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Goldstein writes: "Over the past year, there has been a resurgence of interest in homeschooling - not just the religious fundamentalist variety practiced by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, but also in secular, liberal homeschooling."

Critics often argue that homeschooling keeps children from socializing with a diverse group of peers. (photo: Getty Images)
Critics often argue that homeschooling keeps children from socializing with a diverse group of peers. (photo: Getty Images)

Liberals, Don't Homeschool Your Kids

By Dana Goldstein, Slate

25 February 12


s a child growing up in Arizona and Georgia college towns during the 1980s and 1990s, the filmmaker Astra Taylor was "unschooled" by her lefty, countercultural parents. "My siblings and I slept late and never knew what day of the week it was," Taylor writes in a new essay in the literary journal N+1. "We were never tested, graded, or told to memorize dates, facts, or figures. … Some days we read books, made music, painted, or drew. Other days we argued and fought over the computer. Endless hours were spent watching reruns of ‘The Simpsons' on videotape, though we had every episode memorized. When we weren't inspired - which was often - we simply did nothing at all."

Over the past year, there has been a resurgence of interest in homeschooling - not just the religious fundamentalist variety practiced by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, but also in secular, liberal homeschooling like Taylor's. Think no textbooks, history lessons about progressive social movements, and college-level math for precocious 13-year-olds. Some families implement this vision on their own, while others join cooperatives of like-minded, super-involved parents.

Homeschooling is so unevenly regulated from state to state that it is impossible to know exactly how many homeschoolers there are. Estimates range from about 1 million to 2 million children, and the number is growing. It is unclear how many homeschooling families are secular, but the political scientist Rob Reich has written that there is little doubt the homeschooling population has diversified in recent years.* Yet whether liberal or conservative, "[o]ne article of faith unites all homeschoolers: that homeschooling should be unregulated," Reich writes. "Homeschoolers of all stripes believe that they alone should decide how their children are educated."

Could such a go-it-alone ideology ever be truly progressive - by which I mean, does homeschooling serve the interests not just of those who are doing it, but of society as a whole?

In her N+1 piece, Taylor struggles to answer this question in the affirmative. Drawing upon her own upbringing, as well as on the traditions of the radical private school the Albany Free School, Taylor calls on parents and students to "empty the schools," which force students to endure "irrational authority six and a half hours a day, five days a week, in a series of cinder-block holding cells," she caricatures.

This overheated hostility toward public schools runs throughout the new literature on liberal homeschooling, and reveals what is so fundamentally illiberal about the trend: It is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families, in which at least one parent can afford (and wants) to take significant time away from paid work in order to manage a process - education - that most parents entrust to the community at-large.

Take, for instance, Sonia Songha's New York Times account of forming a preschool cooperative with six other brownstone-Brooklyn mothers, all of whom "said our children had basically never left our sides." Indeed, in a recent Newsweek report, the education journalist Linda Perlstein noted a significant number of secular homeschoolers are also adherents of attachment parenting, the perennially controversial ideology defined by practices such as co-sleeping with one's child and breast-feeding for far longer than typical, sometimes well beyond toddlerhood. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, one "hippy" homeschooler told the local paper she feared exposing her kids to the presumably negative influences of teachers and peers. "I didn't want my child being raised by someone else for eight hours out of the day," she said.

Recent reports of teachers and teachers' aides in Los Angeles and New York molesting children only flame the fans of such fears. But these stories make news exactly because they are so rare; there's something creepy about giving in totally to the terrors of the outside world harming one's child. In a country increasingly separated by cultural chasms - Christian conservatives vs. secular humanists; Tea Partiers vs. Occupiers - should we really encourage children to trust only their parents or those hand-selected by them, and to mistrust civic life and public institutions?

Moreover, being your child's everything - her parent, teacher, baby-sitter, and afterschool program coordinator - requires a massive outlay of labor. Songha's pre-K cooperative hired a teacher, but parents ended up putting in 10 to 12 hours of work per week administrating the program. Astra Taylor's father was a college professor, while her mother supervised the four children's "unschooling."

