Public School / Homeschool Partnerships

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MiCHN’s Position Paper on Public School Partnerships

MiCHN wants to clearly state what has always been the case: Our vision explains that we exist “to promote Biblically-based, family-centered, privately-funded, parent-directed home discipleship” in Michigan. Therefore, we do not encourage involvement in any ‘shared time’ or partnership programs with the public schools. We are very concerned about the rapid growth of such public school partnerships because of the following reasons:

  1. Public school partnerships negatively impact private homeschool co-ops and support groups.

Homeschool co-operatives are perhaps one of the best examples of Christians working together to accomplish a common godly objective. The Church has always struggled to love one another and to work together with each one carrying their own load, truly functioning as the Body of Christ is called to do in Scripture. The homeschool community has done well over the years working together, with members from different churches, different homes, and different walks of life, coming together to share their various gifts and talents and areas of expertise, for mutual edification and benefit- to glorify the Lord as we help our children learn to know God and His world better.

If we look increasingly to government school programs to provide the classes we personally can’t or won’t teach for our children, then we rob both the homeschool community and ourselves of the joy and blessing of working together, and of the godly character development that comes through this process. Private homeschool support groups and co-ops are losing members and even ceasing to exist, as more homeschool families are looking to the government instead of the private homeschool community, to assist them in their homeschool endeavors.

  1. Public school partnerships appear to be a violation of our state constitution and therefore a misappropriation of state funds.

All of us should want the government held accountable for the usage of our tax dollars wherever they are allocated. While this misappropriation is currently being ignored by the current administration in the educational arena, it doesn’t mean it will be ignored by subsequent administrations.  The Michigan Constitution spells out clearly in Article VIII Section 2, that No public monies or property shall be appropriated or paid or any public credit utilized, by the legislature or any other political subdivision or agency of the state directly or indirectly to aid or maintain any private, denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary, elementary, or secondary school. No payment, credit, tax benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher, subsidy, grant or loan of public monies or property shall be provided, directly or indirectly, to support the attendance of any student or the employment of any person at any such nonpublic school or at any location or institution where instruction is offered in whole or in part to such nonpublic school students.”

  1. Public school partnerships make the government bigger and fund secular education in our state.

By participating in public school partnerships, homeschool families provide public schools with additional funding collected from Michigan taxpayers around our state… and those funds are being used to develop curriculum and promote the teaching of many beliefs that are anti-Biblical and in conflict with a Christian worldview.

  1. Public school partnerships can lead families to ever-increasing involvement in government schools.

Some have entered into public school partnerships in a very limited capacity, finding them helpful with a just few non-core classes… only to eventually be enticed back into the public school full-time. MiCHN believes parental Christian discipleship should be the primary reason to homeschool, with the secondary reason being to develop stronger family relationships which lead to godly influence in the lives of our children. A strong academic education is a wonderful by-product of this focus on “seeking first the Kingdom of God…” Sending our children more and more into the public school environment makes the work of training our children to love and serve the Lord infinitely more difficult.

  1. There is a real possibility for future oversight of all Michigan homeschoolers because of a need to oversee public school partnership families.

Currently, there is little to no oversight or accountability for those taking the government funds through parent partnerships: no testing, no records submitted, no curriculum list, etc. At this time, there is simply a requirement to “report” or “be counted” so that the school district can procure their full per-pupil funding for the partnership students, then pass a small portion of that back to the families.   Could this oversight become much more invasive over time?  It’s a likely possibility.

