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The Education Liberator, Vol. 1, No. 4, December 1995/January 1996

Parent speaks out for educational freedom

by Katharina Johnson

Katharina Johnson is a homeschooling parent who gave testimony at the public hearings in Salem on the Oregon Educational Reform Act of the 21st Century. This bill affects all children in Oregon through its implementation of Goals 2000 and OBE. So far, only three states have rejected federal funding to implement Goals 2000 (see Edu-News Briefs) ? Oregon is not one of them (yet). The testimony she delivered to the Oregon Educational Committee is an elegant petition for educational freedom.

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee,

I thank you for the opportunity to present my views on education reform. My name is Katharina Johnson and I am the proud mother of two children, Stephen age 12 and Heather age 10.

Education is the transfer of knowledge, ability, training, and instruction. For the production of all things or the rendering of a service there are methodologies. All methods can be broken down into step by step processes or building blocks. If the product or service is to have quality, then there must by accountability for the steps involved in the processes and these must be measurable by clearly defined standards.

What is missing from our education today are clearly defined methods, accountability for applying these methods, and a known measure for the results.

If we are to transfer our knowledge base, then the laws governing our language, math, science, music, and art must be clearly presented and understood. Information in this form was not available from my school district. Needless to say they were not capable of teaching my children.

Had I left my children in the public school, you would have before you a child who would have been illiterate and incapable of writing.

Giving the educators who have failed to educate our children greater power and more money will not correct the inadequacies of our education system.

I feel that it would be prudent to question the ability of educators who feel that the demonstration or practical application of knowledge is a new idea. Isn't that what educators have or should have been doing all along? I would not consider someone for whom this is a new concept to be educated enough to transfer knowledge to my children.

OBE requires massive retraining. Has the ability to write, read, comprehend and apply instructions become so rare that our educators are not capable of doing this without massive costs to the public? Are they so advanced in their critical thinking process that they are no longer capable of any logical analysis?

I ask that each member of this committee examine the words equality, liberty, justice, and pursuit of happiness. I ask that you explain these to my children and share with them your position on these constitutional rights regarding education. You may contact them by e-mail, or regular mail .

Does the word liberty refer only to the liberty our failing educational system is willing to grant us? Why can't we choose the education which best meets the needs of our children?

Does the pursuit of happiness refer only to the pursuit of happiness a child is forced to experience in our public schools? The behavior one sees in our schools certainly does not reflect a happy situation.

Children who do not receive their education in a government school are discriminated against in the funding for education. Would a tax exemption not be appropriate for these children? Are cost effective alternatives to government run programs not something we should examine?

Does this serve the well being of our future generations?

In a time when technology is capable of delivering presentations with greater diversity than a classroom teacher, is it really imperative that all our children go to a school to be taught? Why can't our children or their parents choose what works best for them?

Maybe it would be enlightening to know that Thomas Jefferson felt education is a personal private matter best left to the individual.

I ask this committee not to throw out the idea of education reform but to redirect the efforts of reform towards people and concepts which have proven themselves to be effective in obtaining results.

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