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Makes me long for the days of Ronaldus Magnus, when this really was part of the Republican platform.

Hat tip to Neal Boortz, via Jack Lewis for the following bit of comedy from the BBC Comedy series, Yes, Prime Minister. The series ran from 1986 to 1988, and was reportedly, the favorite TV show of Margaret Thatcher.

- Rob Shearer, Director
Schaeffer Study Center

I received this in an email today. It’s a transcript of part of today’s broadcast from the Homeschool Legal Defense’s daily radio program.

Homeschool Heartbeat, Volume 84, Program 6
8/11/2008, Click here to Listen Online.

Do parents have a right to know when their children’s classrooms turn into headquarters for the homosexual agenda? Dr. David Parker thought so, but his five-year-old’s school said otherwise. Hear his alarming story on Home School Heartbeat with Mike Farris.

Mike Farris:
I’m joined today by Dr. David Parker, who’s here to tell us about one of the most flagrant parental rights’ infringement stories of our time. Can you tell our listeners just a little bit about how your case began?

Dr. Parker:
Our first son, Jacob Parker, was entering kindergarten, and within a few months, in Lexington, Massachusetts, they gave my son a diversity book bag—he was five years old at the time—and my son brought it home and it contained the book Who’s In a Family, by Robert Skutch, and this introduces young children to the homosexual relationship.

We did the first thing really any parents would do: we went into the school and asked a lot of questions. Basically, we found out that their intention is to normalize homosexuality and gay marriage in the minds of very young children, and my wife and I asked for parental notification.

In other words, before a teacher, an authority figure, discusses this with our young child, we’d like the option to know first, know what they’re going to say, and opt our child out.

Astoundingly, they said no. In fact, even in a conversation with the former school committee chairman, he said to me, “We’re not going to give parental notification; we’re going to put it all throughout the curriculum. We can’t trust parents with these issues.”

Did you catch that, parents?

“Their intention is to normalize homosexuality and gay marriage in the minds of very young children.”

We’re not going to give parental notification; we’re going to put it all throughout the curriculum. We can’t trust parents with these issues.”

Here’s a description of the book from its entry at Amazon:

Beginning with a traditional nuclear family and ending with blank spaces in which the child reader is instructed to “draw a picture of your family,” this slight book catalogues multicultural contemporary family units, including those with single parents, lesbian and gay parents, mixed-race couples, grandparents and divorced parents.

The barbarians are no longer at the gates. They have taken over and are running things.

- Rob Shearer (aka RedHatRob)

It is with great pride that Greenleaf Press announces the publication of the Greenleaf Guide to Medieval Literature ($19.95) by Cyndy Shearer

For over ten years, Cyndy has been teaching high school literature classes in home school tutorial settings. For the past five years, she has been teaching all four years of western literature at the Schaeffer Study Center, in Mt. Juliet. We are very pleased to be able to publish the second volume in her four year syllabus. The Greenleaf Guide to Medieval Literature joins the already published Greenleaf Guide to Ancient Literature
($18.95). The Greenleaf Guides for years three & four (Early Modern Lit and Modern Lit) are under development – meaning Cyndy is already teaching them and refining the material.

Like the Greenleaf Guide to Ancient Literature, the Greenleaf Guide to Medieval Literature takes an inductive approach to the study of selected outstanding literary compositions. Rather than studying short excerpts from dozens of possible works, Cyndy has selected a representative set of selections for close study. Students are led by a series of questions that help them to read and understand the text, and then to reflect on the larger questions being dealt with and the authors’ worldviews. A high school student who completes these two literary studies will have a superior background and preparation for the study of modern literature – either in high school or college.

Beginning with Bede and Anglo-Saxon poetry, the Guide (with wry observations by Cyndy) takes students through Beowulf, Gawain, Chaucer, & Hamlet. A worldview bonus is the conclusion of the course with a study of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Tom Stoppard’s raucous verbal pyrotechnics on the themes of fate and death which uses two of the minor characters from Hamlet who get caught up in Shakespeare’s play and then try to puzzle out what the intrigues of Denmark mean when all the Shakespearean characters have left the stage.

