Answering the Same Homeschool Objections . . . Again

I started home educating my oldest son when he was in first grade. Unhappy with the private school he was attending, and a bit concerned about the condition of the public schools in the area, my husband and I decided to try homeschooling.

I was working for a large mortgage bank in the legal department, but I had attended college in order to become a teacher. The idea of teaching my own child sounded like bliss. So we went for it.

In these last 20 years, I have heard the same objections to homeschooling again and again. They have been addressed over and over, in newspapers, magazines, by educational establishments and research projects, but that doesn’t stop people from asking as if they are the first person on earth to imagine them.

Moderndaychris is a blogger, and a junior at Gettysburg College, studying American Studies, Music, and Education, with many exciting opportunities in his future. To that I say, “Congrats, and go for it!”

He is again asking questions, often in the form of accusations, at this post “The Home School vs The Public School.” So I thought I’d answer a few of them.

First, I want to say that I do not view public education and home education as opposites or adversaries. They are both legitimate options for parents. Private education is also in the mix as a valid choice when deciding where their child will receive academic instruction.

I can understand that for many people, having only experienced public education or the traditional classroom, it is difficult to imagine that a parent could provide anything similar in their own home.

Of course, that assumes that I want to provide something similar to public education.

However, the idea that public schools are the only place where students can learn teamwork, converse about modern culture and entertainment, or debate ideas, is incredibly narrow-minded for someone who claims to have a broad view of the world.

Are we supposed to believe that a classroom is the only way to learn about the ‘real world’? How much ‘real world’ experience happens in a classroom? I’ve been in the world for 47 years, and the last time I was in a classroom as a student was in 1989. The rest of my life has been ‘real’, I am almost sure of it. I’ve married, had a couple of careers, four children, read books, traveled a little, and enjoy being involved in our community. I’ve been a volunteer in nursing homes, helped train service dogs for disabled children, and learned sign language in order to communicate with the deaf. My Spanish really stinks, though. But I am really, really sure that this is the real world.

We are also supposed to believe, according to Chris, that only in public schools are we going to meet folks of different ethnicities and cultures. That is certainly news to all of us who have not been in public schools for lo these many years, and yet manage to have many friends, acquaintances, and business associates who are from a variety of backgrounds. Since, as a homeschooler, my kids are not excluded from these regular interactions, as well as forming relationships on their own, I am sure that this news about how their black, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish, Christian, and agnostic friends are quite possibly figments of their imaginations will be a great disappointment to them.

Oh, and while every private school in America is also only attended by people of one ethnicity, religion, and socio-economic background, somehow every public school is rich in ethnic, socio-economic, and religious diversity. Apparently even the ones in suburbia and inner cities. Neat-O. And in public schools, kids are introduced to new ideas, allowed to make their own decisions, and never forced to comply with or internalize what the teachers believe. Ever.

Chris asks some specific questions that he believes will get to the heart of the difference between public schools and homeschooling:

Does your child feel comfortable interacting with students the same age? Are they able to work with students they generally don’t feel comfortable around?

Yes. They are around all kinds of people for various reasons at regular intervals. I’m not going to expound on where we go and what we do and how we live our lives.

But wait—Chris says that social situations can be manufactured by the parent to ensure the child’s comfort, thereby robbing him of any social challenges.

[I]f the child is involved in tennis than [sic] the students that child is working with are also interested in tennis, where as [sic] the students in public school all share a diverse interest and you can maintain a friendship whether child A likes tennis or child B doesn’t like tennis.

To which I say, “Huhwha?”

Chris is attempting to point out the flaws in the ‘homeschool system’, because no system is perfect, and apparently he has had some unpleasant experiences with homeschoolers who have claimed to be perfect, or that homeschooling is always flawlessly performed by perfect homeschooling parents and perfect homeschooled children.

Okay—valid point. People aren’t perfect, therefore any system or methodology invented by or utilized by man is highly unlikely to ever reach perfection. Except for coffee makers and curing bacon, without which the world would dissolve into oblivion, as life would no longer be worth living.

Homeschooling, however, is not a system. It is an education method used by individual parents who wish to have the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling allows.

