In an effort to inform homeschoolers in Manatee County, FL, and to sharpen our detection skills (thank you Nancy Drew), I am going to play a little game called: What’s wrong with this form?
The idea of the game is to look at the form and see if you can tell what is wrong with it. (Hint: it probably doesn’t comply with FL Home Education Law – Statute 1002.41)
Our first installment of “What’s wrong with this form” is the Manatee County “Evaluation of Pupil Progress in Home Education” form.
Take a look at the form, here’s a link to the PDF on the Manatee County Homeschool site:
Then compare your thoughts with what we came up with below …
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS FORM?
It is pretty blatantly obvious that Manatee County is trying to manipulate parents (and unsuspecting certified teachers/potential evaluators).
In their form, Manatee correctly gives parents 4 options to select from on the form. However, the very first option – portfolio evaluation by a certified teacher – is loaded with additional, intrusive, and unnecessary requirements.
Here is the offending text:
OPTION A – (Teacher Evaluation) – A written Evaluation is Attached Which Includes:
1. Subjects Taught
2. Grade Level of Instruction
3. Additional Comments
I have reviewed this student’s educational portfolio and have noted evidence that the student has demonstrated
educational progress commensurate with his/her ability in each of the subjects noted above.
I certify that the statements above are true and correct on the basis of information presented and that I hold a regular
Florida Certificate to teach academic subjects at the elementary or secondary level.
Given that a teacher’s evaluation basically consists of a statement similar to the one above, I find it silly that a teacher has to sign the form AND attach an evaluation, since that is totally redundant. If the form contains the statement, signed by the teacher, then why attach an evaluation which states the exact same thing?
But, wait, there’s more. The form states that the evaluation must include a list of subjects taught and a grade level of instruction. This information is not required by law, and therefore Manatee County CANNOT require it.
Many county home education evaluation forms request this type of information, but this is the first form that I’ve seen that doesn’t label this information as optional.
There are actually a ton more things wrong with this little section of the form, but I hate to nit pick. Suffice it to say, that it is incredibly misleading and burdensome to the parent. It flies in the face of the the intent of the homeschool laws of the state of FL.
County education officials more often that not come from a public school background. Their concept of teaching comes from a restrictive (and I think antiquated) paradigm that excludes a vast majority of students. As anyone can tell you, the public school system is broken, and there isn’t much that can be done in this current way of doing things that can fix it. That is precisely why many parents opt-out and become homeschoolers – its the best solution for their children, and that is their main concern. Most county education officials don’t SEEM to know anything outside of grade levels, required subjects and test scores. As a result, they presume that a homeschooled student must adhere to that same structure and those standards. However, that is the BEAUTY of home education. You can break free from the bondage of scope and sequence and grade levels. You can choose meaningful subjects taught at the child’s own pace. Once you are out of their system, you don’t have to follow their practices (unless you want to). Once you start freeing your mind and thinking in this way (Classical Education), trying to shoe-horn your home education program to meet requirements like those presented in Manatee County’s form is burdensome at best, and not legal at worst.
Having said this, I realize that there are lots of parents who do want to know what grade level their child is at and the public school benchmarks are just fine for them. However, the FL state homeschooling law does not allow for a county to require this of a home educated student, and that’s really what I am pointing out here.
Well, I guess I’ll get off my soapbox for now. But, I hope this philosophical exercise gets your gears turning, and helps sharpen your mind so you can be your own detective.
Lastly, I just want to reiterate that as county officials expect us to obey the homeschooling laws, we should also expect the same from them.
Need an evaluation (with or without the form)?
Charles Tucker does Annual Educational Evaluations & Standardized Testing for homeschool students quickly and economically ($28). He is a Florida state dept. of education certified teacher (exp. date: 6/30/2021) & he is a homeschooling parent (17 yrs). For true & simple answers about homeschooling in Florida, email him anytime: CCTucker7@Gmail.com OR call his cell # 786-525-3545.