the grade"—whatever that is supposed to mean. And not a single administrator in the nation said that students benefit more from instruction at home than in the classroom. Only one percent of the public school administrators admitted that home schoolers do better on standardized achievement tests than public school students.

Dozens of studies (as distinguished from opinion polls) demonstrate that home school students score between 20 and 30 percentile points higher than their public school counterparts on standardized achievement tests.

Which is more reliable? A straight comparison of actual test results? Or, a one-sided poll of the opinions of public school leaders?

It is fair to conclude that 99% of the leaders of the self-esteem for public schools cult are objectively wrong when it comes to their perception of comparative testing results between home schoolers and public schoolers.

This so-called research could be laughable, except for the fact that in every state of the country, this highly partisan, misinformed group of administrators have been given certain amounts of authority to enforce the laws that govern home schoolers. This is the same as giving Hertz managers the ability to oversee Avis operations. It is obvious from reading this survey that public school officials are engaging in the practice psychologists describe as denial. People who have their egos on the line should not be given the power to enforce the laws against those who tend to diminish their self-esteem.

Home schoolers need to realize that we have a long way to go in our battle to be free from unwarranted legal harassment. In addition to the legal battles we wage here, one of our best defenses is solid research that objectively shows our success.

I would encourage you all to support, financially and otherwise, the National Home Education Research Institute headed by Dr. Brian Ray. It is an independent organization that does initial research and reviews and reports on the research of others on home education.

If you would like to support NHERI, its address is: P.O. Box 13939, Salem, Oregon 97309.

You can be sure that you will never see NHERI conduct an opinion poll of home school partisans and call it research.

Mike Farris