Friday, January 06, 2006

Don't do anything "drastic"

See note below.

For heaven's sake. According to Cathy Hayden, education columnist for the Clarion Ledger (Gannett), homeschooling in Mississippi as a response to anything but extreme cases is "drastic." Excerpt from her Aug. 15, 2005 column:

Q: My son was expelled from a public high school last spring. I thought I was going to be able to enroll him this month but I was told he has to stay out for a year. What am I supposed to do with him until the school says he can come back?

A: Peggy Peterson, director of compulsory school attendance in the state Department of Education, said a lot of parents who are able to do so will home school, if they can't get the child in a private school setting.

Otherwise, they have to wait out the expulsion until the child can go back to school.

Please note, I personally know of two families who are homeschooling children who were victims of school violence but were suspended just like their attackers due to the schools' zero tolerance policy.

HT: Valerie

Update: Here is the letter sent to Ms. Hayden by PEAK member, Vonda Keon:

Ms. Hayden,

I read your response on Jan 2 and the reference to homeschooling options as being "albeit a little more drastic." I have been homeschooling since 1998 and I didn't consider it a drastic decision then nor do I now. I saw some things happening in the public school system that didn't please me therefore I exercised my right as a responsible and capable parent and made the decision to homeschool my daughters.

They are not sheltered nor are they behind the times. My 'drastic' action has resulted in two extremely intelligent young women whose national tests scores are high off the charts compared to their conventionally schooled counterparts.

People homeschool because sometimes that is the only option when their child is the one being 'LEFT BEHIND' and no one will do a thing about it.

Mrs. Vonda
Bruce, MS

And here is the response she received:

I consider hiring a lawyer and homeschooling as a response to a principal refusing to move a child to another classroom drastic in comparison to going to the school board.

Cathy Hayden
Education reporter
The Clarion-Ledger
Jackson, Miss.

Sure, lady, going to the school board is a piece of cake. And I'm sure the parents would consider hiring an attorney as a mere formality since this *obviously* wasn't a big enough deal to warrant homeschooling.

NOTE: After another email to Ms. Hayden, in which Vonda described several "drastic" incidents in public schools that have led to parents' decisions to homeschool, Ms. Hayden remarked, "I agree. But I was responding specifically to that person and not in general about home schooling."

While it's not the most ingenious defense, it's not exactly damning either. Ms. Hayden isn't a threat to homeschooling; she's just not informed. Although I do have a hard time believing that a writer would target specific individuals when answering letters in a column published in Mississippi's largest newspaper, rather than taking an official stance on home education, I think her response indicates that she doesn't get homeschooling anymore than the average public school supporter.

And that's ok.

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