Archives for category: Home Schooling

 

The horrific case of the abusive Turpin family in California, who enslaved their children while claiming to be a home school, reminds us that these children will remain after their parents are imprisoned.

A reader in Oregon contacted me to tell me about an organization that documents these cases. 

We trust parents to love and cherish their children. What happens when they don’t?

 

The news media have given ample attention to the story of the married couple who chained their 13 children to their bedsteads and starved them. One child escaped and called authorities. The parents registered their home of enslavement as a “home school.” 

Needless to say, there was neither teaching nor learning, just two parents abusing their unfortunate children.

What would Betsy DeVos say? Trust the parents. They made their choice. The parents know best. I recall when John White, the state superintendent of Louisiana said the same thing. Trust the parents.

“The private school had a welcoming name. The principal was scientifically minded. But the Sandcastle Day School was a nightmare for the six students enrolled there.

“David A. Turpin created the school inside his nondescript stucco home southeast of Los Angeles. But the only ones enrolled there were the six of his 13 children who were school age. And what took place inside was not teaching but torture, the authorities said, after they raided the house over the weekend and found a horrifying scene of emaciated children chained to furniture. The putrid smell overwhelmed them.

“By creating such a school of horrors, Mr. Turpin had kept the authorities at bay. His children were never seen by teachers or counselors. Their absences never raised suspicions. On Tuesday, state and local officials were on the defensive as they tried to explain how such things could have occurred in a private school the state had sanctioned.

“Mr. Turpin, 56, and his wife, Louise A. Turpin, 49, were arrested on nine counts of torture and child endangerment after one of their daughters escaped from the home out a window before dawn and called the police on a deactivated cellphone that only allowed her to dial 911. The girl, 17, showed the police photos to corroborate her story. Once the authorities entered the disheveled home, they found the Turpins’ 12 other children, ages 2 to 29. They were so malnourished that the older ones looked years younger.

“I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering that they have endured,” Mayor Michael Vargas of Perris said of the siblings. “This is a very happy and tight, hard-working family community.”

“How a family that some described as normal just a few years ago had seemingly unraveled so severely, nobody seemed to know…

“Before Sunday, there was no indication that any authority had ever set foot in the home. Riverside County’s child protective services never received reports of abuse. And the State Department of Education said it had registered the school, but had never been inside.

The case raises questions about whether the state may be too lenient in its approach to home schooling and whether it should have been monitoring Mr. Turpin more closely. In California, almost anyone can open a private school by filing an affidavit with the state. California is one of 14 states that ask parents only to register to create a home school, and in 11 other states, including Texas, parents are not required to submit any documentation at all.

“The California Department of Education said it was sickened by the tragedy and was investigating what had occurred. The department registers private schools, but “does not approve, monitor, inspect, or oversee” them, said Bill Ainsworth, a department spokesman.

“Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, a Democrat from Stockton, Calif., and a social worker who teaches at California State University, Sacramento, said that she would support legislation to monitor such schools.

“The state has a responsibility to make sure there is at least an annual inspection,” she said. “If we’re not going to uphold educational standards, then for the love of God the least we can do is uphold health and safety standards. We need to do everything we can for vulnerable minors before it becomes anything this tragic.”

Please, if you are a journalist, ask Betsy DeVos about how home schools and private schools should be regulated.

 

Delve into the mind of Betsy DeVos.

She is the first Secretary of Education ever to address the American Legislative Exchange Council, the secretive far-right organization funded by the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, and major corporations, with the intent of getting rid of unions, standards for teachers, environmental regulations, and anything that gets in the way of corporations.

Here is the speech she delivered today, released by the U.S. Department of Education.

Jennifer Berkshire (the writer formerly known as EduShyster) is one of the best education writers on the national scene.

In this article, she describes the evangelical roots of the present school-choice movement, as personified by Betsy DeVos.

You will meet some very peculiar people who loathe “government schooling” and prefer to home school their children. Some will be familiar to you, like the far-right billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah, who bankrolled Steve Bannon and Breitbart News. Daughter Rebekah homeschools her children to keep them free from the contamination of both public and private schools.

Berkshire notes that the Mercers funded an odd Oregon politician named Arthur Robinson.

