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BY ERIC EWIGGINS
Maxine Carle's home school spreads across the kitchen and family room of her rural
Maine home. Four-year-old Bonny kneels by the patio doors practicing letters from the alphabet. “God made Adam and Eve,'" reads Joshua, age 6, from his primer We Learn About God. Wind and rain tear at trees in the nearby forest as Heather, 9; Holly, 12; and Jamie, 14, work on their studies at battered school desks. Heidi, 16, and 17-year-old Bryan, who is a high school senior, work at Latin and social studies in their mom's Christian Liberty Academy's Satellite School.
Mrs. Carle moves efficiently from child to child, giving help as needed. Between the refrigerator and the sink a tawny Siamese cat nurses six kittens.
The Carle children seem unsurprised that their mother (who at 4S has two grandchildren) is able to assist in their daily learning activities. Marine Carle finished first in her 20-student high school graduating class 27 years ago. Subsequendy she took nurse's training and received her R.N. Now she reads voraciously to keep ahead of her family of students.
Stuart Carle, a self-employed tractortrailer driver, uses knowledge gained in a Marine Corps electronics course to tutor his children in math and science. Both parents find the Christian Liberty Academy instructional aids self-explanatory. The youngsters, Maxine says, "have had plenty of time to finish their work" each of the more than two years they've studied at home.
Says Bryan, “Half the time in high school English class you can't get help. You wait until it's too late, then flunk the test."
Bryan spent a year at a high school in a neighboring community, where he was "flunking English." Now, after two years in the A Beka (Pensacola) series Christian English textbooks, he expects to graduate in the spring and enter Valley Forge Christian College. Both mother and son affirm that in public school Bryan's English textbooks were seldom used, and that class time was spent on drama and mythology,
The Carle children are among 250 youngsters studying at home in Maine-about double those in home schools one year ago. Four years ago, according to Wallace LaFountain, the Maine Department of Education's curriculum consultant, only one child was taught at home with state approval. About 50 of the home students now, says LaFountain, are in state. approved Calvert or Pensacola Christian school correspondence programs. Another 200 are enrolled in Christian Liberty Acad
emy's Satellite School program parents' decision. On national norms, his lost in Nebraska three years ago. (CLASS originating in Prospect Heights, arithmetic skills stood at grade level 6.2 Gerald and Gloria DeNicola, of NewMinoisind an unknown gurbe bave when he catered CLASS in grade 7 in late DEN aine, have been prosecuted two designed their own programs. Most home fall, and at grade level 6.8 in the spring. But
B ars for using the Calvert and schoolers are, in LaFountain's words, vocabulary and composition areas zoomed
D rams to educate their "Pouting the law," since CLASS does not from ende level 7.3 to 10.2, and his
eing foul language, soek state approval. language skills sprouted from grade level
and lack Paul Lindstrom, Christian Liberty's 6.6 to 9.7 in the same period. The other of perso superintendent, says that CLASS now has Carle children have shown similar gains. DeNicolas 3.650 families with 7.000 youngsters in the Public school superintendent William years program nationwide, an increase of 61 Sternberg, of Rockland, Maine, does n oid Gaboma whan percent in one year. Dr. Raymond Moore, make a case for the academic superiority is incip The Dera of the Hewitt Foundation, says his organiza- public school over home instruction. By he
r istia who worship at tion has 15,000 home-schoolers listed in its argues that group schooling, whether ob
senini with two other famifiles. Moore estimates that at least 250.000 lic, private, or parochial, supplies necesary youngsters nationwide study at home. His "socialization," "social contacts, or
Instructional material figure is based on known local home schools "social development." No opportunit)
Alaine D artment of Education's und is extrapolated into the national school- parent can provide, claims Sternberg, appe val for usc—provided parents age population. equal to one hundred and twenty-five 8- to
dles such as demonstrating "Home schooling is a stabilizing effect' 13-year-olds lumped together in one setting they are qualified" to teach the DeNiin my children's lives, Mrs. Carle says, five and three-quarter hours a day," afford- colas were refused permission by their local explaining her reasons for taking the five ing many "spontaneous experiences" not board to educate at home. They then applied older youngsters still at home out of the possible at home.
