Homeschooling Doesn’t Need Oversight From State

by JR Hoell

Guest Commentary

Everyone wants kids to live healthy, happy lives and to “reach their full potential and become productive members of society.”

No one longs more for their children’s success than their father and mother. Going further, it is the parents who are most deeply troubled when their children are denied access to a quality education.

We see this passion for success when parents hire tutors to give their children the edge in their classes. We also see evidence of this enthusiasm when parents voluntarily give up a second income to teach their children at home.

During the past several years, these same parents have been demanding not just “Adequate Yearly Progress,” but access to a quality eduction for those they love so dearly.

We see this dedication to excellence in academics in the continued growth of alternative education opportunities. For example: New Hampshire has 17 approved charter schools – and several more in the pipeline – 133 approved nonpublic schools and more than 5,000 home-schooled children.

Yet this is still not good enough. There are parents who cannot afford to put their children into the school of their choice. There are parents who wish they had other options but feel like they are locked into a school district.

Parents know full well that a top-quality education is the key to success in this global economy, and it is these same parents who are highly motivated to provide the best education for their children.

So if the traditional public school system is providing this top-quality education, then why does New Hampshire have so many charter, private and home schools with even more on the way?

It’s because parents know our traditional public schools are failing to provide their children with a top-quality education, and if parents can afford it, they are running as fast as they can toward these better alternatives.

In the private corporate world, employees assessed as excellent are given additional responsibility and authority. For poor performance, duties are reduced, authority is removed and, in extreme cases, employees are removed from their positions.

This point is not raised to suggest that we fire administrators of the public school system, but because the public school system rewards poor performance.

The federal No Child Left Behind law is a system that rewards schools that fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress with additional money. Going further, when 100 percent of Nashua schools failed to make AYP in reading and math this year, is it possible that the system has been so distorted so as too encourage dismal performance instead of excellence?

When the state Department of Education publishes statistics that show 46 percent of Nashua high school students are identified at a level “substantially below proficient” – i.e., scoring below 40 percent – is the system set up for success or failure?

In The Telegraph’s July 11 editorial (“Home-school laws weren’t necessary”), Nashua Superintendent Mark Conrad is quoted as saying he believes HB 1571, which is now law, went too far because it greatly reduces his oversight of the education of home-schooled children. The superintendent believes he should have such oversight to ensure that home-schooled children receive a quality education.

It’s true that one of his major responsibilities is to ensure that 11,894 public schoolchildren receive a quality education. So how is he doing in his oversight of the education of Nashua’s public schoolchildren? And should that oversight include 166 children schooled at home?

Well, assessments show he’s doing very poorly.

Conrad and the other superintendents throughout the state are supervising a failed public school system. And they are unable or unwilling to change it.

When our New Hampshire students take the nation’s standardized test in math and reading, these results show 56 percent of eighth-graders cannot do math at grade level and 60 percent cannot read at grade level.

Even with this brutal truth of a failing public education system, Conrad insists that he also oversee the education of home-schooled children. How ludicrous! He should first get his own house in order before he takes on the additional work of supervising nonpublic students.

Those in glass houses paid for by taxpayers should be careful about throwing stones.

Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, is a member of the House Education Committee in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

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