She writes about Robinson:

In Oregon, Robinson is known as a kooky Tea Party-ish chemist who has been stockpiling urine as part of his mission to improve health, happiness, prosperity — and boost student test scores. He’s also a perennial GOP congressional candidate whose long-shot bids have been mostly underwritten by the Mercers.

In Christian homeschooling circles, Arthur Robinson is a household name. The Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum, developed by Robinson and his six home-schooled children, teaches children to “teach themselves and to acquire superior knowledge as did many of America’s most outstanding citizens in the days before socialism in education.”

Robinson fleshed out his views on education during his 2016 run for Congress, releasing an education platform called “Art’s Education Plan!” He called for a nationwide voucher program, providing every student in the United States with the “freedom and resources to apply to any school in our nation, public or private.”

There was also a bold plan for Congress to shut down the schools of Washington, DC, for three months, long enough to fire the “unionized deadwood” and create a model in which students and parents are customers rather than “vassals of school administrators.”

She describes the ultra-conservative financiers and their faithful political vassals who have turned Florida into a mecca for publicly funded religious education, even though the Florida Constitution explicitly forbids it, and even though the state’s voters turned down a Jeb Bush effort to strip the state Constitution of its anti-voucher language in 2012.

Yes, there are some far-right extremists in the school choice movement. But, notes Berkshire, it was not DeVos that put school choice into the mainstream. It was Democrats who called themselves “reformers.”


DeVos and her allies are aided in the efforts to dismantle public education by Democratic education reformers who’ve spent the past two decades doing essentially the same thing. It is “progressive” reformers, after all, who’ve led the charge to convince parents and taxpayers that there is no meaningful difference between a public school and one that’s privately managed. That parents don’t care who runs their schools as long as they’re good is a standard reform talking point, along with the reminder that “charter schools are public schools….”

School choice has been legitimized, not by DeVos et al, but by the likes of Corey Booker, Rahm Emanuel and other reform-minded Democrats. If saving public education is to be a key plank of the #resistance, Democrats will have to join the fight or be swept aside.

Bob Braun was a star investigative reporter in New Jersey. Now he is retire and blogs about the misdeeds and antics and corruption in his state. He is deeply knowledgeable about education.

In this post, he wonders whether the allies of public education have the guts and the will to save their public schools from predators.

Here he reports on a conference of public school advocates in New Jersey and warns against collaborating with those who want to destroy what you value. You cannot find common ground with vandals.

He writes:

“It’s not as if the problems aren’t known. Bruce Baker, the Rutgers professor who is probably the smartest and most cutting critic of state educational policy, warned both about the regressive nature of school funding under Christie–and the growing acceptance of the segregating effects of charter schools, privately-operated, public-funded schools that help frightened parents run away from public schools.

“We’ve lost momentum on the idea that pubic schools should be inclusive,” he said. “They”–the critics of public schools–“are making the opposite argument and they are winning.”

In short, the fundamental idea that public schools are and should be engines of equality and diversity is losing support.

And how will it be restored? Baker and others–including Theresa Luhm of the Education Law Center (ELC)–were not hopeful. No, it’s not that they were pessimistic–they were all hopeful the last eight years of Christie’s contempt for public education could be reversed. But they also warned that any effort to rewrite school funding laws were inherently dangerous because they invited political interference in the pursuit of true equity. Better to leave well enough alone and tinker with the edges.

Like Phil Murphy’s expected candidacy, this is simply not enough. Something akin to a political tsunami has occurred that is about to wash away public education as we know it and something more than the restoration of the Bourbons to public education is needed.

Participants in the conference danced around the danger of charters–but they are starving public schools. Yet even charter critics like Mark Weber–better known as the blogger Jersey Jazzman–offered palliatives when, in fact, bulldozers are needed. Charters suspend and expel 20 to 30 times more students than do public schools, a good way of enhancing their student test results, and such behavior raises serious moral as well as political issues.

Charters are cancers. There are no good cancers–and charter schools are metastasizing throughout education.

Mary Bennett, a former Newark high school principal, spoke about governance–specifically the return of local control to the Newark schools. But she neglected to mention that the path to local control was impeded, not by the will of the Newark people willing to fight for their schools, but by the unfortunate deal cut between Christie and Mayor Ras Baraka to end criticism of Christie’s policies in the city, including the vast expansion–doubling in ten years–of charter school enrollment.

Baraka, in short, impeded the pace of a return to local control and now takes credit for expediting it. The dangers public schools face now cannot allow such delusional political thinking–the enemies in Washington are too real and too powerful.

