Pentagon Answers Congressman Hefley with “Status Quo” Re: Home Schoolers and Military Recruitment
In response to a letter generated by Congressman Joel Hefley’s office [R-CO] and co-signed by Senator Jesse Helms [R-NC] and Congressmen William Dannemeyer [R-CA], James Sensenbrenner [R-WI], and William Dickinson [R-AL], Lieutenant General Robert M. Alexander, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Manpower and Personnel Policy, indicated that a two-year study allowing home schoolers to be placed into Tier I for military recruitment would not be considered.
What this means is that home schoolers who want to enlist in the armed forces will continue to compete for the limited spaces available to Tier II candidates (people who have earned what the military calls “equivalency diplomas” either through taking the GED or receiving a correspondence school diploma). Home schoolers have been arbitrarily associated with correspondence school graduates in a Pentagon policy memo dating back to April 1989.
The real problem across America is that most recruiters don't understand the Pentagon's three-tier system. They simply tell home schoolers that “enlistment is not open to them without a bona fide high school diploma—period.” Currently, it seems the only way for home school graduates to be enlisted is for them to complete successfully a minimum of 15 credit hours of college work.
If you know of any young people who have been refused military enlistment simply because their educational credential was a home-schooling diploma, please share their names, addresses, and telephone numbers with us. Michael Farris would like to identify appropriate candidates for a potential lawsuit to bring about appropriate policy change regarding this discrimination on the part of our government. If parental choice in education is going to be at all effective, then graduates of viable alternative programs in education cannot be excluded from military service.
Salvation Army Defends Anti-Home School Policy as an “Internal Matter”
After a lengthy telephone conversation discussing the proposed Salvation Army policy to prohibit its officers from home schooling their children, HSLDA attorney J. Michael Smith received a letter indicating that in the Salvation Army “both the man and his wife are graduates” of the ministerial training program and “are ordained ministers in their own right.” These two individuals have “dedicated their lives and made vows that involve a fulltime commitment to the organization.”
Since it is “extremely difficult to fulfill a fulltime commitment…as well as to maintain the requirements of a home-schooling program,” one or the other will have to yield. The Salvation Army chooses to have the family's educational options yield to their work obligations. Both in conversation and in the letter, Salvation Army leadership insisted that the matter was one of internal policy and that officers understand their commitments as they make them. When challenged with the concept that building successful families is prerequisite to effective ministry, the Army leader cited statistics indicating that sixty percent of the children in officer families actually go into Salvation Army ministry themselves—a statistic, he pointed out, that is significantly higher than the record of any other denomination.
To date we are aware of six home-schooling Salvation Army officer families who have responded to the new policy announcement with clear indication that if the policy is implemented they will immediately resign their commissions. A seventh family insists that as parents they will keep their officer commissions and continue to home school. This family has pointed out to the leadership that the home-schooling officer families have very successful ministries as family units; thus, the complaint of “conflict of interests” is unjustifiable.
Ironically enough, history may have the last word in this situation since General William Booth and his wife, the founders of the Salvation Army, home schooled their children and saw those children home school the Booth grandchildren. Much prayer is needed on behalf of home-schooling Salvation Army officer families—that they will respond wisely to their leaders and stand firm on their convictions.
Congressman Duncan Gives Official Commendation to Home Schoolers
John J. Duncan [R-TN], Member of the U.S. House of Representatives entered the following statement into the Congressional Record of September 11, 1991:
Mr. Speaker, today several million people are educating their children in Catholic, Christian, private, or home schools. I am a product of the public schools, and we have many wonderful and talented public educators all around this Nation. My own children all attend public schools.
However, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment today to commend those who educate their children at no cost to the American taxpayer. These men and women save this Nation many millions of dollars each year, often at great sacrifice to themselves, and test scores and other indicators show that these Catholic and Christian and private schools are doing a very good job, usually at costs of one-third or one-half of the public schools.
There is also a fast-growing movement toward home schools. The love and dedication of parents who teach their children at home is truly amazing and, once again, overall they seem to be doing a great job.
Probably 99.9 percent of parents love their children deeply and want what is best for them, including those like me who send their children to the public schools. However, as the school year starts, I wanted to at least say a public “thank you” to all those who not only pay their own taxes but then go above and beyond the call of duty to educate their children in Catholic, Christian, or private schools, or at home.
