“Home-schooling programs cannot provide the student with a
comprehensive education experience,” according to the
Education Association, one of the largest and most powerful unions in the United States.
Reaffirmed recently at the NEA’s annual convention, the statement was originally published as part of
Resolution B-68, adopted in 1988.
The resolution, which totals less than 150 words, also states: “Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.”
“The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools,” the resolution continues.
WND asked the National Education Association to explain the reasons behind its position. Spokesperson Kathleen Lyons, after admitting that the organization does not have an “expert on home schooling,” and that the issue is “not something that we track,” nevertheless said the statement has been the “long-standing position of the association.”
Speaking generally to the issue of public versus private schools, Lyons said, “It’s our feeling that public schools are the best choice for parents. What we want to do is to ensure that that truth is more than our belief — that it is a fact.”
Public schools have a wider variety and higher quality of courses for students to take, the spokeswoman continued, citing such examples as advanced placement science courses, which are not as common in private schools.
There is “no question that public schools have better course offerings” than private schools, Lyons commented.
As for home schools, no one parent can provide the high quality of education available at public schools, she said, quickly adding, “which is not to say a parent cannot adequately teach his child at home.”
Home-schooled students have continually demonstrated academic success over the years. Recently, home-schoolers placed first, second and third in a
national spelling bee and won a national geography bee. In the just-released American College Testing assessment,
home-educated students obtained the highest overall score.
Nevertheless, Lyons says NEA believes public schools are superior, not only for their academic opportunities, but also because of the socialization they offer children.
Public schools “teach things beyond curriculum,” the NEA spokesperson said, such as “values, how to get along with others, diversity, team work and cooperative learning.” “Employers tell us they want people who know their stuff, and they also want people who get along with others,” Lyons continued. “I keep reading about efforts of home-schoolers to bring their kids in with other kids and reach out in their community, but it’s not a daily exposure to kids of different backgrounds, economic status, races, religions.”
Lyons also gave the reasons for the union’s position that home-schooled students should be excluded from participating in extracurricular activities in public schools.
“We don’t believe that the school curriculum is a cafeteria plan where the child picks and chooses what he will take,” she remarked, noting that in most states students are required to maintain a certain grade-point average in order to participate. “It’s not an entitlement,” she added.
“They (home-schooling parents) do recognize that they cannot provide a complete experience in their own house,” Lyons said.
Long-time family-rights activist Phyllis Schlafly, founder of
Eagle Forum, disagreed with Lyons’ assertions. Home-schooled children do not remain in the home all day, she said, pointing to the varied educational environments to which parents expose their children.
“They take them to the museums, they take them to the library, they take them out for science fairs,” and many other activities, said Schlafly.
Responding to Lyons’ explanation of the NEA’s exclusionary position against home-schoolers in publicly-funded extracurricular activities, Schlafly said, “I think the public school is a cafeteria plan.” Public school students are instructed in “cooking and sex ed instead of reading, writing and arithmetic anyway,” she commented.
“The home-school parents are paying the same school taxes that the other schools’ children’s parents are paying. I see no reason why they can’t enjoy some of the benefits of public schools” if they are participating in the funding of those programs, she continued.
“This is part of their effort to ostracize home-schoolers,” Schlafly said of the teachers union.
While Lyons spoke favorably about home-schooling families’ efforts to bring their children together with others in social and community-service settings, such as scouting, she confirmed the NEA’s statement that parents should only teach children in their immediate family.
“It’s not home schooling if you’re educating someone else’s child in your home. That’s operating a school,” she said, noting the union’s opposition to vouchers and “subsidies of any kind” that could be used to benefit home schools.
But in many cases, the communal learning environments created by home-schooling families have allowed even greater educational achievement, said Schlafly. Often, such coalitions allow parents who have pooled their resources to hire experts in certain subjects to instruct the children. The setting also allows for the very diversity the NEA claims is necessary for an adequate education, but which the union would bar home-schoolers from arranging.
Voucher initiatives are making headway in several states and will appear on ballots across the nation in November. In some cases, the proposals apply to home schools, whether the students are siblings or from a coalition of home-schooling families.