The text is designed for an instructor (parent, teacher, or tutor) and student who are reading the text together. Some students may be able to complete this study on their own, but the best experiences will be the discussion of themes and issues with another reader. You don’t have to be an expert in medieval lit in order to teach this course – you just have to be willing to do the reading along with your student(s).

Cyndy is eminently well qualified to teach and write on these themes. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Queens College (she graduated in three years and wrote an undergraduate honors thesis on the poetry of T.S.Eliot). She has an MA in English from the University of Virginia, with an emphasis in contemporary American and European poetry. At U.Va. she participated in the graduate poetry writing workshop led by the gifted poet, Gregory Orr. Cyndy has been homeschooling the Shearer children since 1985, having graduated five from high school – and with six more still at home. She co-founded the Francis Schaeffer Study Center in Mt. Juliet with her husband Rob in 2003.

Along with the Greenleaf Guide to Medieval Literature, Greenleaf Press is pleased to make available a complete study package which includes the Guide and all six of the texts selected by Cyndy for her course on Medieval Literature. The texts include:

The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, by the Venerable Bede
Beowulf, trans. Rebsamen
Gawain, trans. Tolkien
Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard
The Greenleaf Guide to Medieval Literature, by Cyndy Shearer

The Medieval Lit Study Package is available for $70.91 (regular retail – $78.70)

Also available from Greenleaf Press is the Ancient Lit Study Package which contains:

The Greenleaf Guide to Ancient Literature ($18.95)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (Sandars translation)
The Odyssey (Robert Fitzgerald translation)
The Oedipus Cycle (Robert Fitzgerald translation)
Antigone by Anouilh (Barbara Bray translation)

The Ancient Lit Study Package
is available for $61.08 (regular retail – $67.85)

Both the Greenleaf Guide to Ancient Literature and the Greenleaf Guide to Medieval Literature are also available as downloadable eBooks, making it easy for a parent/teacher/tutor to provide the text to their student, while using the eBook to follow along on their computer.

Needless to say, I highly recommend these high school literature courses for homeschoolers, classical schools, and any high school program that wants a thoughtful rich study of the history of Western Literature.

“Political correctness, at its heart, is the effort to dissolve the foundation on which American and European culture has been built. It has been a demolition project: undermine Western civilization in whatever way possible, and build a brave new world from the rubble.”

“Multiculturalism has nothing to do with genuine love for natives of the Australian outback or the monks of Tibet. It is an effort to crowd out our own cultural traditions. Radical secularization – in the name of “separation of church and state” – aims to burn our religious roots. Public education, purveying convenient untruths about our past – the Middle Ages were miserable, the ancients were simpletons, the church is oppressive – has sought to rob us of our heritage. Misrepresentations of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the last two hundred years serve to create an illusion of unvarying progress made possible by abandoning the old ways. And that is the central myth that justifies the continued discarding of our religious, intellectual, and moral traditions.”

“Once our culture is untethered from Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem – once we’ve forgotten about or dismissed Moses, Plato, and Jesus – then the PC platoons in academia, government, and the media hope to steer the ship of culture to new shores.”

“Because political correctness is a project of destruction, the message has not always been consistent. Either Shakespeare was a subversive, closeted homosexual, or he was an ignorant chauvinist. Either Jesus was a non-judgmental hippie, or he was a preacher of hate. But this much has been consistent: anything that reeks of the West is therefore politically incorrect and must be denigrated or condemned.”

“For those of us who love the West, it’s a daunting battle. The other side has the mainstream media, the Ivy League, the political classes, and a lot more money. Thankfully, on our side, we’ve got thousands of years of history and some pretty big guns – with names like Aristotle, Augustine, Burke, and Eliot.”

“The bad ideas touted today as revolutionary and enlightened are hardly new; the West’s great minds have battled relativism, atheism, materialism, and State-worship for millennia. The great ideas can hold their own against anything today’s most renowned Women’s Studies professor can devise.”

  • Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College
    from the Preface to The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization

I really can’t sum it up any better than Prof. Esolen. If you know a college student taking Western Civ, you should buy them this book. If you plan to teach your own children Western Civ, you should buy yourself this book. Paperback, 340 pages, available directly from Greenleaf Press for $19.95.

catalog cover

The New Greenleaf Press catalog is done! Yeah!

This is NOT a full catalog, listing ALL of the products we sell. We continue to add products (now over 1400!) and update the online store every week and a full printed catalog would be out of date before it could even be printed. This is, instead a summary of the history study packages, Famous Men” books, Reformation biographies, and English for the Thoughtful Child, volumes 1 & 2 – and a few selected titles for each time period. ALL of our titles are available and in-stock.

You can download the .pdf by clicking here or on the cover image above. And you can always order online or look up complete reviews on any product we carry at the Greenleaf online store.

Hard-copy should be in the mail next week.

- Rob Shearer

Terribly immodest of me, I know… Click below to hear an excerpt from the Rush Limbaugh show on Thursday, 5/22/2008 where he reads from a post by Warner Todd Huston (of StopTheACLU.com) and quotes from the comments I made about the validity of public school diplomas vs. homeschool diplomas.


Hat tip to dittohead Ernie Blevins for the audio file and to Kay Brooks for editing out the pertinent three minutes!

Here’s a sampling of the incoming links on this topic:

Tennessee Mandates Low Quality Graduates Be Employed Over

20 hours ago by noreply@blogger.com (Bill Smith)
Ken Marrero at “Blue Collar Muse” reports that. Recently, the Tennessee State Board of Education ruled diplomas issued to home-schooled students from religious based schools were invalid as proof of the successful completion of High
ARRA News Service – http://arkansasgopwing.blogspot.com/References

Good enough for government work

22 May 2008 by Kay Brooks
The DOE’s characterization of private school (Category IV diplomas) as worthless made it national this afternoon as it moved from our own TennConserVOLiance writers to Warner Todd Houston at StopTheACLU and then on to Rush Limbaugh’s
Kay Brooks – http://kaybrooks.blogspot.com/References

Tenn. Declares Only Dumbest Kids Wanted for State Jobs

22 May 2008 by Warner Todd Huston
It’s true. The State of Tennessee has officially declared that from this point forward it will accept only less educated student applicants for state, county and city jobs in the Volunteer State. Why would the kindly folks in Nashville
Default Site Weblog – http://americanewsjournal.com/index.php/site/index/

TN State Education Board Fails Research Test …

22 May 2008 by Blue Collar Muse
Editors Update and RePost: Thanks to Rob Shearer at Red Hat Rob and Warner Todd Huston, this story has received national attention. Rush Limbaugh read extensively from WTH’s post on the matter and mentioned both Warner and our own Rob
Blue Collar Muse – http://conservablogs.com/bluecollarmuse

Not worthless

21 May 2008 by Kay Brooks
Councilman Eric Crafton and his Save Our Students aren’t the only ones who can crunch the education statistics. Red Hat Rob Shearer has spent considerable time today going through the State of Tennessee Department of Education’s website
Kay Brooks – http://kaybrooks.blogspot.com/

Tennessee Makes Move Against Homeschooling

21 May 2008 by zee
It appears that my worst suspicions about public education are continuously confirmed these days. So, it isn’t really much of a surprise that the state of Tennessee prefers their employees to come from the dumbed down ranks of students
Road Sassy – http://roadsassy.com

Tenn. Declares Only Dumbest Kids Wanted for State Jobs

21 May 2008 by Warner Todd Huston
-By Warner Todd Huston. It’s true. The State of Tennessee has officially declared that from this point forward it will accept only less educated student applicants for state, county and city jobs in the Volunteer State.
American Conservative Daily – http://www.americanconservativedaily.com/References

Homeschoolers – under attack all over?

