I read an article last week on the Times’ website that made me stop and think. As a result I had to ask a question. Should it be mandatory to test home schooled students?
I ask this as a staunch advocate for improving our public schools. I also ask it as a former home-schooled student and current home-school cooperative teacher. I am intimately aware of the reasons why people choose not to send their children to public schools. I also have keen insight into some of the reasons why they choose to home-school.
Government should have a good reason before it does anything. The primary reason government provides primary and secondary education is because we believe society is better off by educating our youth. I’m not arguing whether we are actually better off. I’m just saying that’s the goal.
I’ve witnessed two different approaches to homeschooling over the years. The first is governed by the desire to provide children with a better education in a safer environment than public or private schools offer. The second is a more libertarian based, get your hands off my child and I’ll teach them what I want, when I want, how I want and where I want. I’m not questioning the rights of parents. I do think the second view is wrong when it fails to actually teach kids.
When I went to high school, my parents tried to sign me up for honors classes. The administration questioned whether I was adequately prepared for higher level courses because I’d been home schooled and the only records I had were those maintained by my parents. They said they’d have to test me to see if I could handle the material. My dad’s response was, “Test him.” He didn’t say they didn’t have the right to test me, or to question home schooling. I took the tests and then took honors classes.
I don’t think it’s wrong to test students. Sure. Society is struggling to educate kids in the public system. That struggle doesn’t absolve private or home schools from the responsibility to also test their students. Testing shouldn’t be used as a tool to infiltrate families or any other big government kind of intrusion. It should be used to measure a student’s ability and provide the teacher with insight to improve that ability.
It’s as simple as that.
Winnebago County Board Member