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The Research for Homeschooling
Homeschooling Facts General Facts and Trends Homeschooling – that is, parent-led home-based education – is an age-old traditional educational practice that a decade ago appeared to be cutting-edge and “alternative” but is now bordering on “mainstream” in the United States. It may be the fastest-growing form of education in the United States. Home-based education has also growing around the world in many other nations (e.g., Australia, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom). There are about 2.04 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during the spring of 2010 in the United States. It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years). Families engaged in home-based education are not dependent on public, tax-funded resources for their children’s education. The finances associated with their homeschooling likely represent over $16 billion that American taxpayers do not have to spend since these children are not in public schools Homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of homeschool families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo). A demographically wide variety of people homeschool – these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white; parents with Ph.D.s, GEDs, and no high-school diplomas. Most parents and youth decide to homeschool for more than one reason. The most common reasons given for homeschooling are the following: customize or individualize the curriculum and learning environment for each child, accomplish more academically than in schools, use pedagogical approaches other than those typical in institutional schools, enhance family relationships between children and parents and among siblings, provide guided and reasoned social interactions with youthful peers and adults, provide a safer environment for children and youth, because of physical violence, drugs and alcohol, psychological abuse, and improper and unhealthy sexuality associated with institutional schools, and teach and impart a particular set of values, beliefs, and worldview to children and youth. Reasons for Home Educating Academic Performance The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income. Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement. Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement. Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions. Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges. Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem. Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work One researcher finds that homeschooling gives young people an unusual chance to ask questions such as, “Who am I?” and “What do I really want?,” and through the process of such asking and gradually answering the questions home-educated girls develop the strengths and the resistance abilities that give them an unusually strong sense of self. Some think that boys’ energetic natures and tendency to physical expression can more easily be accommodated in home-based education. Many are concerned that a highly disproportionate number of public school special-education students are boys and that boys are 2.5 times as likely as girls in public schools to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Gender Differences in Children and Youth Respected? Success in the “Real World” of Adulthood The research base on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they: participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population, vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population. Internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a very high rate. General Interpretation of Research on Homeschool Success or Failure It is possible that homeschooling causes the positive traits reported above. However, the research designs to date do not conclusively “prove” that homeschooling causes these things. At the same time, there is no empirical evidence that homeschooling causes negative things compared to institutional schooling. Future research may better answer the question of causation. Sources The above findings are extensively documented in one or more of the following sources, all (except one) of which are available from A Homeschool Research Story, Brian. D. Ray, 2005, in Homeschooling in Full View: A Reader. Academic achievement and demographic traits of homeschool students: A nationwide study, Brian D. Ray, 2010, Academic Leadership Journal, A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Adolescent Girls. Susannah Sheffer, 1995. Home Educated and Now Adults: Their Community and Civic Involvement, Views About Homeschooling, and Other Traits, Brian D. Ray, 2004. Home schooling: The Ameliorator of Negative Influences on Learning, Brian D. Ray, Peabody Journal of Education, 2000, v. 75 no. 1 & 2, pp. 71-106. Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us, by Brian D. Ray, Journal of College Admission, 2004, No. 185, 5-11. National Education Association. (2005). Rankings and estimates: A Report of School Statistics Update. Retrieved 7/10/06 online The Truth About Boys and Girls. Sara Mead, 2006. Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, Brian D. Ray, 2005. About the Author Brian D. Ray, Ph.D. is an internationally known researcher, educator, speaker, and expert witness, and serves as president of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute. He has taught as a certified teacher in public and private schools and served as a professor in the fields of science, research methods, and education at the graduate and undergraduate levels. His Ph.D. is in science education from Oregon State University and his M.S. is in zoology from Ohio University. Dr. Ray has been studying the homeschool movement for about 24 years. For more homeschool research and more in-depth interpretation of research, please contact: National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) PO Box 13939 Salem OR 97309 USA tel. (503) 364‑1490 [email protected] Copyright © 2011 by Brian D. Ray
Interview with the De Jonge Family, History of Homeschooling in Michigan
In Michigan, the most pivotal court case in opening up homeschooling to parents was De Jonge vs. Michigan. Mark and Christine De Jonge were called into court and accused of violating the state’s compulsory attendance laws. You can read more about their case here: MiCHN: In what year did your family begin home educating, and what originally motivated you to choose that option? Mark & Christine De Jonge: We enrolled our first child Tony in the public school for kindergarten and 1st grade.  We did not like what we saw in the class room (Chris being a room mother). Tony came home with papers on evolution with pictures along and literature of conjecture on how they believed species evolved.  And then there were the manners of the children, the disrespect for the teacher, and the fact our son didn’t seem to be learning much. In kindergarten he didn’t even finish going through the Alphabet.  The whole picture looked chaotic. 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We saw the curriculum from Christian Liberty Academy there that night and were very excited to begin. From that time on, as a couple, we grew in the Lord and knew what God was leading us to homeschool. MiCHN: Your court case was precedent setting in terms of removing the teacher certification requirement for homeschoolers in Michigan. Describe what went through your minds when you found out that you had been charged with truancy in 1985 because you were homeschooling. Mark & Christine De Jonge: When we started homeschooling we were very secretive. We did not tell anyone but our parents and some in our small church. When the school bus would go by we would be sure our children were out of sight.  