Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: I don't think my home-schooling neighbors are really teaching their kids. Should I report them?

By Dianne Ackerman  | November 16, 2018 - 9:00AM

My neighbors are home schooling their kids. I work at home and hear the television blaring cartoons all day long. Should I report them somehow?
Signed, Prudent Ex-Professor

Dear Prudent,

Children who are being home schooled here are overseen by the New York City Department of Education. There are many rules about homeschooling here, and parents are required to send documentation to the office of home schooling, including an individualized home instruction plan and quarterly reports.


You must understand that when a parent is educating a child on their own they do not necessarily need to be doing it five or six hours a day. There isn’t the same sort of lag time that you find in the classroom when a child is being taught by their parent: No lining up, no waiting for other children to catch up, no explanations for the child who did not understand the question the first time around. Home schooling is one on one (or one on three or four at most). It certainly is not one on 20 or more. And there’s a curriculum that must be followed and tests that must be taken, just like other schools.

Your neighbors might very well be following these rules—you wouldn't know that just by the noise coming through your walls. You may complain about the noise but you will have to leave the DOE to deal with the process.  

For all you know, these kids may be learning advanced calculus while listening to those cartoons.

Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.

See all of Ms. Demeanor's advice here.

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