Some families are religious, some are not. Some are two-parent homes, some are not. People of various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds are homeschoolers. Many military families are able to provide a consistent education experience in spite of moving from base to base at regular intervals. Athletes often opt to home educate so that they can focus on their sport. Musicians and artists also are grateful for the freedom to spend time honing their skills.

Homeschooling isn’t just about parents wanting their kids to receive a top-notch education, although that is often a motivating factor at the outset. Once parents begin the homeschool journey, they realize the abundance of opportunities available for their kids to get a taste of the real world by living in it, volunteering in it, apprenticing in it, and getting a job in it. As opposed to spending day in/day out in the same few rooms on the same campus with 30 kids their own age.

By the way, Chris, have you ever seen a John Hughes movie? Just askin’.

Let’s get to the point: this means that public schools aren’t perfect either. There are awkward and shy and sociopathic kids in public schools. There are learning gaps, and some kids still fall through, no matter how much we try not to leave any child behind. There are teachers who are unbelievably dedicated and awesomely creative, but are hamstrung by NCLB, CCS, and teaching to improve standardized test scores. There are also teachers who are violent, sexual predators. There are kids who don’t want to learn who consistently disrupt the class, thus ensuring that the material is not covered properly. There are buildings in disrepair, and schools that do not have the staff or funds to provide teaching and training in the use of new technologies.

If I were to employ Chris’ debate methods, I’d make a case against public education by pointing out that jails and mental institutions all over America are jam-packed with people who graduated from a public school. But I am not going to pit one straw man against another in a divisive attempt to ‘prove’ that public education can make you criminal or make you crazy.

Chris is right though—no system is perfect. So I traded in the imperfect public school experience for the imperfect homeschool experience. My kids and I can live with that.

Chris ends his blog post with this statement:

In order to better understand the world you must interact with it, become apart of it, and understand it.

I agree, Chris. That’s why we homeschool.

[node:bio/susan-r body]

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There are 54 Comments

Aaron Blumer's picture

Chris' tennis observations... I just had to add a couple of [sic]s to Susan's post.

Please see Than vs. Then

And "whereas" vs. "where as"...   "whereas" usually functions as a conjunction, but "where as," in Chris' usage here, isn't capable of what he's trying to make it do.

That said, I'm sure you can find plenty of grammar gaffs in my writing... and missing words and mispells. Still, it's ironic that a post claiming the superiority of public education didn't manage to be a bit more educated.

Oh, and if you're curious about [sic]...  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic

DavidO's picture

I'm sure you can find plenty of . . . gaffs . . .

 

Yes, actually; here's several I just happened to have lying around.  Not so good for the gaffing of grammar, perhaps, but that big one should be able to handle just about anything one might want to haul over the gunwale.

Biggrin

 

Susan R's picture

I think that sometimes a family's passion for whatever they love may translate into arrogance or hard selling, especially when expressed in toneless, faceless black&white words on a screen. 

I doubt any homeschooling parent believes that home education means they are perfect parents, or that their kids are perfect, or that homeschooling is a magic bullet of some kind. But when describing why you chose to homeschool, and all the things you love about homeschooling, it can sound like it.

Funny- people never have a conniption if you go all ooey-gooey and starry-eyed about football or knitting.

What would be helpful is if folks who have questions or doubts about home education would spend just a little bit of time finding out more about what it entails. Homeschooling is different for every family- all 2 million+ of 'em.

It's just ludicrous how often people speak as if homeschoolers never leave the house or interact with other human beings. Maybe we could talk about the problems that homeschoolers do face if we didn't spend so much time answering questions and objections that are just plain silly.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Susan R wrote:
Funny- people never have a conniption if you go all ooey-gooey and starry-eyed about football or knitting.
Also funny that despite the relatively small percentage of students whose parents actually do homeschool in the U. S., you can't find more of the representative majority of parents ooey-gooey and starry-eyed over their choice of education for their children (like many homeschool parents are.) 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

GregH's picture

Susan R wrote:

Here's another example of someone wasting time and money raising objections and trying to solve problems that don't exist.

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/02/rep_woodrow_stanley_d-...