20 May 2008
We had a small concern going on around here in NH where the Democratic (highly leveraged Teacher Union support) with an encircle and envelope strategy. Well put by Consent of the Governed:. The Live Free Or Die State wants to regulate
granitegrok – http://granitegrok.com/

Socialist “Curriculum” cannot penetrate home schools…therefore

19 May 2008 by Jenn Sierra
Rob Shearer, of Contending with the Culture, reports:. The Tennessee Department of Education has recently defended its decision not to recognize homeschool diplomas with the assertion that because they were prohibited from having
Ft. Hard Knox – http://forthardknox.comReferences

Tennessee Education Board Fails Research Test19 May 2008 by Blue Collar Muse
Recently, the Tennessee State Board of Education ruled diplomas issued to home-schooled students from religious based schools were invalid as proof of the successful completion of High School should it be presented for employment
New Media Alliance – Blue Collar Muse – http://thenma.org/blogs/index.php/bluecollarmuse

- Rob Shearer
Director, Schaeffer Study Center
Publisher, Greenleaf Press

My good friend BlueCollarMuse had an excellent post on the topic of the TN DOE vs. Homeschool diplomas on May 19th on conservablogs.com: The post is titled TN State Education Board Fails Research Test …

His friend, Warner Todd Huston picked up on the issue and added some insightful commentary on May 21st on stoptheaclu.com. The post has the provocative headline,Tenn. Declares Only Dumbest Kids Wanted for State Jobs.

Today, May 22nd, Rush Limbaugh picked up on the story and read Mr. Huston’s post on the air, commented on it, and is now linking back from his website to stoptheaclu.com (with a transcript of his on-air comments). Scroll down to story #12.

This afternoon (still 5/22/2008), Neil Boortz also picked up on the story. I don’t know if he said anything on the air, but he’s now linking back to the stoptheaclu.com post by Huston as well. Scroll down to the bottom of the page – it’s in the fifth paragraph from the bottom.

Kay Brooks summarizes all of the saga on her blog here – along with some very nice excerpts and additional comments.

I’ve got a feeling the Tennessee Department of Education is not enjoying this very much… [heh]

- Rob Shearer
Director, Schaeffer Study Center

This is a tale of 54,041 high school diplomas. That’s the number of public high school diplomas awarded in Tennessee last year (2006-2007). There are 324 public high schools in Tennessee. The public high schools are operated by 119 public school systems. There are 137 public school systems in Tennessee, but only 119 of them operate high schools.

I got curious this week about tracking down median ACT scores for Public vs. Private vs. Homeschool high school graduates. It turns out, even in the age of public data on the internet that this is not an easy question to answer. If the data to answer this question already exists somewhere on the internet, it’s extraordinarily well hidden. I spent several days searching for it… and I’m pretty handy with google. I did discover a blog in Kentucky which contained interesting articles commenting on the meaning of median ACT scores released for that state. Kentucky’s scores, released by ACT, Inc. of Iowa, give the median for ALL high school seniors, public, private, and homeschool. From the ACT data alone, you cannot tell how the public schools are performing, because ACT will not disagregate the data. Tennessee ACT scores are released in the same format as Kentucky.

But, it turns out, in Tennessee at least, there is a way to calculate median ACT score for the public schools. And if we know the number of public school students who took the ACT, and their median score, then we can calculate the median score for the remaining non-public school students.

In 2007, the median ACT for all students in Tennessee taking the test was 20.7. This is slightly below ( a half a point) the national ACT median score of 21.2. A half a point difference between two individual scores is probably not terribly significant. There are too many variables that can’t be controlled between two individual scores to ever be able to know why one student scored a half a point higher than another. BUT, comparing the median scores of two significantly sized groups IS meaningful… because all the individual variations offset and cancel each other out. 48,113 students took the ACT in Tennessee in 2007. 1,300,599 students took it nationwide. Comparing the averages for those two very large populations does tell us, with a pretty high degree of confidence, that Tennessee students did not perform quite as well as the national average.

