Skip to comments.How do I discover and evaluate a school's curriculum? (Vanity)
Posted on 09/18/2010 12:00:09 AM PDT by Hetty_Fauxvert
We live in northern California, and we are thinking seriously of homeschooling our (now preschool-age) children. We would also be open to enrolling them in a charter school, private school, or similar if it met our standards. (We are politically conservative and also rather old-school when it comes to the subjects our kids would be learning, but we are not religious and would prefer not to enroll them in a school where they would receive active religious instruction.)
I mentioned to a friend that we were thinking of homeschooling because we felt the curriculum in public schools did not meet our standards (as in, way too much time spent on liberal ideology and not enough on schooling basics). After getting past her initial liberal horror at the idea of homeschooling, my friend asked a good question: How do I really know what the schools around here teach? Have I investigated for myself?
I admitted I had not gone to any schools to sit in on classes. That seems to me to be an inefficient way of evaluating what a school teaches, since depending on what day you attended, you could easily miss the most hair-raising instances of liberal wild-eyed curriculum items. I did look up the curriculum for public schools as published by the State of California, but it seemed far too vague to really reveal the nitty-gritty of what they teach.
So how can I evaluate what a school teaches without moving into a classroom and staying for several weeks? I want to be fair to the public schools before I chuck them, and I also want good tools to evaluate real candidates (such as a charter school, private school or similar). Can anyone give me help with this? Much appreciated!
I suppose you can ask local parents.
Trustworthy teachers would be fine, but how can you tell if they are trustworthy?
If possible, the private schools in your area might have a list of parents and phone numbers who are willing to be contacted as references. If they do, you could call them and besides asking them about the school, ask them why they don’t want public school. They may be your best source.
There is a Christian Home School Association for your state, and they can direct you to a local home school organization, and you can ask the folks there why they don’t use the local public schools.
California’s CHEA web address is CheaofCA.org.
They can put you through to your local home school affiliate.
You might ask to see the state test scores for your district (or search them online) and the national test scores as well. You could ask to see the text books used in your childs grade level and page through them, looking at chapter headings, skimming, and reading the vocabulary and test questions at the end of the book. There are or were comparisons of student achievement against basal series used and that information used to be available on the web. (Open Court used to be the most competitive basal series). You could ask if your child’s English teachers use whole language or a blend of techniques and then ask for samples. Sometimes just by walking around the classroom and seeing students projects you can learn alot. The teachers are often trained to say that they stress critical thinking skills and higher order thinking skills but if you walk around the classroom and look at student projects affixed to the walls or planned for the year - you may well notice that students are funneled into fill in the bubble next to the answer (multiple guess format) for assignments instead of having a blank to fill in or a writing prompt to respond to. You can ask if inrichment programs are used (for fast students) even if you don’t know if your student will be among the top ‘bored’ students in the class because the school’s attitude toward student achievement may be hinted at in their answer (do they hold everyone to one pace to make sure no one excels and ‘hurts’ the self esteem of others or do they stay ahead of students with additional project etc.) You can ask how they handle remedial performance and if they feel that it’s best to promote a failing student (you’d say ‘delayed’ or ‘underperforming’student to them) to nurture self esteem or is it better to hold them back and expect them to perform or attend Summer school etc. Their attitudes may reveal alot even if these circumstances don’t apply to your own students. In math you can ask if they stress creative answers and tools or if they focus on flash cards to memorize multiplication tables. Pretty much just get them talking and then test what they have told you by observing books, planned curriculum, student projects, methods of scoring, how they handle failure and excellence and hold that all up to how well the school is achieving compared with local, states and national standards.
Good luck finding a private school that is not highly religious!
I tried some years ago after some public grade school fundamentalist missionary twerps began attempting to warp my nieces to their cult.
They were creepy, insisting the nieces not inform their parents about the proselytizing and odd behavior.
Their demands altered my nieces behavior, my sister noticed and got to the truth. She was shocked that some parents were using their children as proxy evangelist.
I had a pretty good job at the time, so was willing to contribute to the tuition cost of private school.
The only private school we could locate that was not basically a church extension was military school!
Not what I would want for my 6-10 year old nieces.
Good luck, I expect that home schooling will be your best answer.
Maybe some of the homeschool parents here living in California can share their experiences and reasons for homeschooling.