FLINT, MI -- State Rep. Woodrow Stanley, D-Flint, introduced legislation that aims to crack down on truancy among home school students.

And again I say, "Huhwha?" 

Oh yes, that is a problem that most definitely exists.

We homeschool ourselves and are in various homeschool co-ops and I can emphatically say that a too-large percentage of homeschooling parents do not take it seriously enough or care enough. Much of the heat being put on homeschoolers is self-induced and if homeschooling becomes illegal at some point, homeschoolers will have to shoulder a big portion of the blame.

Susan R's picture

GregH wrote:
Oh yes, that is a problem that most definitely exists.

We homeschool ourselves and are in various homeschool co-ops and I can emphatically say that a too-large percentage of homeschooling parents do not take it seriously enough or care enough. Much of the heat being put on homeschoolers is self-induced and if homeschooling becomes illegal at some point, homeschoolers will have to shoulder a big portion of the blame.

Sure, Greg, but by whose measure? Who decides 'how much' homeschooling is enough, or how organized it should be, or what form education should take? 

Homeschoolers are still doing better, statistically speaking, than their public schooled counterparts. The state certainly isn't doing better, so for officials to think that a child being present in school is some kind of guarantee of an education is just as wonky as the idea that homeschooling is a guarantee.

There is also the fact that at home, we can accomplish so much more in less time. The average child, in my experience, can complete their studies every day in about 4 hours. Would they be 'truant' according to the state if they aren't sitting in a desk with their nose in a book until 3pm? 

GregH's picture

I am merely saying that a problem DOES exist in response to your claim that it doesn't exist.

But no, I don't have a problem with the government stepping in to try to save some children from their lazy parents. It is a tough world out there. US children are going to need all the help they can get to compete with the rest of the world for jobs. Not preparing your children for the world they are going in to is not doing your job and could be considered neglect.

So, for those children who are being "homeschooled" but really aren't, I am all for the government stepping in. And yes, they have to create the standards. It will not be perfect, and you could argue that they don't know much more than anyone else, but it is a job that unfortunately is necessary just like protecting children from other types of neglect or abuse is necessary.

Susan R's picture

The problem, Greg, is the underlying premise here. 

How much should the gov't step in when

  • kids spend too much time in front of the tv instead of doing homework
  • kids eat too much junk food and are obese
  • they don't get enough sleep and can't stay awake in class
  • they aren't being taught personal hygiene

So then- who decides 'how much' education is enough? What are the standards for being 'prepared'?

Is the gov't going to penalize anyone for the children who graduate from public schools without the skills necessary to compete in the world's economy? Why aren't schools being sued for educational neglect? After all, a significant number of students are promoted every year who have not achieved proficiency in core subjects. Check out your state's NAEP.

It seems odd to accuse parents of not providing an education for their children when the state can't guarantee results either. 

Parents and schools can provide the opportunity for a child to learn, but no one can force another person to learn anything. They can sit in class and even complete the homework without learning anything. You can beat them, bribe them, duct tape them to a chair- they will internalize what they want, and discard what they don't.

There is simply no plausible way for the gov't to determine when a homeschooled child is 'truant'. It's another money/power grab.

GregH's picture

No, I am not seeing the problem you are. The government is responsible to protect its citizens. That means it comes up standards (100% of the time imperfect standards) and does its best to enforce them. It has to protect children from their parents and I am sure you would agree that there is a time and place for that. 

So, the argument is about where to draw the line. The fact that I draw the line in a slightly different place than you does not mean my premise is a problem. 

Here is a practical example. You can think all you want that your children do not need to wear seatbelts. You can even think wearing seatbelts is unhealthy. But the government is going to trump your opinion and force you to make your children wear seatbelts. They may be wrong, but their opinions still trump yours. Their standards are what count, not yours.

So, to recap, you keep asking who is going to come up with standards. Here is my answer. The government has the right to come up with standards, even though they may be imperfect and even though they graduate some kids that shouldn't. The fact that they are not capable of coming up with perfect standards or achieving 100% success with their public schools is not relevant really.

