Just Who Is Accountable for My Child's
Or Accreditation Rears Its Ugly Head
What you are about to read may come as no surprise to those of
you who have been reading this newsletter for the past 2-3 years.
If you aren't one of those readers, then listen up. There is now
a new agency around that will "assume accountability for
academic credits" of our children because "without this
commission, there is absolutely no professional accrediting
agency to discriminate between the instructional process as
applied to these students." The Accrediting Commission for
Independent Study is headed up by Executive Director W. Starr
Miller, who many of us met at GHEA's Home School Fair two years
ago. As a guest speaker at their conference, Mr. Miller explained
to a roomful of home educators why we should be supportive of
this new evaluating system. According to letters being sent to
Georgia's Colleges and Universities, this new agency, consisting
of five professional educators and accreditation leaders, the
Accrediting Commission for Independent Study, Inc. can give
colleges a traditional and cherished pattern for making decisions
about the admission of students from non-traditional programs.
The letters also state that four "centers" in the
Atlanta area covering approximately 900 students have been
accredited thus far.
Well, fellow home schoolers, rather than attempt to reinvent
the proverbial wheel, we offer to you the following article which
first appeared in our June/July 1997 newsletter and trust that it
stands in good stead.
HB 586, Accreditation, "Umbrella" Schools,
Current Law...What's it Going To Be?
At the recent Georgia Home Education Association (GHEA)
conference, Dr. Starr Miller, a retired member of the Georgia
Accrediting Commission (GAC) proposed a system by which home
schools could receive some form of accreditation or
certification. Centers for Independent Study would be set up to
supervise home study. Along with approving curriculum,
establishing a record of "clock" hours on independent
study for each student, and setting standards for
"passing" performance, these centers would also
maintain records, issue diplomas, assist parents in setting the
appropriate media and study environment for their home school,
and so on. These centers could be established using existing
support groups as the accrediting establishment. This
accreditation would in no way guarantee admission into college
for the home schooled student, according to Dr. Miller.
We ask, then, what's the point? To say that a school is
"accredited" sounds impressive, doesn't it? But what
does it really mean? Is it truly a sign of distinction? How does
it impact private education, including home schooling? Recent
developments put these questions squarely before us.
Accreditation schemes treat schools as factories, and once a
factory is declared accredited, it is assumed to produce uniformly
acceptable products. Accreditation, therefore, cares not at all
about any individual child. Accredited schools do not ask an
incoming student, "What have you learned and achieved?"
but rather, "What school did you go to." If the student
names a school that has kept its accrediting dues paid up; he
will receive credit for his work in that school. If the student
names an unaccredited school, his work, no matter how brilliant,
may be passed over, if that's what suits the school he wishes to
enter. One might think the occasional overlooked student is a
regrettable, but necessary, casualty of a larger plan to promote
excellence throughout our nation's schools. Please, think again.
Virtually all Georgia high schools are accredited by GAC, and
these same schools are currently 48th in the
nation for test scores. So much for the quality of an accredited
The beauty of home schooling is that it is warm, personal, and
centered on the needs and interests of each individual child.
Accreditation, in contrast, stands for everything that is cold,
impersonal, and mass mechanistic about institutional schooling.
The genius of home schooling is in its total freedom from the
doctrines of the professional education establishment. Our home
schooling community is alive with fresh new approaches and
innovative materials for learning and teaching. Ours is a
community of equals; people from all backgrounds are free to
participate at all levels of discourse. We may voluntarily
consult professionals or rely instead upon our own instincts and
knowledge. Accreditation, by contrast, thrives on conformity to
predetermined standards and a heavy reliance on all things
certified, audited, credentialed, and "professional."
There are currently several states with accreditation being
either the state law or a voluntary situation with the home
schooling family wanting some form of accountability other than
their own. Each of these states have businesses set up as
accrediting associations charging from $40/per month per child
and up. Harvest Home Educators does not endorse any plan to
establish an accrediting system for home schools.
UPDATE for 1999: Harvest does not and has
never endorsed any plan to accredit home schools. Since we
printed this article, GHEA has posted excerpts from it on their
website and in their newsletter stating that they did not endorse
any accrediting system at that time.