OERI Bulletin Skews Identity of Home Schoolers with PAT Report
In the Fall 1991 issue of the OERI Bulletin, generated by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement, an article entitled “Parents as Teachers” contained a frightening twist on the concept of home education. The article summarized work being done by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Danforth Foundation in implementing the “Parents as Teacher” program launched in the state in 1981.
Then came this paragraph: “Home educators 'teach' by example. When one home educator lifted a two-year-old onto her lap to read to him, the child looked from her face to his mother and said, 'She loves me!' That sent his mother the message that reading to a child is important.”
The “home educator” in that paragraph is a visiting parent trainer who participates in the Missouri program of showing people how to parent their children. The article further describes the program: “Providing parent education and family support, beginning with a child's birth, became a mandatory service for all Missouri school districts in 1984. All parents of young children—not just first-time parents—are eligible to receive the service. Evaluation data from the project show that Missouri children enter school with fewer problems, test scores are up, and child abuse is down in the state.”
As part of the America 2000 strategy, PAT programs are encouraged in all states to help the country meet National Goal #1—that “by the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn.” With the concentrated thrust of reaching out to “at risk” children everywhere, Congress is offering seed money (H.R.520) to every state willing to implement PAT programs.
One obvious area where the home-schooling movement will struggle with the PAT descriptions is in the use of terminology. Words like “home educator” now refer to the trainer of the parents, the person who does the home visits in the PAT structure. The hyphenated term parent-teacher will become confused with teacher-parent as schools take on more and more of the responsibilities of “nurturing parent involvement” and providing “social capital for the communities” in which children live.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Suggests New Parental Roles for Teachers
A recent Washington Times article reported that “Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon endorsed the idea that public school teachers ought to go parents one better by spanking unruly kids and distributing condoms to promote safe sex.” The article goes on to explain that since parents can't or won't do the job of parenting, teachers will have to.
“Some people call the idea ‘total schooling,’…others describe it as ‘one-stop-shopping’ education. As social institutions break down, children are affected. They bring the results of this breakdown to class with them. Drug problems, sexual and physical abuse problems, pregnancies, health problems and every other sort of problem that afflicts modern times—all sooner or later show up in the classroom. Supporters of ‘total schooling’ argue that the school has to deal with these problems, that teachers can’t teach the kids as long as the latter suffer from social ills that render learning almost impossible.”
As society seeks to answer challenges like these with a mentality of government-savior complex, home schoolers and traditional families are left in very vulnerable positions. Unless we work very hard to make sure that all the legislative programs aimed at allowing government to do the job of parenting specifically exempt people like us, this decade will bring untold persecution to those who have the right values.
South African School District Prosecutes Home-Schooling Family
On November 22, 1991, Dr. Ed Cain of Signpost Publications and Research Centre, sent Michael Farris an urgent plea to provide information about the success of home schooling in the United States so that a South African family could use the statistical evidence to defend themselves in court. Dr. Cain’s knowledge of HSLDA is the result of his friendship with Christian Solidarity International, an organization for which Michael Farris serves as Vice President.
We were grateful to be able to respond with the fine work of NHERI (National Center for Home Education) and the excellent technology of telefax equipment!
Newspaper articles from South Africa's Citizen Reporter tell the rest of the story so that American Christians can support these brothers and sisters in prayer:
Two couples who want to educate their children according to Christian reformed principles at the unregistered Paul Druger Gereformeerde Leersentrum in Clubview, Verwoerdburg, yesterday appeared in Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.
Mrs. Rencia de Villiers, the principal of the school, and her husband, Mr. Johan de Villiers, together with Mr. Pieter and Mrs. Annie Miske, pleaded not guilty to charges that they had failed to send their children to a registered school and that they had operated an unregistered private school.
In an explanation of their plea, they said they had good reasons why they did not want to send their children to the registered schools of the Transvaal Education Department (TED). Mrs. de Villiers explained that God had given them the opportunity to form a school where their children could be taught according to strict Christian reformed principles. She emphasized that it was not possible for the accused to disregard that mandate.
The parents on trial further cited that while the TED supported Christian education, the schools were steadily moving further away from the Christian principles which they as families hold.
Questioned by the magistrate, Mr. de Villiers said television, magazines, and most newspapers, except Die Afrikaner were not allowed in his house. His children do not listen to pop music, though the family listens to the news on radio and certain music programs.
A senior TED official, Mrs. Alet Maree, testified that Mr. de Villiers had applied for the centre's six pupils to be exempted from compulsory school attendance and said he intended to have the centre registered as a private school.