And frankly, from what I have seen, the government, while not perfect, is still much better equipped to come up with legitimate standards than many homeschool parents.

GregH's picture

I might add that truancy has been on the rule books for decades I suspect and no one is complaining. Why should homeschooled children get exempted from truancy laws?

Susan R's picture

The problem is proving 'truancy' in a homeschool. How many hours should a child be 'doing school'? 

In Ohio, we send in a notification form that says we will provide a minimum of 900 hours. I can choose any hours of any day. We take the entire month of December off. If we were required to keep them, our attendance records would look hilarious. And some gov't official who knows as much about homeschooling as I do about deep sea fishing would decide whether or not to charge us with truancy. 

Homeschools are exempt from truancy laws because they do not attend gov't schools. If I wanted to keep the same schedule as a gov't school and give my kids a gov't school quality education, I'd send them to a gov't school. 

I think you are confusing truancy laws with compulsory education laws, in which parents are required to provide their children with an education. Truancy laws only apply to unexcused absences from a traditional school. 

TylerR's picture

You have failed to demonstrate how a governmental mandate to "protect it's citizens" extends to monitoring the truancy of homeschoolers. This is a very large leap.

You also seem to assume homeschooling should be conducted only under the auspices of the government. Why do you feel the government should be involved in monitoring homeschooled children?

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

GregH's picture

Tyler, the government has had laws about truancy for decades. I think they are good laws and I don't see why homeschoolers should be exempted from them. What Susan describes in Ohio sounds fair enough: a certain number of hours as a minimum but no requirements on what hours those actually are.

And to your second point, it is a shame the government has to be involved in homeschooling, but the fact is, based on the way many homeschool, they need to be. The government is involved in private schools as well as public schools. They require a minimum number of days, etc. Again, I am not sure why homeschoolers should be exempt from government control.

TylerR's picture

Government is increasingly secular. Condoning government monitoring of homeschooling opens the door for mandating the specifics of various topics. This will increasingly infringe on Christian liberty in the areas of science, anthropology, etc. The Christian perspective, the only true perspective, will be mandated away eventually due to the concern of ridiculous bureaucrats that we "shelter" our children too much. This may even extend to a series of "approved" homeschool curriculum, with a stamp of approval from the state government. This is why government should not be involved in monitoring homeschooling.

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

GregH's picture

Susan R wrote:

The problem is proving 'truancy' in a homeschool. How many hours should a child be 'doing school'? 

In Ohio, we send in a notification form that says we will provide a minimum of 900 hours. I can choose any hours of any day. We take the entire month of December off. If we were required to keep them, our attendance records would look hilarious. And some gov't official who knows as much about homeschooling as I do about deep sea fishing would decide whether or not to charge us with truancy. 

Homeschools are exempt from truancy laws because they do not attend gov't schools. If I wanted to keep the same schedule as a gov't school and give my kids a gov't school quality education, I'd send them to a gov't school. 

I think you are confusing truancy laws with compulsory education laws, in which parents are required to provide their children with an education. Truancy laws only apply to unexcused absences from a traditional school. 

No, I am not confused about what truancy is. No need to split hairs over terms. The question is whether the government has the right to have some control over the education of children and hold schools and parents accountable. I say yes, the government has the right and obligation to protect some children from their parents in this way. I wish it were not necessary but it is.

You keep asking over and over again WHO is going to come up with these standards and you keep giving examples of why the government is not qualified. And I keep saying the same thing. The government has to come up with the standards since they are enforcing them. And while they are not going to be perfect, they are still going to be better than the wacky ideas on many homeschooling parents I have run across. There is a line at which some parents go from untraditional to just wacky and I think the government has the responsibility to protect those children from their parents.

 

GregH's picture

TylerR wrote:

Government is increasingly secular. Condoning government monitoring of homeschooling opens the door for mandating the specifics of various topics. This will increasingly infringe on Christian liberty in the areas of science, anthropology, etc. The Christian perspective, the only true perspective, will be mandated away eventually due to the concern of ridiculous bureaucrats that we "shelter" our children too much. This may even extend to a series of "approved" homeschool curriculum, with a stamp of approval from the state government. This is why government should not be involved in monitoring homeschooling.