What goes unmentioned is what made this lifestyle possible: the fact that Taylor's mother could afford to stay home with her kids. Yet Taylor bristles against the suggestion that there was anything unique about the ability of her upper-middle class, uber-intellectual parents to effectively "unschool" their children while still helping them grow into educated adults with satisfying professional lives. This critique "implies that most people are not gifted, and that they need to be guided, molded, tested, and inspected," Taylor complains. "What makes us so sure most people couldn't handle self-education?"

What makes us so sure? Reality. More than 70 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 are in the workforce. One-third of all children and one-half of low-income children are being raised by a single parent. Fewer than one-half of young children, and only about one-third of low-income kids, are read to daily by an adult. Surely, this isn't the picture of a nation ready to "self-educate" its kids.

Nor can we allow homeschoolers to believe their choice impacts only their own offspring. Although the national school-reform debate is fixated on standardized testing and "teacher quality" - indeed, the uptick in secular homeschooling may be, in part, a backlash against this narrow education agenda - a growing body of research suggests "peer effects" have a large impact on student achievement. Low-income kids earn higher test scores when they attend school alongside middle-class kids, while the test scores of privileged children are impervious to the influence of less-privileged peers. So when college-educated parents pull their kids out of public schools, whether for private school or homeschooling, they make it harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.

Of course, no one wants to sacrifice his own child's education in order to better serve someone else's kid. But here's the great thing about attending racially and socioeconomically integrated schools: It helps children become better grown-ups. Research by Columbia University sociologist Amy Stuart Wells found that adult graduates of integrated high schools shared a commitment to diversity, to understanding and bridging cultural differences, and to appreciating "the humanness of individuals across racial lines."

Taylor admits that "[m]any people, liberal and conservative alike, are deeply offended by critiques of compulsory schooling." I suppose I am one of them. I benefited from 13 years of public education in one of the most diverse and progressive school districts in the United States. My father, stepmother, stepfather, and grandfather are or were public school educators. As an education journalist, I've admired many public schools that use culturally relevant, high-standards curricula to engage even the most disadvantaged students. These schools are sustained by the talents of impossibly hard-working teachers who want to partner with parents and kids, not oppress them.

Despite our conflicting perspectives, I agree with Taylor that school ought to be more engaging, more intellectually challenging, and less obsessed with testing. But government is the only institution with the power and scale to intervene in the massive undertaking of better educating American children, 90 percent of whom currently attend public schools. (And it's worth remembering that schools provide not just education, but basic child care while parents are at work.) Lefty homeschoolers might be preaching sound social values to their children, but they aren't practicing them. If progressives want to improve schools, we shouldn't empty them out. We ought to flood them with our kids, and then debate vociferously what they ought to be doing. your social media marketing partner


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+13 # Rick Levy 2012-02-25 23:23
Attachment parenting sounds downright creepy. In fact it should be called symbiotic parenting.

Kids don't need regimentation, but they do need the professional guidance towards learning which trained educators are best suited to provide. Parents can supplement but not replace it.
+6 # beeyl 2012-02-26 09:02
"Homeschoolers of all stripes believe that they alone should decide how their children are educated."

"Kids... need the professional guidance... which trained educators are best suited to provide. Parents can supplement but not replace it."

My reply to both statements is this: what if the parent is a better qualified teacher than those employed in your child's school?

This is hardly a moot point, given the poor quality of teachers we have here compared to those in Finland and other nations (e.g., in the US, the average teacher's SAT scores are below average for all SAT takers!) It is especially relevant in places like my own home town, which has seen the quality of its schools and teachers steadily plummet over the past 2 decades.

Our daughter is in 7th grade, and while her English and Social Studies teachers are good, her Math and Science teachers have impressed us as complacent, lazy, and embarrassingly unskilled and unknowledgeable.

