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Thursday, February 15, 2007

T Manifesto: Part One

There's a crabby old lady who's taken up residence in my psyche. I've decided that one way to rid myself of her presence is to share in the joy with my friends in the blogosphere. Aren't you delighted? I've decided to do so by means of a manifesto. Remember this guy? Or what about this whack job? Ok, maybe I shouldn't call it a manifesto. Do we know of any normal people who have written a manifesto?

I'm going ahead with the manifesto. It feels very empowering to me right now. I won't inundate you with the complete text, but rather parcel out the different elements to you periodically so as not to make you all think I've turned into a complete whacka-do.

My first rant in my T Manifesto: Home Schooling.

I've sat quietly about this one for too long. I've apologized for my position on this. When Claire was born, I "got" home-schooling, as I wondered how I would ever be able to send my beautiful baby out into the big, bad world of kindergarten. I know several people who are fine, upstanding citizens who dutifully and responsibly home school their children. I know that home-schooled children do very well on standardized tests and despite what others my speculate, do very well socially. I know this. Then what's my beef? Well, here it is, I take great issue with the fact that, at least in the state of Iowa, virtually anyone can homeschool their kids. Anyone. Not only that, but the parents have the right to use of textbooks and other materials. They can (and do) request that their children be allowed to accompany the class that would have been their child's on field trips, and to attend classroom parties.
As a classroom teacher, what did I have to do to get to where I am? Well, first of all, while in college, I had to apply to the College of Education and be accepted. I had to take a teacher competency exam (and it was slightly harder than "find your ass with both hands"). I had to do an initial "field experience, where I observed a class for a certain number of hours. I had to take classes in child development, child and adolescent psych., testing and evaluation instruments, human relations. I had to log more hours in field experience, where I not only observed, but was required to do a little bit of actual teaching. I had to take methods courses. I then had to student teach for an entire semester, which I did in Omaha, Nebraska. THEN, I had to apply to the State Board of Educational Examiners, whereupon I was issued a provisional teaching license. Since then, I have whatever comes after a provisional license that I must renew every 5 years with proof that I have been taking classes. To get a job in my district, I had to have a criminal records check. I had to go through Mandatory Reporter/Child Abuse training. I had to teach a lesson to my prospective employers. I had to have letters of recommendation. Once hired, I have to have regular evaluations done by an administrator. I have to have a "Career Development Plan". I have to meet the needs of diverse learners and follow this kid's IEP and that kids 504 plan. I have to contact parents regarding their kids' behavior and progress in my classroom. I am expected to fulfill "other duties as assigned". Some days, I literally have no time to use the restroom. 6:15- 3:30 is kind of a long time to wait. And not very healthy. But I digress.
So what am I saying here? We all have to jump through all of these hoops to be teachers. But, anyone who decides that school just isn't for them or their child can homeschool. So, if anyone can do this without going through all the things I mentioned, what does that say about my profession? Can this happen in other professions? Medicine? Law? Social work? Law enforcement? Massage therapy?
And, if it is indeed true that anyone can teach, then why the hell do we have to jump through all these hoops? Why can't anyone just walk in off the street and teach? I know some people who speak Spanish, couldn't they teach my class? What about someone who's a history buff- couldn't they teach history? And an elementary classroom? Come on! We've all been to school, right? So doesn't that qualify all of us to teach 1st, or 2nd or 4th grade? (elementary teachers, please note my sarcastic tone, I'm on your side)
Recently, homeschooling has become so mainstream that kids who aren't happy in their classrooms go home and request to be homeschooled. Are you kidding me? Part of life is dealing with difficult situations, teachers you don't like, classmates you don't care for. Sometimes, things at school don't entirely reflect one's home values. And isn't that a part of life as well? Kids are smart enough to realize that home and school are different. And yes, of course parents should be their children's first teachers. Of course. Everytime you interact with a child can be a teaching and learning experience. But it doesn't have to be the education. It should complement, not replace.
Do not even get me started on unschooling.

Rant over. I feel so much better, and the crabby old lady is quiet for now.

P.S. Does anyone else see the utter irony in the Unabomber's manifesto being available on the Internet?

18 Comments:

Blogger Ahermitt said...

glad you feel better...now I am aggravated!

2/15/2007 9:23 PM  
Blogger EarlyChildHood Educator said...

Why is it that Homeschooling qualifications are so lax? I live on the east coast and I have found the same situation to arise here. We go through so much to become quailty educators and states give permission for almost anyone to teach their own children! I don't get it either!

