In the first blog of this series we looked at how special education funding works at the federal, state, and district levels, and what access rights home schoolers have to those funds compared to children enrolled in the public schools in Texas. But, special needs funding is really only a perimeter swipe the public schools have made towards the practice of special needs home schooling. It’s an attack that restricts access to services paid for by your tax dollars, but doesn’t directly affront your choice to home school your special needs child. On the other hand, this second blog in the series hits closer to home and addresses how some professional educators, in trying to defend their own credentials, are waging war against home school parents’ ability to effectively teach their special needs child.
In general, a great deal of friction already exists between public school educators and their home schooling counterparts. But, due to the many efforts of organizations like the Texas Home School Coalition, that friction has lessened. The general home schooling populous has years of documented proof that their practices bring about high success rates, leaving public educators little ammunition to use against home schooling and the choice parents make every day to home school as their right, and to do so in a manner without any specialized training or certification.
In contrast, no specific curriculums or large independent studies have yet produced data to support widespread success rates of special needs children taught in home schooling environments. So, when Ms. Delaney, the author of “Perspectives of Parents of Students With Disabilities Toward Public and Homeschool Learning Environments,” gave summaries of studies that used small samplings of special needs home schoolers, showing superior success results in their efforts, she was able to downplay these results and theorize that within the larger community of special needs home schooling, “untrained parents” would generally:
- Not be able to determine delays in specific developmental milestones
- Not provide the most optimum environments to a children with special needs
- Not have access to resources needed to teach children with special needs
- Not be able to provide proper intervention therapy within their homes
- Not have access to training seminars in the latest therapies available to special needs children
It is no wonder then when Brian D. Ray, Ph.D of NHERI reviewed Ms. Delaney’s paper, he stated: “The modern homeschooling movement is an indirect challenge to the claim that Americans (and others) need professionally trained and state-certified teachers.”
Years ago the educational system and teacher organizations failed to show how institutionalized educational practices could out-succeed the general home school model. Research studies abounded from those early attacks that have now given the home schooling community unrefuted proof that parents can teach just as well as, if not better than, their highly trained counterparts. But now teaching professionals are coming in and trying to attack our successes in an area where only small samplings of empirical data exists for defense, that being the area of special needs education.
It was evident in Ms. Delaney’s writing that she could not bring herself to conclude that a home school parent could generally succeed in home schooling his or her special needs child. Even after citing the following studies in her paper (page 35), which documented that untrained home schooling parents have superior advantage over professionally trained special education teachers, Ms. Delaney still stated that she felt home school parents would greatly benefit under the direct supervision of a professionally trained educator.
- Ensign (2000) said that successful results were because parents “. . . focus on the whole child rather than primarily on the child’s disability or extreme ability; individualized attention; and care, patience, and respect for the child.”
- Abbott and Miller (2006) related that parents had an advantage over public school educators because their relationship to the child made them almost an expert of their child.
- Hurlbutt (2010) concluded that home school children on the autism spectrum were more successful because their parents had the ability to teach using methods that incorporated their interests.
- Duvall (1997) found that special needs home schooled students excelled in their academics and were engaged in learning activities at a rate almost triple their public school counterparts who were taught by professionally certified teacher’s degrees at the master’s or Ph.D. levels.
Home schooling parents of special needs children have truly presented the educational profession another blow to their failing systematic approach towards public education–a blow they are trying their hardest to counter-attack. And, just as in Ms. Delaney’s case, the attack from the public education side doesn’t have any weight behind it; but then again there is just not enough weight on the home school side to prove any victory either. That fact makes special needs home educators the most vulnerable home school group for attack even though successful home schooling of special needs children is happening every day in homes across Texas.
But thankfully we do not fight this battle alone. THSC continues to fight for you and your right to home school as a parent of a special needs child. And together we share the same powerful ally who has been fighting the good fight since the beginning of time, the Lord of the universe who has equipped us all with perfect weapons of warfare which He promises can be used in “. . . casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God . . .” (2 Corinthians 10:5), which we know covers all lofty thinking that tries to disprove the ability of untrained parents to successfully home school their special needs children.
And, to that end the next blog in this series will be aimed at equipping you as a special needs home schooling educator with the best resources available to special needs home educators. Until then, keep up the good fight, lean on God, continue pressing on as you stack up success stories in home schooling your special needs child, and add to the yet documented success rates your efforts are producing.
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Abbott, M.B., & Miller, J.A. (2006) What you need to learn about homeschooling. Contemporary Pediatrics, 23, 48 – 58. Retrieved from http://contemporarypediatrics.modernmedicine.com/search/solr_search/homeschooling
Duvall, S.F., Delquadri, J.C., & Ward, D.L. (2004) A preliminary investigation of the effectiveness for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Review, 33, 140-158 Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/journal/0279-6015_School_psychology_review
Ensign, J. (2000). Defying the stereotypes of special education: Home school students. Peabody Journal of Education, 75, 147-158 doi:10.1080/0161956X.2000.9681939
Hurlbutt, K. (2010). Considering homeschooling your child on the autism spectrum Exceptional Parent, 40, 20-21. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ880859