So, our reason for considering homeschooling - at least for math and science - is not to have absolute autonomy over her curriculum, but to actually teach our daughter the existing curriculum well. As a math and science teacher myself, I'm not just sure that I could outperform her current teachers in those subjects, but I'm quite sure most people who'd passed Algebra II and HS Science classes could outperform them as well.
+4 # Capn Canard 2012-02-26 10:43
Rick Levy, Attachment parenting, wow, I find that is a bit of a stretch. Keep in mind that the author has a horse in the race: her family has deep roots as educators! I believe that home schooling has shown that students gain more autonomy in a home schooled setting. They have more initiative and I would suspect better critical thinking skills. In a standard public school it seems more like following your sheep, keeping up with the Jones and the constant competition for approval from peers, etc etc. My own experience was mediocre but in college I easily graduated Magna Cum Laude... I guess in HS I didn't have a good enough last name or the reputation to gain higher grades however in math I had no problems other than some "popular" kids accusing me of cheating.
+23 # X Dane 2012-02-25 23:33
No wonder we are falling behind other countries, not JUST China and India. This is crazy. As the article stated Children need other contacts than their parents to grow up to be well rounded human beings.

Very few parents have enough education and objectivity to teach their own children, and if there is NO testing we will end up with a poorly educated population.

The religious right will grow even more intolerant and narrow minded.

If very well to do mothers, who can afford not to work, keep their children home, only low income family children and lower middle class kids will go to school, and as stated, they will lack healthy competition with more fortunate kids.

What a mess. We keep going downhill
America sure seems to be going backwards
+25 # Progressive Patriot 2012-02-26 08:03
Testing does NOT make good students. Challenge and encouragement makes good students. Quality education makes good students. Testing, as done under "No Child Left Behind", is NOT quality education. School districts are realizing this, and are dropping out of NCLB.
+4 # X Dane 2012-02-27 02:01
Progressive, I may not have expressed myself clearly enough. The testing done in the "no child left behind" program is excessive and crazy for teaching kids to take tests, doesn't impart knowledge. But if kids are home schooled. There should be periodic testing to see that they are actually learning.

My three children all went to public schools and they were good students. They were self motivated and they knew what my husband and I expected of them. But we kept an eye on their work, to make sure they were where they should be.

At dinner time we would have quizzes about capitals of the states, and capitals of the world, so learning was a fun thing.
At 23 my son was very successful and had his own business, before he was killed in a plane crash.

Both my daughters are successful also. My oldest has expanded the business I started, and is now the owner. My youngest is a CPA and certified financial planner, and she now has two partners.

So public school sure can do an excellent job of teaching, but parents should always be up on their children's work, and help where needed.
+17 # Texan 4 Peace 2012-02-26 00:13
This article left me feeling ambivalent. I consider myself both a harsh critic and a staunch supporter of public schools. If my daughter hated school, I'd take her out. But she likes it -- at least enough of it to put up with what she doesn't like.
There are few things more urgent than improving our public schools, and getting them out of the corporate stranglehold of testing and more testing. But I wouldn't presume to ask someone else to sacrifice their child to that struggle.
+2 # X Dane 2012-02-27 02:25
You are right Texan it is very important to improve the schools, for I doubt there are enough parents, who have the time and qualifications to teach their own children.
+13 # 2012-02-26 00:22
Contrary to stereotypes, home schooled children consistently are shown to be more socially engaged than their publicly schooled peers. Overall, they also average stronger academic achievement.

Anecdotally, there may be weird or creepy parents who are home schooling but this is not the norm and the movement should not be judged by the inappropriate behavior of the exceptions any more than public schools should be judged by one creepy child molesting of one or two public school teachers.

On the other hand, our public schools are among the most expensive in the world and produce academically mediocre results.

The public schools are failing to educate. Without blaming anyone, good parenting demands that we take the action necessary to make sure that our kids do not fall into the meat-grinder of the public schools.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+5 # Billy Bob 2012-02-26 10:19
I send my kids to a private school. For atheletic facilities, bus service and other things too numerous to mention, they STILL are relying on the PUBLIC SCHOOL to provide. In other words, the private school is cheaper than it would be if it didn't have to pay for those things. The private school doesn't need to worry about too many children with special needs either, since it's fully funded by parents who can afford it. That ANOTHER savings.

Your goal is to make everything in the world FOR PROFIT. It's hard for me to mathematically understand how ADDING the expense of requiring profit, to make things CHEAPER.

billy bob
+25 # jsheats 2012-02-26 01:04
I have to chime in again on this (I did it for a related column a few weeks ago), with my admittedly unusual, but I think instructive personal experience.

