Friday, May 25, 2007

CT Pandemic Legislation - Is It Anti-Homeschool?

In the wake of Katrina many people turned to homeschooling to educate their kids.. and some never went back to the government schools..
It looks like CT wants to prevent that from happening.. especially as people are worried about things like a flu pandemic.
Neither rain or snow or pandemic, no matter what emergency arises you must still "do school" as the administrators demand it to be done. Seems to me they don't want parents to make their own educational choices in a crisis, but instead will promote doing government school at home, or some other remote location. I think logging into some remote site in order for junior to complete worksheets and "word-finds" might be somewhat low on people's "to do" list when they are fighting for survival. Also, do they honestly think people will have electricity to get their lessons on the Internet or cable TV? But I guess this type of legislation makes the legislature "feel good".

Here is the bill and it is wending it's way through our CT legislature.

It says this:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (Effective July 1, 2007) (a) The Department of Education, in consultation with Departments of Public Health, Information Technology and Public Utility Control, shall study and make recommendations for developing a plan to provide instruction and other educational services on a remote basis to students in grades kindergarten to twelve, inclusive, in the event of school closings or mass student or teacher absences due to a pandemic or other crisis in the state. The study shall:

(1) Assess how the state's current emergency plans address instructional issues, including the role of state and local education officials in those plans;

(2) Analyze alternative systems for delivering remote instruction to students outside of school facilities, such as through the Internet or broadcast or cable television, along with the technical and infrastructure requirements for each delivery system;

(3) Evaluate the educational issues raised by remote instruction, including the type and duration of the instruction, the state and local agencies and educational personnel involved, the curriculum to be used, the suitability of existing public or private on-line or broadcast educational programs, how students and teachers would interact and how students' work would be evaluated; and

(4) Estimate the cost of providing remote instruction during a pandemic or other crisis and identify sources of funding for planning for and delivering such services.

(b) Not later than February 6, 2008, the Department of Education shall, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, report its findings in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section and any recommendations for legislation to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education.
These State agencies simply must have a plan to maintain control over kids' education even during a crisis. Can't have these kids turn to homeschooling in an emergency.. they might not ever go back when things return to normal.

By the way .. homeschooling families did an incredible job pitching in with relief efforts.. kudos to them all! and thanks to Ann Zeise for posting the relief efforts on her website. Even if it is a bit of old news, it's nice to see how many programs were established to help Katrina victims.

Your thoughts on the issue?


Crimson Wife said...

I didn't see anything in the excerpt about making it mandatory. It looked to me like a contingency plan in the event of a school closure. There are plenty of parents who do not want the responsibility of independent homeschooling- just look at the popularity of virtual public charters like the K12 run ones.

You and I and the rest of the independent homeschoolers may not like the idea of abdicating responsibility for our children's education to the nanny state, but we're in the minority in this country :-(

Alasandra said...

I think it would be a good idea to have a plan in place, especially for those students in college.

My son was lucky, his college was only shut down for two weeks due to Katrina, our house was OK, and we got our electricity back right before his college classes started.

I also realize that it was very hard for those parents who chose the homeschooling option to get everything they needed together and jump in homeschooling when they hadn't planned to and many had lost everything, including their homes. I do think the support from other homeschoolers was awsome.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Hmmm. I have read many articles in the NY Times and other national papers about the interruption of education for children due to Katrina. Some kids did not go back to school for over a year--but none of the articles I saw discussed what parents were doing instead of school.

I suppose it makes sense to have some kind of plan for the majority of families who do not homeschool and do not want to homeschool.

You are right about the laughability of some plans that require the presence of high-speed internet and electricity. There are some places in New Orleans that reportedly still do not have regular access to the grid.

Over all, I suspect that this is indeed legislation to make the legislators feel good about having a plan. It kind of reminds me of the Reagan years when we were told that we would absolutely have mail delivery in the event of nuclear war. We were also told that if the bombs and missiles came when we were traveling we should dig a shelter under the car. I remember this picture in my head of the postman delivering mail to the pit under our car. What a laugh!

Sprittibee said...

They need something to do in Washington to keep their minds off of the pending doom that hangs over the entire government there. I think they are all waking up to realize that none of us like them any more. We don't trust that any of them - no matter what party platform - are really doing their jobs. Or at least that is how it appears to me.

Dana said...

Now, I can see the point. But I can't help but wonder what exactly is everyone's highest priority in an emergency? School attendance wouldn't be high on my list and I think that everyone needs to realize that.

I'm not going to be worried about how far we are in our workbook while the ocean is crashing into our home, and I think there are more valuable things to be doing. Unless, of course, we just need some structure to keep everyone sane.

But I as a parent should be allowed to decide what I think my child needs at that moment, even if they were public schooled.

Daryl Cobranchi said...

A pandemic might close the schools for a year. Having some kind of plan for continuity just makes sense.

Sorry, Judy, I don't see the "anti-homeschool" angle here.

Judy Aron said...

That's OK Daryl.. I just posed the question..
You can choose to evaluate anything anyway you wish.
Say how are the preparations going at your place for this "pandemic"? Still hoarding bottled water and canned tuna? Still waiting around for the bird flu to migrate to people? Or is swine flu still on your list?
Personally I think these illnesses and the ensuing chaos may be a result of germ warfare, or at least perpetrated to instill fear in whatever target population is meant to be controlled.
But hey - I am not a big fancy scientist like you Daryl.
I fell for the Y2K farce myself..

Sherry said...

I would think that when people are very sick or are having to nurse the very sick, they wouldn't be able to handle the academics anyway. But if they want the germs to spread, everyone holing up in a school is a good way to do it. Homeschooling is healthier in more than one way.

K said...

The Y2K programming problems were real. Why didn't you see much? Because many work hours went into changing the affected code.

Just because some people overreacted in what they thought was going to happen because the timing fit with their particular end of world scenarios doesn't mean that industries highly dependent on computers were not at risk because of an endemic coding problme. That was the actual Y2K problem.

There's a difference between judicious planning for something and fear. Emergency preparedness can be done quite nicely without living in a state of fear.

Judy Aron said...

Yes - there were programming issues for many computer systems .. I happened to be a computer systems analyst during the years before when they were beginning to prepare to make system changes..

But I doubt very highly that it would have meant the end of times.. calculations of your insurance premiums or mix-up of airline schedules would have been chaotic but not represent impending doom and mass starvation (because trucks and trains wouldn't be dispatched with their deliverables) and other horrible things that had been predicted.

Right now what I see is fear being perpetrated by the media regarding "pandemic" as well as the "global warming" hysteria. Hurry up and buy those carbon offsets and pack away some bottled water.. don't forget to stock up on bread and batteries for the next huge weather event..

People are being made crazy by all this nonsense.. being prepared is one thing.. but perpetration of fear to get people to buy stuff or promote an agenda is getting ridiculous.

My point on this post though really was this: The last thing on people's minds during a crisis is where will my kid go to "do school".