Talk:Essay:Proposed Homeschool Constitution

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Original Comments

Liberal bias is mentioned twice. I suggest to make it more neutral and to keep in mind those Liberals who want to homeschool their children. --BillC 13:22, 21 September 2008 (EDT)

Seems like a good idea. Would you consider drawing up an alternate Constitution for Jewish, Moslem or other non-Judeo-Christian children? I'm sure they could do with a 'system' for their own schools. And yes, the point above about Liberal bias is fair - there would probably have to be a Constitution for them too. BenHur 13:26, 21 September 2008 (EDT)
Many "non-Judeo-Christian children" may want to adopt this Constitution, or participate in classes. It's common to find non-Christian students attending Christian schools, for example. That's no reason to change the school or the Constitution.--Aschlafly 13:28, 21 September 2008 (EDT)
Well, in fairness, I doubt the non-Judeo-Christian (or liberal) parents would want to attend such a Judeo-Christian school, that's all. They could draw up Constitutions for their own beliefs. There's a few other items that would be changed too, but mostly it would be the same, simply reworded for Faith or beliefs. Good idea though. BenHur 13:32, 21 September 2008 (EDT)
Thanks for the compliment, but non-Judaeo-Christian (including liberal) families already attend Christian schools in significant numbers. But as to those who prefer their own constitution (or no constitution), I'm fine with that. This is purely voluntary.--Aschlafly 13:34, 21 September 2008 (EDT)
Indeed they do, but many of them would prefer not to, much as you might not be happy to have your child schooled in an environment of daily prayers to Mecca or observing Saturday as the Sabbath. It's common for people of one religion to not be comfortable in the environments of another. BenHur 21:57, 21 September 2008 (EDT)
As in how people of faith are uncomfortable in the atheistic environment of public schools?--Aschlafly 23:39, 21 September 2008 (EDT)
Excellent article! I have one additional suggestion for consideration. How about a phrase discouraging the use of "politically correct" terminology in education (e.g. using C.E. and B.C.E. instead of A.D. and B.C.). --DRamon 09:23, 22 September 2008 (EDT)
Great point. I think that is already covered, however, by the reference to liberal bias.--Aschlafly 09:39, 22 September 2008 (EDT)

Article II Section 2

Shouldn't mathematics be included, or science? --DinsdaleP 08:56, 22 September 2008 (EDT)

That's understood. No one is going to omit those topics.--Aschlafly 09:40, 22 September 2008 (EDT)

Some thoughts

As a homeschooling mom, who has belonged to many groups over the years, I offer the following comments based on my experience. Please take them in the spirit of helpfulness in which they were intended. I did not make any changes to the essay itself, as I assume that it is not appropriate to do with an essay like this.--Hsmom 10:24, 22 September 2008 (EDT)
Article I: Religion and Behavior. Clearly, the guidelines you are providing are for a Christian homeschooling group, either one in which all members must sign a statement of faith, or one in which all leaders must sign such a statement. The latter type is often open to participation by non-Christians, so long as they understand that the group will be run in a Christian manner. Assuming that is the case, here are my thoughts:
Section One: There shall be no religious test for student participation, but a voluntary Christian prayer shall be led at the beginning of classroom instruction. I would also add that meetings shall be opened (and maybe closed) with a prayer.

Section Two: There shall be no censorship of the Ten Commandments, "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, or similar recognition of our Judeo-Christian heritage. I really don't think this is necessary, as the people who are likely to join a Christian homeschooling group usually aren't interested in censoring such things, and Section Three pretty much covers it.

Section Three: God-honoring behavior shall be required at all activities. This sums it up nicely.

Section Four: Civility and chivalrous behavior shall be encouraged between boys and girls, and athletic competition between the genders shall be discouraged. A Christian homeschooling group I've been involved with held a weekly gym class. Both boys and girls participated. Without the participation of both genders, there might not have been enough students to run the class, and we did not have access to two gyms (we were lucky to have the one). I think this should be worked out on a case-by-case basis, trusting in the common sense of the Christian homeschooling mothers (and fathers) in the group.