I was "homeschooled" through 8th grade, not due to any religious reason or critique of the school system (and we sure were not wealthy!). We simply had no school accessible to our remote ranch, on a dirt road often impassible in winter (and even summer). So I went to school at the kitchen table, largely taught myself after the first few grades (because my "working" mother was way too busy), and did fine - never got a B in high school.

OK, my native talents are above average, and this experience does not apply to everyone. But what I think does generalize is the importance of education tailored to the individual, and that, above all, is where our system is failing. Stop worrying so much about the philosophy of education (important though it is), and just provide more teachers! Our class sizes are absurd, even in upper-class districts like the one I live in now (Bay Area, CA). Kids are different, and they need different inputs to their education. This is critical, and we are going backward in this respect.
+6 # Capn Canard 2012-02-26 10:51
jsheats, your experience sounds familiar. I believe that our education system is first and foremost about SOCIAL CONDITIONING, all meant to create obedient workers who don't question authority. You LIBERALS have to take charge of your child's education because the state only wants what is best for the state, and there doesn't have to be a god involved, just facts, information, puzzles, games, deep questions, and the wide ranging consequences discussed and pondered. I got very little of that in my school experience. But I would hope that more pull back the curtain for their students to let them see there is no one really in charge. The kids need to see the truth.
+1 # MylesJ 2012-02-27 12:54
People I know home school kids until it is time for high school and then send them to regular school for socializing. How else can they keep their little kids from being brainwashed by the corporate culture. Oh,all my friends are about as for from conservative as you can be and still be on this planet
+14 # LML 2012-02-26 05:25
Unchallenging classrooms and the tendency to teach to the middle so that both the students who could do much more are left unchallenged doomed to spin their wheels while the students who need more attention and assistance are equally ignored. I do not think that home schooling would be worse for the students who are not challenged.
I suppose that a classroom like that is good for that band in the middle that the teacher is focusing on. The bright can coast and develop poor study habits and the students who need more are left stuggling with a sense of failure.
I was terribly bored in school tho blessed/cursed with a passive nature so at least I didnlt annoy my teachers.
My daughter, who had amzingly taught herself to read in pre-kindergarde n, was refused entry into the gifted and talented program since that would upset the "balance" in the classroom and coasted by until she dropped out of school.
Frankly I only wish that I had home-schooled her. She could not possibly be worse off educationally than she is now...
+12 # Bope2 2012-02-26 06:47
Although a product of a public school education, a supporter of public schools, and one who sent my own kids to public schools, I can sympathize with lefty parents who have given up on them for their children. Almost all of the reforms of the past generation, although usually well-meaning, have been misguided at best, and have failed to improve the educational experiences of children even when they have had modest impacts on test scores. I fear we are raising generations of kids who know how to pass tests, but who hate to engage with meaningful learning.

Interestingly, American public school test results have always fallen somewhere in the middle of the pack when compared to other countries, and yet American public schools have produced far more than their share of leaders in science, technology, business, culture, politics and scholarship. Perhaps test scores don't reveal the learning that really matters for success.