I’m not even sure where we had heard of HSLDA but we had applied for membership and Chris was confronted at the front door only two weeks into the start of the school year, two or three days after we had received notification that we had been accepted as members in HSLDA.  That was a time of anxiety.  The social workers were trying to be intimidating as possible and threatened to take away our children because we were not sending our children to school. Probably the most difficult part of all this was that it was someone quite close to us that reported us. So few people knew we were homeschooling, the confrontation from the social workers was so soon after we started schooling and they had the names and birthdates of the children all correct. By the time the truancy charges actually came it seemed as just a matter of course as we had been in regular contact with HSLDA and they helped prepare us for what was coming. MiCHN: Did you object to teacher certification on religious grounds? If so, what was your thought process on that issue? Mark & Christine De Jonge: Yes we did. We were challenged on this by HSLDA.  We had been trained in the Word concerning the authority God has given to different institutions on earth, Civil, Church and the Family. Each having their own realm of authority. We thoroughly searched the Word of God and were convinced that nowhere is education given to the State but rather the State had usurped that authority.   We could not agree to teacher certification because that would be denying God’s authority that he has given to us as parents and allow the state control in our home in an area that God has not given them. MiCHN: Who were the significant attorneys who helped you to represent your case? Mark & Christine De Jonge: That is one of the parts that for us that was a great joy.  David Kallman handled the case early on at the local district court with consultation with HSLDA.  Chris Klicka with HLSDA through the Appeals Courts and Michael Farris, Pres of HLSDA, along with Chris Klicka at the Supreme Court of MI. God has enriched our lives having had the privileged in getting to know them. MiCHN: Did you have any idea at the time that your case would be so important for the future of homeschooling in Michigan? Mark & Christine De Jonge: Starting out we certainly did not.  We just wanted to train our children and be left alone. But, from the time the social workers showed up at our door, to when the State Supreme Court decision come down in our favor, it had been 9 years.  So at some point along the way it became obvious to us it was going to be very important.  Truthfully it is not why we fought but we were thrilled that God used men like our attorneys and an organization like HSLDA to establish His rightful authority in the home for those who seek to fulfill His will. MiCHN: What might have been at stake for you personally if you had lost your state supreme court case, and what might have been the next step for you at that point? Mark & Christine DeJonge: Those were some crazy times and a few crazies had made contact with us wanting to offer their counsel. It seems a little surreal now but we did meet with others in the homeschool community and made plans before we went to the circuit court judge on an appeal to get a stay of sentence.  This judge could have denied our appeal and ordered the children into a public school and if we refused he could have held us in contempt of court or even taken our children into custody.  We had our children stay at one of those parents homes and if things had gone badly they were to take them out of state to another homeschool family.  By the time it got to the State Supreme Court we did not have those kinds of fears.  If it had gone against us at the State Supreme Court we probably would have just moved out of state. On the other hand if we would have appealed that decision, our two oldest that were named in the suit would no longer have been of compulsorily age by the time we ran out of the appeals process. MiCHN: What advice would you give to new families who are just beginning their homeschooling journey? Mark & Christine De Jonge: Don’t set up your HS like the State Schools. All of our everyday life is schooling. Have your sit-down school books, but incorporate everything you do with your children. Other than teaching that all of this world, and one’s life, are to be under the Kingship of Christ, nothing is more important than reading.  If your child can read and comprehend they have access to every opportunity. Teach manners and respect for adults. You know what’s best for your children. Everything you need is available to you and your children. Do your research and join your church homeschooling or area group. As a note of caution, do not become so busy with every support group and activity that is available out there that you are not spending the time that you should be one on one at home with your child. You can become so busy that you miss out on the true joy of training your children. MiCHN: Please give us an update on your children (and grandchildren?) and what life has been like for you in the post-homeschooling years. Mark & Christine De Jonge: We have seven married children, one more daughter getting married on Oct 2nd and we have 26 grandchildren.  That leaves us with two daughters at home. It is wonderful to witness God’s covenant faithfulness to us as we have sought to be faithful to our promise to Him to train our children up in the “fear and admonition of the Lord”. Our youngest daughter has graduated only a year and four month ago so we do not know so much about the post-homeschool years but I don’t think it really it is so much different.  It is just life. We do have some different activities but the same walking before our Lord.  It is wonderful to be a witness of all our children being faithful in training their children in the way of our God. MiCHN: Finally, please share anything else that you think might be helpful for homeschoolers today to know about your court case and/or homeschooling experience. Mark & Christine De Jonge: All of those to whom God has given children can and must train their children.  We know that because it is God who has given us children and He has commanded that we train our children.  It does not mean that you cannot receive assistance but the responsibility and authority is yours. Be in the Lord!  Let your children see and hear you pray.  Pray for them, pray with them. Read the Word. Be faithful in your attendance in church. Keep the Sabbath Day Holy. Train your children to properly respect authority and train them what proper biblical authority is. Show your children how to love the Lord of all creation by being obedient to His Word.  Have fun with your children. Do what you love and they will love what you love. We are all a bit dysfunctional, very imperfect, and all sinners. Be forgiving toward one another. Teach them to love our Country and why our country is so great, or at least its heritage.  Why it’s ideals are better than many other countries. Stand up for what you know is truth. God’s Word is for our training and our children, for today and till Christ returns.