In the audience, Newark activist Roberto Cabanas pointed out the obvious: If the people of Newark just waited out Christie’s term, local control would be returned in 2018 when he leaves–even if Baraka had lost to pro-charter Shavar Jeffries in the 2014 mayoral contest. All the marches and rallies and speeches were pretty much useless.

“We could have done nothing and achieved the same result,” he said.

Don’t forget these were the activists, the advocates, the good guys, at the conference. But they argued against tinkering with the school aid formula, wrung their hands about seeking an end to charter schools completely, held out little hope about seriously integrating the public schools of the state, and believed that a mayor who hires school board members really means it when he talks about independent public education.

Even if Phil Murphy is elected, public education in New Jersey–and throughout the nation–is in serious trouble.

It is underfunded.

It is racially segregated.

It is in danger of being swept away by charters.

Its employees are demoralized.

It has been targeted for destruction by a national administration unlike any other in the history of the republic.

In short, without aggressive action to restore the promise of public education, it will continue to lose support among those who will turn to nuts like Trump and DeVos to find answers in alternatives like vouchers, private schooling, and home-schooling.”

Here is the official transcript issued by the White House of Trump’s “listening tour.” Note how he gushes over every parent or teacher not in a public school and how quickly he breezes past a Teacher of special education in a public school. He seems to promise near the end to reduce the rate of autism. He says he visited an amazing charter school in Las Vegas but clearly doesn’t know that most of the charter schools in Nevada are failing schools.

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 14, 2017
Remarks by President Trump at Parent-Teacher Conference Listening Session

Roosevelt Room

10:50 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I am delighted to welcome everybody to the White House. And Betsy DeVos, who has gone through — our new Education Secretary — she went through an interesting moment. And you’re going to do a fantastic job, and I know you would have done it again if you had to do it again, right? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY DEVOS: Probably.

THE PRESIDENT: She had no doubt that final night, waiting for the vote. So I just want to congratulate you. You showed toughness and genius.

As I said many times in my campaign, we want every child in America to have the opportunity to climb the ladder to success. I want every child also to have a safe community, and we’re going to do that very much. We’re going to be helping you a lot — a great school and some day to get a really well-paying job or better, or better; own their own company. And a lot of people are looking at that.

But it all begins with education, and that’s why we’re here this morning. And I’m here also to celebrate a little bit with Betsy because we started this journey a long time ago, having to do with change and so many other good things with education. And I’m so happy that that all worked out.

Right now, too many of our children don’t have the opportunity to get that education that we all talk about. Millions of poor, disadvantaged students are trapped in failing schools and this crisis — and it really is a crisis — of education and communities working together but not working out. And we’re going to change it around, especially for the African American communities. It’s been very, very tough and unfair. And I know that’s a priority and it’s a certainly a priority of mine.

That’s why I want every single disadvantaged child in America, no matter what their background or where they live, to have a choice about where they go to school. And it’s worked out so well in some communities where it’s been properly run and properly done. And it’s a terrific thing.

Charter schools, in particular, have demonstrated amazing gains and results. And you look at the results — we have cases in New York City that have been amazing in providing education to disadvantaged children and the success of so many different schools that I can name throughout the country that I got to see during the campaign. I went to one in Las Vegas; it was the most unbelievable thing you’ve ever seen. And they’ve done a fantastic job.

So there are many such schools and we want to do that on a large-scale basis. We can never lose sight of the connection between education and jobs. I’m bringing a lot of jobs back. We’re bringing a lot of big plants back into the country — everyone said it was impossible. And before I even took office, we started the process and tremendous numbers of plants are coming back into this country — car plants and other plants. And I have meetings next week with four or five different companies, big ones that are going to bring massive numbers of jobs back.

So we’re doing it from the jobs standpoint, but education only makes it better. Our goal is a clear and very safe community, great schools, and we want those jobs that are high-paying jobs — we’ve lost a lot of our best jobs to other countries and we’re going to bring them back.

So I’m going to do my job, and Betsy, at the education level, will do her job. And just to do it very, very formally, I want to congratulate you on having gone through a very tough trial and a very unfair trial, and you won. And there’s something very nice about that. And I’ll tell you the real winner will be the children — I guess a couple of adults (inaudible) — but will be the children of this country. And I just want to congratulate you.

