Monday, March 07, 2005

Homeschooling Robs Children 2

Margaret Boyce is at it again. The infamous Holland Sentinel opinion writer, who loves to attack homeschoolers as weirdo child abusers has penned another piece. This one can be viewed here and was printed on February 8th, 2005.

Once again, I'm going to post her article in it's entirety.

More thoughts on homeschooling
Several months ago, I wrote a commentary expressing a disapproval of homeschooling. I must have struck a nerve, because the well-orchestrated response was indeed interesting.

What she means is, more educated than she expected from us backward homeschoolin' folk.
One young man told of all the wonderful things he was able to do because he wasn't in school. Too bad. He could have done everything, plus be involved in drama, debate, athletics and more, and perhaps even be a real star in the local school. He'll never know, will he, what he really could have done.

You can't have it both ways, Ms. Boyce. You said in your last piece that you knew children felt robbed. When they wrote you to say that they didn't, you dismiss them. The truth is that homeschooled children are able to take advantage of opportunities that other kids cannot simply because of the time that children are required to be in school. And none of us will ever know what we could have done if we'd taken different paths. That does not necessarily mean that the path we've walked was not a good one.

In addition, Ms. Boyce has obviously not done her homework to discover the multitude of opportunities there are for homeschooled kids to get involved in choirs, drama, sports, etc. I suppose knowing or admitting that these opportunities exist would interfere with the stereotype she'd like to give homeschoolers.
Another young man responded in a very scary manner, spewing propaganda about the "corrupt system of public schools." He has truly been brainwashed, and obviously knows nothing about public schools. What a shame. Ignorance is not always bliss.

I won't say that the public schools are all corrupt, but they're not perfect either. I'm the child of two public school teachers, and the sister of yet another. I know the limitations put on public schools and teachers. Homeschooling parents are free from those restraints. In addition I would add that they way she views this young man's ideas about public school is exactly the way I view her ideas about homeschooling. Ignorant, indeed.
I think a small history lesson is in order. We hear a great deal about our Founding Fathers and their approach to education. According to my references, the New England colonists relied upon their government to provide schools, and the colonial legislatures passed laws requiring towns to provide schools.

She must have a different textbook than I do. My understanding is that the colonists had some private schools, taught at home, had a few public schools, while some families sent children to work, or to apprentice. The Founding Fathers believed we needed an educated populace, not a public schooled populace. Check the writings, Ms. Boyce.
Some areas had private and religious schools, but the governments had general authority over all schools.

Again, what book are you reading? Parents of 200 years ago wouldn't dream of putting the control of their children or their children's education in the hands of anyone else. Not that they wouldn't send their children to school, but I believe they would have been horrified at the idea that they weren't able to make educational decisions for their children. How far we have fallen that people like Ms. Boyce think that the government should be in charge of our children, and not their parents.
Attendance was not compulsory, and many attended only for two or three years. After the Revolution, many Americans realized that separate private and religious schools could not provide the equality, unity, and freedom necessary for a democracy.

Ya, but the when, where, and how of children's education was still in the hands of parents. Compulsory attendance wasn't required until at least 50 years after the revolution.
Statewide requirements for attendance, study and taxation to support public schools were set up. To preserve religious freedom for all, states did not allow specific religious instruction in the public, tax-supported schools. In 1852, the first compulsory attendance law was passed. Michigan law requires attendance from 6 to 16 years of age. These laws have not been overturned.

These laws haven't been overturned because everyone believes that children should be able to receive an education. I'm just offended some don't want to let me, their mother, decide what kind of education they will have.
Again I was recently reminded of the terrible situations that some children encounter. There was a letter to an advice columnist in The Sentinel, and this young lady, home-schooled and isolated, was apparently being molested by her own step-father.

How sad for that girl. But it would be silly for us to think that the molestation and homeschooling are related. Many children who are molested or abused attend public school, and that doesn't mean that public schooling is responsible for abuse.
She had no one to turn to but a columnist! Too often children are rescued by a caring teacher.

And many are not. Homeschooled children are generally involved in multiple groups outside the home, not to mention are seen by caring doctors. These people also have a responsibility to report suspected abuse. Helping abused children is an important job of every member of our community.
There are all sorts of services available through the schools. Currently there is no monitoring of these homes, and children have little protection due to the laxity of Michigan law. At the very least, they should be registered, home visits made, the curriculum approved by local school boards, and periodic testing be done.

Actually, that depends on the state you live in. Some states are more strict with their homeschooling laws than others. Still, I don't think people have a right to invade my home without cause. Also, I don't think I should have to justify my curriculum to anyone. If curriculum is put under state control, it seems quite likely that religiously based curriculum, such as we use, would be out.
Children have rights, too, and big ones are the right to an education and safety.

Well, who doesn't agree with that? But perhaps you'd be better off ensuring that no public schooled kids ever fall through the cracks or are victims of abuse, before you start shifting focus to the homeschooled kids. Homeschooled kids who, by the way, are doing much better (according to test scores, etc.). The truth is that once again it is being insinuated that homeschooled kids are in danger of being failed socially, educationally, and in terms of their safety, yet with no real proof to back that up.
Many thanks to the multitudes of people who have called, written and spoken to me about this huge concern.  Contact your representative in the legislature and see if better protection for children can be passed.

Really, you think persecuting homeschooling families will help protect children?  You have yet to prove a problem exists, but you want the government to spend time and money fixing it?
Most states do monitor these families and also supervise the curriculum and test students periodically to be sure that they are not being totally cheated.

My state already does that, but I resent the idea that homeschooled kids are being cheated.
Many of our Michigan politicians seem to be afraid of the homeschool network and dare not even discuss some modification that will speak for these youngsters.

Yes, politicians generally do fear a well-organized, educated, opinionated, and voting group of people. That's called reality. And because we're so well-organized and educated, we usually provide a top notch education to our kids.
All children deserve an opportunity to prepare for a bright future in this ever-changing world, in a safe environment with their own peers.

My children are preparing for a "bright future in this ever-changing world, in a safe environment". But there are other ways to provide that besides a public school. 
Yes, parents must remain involved, but children belong in school.

I don't think some writer in another state has any business telling me where my children belong.
Margaret Boyce is a resident of Saugatuck.

Where she apperantly never gets out to meet ACTUAL homeschooled kids, who are well-adjusted, smart, and challenged. And she thinks our world is too small and closed-off.

A really good answer that I found to Ms. Boyce's article is found here.

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