Meanwhile, as our social patterns have become increasingly segregated by income levels and we've become socially isolated into like-minded groups, middle-class parents have become obsessively anxious about their kids' success and far too protective of them. Radical individualism of the left and right has been on the ascent for the past 30 years, and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.
+12 # gingerperth 2012-02-26 07:03
the best i can say about this article is that it brings the subject of children's education choices into the limelight for learning and debate. but to take poor examples of homeschooling and homeschooler parents and compare those with great examples of public schools is so misleading. there are good and bad of all types of kids education systems, whether standard public schools, private schools, church-run schools, parent-run schools, "schools without walls", alternative schools and homeschooling. i know this for certain as my kids went to 15 different schools each and i changed their schooling every time the child felt they were "stupid" because of the either the teacher's attitude and style, peer group values or administration rules. there is 10 years between my son and daughter so i got plenty of experience over many years. all choices were made because that is what the child needed at that time. AND, for much of that time i was a single parent. i would work off the private school fees by cleaning the school. none of the choices were ideal for long. both kids are now adults, university qualified, well adjusted, have lots of friends and wholesome values.
+11 # gingerperth 2012-02-26 07:03
(continued) my daughter was dyslexic and ADD and she was bottom of her class in the first 2 grades. i took her to many (govt subsidised) therapists for speech, fine and gross motor control and reading problems. when she hit 11th grade, she was in a senior campus with all ages and the teachers had time to help her without spending most of their day trying to keep discipline in the classroom. that's when my daughter zoomed ahead. she ended up being selected for university before the national tests for selection and even won many awards. now she is at university taking a degree in speech pathology and working with autistics part time. the homeschooled years never did her any harm and built up her confidence significantly as she could choose the theme of what she wanted to learn and she got one on one attention from a variety of family members and outsider. it was a real boon to her. so please, everybody, keep an open, eclectic mind about schooling. "horses for courses".
+4 # X Dane 2012-02-27 03:03
Gingerperth, I am very impressed with you, and your children are indeed lucky to have had such a dedicated parent. You are an inspiration to many. It was great reading your comment.
+2 # gingerperth 2012-02-28 08:52
thank you for the compliments, X Dane! i didn't feel dedicated at the time, just determined to find the best learning experiences so my kids wouldn't lose interest in learning and thinking for themselves. the one-size-fits-a ll mentality really irks me. please join me on facebook (ginger gee) for more stimulating conversations. we have a great group called LikeMindsFindin gAnswers.
+17 # Abarmon 2012-02-26 07:06
Actually attachment parenting is based on the idea that early relationships dictate, along with temperament, the kind of people we become. So, providing children with consistent, loving, and boundaried relationships with a primary caretaker impacts a child's ability to empathize and self regulate as an adult.
+7 # Abarmon 2012-02-26 07:14
Also, the world average age for breastfeeding is 4 1/2 years.
+4 # Capn Canard 2012-02-26 10:56
lmao! Whaaa? What has that got to do with home schooling? The attachment parenting is not necessary, the only real thing that is necessary is to instill courage and confidence in children so they are not intimidated to the point of not asking questions and demanding mature and reasonable answers.
+14 # sark 2012-02-26 07:46

If USA schools were like Finland, then maybe my child would have attended public schools. I thought they would because I have always been and still do support public education.
However, where I live, the science teachers believe and teach the earth is 6-8,000 years old. The schools have a Christmas break, not a winter break. Prayer, Christian prayer only, is encouraged and happens. Books like _The Kite Runner_ are banned. Bullying is ignored and if it is addressed, it is excused because "they will need to learn how to deal with it in the real world".

Read about the schools in Finland, work to make that happen here if you are being honest about supporting public schools and public education. And my homeschooled unschooled child is in college with a GPA of 3.9.
+12 # Progressive Patriot 2012-02-26 07:59
friends of mine home-schooled thier sons, and they are very bright young men. When they wanted to put the older one into the public school system, the school district insisted on putting him inot his age group, which was two years behind where his schooling was. he was taking high school physics at sixth grade level, and helping teach the class two years later. He'd placed high in national physics contests. A teacher across the river, in another state, who knew him through the physics competitions, really wanted him to come to her school, and they moved across the river. He's working at his grade level, not with his age group, and is doing very well.
+14 # sark 2012-02-26 08:27
"Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality." Now, make that happen in the USA, really, make it happen if you honestly are supporting public education and equality for all.

quote source:
+2 # kalilily 2012-02-26 13:33
Excellent point.
+8 # Glen 2012-02-26 08:41
U.S. schools are suffering for many different reasons, and a big one is social issues. Home schooling can eliminate many irresponsible policies found in public schools along with taking kids out of social chaos in many communities. I, myself, saw much chaos and lack of social standards and extremely poor behavior supported or ignored by parents.

The flip side of homeschooling is the possibility of the parent/parents injecting far more prejudice and political attitudes than would be found in a classroom. Homeschooled kids, though, can and do engage in social activities and sports outside the home. One of the best learning environments I ever saw was in a community type commune that schooled all children on site. There were maybe 13 kids receiving hands on lessons and an environment that provided an automatic laboratory for leaning science - learning combustion, for instance, by cooking their lunch over a fire and seeing what is involved in that process. And so on.