SECRETARY DEVOS: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps we’ll go around the room. And everybody knows our fantastic Vice President, Mike Pence. But if we went around the room, it would be very nice. So why don’t we start? Betsy, you might want to say a few words to us.

SECRETARY DEVOS: Well, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, I am just very honored to have the opportunity to serve America’s students, and I’m really excited to be here today with parents and educators representing traditional public schools, charter public schools, homeschools, private schools, a range of choices. And we’re eager to listen and learn from you your ideas for how we can ensure that all of our kids have an equal opportunity for a high-quality, great education and therefore an opportunity for the future.

So again, I just wanted to have the opportunity to serve, and looking forward to fulfilling the mission that you set forward.

THE PRESIDENT: It’s our honor — believe me, Betsy.

Kenneth.

MR. SMITH: Ken Smith, educator helping at-risk kids get through school. Vice President, it actually has the largest application of jobs for America’s graduates in the country. And in a minute we’ll talk about that as a solution.

THE PRESIDENT: Great. Good.

Laura.

MS. PARRISH: Laura Parrish, I’m from Falls Church, Virginia. I homeschool my 10- and my 13-year-old.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Very good.

Mary.

MS. RINER: My name is Mary. I’m a charter school parent here in D.C., and considered the best school in America.

THE PRESIDENT: You think, huh? (Laughter.)

MS. RINER: I know.

THE PRESIDENT: I like that.

MS. RINER: According to U.S. News & World Report.

THE PRESIDENT: Really? Is that right? Wow.

Jennifer.

MS. COLEMAN: I am Jennifer Coleman. I am from Prince William County, Virginia. I am the mother of six, and I homeschool my oldest four; they are grades kindergarten through seven. And before that I was a private school teacher.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good.

MR. CIRENZA: Bartholomew Cirenza. I’m a parent of seven, and my kids have gone through both private and public school, and I see differences, and —

THE PRESIDENT: Big difference.

MR. CIRENZA: Big difference.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay.

MS. BAUMANN: Good morning, I’m Julie. I teach special education at a public school in New Jersey.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good. Thank you.

MS. QUENNVILLE: Hi, I’m Jane Quennville, and I’m a principal of a special-ed center in Virginia serving children ages five through twenty-two with autism and physical and medically fragile conditions.

THE PRESIDENT: How is that going?

MS. QUENNVILLE: Well —

THE PRESIDENT: Have you seen an increase in the autism with the children?

MS. QUENNVILLE: Yes, yes. In fact, our school has shifted its population — saw more children with autism, definitely.

THE PRESIDENT: So what’s going on with autism? When you look at the tremendous increases, really, it’s such an incredible — it’s like really a horrible thing to watch, the tremendous amount of increase. Do you have any idea? And you’re seeing it in the school?

MS. QUENNVILLE: Yes, I think — I mean, I think the statistics, I believe, are 1 in 66, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism.

THE PRESIDENT: And now it’s going to be even lower —

MS. QUENNVILLE: Probably.

THE PRESIDENT: — which is just amazing. Well, maybe we can do something.

MS. BONILLA: I am Carol Bonilla. I teach Spanish in a private elementary school in Arlington. I teach the students in fourth through eighth grade.

THE PRESIDENT: Very good. Thank you.

MS. VIANA: Good morning, Mr. Vice President, Mr. President. My name is Aimee Viana. I’m the parent of two children — fifth grade and second grade — and I live right outside of Raleigh, North Carolina in Cary, and I’m also a former educator in public and private schools.

THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. Thank you. So thank you all very much. Let’s get going.

END
10:58 P.M. EST

Reading politico.com’s daily education brief today is like being trapped in a nightmare and wishing you could wake up. In this case, it is not a bad dream, it is an ugly reality with familiar faces intent on giving public dollars to private and for-profit schools. Add to that the reports of students fearful for their future, and the outlines of an frightening new world emerge.