directly to the state for approval, but in the public schools nearly three years ago. In But a Maine father, who chooses not to be interim, district superintendent Hartland public school, she remarked, "Mother tells identified for fear of harrassment, strongly Cushman had the DeNicolas hauled into them one thing, and the teacher another. disagrees. "We were brainwashed," he court on truancy charges. The judge disWho do the children believe?" Mrs. Carle said of his experience with his two junior- missed the case because the state had by told of an elementary teacher whose life- highers now in their fourth year of home then overruled Cushman's local board. style, she feels, is leading older girls astray. schooling, "into thinking our children had Cushman has even more aggressively purBut though parents have complained to the to be in school for their social developsued the DeNicolas this school year by tying public school authorities, nothing can be meat." He and his wife say that the up their bome-school application at the local done to correct the after-hours behavior of youngsters have social contact with other level, preventing direct appeal to the state. this popular schoolteacher.
children five days a week, including church Cushman has again had the DeNicolas "We have a Christian heritage that is and youth activities two or three times arrested, and the judge is trying to mediate. important to us," says Maxine Carle. Our weekly.
Esther White, Dixfield, Maine, is a children don't get that heritage in school." The Carles likewise feel that their chil- Seventh-day Adventist who has chosen Her husband, Stuart, agrees. "God is taken dren get adequate social contact. The three home instruction for her youngsters, several away from our children" in the public older youngsters are now spending at least of whom are now in high school. She says, schools, he told the Rockland Courier. One day a week hammering nails or painting "If I had to give one qualification for my Gazette. "Our children are getting taught to with the volunteer crew at their Baptist ability to teach my children, I would have to do their own thing."
church's new sanctuary-classroom-gymna- answer that it is that I am their mother." Like several parents interviewed by sium complex. When not working, they are Though she wrote as part of 1 for LIBERTY, a relatively minor but frustrating playing basketball with other teens in the application for home schooling in which she incident, coupled with learning of the church's new gym. The entire family intends to design a program around Rod and availability of home schooling, precipitated attends some church activity several times a Staff (Mennonite) curricula, her reasons the Carles' pulling their three elementary week.
express the feelings of many home-school aged and two high-school-aged children out Paul Lindstrom reports that very few of parents: The government has no right, either
public school in 1981. Jamie, then in his parents have encountered legal harrass- from a constitutional or Biblical position, to grade 7. was behind in his math, and his ment, though many states do mandate insist on monitoring a parents' home-educamother went to see the principal to try to official supervision of home schools tion program beyond the restraints of correct the situation. Though the principal practice that CLASS avoids simply by not ordinary child abuse laws. treated her cordially, she got nowhere in reporting to authorities. The Carles, for Dr. Raymond Moore supports the right trying to get Jamie the help he needed. example, have refused to permit public and the advisibility of parents such as the
About that time the Carles went to hear a school personnel to supervise their school. Carles, the DeNicolas, and the Whites to mother talk on Christian Liberty Academy. Though the local superintendent has teach at home. "If a parent can read and
This was "exactly the thing" we wanted, referred the matter to the state attorney write, speak clearly," and keeps a "sysMaxine Carle remembers. It sounded "So general, no word has been heard from that tematic house," then home schooling may positive." They enrolled the children in office in the two years since. Lindstrom says be the best course, he said. In fact, it is a CLASS at once. Bonny and Joshua, now that about 100 of some 2.600 CLASS "slap in the parent's face to suggest that the also in the program, have never been to families were threatened during the 1982. State (can) out-parent most fathers and school outside their home.
1983 school year. Only three, in Texas, Jamie's lowa Tests of Basic Skills for that came to court (all were won by CLASS). Eric E. Wiggin is a full-time free-lance first year seem to confirm the wisdom of his Lindstrom concedes that several cases were writer in Rockland, Maine.
Dr. Moore's books are steeped in Biblical principle. He readily affirms that many of his ideas on schooling came from a study of the Bible and the culture of ancient Israel. Deuteronomy 6:7, he said, is central to his beliefs about home schooling: "And thou (fathers) shalt teach them (God's precepts] diligently unto thy children."
Mike McHuga, administrator for admissions and curriculum development at Chris tian Liberty Academy, observes that the Bill of Rights would have been entitled the Bill of Privileges had the Founding Fathers envisioned a partat having to ask the state's permission to teach his own children.
But we can't use our energy battling the courts on constitutional grounds," explained Gloria DeNicola. Ironically, their concern for legality has backfired into a courtroom hassle while most who have quietly gone about home-educating without reporting have eventually been overlooked or lost in the system.
