When Home-Schooling Goes Horribly Wrong…

Susan Svrluga of the Washington Post has an incredible story of a Christian home-schooling family where the parents don’t want to send their children to the local public school, and the children, knowing they’re not getting a good education, are fighting back:

Trust me; home-schooling doesn’t always work this well…

[Son] Josh Powell wanted to go to school so badly that he pleaded with local officials to let him enroll. He didn’t know exactly what students were learning at Buckingham County High School, in rural central Virginia, but he had the sense that he was missing something fundamental.

By the time he was 16, he had never written an essay. He didn’t know South Africa was a country. He couldn’t solve basic algebra problems.

The article raises the question of what requirements must be in place when it comes to home-schooling. In Virginia, where this story takes place, there is no oversight whatsoever. If parents claim a religious exemption from public education, the state government doesn’t do anything to check in on them and make sure they’re doing a decent job.

It’s scary to think that 7,000 children in the state are being home-schooled and we have no idea how many of them are getting a decent education. We don’t know how many can read or write. We don’t know how much math they can do. We don’t know what books they’re reading (besides the Bible, anyway).

One argument in favor of home-schooling offered up by chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association Michael Farris is that public schools let plenty of students through the cracks, too. He’s not wrong, but at least we can identify those students and try to rectify the situation. When home-schooled kids in the state fail to get an adequate education, we have no idea that’s even happening before it’s too late.

That’s what Josh realized after he enrolled in community college:

Josh Powell, now 21, wonders how much more he could have accomplished if he hadn’t spent so much time and effort catching up.

“I think people should definitely have the freedom to home-school as long as it’s being done well and observed,” he said. “I don’t see any reason for there not to be accountability.”

Most of all, he worries about his siblings: There are 11. One, old enough to be well into middle school, can’t read, Josh Powell said.

The saddest thing about the story is that it’s clear Josh’s parents are trying to do their best… yet failing at it. And if this family’s story is now public, how many are more are going untold?

There have to be regulations of some sort; these parents need to be held accountable for their kids meeting the same standards that public school children are held to. More power to the parents if they can do a better job than the public schools, but we need to spot the bad seeds early before their children are so far behind the other kids that they’ll always be playing catch up.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Robert for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • The Other Weirdo

    The saddest thing about the story is that it’s clear Josh’s parents are trying to do their best… yet failing at it. And if this family’s story is now public, how many are more are going untold?

    Why is it clear? What is their best? Did they set out to give their kids the best education possible within their own limitations, or did they intend all along to cripple their kids from the start? It shouldn’t be that hard to teach kids how to read and write; there are materials available for that everywhere. Some are even free, but you do have to be willing to enter that den of villainy and scum, the local library.

    • 65snake

      Yep, I can’t help but think that an 11 year old that can’t read is not doing anybody’s “best”.

      • b s

        My kids started reading at just under 3 and 4 without much effort on our part. This almost seems as if there is an effort to prevent them from reading

        • onamission5

          Or an undiagnosed LD such as dyslexia which is interfering with the child’s ability to read. I can’t think of any way that an 11 year old would be illiterate outside of deliberate neglect (aka, “unschooling”) or denial of a potential LD.

          • b s

            Another downfall of homeschooling, I would imagine schools might be better equipped to detect or recognize problems such as dyslexia. Doesn’t mean they would always catch them or do anything about them, but there could be a better chance.

            • D in CO

              That’s IF the school believes in dyslexia. Unfortunately, as I found out when I discovered my own daughter was dyslexic, a substantial number if not most teachers and other school professionals don’t believe there is such a thing. And even though I homeschool and I knew something was wrong with my daughter, my training as a teacher handicapped me; in my Teaching Reading class, I was taught that dyslexia didn’t exist. It took me 4 years of watching my daughter struggle before, at the urging of my dh who is NOT a trained professional, I Googled dyslexia and discovered my daughter was a textbook case. Because I was able to research it and find the best program to remedy it, 5 years later my daughter is reading everything she can get her hands on – but my education background made it harder, not easier, to catch the problem.

              • Glasofruix

                You went to a creationnist school?