You seem OK with Sections One through Three, which is great. You think Section Two is unnecessary, but so did the founders of public school years ago. That experience illustrates that it is necessary, as one atheist will try to censor 100 Christians.
Section Four could be controversial but I wouldn't leave it up to common sense. There are real differences in opinion in whether, for example, girls should play on the boys' baseball team. This resolves that controversy, while still leaving some flexibility.--Aschlafly 21:59, 23 September 2008 (EDT)
--You think Section Two is unnecessary, but so did the founders of public school years ago. That experience illustrates that it is necessary, as one atheist will try to censor 100 Christians. What atheists? If all members must sign a statement of faith, then there will be no atheist members. If only group leaders must sign a statement of faith, then any inappropriate suggestions by atheist members can be ignored by the leadership (and, if necessary, the member can be asked to leave). Atheists, like Christians, prefer to homeschool with others who share their views and values, rather than in a group which has quite different values than their own, so there are unlikely to be enough atheists in the group to make a difference. (Once there are enough homeschooling atheists in the area, they will create their own group, rather than join the Christian group.) In addition, the issue in public (government) schools is about violations of the Establishment clause in the Constitution. In a private group or school, such rules don't apply. (Which is why Catholic and Protestant schools can regularly include prayer in their school day, post the Ten Commandments in classrooms, etc.)
--I would re-order your sections. Section three, I feel, should be first on the list, as it's the basis for everything else. Then one, with two and four in any order after that.
--Section Four could be controversial but I wouldn't leave it up to common sense. I have great faith in the common sense of homeschooling parents to make the best decisions for their children. --Hsmom 09:11, 27 September 2008 (EDT)
Section One states that there will no statement of faith required. It needs to be first because, as your own comments demonstrate, confusion about other Sections depend on that fundamental issue.
When no statement of faith is required (and sometimes even when one is required), it is inevitable that someone (e.g., an atheist) will try to censor the classroom prayer. Not even religious schools typically say classroom prayers any more.--Aschlafly 09:38, 27 September 2008 (EDT)
There shall be no religious test for student participation... I think I see now - I originally read this to mean that the students need not sign a statement of faith. So are you intending this Constitution to be used only by Christian homeschooling groups (which in my experience usually require the parents to sign a statement of faith, at least if they take leadership positions), or do you think that secular/inclusive groups (or even groups of other faiths) will be interested in adopting this document? FWIW, all of the Christian (Protestant) and Christian (Catholic) schools I am familiar with in my area incorporate prayer throughout the school day, even though some of their students are not Christian. It is an important part of what parents are looking for in a faith-based school.--Hsmom 10:55, 27 September 2008 (EDT)
I don't draw a distinction between students rather than parents signing a statement of faith. This Constitution prohibits statements of faith, but endorses classroom prayers. Many homeschool groups do the opposite, which is counterproductive rather than productive.--Aschlafly 22:28, 2 October 2008 (EDT)
Aschlafly, I've never been involved with a group which didn't have a statement of faith but still included Christian prayer. I'd be very interested in hearing more of your views on this, especially the counterproductive/productive point you make above. Can you explain a little more of what you mean? I'm always interested in learning more about organizing and running homeschooling groups. No need to reinvent the wheel when someone else has it all figured out! --Hsmom 20:44, 3 October 2008 (EDT)
I don't have a statement of faith but do have classroom prayer. Most public schools took the same approach for most of our nation's history. The largest St. Louis homeschooling group takes that approach now. It may well be that you've "never been involved" with such a group, but it's the most logical approach and is a proven success.
The opposite approach -- to require a statement of faith and yet NOT have classroom prayer -- is obviously the worse of both worlds. It's worse than even preaching to the choir; it's limiting the group to a choir and then banning preaching to it! Yet that is how misguided some homeschool groups can be, and they often end up collapsing when they go down that road.--Aschlafly 16:04, 5 October 2008 (EDT)

Article II: Curriculum. I am assuming here that you are writing this for a group which offers classes to homeschoolers?

