Maryland Calls for Interagency Collaboration to Track Students
The March 18, 1992, issue of Education Week, provided the following story: “To help prepare children to enter school, a recent report from the Maryland education department calls for more interagency collaboration, new computer systems to track children’s performance, more community and business involvement, and neighborhood resource centers for children and families.
“The report, Laying the Foundation for School Success, offers more than 100 recommendations, such as expanding education and health services for parents and children, requiring parents to have 3-year-olds screened for developmental problems, and forming nongraded units for 4- to 9-year-olds.”
Such procedures are directly influenced by the first of the six national goals for education reform, adopted by the national governors panel over two years ago: By the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn. This Maryland proposal is far more extensive than any of the Parents as Teachers programs developed to date in that the screening services require participation.
Military Enlistment Gets Tougher
As the National Center continues its effort to appeal to the Pentagon for recognition of home school graduates as some of the best qualified military recruits in the land, the playing field is becoming more challenging with general military cutbacks reducing the number of available openings. The Washington Post (April 20, 1992) reported that the downsizing of the force allowed recruiters to become much more quality conscious, bringing the high school graduation rate for new inductees to 98-99% in most regions.
Since home-schooled students are not recognized as bona fide high school graduates by the Department of Defense’s three-tier attrition-predictor system, it will be increasingly difficult for them to find any available slots—even though their scores on the Armed Services National Aptitude Battery may be quite high. Letters to congressmen and senators about personal experiences involving rejection of qualified candidates are continually welcomed in the pursuit of “equal rights” in this issue. You may feel free to refer your member of Congress to our office for additional information.
In a rare opportunity for a personal conversation with Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney at the May 19, 1992, Library Court Live presentation, Inge Cannon, Associate Director for the National Center, was able to explain the difficulties encountered by home school graduates who seek to serve their country by enlisting in the armed forces. We look forward to a favorable response from the Secretary to our follow-up letter.
U.N. Treaty on Children’s Rights Endangered by National Exemptions
The United Nations children’s rights initiative appears to be faltering. According to Canadian newspaper, The Sault Star (February 27, 1992), “so many countries have exempted themselves from scrutiny that the entire exercise may break down.”
An effective point of appeal for those who oppose the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United States might be the requirement that any such vote place the authority of the Convention under the authority of the United States Constitution. Without such a specification the U.S. Constitution calls for any ratified Treaty to stand as the Supreme Law of the land. Of course, the best decision is to refuse to ratify the liberal document, which undermines parental authority, ultimately destroying the family and any vestige of security children should experience from being reared in the environment God designed as best for them.
Congressman Proposes Anti-Corporal Punishment Bill
Representative Major R. Owens [D-NY] introduced on March 20, 1991, a bill which would deny funds to educational programs that allow corporal punishment. Designated H.R.1522, this legislation would add to the General Education Provisions Act a prohibition against corporal punishment with the penalty of withdrawing government funding from any “educational agency, institution, organization, or other entity that has a policy which allows an individual to inflict corporal punishment or bodily pain upon a child as a form of punishment.”
Exceptions specified in the language of the bill include the following: “The prohibition described…does not preclude an individual, within the scope of employment, from using and applying such amount of physical restraint as may be reasonable and necessary—1. to protect self, a child, or others from physical injury; 2. to obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object upon the person or within the control of the child; or 3. to protect property from serious damage.”
In its present form the legislated prohibition would affect only those institutions that accept government funding. However, since Congress is considering legislation to provide federal funding to Parents as Teachers (PAT) programs in the states, it is not impossible that an eventual tie-in could be established to place parents who opt for PAT services in their homes under the corporal punishment restriction.
Another logical connection could possibly be established between federal government vouchers or tax credit programs which allow parents educational “choice” for their children. It is not inconceivable that acceptance of these federal government benefits could render parents unable to exercise corporal punishment in the discipline of children in the home.
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Select Education and in the Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education were held on June 18, 1992. All testimony was favorable to the legislation. The general attitude of the witnesses can be summarized with the thoughts that schools must take leadership in demonstrating proper parenting skills for American families and that the United States is one of the few countries left in the world where it is legal to hit children. The bill has 27 co-sponsors.