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                You bring up a number of problems with the public school system and teacher training. Since teacher training changes over time, many teachers are using bad methods that they were taught. Dyslexia is often caused by teachers teaching children how to read incorrectly.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            I can’t imagine that so many commenters here are that ignorant of the prevalence of illiteracy in the public schools.

            • Len

              Not ignorant of the fact that it exists, but at least aware of the chance that it may be discovered and helped. With home schooling there may not be so much (professional, trained) help available or knowledge of what can be done to help.

            • UWIR

              How common is illiteracy in the public schools, outside of LD and deliberate neglect?

              • CottonBlimp

                It depends what schools we’re talking about. In my middle-class suburban school, probably not very common. In my friend’s school in Brooklyn, oh yeah there’s a lot.

                I’m honestly speechless that anyone’s suggesting public schools would keep kids from falling through the cracks. There are a great number of schools in the US whose sole purpose is preparing children for prison, and making sure they get there as soon as possible.

                • UWIR

                  I don’t think that people are saying that public schools ensure that kids don’t fall through the cracks, just that homeschooling is a realllly big crack that we should be paying attention to.

                • kanawah

                  Depends on the school system.

                • fiona64

                  There are a great number of schools in the US whose sole purpose is
                  preparing children for prison, and making sure they get there as soon as
                  possible.

                  Citation needed. Thanks in advance.

                • CottonBlimp

                  “Citation needed” isn’t a catch-all retort, you tedious boob. You have to, at the very least, specify which component fact of a statement you find suspicious. Since I have no idea what the fuck you want me to cite, I’ll just share this:

                  “Yet the most striking impact of school police officers so far, critics say, has been a surge in arrests or misdemeanor charges for essentially nonviolent behavior — including scuffles, truancy and cursing at teachers — that sends children into the criminal courts.

                  “There is no evidence that placing officers in the schools improves safety,” said Denise C. Gottfredson, a criminologist at the University of Maryland who is an expert in school violence. “And it increases the number of minor behavior problems that are referred to the police, pushing kids into the criminal system.”

                  Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of students are arrested or given criminal citations at schools each year. A large share are sent to court for relatively minor offenses, with black and Hispanic students and those with disabilities disproportionately affected, according torecent reports from civil rights groups, including the Advancement Project, in Washington, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in New York.

                  Such criminal charges may be most prevalent in Texas, where police officers based in schools write more than 100,000 misdemeanor tickets each year, said Deborah Fowler, the deputy director of Texas Appleseed, a legal advocacy center in Austin. The students seldom get legal aid, she noted, and they may face hundreds of dollars in fines, community service and, in some cases, a lasting record that could affect applications for jobs or the military.”

                  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/education/with-police-in-schools-more-children-in-court.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

                  If you ever find yourself capable of constructing your own sentences, maybe you can attempt to express exactly what your contention is?

                • fiona64

                  I’m sorry. Were you unable to read the part of your post that I quoted, and to which my request for citation obviously referred? Perhaps this is because you were homeschooled.

                  I quite obviously was asking for a citation to back up your assertion that “There are a great number of schools in the US whose sole purpose is preparing children for prison, and making sure they get there as soon as possible,

                  And what you gave me is an article about school-based police officers, which really doesn’t back up your assertion about the “sole purpose” that you state that this “great number of schools” possesses.

                  So, who was being tedious again?

                • CottonBlimp

                  Still you.

                  Until we can read minds, you can’t definitively cite someone’s intentions. You can only document the effects of their actions which are, in this case, ferrying huge numbers of children into the prison system, largely on the basis of their ethnic and class background.

              • D in CO

                As I discovered when I learned about dyslexia through my daughter, about 20% of students, of both genders, are dyslexic. See Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia, for full documentation.

            • Jim Jones

              Many have observed the prevalence of illiteracy in the public.

              They’re. There. Their.

          • Mankoi

            There’s a difference between unschooling and neglect. Unschoolers tent to let children find something they’re interested in, and help and guide the children to learn about that.

            Neglect is a kid coming up and telling you about this cool program they saw about black holes, or biology, or psychology, and doing nothing with that.

            • S

              Of course, but some neglectful, lazy homeschool parents brand their lack of involvement as “unschooling”, even though many unschooling parents are very active in encouraging their children to learn.