2/15/2007 9:45 PM  
Blogger Adeline said...

all i can say is

1. i cant wait to read this full text, i have to got to bed right now

2. i am glad that i am not the only one writing manifestos

3. i am glad i am not the only one with a cranky old woman who lives in my psyche who i keep telling to get lost.

2/16/2007 1:12 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

I have the cranky old lady too. Her students decide they can't get along at school and go to charters (where teachers don't have to be certified, either. And work for a lot less pay.) Next semester, these kids are back in my class, even further behind. Shockingly, theye didn't make it at "Move at Your Own Pace Independence Academy" either. This simultaneously pisses Cranky Old Lady off, and makes her feel smug.

2/16/2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

I had a student once who was homeschooled before Dad got custody and sent him to us. His mother's idea of homeschooling was to sit on the sofa and drink beer all day and have the kid fill out workbooks. By the time he hit sixth grade, and landed in public school, he was reading at a 1st grade level. It was absolutely tragic.

2/16/2007 5:57 PM  
Blogger Adeline said...

At our school the ESL kids leave to homeschool. I always ask them "So is someone going to teach you English at home?" They never say yes. The "homeschool program" they can get for 60 dollars off the internet I have heard is too hard for the kids and so most of them who start stop before they complete it.

I am not offended by the homeschool option as mostly I think it is a lazy way out, especially for my ESL kids. Most girls just want to get married, most of their parents want them to get jobs and do the shopping or child care.

As for my kid, I know that kids or parents don't start off to go to school for the teacher, where it really is at is everything else. The friends, the sports, the clubs, the field trips, the band, lunch, the newspaper, the voc classes-a variety of options. No homeschool no matter how well meaning can recreate the social environment that is high school. And by all means let's go through life avoiding all unpleasantness, because the real world is nothing but daisies and sugarplums.

good rant. forgot about the SCUM manifesto!

i actually wrote one that i was feeling too timid to publish, but now i am gonna.

2/16/2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger happychyck said...

I've not had too many experiences with students leaving to be home schooled instead. I've had a few who had formerly been homeschooled and those kids were just weird--and their parents codependent! Everything you say, though, is perfectly rational. Right on!

2/17/2007 6:20 AM  
Blogger ms. whatsit said...

My next-door neighbor homeschools her kids. I want to maintain friendly relations with her since she is my neighbor; however, it does make my brain twitch when she talkes to me "one teacher to another" for the very reasons you present.

My take is that many of these people are not simply afraid that the big, bad world of public education will fail their children. I think that some parents who choose to homeschool their have not overcome their own social bumps and bruises; so for the most part, I feel sorry for them. What does anger me greatly is that so many of them are egocentrically and short-sightedly in favor of diismantling public schools.

Your rant is justified, but watch out for those unschoolers. They can be relentless in trying to prove that we should all think like them, kind of like ants are attracted to sugar.

2/17/2007 11:35 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

By the way....I tagged you as a "Thinking Blogger". :-)

2/17/2007 4:01 PM  
Blogger Huertero said...

The "difficult situations" part of the rant is also the problem I have with private schools. It is unrealistic to only practice getting along with family members or people like yourself who can also afford private school.

2/17/2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger Pissed Off said...

I totally agree with your opinions on homeschooling. The idea that anyone can teach is what makes it so hard for educators to get respect. At a young age, children need school to learn how to interact with others and to learn discipline. It is not a good idea for them to spend every minute of their days with mom or dad. At the higher levels, the student needs someone who is an expert in that field. No one is qualified to teach every subject. while I know I could handle a basic English or history class, I know I am not proficient enough to give anyone a really good understanding of the material. How many parents out there are really qualified to teach higher mathematics? Math is not something that is used every day so even the brightest parent has probably forgotten most of what they have learned in school.

A music teacher in my school was home schooling his two daughters. What a farce. He used to bring them to work with him so they could interact with the kids in his classes (6 and 7 year olds hanging out with high school kids).

2/17/2007 9:40 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I bet that felt good. But, I must ask, how can we teach our children, and the world, to be accepting and loving when this is the what's going on inside our school teachers' minds?

Even if the majority of homeschoolers (and god forbid unschoolers) are ruining their children, they are such a small, teeny, weeny percentage of the country's children, they aren't going to make one bean of difference to the PS system or the teachers there. Sure, they might throw a student back into the system here and there, and make a teacher's life a little harder. But aren't there a LOT of students that are in the system already, who make a teacher's life hard?

That's the part about being a school teacher that is incredibly difficult - dealing with 30+ kids at a time, each with their own unique difficulties, their own unique strengths - and loving them all and appreciating them all so that they may be the best they can be.