Mrs. Maree, who visited the school, said it was held in a suburban house. One room was set aside as a classroom, with six children of different age groups sharing the room.
She said she had sympathy for the parents’ Christian ideals, but the learning centre did not meet the requirements for registration as a private school.
The trial has been postponed until March 11.
College Admissions Survey for Home Schoolers Reveals Need for Orientation and Good Recordkeeping
Dale Fenton, Associate Director of Admissions at Wheaton College in Illinois, recently released the results of a study of college attitudes toward the admission of home school candidates. With the bulk of the research being done in 1990, he reported that a sample of 1,493 colleges and universities were surveyed, including public and private colleges across the United States; 755 questionnaires were returned. The survey focused its attention on home-schooled students who had completed the final three years of high school (or the equivalent of grades 10–12) in a home school situation.
The first results indicated that 492 of the responding institutions were private and 263 were public; 252 institutions had admitted home-schooled students in the past five years, 500 had not, and 3 did not answer this question.
A total of 835 home-schooled students had been admitted by the 252 institutions, and the survey noted that there seemed to be a substantial increase in the number of students and institutions over the past two school years (1989–90 as compared to 1986–88).
Among private institutions, 34% of those responding had offered admission to a total of 613 students. Of these, 25% had enrolled 5 or more students. Among public institutions, 34% had offered admission to a total of 222 students. 11% of these had enrolled 5 or more.
Answers to specific questions about each school’s admission procedures yielded some interesting data for college-bound home schoolers:
- Only 26 colleges said they have a specific written policy regarding the evaluation of home-schooled applicants; 224 schools answered that they did not have such a policy statement.
- With regard to special criteria used to evaluate home-schooled applicants, 72% of the colleges cited entrance exams such as ACT/SAT, 35% used entrance interviews, 32% required a GED or official diploma, 16% accepted general standardized test scores, 11% relied on letters of recommendation, 10% were willing to consider lists of texts used with a description of the student's curriculum, and 10% required a writing sample or essay. Several colleges indicated that test scores were weighted more heavily in admissions formulas, and many mentioned that they check with the local school board or State Department of Education to see if the home school was recognized.
- When comparing home-schooled applicants to traditionally-educated applicants, 5% of the colleges indicated that home schoolers were favored, 74% said they were neutral, and 20% stated that they viewed home schoolers less favorably.
- Given adequate credentials, 212 institutions indicated that they encourage home school students to apply, and 29 institutions stated they do not encourage home schoolers to apply.
Examination of specific responses from the 500 institutions which have not enrolled a home school graduate within the past five years revealed that the primary reason for not admitting home schoolers was simply that 87% of them had not had any home-schooled applicants! Only 5% indicated a negative institutional or departmental policy, and 7% stated that applicants had not met the admission standards.
With regard to how these 500 institutions view the potential home-schooled applicant in comparison with traditionally-educated applicants, less than 1% indicated home schoolers would be favored, 66% indicated complete neutrality, and 33% stated they would view the home-schooled student less favorably.
Responding to the question of what would be their primary concern in admitting home-schooled applicants, 67% of the institutions checked that there were too many unknown variables making it too difficult to evaluate the students, 12% cited weak curriculum, 9% were worried that home schoolers were not well prepared for classroom learning, 3% cited social skills, 3% were concerned about the family's rationale in choosing home schooling, and 1% referenced lack of extracurricular activities.
The bottom line appears in interpreting this survey's results seems to point to a need to educate those around us about the tremendous potential of home school graduates. Colleges which have matriculated home school graduates are generally pleased with their work; the rest aren't really familiar with what home schoolers know and can do.
Good recordkeeping is crucial during the high school years of home schooling for both prospective employers and college admissions officers. Translating all the activities, projects, studies, and work opportunities a young person had into a format that matches a traditional high school transcript will help a great deal. Parents and students are encouraged to be creative and diligent in this process.
If you know that attending college is a goal for your young person, write to the colleges you are considering even several years before applying. Ask about their admissions process so that you can tailor your recordkeeping and schedule your test taking to match the requirements.
It will be exciting to see the responses ten and twenty years from now as a whole new generation provides evidence that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
HSLDA and the National Center for Home Education keep a running list of colleges which have accepted home school graduates. If your son or daughter has matriculated in any college or university, we would like to add that information to our list. Drop us a postcard, indicating the name and city of the institution and the year of your child’s acceptance. Address the card to Angel Fessler at NCHE, P.O. Box 125, Paeonian Springs, VA 22129.