Public school superintendents "who know what they're doing will look the other way" to parents teaching at home, Dr. Moore told LIBERTY. The "spirit of the law," that parents have prior rights given by God, versus the letter of the law," says Moore, is the core of the legal issue. He notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that a parent has a prior right to educate his children." Moore is the nation's leading Christian home-school advocate. With his wife, Dorothy, he has authored Home Grown Kids, Homespun Schools, and other books on education and parenting.
Dr. Moore advances several arguments for home schooling. The “ability of a child to explore freely" is restricted in a group school environment, he says. This exploring facet is recognized by Maine homeschooling parents, most of whom regularly provide extra activities such as field trips to university libraries, radio stations, industries, and museums.
Also, Moore maintains that a child taught by his parents has "literally hundreds of responses" daily from the parent-instructor "not possible in a group situation" where the teacher has a large class.
Dr. Moore scorns the public educators' notions of socialization. Citing the "singular adult example of parents, Moore noted that the loss of self-worth, a lack of respect for parents, loss of personal optimism, and loss of trust in one's poers results from the typical public school "socialization." In Homespun Schools, Moore concludes: "The child who works and eats and plays and has his rest and is read to daily, more with his parents than with his peers, ... is the one who has a sense of self-worth. ... He becomes a social Icader.... He largely avoids the dismal pitfalls and social cancer of peer dependency. He is the productive citizen our nation badly needs."
May June, 1984
Should Christian Schools
1 A prosecuting attorney defends state laws
requiring all private school teachers to be state
certified. : BY LMES M VUKELIC .
very state requires that parents educate their children by send *ing them to public schools,
Conflict develops when the state attempts to regulate these private schools in the same manner in which it regulates public schools. Generally the state prescribes a minimum curriculum; sets the minimum number of school days; establishes health, fire, and safety standards; and requires all teachers to be state certified. Some pastors object to these regulations. "The state doesn't own children; parents do!" they insist. (See ***Faith' Versus Nebraska," LIDERTY, May-June, 1983.)
Ironically, the same pastors crying Foul when the state attempts to exercise minimal control over the education of its citizens are. along with doctors, lawyers, and Christian colleges subject to regulation through licensing. No one can convincingly argue that the state does not have a compelling interest in assuring that its citizens are educated sufficiently to become functional, productive members of society. The "state" is us, all of us. We elect and delegate authority to our representatives who pass the laws and regulations under which we live. The people of a state have the right, indeed the obligation, to educate their young
It is no answer to say, "My school is part of my church; therefore you cannot control it in any way, shape, or form." The United States Supreme Court has distinguished right to believe from right to act upon belief. The first is protected by law; the second may not be. In one case, members of the Neo-American Church sought exemption from federal drug laws by claiming the drug laws infringe on their freedom of religion. The nation's Highest Court accepted the church members' right to believe what they wanted but upheld the authority of the state to control their drug activity.
It seems hypocritical to say, "We will submit to state control over health, fire, and safety standards; the length of the school year, and the minimal curriculum requirements; but not to the certified teacher
private schools, or by means of home study. To assure that students are receiving an adequate education, the legislatures in 47 states have mandated that schoolteachers be state certified. Generally, grade school teachers are required to have a four-year college degree in elementary education; high school teachers must have a degree in secondary education and must have taken several courses in the subject area (for example: history. math) they intend to teach
While the majority of states exempt private schools from the necessity of hiring state-certified teachers, at least 11 do not. In these 11 states, parents face criminal prosecution if they fail to enroll their children in schools that employ state-certified teachers. Although no parent has been imprisoned for sending children to a Christian school employing uncertified teachers, one school and its administrator gained mational attention when Nebraska jailed Pastor Everett Sileven, of Louisville, for refusing to obey a court order closing Faith Baptist school. In North Dakota, parents have been fined from $10 to $400 each for violating that state's compulsory attendance Law.