I don't discount that danger Tyler. Clearly, that is a real danger. But there is a big leap between truancy laws to making it illegal to teach creationism to your children. And somewhere between those two examples is a fine line because one of them is clearly (in my opinion) right and the other is clearly wrong.

 

Susan R's picture

I'm not splitting hairs over terms. Compulsory education laws and truancy laws are completely different. It is already on the books that parents are to provide their children with an education. Attempting to apply truancy laws to homeschoolers is bogus. 

As for control- it really depends on what you mean by 'control'.

There are very loose standards for many aspects of our lives. Parents can allow kids to stay up until the wee hours of the morning watching tv and playing video games- even ones rated MA or R. They can let them eat junk food until they are 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight. Parents can smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol until they are impaired in the presence of their children, subjecting them to second hand smoke and increasing their risk of lung disease and alcoholism. They often play unsupervised out and about in the neighborhood.

I think these issues are just as serious as preparing kids for a competitive job market. But whose gonna' make those laws in the name of 'protecting' kids? And which "wacky ideas" should be illegal?

 

TylerR's picture

We must have a very different perspective of homeschooling! This isn't meant as an insult; but I suspect your experience with, or watching, homeschooling has been very different than mine.

It is not a large leap from truancy laws to mandating curriculum - just a generation or two. Who remembers the Scopes trial, where a teacher was prosecuted for daring to teach evolution in public schools? I daresay now the precise opposite is true!

There is indeed a fine line. Some people are obviously unsuitable parents. I will err on the side of individual, Christian liberty every time.

 

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Charlie's picture

A reflection from growing up among many homeschool families and a brief stint being homeschooled myself. I tend to put homeschool families on a spectrum based on motivation: fear/compulsion <-----> opportunity. It is my experience that kids from "opportunity" homeschool families tend to turn out better than from "fear" families. Of course these are ideal types. 

By opportunity, I mean that these parents are attracted to homeschooling primarily for the positive advantages it offers. They have specific educational objectives for their children and recognize that other educational options won't help them get there. These parents tend to be self-learners themselves and want to pass on that characteristic to their children. 

By fear/compulsion, I mean people who feel pushed or compelled toward homeschool primarily because of the negative characteristics they perceive in other educational forms. They might embrace homeschooling somewhat reluctantly, convinced by a pastor or peer group that it would be morally irresponsible to do otherwise. Or, they would rather send their children to a private academy, but can't afford it, so homeschooling becomes a backup plan. Another type along this line is a family that wants absolute control over the children's influences. The parents don't want them to be exposed to alternative points of view. (For example, I had one homeschooling father tell me that he didn't want his children developing relationships with other men at church, because a son's heart and mind belonged only to his father. Apparently other men were a threat.) 

As an aside, I am a bit more worried about homeschool-oriented higher ed than about high-school level homeschooling. That is, I don't think people ought to go to colleges to get ideologically homogenous training. I have one friend, though, who made a smart jump through CollegePlus to get an accelerated degree so he could get into an academically rigorous seminary. 

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

GregH's picture

Susan R wrote:

I'm not splitting hairs over terms. Compulsory education laws and truancy laws are completely different. It is already on the books that parents are to provide their children with an education. Attempting to apply truancy laws to homeschoolers is bogus. 

As for control- it really depends on what you mean by 'control'.

There are very loose standards for many aspects of our lives. Parents can allow kids to stay up until the wee hours of the morning watching tv and playing video games- even ones rated MA or R. They can let them eat junk food until they are 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight. Parents can smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol until they are impaired in the presence of their children, subjecting them to second hand smoke and increasing their risk of lung disease and alcoholism. They often play unsupervised out and about in the neighborhood.

I think these issues are just as serious as preparing kids for a competitive job market. But whose gonna' make those laws in the name of 'protecting' kids? And which "wacky ideas" should be illegal?

 

I am missing your point on compulsory education and truancy. And I don't know why it is relevant. Not at all. My point remains the same regardless of whether you call it compulsory education or truancy.

