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Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

Reasons for anger

Now I know that there are more important things in life, but there is a very good reason to be angry today. The Tennessee Lottery Scholarship is going to be called the HOPE Scholarship (how original), and the criteria for who will qualify for this scholarship are available online right now.

In sum: if you graduate from a Tennessee high school with a B average (3.0 gpa) OR score 19 or better on the ACT (890 SAT), then you will receive $3000 to attend a state university (though you won't keep the extra, if there is any). However, if you are a home educated student in Tennessee, regardless of your gpa, you are required to score a 23 ACT (1060 SAT) in order to qualify for the HOPE Scholarship.

Oh, wait. If you elect to take the GED, you may receive the scholarship at an ACT of 19 as a home educated student.

This is crap. This is a blatant move on the part of the state to manipulate home educated students into taking the GED. This is consistent with every move the state has made over the last fifteen years regarding home educated students. In essence, saying that they receive an inferior education and that home educating parents are not trustworthy in their evaluation of their own child's academic progression.

This opinion is not limited to the state, either. As a high school senior, I scored a 30 on the ACT and was named as a National Merit Scholar (in the top 0.1% of all high school seniors that year). I finished calculus and physics as a junior and I tutored algebra II and advanced math during my senior year. I took two courses at an accredited private college and passed both (scoring the only 100% on the mid-term exam of one class). Yet Maryville College refused to consider me for admission, let alone financial aid, until I agreed to take the GED. Needless to say, Maryville College did not receive my tuition money.

This opinion of home educated students is asinine and entirely uninformed. Home educated students are an odd lot, let's face it. Many are religious extremists (the non-violent type), neo-hippies, alternative thinkers, homesteaders, or a lovely amalgam of all of the above. Some of them just don't like the idea of saying the pledge of allegiance everyday. Conversing with them about prime time television might be a bit awkward, and among them you might find a lot of 25 year-old virgins. However, I'd like to point out that the same thing might be said of astrophysicists, writers, librarians (sorry Infozo, you're one of us), and PhDs in general. You know, the shapers of our future.

What is not true of home educated students, however, is that they are on the whole less qualified for the academic rigors of life beyond high school. Some argument can be made for their excellence, in fact. That is not the point. The point is that they are as ready and deserving for HOPE Scholarship money based upon equal criteria as government educated students.

Home educating parents contribute tax money to government schools, just like everyone else, and they relieve the burden upon teachers, school districts and educational budgets by electing to fund the education of their children themselves. Often, this means giving up a second income for a family. Home education is not easy, it is not a cop-out, and it is not inferior.

Quit treating home educated students and parents like second-class citizens!

I am currently employed in higher education. In fact, I work in the undergraduate admissions office of a major state university (you'll never guess which one). I KNOW that high school gpa is all but disregarded in favor of standardized test scores. University administration knows that is relatively easy for a high school student with the right personality and some well-timed effort to inflate his or her high school gpa. It is not, however, easy (or even possible) to inflate an ACT or SAT score. If your gpa is 4.0, but your ACT is 16, then say hello to community college.

If the people and institutions who do nothing but evaluate the academic ability of high school and college students recognize government school gpa as inherently flawed and choose to defer to ACT or SAT score, then why shouldn't the state? If every other institutional scholarship at the state's flagship universty uses ACT score as its criterion for scholarships, then why is the ACT unable to properly evaluate the academic progression and potential of home educated students?

It's no conspiracy against home educators because the state is just a big meanie. I don't believe in that crap. It's ignorance fueled by the fear and paranoia of a few educational leaders who are afraid to admit that the state is not the best at everything it does, including education.
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