Schools have websites. It is quite likely that their “vision statements” would make your skin crawl. And if their globalist agenda isn’t a red flag, look for the principal’s “welcome letter”. If you read it and think, “If I had written something like this in the 4th grade, I would have never made it to 5th!”, well then that would be another big clue.
Happy home schooling!
These people will also tell you how amazingly EASY home schooling is. It takes less than 2 hours a day of academics to put your children well ahead their peers. The key ingredient is -- just being around these little people. They are eager to learn from you, to soak up your wisdom, your skills, your perspective on life.
Use Samuel Blumenfeld's Alphaphonics and, in less than 30 hours, your 5-7 year old will be reading on the 9th grade level. Once the reading addiction sets in (I assume you snuggle up to your kids and read to them every night?), they will be reading on the jr. college level within a year.
You may enjoy this article, Home Schooling for Liberty, which was written for secular advocates of family rights.
Perhaps you or someone from your list can help?
I am a teacher who is fed up with the silliness and destruction of the education system by No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, etc. I have been mulling over in my head to “homeschool” a group of students at my own home. I would love to have a group of 10 or so students. It would be amazing the things that we could actually accomplish without the federal and state mandates intruding. I know this doesn’t help you at all, but perhaps there is some type of coop where you live such as this.
Everything you always wanted to know about a particular public school is on the internet.
That said, HOME SCHOOL and avoid the topic with your liberal ‘friends’.
There are laws against what you are planning.
Be sure you aren’t going to attract the attention of the Board of Ed nazis.
Doubtful you could educate ten children in your home without a visit from the above mentioned....
Usually the local school board will have textbooks available for parental review either at their own location or in a special reference room of a local library. Once you have a list of textbooks, then you can use the internet to evaluate the content.
For instance, here is a great site for mathematics texts:
2 Plus 2: The Home of Mathematically Correct
Here’s another site for history: (if a company has a bad high school textbook, its elementary books probably are worth careful review)
I think you will find many home schoolers are religious as are most private schools. The difference between home schoolers and private and public schools is that as a home schooling parent NO ONE is going to be pushing their agenda, religious or otherwise on your kids. My niece home schooled her daughter because she objected to the social messages children learn in today’s schools. Her daughter graduated at 16 and was taking college courses before she graduated. That seems to be typical of home schooled children. There is usually an organization of home schoolers in any given area. It takes great commitment from both the child and the parent. If you’d like send me a privat ereply and I will ask my niece to see if she can find one where you are. One last caveat. Charter schools are not free of liberal indoctrination.
Here’s a list of private elementary schools in California, by county.
Click on the county name to see a list of private schools in that county.
Click on the name of the school to see more info about that school.
(Most are Christian, or Catholic, or Montessori.)
Homeschooling has benefits beyond your wildest dreams.
In this society we don’t get to bond with our kids into a solid, loving, and full family because we are not our children’s teachers and they spend more of their waking hours with oppositionalist strangers than with us. The number one lesson is - we own your parents and you are too cool to listen to them.
Homeschooling is a lifestyle of learning and helping one another; not just a text book education. It is hard to explain the intangibles.
Here’s an example. Studying erosion in science textbook with the kids; then a kid seeing erosion in the town and getting all excited with you about actually seeing it after learning about it’s causes! Pulling the car over and talking with the “class” to see if we can figure out what caused it based on what we studied in our science lesson. Then writing a formal letter in class to appropriate town officials (has to be researched by the kids) proposing a fix (selecting a proposal after more research) for the problem. A boy scout heard about our research and took it on as his project with the help of my kid and other homeschoolers because in home school chosen service projects are always good and the kid has the flexibility to fit his daily studies into his own schedule.
These kinds of experiences and interaction with your kid creates a bonding of mutual respect in the exploration of life. Homeschool is a process of lifestyle of lessons constantly unfolding. But, you have to give yourselves over to it if you want it.
Alaska has a couple a ‘pay for play’ corrispondance schools.
You also might look at schools that support the “live aboard’ sailboat community.
The Core Knowledge Sequence is available at no cost from the Core Knowledge website. http://www.coreknowledge.org
To homeschool in California, one must file a private school affidavit or statement in leiu. Most homeschooling families file the statement in leiu because it asks for less information than the on-line application. One must teach in the major subject for three hours per day, and keep a daily attendance. There is no need to “register” with the local school district.
Come to think of it, that goes for all private schools.
BTW if you go with home schooling I highly recommend Calvert for the first couple of years. They have a “school in a box” system that is very easy to use.
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