But anyway, it just seems to me that some homeschoolers want to play by their own set of rules. They don't want any government control. I get it. Some don't need it, but sadly some do.

The examples you bring up are serious too. At least in some places, laws address some of those issues and I suspect there will be more in the future. But government does have a special invested interest in kids getting a good education. It is extremely important for many reasons and homeschooling parents who are lazy or whacky should be shut down. And before you ask who determines what "lazy and wacky" means, yes the government does.

And no, you are not going to get me to bite and provide you with my list of what I consider "wacky ideas." Nice try though Wink

Bill Roach's picture

[quote=TylerR]

...the Christian perspective, the only true perspective, will be mandated away eventually due to the concern of ridiculous bureaucrats that we "shelter" our children too much...

 

So I am accused of sheltering my children too much because I homeschool?  What will they accused of next, feeding and clothing them, too??

Bill Roach's picture

Greg, I think the premise to the argument must be based in jurisdiction.  The government has no more right to tell parents how to disciple their children than they did to tell Peter and the other apostles to stop preaching in Acts 4.

According to Romans 13, the government should step in when the law of God is broken and they have the jurisdictional responsibility to exact punishment(e.g.-murder.)  But they shouldn't step in when children break the Law of God by taking their brother's Matchbox car without asking. 

I could be wrong, but I don't see anywhere in the Scriptures that says that the civil magistrate is supposed to "protect me" in the area of wrong or poor discipleship methods.   They only have a sword to wield if I break the law and become an evildoer.  By God's standard I don't think they hold the "sword" of preventing a bad thing.  If there even is such a sword...

Does that make sense?

 

 

Susan R's picture

Legal terms are important. If someone steals a car at gunpoint, they don't get charged with shoplifting.

Compulsory education laws are already on the books- parents are required by law to provide their children an education. That covers it. 

A brief history-

The compulsory attendance act of 1852 enacted by the state of Massachusetts was the first general law attempting to control the conditions of children. The law included mandatory attendance for children between the ages of eight and fourteen for at least three months out of each year, of these twelve weeks at least six had to be consecutive.

The exception to this attendance at a public school included: the child's attendance at another school for the same amount of time, proof that the child had already learned the subjects, poverty, or the physical or mental ability of the child to attend...

In 1873 the compulsory attendance law was revised. The age limit was reduced to twelve but the annual attendance was increased to twenty weeks per year. Additionally, a semblance of enforcement was established by forming jurisdictions for prosecution and the hiring of truant officers to check absences.

Adding truancy laws to the mix is silly. Truancy is about attendance at an educational institution. In California, truant is defined as "a student missing more than 30 minutes of instruction without an excuse three times during the school year must be classified as a truant and reported to the proper school authority"

So please provide some evidence that these legal distinctions are not important.

If you are talking about setting more standards, what would they be? Minimum hours? Ok then, let's go with the Ohio minimum of 900 hours. But let's say that a child has completed all their courses with flying colors in 850 hours. Were they truant for 50 hours?

Ok then, let's go with testing. For starters, the homeschool parent bears the cost of any testing or evaluations. Second- standardized testing is not an accurate measure of proficiency.

Higher Test Scores Do Not Mean More Learning

List of problems with standardized testing from Washington Post

Standardized test scores don't tell the whole story

What's wrong with standardized tests? 

"...do not measure the ability to think deeply or creatively in any field"

I could go on. 

The reason this is important is that we cannot simply hand a blank check to gov't and ask them to write it on behalf of our kids. If we are going to have 'standards', they need to be meaningful and fair, for public, private, and homeschooled children.

One of the reasons that there are so many misunderstandings about home education is that the education experience for the last 100 years or so has been homogenous. They experienced learning as being segregated by age into a traditional classroom with the teacher doing most of the talking, reading from textbooks, memorizing facts in order to prove what they'd learned on a regularly scheduled test. Is that learning? Does that prepare someone for a competitive job market? 

See this RSA Animate video of a Ken Robinson talk about education. 

 

I didn't put out any bait for you to bite on- you made the statement that "There is a line at which some parents go from untraditional to just wacky and I think the government has the responsibility to protect those children from their parents", and now you don't want to explain what you mean by "wacky". 

