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News Nov. 29 – Dec. 5: No Child Left Behind Update Coming and ESSA’s Impact on Homeschoolers

News Nov. 29 – Dec. 5: No Child Left Behind Update Coming and ESSA’s Impact on Homeschoolers

No Child Left Behind Update Gets Closer

The biggest news of the week is that the House of Representatives passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, in a 359-64 vote. ESSA is being called a bipartisan, “undeniable improvement” on the disastrous 2001 No Child Left Behind law. The Senate should be voting on the bill this upcoming week.

Though the ESSA promises an overhaul of No Child Left Behind, it shouldn’t affect homeschoolers too closely, based on this statement from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

The original section 9506 of NCLB that exempts homeschoolers, is, according to HSLDA, retained in the ESSA:

(b) APPLICABILITY TO HOME SCHOOLS.-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect a home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, nor shall any student schooled at home be required to participate in any assessment referenced in this Act.

Both Sides

Critics of the law claim the ESSA
* increases federal education spending 2% per year,
* does not adequately protect student data collected by the Department of Education,
* erodes parental ability to opt their kids out of testing, and
* massively expands unnecessary early childhood education.
Proponents say the law
* raises standards, readying students for college or careers,
* demands accountability for poorly performing schools,
* supports charter and magnet schools,
* levels the funding playing field between poor and rich school districts.

My Take

Homeschoolers will engage with the ESSA and their local school districts with regard to how the ESSA changes funding. Many districts are already trying to attract homeschoolers to increase the federal funds they get. When (presumably) the ESSA passes, some districts will be seeing fewer federal funds than they’re used to. These districts may make a renewed effort to attract homeschoolers to their online and other programs. Homeschoolers will need to recognize that marketing for what it is.

The bigger problem is that the push for even more Early Childhood Education is culturally unhealthy. Federal regulations that take more kids out of their home for more hours per day may help some families in particular, but we should be making every effort to keep small children with their families as much as possible.

This bill is a huge step away from the nurture of the home. So, culturally-speaking, we homeschoolers may be seen as even more unusual, ten years from now, when our three-year-olds aren’t attending some sort of “educational programming” outside of the home. But so be it. You know the work you’re doing is the most important, homeschooling mama.

Kansas Homeschooled Child Dies

I hate to post such awful news here, but cases like this will affect how the culture views even the best homeschoolers, and can always impact regulation nationwide.

In Kansas, 7-year-old Adrian Jones was presumed dead when human remains were found at his father and step-mother’s home. Police only incidentally discovered Adrian was missing when they responded to a domestic dispute at the home of Michael and Heather Jones, where the couple lived with their 7 children. DNA tests are pending, and Michael Jones is being held on a $10 million bond. More on the case here.

The discussion about homeschooling and oversight always brings up cases like this. Some, like the Coalition for Responsible Home Education want more oversight, and mandatory yearly meetings with mandatory reporters. I don’t think that’s a bad idea, but I can understand why many homeschoolers — especially those who fought for years to get homeschooling legalized — are leery of any kind of government intervention.

From all the reports I read, it sounds like abuse was rampant in the home, but we’ll let the justice system prove what happened. Regardless, I’ll be adding Adrian and his family to my prayers and I hope you will too.


Dr. Steve Turley makes the case that secular universities are destroying themselves

< As to the self-absorbed cult of offense, I think we have to understand that the equivocation between personal offense and blasphemy is itself a symptom of the loss of what Augustine called the ordo amoris, or the ordering of loves. Central to classical Christian education was the ordering of our loves in accordance with the economy of goods that God has created. In such a world, there are legitimate and illegitimate offenses. It is right to be offended by evil, and it is wrong to be offended by good. Such orientations were once the mark of an educated person. We however, are living in a time when the transcendent basis for ordering our loves has been erased by a conception of knowledge defined by secular norms, which expels a moral world from the realm of what can be known. As long as universities continue with this charade that a divinely authored economy of goods no longer exists, they are going to be contending with an increasingly offended student and faculty body.

Meanwhile, mothering in real life…

I’m looking forward to this series over at Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife.
Some moms just can’t handle criticism.
Lastly, those of us who are tired can chant this Tired Mother’s Holiday Creed all season long.

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

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--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

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  • Maybe you’ve never had a loved one on a ventilator, so you don’t know. I have. You don’t know the fear in your gut as you await the next minutes and hours until the doctors bring you updates and treatment plans.
You don’t know the darkness and silence next to the bed of your (beautiful, vulnerable) person, kept alive by a machine. The respiratory therapists making adjustments to help your loved one’s brain get enough oxygen so she can make it to tomorrow.
You don’t know the holiness of that bedside, where Christ meets you with His peace when everything is out of your hands. That bedside, where literally all you can do is read scripture and pray.
I am telling you, that is a bedside you do NOT want to be at.
I have been there and I never want to go back. God and an army of prayer warriors got us through that. Our person is still vulnerable. There are people in your life who are vulnerable.
We were at that bedside with decades of collective medical experience on our side to develop best practices and treatment plans, and learn from mistakes made on other patients.
Our loved ones who end up fighting COVID-19 with the help of a humming ventilator will not have that benefit. This disease is just too new.
If you’re a leader of people, your job right now is to take care of your people. Be honest. Take this seriously. (We can do that without letting fear take control.)
If you’re an employee, protect yourself, so you can protect your family. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, eat your vegetables, exercise, get good sleep, take some vitamin C.
Above all #STAYHOME to #flattenthecurve so that you don’t end up by that bedside with not enough resources. Stay home, so that when the vulnerable person in your life needs it, they’ll have access to the ventilators and care they need.
  • FYI, your #Navy #submarineforce is still operating...even in the Arctic. My guy is finally out from under the ice! And I finally get pictures of his #ICEX2020 adventures. Unbelievably good to talk to him, even if we don’t get be with him in person #thanksCOVID #staythefhome #beagoodcitizen #submarinerscantsocialdistance
  • Blue Wyoming skies and wind blowing in the curls. Magical.
  • PSA: Don’t let curriculum publishers and internet ads scare you into thinking you NEED to buy their products to get your kids a solid education. #askamom #momsmentoringmoms
  • #Homeschooling when you didn’t choose it:
I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
  • Some days are just “pull your big girl panties on and handle your business like a grownup” days. Cheers to all of you who handled your business today. #navywifelife #adulting

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