When I see a teacher who can express this, it makes me want to hug that teacher. It's so hard to truly do a good job as a school teacher. And this post reminds me of the difficulty teachers face (that homeschoolers don't have to, being that they aren't teaching other people's kids), because what's going on inside a teacher's mind may not be said, but it's certainly reflected in the way they teach.

Since public schools are a place where children are supposed to, no matter where they come from, and what bad decisions they (or their parents) make, be considered worthy people; and since school is where kids are supposed to learn how to be accepting of each other because they are being exposed to different kinds of people, it's amazing how many kids aren't tolerant. And how many adults, who came from those schools, aren't either.

That said, you're of course welcome to rant all you want. This is your blog. But, I thought I'd stop by and let you know how this kind of prejudice goes against the very thing that you're trying to argue. How are homeschoolers teaching their kids worse things than this? Isn't the same thing, just flip-flopped?

I don't agree with about 90% of the homeschoolers out there. But what I do agree with, is they are doing the best with what they have. Most of them grew up in the public school. Most of them are far more happy as a family than they were in public school. The ones who go back into school are the ones who aren't happy (and probably have MUCH bigger problems than the "homeschooling").

I'm not trying to convince you that homeschooling is OK. You are entirely justified in being annoyed by difficulties brought on to you by other people. But I wanted to point out that the vast majority of them (who you never see because they don't have anything to do with school) are successful, albeit in a non-traditional way. And thank god for that. Diversity, that's what makes our world a wonderful thing.

2/18/2007 10:41 AM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

Tammy,
the point of the rant is that as a public school teacher, I am legally required to adhere to many, many standards and am held accountable and ANYONE, I repeat: ANYONE can homeschool their child. No hoops to jump through, no license to hold, no degree required. I find that insulting to me as a professional. I did acknowledge that there ARE many well-adjusted kids who have been homeschooled, and by parents who have done an excellent job of educating their children. I said nothing about prejudice against homeschooled kids. My beef is that if parents want to homeschool their kids, they should have to jump through the same hoops that I had to. I KNOW that many parents who homeschool have a college education. The fact of the matter is that they are not REQUIRED to. THAT was the point that I was trying to make. I said nothing about how "worthy" I consider homeschooled children to be. I am upset with the inequity in the standards that exists between licensed educators who are teaching in both public and private schools, and those who are homeschooling their children. What message does it send to require me to have all of this education and training, while anyone who wants to can homeschool, regardless of their level of education? Does it send the message that we value education? So much that those who want to opt out, can?
Again, let me reiterate: my beef is NOT with the homeschooled children themselves, nor with their parents. I take great issue with being accused of being intolerant of the students themselves and with the insinuation that I would do anything other than welcome ANY child into my classroom with open arms.

2/18/2007 3:21 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Do you read Rate Your Students? Have you seen this post: http://rateyourstudents.blogspot.com/2007/01/old-school-tammy-in-topeka-is-tired-of.html

I agree with you 110%. Anything to do with education is (supposedly) so easy that ANYONE can do it. When I was in corporate, I was an instructional designer. I had a MASTER's degree in education. I reported to a man with one quarter of community college under his belt who could not write an objective (or a lesson plan or a test question for that matter) if his life depended on it. But, I guess if you've ever TAKEN a training class, then you can DESIGN a training class. You don't need to know anything about adult learning or curriculum design or sequencing or learning styles. It was maddening. The only other place (I can think of) where you can "do it yourself" is in a courtroom - can't you represent yourself? But even then, I believe that most lawyers and other law professionals highly advise against it. Oh - and lemme tell ya, sex ed at home? Sad, sad, SAD!!!

2/19/2007 11:01 AM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Here's some things to think about if you're really interested in this issue about whether a homeschool parent should be credentialed or jump through hoops.

- There is no direct correlation between a homeschool parent's level of education and the overall life success of their children.
- For school children, level of parent's education has a direct correlation with their success in school.
- There is no direct correlation between the amount of state legislation of homeschoolers, and the overall success rate of homeschooling.
- Most homeschoolers choose to educate their children in a different way than the public schools prescribe.
- Many teachers who have become homeschoolers (and there are quite a lot actually) state that their credential was either irrelevant in their ability to teach their own children, and often times even made it more difficult.
- If every homeschooler is required to have a credential, there will be a huge demand and those who want to get credentials to teach in schools might not be able to get theirs.
- Much of what the teaching credential provides is not applicable to homeschooling
- Every state has homeschooling conferences, support groups, online information and more. The resources necessary to do a good job educating kids at home is freely available and often free.
- The skills necessary to homeschool are much different than those needed to teach in a classroom. If homeschoolers were required to be credentialed, it would miss many of the important elements of teaching a child outside of the school system.

