Carnival of Homeschooling

March Madness is the theme of the Carnival of Homeschooling, which is hosted by Corn and Oil .

Laurie Bluedorn writes about homeschool burnout at Trivium Pursuit.

Why blacks are homeschooling their kids

“Black families have become one of the fastest-growing demographics in homeschooling,” writes Jessica Huseman in the Hechinger Report. Black  parents cite low expectations for their children or “dissatisfaction with how their children—especially boys—are treated.”

Marvell Robinson, now 7, was the only black student in his kindergarten and first-grade classes at a San Diego elementary school. His “Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that affects social skills, made him a target of “curiosity and cruelty,” writes Huseman.

Marvell Robinson plays outside the San Diego Natural History Museum (Photo by Vanessa Robinson)

Marvell Robinson plays outside the San Diego Natural History Museum after a field trip. (Photo by Vanessa Robinson)

“I just thought maybe I could do a better job myself,” said his mother, Vanessa Robinson. In September, Robinson adjusted her nursing schedule so she could teach her second grader at home. Her husband, a sous chef, continues to work full-time.

“The schools want little black boys to behave like little white girls,” said Cheryl Fields-Smith, an education professor at the University of Georgia. “I think black families who are in a position to homeschool can use homeschooling to avoid the issues of their children being labeled ‘trouble makers’ and the suggestion that their children need special-education services because they learn and behave differently.”

Ama Mazama, who teaches African American Studies at Temple, surveyed black homeschoolers for a 2012 report published in the Journal of Black Studies. Most are trying to protect their children from racism at school, she found. Black children “are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”

Good students dominate ed debate


Most people debating how to improve education were good students, writes Andrew Rotherham in U.S. News. “The blind spots this creates are enormous.” They have trouble understanding what school is like for those who aren’t good at it.

Diane Ravitch, the school critic turned school defender, has a policy agenda for improving schools that boils down to making classrooms like the ones she liked most as a student. She’s hardly alone in idealizing a system that in practice worked only for a few. As one colleague remarked recently, “everybody likes the race they won.”

For successful students, education is a linear process, he writes. “But most Americans zig and zag.” For example, a majority of college students are part-timers, yet nearly everyone in the education debate attended full-time.

Most fundamentally, this mindset means almost everyone in education is focused on how to make an institution that is not enjoyable for many kids work marginally better. That’s basically what the top-performing public schools, be they charter or traditional schools, do now. . . .

(Among the abundant ironies is that reform critics deride today’s student testing policies as “one size fits all” while fighting against reforming a system that is itself one size fits all).

School is a bad fit for a lot of people, Rotherham concludes.

Homeschooling has freed some kids from traditional classrooms. What would help others? Technology? Career technical education?

Techies try home, un and micro schooling

Parker and Simon Cook.

Parker and Simon Cook are “unschooled” in Berkeley.  Credit: Timothy Archibald/Wired

Homeschooling — and unschooling — are attracting well-to-do techies, reports Jason Tanz on Wired.

Chris Cook never liked sitting in a classroom. He dropped out of college to work on computers. Samantha Cook blogs about parenting, education reform and other topics and “started a network of hackerspaces for kids,” writes Tanz. She “unschools” their two boys at home; their daughter has chosen private school.

“The world is changing. It’s looking for people who are creative and entrepreneurial, and that’s not going to happen in a system that tells kids what to do all day,” Samantha says. “So how do you do that? Well if the system won’t allow it, as the saying goes: If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

. . . Jens Peter de Pedro, an app designer in Brooklyn, says that five of the 10 fathers in his homeschooling group work in tech, as do two of the eight mothers.

“There is a way of thinking within the tech and startup community where you look at the world and go, ‘Is the way we do things now really the best way to do it?’” de Pedro says. “If you look at schools with this mentality, really the only possible conclusion is ‘Heck, I could do this better myself out of my garage!’”

Technology is making new education models possible, says Jyri Engestrom, a “serial entrepreneur.” He started by homeschooling his children with his partner, Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch. That became a 10-student “micro-school.” Now students go part-time to an AltSchool  micro-school in which “teachers help students create their own individualized lesson plans,” writes Tanz. AltSchool is a startup created by an ex-Googler.

Homeschooling has its limits. Many parents don’t have the time, personality or ability. But the technology-enabled micro-school could be the next big thing in alternative education.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Change is the theme of this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling, which is hosted by Why Homeschool.

Rose writes about 7 Things I learned by traveling with my children in Learning Across America. She spent most of a year in a 38-foot RV with her husband and seven children.

Homeschooling faces less regulation

As homeschooling grows, some states are regulating less, reports Motoko Rich for the New York Times. Some 1.8 million children were homeschooled in 2011-12, according to federal estimates. That may increase even more as parents seek to “escape the testing and curriculums that have come along with the Common Core,” predicts the Times.

Fara Williams teaches son Elijah at home (Photo: Michael F. McElroy, New York Times)

Fara Wiles, who was homeschooled as a child, teaches son Elijah at home in Pennyslvania. (Photo: Michael F. McElroy, New York Times)

Eleven states do not require families to report school-age children being taught at home, according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. Fourteen don’t specify which subjects should be taught. “Only nine states require that parents have at least a high school diploma or equivalent in order to teach their children.” Half the states do not require homeschooled children to take an outside test.

For example, Pennsylvania no longer requires families to submit their children’s portfolios, as well as the results of standardized testing in third, fifth and eighth grade, to district superintendents.

Regulation can protect children from inadequate home teaching or abusive parents, argues the Coalition for Responsible Home Education. Its executive director, Rachel Coleman was homeschooled — successfully — from kindergarten through high school. She collects stories of homeschoolers who say oversight would have helped.

Caitlin Townsend, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Michigan, was home-schooled in Pennsylvania until she was 13, when her parents split up and she moved with her mother to New Jersey, which has virtually no regulations for home-schooling families.

. . .  her mother had used science textbooks that taught the theory of intelligent design and shied away from rigorous math during her high school years.

“When I was growing up we always talked about the school officials as the Big Bad Wolf,” said Ms. Townsend, who had to enroll in remedial math classes in college. “What I could have benefited from was a system of evaluation that would have given my mother some red flags that I needed some tutoring in science and math.”

Of course, it’s very common for high school graduates to need remedial math in college.

Homeschooled students use the SAT or ACT — or a community college transcript — to show they’re prepared for college. The expansion of virtual education is making it easier for motivated students to learn at home, even if the parents aren’t masters of math or science.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Small World is hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers posts on 50 Reasons Homeschooled Kids Love Being Homeschooled. (I love the blog name.)

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Embracing Destiny.

Carnival of Homeschooling

On Golden Grasses, the Carnival of Homeschooling looks forward to Christmas.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Autumn Leaves by John Everett Millais (1829–1896)Autumn is the theme of this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling, hosted by Janice Campbell.

At Amongst Lovely Things, Sarah offers a list of Favorite First Novels to Read-Aloud with Kids. She recommends Betty McDonald’s Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (one of my childhood favorites), Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach (I read it aloud to my baby brother), Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle and more.

My mother read us Black Beauty. My sister and I loved it. When she finished, we begged for her to read it all over again. Mom thought it was Victorian treacle, but she read it twice. Then she told us to learn to read so we could read it for ourselves. I did reread it years later. Mom had a point.