But those 48,113 Tennessee students include public school, high school, and homeschool students. I have an inquiry in to ACT, Inc. asking them for the disaggregated data for those three groups, but they haven’t responded to me. The data would be very helpful in discussing some pretty pressing public policy questions about education. I don’t think it’s an accident that ACT doesn’t make the data readily available. I have the feeling that the data are not very flattering to public school administrators. And I suspect that’s why ACT hasn’t made them available.

But in Tennessee, there is another source of data about public school ACT scores – the Tennessee Department of Education itself. The Department has an online database that reports the number of students who took the ACT and the median composite score by school system. Actually, the online database has a great deal more information than that, but the median composite ACT scores are what I was interested in.

I don’t know whether it’s intentional or not, but the Tennessee DOE does not report the statewide median ACT score, nor does it make it easy to calculate, but all the pieces are there, on their website – they just have to be assembled.

So, I spent about four or five hours today, using the free wifi at University Pizza & Deli in Chattanooga, to pull up and copy off the median composite ACT scores for all 119 public high school systems in Tennessee. 35,725 public school students (out of 54,041 who graduate) too the ACT in 2007 – about 66.1% of the graduates. The median composite ACT score for all of them was 20.30. Since there were a total of 48,113 students who took the ACT in Tennessee, we can subtract out the public school students and the remaining 12,388 students were non-public school (private schools and home schools). And since we know the median composite ACT score for ALL students in Tennessee was 20.7 and the median for the PUBLIC school students was 20.30, we can calculate what the median composite score for the non-public schools was: that median composite ACT score in 2007 was 21.85.

So, we can now end the speculation and report with confidence that in 2007, in Tennessee, ALL students averaged a 20.7 composite ACT score, PUBLIC SCHOOL students averaged a 20.30 composite ACT score, and PRIVATE SCHOOL students averaged 21.85 composite ACT score. In other words, in 2007 private schools and home schools averaged 1.15 points higher on the ACT than the public schools. But of course, it’s the private school diplomas that the Department of Education thinks are suspect.

Since I had to compile the data for all 119 systems in a spreadsheet, I’ll post all of the data here – so that others can check my calculations, and so that the data will be available to everyone interested.

There are a number of other interesting observations about the public high schools that can be made from the data.

For example, here are the 10 public school systems in Tennessee with the HIGHEST median composite ACT scores:

TENNESSEE REGULAR % TAKING 2007 ACT Composite
SCHOOL SYSTEM DIPLOMAS ACT n median
1 Maryville City 321 76.9% 247 23.67
2 Oak Ridge City 321 68.8% 221 23.53
3 Kingsport City 400 82.8% 331 22.74
4 Greenville City 209 66.5% 139 22.68
5 Williamson Co. 1,966 80.6% 1,584 22.54
6 Tullahoma City 239 77.4% 185 22.35
7 Johnson City 398 73.1% 291 22.34
8 Pickett Co. 46 58.7% 27 22.11
9 Alcoa City 107 74.8% 80 22.01
10 Knox Co. 3,257 66.6% 2,168 21.97

And here are the 10 public school systems with the LOWEST median composite ACT scores:

TENNESSEE REGULAR % TAKING 2007 ACT Composite
SCHOOL SYSTEM DIPLOMAS ACT n median
1 Fayette Co. 187 65.2% 122 15.80
2 Memphis City 5,741 67.9% 3,898 17.56
3 Hancock Co. 62 38.7% 24 17.96
4 Haywood Co. 170 71.2% 121 17.98
5 Lake Co. 51 70.6% 36 18.11
6 Grainger Co. 241 53.1% 128 18.41
7 W. Carroll 79 54.4% 43 18.47
8 Campbell Co. 299 58.2% 174 18.63
9 Union Co. 196 53.1% 104 18.63
10 Hardeman Co. 234 56.0% 131 18.66

Here are the Here are the 10 public school systems in Tennessee with the HIGHEST percentage of graduating seniors who take the ACT:

