Education

Homeschooling requirements are garbage and Betsy DeVos will only make it worse

Remember the movie “The Bling Ring,” about the teens who stole from celebrities and got caught on security cameras? Fun random fact — the main teen, Alexis Neiers, was homeschooled along with her BFF and little sister by their former Playboy bunny model mother. The curriculum was based on The Secret. You know – the book that says “think real hard about something and POOF it will happen.”

The modern homeschool movement is typically traced back to the 80s and is now about 1,770,000 strong, or 3.4% of the total school-age population. The numbers are only growing.

President Trump’s new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a proponent of the school voucher system, which essentially means giving tax credits to anyone who sends their kids to anything that isn’t public school — private school, charter school, homeschool, etc. She has also come out and specifically praised homeschooling as “another perfectly valid educational option.”

Okay, fine. But homeschooling as it stands now is strikingly unregulated, giving the power of the education of hundreds of thousands of kids to their parents rather than actual educational professionals. And the new Secretary of Education is on the, er, inexperienced side. What could possibly go wrong?

Only 11 of 50 states have any requirements regarding instructor’s education. That means a parent without a GED can teach their kids. There are no certification requirements for educating your own children K-12.

What about curriculum? Most states require certain subjects be taught. Some require assessments every now and then for the students to measure progress. Some states do neither.

This is not only troubling because of the increasing number of students that are being homeschooled, it’s also troubling because we just watched a person with zero qualifications and a stated interest in education “alternatives” to public schools become Secretary of Education. With the current political climate more polarized than ever, a strong education system has become imperative to the future of this country. By allowing home schoolers to bypass basic academic requirements in order to be brainwashed by their parents, we have basically signed up for a future America that is an oligarchy at best. At worst? The days of America being Great Again are well behind us. It’s almost like an educated public and being “great” go hand in hand.

There are undoubtedly homeschool situations where the kids get an outstanding education. On the other side of the spectrum, there are also kids growing up in the Quiverfull movement (a reactionary Christian group of people — think the Duggars from 19 Kids and Counting, only more intense) whose opportunities for a better life are being limited by their own families. These are also the people that vote for “religious liberty” rather than LGBT rights, or vote against civil rights because they “don’t trust the government.” Of course they don’t trust the government — they don’t have enough information on the subject to form a real opinion.

(Okay that last sentence was snarky. I am almost sorry.)

For the sake of every child, we need to ensure that a) homeschool instructors have certain educational requirements and b) assessments proving the children are actually getting educated are included. Right now, that’s just not happening.

In the era of “fake news,” the ability to sift through all this information is more important than ever. Too bad we’re not at all concerned about giving our children the resources to intelligently do so.

Featured image via YouTube

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