Hillary Clinton Advocates Aggressively Liberal Social Agenda
The March 30, 1992, issue of the National Review featured an article about Hillary Rodham Clinton, entitled “The Better Half.” Characterizing Mrs. Clinton as the more aggressive of the partnership, the article describes her commitment to children’s rights. “She has…acted consistently to reduce the area of parental authority and to make children direct clients of government agencies. On her principles, the state could decide that parents violate their children’s “rights” by keeping them out of public schools, or deny them “equal protection of the laws” when they forbid them to do whatever liberal judges think they should be allowed to do.”
Mrs. Clinton prefers “ ‘comprehensive social programs,’ a phrase that is generally a trailer for unaccountable bureaucracy, mass idleness, dependency, and the breakdown of civil order.” After describing that her advocacy “always seems to result in enlarging the role of the state,” the article closes with the statement that “the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”
Special Zones: Are Home Schools Affected?
Many communities are posting signs around their schools, sporting event sites, and playgrounds, warning drug pushers and gang members that they will not be tolerated in these areas. Possession of guns or drugs in such a designated zone now constitutes a federal offense with doubled sentences.
Since the drug free/gun free zone applies to any place where children gather, including all private, public or parochial schools, athletic events and playgrounds, it is possible that enforcement in states where home schooling is regulated by the “private school” law could inadvertently come to the front door of the home school (much like the misunderstandings surrounding the enforcement of asbestos inspections in home schools a couple years ago).
GED Commissioners Set New Policy
Due to increasing pressure felt by GED commissioners in various states to have the high school diploma equivalency test used in ways that do not match the stated purpose and design mandates, a national meeting was held in April to decide as a group where the limits should be set.
Jean Lowe, Director of the GED Testing Service, told National Center personnel, “Each state is free to set its own policy for how, when, and where the GED may be administered in its jurisdiction; however, no state is free to make policies easier than the national standard.” Since the commissioners have agreed that the lowest age limit will be sixteen years, no legislature is in a position to make an exception below this age.
GED owns the tests; states contract with GED headquarters to use the test according to the limitations specified in the contract. Every testing center is required to fulfill the terms of the rental contract.
Ms. Lowe explained that the GED test is designed for adult use and has not been validated for young people. The test seeks to measure high school equivalency knowledge and skills that are obtained within the framework of practical life experiences such as owning a car, bearing and rearing children, setting up a family budget, obtaining a job, etc.
Oklahoma and New Jersey are two states where school systems have attempted to use the GED in schools to measure if their graduates are achieving high school level outcomes as a result of their participation in the curriculum of public schools. Rumblings in other states indicate that legislatures seeking for a means of accountability for public high school programs are turning to the GED test until the State Departments of Education have time to develop appropriate competency measures. The new policy for limiting the use of the GED test will prohibit its use in schools.
States like Virginia, where the GED test is offered to home school students as early as fifteen years of age, will no longer be able to obtain the test for this purpose. According to Ms. Lowe, Virginia began this policy “in the mistaken notion that young people could use the GED to qualify for financial aid in their quest for higher education.”
Parents of New Jersey Truants Must Serve “Hard Time” in Schools
In the never-ending quest to curb truancy violations, Paterson, New Jersey, schools have discovered a new strategy: “sentencing the parents of habitually truant students to scrub graffiti off schools walls, serve as hall monitors, and perform other menial tasks in the schools.” Meg Sommerfeld’s article in the May 6, 1992, issue of Education Week claims that “school administrators are hailing the program a success in limiting absenteeism.”
Chuck Coligan, a spokesman for the district, cited parents as being very responsive, noting that “most parents try to schedule their period of service as soon as possible after sentencing. The sentence is a very nice alternative, considering what the other alternative is, which is a jail sentence,” he added.
Superintendent Laval S. Wilson said, “The new program indicates to parents that they have a major responsibility legally to get young people to school, and if their young people are not going to attend, there are some personal penalties associated with it.”
When reading material like this, one has to wonder why home-schooling parents are not the recipients of great honor in their districts—in direct response to the fact that these parents go the full length of demonstrating personal responsibility for the education and training of their children.