The Issue of
by Barb Shelton
(written Fall of 1999)
I've been asked several related questions:
~ What are the guidelines to being accredited?
~ Can a private school be as accredited as a public school?
~ Are there different accrediting agencies? How do their requirements differ?
~ Are all kids in public schools are getting "accredited" diplomas?
And the BIGGEST one:
~ Will my child be at a disadvantage in some way if I issue our own diploma?
These questions have kept many from even considering homeschooling all the way through to graduation, or at least from doing so in a manner they'd really like to be able to do it in. So it definitely merits being addressed.
Well, prepare to be disappointed. I do have an opinion on the whole issue of accreditation itself that I'll share, but I'm probably not the best one to answer these questions, so don't take my word as "gospel" on this matter. In fact, most of these questions will remain unanswered by me. Some of them will then, by default, get a generic answer that will be revealed momentarily.
Let me preface what I'm about to share by saying that I do not mean to put anyone down in saying this, but ~ are you sitting down? ~ because here is my answer to most of the above questions:
I don't care.
So let's apply my seemingly flippant, "one size fits all" answer to each of the following questions:
What are the guidelines to being accredited? ...
I don't really care.
Are all public schools accredited? ...
Hmmm, let's see... I actually don't care.
Can a private school be as accredited as a public school? ...
Well, I really don't actually care.
Are there different accrediting agencies? ...
To be honest, I don't care.
How different are their requirements? ...
When it comes right down to it, I don't care.
It is assumed that all kids in public schools are getting "accredited" diplomas, but are they?
You know what? I truly do not care.
Let me get more specific about why I don't care, because I actually have some good and well-thought-out reasons behind my seemingly nonchalant, probably-even-flippant-sounding air of my answer. In actuality, I am neither nonchalant nor flippant. Far from it, in fact!!! The accreditation of schools, whether public or private, means pretty close to nothing to me, so it just doesn't matter ~ as in it does not mean anything ~ to me if a particular diploma is "accredited" or not.
So WHY does it mean nothing to me? ... The main purpose of accreditation is to make one's course of study and/or diploma look good in someone's eyes and to (therefore) open doors. If your school is "accredited" that means someone - or a board of "someones" go together and came up with a set of standards that they felt were necessary for academic excellence. This might include: the content of the courses, books used, teacher certification, certain criteria for the school itself, grades, standards for grades, etc. All right, here's where I'm running the risk of sounding very haughty, so please hear my heart... As for: (let's take those one at a time...)
"Content of the courses" and "Books used" - I've seen many of the books used in courses of study in schools and they aren't a bit better than the ones I have found, and none of the ones in public schools can have any Christian content or focus. This means "the truth" is not being taught; just knowledge; and for one thing, this knowledge is, by necessity, jaded if the aspects of God, especially relating to history (His story) and science (which He invented) are completely left out.
"Teacher certification" - Many studies have proved that teacher certification has no relation to quality of learning in students. In fact, studies show that homeschoolers average at least 10 percentiles above traditional school students. See Better Late Than Early and The Right Choice: Homeschooling for many such statistics.
"Certain criteria for the school itself" - Again, it is not schools that educate; it is families following God's unique plan for each child, and being in relationship with that child.
"Grades" and "Standards for grades" - The criteria for grading varies so greatly from one teacher to another, even in the same department in the same school, that any fairness automatically goes out the window. (I have some other opinions about grading that you might be interested in reading about in Section 5 of my book, Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la.)
I took the stance of trusting God to open the doors that need to open for my kids when and where they need to open. I just had to believe that if we would obey God on how to educate our children and concern ourselves more with seeking and following His requirements, He would be faithful to open the one right door at the right time.
And guess what, He has!!!!!!! (Those stories will be in future articles!!!) But, in the meantime, here are some comments from veteran homeschool mom Joan Thompson of www.HomeschoolDiplomas.com (which I HIGHLY recommend you check out when you get to that point!!!!!)
Let's take a look at this verse:
"He has shown thee, oh man, what is good,
and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justice
and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
This verse doesn't invalidate or negate fulfilling some requirements that one might need for entering a particular college, but that's where hearing God for your student and his unique future come in. But I do not believe that most people are operating in such freedom when it comes to requirements or accreditation. They have yet to even consider that God might have something to say - to them - about this. And that's what I'm here to introduce. (So consider yourself introduced via this article!)
I personally believe that far too many hours of our children's precious high school years are wasted on "jumping through hoops" that lead to nowhere and drain precious energy that could be spent on getting their hearts, minds, and characters prepared for the "future works God has prepared beforehand that they may walk in them." Many requirements have nothing to do with what's really down the road for most students. I repeat: NOTHING. In fact, they are generally a major distraction!
All right, I'll fill you in on just a bit of what's been "down the road" for our two grad's...
Sharnessa didn't even need her diploma to get into the School of Creative Ministries in London! (BUMMER! I really wanted to show it to someone!)
And Tory is (as of fall 1999) attending our local community college, having done a year of "in-depth independent discipleship studies" last year immediately following graduating from our homeschool in August of 1998. Again, no one even asked to see his diploma! Oh well, both of their diplomas look very nice in their keepsake boxes!
There may be a reason (a good one, even) for you to concern yourself with accreditation. But for me, (and I can only speak for myself!), the price - loss in purpose and ability to focus on what I felt was important for these years - was much too high to pay. But God had to free me from the feeling - the illusion - that accreditation is what we think it is...
What I believe He showed me was that accreditation is just the "stamp of approval" of the world's view of education. And I believe that is just being "well schooled," not "truly educated." Education involves much more than merely being "schooled." (See my "Wisdom's 7 Pillars of Education" article for more on that.) Now, if I don't agree with or approve of the world's view of education, why would I want to spend a lot of (or any) time and money trying to obtain its stamp of approval?! My heart - and the heart I wanted for my kids - is to "study to show [ourselves] approved unto God." Period! Not approved - i.e. accredited - by man. Not even by a private school since that is essentially the same system, just with better content.
"A man cannot serve two masters."
I personally did not find it possible to bow down to the requirements of the world and walk in the freedom I felt God had for us. It was that simple.
My heart is not to rain on anyone's parade, nor to set myself up as an authority in this area, nor to make anyone who believes in "the system" feel bad or inferior. I am just sharing what I believe God has put on my heart and led me into for the purpose of becoming freer to hear His voice over the many loud voices of the world. And this is for the purpose of walking more fully in His ways and experiencing all that He has for our family in all the areas of our lives.
Section 2, "Requirements, College, Promotion and Graduation,"
of my book, Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la, comes in. In that
section I present an in-depth discussion of "requirements" ~ basically to help
you get a healthy view of them. There's much more to consider than
what I can present here in one article. (And I'm not putting my whole book(s) online! :-) )
I also present (in the book) ways to fulfill requirements without compromising
your desire to follow God's plan for high school, which can easily get
obscured or "drowned" in our attempt to fulfill requirements!
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