Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Tags: Pro/Con
March 29, 2008

PRO/CON: Curbing parental control

by Charles Kong, Online Op/Ed Editor and Sean Howard, Online Humor and Food Editor
A three-judge panel of the California District Court of Appeals ruled on Feb. 28 that parents statewide who do not have teaching credentials can no longer home school their children. The ruling stems from a case involving eight home-schooled children who claimed that their parents were abusing them. Citing a 1953 ruling in which another appellate court rejected a challenge to California's education laws, Justice Walter Croskey ruled that parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children. But parents argue that the approximately 166,000 home schooled students in California will be forced to enroll in conventional schools - an enormous undertaking. Should Maryland, with its 24,329 home-schooled students, follow in California's footsteps?

Charles Kong says yes: All educators, including home-schooling parents, should be certified in order to teach students.

While the California District Court of Appeals ruled that parents must be credentialed to teach home school based on past precedent, its ruling appeals to common sense as well. In a society where a solid education is vital to the success and survival of all people in the workforce, it is essential that those responsible for teaching our nation's future be qualified to do so.

College students pursue degrees in order to dedicate themselves to a specialized field of interest, whether it is engineering, business, medicine or any other field. As a result of this specialization, society can divide all necessary tasks among the workforce. Automobile mechanics will repair cars, accountants will manage finances and surgeons will operate on the human body. Just as there is not a true jack-of-all-trades who can innately do everything, there is not a parent who innately knows everything his child should learn about math, science and the humanities. If a barber must be certified to cut hair and a doctor needs an M.D. to treat patients, then it is only fair that an adult also be credentialed to educate children.

Furthermore, issues with security and safety could pose major problems for home-schooled children, as seen with the children of the abusive parents involved in the California court case. While administrators and security personnel in public and private schools are able to oversee the competence and behavior of their teachers, home-schooling parents have the freedom to do anything they want, as their actions are hidden to all outsiders. Hired tutors and credentialed teachers can at least be monitored and regulated, since they will be punished if they engage in malpractice.

Do you think parents who home school their children need to be certified?
  • Yes
  • No
Discuss this Poll
Requiring all adults to be credentialed will ensure a safer and healthier environment for students. Often, profit-making charter schools specializing in home schooling contain many teachers without credentials. The court partly based their decision on a report that the majority of California's dropouts are from charter or alternative schools. The estimated 120,000 dropouts per year in California are expected to cost the state $46.4 billion over their lifetimes, due to their likelihood to be unemployed, turn to crime, need state-funded medical care, get welfare or pay no taxes, according to the California Dropout Research Project.

Many may argue that forcing parents to have credentials would effectively end home schooling altogether, as it will be impractical for parents to spend years to become qualified. But there are numerous ways for a parent to have their children home schooled. Parents can become credentialed and file paperwork with the state establishing their home as a small private school, hire a credentialed tutor to educate their children or enroll their children in independent study programs.

Home schooling is an excellent way to educate a child, but it must be done appropriately. A well-qualified and credentialed educator is the proper person to teach students, ensuring them a well-rounded education while maintaining a safe learning environment.

Sean Howard says no: Maryland does not need to require that home-schooling parents are certified.

Unlike California, Maryland law sufficiently ensures that home-schooled students are receiving a quality education. It would be irresponsible for the state of Maryland to force parents who home school their children to become certified teachers, as it would place unnecessary costs, burdens and strains on the child's education and family.

Maryland law requires home-schooling parents to maintain a portfolio of relevant teaching materials and schedule a date three times a year for the local superintendent to review and discuss the portfolio. If the superintendent rules that the portfolio is not sufficient, the family has thirty days to remedy the deficiencies or cease home schooling. This law sufficiently ensures that parents are adequately providing for their home-schooled children, so a regulation requiring that parents become qualified is not necessary.

Furthermore, if Maryland were to use California's precedent, all parents who home school their children would be forced to hire a certified tutor or be certified by the state to teach their children. This means that parents would have to stop teaching in order to study for a certification exam and pay a fee to be certified, or spend a small fortune hiring a tutor for their child or enroll their children in public school to learn in a starkly unfamiliar environment. None of these outcomes would benefit the children the ruling planned to help.

Homeschooling is increasingly becoming recognized as a viable alternative to traditional institutional education with around 1.3 million home-schooled students nationwide in 2007, according to the National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES). One ruling in California should not set a precedent that severely constrains a practice that manages to educate so many children at such a small cost to states. According to the Department of Education, around 72 percent of home-schooled children are home schooled because their parents want to provide them with moral and religious guidance. Some people choose to home school in order to challenge their child, keep their child safe or to better facilitate the child's extra-curricular activities.

The decision to force instructors to be certified challenges parents' right to home school their children and discredits the education that home-schooled children receive. Home-schooled students can and do shine as much as their public school counterparts. As long as they are deemed to be receiving the right education by the county superintendent or their designees, there is no reason to impose a draconian measure to certify parents in Maryland.