 

Susan R's picture

Charlie wrote:

A reflection from growing up among many homeschool families and a brief stint being homeschooled myself. I tend to put homeschool families on a spectrum based on motivation: fear/compulsion <-----> opportunity. It is my experience that kids from "opportunity" homeschool families tend to turn out better than from "fear" families. Of course these are ideal types.

I agree that these are two main motivations for parents to homeschool. There are probably a few that are simply reactionary, and will do whatever is against the flow simply because it is against the flow. Now that homeschooling is becoming more mainstream (even Will Smith is homeschooling, haha) they will have to moonschool or something. Bleah

It is important, IMO, for homeschooling parents to connect with each other via some kind of support system. Public and private schools have a built-in support system, while homeschoolers have to seek it out. I think the benefit is that those who are enjoying the opportunity to homeschool can assimilate those who began out of fear, so that they can move forward in a better direction.

The cost of higher ed is moving MANY people toward an online education, which is, by default, 'homeschooling college'. It's going to have the same result as any other form of education- those who want to learn and seek out opportunities to expand their thinking will do so, and those who don't, won't. Guess which group is most likely to own a business or end up in the corner office driving a Lexus? 

What people want to do is control outcomes, and this is simply not possible. We can provide opportunities, but we cannot force people to take advantage of them. 

GregH's picture

Susan R wrote:

Legal terms are important. If someone steals a car at gunpoint, they don't get charged with shoplifting.

Compulsory education laws are already on the books- parents are required by law to provide their children an education. That covers it. 

A brief history-

The compulsory attendance act of 1852 enacted by the state of Massachusetts was the first general law attempting to control the conditions of children. The law included mandatory attendance for children between the ages of eight and fourteen for at least three months out of each year, of these twelve weeks at least six had to be consecutive.

The exception to this attendance at a public school included: the child's attendance at another school for the same amount of time, proof that the child had already learned the subjects, poverty, or the physical or mental ability of the child to attend...

In 1873 the compulsory attendance law was revised. The age limit was reduced to twelve but the annual attendance was increased to twenty weeks per year. Additionally, a semblance of enforcement was established by forming jurisdictions for prosecution and the hiring of truant officers to check absences.

Adding truancy laws to the mix is silly. Truancy is about attendance at an educational institution. In California, truant is defined as "a student missing more than 30 minutes of instruction without an excuse three times during the school year must be classified as a truant and reported to the proper school authority"

 

I didn't put out any bait for you to bite on- you made the statement that "There is a line at which some parents go from untraditional to just wacky and I think the government has the responsibility to protect those children from their parents", and now you don't want to explain what you mean by "wacky". 

 

I have noticed that when someone is losing an argument, they want to start nitpicking about terms. That is what I suspect you are doing here. What I am saying is all your discussion about the differences between compulsory attendance and truancy are meaningless in the context of the bigger question which is this: does the government have the right to tell you how to educate your children?

There are two things that are clear to me: the government has for decades if not centuries made laws about education and claimed the right to exercise control over parents in regards to the education of their children. That is a healthy thing. And second, there is not an ounce of reason why homeschooling families should be exempt.

What it appears to me is that some homeschooling parents think they should be exempted from that control. It is not enough that the government is willing to work with them such as the flexible 900-hour mandate in your state. Those parents want the government to have no control at all because after all, they "know" better. 

Time and time again, you want to respond with how the government really doesn't know how to create standards. Standardized testing does not work, etc. And to that I say again and again that the government standards are not perfect but they are a lot better than those of many homeschooling families. The government really is not as dumb as a lot of people seem to believe and they are certainly smarter than a lot of parents who buy into wackiness and experiment on their children.

So, I do not mind the government stepping in to save some children from their parents. I will state emphatically that there are many children being "homeschooled" who are not getting a good education. I know some of them and I know you do too. The homeschooling movement bears some of the responsibility for why the government is wary of the movement.

I am not going to give examples of wackiness because it would derail the bigger question here.

And again, I say these things from the perspective that I homeschool my children and plan to continue. 