Politico reports that Indiana’s approach to school reform–based on privatization–will guide the Trump education reformers. The key to Trump reform is diverting public dollars to charters–including for-profit charters and virtual charters–and vouchers for religious schools.

http://www.politico.com/tipseets/morning-education/2016/11/hoosier-policies-head-to-washington-217478

HOOSIER POLICIES HEAD TO WASHINGTON: The same players who sparked intense education battles in Indiana – and transformed schools in the Hoosier State – are poised to enact those policies on a national stage. Just as George W. Bush brought Texas-style accountability to the Education Department and President Barack Obama tapped Chicago basketball buddy Arne Duncan, Donald Trump’s education policies are expected to reflect the Indiana imprint of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Already, three Hoosiers key in shaping Indiana’s school choice landscape are considered contenders to serve as Trump’s education secretary: Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University; former Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett; and Rep. Luke Messer, a former state representative who served as executive director for School Choice Indiana when the state’s 2011 school choice law was passed under Daniels’ watch. Indiana ties also played a role in Trump’s selection of the campaign staffer who helped him craft his $20 billion school choice plan that encourages vouchers and charter schools: Robert Goad, an aide on loan from Messer.

– Pence used his platform as Indiana governor to aggressively expand a voucher program that allows taxpayer money to flow to religious private schools. Pence also pushed for more charter schools, and choice has now become a defining element of Trump’s vision for education. Indiana’s voucher program allows nearly 33,000 students to go to private school on the public’s dime – making it the single largest voucher program of any state in the country. John Jacobson, dean of Teachers College at Ball State University, said the state’s voucher program hasn’t been around long enough to fully understand the long-term impact. Because of that, Jacobson said, “I would hope they are cautious at the national level.” Has Indiana’s voucher program been a positive change for families? “If you were to ask a parent who received a voucher to a school of their choice, they would say yes,”Jacobson said. “For the general public, I think it’s been difficult for the public to accept, taking public dollars and allocating that to private entities.”

Bennett, you may recall, was at the center off a grade-fixing scandal. The grades of a charter school founded by a major campaign contributor were mysteriously increased by adjusting the formula for calculating grades. Bennett was defeated in his bid for re-election as state chief in Indiana, but quickly hired by Florida as chief (he is a protege of Jeb Bush). He resigned as chief in Florida after the grade-fixing scandal broke.

Gene V. Glass here reproduces the Republican platform on education. The Republican platform supports school choice, the public display of the Ten Commandments, merit pay, two-parent families, and a Constitutional amendment to keep government from interfering with parental rights over children. (I am reminded of the day in 2012 when Mitt Romney went into an all-black school in Philadelphia and spoke out about the virtues of two-parent families; the principal told him that few of the children had two parents, which left open the question of what educators are supposed to do in the face of reality.)

The Republican platform supports home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, early-college high schools, and vouchers. It does not mention support for public schools, except as a place where students should be permitted to pray. The platform also believes that military service is a better credential for teaching than any study or practice in a professional education program.

The platform does not acknowledge the growing body of evidence that vouchers and charters do not provide superior educations to poor children.

We support the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage and further affirm the rights of religious students to engage in voluntary prayer at public school events and to have equal access to school facilities. We assert the First Amendment right of freedom of association for religious, private, service, and youth organizations to set their own membership standards.

Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage. We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation.

We call for removal of structural impediments which progressives throw in the path of poor people: Over-regulation of start-up enterprises, excessive licensing requirements, needless restrictions on formation of schools and day-care centers serving neighborhood families, and restrictions on providing public services in fields like transport and sanitation that close the opportunity door to all but a favored few. We will continue our fight for school choice until all parents can find good, safe schools for their children.

Education: A Chance for Every Child

Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a cultural identity. That is why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces from outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. They have done immense damage. The federal government should not be a partner in that effort, as the Constitution gives it no role in education. At the heart of the American Experiment lies the greatest political expression of human dignity: The self- evident truth that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing. We support a constitutional amendment to protect that right from interference by states, the federal government, or international bodies such as the United Nations. We reject a one- size-fits-all approach to education and support a broad range of choices for parents and children at the state and local level. We likewise repeat our long- standing opposition to the imposition of national standards and assessments, encourage the parents and educators who are implementing alternatives to Common Core, and congratulate the states which have successfully repealed it. Their education reform movement calls for choice-based, parent-driven accountability at every stage of schooling. It affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations. It recognizes the wisdom of local control of our schools and it wisely sees consumer rights in education — choice — as the most important driving force for renewing education. It rejects excessive testing and “teaching to the test” and supports the need for strong assessments to serve as a tool so teachers can tailor teaching to meet student needs. Maintaining American preeminence requires a world-class system of education in which all students can reach their potential.