Education is very complicated, as I have said in a prior thread. Any approach to improve schools, but mainly to educate - period - is worth it.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-02-26 10:20
We need MORE regulation, and that regulation has to be FEDERAL. Once again, the conservative framing of "deregulation" is failing us.
+3 # Glen 2012-02-26 18:07
What type of regulation would you like to see in schools? How would you regulate local social issues that children are subjected to?
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-02-26 22:32
You can regulate what they're taught, so they aren't taught "creation science" instead of actual science. You can make sure they all have the same exposure to the same learning materials, even if they happen to be in poor neighborhoods, or in parts of the country where local tax payers don't consider education important.
+4 # Glen 2012-02-27 07:05
That would be ideal, Billy. It is difficult to coordinate. Too much variety in hundreds of communities throughout the country. Extreme differences in demands made on schools and curriculum and too much influence by a voting public that cannot agree with federal policy.

It is mind boggling how complicated it is and how too many corporations and churches and others, are involved in batting education around. It is also difficult to enforce some policies. We live in a huge country with hundreds and hundreds of schools. You'd think it would be simple.

The national school board used to play a big part in determining curricula. I don't know exactly what their role is now.
+10 # Susan1989 2012-02-26 08:58
I agree with much of what is said here, but what is a parent to do if the public schools in their area are unsatisfactory? I sent my children to private school at great expense to myself and my husband because the local school's were disfunctional, disorganized, poorly staffed, over-crowded, and filled with students who lived in other boroughs of NYC so my children were unable to make friends in the area. After two weeks my daughter begged me to send her to another school. Although many parents may be homeschooling for what may be perceived as the "wrong reasons" many of us just want our children to attend decent schools where they will learn.
+5 # Capn Canard 2012-02-26 11:05
Susan1989 go ahead and home school your kids. The author has a horse in this race. You need to consider your children before Dana Goldstein's very biased opinion.
+5 # diacad 2012-02-26 09:07
I agree that "homeschooling" (and even formal private schooling) is a very regressive idea, but it will be considered by many who can afford it so long as public schools seem inadequate. The author extrapolates her own positive experience, but she cannot argue it is typical of US schools. The public school system has to be improved before many parents will be enthusiastic about sending their children into them. Goldstein puts the cart before the horse when recommending flooding inferior schools with our children and then debating what ought to be done. The debate around what should be changed about public schools must come first; debate followed up by action. Liberals and progressives interested in saving the public school system should drop their defensive attitude and become muckrakers, and not leave needed criticism of the status quo to the reactionaries. In my opinion, we need a more centralized and standardized system, with a national syllabus similar to most other advanced countries.
+4 # anarchteacher 2012-02-26 09:37
“An Open Letter to My Colleagues in Education”