TENNESSEE REGULAR % TAKING 2007 ACT Composite
SCHOOL SYSTEM DIPLOMAS ACT n median
1 McMinn Co. 292 92.5% 270 20.33
2 Union City 77 88.3% 68 19.93
3 Kingsport City 400 82.8% 331 22.74
4 Williamson Co. 1,966 80.6% 1,584 22.54
5 Bradford City 41 80.5% 33 19.18
6 Oneida City 83 79.5% 66 20.58
7 Shelby Co. 2,561 78.5% 2,010 21.72
8 Madison Co. 679 78.2% 531 19.27
9 Tullahoma City 239 77.4% 185 22.35
10 Huntingdon City 70 77.1% 54 20.20

And here are the Here are the 10 public school systems in Tennessee with the LOWEST percentage of graduating seniors who take the ACT:

TENNESSEE REGULAR % TAKING 2007 ACT Composite
SCHOOL SYSTEM DIPLOMAS ACT n median
1 Hancock Co. 62 38.7% 24 17.96
2 Fentress Co. 60 41.7% 25 19.92
3 Sequatchie Co. 116 44.8% 52 19.71
4 Greene Co. 488 45.7% 223 20.06
5 Trousdale Co. 91 47.3% 43 19.12
6 Johnson Co. 156 47.4% 74 19.81
7 Meigs Co. 94 48.9% 46 20.37
8 Washington Co. 656 50.8% 333 20.68
9 Bledsoe Co. 102 51.0% 52 20.73
10 Jefferson Co. 449 52.1% 234 20.52

Here are the 10 public school systems in Tennessee with the LARGEST number of graduating seniors who take the ACT:

TENNESSEE REGULAR % TAKING 2007 ACT Composite
SCHOOL SYSTEM DIPLOMAS ACT n median
1 Memphis City 5,741 67.9% 3,898 17.56
2 Davidson Co. 3,601 64.1% 2,307 19.11
3 Knox Co. 3,257 66.6% 2,168 21.97
4 Shelby Co. 2,561 78.5% 2,010 21.72
5 Rutherford Co. 2,328 66.1% 1,539 20.91
6 Hamilton Co. 2,322 68.0% 1,580 19.60
7 Williamson Co. 1,966 80.6% 1,584 22.54
8 Sumner Co. 1,691 62.9% 1,063 20.81
9 Montgomery Co. 1,644 59.9% 984 21.23
10 Wilson Co. 1,040 67.9% 706 20.70

And here are the 10 public school systems in Tennessee with the SMALLEST number of graduating seniors who take the ACT:

TENNESSEE REGULAR % TAKING 2007 ACT Composite
SCHOOL SYSTEM DIPLOMAS ACT n median
1 S. Carroll 31 58.1% 18 20.28
2 Van Buren Co. 37 62.2% 23 18.83
3 Richard City 37 70.3% 26 20.15
4 Bradford City 41 80.5% 33 19.18
5 Pickett Co. 46 58.7% 27 22.11
6 Hollow Rock-Bruceton City 47 57.4% 27 20.22
7 Lake Co. 51 70.6% 36 18.11
8 Fentress Co. 60 41.7% 25 19.92
9 Hancock Co. 62 38.7% 24 17.96
10 Huntingdon City 70 77.1% 54 20.20

The only significant sized sample of homeschoolers with ACT scores that I could find were 1997, 1998, and 2004 data released by ACT (cited on the HSLDA website). ACT reported that in 1997, 1,926 homeschoolers had a median composite ACT score of 22.5. ACT reported that in 1998, 2,610 homeschoolers had a median composite ACT score of 22.8. ACT reported that in 2004, 7,858 homeschoolers had a median composite ACT score of 22.6. These data are remarkably consistent over time AND they are significantly ABOVE the national averages. But remember, according the the Tennessee Department of Education, it is the homeschooler’s diplomas that are suspect.

Now, don’t you feel like you know the public school system in Tennessee much better?

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves. Comments encouraged and solicited. Once again: here is the data. Or should that be, “here ARE the data…”

- Rob Shearer
Director, Schaeffer Study Center

The Tennessee Department of Education has recently defended its decision not to recognize homeschool diplomas with the assertion that because they were prohibited from having anything to do with the selection of a curriculum, teachers, or textbooks in the church-related schools which “umbrella” homeschoolers they had no way to tell what a homeschool diploma represented.