My question is this - what's more important: the true success of homeschoolers and their children, or that things are "fair" for school teachers?

2/19/2007 12:32 PM  
Blogger Drake said...

I see your point, but I personally have never seen homeschooling as an affront to the teaching proffession as well, but then I think it depends on the homeschooler. I have to say homeschooling holds great appeal to me and is something I have contemplated. Not because I want to shelter my kids from the big bad world, in fact that is why I have decided not to, but due to issues I have with the current state of the public school system (things like standardized testing anf no child left behind). It is always a battle, do I place my kids in a system I feel is flawed and fight from within like my mom did with us, or do I place them in an environment that I think is a better foster of learning. I think this is a dilema many parents face and I do not fault those who do not want their kids to be matyrs for the benefit of the system. So I can see both sides. Oh and I could have my own grumpy woman diatribe about the obsession with accredidation in this state. I actually think ZD wrote a good post on this awhile back.

2/19/2007 4:50 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

As long as we're venting... I'm really sick of people asking me if I'm qualified to teach my child. So here's your answer...


Why do you have to jump through hoops and homeschoolers don't? Because you are PAID to do your job. Because you are taking on the responsibility for OTHER PEOPLE'S children. Because you do not only have the task of offering learning opportunities to children, you have the task of reporting about it in the prescribed format sent down from a government bureaucracy in order to get those funds that pay your salary.

Do you truly believe that without that degree and that extraordinary amount of classroom observation time, you would not be able to take 1 or 2 or even 5 of the students from your classroom and teach them to do addition or even the quadatric equation? Do you truly believe that any one teacher, maybe you, has the knowledge and ability to inspire learning and impart information to every child? And this special qualification you have rises you above your neighbor? If you do, that sure puts you in a whole different class than homeschoolers and surely you have the right to be indignant that they not bow down to your teaching superiority because the majority of homeschooling parents and grandparents do not believe they are qualified to teach every subject and every technique to their children and recognize that those children will benefit from opportunities to learn from a wide variety of knowledgable people, not just the 'homeschool teacher' and spend enormous energy and money to bring those people into their children's lives.

I don't think you really believe that. If you do, then I have great pity for you. I don't think your beef is with homeschoolers either; it's with the profession you chose. Go tell the teacher's union that next contract talks they should put forward the idea that teaching credential requirements should be removed from all future new hires since what's really required to impart information to children is simply the ability to find intersting opportunities for them. Oh, but wait, there are all those restrictions... you can't really leave the building every day, you have to follow the same scheduled curriculum plan for every student, you can't hire the best guitar teacher for this one and the best piano teacher for that one - it's just not in the budget.

Frankly, the whole argument that you are trying to make equating a public school teacher to a homeschooling parent is no better than taking oranges from apples. Totally different situations, totally different expectations, totally different environments, totally different limitations. Why would you expect the "staff" to need the same set of skills for a totally different job?

10/17/2009 2:42 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Educating a child is a parent's responsibility, not the teacher's, until that parent steps up and chooses to utilize the resource of a public or private school. If teachers are the only facilitators of learning, should we then disolve programs such as scouting, 4-H, religious youth groups and sports clubs or perhaps you think we should require all of those adults leading those programs to get a teaching credential too? After all, you must need a 4 year degree to teach a child to use a hammer.

If you truly want to take all parenting tasks that can also be done by a professional away from parents, then perhaps the next time your child has a temperature, you'll run right out to the dr. since only a fully licensed physician has the competence to determine exactly which medication and which brand of that medication would be effective in reducing the child's pain.

Your obvious position that the classroom is all about you and what you had to do to get there and not about what's best for each individual child is exactly why many family's are so disgusted with the school system. Maybe if you would start thinking about the fact that all the families that send their children to your class have actually HIRED you to provide an opportunity for their children that they believe is better than what they can themselves provide, you will understand why those same parents should have the ability to require a higher standard of qualification from you than what they require of the soccer coach, the scout leader and of themselves. See that's the way we do things here in America... we have a task we feel would best be done by someone else, we hire them to do it; but when we have a task that we are capable of doing, have the time and desire to do so, we do it ourself. Home Depot's making a fortune off that philosophy. Too bad our public school system, and many of our teachers forgot it.

10/17/2009 2:47 AM  

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