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Home-schooled teen-agers will no longer be allowed to graduate with a
“comprehensive” high school diploma in Modesto, Calif., if a measure
currently before the city’s school board is passed.
At its regular meeting Monday night, the
Modesto city school
board debated a proposal that would only allow credits from a public school or a “properly accredited” private school to be applied toward a high school diploma. Home-schooled students not affiliated with a state “charter school” — public schools largely exempted from government regulation — must take additional classes to be eligible for diplomas.
“Properly accredited” is defined by the proposal as schools approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the
of Christian Schools International or “another authorized school accrediting organization.”
Monday’s meeting ended with a 3-3 vote, requiring another vote to be taken May 30, with all seven of the board members present.
The proposal was criticized by a large group of home-schoolers, who said such a policy would require formerly home-schooled students to start high school over again, irrespective of their age or level of academic achievement.
“This policy amounts to suppressing and setting back motivated home-schooled students who have their eyes and hearts set on the future, not on the ninth grade,” said attorney Brad Dacus of the
Justice Institute, a non-profit constitutional rights legal group.
“There is no rational reason for adopting this policy,” he told the school board members. “The home-schooling students returning to high school because of a sudden death in the family or economic hardship would have the unbearable task of automatically starting several years behind even though most home-schoolers are academically excelling. Evaluations and placement testing has worked effectively in the past and should not be denied to any student if our true goal is to further education.”
School board President Ricardo Cordova, told WorldNetDaily home-schooled students may take the GED or California high school equivalency exam, allowing them to graduate.
“My concern is that the student that is transferring in (needs) some way to verify the education they’ve received in order for us to give them credit,” he said. “We have no way of knowing who’s teaching them. We have no way to verify the qualify of education they’re receiving.”
“Without any accreditation or oversight, some of us are not willing to give (home-schooled students) credit for the courses they may have taken,” he continued. “All a home-school student has to do is get connected with a charter school. Whatever credits the student takes there get transferred over.”
“We’re not saying all home-school students aren’t going to get credit,” but there needs to be a “checks and balances” system to verify the students’ education, he added.
“We’re saying (home-schooled students) need to be affiliated either with a charter school that is a public school and will accept their credits, or some kind of accredited religious school. We will accept those credits across the board,” said Cordova.
The school board president’s reasoning follows that of President Clinton who, as
reported last week in WND, made recent remarks regarding home-schoolers.
“I think that states should explicitly acknowledge the option of home-schooling, because it’s going to be done anyway,” Clinton said during an on-line chat. “It is done in every state of the country and therefore the best thing to do is to get the home-schoolers organized,” he said.
Clinton said while he would not choose it for his own child, home-schooling can work well when students and parents are made to answer for the students’ learning.
“We should say, ‘Look, there’s a good way to do this and a not-so-good way to do this,”‘ and require that home-schooled students meet academic benchmarks, he said.
“But if you’re going to do this,” he added, “your children have to prove that they’re learning on a regular basis, and if they don’t prove that they’re learning then they have to go into a school — either into a parochial or private school or a public school.”
However, studies suggest home-schooled students consistently perform above average for students in their age groups attending public schools.
According to a 1998 study conducted by Dr. Lawrence M. Rudner, a veteran in quantitative analysis, students who are educated at home have consistently scored above the national average in standardized tests, making the whole concept of requiring home-schooled children to meet public school standards a bit odd to many home-schooling parents.
“In every subject and at every grade level of the (standardized tests), home school students scored significantly higher than their public and private school counterparts,” the study finds.
Compelling arguments against the Modesto proposal have caused at least one of the city’s school board members to change her mind about the measure.
Vice President Kitty Thomson supported the measure when it first came before the board for consideration in April, but changed her vote upon further review.
“I want more discussion about the steps that could be taken to verify a student’s course work,” she told WND.
Likewise, board member Connie Chin said, “I hope that all our board members take a hard look at the issue.”
“Are we asking the impossible of our school staff, and what is in the best interest of the students in our district?” she asked.
Cindy Marks, who voted against the measure after removing it from the board’s list of consent items, also has concerns about the proposal.
“I believe our district should show some flexibility in dealing with transfer students coming in from various schools, including immigrants from other countries and home-schooled students,” she said. “We need a policy that allows for a validation of credits through course work completed and proficiency tests. The policy needs to allow for consideration of the unique needs and circumstances of individual parents and students.”
Dacus is prepared to challenge a policy that would discriminate against home-schooled students.
“We’ll do what the home-schoolers want us to do,” he said. “If they want us to take action, we will do so. And we’ll do it without charge.”