While this isn't technically my FIRST post, it is my first post of any substance. I decided I need to start off with something that might get people talking, and a topic close to my heart is education.
This past spring, a judge in California tried to make homeschooling illegal unless the parent is a licensed teacher. And while the ruling is basically being ignored by the state (Governor Ah-nold doesn't support it and the state education department refuses to enforce it), news commentators and bloggers have discussed the merits and downfalls of the ruling.
In order to teach in the public school system (and I assume most private schools), a person must have a license or must be working toward a license. Many school systems, especially those who struggle to find teachers, will allow a person with a degree to teach while s/he is taking classes to receive a license. For example, someone who has a degree in English like me is allowed to teach while taking her education classes to get certified.
If a teacher must have a license to teach in the (gasp!) public school system, then why can practically ANYONE choose to homeschool his or her child? Prior to 1994, Tennessee residents who wished to homeschool were required to have a B.A; however, that requirement was lowered and parents now must only have their high school diploma or G.E.D. Parents who don't have the minimum required educational requirements CAN submit waivers which are sometimes approved.
A high school diploma means you graduated; it does not mean you performed well in high school. And considering the pracitce of "social promotion" that was much more prevalent in years past, many of these parents didn't "earn" their diploma. Basically, Tennesse's law potentially allows uneducated--though most likely well-meaning--parents to homeschool their children.
Now before you jump on me, give me a moment to clarify a few things. I'm not AGAINST homeschooling. When done correctly, I am more than willing to admit the value of this method. I understand why parents are disenchanted with the public education system; as a public high school teacher since 2001, I've witnessed first-hand the problems in our schools. The blame for the decline must be placed on many heads, including the parents...but that's a WHOLE different blog.
Back to homeschooling... I understand why parents want to homeschool. I APPLAUD those who pour themselves into it and do it the right way. I think homeschooled kids are just as successful as kids who attend regular school, public and private. I know people who were homeschooled who are brilliant, well-rounded individuals. But the key to homeschooling is the kids have to be SCHOOLED CORRECTLY. And while it seems a majority of the parents are doing this, I can't help but think that some (again, well-meaning) parents just aren't up to the job.
Am I saying that a degree equals infinite knowledge and teaching ability? No. I have a degree and teach school, but that doesn't mean I'm the least bit equipped to teach calculus or chemistry or Spanish or practically anything out of my subject area. BUT I do feel that I COULD teach those things if I needed to. It would take a lot of studying and reviewing on my part, and I would have to take it a lesson at a time and probably learn a lot of it WITH my child. But the bottom line is that I could do it. I'm not tooting my own horn, but I enjoy learning and it has always been a priority. If I want to learn something, I can.
But everyone's not like me.
What about the parent who wants to homeschool who STRUGGLED in school? Or worse, who never really cared that much about school s/he was young? How do these people homeschool their children, especially when the child gets into the upper grades? How do you teach Calculus when you barely passed Algebra? How do teach your child to write an essay when you still can't tell the difference between an adjective and adverb? How do you teach chemistry when you had to retake it in summer school?
My point is what happens to the kids whose parents just aren't up to the challenge?
As I've said, a degree doesn't mean you know everything, but it means you've learned SOMETHING. It shows that you (hopefully) can at least comprehend a wide range of subjects and content areas.
Okay, I've ranted enough. Time for you all to weigh in on this. What type of educational background should parents have in order to homeschool their children? Is a high school diploma enough? Should a degree be required? Or is just the desire to teach your kids at home enough?