Just Who Is Accountable for My Child's Education?
Or Accreditation Rears Its Ugly Head Again!

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The following article appeared in HHE's newsletter and is published here with permission.
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Just Who Is Accountable for My Child's Education?
Or Accreditation Rears Its Ugly Head Again!

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 school.

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.

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04/25/99 created
© 1999 Home Education Information Resource (HEIR)