Section One: Instruction, textbook materials and assignments shall be free from liberal bias. Often, the best textbook for a particular course also includes some things with which some Christians would not agree. For example, history texts might have a few pages at the beginning discussing evolution or the age of the earth, but otherwise be acceptable. Usually, the teacher simply assigns the useful pages and ignores the rest. Requiring that all materials be completely in line with Christian teaching will sometimes limit students' access to good materials. Why not trust in the common sense of the Christian homeschooling moms (and dads) who are teaching to choose the materials they think are most useful?

Section Two: Instruction shall include teachings in history, government, writing and (if possible) economics. This is good in theory (though I would add math, science, literature, and so on). However, in reality the courses offered usually depend on what the participating families need or want, and, frankly, what they are willing to pay for. The group can only offer courses if there is enough interest to hire a teacher, enough space to hold the class, and so on. Perhaps a broader statement about the group's intent to offer a wide range of classes, based on member families' needs and interests, would be best. Then the Christian homeschooling moms (and dads) who run the group can use their best judgment to determine which classes can be offered.

Section Three: All students shall learn to read well using phonics, and all problems in a particular student's ability to read shall be identified and corrected. I have two concerns with this section:
All students shall learn to read well using phonics... I assume you mean here that reading classes shall be based on a phonics approach? I do not think it is appropriate to dictate what approaches a parent may use at home. My personal experience is that some, even many, children respond well to phonics instruction, especially in the case of dyslexic kids. However, some children need very little phonics on their road to literacy. I think homeschooling groups should trust Christian moms (and dads) to use whatever approach works best with an individual child.
...and all problems in a particular student's ability to read shall be identified and corrected. Frankly, this sounds like an unfunded mandate to me. Are you saying that the group will take responsibility to identify and correct reading problems? I would not want to take that responsibility away from a homeschooling parent. Or perhaps you are saying that parents must take on the responsibility to address reading problems?

Section Four: Instruction and discussions in all subjects shall be only in English (except for courses teaching foreign languages). Why? Most American Christian homeschoolers speak only English fluently, so it's not really an issue. But if the group serves a group where the students are fluent in another language, why not teach some subjects in that language? I am thinking here, for example, of traditionally French-speaking Americans in northern Maine, who want to preserve their heritage by raising their children bi-lingually. Why not have, for example, gym class taught in French to give the students practice? Or, in other areas, a group may want to partner with local Spanish-speaking Christian homeschoolers to offer classes in both languages, so that the students can benefit from getting to know each other and speaking each others' language? Again, I think this should be left on a case-by-case basis, trusting the Christian leaders of the group to make a wise decision based on local circumstances.

Section Five: Friendly competition, and the awarding of honors, shall be encouraged to motivate students. Very nice.