              • Mankoi

                That most certainly does happen. I just wished to point out that stating neglect is “also known as” unschooling is a bit of an unfounded cheapshot at actual unschoolers.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                The same things could be said about neglectful, lazy public school parents/teachers.

        • margieR

          It is very rare to have a three or four year-old child who is reading ready. I was reading at four, but most kids do not have the brain functions developed that are required to read until they are six-seven years old.

          My daughter was reading at just before 6. She is 24 and has been an avid reader since she was 6. (Being an early reader is not significantly connected to academic performance in later life.) (One of my degrees from college was in early childhood development.) She is also a high performer in science/math. She has been doing serious research in physics since she was an undergrad, and will have credit on a paper to be published soon. (Is she a “genuis”? nope, (smart yes) but it is the hardwork, passion, and determination that has gotten her so far ahead of her peers.

          • fiona64

            I don’t remember being taught to read, but I could do so at age 4. This rendered me bored stiff in first grade, where my classmates were struggling to sound out “A red ant sits on a tan mat” while I was reading what we then referred to as “chapter books” on my own.

          • Jennifer Starr

            I started reading at three years old–by the time I went to kindergarten I read at the second grade level–the school let me attend the second grade reading class and go to kindergarten for everything else.

          • Hole-y Ireland

            Not having brain function to learn to read until age 6/7????
            In N. Ireland we all learn to read from 4yrs old as standard, with many already starting before primary school.
            Your college degree in early child development sounds duff.
            I accept that being taught wrong information is not unusual, but maybe I assume those commenting on atheist websites have learnt to not believe everything they read?…

    • Buckley

      Agree 100%. As a teacher, I have a really hard time dealing with untrained who think that they can teach, let alone teach all of the complicated subjects that are required to get into and do well in college. I teach history, you know what I’m an expert at…teaching history. let me teach you history and another trained expert teach what they are good at. Home schooling for some of these Fundy Mentals is like if I fly an air plane because i don’t like the airlines and have no experience flying or if I perform surgery on myself because I don’t believe in medicine and hospitals.

      • http://themattscott.com themattscott

        Eh, I see both sides of this argument. I was homeschooled in a religious household for six years before finishing my junior and senior years at a public school (well really, I did one year at the public school and another year doing a joint college/high school program). My parents did an OK job of teaching us, but only three teachers (out of eight that I had) at the public school did what I consider a good job when it came to teaching students. It really wasn’t until college that I began to see teachers (in this case, professors) who really understood pedagogical methodology.

      • Ivy

        How very odd. My kid just must be naturally brilliant at faking his ability to do seventh grade math at age nine, and his advanced test scores as well.
        Since, you know, I can’t teach.

        • davidfGuest

          Anecdotes: the new data. Brought to you by Homeschoolers(tm).

          • Mankoi

            You know, there is a place for anecdotes. And this is it. When someone states that a flaw in homeschooling is the idea that a single parent can teach all subjects, you don’t need research data to point out that’s not the case. If you, and most of the people you know, have any easy way around this inherent flaw, it’s not a very good condemnation of homeschooling.

            It’s kind of like saying “It offends me that atheists hate god.” I have NO data on how many atheists hate god. But I don’t. The ones I know don’t. Never met one who did, actually. That’s not firm data, but it’s enough to point out that the flaw in the reasoning. The assumption that’s being made here is that homeschoolers, as a general group, think they can teach all subjects. There’s no data for that claim either. All it takes is an anecdote to show that the assumption isn’t necessarily true, and needs more evidence itself.

        • Buckley

          This is great, but I have seen it as the exception not the rule. I’m not competent to teach every subject that is required to do well in college (math, science, english, lit, history, etc.), if you are I suggest a call to mensa.

          I just fail to understand why education is the only profession that everyone feels they are competent to practice. I’m sorry, but you just don’t see that in other professions with as much force and regularity as you do with education.