So, the current status in Tennessee is that anyone from a public school (or a private accredited school) who presents a diploma in order to be hired as a daycare worker, police officer, fireman (or any other position which state law requires a high school diploma for) will be automatically accepted. Anyone who presents a homeschool diploma will be automatically rejected.

I have some news for the Department of Education officials. When a public school graduate presents a diploma, no one has any way to tell what it represents either. Did the ertswhile young graduate have an A average or a D- average? There is no minimum GPA requirement for graduation from a public high school in Tennessee. See the graduation requirements here on the Department of Education website for confirmation.

The final requirement on that page requiring a score of “proficient” on the three Gateway exams (Biology I, English II, Algebra I) has been altered, by the way. The Gateway exams are gone. They will be replaced with ten standard state-wide end-of-course tests that all public school students will be required to take. But the new tests won’t be high-stakes must-pass gateway exams. Instead, they will count as 25% of the student’s final grade in each of the ten designated courses.

Which only exacerbates the problem of how do you know what a public school diploma represents? Apparently it represents 20 courses, spread over four years (five per year) distributed over English, Math, Science, & Social Studies. In these four categories, only English is required to be taken in all four years of high school. So all you really know about a public school graduate with a high school diploma is that they at least passed 20 courses.

I don’t know of ANY private school, church-related school, or homeschool anywhere in Tennessee that requires LESS than 20 courses before they award a high school diploma. And yet, homeschool diplomas are automatically rejected by the Department of Education, while public school diplomas are automatically accepted.

In TN, 92% of high school graduates take the ACT test. In 2007 (the last year for which data was available) the average composite score for Tennessee high school grads was 20.7. Nationally it was 21.2.

And homeschoolers? The latest and largest study is from 1998, but since the ACT is so closely controlled statistically, it is possible to compare test scores from year to year. Here’s an excerpt from the ERIC clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation:

Home school students did quite well in 1998 on the ACT college entrance examination. They had an average ACT composite score of 22.8 which is .38 standard deviations above the national ACT average of 21.0 (ACT,1998).This places the average home school student in the 65th percentile of all ACT test takers.

The superior performance of home school students on achievement tests can easily be misinterpreted. This study does not demonstrate that home schooling is superior to public or private schools. It should not be cited as evidence that our public schools are failing. It does not indicate that children will perform better academically if they are home schooled. The design of this study and the data do not warrant such claims. All the comparisons of home school students with the general population and with the private school population in this report fail to consider a myriad of differences between home school and public school students. We have no information as to what the achievement levels of home school students would be had they been enrolled in public or private schools. This study only shows that a large group of parents choosing to make a commitment to home schooling were able to provide a very successful academic environment.

The full article is Scholastic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics of Home School Students in 1998, by Lawrence Rudner, published in the peer-reviewed EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES.

There are specific ACT results for homeschoolers in Tennessee for only one year:

YEAR : 2005
Homeschoolers : 20.7
All Students: 20.5
( ACT report, TN, 2005, page 17)

For some curious reason, ACT no longer reports the homeschool ACT scores separately in its reports for 2006 and 2007.

So, in summary: Homeschoolers as a group have superior performance on every nationally normed test for which data are available, significantly above the public school average. Homeschoolers in Tennessee, as a group, have average ACT scores at or above the ACT scores for all students.

AND YET… the Department of Education somehow BELIEVES that they can’t accept a homeschooling diploma because they don’t know what it represents. Given the incredibly wide variation of skills an achievement that can accompany a public school high school diploma, something about the pot, the kettle, and the color black occurs to me. Class…? Class…? Anyone…? Bueller…?

Colleges and universities across the country have faced this problem for years. What does a high school diploma mean, anyway? Their solution? Require all applicants to take the ACT.

Now, if the POST Commission on police officers and the Department of Human Services regs on daycare workers need to be revised to require ALL applicants to take an ACT test in order to validate and help agencies evaluate their high school diploma, that would be fine.