We agree on Section Five, but you seem to disagree on One through Four, preferring instead a lack of a standard. The trouble is that a lack of a standard is an invitation to substandard work, unhelpful conflicts, or complete failure. Some homeschooling parents pull their kids out of public school, for example, only to submit their kids unwittingly to the same junk in homeschooling materials. If the group has adopted this constitution, then word will get around that a high standard has been set and some materials and approaches are no longer acceptable. That's a plus.
As to foreign-language-speaking homeschoolers who teach in their foreign language, they are raising kids who won't be able to function and contribute in America as well as they could have if they had adopted English as the language. Again, the point is to make the most of this education. Those who want bilingual education can get it from public school, and unfortunately suffer because of it.--Aschlafly 22:49, 23 September 2008 (EDT)
you seem to disagree on One through Four, preferring instead a lack of a standard I reject the "one size fits all" standards-based approach of the government schools, and simply trust homeschooling parents to make the choices that are best for their children. Similarly, I trust groups of Christian homeschoolers to create the classes and other activities that they feel will best serve their members' children, whether that means using a secular Usborne history book and skipping the first two or three pages, or not bothering with phonics instruction for kids who pick up reading from being read to, or not offering a history class if there are not enough potential students to pay the instructor, or holding gym class in French to help kids practice their foreign language skills with each other and to nurture their appreciation for local heritage and culture. I trust homeschoolers to make the best decisions for their own children. --Hsmom 10:44, 27 September 2008 (EDT)
Oh - and speaking of standards, I was curious - I have noticed that you have stated that your American History class can be used to prepare students for the AP exams. The college board has standards for courses that can be called "AP", and even homeschooling courses must go through a process of syllabus review before using this label on transcripts. I haven't seen any mention of this review on your course materials. Has your course been through this review process? --Hsmom 10:59, 27 September 2008 (EDT)
Various educational groups are free to review my materials here, but I don't go to the trouble of trying to comply with their own requirements. I don't give into censorship, and see nothing wrong with saying that a course can be used by students to prepare for an AP exam.--Aschlafly 22:32, 2 October 2008 (EDT)
Aschlafly, I'm assuming that you were unaware of the College Board's requirements regarding AP classes? I do not know whether the AP course audit process involves censorship or not; they say that they do not expect you to use a particular curriculum. Their stated goal for the process is to be sure that AP courses are college-level courses. (For example, they require that the course include instruction in analysis and interpretation of a wide variety of primary sources, such as documentary material, maps, statistical tables, works of art, and pictorial and graphic materials.) Your students can of course use your class to prepare for taking the AP exam (although they will probably need significantly more practice with essays, and they will certainly need to learn how to respond to DBQ's, which I don't think has been covered thus far in your course). However, they cannot list your course as "AP U.S. History" on their high school transcripts, unless the course has gone through the AP course audit process. "AP" is a registered trademark of the College Board. At this point, to avoid any misunderstandings, you should probably explain to your students (and their parents) that because your course has not undergone the AP course audit process, your students are not authorized by the College Board to use the "AP" title to describe your course on their transcripts. That is, even if they take the AP test and do well on it, they cannot call your course "AP U.S. History" on their transcripts. Since you've already stated that your course can be used to prepare for the AP exam, I think it's important that you clarify that it has not undergone the AP course audit process, so that parents understand that you are not providing an official AP course. You don't want one of your students to be accused of deceit if they assume that they may use the AP designation for the course. (For the future, it's worth noting that homeschool classes can undergo the AP course audit process, just like school classes. If you offer this class again, you might want to consider making it an official AP class - these classes carry more weight on a high school transcript than an ordinary high school level US history class, and a decent AP score is more highly regarded than a decent SAT subject test score. Of course, the class would have to be much more rigorous, to be considered AP-level.)--Hsmom 23:30, 2 October 2008 (EDT)
I'm not going to subject my course to an "audit process" by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), and I'm going to allow it to censor what I say. It's predictable that the overpaid liberals at ETS (I think its president makes close to a million dollars a year) will try to boss teachers around, but fortunately we have a First Amendment to limit their attempts at censorship and control.--Aschlafly 23:39, 2 October 2008 (EDT)
Aschlafly, one of the things I like about homeschooling is that teachers like you and I can tailor the content of our courses to the needs, abilities, and interests of our students, rather than just routinely serve up the expected fare (based on some generic set of lame standards written by a government employee) or "teach to the test". You might be interested to know that some of the nation's elite college prep high schools are moving away from AP courses; instead letting their teachers teach what they deem important, rather than what's on the AP test. All the same, you might want to give a friendly "heads up" to your students (and their parents) not to use "AP US History" to describe your course on their transcripts, even if they take the AP exam - a misunderstanding on this point could be embarrassing for both you and the student. Also, if they do want to take the AP exam, they will want to get significantly more practice with essay writing and DBQs outside of class (unless you're planning to assign some of that soon). The kinds of questions you've assigned so far will most likely not be sufficient to prepare them for the exam. Many colleges will give college credit for a good score, so it can save your students some money/time later on. (More schools seem to accept AP than CLEP.) Plus of course it will help their applications, both in terms of getting into a good school, and in some cases helping to make the case for a merit scholarship. They would need to approach a local high school to see if they can take the exam with the school's students - I'd start asking around in January to make sure there is time to shop around if they meet resistance, though the deadline is not until March. You might want to Google around a bit - there are quite a lot of AP prep materials available on the web, which would give you an idea of what's typically covered in these classes, both in terms of content and also important skills (like writing responses to essay questions and DBQs, using primary sources, etc.). Not, of course, that your content would be the same - you will want to teach what you feel is important - but you could get a sense of depth and breadth of coverage, etc. It sounds like you are enjoying teaching this course. How much fun it is to go back through our nation's history, discovering new nuggets of information each time! There's always more to learn in every subject, even for us teachers!--Hsmom 20:40, 3 October 2008 (EDT)
Some readers may be helped by your comments above, but you seem a bit too subservient to ETS's monopoly. ETS does not teach, and it does not tell good teachers how to teach. It makes a ton of money by giving tests that have a liberal bias in non-math and non-science areas. Some of my students take (and excel on) its tests, and I'm happy to provide some limited information for students who want to take the tests. Beyond that, I don't care how ETS tries to maximize its nearly million-dollar salaries for its executives.--Aschlafly 16:04, 5 October 2008 (EDT)

