points of agreement
tcberg at SAMFORD.EDU
Thu Dec 10 12:36:08 PST 1998
James G. Dwyer wrote:
> Many states do not require accreditation of
> schools, and those that do require it typically demand nothing more for
> accreditation than that a school building pass fire and health codes, and
> that a school send a letter to state education officials promising to
> operate for 180 days and to teach certain subjects (in whatever way they
> want to teach them). You might find the empirical evidence I summarize in
> the first chapter of my book, as to what some schools are actually like,
> There is slightly more regulation of home schools, but not nearly
> enough to ensure that home schooling parents are competent to teach their
> children. More than half of home schooled children receive all their
> instruction from someone who has no more than a high school diploma or
> G.E.D. and who has not shown teaching competence in any way.
If home school students score well on standardized tests compared with public
school students -- as the evidence of which I am aware indicates -- would Jim
Dwyer drop his attack on the "competency" of home schooling parents to teach?
If he would not, then I would suggest that his credibility should be
questioned. In the court cases concerning teacher certification requirements,
parents and private schools have argued that standardized test results ought to
suffice to secure the state's interest in competent education: after all, it is
the "output," in terms of students' knowledge and competency, that the state
claims an interest in. The courts have often rejected such challenges by
responding, quite remarkably, that standardized testing is only a measure of
last year's work and does not assure how the student is learning this year -- as
if, somehow, a teacher's having received a degree or a certification several
years ago provides a better assurance of this year's results!
It was this sort of bureaucratic-oriented attitude by regulators that helped
prompt legislatures to do away with teacher baccalaureate and certification
requirements in the 1980s (even after the courts had rejected constitutional
challenges to them), and to replace them, in many cases, with standardized
testing requirements. In Amy Gutmann's terms, there has been a great deal of
democratic deliberation on this matter, and it has resulted in substantial,
though not total, deregulation of private and home schooling.
Cumberland Law School, Samford University
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