We applaud America’s great teachers, who should be protected against frivolous lawsuits and should be able to take reasonable actions to maintain discipline and order in the classroom. Administrators need flexibility to innovate and to hold accountable all those responsible for student performance. A good understanding of the Bible being indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry, we encourage state legislatures to offer the Bible in a literature curriculum as an elective in America’s high school districts.

Rigid tenure systems should be replaced with a merit-based approach in order to attract the best talent to the classroom. All personnel who interact with school children should pass background checks and be held to the highest standards of personal conduct.

Academic Excellence for All

Maintaining American preeminence requires a world-class system of education in which all students can reach their potential. Republicans are leading the effort to create it. Since 1965, the federal government, through more than 100 programs in the Department of Education, has spent $2 trillion on elementary and secondary education with little substantial improvement in academic achievement or high school graduation rates. The United States spends an average of more than $12,000 per pupil per year in public schools, for a total of more than $620 billion. That represents more than 4 percent of GDP devoted to K-12 education in 2011-2012. Of that amount, federal spending amounted to more than $57 billion. Clearly, if money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free. More money alone does not necessarily equal better performance. After years of trial and error, we know the policies and methods that have actually made a difference in student advancement: Choice in education; building on the basics; STEM subjects and phonics; career and technical education; ending social promotions; merit pay for good teachers; classroom discipline; parental involvement; and strong leadership by principals, superintendents, and locally elected school boards. Because technology has become an essential tool of learning, it must be a key element in our efforts to provide every child equal access and opportunity. We strongly encourage instruction in American history and civics by using the original documents of our founding fathers.

Choice in Education

We support options for learning, including home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, online learning, and early-college high schools. We especially support the innovative financing mechanisms that make options available to all children: education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tuition tax credits. Empowering families to access the learning environments that will best help their children to realize their full potential is one of the greatest civil rights challenges of our time. A young person’s ability to succeed in school must be based on his or her God-given talent and motivation, not an address, ZIP code, or economic status. We propose that the bulk of federal money through Title I for low-income children and through IDEA for children with special needs should follow the child to whatever school the family thinks will work best for them.

In sum, on the one hand enormous amounts of money are being spent for K-12 public education with overall results that do not justify that spending level. On the other hand, the common experience of families, teachers, and administrators forms the basis of what does work in education. In Congress and in the states, Republicans are bridging the gap between those two realities. Congressional Republicans are leading the way forward with major reform legislation advancing the concept of block grants and repealing numerous federal regulations which have interfered with state and local control of public schools. Their Workplace Innovation and Opportunity Act — modernizing workforce programs, repealing mandates, and advancing employment for persons with disabilities — is now law. Their legislation to require transparency in unfunded mandates imposed upon our schools is advancing. Their D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program should be expanded as a model for the rest of the country. We deplore the efforts of Congressional Democrats and the current President to eliminate this successful program for disadvantaged students in order to placate the leaders of the teachers’ unions.

To ensure that all students have access to the mainstream of American life, we support the English First approach and oppose divisive programs that limit students’ ability to advance in American society. We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. That approach — the only one always effective against premarital pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease — empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referral or counseling for abortion and contraception and believe that federal funds should not be used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs. The federal government has pushed states to collect and share vast amounts of personal student and family data, including the collection of social and emotional data. Much of this data is collected without parental consent or notice. This is wholly incompatible with the American Experiment and our inalienable rights.

We urge state education officials to promote the hiring of qualified veterans as teachers in our public schools. Their proven abilities and life experiences will make them more successful instructors and role models for students than would any teaching certification.

I like Dr. Ben Carson’s demeanor: calm, cool, collected. But the things he says are often appalling.

In his calm voice, he often says things that are extremist.

In this video, he praises home-schooling and criticizes public education.

The President of the United States should not take a stand in favor of home schooling unless he thinks it is good public policy for most children.

I would not ban home-schooling for those who want to do it, but it makes no sense as a public policy for the nation. It is one thing to have dubious ideas about how to educate our children, but it is a step beyond rational to suggest that most should be educated by their parents at home. Many parents are ill-equipped to teach their children much beyond the basics; they are surely not masters of algebra, geometry, calculus, and modern science and world history. Many parents are working two or three jobs to make ends meet.

Home schooling should remain a fringe sector for the few parents who have the time and the qualifications to do it.