Stephen Henderson absolutely nails why Betsy DeVos should not be education secretary. Read the Detroit Free Press’ article, Betsy DeVos and the twilight of public education”, written by him.
One function of public schools is to assure the safety of children. The school choice movement, with its lack of oversight, makes a mockery of this aim. As a principal and now as superintendent I have seen the neglect unmonitored school choice makes possible.
Public schools are responsible for tracking attendance and for reporting suspected abuse. One way for lousy parents to fly under the radar of intervention on behalf of kids is to pull their children out of public school and to claim that they are home schooling them.
I have seen parents who were facing truancy or who have begun having to answer questions about what goes on in the home, remove their children from school. I wish I could say that I have only seen this one or two times. Sadly, that would be far from the truth. I have seen this sort of action increase as unscrupulous parents have learned from others that this is a way to escape legal investigation.
Once a parent declares that they are home schooling their child(ren) there is, for all intent and purpose, zero oversight from any agency. Home school parents are not required to report anything to anyone regarding their decision or their child(ren)’s progress. You can read about the incredible lack of oversight of home schooled kids in Michigan here: https://www.michigan.gov/documents/home_schools_122555_7.pdf. It is a very short document, much unlike the rules traditional schools must abide by.
I doubt that the framers of the rules for home schooling thought they were laying out the groundwork through which neglect and abuse could prosper; however, that has been one of the effects of their work.
I would also add that I have seen successful home schooled families and children. My point is that the system for home schooling as it currently stands in Michigan is ripe for the picking for bad and ill-intentioned parents and I have seen home schooling used increasingly by adults who are using it as cover.
Unfettered and unmonitored oversight of home school families has laid the groundwork under which unscrupulous adults escape intervention. The victims of this state-sponsored neglect are the children who have no champions in their corners.
Maintenance and growth of the home school system as it is will result in more children being under-educated and living in neglectful and abusive situations. If home schooling is to be allowed some form of oversight and monitoring should be implemented by state agencies.
I read with interest Ingrid Jacques’ column about Michigan Rep. Tim Kelly’s plan to dissolve the State of Michigan School Board and replace it with a board appointed by the Governor. Rep. Kelly’s reasoning for wanting to eliminate the School Board are a repugnant example of the poor quality of political leadership Michigan residents are seeing too much of.
Mr. Kelly states that one of his reasons for eliminating the Board is that they are “nameless and faceless,” and that Michigan’s residents do not know who is serving on the school board. Board members are elected to their positions and have to run for public office, just like Rep. Kelly. Until a few days ago, I could not have told you whether or not Mr. Kelly was employed as a politician, baker, policeman, etc. as he is not my state representative. By Rep. Kelly’s logic, the House of Representatives should be disbanded!
When I voted for state Board of Education members, I looked into their backgrounds and their positions on items pertaining to education. While I don’t know any of the folks I voted for personally, I felt confident I was making an informed choice, having done my research. This is called, “voting.”
It is too bad that Mr. Kelly has such low regard for voters as to think that, just because he does not know who he is working with in Lansing, other Michigan citizens must make uninformed decisions too. The scary thing is that Rep. Kelly is in the House of Representatives and is making decisions about education in our state. I hope that he is doing a better job of informing himself on the issues than he is of getting to know members of the State Board of Education.
Disbanding elected offices because one does not agree with their decisions would be an action expected of a tyrant and not of a democratically elected member of the House. Not knowing who one’s fellow elected officials are and blaming one’s ignorance on the parties in questions is simply foolish. Michigan residents need informed politicians who work to create effective governance with those from without as well as from within one’s chosen political party.
Here is a link to Ms. Jacques’ column in the Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/ingrid-jacques/2016/04/21/jacques-bid-state-board-education-farewell/83373052/