But DO NOT single out homeschool or church school graduates as if their high school diplomas were suspect, while the public school diplomas are not.

Homeschoolers have every bit as much data to substantiate the success of homeschooling as anything the public schools can point to. For the Department to automatically reject homeschooler’s diplomas is insulting. It could not possibly survive a legal challenge.

If the Department will not overturn their arbitrary and capricious policy, then homeschoolers should pursue remedies in the courts, or in the legislature.

But I am NOT willing to concede that homeschoolers should have to meet any additional testing burdens that are not also imposed on all other high school graduates. A homeschool diploma deserves every bit as much credence (I’d argue more so) than a public school diploma.

The Department of Education’s actions amount to an unsubstantiated, unprofessional, and unjustified attack on homeschooling.

The Department of Education has 1,000,000 students in public schools in Tennessee. Do they really want to pick this fight with homeschoolers?

- Rob Shearer
proud homeschooling dad
Director, Schaeffer Study Center
Vice President, Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools.

Since its favorable passage eight days ago by the House Education Committee, HB1652 (the bill to direct the Department of Education to resume recognizing homeschool and church-related school diplomas) has been languishing in the House Calendar & Rules Committee. This Committee is where all bills go when they receive committee approval. Calendar and Rules decides when to schedule floor votes on bills that have been reported out by other committees. The Calendar and Rules Committee (like all the other House committees) is appointed by Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. Here are the members:

Larry Miller, Chair D-Memphis
John Hood, Vice-Chair D-Murfreesboro
Nathan Vaughn, Secretary D-Kingsport
Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, Stratton Bone, D-Lebanon, Rob Briley, D-Nashville, Tommie F. Brown, D-Chattanooga, Frank Buck, D-Dowelltown, Glen Casada, R-Franklin, Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta
Lois Deberry, D-Memphis, John J. DeBerry, Jr., D-Memphis, Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, Ulysses Jones, Jr., D-Memphis, Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, Mark Maddox, D-Dresden, Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroad
Michael McDonald, D-Portland, Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, Gary Odom, D-Nashville, Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, Phillip Pinion, D-Union City, Randy Rinks, D-Savannah, Les Winningham, D-Huntsville

There are 25 members of the committee, 21 Democrats and 4 Republicans. That, unfortunately, might be a fair estimate of the odds of getting HB1652 brought to a vote on the floor. The Democrats control the Tennessee House of Representatives with a 53-46 majority. But, with control and the election of the speaker, they are able to effect such oddities as the stacking of the Calendar and Rules Committee with a 21-4 Democrat majority.

I would STRONGLY urge all homeschooling families to call and email the members of the House Calendar and Rules Committee and respectfully request that they release HB1652 for a vote by the full House of Representatives. You might remind them that the bill is co-sponsored by a Democrat (Rep. Dennis Ferguson) and a Republican (Rep. Mike Bell). There is a good summary of the bill and its history at Kay Brooks’ TNHomeEd site.

For the prospects of the Republicans being able to achieve a majority of the House of Representatives in November 2008, I refer you to this analysis by Steve Gill.

Remember, if this bill does NOT pass, then the Department of Education will have succeeded in invalidating the high school diplomas of thousands of homeschool and church-related school graduates.

For everyone’s convenience, here are the email addresses of all 25 members of the Calendar and Rules Committee: (yawl do know how to do cut & paste, right?)

rep.larry.miller@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.john.hood@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.nathan.vaughn@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.joe.armstrong@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.stratton.bone@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.rob.briley@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.tommie.brown@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.frank.buck@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.glen.casada@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.charles.curtiss@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.lois.deberry@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.john.deberry@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.craig.fitzhugh@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.ulysses.jones@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.mike.kernell@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.mark.maddox@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.steve.mcdaniel@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.michael.mcdonald@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.jason.mumpower@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.jimmy.naifeh@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.gary.odom@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.doug.overbey@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.phillip.pinion@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.randy.rinks@legislature.state.tn.us, rep.leslie.winningham@legislature.state.tn.us

- Rob Shearer

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