Article III: College and Culture.
Every person has been given different talents. College is the right path for some, but not for others. College is essential for some career paths, but not for others. While it is an admirable goal to prepare those boys and girls who are college-bound to excell, we should not forget those students who may take a different path. They too, need encouragement, opportunities, and preparation for their chosen career and the other roles they will play as Christian adults in their community.

Section One: Students shall receive preparation and guidance to excel academically at college. Nice, although "guidance" may be a bit problematic, as it brings to mind a public school guidance counselor. I think, in general, "guidance" should be left to the parents.

Section Two: Information about the nature and extent of liberal bias at many colleges shall be made available to college-bound students. Certainly Christian families must consider the general outlook of the colleges they are considering. Who, though, are you tasking to provide this information? The course teachers? The group leadership? While this may be useful information, and indeed there is much information about colleges that would be useful to Christian homeschooling families, I'm not sure it should be the responsibility of the homeschooling group to provide it. Many Christian homeschooling moms reach out to other moms who already have kids in college, often via nation-wide email groups, where much useful information is shared, from people who have had specific experiences with various colleges and can speak directly from that experience. Perhaps the group can steer moms with college-bound kids to these venues.

Section Three: Students shall be prepared to handle and reject the increasingly atheistic culture, and the harm it causes. How? In regular classes? Teachers typicaly have very little classroom time with their students, and often must use every spare minute to adequately cover their subject. Perhaps it would be better to mandate offering Bible study, which could incorporate a number of concerns facing Christian homeschooled students?

Article IV: Activities and Cooperation.

Section One: Students shall be encouraged to participate in civic activities, such as dinners with outside speakers and trips to conservative gatherings. Again, this is something that the group's leadership could certainly arrange, or they could publicize opportunities offered by other groups. But this is the kind of information that homeschooling moms exchange informally all the time - I don't think a formal statement is needed.

Section Two: Homeschool groups shall cooperate in working with other homeschooling groups that adopt this Constitution. I would change "shall" to "are encouraged to". Busy homeschooling moms (and dads) who run these groups don't need more requirements on their plate.

Section Three: This Constitution is entirely voluntary and shall not be construed to create any enforceable fees or obligations of any type. Good. Although, in my experience, most Christian homeschooling groups already have group guidelines, developed/honed over the years, that cover much of what you've included here, and much more. I'm not sure what the advantage would be for any given group to adopt this particular document?

Now more than ever

I just want to mention a sad news story I found that demonstrates how there is a real need for a "Homeschool Constitution" to be taught to parents. I sincerely hope Andy's idea catches on. --DRamon 22:57, 23 September 2008 (EDT)

Tragic story of a public school student-turned-homeschooler. Thanks for linking to it.--Aschlafly 23:08, 23 September 2008 (EDT)

Essai

..they are rarely joint projects. I don't think I've ever seen an "A" on a joint-project essay--just "F"s combined with academic suspension. o.O Nate my opinion matters? 15:38, 5 October 2008 (EDT)

You're right that school doesn't like joint essays. But wikis do. The very point of putting something up on a wiki is to benefit from improvements by others. This essay is no exception. Thanks and Godspeed.--Aschlafly 15:43, 5 October 2008 (EDT)
Oh snap! I forgot to apologize for my ignorance. I'm sorry. I'll try to be more careful and look at the contribution history before adding the "essay by" template