Nero Fiddles While Rome Burns Your Child’s Academic Future

Commentary by

David Kallman

Senior Counsel

Nero fiddles while Rome burns. As teacher unions and the Michigan Department of Education (MDOE) inaccurately blame the Legislature, public school authorities incredulously ban academic credit for on-line schoolwork performed at home by your children during the shutdown of public schools. The MDOE disingenuously cites two justifications for not granting student credit during these trying times:

  1. Schools cannot count students doing their academic studies on-line at home for purposes of state financial aid; and
  2. A lack of equal access to education for all students.[1]

Neither excuse is valid. First, state funding has nothing to do with whether a school gives academic credit for course work performed by a student. Whether or not the school gets paid by the state does not prohibit the school from granting academic credit for work performed. Remember, school districts already utilize homebound student programs, distance learning programs, and cyber schools. Students in those programs receive academic credit. Why not for students at home during this emergency? Each school district is responsible for their curriculum and how students receive academic credit. Academic credit ought not be related to funding or protecting unions.

Second, a recent study shows 86% of all Michigan children have access to a computer at home.[2] What possible rationale justifies denying the vast majority of students’ credit for their on-line studies because 14% do not have access? It makes more sense to assist the 14% to gain access instead of penalizing the 86%. Moreover, many of these homes likely have access to smart phones or other electronic devices that could be utilized in the short term.

The above are excuses for the educational establishment to use this crisis to attempt to gain concessions from the Legislature and our political leaders to increase their funding and political clout. As Rahm Emanuel famously stated, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Further, public school officials fear that the home education model for teaching children might be validated if academic credit were granted. If home education can work during this health crisis, why not all the time?

If you are a frustrated parent, you do have an option to ensure your child receives proper academic credit if the public school will not give it. Simply notify the public school in writing that you are immediately pulling your child out of the school and that you intend to privately home school until further notice. Then you certify the academic work completed by your child and give academic credit for all schoolwork performed when the public schools reopen. Private home educators do this all the time for their children/students and the academic credit given by the parent is routinely accepted by colleges, employers, military, etc. Do not be held hostage by the public education establishment’s attempt to use your children as pawns to try and gain more money and political clout. Who knows? You may find that you like the home education alternative so much that you never go back.

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About the Author

David Kallman
Senior Counsel
David A. Kallman serves as Senior Legal Counsel at the Great Lakes Justice Center. With a B.A. in Business Management and a J.D. in law, David has over 40 years of litigation experience with over 300 trials. In addition to numerous professional honors, David is also actively involved in his church and served for many years as president of the board of a local adoption agency.

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