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  • brix (View Email) on March 30, 2008 at 1:37 PM

  • Student (View Email) on March 30, 2008 at 10:25 PM
    While I understand that some parents are home-schooling their children because it really is the best thing for them, I'm not convinced that all--or even the majority--of them are. I know that some kids are home-schooled for a couple of years simply because at the time it was the best option for them (like those who just can't fit in during the middle school years and kids in early elementary school who need the individual attention). I also know that some are being home schooled (for pretty much their entire pre-college education) mostly because their parents don't want them "corrupted" by the public schools. I think those are two different camps of students--the ones who are home-schooled for a couple of years and those who are home-schooled for a majority of the K-12 years.
  • to Student on March 31, 2008 at 12:57 PM
    thats nice to know.
  • Smart Student on March 31, 2008 at 2:30 PM
    If the state sees no problems, i don't see why the state has to do anything
  • Dr. Gregory House (View Email) on April 1, 2008 at 1:57 AM
    I agree with Charles.

    If the parents don't know what they're doing, then their child's knowledge, experience and education is incomparable to that of a kid that goes through K12. Especially in the high school years, there are extremely few parents that are qualified to instruct their children in upper level math, English, sciences and social studies.

    Also, parents who seek to shelter their children from profanity and obscenities of a public school are ultimately condemning them of a successful future. Social skills, outgoingness and the ability to relate to peers are not teachable by someone from a different generation; these skills come from experiences alone. Whether it's finding common tastes in music and movies, being well-versed in teen/pop culture, or excelling in sports, kids rely on certain guidelines and aspects to connect, socialize, and have a life --> So basically, kids that are home-schooled to the level where they have never heard a curse word before... are permanently socially-inept and SCREWED.

    PS - That stuff about Maryland requiring students to have portfolios is bull[redacted]. Home-schooled don't get tests, quizzes or homework that count towards a permanent grade. No all-nighters, Edline, no objective grading (Everybody lies, and parents are a subset of everybody), no objective transcripts, no detentions, no cellphone restrictions, no IDs, no bad lunches, and the list goes on. "Traditional alternative" does not make it a logical or at all intelligent alternative.
  • Dr. Gregory House (View Email) on April 1, 2008 at 8:16 PM
    Also, Xin's comics should be a lot more witty; these two just seem plain.
  • Dr. Foreman (View Email) on April 1, 2008 at 10:20 PM
    Well Dr. House, that was interesting but...

    You're making several assumptions based on broad generalizations, on which I honestly can't agree. You talk about "ultimately condemning them of a successful future" Being homeschooled does not deprive you of your humanity. There are plenty of good natured home-schooled children who are outgoing and last I checked, most people on this earth are able to feel empathy and sympathy. You may notice or be in denial about the fact that many of your peers are lacking in the social skills department even though they attended a K-12 school.

    A large percentage of professional athletes under the age of 18 are homeschooled so that they can fully pursue that sport.

    You seem to be pretty set on the fact that everyone lies, but you forget that people change themselves to suit their needs and get ahead in life. If success means learning some curse words later on in life, they'll do it.

    Plenty of people that were homeschooled have gone on to lead meaningful, productive lives, and have been well educated. You clearly have never met anyone who has been homeschooled. If you had, you would know that a lot of parents want the very best for their child and push them to do well in everything they undertake. Yes, everybody lies, but everybody is wants their kid to get ahead. Take a look at any national spelling bee or geography bee, you'll find that a certain group is over-represented.

    I am not saying that home-schooling is the end-all-be-all form of education, I am saying that on the whole, home-schooled children get a good education. You seem to be suggest that all home-schooled parents are liars that meticulously try to make life easy for their kid. If you are suggesting this then I guess, you are a getting senile or lazy, Dr. House.

    PS: Using the word subset does not increase your

    How can you say that they don't get homework, of course they get homework, they work at home lol.
  • Someone you may know on April 6, 2008 at 2:10 PM
    To Dr House,

    "No all-nighters, Edline, no objective grading (Everybody lies, and parents are a subset of everybody), no objective transcripts, no detentions, no cellphone restrictions, no IDs, no bad lunches, and the list goes on."

    Since when is going to bed at a reasonable hour and not pulling an all-nighter considered a sign of bad education? If anything, that shows good time management. And Edline is in no way an indicator of good education. Home schooled students not only have their parents find out their grades before they do, but their parents can see the actual assignments and such. "No IDs, no bad lunches"...right, because wearing an ID shows that I am learning so much in my classes.

    I could continue to argue against your statement, but there's no point.
  • Dr. Gregory House (View Email) on April 7, 2008 at 10:52 PM
    Yes I do realize that a lot of what I said is extremely radical and overgeneralizing. In my self-defense, I wrote this late into the night and did not proofread.

    Anyhow, it does promote healthy debate.

    PS - Foreman you're fired.
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