 

GregH's picture

Bill Roach wrote:

Greg, I think the premise to the argument must be based in jurisdiction.  The government has no more right to tell parents how to disciple their children than they did to tell Peter and the other apostles to stop preaching in Acts 4.

According to Romans 13, the government should step in when the law of God is broken and they have the jurisdictional responsibility to exact punishment(e.g.-murder.)  But they shouldn't step in when children break the Law of God by taking their brother's Matchbox car without asking. 

I could be wrong, but I don't see anywhere in the Scriptures that says that the civil magistrate is supposed to "protect me" in the area of wrong or poor discipleship methods.   They only have a sword to wield if I break the law and become an evildoer.  By God's standard I don't think they hold the "sword" of preventing a bad thing.  If there even is such a sword...

Does that make sense?

 

 

I hear you Bill. But to be consistent, if you are going to say the government should not be involved in homeschooling, it needs to remove any laws about truancy or compulsory education from the books for those in private or public schools too. Right?

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

GregH wrote:
Time and time again, you want to respond with how the government really doesn't know how to create standards. Standardized testing does not work, etc. And to that I say again and again that the government standards are not perfect but they are a lot better than those of many homeschooling families. The government really is not as dumb as a lot of people seem to believe and they are certainly smarter than a lot of parents who buy into wackiness and experiment on their children.
Greg,

As a public school teacher who homeschools his own children, I have to say you have this exactly backwards. A lot of homeschool families are better than the government standards - you have the majority emphasis backwards. The government really is as dumb as a lot of people think, and is actually quit a bit dumber than most people realize. The whole exercise of public education for the last 100 years has been an ongoing lab experiment on our children - with increasingly detrimental impacts. There are a few wacky homeschool parents, but the majority are good to fantastic. There are a few good examples of public educators, but the vast majority of public education theory and practice is wacky. Furthermore, you have repeatedly asserted the right/responsibilty of government to make "laws about education and [claim] the right to exercise control over parents in regards to the education of their children." Unfortunately, your assertions have failed to deal with scripture, despite arguments from scripture against your assertions. Government has done a lot of things contrary to scripture for decades, even centuries; that's not a valid argument.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

GregH wrote:

Bill Roach wrote:

Greg, I think the premise to the argument must be based in jurisdiction.  The government has no more right to tell parents how to disciple their children than they did to tell Peter and the other apostles to stop preaching in Acts 4.

According to Romans 13, the government should step in when the law of God is broken and they have the jurisdictional responsibility to exact punishment(e.g.-murder.)  But they shouldn't step in when children break the Law of God by taking their brother's Matchbox car without asking. 

I could be wrong, but I don't see anywhere in the Scriptures that says that the civil magistrate is supposed to "protect me" in the area of wrong or poor discipleship methods.   They only have a sword to wield if I break the law and become an evildoer.  By God's standard I don't think they hold the "sword" of preventing a bad thing.  If there even is such a sword...

Does that make sense?

 

 

I hear you Bill. But to be consistent, if you are going to say the government should not be involved in homeschooling, it needs to remove any laws about truancy or compulsory education from the books for those in private or public schools too. Right?

 

Exactly! Now you are headed in the right direction.  At least we are in the right neighborhood for a biblically-based discussion at this point.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

GregH's picture

Chip, a few things...

1) I don't have any stats as to what % of homeschool parents are wackier or worse than the public schools. That stat is of course impossible to determine because "wacky" is obviously a bit subjective. However, I never said the majority of homeschooling parents were wacky or doing a poor job. But I think an uncomfortably large percentage of them are. We obviously would disagree on the percentage.

2) I don't know what scripture you think I am not dealing with, but I am not going to deal with this from the perspective of omission. Just because the Bible does not say "the government should protect children from the wacky ideas of their parents about education" does not mean that the Bible forbids the government from being involved. I do not believe that the Bible sanctions any particular kind of government. 

The only scripture that has come up in this thread is Rom 13 which is typically used by conservatives to limit the legitimate function of government to protection. I reject that perspective outright. In other words, just because that is the only function mentioned in that passage does not mean that it is the only function of government that God could sanction. A look at the Israel theocracy tells you that God thinks otherwise.

 

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