Discover the truth concerning the origins and purpose of compulsory, tax-supported public schooling.
-3 # kanopemainer 2012-02-26 10:06
To Quote from the article:
" What makes us so sure? Reality. More than 70 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 are in the workforce. One-third of all children and one-half of low-income children are being raised by a single parent. "
I think we all should honestly research what reason drives (yes, drives) women/mothers into the workforce. At first, at least with this and the last generation, women wanted careers, to be independent, they met men within the workforce with similar interests and decided to get married (or not). With the personal exposure to the world outside of the 'growing up' home, personal interests and desires changed drastically. Bombardments on the mind by commercial advertisements for a "better" lifstyle, and that with all the gadgets,led first to a "I want, I want" to "I need, I need", and ultimately to "I must have, I must have" and " deserve".
Now all these 'thingies' need capital in the form of money to obtain, which in turn also required to work, meaning to be employed.
The want of children and having them changed some of the outlook on life for women. Some (a few)retired from the workforce and thought with there life experience to be qualified for Homeschooling, others continued to work and did Homeschooling aside.
If just all had less "desires" developed, less employment would have been needed, and the kids would have gotten smarter by being Homeschooled
+4 # ewsheehan 2012-02-26 11:09
Public teachers represent the largest unionized group in the country. Unfortunately, the teachers teach to their own benefits, rather than to learning outcomes. My child did not suit the teaching style of his teachers (he had ADD) so he was the guilty party. As I tried to stay involved in his education, and in school committees, I was subjected to arrogant dismissal. At a strategic planning meeting, one (otherwise smart) teacher opined that the falling test scores reflected students' declining intelligence Finally, the chicks are coming home to roost as the public education system collapses.
-5 # amye 2012-02-26 11:39
Sooner or later these homeschooled kids will as adults have to be integrated into the larger society and economy!! They will have to work, pay taxes, etc. We need them to support our current system of social security and medicare, etc.!!! Come folks, don't be so foolish about your kids education!!
+6 # reiverpacific 2012-02-26 12:07
Just a simple question for y'all -and I really would like some thoughtful responses for my edification.
How many "home schooling parents" have any real wisdom to impart to their issue?
Have they traveled, experienced life, read at any depth or engaged in a wide range of activities by choice, from creative and humanities to math and the sciences and even sports?
Isn't that why we had teachers of many diverse subjects once?
Just a thought for reflection.
+1 # gingerperth 2012-02-28 09:13
imparting wisdom is not the major role of education, IMO. it's 1) building on a child's strengths rather than mostly focusing on their weaknesses 2) provide learning experiences that build confidence and enjoyment in learning 3) share opportunities for the child to do research and problem-solve in their own way. 4) promote open-minded, flexible and diverse values with enriched opportunities for learning experiences. homeschooling parents do not need degrees or high IQs to do these things -- just a good attitude.
+6 # Nell H 2012-02-26 12:37
Few parents are capable of doing even an acceptable job of homeschooling. Who among us are qualified to teach reading properly? Mathematics? Chemistry? etc.

Because class sizes are too large locally to give individual attention to students, I've recently done some individual coaching in algebra, geometry and physical science. I've been amazed at the quality of the teachers. and the depth of the material they are covering.

