Truant, homeschooling or a push-out?

Have you ever heard of the term push-out? It is a newer term that describes a child whose family has been told by their school district that their child would most likely be better off not enrolled there. As hard as it is to believe, the reports keep coming in that this is happening. I’m not complaining mind you, as I believe many a child thrives when given the opportunity to live and learn in an environment with a nurturing family, but I think it should be a family choice, not a coercion.

I’ve know many children who were having a hard time in a school setting who left those circumstances and thrived at home. Susan Ohanian has written about push-outs for many years here. Many push-outs are ending up in the news. Too often we read stories such as the truancy case that Susan Ryan and Valerie Bonham Moon posted today about the Missouri mom jailed for her son’s truancy. Susan and Valerie both provide good resources on this situation and past push-outs in the news.

This is not a new story. A quick search brought up a post at Why Homeschool from February of this year, that talks about Another Case of “Push-out.” If you ask any homeschool activist about push-outs, most will have a story to tell you. Over fifteen years ago, I attended a speaking engagement featuring John Taylor Gatto and he warned the audience then that school districts would start sending their ‘troubled’ students into homeschooling to bring down the bar so to speak. I said then and say now to bring them on and welcome these families and their children with open arms. Share the ropes with them. Tell them about natural learning and that they aren’t alone. There are many, many square pegs that don’t fit into the round hole of public school and homeschooling might be just the safety net that will help their child to flourish.

I’ve read and heard some comments on these cases that state that perhaps these are just cases of abuse or below par parenting? If so, then we are talking about criminal acts and there are laws that address those situations. However, I think there are times where this might be a case of blind judgement. What is the proper way to homeschool, anyway? How does one properly parent? There is a Seneca saying that states: “If you judge, investigate.” My version of this would be before you think a family is not qualified to homeschool, talk to them yourself. Find out where they have come from. How has their child been treated in school? How have they been treated? Put yourself in their place and imagine where they have come from and how much better off their child might be in a loving and nurturing environment. I know there is a book in the works by HEM Publishing that will help these families, but in the meantime, I’ve been wondering something. I have to wonder if we parents have reached a place that we think there are very narrow and proper ways to parent? Are we buying the NCLB mandates of how, when and what a child is to learn at any given age? In this day and time of Zero to Three, Universal Preschool and testing for all mentality perhaps it is high time we stood together as parents, helping new folks if they want help and encouraging those who might be having a hard time of it. Parents are a child’s biggest support network, but sometimes the parents don’t have support. I think as informed parents we can and should start a revolution of empowerment and let others know how to find their rights and responsibilities so that they too can be their family’s best expert.

I hope that Kathleen Casteel and her family are getting that kind of support.


4 Responses to “Truant, homeschooling or a push-out?”

  1. Ben Bennett on May 5th, 2009 4:59 pm

    Do you have any concrete actions or suggestions for getting a revolution started? Know anyone or any group of people who are beginning this revolution?

  2. Mary on May 6th, 2009 9:48 am

    Have you ever read Taking Charge Through Homeschooling: Personal and Political Empowerment by Larry and Susan Kaseman? I think it started a revolution for many.

    In my opinion, taking the time to answer new parents’ questions, to stop and encourage those with newborns, to become active in our communities and help others know they do indeed have rights, but to claim them they must learn their responsibilities is a powerful revolution.

    Even though the Kaseman’s book is primarily for homeschoolers, the timeless and common sense advise they offer can be used by any parent– no matter what their educational choice might be.

  3. Ben Bennett on July 14th, 2009 9:50 am and our statewide IndianaHomeschoolers e-list on YahooGroups have been helping parents homeschool for coming up on a decade. We set the goal and let helpful homeschoolers do the rest.

    IMO things like this can’t be “organized” or managed. It just takes hundreds of individuals who decide they are going to do something then act on it.

    The only thing I can say IHEN as an organization has done is to facilitate the communication and encourage the action.

    B. Bennett

  4. Mary on July 14th, 2009 10:39 am

    I agree Ben. It happens as others take the time to help others become empowered.