Two Articles – Common Themes, Plus No E in MOE? And Pensions.

I was away last week but did catch this important article in The Times about private alternative schools.  It’s a largely unregulated part of the sector and the article highlights some abuses and sketchy – at best – arrangements.  The Washington Post then ran an important story yesterday about another largely unregulated part of the sector in Virginia – homeschooling.

Both articles share two common themes. One is that one size does not fit all, so allowing for various alternative arrangements is important.  I’m a public school supporter and people are often surprised to hear that I am also a supporter of homeschooling rights.  I don’t see it as a choice, both have their advantages and drawbacks and will work for some schools and not for others. Unfortunately, in Virginia homeschooling rights are out of balance with homeschooling responsibilities in a way that’s untenable for the schools -as Andy Block points out in the article – and not good public policy in terms of child welfare.  Worse, things are moving the wrong way. In 2006 then-Governor Tim Kaine signed legislation further lowering quality standards for homeschooling, the last time the issue was seriously revisited. There are ways to balance homeschooling rights and autonomy with light touch oversight but that’s not happening.

Nationally, alternative schools are another small but vital part of the sector.  But here, again, a pervasive lack of regulation leads to some horrific examples that discredit the entire class.  That’s too bad because wilderness based options and other strategies can help some at-risk youth.  That points up the second commonality – innovative approaches still need some regulation in a sector that is about serving youngsters.

Elsewhere: Chuck Edwards says MOE is the wrong hill to die on.  David Skeel looks at pension obligations and bankruptcy.  Some educational implications broadly but Detroit teachers are covered under a state not city plan so outside the immediacy of the crisis there.  And via my Twitter feed a few other articles including the rush to the exits on Common Core assessments, HI’s clean bill of health on RTT, new ASD data from TN, and off-topic a great Springsteen cover via Nathan Martin.

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