In South Carolina, a parent needs only a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify to home school. How can parents teach what they do not know?
+8 # EternalTruth 2012-02-26 15:41
Any literate, educated, motivated parents are qualified to educate their children. What they don't know, they can learn, and then teach their children. Or they can learn it together with their child. Or they can join or create a group of diversely educated adults to educate their children together.
+3 # gingerperth 2012-02-28 09:25
i'm reminded of the obsolete theory of "tabula rasa" (blank slate) where kids are waiting to have their brains filled with the wisdom of their teachers. we all had to put up with this autocratic and standardised teaching style in our own schooling and, for most of us, it ensured we were bored by school and forgot most of what we were required to study. a more wholesome and long-lasting method is to inspire the kids to find out about subjects that interest them and help them use libraries, the net and hands-on ways to determine the answers to problems chosen by each kid. for example, if a kid likes medieval knights and castles, help them find resources to learn more and incorporate history, maths, science, art, sports, sociology, drama, etc into the theme that interests them. my homeschooled 10 year old chose fencing as her sport. train your kid to enjoy learning and be self-starters, not spoon-fed.
+8 # kalilily 2012-02-26 13:30
At this moment, my daughter is sitting at the table with another home-school mom (a scientist; with an aerospace engineer husband) planning physics experiments for their home-school co-op kids (who are of various backgrounds and abilities and range in age from 6-12. They are learning tolerance, compassion, team work, and respect for each other's differences -- as well as all of the stuff kids in school buildings learn. And they are learning to love learning. Years ago, I taught junior high. Teaching 4 classes of 30 kids does not does not lend itself to providing the kinds of motivating experiential learning that my 9 year-old grandson gets. MAYBE, if our educational system were revamped to be more student-centere d, maybe if all parents taught their kids tolerance, compassion, respect for others etc. etc., kids like my grandson would be able to intellectually and emotionally thrive in the system as he does as a home-schooler. I invite you all to read by daughter's blog: We are irreligious liberals in this family, and, except for my grandson, we all survived this nation's educational system. Of course, the parents in this co-op are all uniquely dedicated to giving their kids the best and broadest possible education. Remember, some of the best minds we know of were home-schooled: I'm afraid that Dana Goldstein needs to do a better job with her homework.
0 # gingerperth 2012-02-28 09:43
i love your description of home-school co-op kids. sharing the teaching with other family members and outsiders makes homeschooling even better (it's what we did with my daughter). but even non-professiona l, non-college-edu cated parents can do this well, as long as they have a love of learning and an openness to find out how best to do it, to share with kids and learn together.
+5 # Susan1989 2012-02-26 14:41
Parents have a right to be concerned about their children attending schools that are failing. My children are grown (the attended private school) because I knew that they would get a mediocre education in public school--as I did when I attended NYC public schools. No one should be expected to use their children for the benefit of a social experiment. Everyday we hear about children getting hurt or being bullied in public schools because the administration has been stripped of their ability to take action which means removing disruptive students.
+4 # margpark 2012-02-26 16:04
My daughters three children homeschooled the last few years of school. The eldest I am not sure why, but she is quite bright and probably found classes going too slow for her. The second child is introverted and shy and found the crowds in the halls too much for her and the last child who is finishing his schooling at home got migrains too often to keep up at school. Now he can work all day when he is migraine free and sleep when he has a migraine. Sad to say public school classes have to move slowly to accommodate the slower learners in the class. Tracking is politcally objectionable. Margaret Park
+8 # mcpelvic 2012-02-26 16:09
Wow is this commentator living in a dream world or what? If I had kids I certainly allow them to go to public school. It might be good for them to prepare for our violent society. Sure, but only after they have received their black belts in Karate, and full training in weapons and firearms training, and only after they have mastered the basics of Verbal Self-Defense. I don't know if any of you people have noticed, but they have metal detectors at schools, and scores of sensitive children are committing suicide because of extreme bullying. Drugs are being pushed, children are having unprotected sex in the bathrooms, etc. How can anyone learn in such an environment? Perhaps the writer lives in an affluent neighborhood where public schools are really private ones because the tax base of those so-called liberal communities where people can afford to send their kids to them. School choice is just that. It's about taking care of your kids because the society is unraveling, not due to symbiotic parenting. Nothing could be further than the truth.
+9 # Susan1989 2012-02-27 10:35
It is the right and responsibility of every parent to protect their children and prepare them in the best way possible to have a fulfilling and productive life. Unfortunately, the American school system is consistently failing our young people which has motivated many parents to find another way to educate their children. Pontificating about the social wellbeing of society does not cut it with parents who are protecting their children from what has become a hostile, toxic, and disfunctional environment in many of the public schools. When a service is no longer of quality, people move away from utilizing it. To ask parents to "throw their children to the wolves" by sending them to public schools is misguided. Until the schools can get their act together, they will see more and more parents making alternative choices. It is possible that public schools will have to find a place to educate the students who are disruptive, violent, pushing drugs, and pulling everyone else down.
+2 # L H 2012-02-27 18:45
Finding alternative choices is worth it. I read books from the library to my daughter from infancy. She taught herself to read at four years old, and she has been self-taught since then including learning Japanese before going to community college. A wonderful artist, she is skilled with her digital art tablet. She has studied "Plot Versus Character", "Dialogue", and "Characters, Emotions, and View Point" while she is writing her own Fantasy Fiction book. A homeschooling teacher said that her 'first draft' is like the final edit!

I found that "schooling" public or private suppresses the genius of our children. It is programming the children using the model of education started in India long ago to maintain the Caste System. Read John Taylor Gatto, "The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling". Knowledge taught to children should be experienced in some way that is safe and real, not just memorized. If it hasn't been applied, it isn't their knowledge.
+4 # Skaplan 2012-02-28 07:52
Have to comment on the fact that Goldstein makes an assumption that parents choose to homeschool because they want to be their everything to their kids, so to speak. All of the parents I know that have chosen to homeschool are not too attached to their children; they find avenues to expose their children to others and more importantly didn't decide to homeschool because they wanted to be around their kids all day, as Goldstein makes it seem. They chose to homeschool because they really wanted their child to have opportunities that public schools cannot give.

The problem with this article is that Goldstein relies on her knowledge of 1 family (limited knowledge!) to base her understanding of homeschooling. Not good journalism.
+1 # flowers3 2012-02-28 16:34
one only needs to google The dumbing down of our children. Also google Is the Governmet a Corporation? Then you will understand.

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