The arguments against hiring state-certified teachers are two: (1) to hire state-certihed teachers is to submit to state control over a duty that the Bible mandates to parents, and (2) hiring state-certified teachers does not assure good education and may be harmful to a child's moral upbringing. God Before State
The apostle Paul charges parents to bring up their children "in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4, R.S.V.). For many Christian parents this counsel means more than to take their children to Sunday school once a week. Some parents, believing it would be sinful to send their children to public school, send them instead to parochial schools or teach them a home. In the past decade we have seen a large increase in the number of
dict." If it is sinful to submit to the state on one requirement, it should be no less sinful to submit on the others. Some skeptics have noted that it costs little to comply with the state regulations except for the teacher certification requirement. Since certified teachers have at least a college degree, they
Jones M. Vukelic, a former public schools reacher and guidance counselor, is the prosecuting attorney for Hettinger County, North Dakota.
may not be satisfied with the salary a nonprofessional would accept. Most states require that a high school tcacher must have a major or minor in each subject taught. Since a private high school must offer a variety of subjects, it must hire several teachers. Many fledgling private schools have small enrollments, making it cco nomically unfeasible to hire more than one or two teachers. Is this the real reason for rejecting the certified-teacher requirement? Certified Teachers Do Not Assure Good Education
Most education experts agree that employing certified teachers will not necessarily assure students a quality education. Some fundamentalists have taken the argument one step further: hiring state-certified teachers would have a damaging effect on church school education. Certified teachers are exposed to secular humanism in college.
The supposition is erroneous for two reasons. First, exposure to secular humanism no more makes one a secular humanist than reading Mein Kampf makes one a Nazi. or studying Spanish makes one a Spaniard. Second, thousands of graduates of private religious colleges presumably have not been
infected" by secular humanism and are as cenifiable as any graduate from a state college.
More troublesome is the argument that the states should drop the teacher certification requirement and instead use standard achievement tests to see whether students are being well educated. At first blush, this alternative secms reasonable, but it suffers from several inadequacies. The first deals with sanctions, what is to be done if some students, or most of them, score poorly on the tests. Should the school be closed? Is the teacher who taught those students who scored poorly to be reprimanded? fired? required to take additional course work in the subject area where the students demonstrated inadequacy? How does this help students who have already suffered at the hands of the poor teacher?
Perhaps the poor test scores are not the teacher's fault at all, but that of lazy students or uncaring parents. Undoubtedly some students in every class score higher than the norm. Should the class average be used to determine teacher effectiveness? How reliable an indicator of teacher quality is a class average, particularly where the class is small or made up primarily of children from white upper-middle-class homes? Since most of a child's time is spent in the home, is it safe to assume that above-average test scores are brought about by great schoolteachers?
A second and more serious problem with testing involves state control over the content of educational courses. Currently most states mandate a number of subject areas such as English, science. maththat each school must offer. However, no attempt is made to control the specific material that must be taught. A standardized test covering biology might penalize students who give "wrong" answers to ques.
tions on evolution. The very religious freedom parents seek in establishing a church school could be stripped from them by using standardized tests rather than teacher certification to ensure quality education. Ironically, often the people who claim that employing certified teachers is tantamount to placing the state above God propose testing as an alternative.
If a teacher's job depends on his students testing well, or if a school's remaining open depends upon good test scores, teacher and administrator alike are going to have an undesirable stake in the outcome. While most teachers would not be so unscrupulous as to consciously teach to the test.“ it is difficult to believe that they wouldn't be affected by the pressure of administrators. parents, fellow teachers. students, and others involved in the schools' existence.
It is not enough to show why some alternative to certifying teachers, such as standardized testing, is unsound as a means of assuring quality education. There must be logical reasons for certification in the first place. One is the role of the tutor'' in the church school.
Many private schools are using the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, whereby students advance at their own speed by completing programmed materials. The role of tutor is significantly different from the traditional role of teacher. It is difficult to imagine that one tutor is competent to answer questions dealing with English, chemistry, music, history, geometry, and other subjects covered by the programmed materials. The result is that the student gets cheated when a tutor lacks competence. As the adage has it, you get what you pay for. If we demand that doctors have several years of college training and pass rigorous examinations before we allow them to treat our children's bodies, what folly it is to entrust our children's minds to people who have not chosen education as their career or mission and taken the time to learn their ant before practicing it.
No, the state does not own children, but neither do parents. We are but shepherds obligated to do the best we can in rearing our children. We do them a great injustice when we indulge incompetent teachers. While teacher certification may not be foolproof in guarding against incompetence, it is far better and less intrusive than any alternative proposed to date.
Selected References A Nation at Risk, 1983 report of the National
Commission on Excellence in Education. State of North Dakota v. Kathy Rivinius and
Ronald Weikum. 328 N.W.2d 220 at 229
(N.D. 1983). United States v. Kuch, 288 F. Supp. 439 (D.D.C.
• The Scripture quotation marked R.S.V. in this article is from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyrighted 1946, 1952 O 1971. 1973