Crusading to keep kids clueless
8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM - Michelle Malkin
The public education monopoly can't stand the thought of
"unqualified" parents teaching their own children.
That is why they are cracking down on home schooling, even as a
new study shows that thousands of public school teachers themselves are
shamefully unqualified to educate the nation's students.
In California, the state's hostile education department is
tightening the screws on enterprising parents who have taken the initiative
and turned their family rooms into classrooms. State Deputy Superintendent
Joanne Mendoza wrote in a July 16 memo to all school employees that without
official teaching credentials, these parents no longer can file required
paperwork that would authorize them to home school their children.
Thus, Mendoza concludes, home-schooled children not attending
public schools would be considered "truant" by local school districts --
making their parents vulnerable to arrest and criminal charges.
The education department's Nanny State view is that parents may
be allowed by the government to "supplement" their own children's education
with tutoring at home, but "not substitute the education with uncredentialed
home instruction." Local districts are following the cue. Sonoma County and
San Diego school officials are distributing memos that declare home
As I've said many times before, there's nothing like stiff
competition to bring out the worst in government. Nowhere does this prove
more true than in the battle between home-schooling parents and public
school bureaucrats. More than 1.2 million children now call mom and dad
their controlling educational authorities. Their overwhelming success -- in
academic competition, on national tests, and in college -- poses a mounting
threat to the government-run education monopoly and to the public school
Despite abominably low test scores, enormous waste, unsafe
classrooms and administrative incompetence, the public schools have remained
a hallowed and untouchable fixture. How dare "uncredentialed" parents rise
up in revolt? How dare they demand excellence, discipline, and a curriculum
that reflects their values and love of country?
Mocking home schoolers as fringe radicals and religious
extremists, meddling with their teaching materials, and forcing them to beg
public school officials for permission to educate their own children wasn't
enough to defeat the growing movement. So now California's educracy has
adopted a new motto: If you can't beat 'em, criminalize 'em.
These bully tactics are bound to backfire in California and the
rest of the country as the public school system's incompetence continues to
be laid bare. As California wages its war on "unqualified" parents, a new
report by the Washington, D.C.-based Education Trust reported this week that
one-fourth of all secondary school classes are taught by public school
teachers untrained in the class subject. It's a problem that hasn't improved
for nearly a decade.
The researchers examined whether classes in four core
subjects -- English, math, science and social studies -- were assigned to a
teacher who lacked a college major or minor in that field or a related
field. Nationally, 24.2 percent of classes were taught by such unqualified
teachers. In California, 27 percent of classes were taught by the untrained.
Twelve states had more than 30 percent of classes fitting that category.
Five states -- Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, New Mexico and Tennessee --
averaged more than one-third.
Among those hurt the most by this trend: poor and minority
students. In schools that serve mostly poor students, the study found,
nearly twice as many courses are taught by out-of-field teachers as in
schools with few poor students. In schools that mostly serve minority
students, 29 percent of classes were taught by unqualified teachers,
compared with 21 percent for schools that have low minority enrollments.
Our public schools are filled with substandard math teachers who
never took math in college, French teachers lecturing about biology, art
teachers masquerading as history teachers, and other instructors who have
absolutely no expert knowledge or intellectual curiosity about the subjects
they've been assigned to teach. This is a system whose first priority is
self-preservation of its tax-subsidized employees, not academic
enlightenment of its captive charges.
And they dare to accuse home-schooling parents of educational