Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Misplaced Goal

The Chronicle reports that the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is conducting an audit of students who have withdrawn from public schools in favor of home schooling.
More than 22,620 Texas secondary students were listed as withdrawing to home-school in 2008 — raising a red flag among some experts and educators who worry that Texas’ lax regulations are encouraging abuse in the hands-off home-schooling category. The 2008 figures reflect a 24 percent jump from the prior year and roughly triple the number of high school home-schooling withdrawals from a decade ago. 
The article doesn't tell us what would constitute "abuse" in this context. But it is clear that educational bureaucrats aren't happy that they are losing "customers," nor are they pleased about the lack of state regulations regarding home schooling. But the real purpose of the audit appears to be aimed at public schools.

A home schooling group supports this audit:
The Texas Home School Coalition applauds the state’s efforts to crack down on public school districts who are “dumping” dropouts in the home-schooling category. Although the group strongly opposes government involvement in home schooling, it acknowledges that this audit is not being conducted to reproach families who are educating their children at home.

“School administrators are violating the policy and causing these problems,” coalition president Tim Lambert said. “The solution is, in our view, to put in place some sort of penalties for school officials who are abusing this process.”

In other words, the TEA doesn't trust public school officials. Acknowledging that public school officials might engage in activities that protect their fiefdom, the TEA refuses to question government's virtual monopoly on education and seeks to identify the few bad apples who are scamming the system. But the problem isn't a few bad apples--the problem is the public educational system.

These types of shenanigans are inevitable in any system that is backed by coercion. Public school educators are divorced from market considerations--that is, the free and voluntary choices of parents and students. Despite the rhetoric that routinely fills the papers and the air waves, public school administrators are ultimately answerable to the politicians and bureaucrats who set the standards for the public schools. And when those standards include the arbitrary, such as drop-out rates and standardized test scores, the goal of public schools will shift from educating students to meeting the demands of politicians and bureaucrats.


AMAI said...

I don't get it. What's the point of the audit? Are they looking to blame the home schoolers?

Brian Phillips said...

According to the article, the public schools are getting the blame. It is suspected that they are falsifying records to make themselves look good.

Mr. Moderate said...

If a student drops out to attend home school, that student is not counted in the drop out statistics for a school district. If a student drops out and doesn't attend school, the district's statistics look worse, and I believe there are monetary penalties.

Brian Phillips said...

That is my understanding as well. And that is why the public school officials have an incentive to reduce the drop out rate by claiming students are going to home schooling.