Bulletin #30 No Child Left Behind and Push Outs 03/29/04
Did you know? As a result of NCLB students who do not do well in public school are being asked/forced to leave in order to bring up test scores, so that the school can stay off of failing school lists.
These families are being asked, in effect, to place their children in private schools, or educate their children at home. Of course superintendents and school administrators may deny this practice, but it is happening, and it is slowly being documented. Drop-out rates and other statistics are hiding the truth about what is really happening to these kids.
The legislation, "No Child Left Behind" (HR1) has mandated that school's performance be measured and that the schools must show improvements and be accountable for their test score results. Government funding is tied to testing results and schools that do poorly will be placed on failing school lists, which will be mandated to make various forms of restitution and other modifications.
The homeschool community (nationally and locally) is seeing families being "pushed out" of public school. Homeschool support group leaders are hearing statements like, "They didn't know what to do with my child and they suggested I homeschool him. I didn't really want to, but here I am..." Some other leaders are hearing that kids are just made so miserable and given such little help that the kids beg/cry to be taken out. Some parents are fed up with the system, and the school administrators are only too happy to be rid of the whole problem. There are various ways that families handle this situation. Some begin a home grown curriculum, some find alternative programs, and some find private or tutoring options, or use long distance learning programs. Most seek help from local homeschool organizations.
Fortunately, many states have very strong, vibrant and committed homeschool communities. Various homeschool organizations are terrific in helping, and giving advice, and pointing people to helpful resources. They have been offering families help regarding any homeschooling questions that they have. It is desirable that homeschooling is a choice that families can make, but schools are supposed to be required by law to offer appropriate education, and a safe environment, for those who want to be in public school.
It should be pointed out that just because public schools are not doing their job and are refusing to solve problems, that this is not a reason for the homeschooling community to be punished or scrutinized. Superintendents in the past have tried to get legislation passed that would be burdensome, discriminatory and unnecessary simply because they were seeing families leaving the public school. We know that they see us as some kind of threat. Clearly the NEA (National Education Association) and some other organizations have taken very anti-homeschooling positions, and they are looking for any reason to put legislation upon us that would attempt to make it more difficult to homeschool, or worse yet, to let the state have complete oversight over homeschooling. Homeschoolers should refuse to be punished for their successes, and should not accept that failing school systems should have oversight over homeschooling practices.
Additionally, homeschools are being persecuted in some
places not because of problems or failures of homeschooling in and of itself,
but because of the failures in DCF (Dept of Children and Family). A case in
point is homeschool being held suspect with regard to abuse and neglect,
especially based on some irresponsible media reporting. Legislators should know
not to believe everything that is reported in the media. Clearly the media did
little to fully explain the case of the
There are articles all over the Internet regarding the issue of push outs. Some of them are listed below. Most articles are NOT specifically related to homeschooling, but the occurrence of 'push-outs' and the implications of it are being reported. Apparently, it's common and it's widespread. It seems like any kid who can't get their scores up poses a problem. This is an important issue, not just for homeschoolers, but for education in general. For some schools it is MUCH cheaper to push a student out of school than it is to determine why the child has not been successful in a traditional program, and to meet the child's needs, which might include vocational education and/or community college, or other intervention methods. Many times the reason a child has left public school is not truthfully documented.
It is noted that there are anecdotal stories from all over the country about kids being pushed out of school. Many people don't wish their names or other details to be used because they fear press or retaliation by local school administrators. And we do know that some may not be directly due to NCLB - lots of the stories started before it went into effect. However, there are people who have been watching certain trends over the years and have seen that kids with disabilities who are high school age have been, apparently, pushed out of high school programs for years. Those people are waiting to see if those trends sky rocket when certain education reports are due out in the spring from United States Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
People have written news articles regarding the difference between drop out rates and graduation rates and the way in which schools categorize drop outs.
What some people are seeing, which is attributable to NCLB,
is that SEA's (State Education Agencies) all over the country are looking to
establish new 2nd, 3rd and 4th class high school-type diplomas for kids with
disabilities who can't possibly complete the regular diploma programs. And
Additionally we're also seeing some families being "pushed out" by control crazy schools not willing to follow the orders of a child's physician. Schools have become surrogate parents and now are denying not only the rights of parents to educate but also the rights of parents to medicate (or not), and the Department of Children and Family Services is being used as the agent of enforcement.
One of the problems (and an outcome) with this is: if they eliminate enough marginal kids out of the system, then in a few years their results for no child left behind will be stunning, and they will show how this mandated legislation really did "do the trick" to improving public education.
Authors like John Taylor Gatto have been writing about this for years.
Home Education Magazine has stated: "We have an increasing number of calls that could be classified as push-outs. From kids who can't sit still and are offered drugs or homeschooling, to kids who have gotten themselves in some sort of trouble and have a probation officer "following and certifying" homeschooling as terms of probation. (That means court ordered homeschooling). "Push Outs" is really the concept of selecting for certain students and against others. This is not a new. Private schools have used this process forever and charter schools more recently. What is new is that public schools now have a process to use this concept. With the hysteria towards testing and assessments of students and institutions tied to big bucks this effect is inevitable. Yet, we really didn't see it coming this blatantly and this fast."
Here are only a few examples:
Below are some relevant articles:
An Analysis of High School Discharge Figures: A Report by
The Public Advocate for the City of
Advocates for Children is working on this problem in NY State. In order to mitigate ghastly test scores and a rising drop out rates, they are saying that the kids being asked to leave, have left in order to pursue an alternative education, either private school or homeschooling. Pushing Out At-Risk Students
Public High School Dropouts and Completers from the Common Core of Data - This report presents the number and percentage of students dropping out and completing public school (among states that reported dropouts 1997-2001)
http://www.suntimes.com/ archives SCHOOLS PRESSURED TO DROP BAD STUDENTS - Chicago Sun-Times, January 9, 2004
High School Push Outs August, 2003
New York Times - To Cut Failure Rate, Schools Shed Students - July 31, 2003
Testing to Create Dropouts? Playing the Numbers Game for Kids' Futures - September 12th, 2003
Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. –
Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – firstname.lastname@example.org