Despite standardized testing indicating otherwise, a top public school official in Arkansas impressed to homeschool parents that public schools provide a “more rigorous curriculum” for their children than home instruction does – a contention made while encouraging home educators to enroll their students in local schools late last year.
Little Rock School District Superintendent Mike Poore sent out a written invitation to local homeschooling parents toward the end of November last year, urging them to enroll their children in public school – insisting that his state-funded instruction would provide them with a superior education than anything they could personally administer to students at home.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Staff Attorney Scott Woodruff, who serves as the nonprofit organization’s contact lawyer for the state of Arkansas, argues that Poore’s statement about public schools’ superiority over home education was not only offensive and baseless, but consummately incorrect.
“The implication, obviously, was that the public school would provide a better curriculum than homeschool families – an astonishing and unsupported assertion,” Woodruff asserted.
The legal expert for the Purcellville, Virginia-based Christian legal group was glad that the state capital’s school district conceded that its insinuation was inappropriate, but he is still waiting for a much overdue acknowledgement that public instruction does not provide a higher quality of education than homeschooling.
“An apology was subsequently issued, but the district never withdrew its claim that its curriculum is more rigorous,” Woodruff announced.
Woodruff then begged the question.
“Is the public school curriculum really more rigorous?” the homeschool attorney posed before offering to do some fact-checking for the superintendent.
“For many years, all Arkansas homeschool students were required to take standardized tests,” Woodruff explained. “They consistently out-scored their public school counterparts.”
Elaborating on homeschoolers’ higher academic performance than publicly schooled students, he pointed out that they handily beat them out nationwide.
“In 2009, the largest-ever national study of homeschool students showed that the average homeschooled 8th grader scored at the 12th grade level,” Woodruff continued.
Problems with Common Core and scores
Woodruff also pointed to the Natural State’s failure in public instruction since it adopted the federally imposed Common Core academic standards, which critics argue have dumbed down the public schools.
“In 2010, public schools in Arkansas – and most other states – skidded into the befuddled Alice-in-Wonderland world of Common Core,” he expressed. “Justifiably, skeptical homeschooling families stuck with what works.”
The HSLDA attorney went on to show how homeschool parents do a much better job of preparing youth for college than credentialed public school teachers do.
“As a consequence [of implementing the Common Core], homeschool students nationwide outscored others on all three sections of the important SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] college admission test for 2014 – the last year for which results are available for comparison – by significant margins,” Woodruff informed.
With more than 2 million children homeschooling today, the homeschooling movement’s success has been established for decades, as studies conducted before the turn of the century have shown that homeschoolers score drastically higher than their public school peers across the curriculum, according to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI).
One of the largest nationwide studies to date comparing public school students to homeschoolers, conducted in 1999 by ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation Director Lawrence M. Rudner, Ph.D., indicated that home educated students scored an average of 30 percentile points higher than publicly schooled children across the academic disciplines.
With all of the statistics in his favor, Woodruff insisted that parents should discount any words the Arkansas superintendent has to say about instruction – when it comes to comparing public schools to homeschools.
“Poore’s claim that the public school curriculum is more rigorous cannot be taken seriously,” Woodruff concluded.