          • D in CO

            Buckley, you misunderstand how most homeschooling parents operate, especially at the high school level. Few of us believe we know enough to teach our kids high-school-level everything. What we do know, and what we think we ARE good at (partly because it’s what we make a career of), is finding the right resources to teach those subjects to the particular children we’ve been given. We aren’t limited, as most teachers are, to the curriculum the school assigns. Instead, we are free to choose from a wide range of resources: a neighbor who’s a biochemist, or a community college writing class, or a computer program, or an online class (at any level), or a textbook, or a real book (or two, or twenty), or a hands-on method, or a co-op class taught by someone who does know their stuff, or a museum program, or a video or audio course such as the Great Courses, or . . . or . . . or. I’ve taken advantage of many of these options in teaching my kids. My current preferred method for my now-senior child is the local community college, where she has currently earned 42 units, with a 4.0, before starting her senior year. And in my children’s enrichment program, with 300 kids ages K-12 (about 80 of whom are 7-12 graders), about 40 students were accepted to the community college as concurrent enrollment students. If my daughter were in school, she would probably be slogging through AP classes, each lasting a year, and in spite of enormous amounts of homework bringing only 50% chance of getting college credit. Instead, she and many of her friends are taking college classes, earning college credits, and doing it in semesters instead of years. This is not because I’m so great at teaching every subject, especially at the high school level, but because I care far more deeply about my daughters’ success than a bureaucratic school system ever could, and I have far more flexibility to provide the education that is best for them – and that’s one of the enormous benefits of homeschooling.

            • Buckley

              Thanks for your well explained response. I still must disagree with the whole premise of home schooling, but I see your points. I have to disclose that I am a secular humanist (atheist if you will) who teaches at a Catholic school. I have never taught in a public school and actually enjoy the freedom that I’ve had teaching in a private school. The religion non-sense has never been an issue for me because I enjoy the environment. I under stand the need for some parents to home school because the environment alternative is no conducive for learning. I also understand that private, non-religious schools are near to non-existent and expensive as hell. My main opposition to home schooling is based on my years in the classroom and dealing with some christian and non-christian home school kids who were not only NOT ready for academia, but they were not ready to have someone not their parent teaching them and expected individual attention. I have had a hand-full though who were excellent free thinkers and who were so independent that only a small amount of guidance was necessary from me. Personally I wish I could teach in a private school where I could be more open with what I don’t believe.

    • fiona64

      Yeah, I have to go with that. Unless my math is off, there are 12 children in that home … at least one of whom is illiterate. “Doing their best” is clearly not good enough.

    • Guest

      I fear my niece is intent on crippling her kids..it seems to be a sickness unlike anything I have ever seen.

  • Octoberfurst

    I have very mixed feelings about home-schooling kids. On the one hand I understand why some parents would want to teach their kids at home because they have lousy local schools. But on the other hand I worry about how competent the parents are to teach their kids about math, history, science, etc. A number of years ago I was at my High school reunion and ran into an old class-mate. His wife told me that she was home-schooling their kids and after conversing with her for awhile I realized that, although she was quite nice, she was as dumb as a bag of rocks! (FYI–she was also a creationist!) I couldn’t imagine what kind of education her kids were getting.

    I firmly believe that kids who are home-schooled should be regularly tested by the State to see how competent they are in the basics. If they aren’t they should be ordered to go to public school for their own sake.

    • Hat Stealer

      I feel about homeschooling the same way I feel about guns. I’m not anti-gun. I think it’s reasonable for people to want pistols or shotguns or hunting rifles for self defense or for sport. What I am is anti-letting-crazy-people-do-whatever-they-want. That goes for homeschooling too. I’m fine if parents want to teach their children themselves, but to take away all accountability and standards in the process, letting the parents teach nothing at al? I’m as against that as I am against letting civilians buy machine guns.

    • Mankoi

      The problem with regular testing is… well look at how well standardized testing works for regular schools. It forces educators to teach to a test, and forces homeschoolers to teach to the standard conventions.

      I’m not saying people shouldn’t be competent in the basics, but I do think our idea of what that means is very narrow. I mentioned before, we tend to see knowing the alphabet as part of the basics for young children. While knowing the letters is important, sure, the arbitrary order we stick them in isn’t actually that important for a child to know before they can read.

      Maybe a fair test, that allowed for educators to teach without tying their hands as to education style or method could be made. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But I’m very confident that it won’t be made. If we force standardize tests, we’ll wind up forcing conformity to a system that doesn’t work for everyone.

      • jferris

        “It forces educators to teach to a test…” Fail. I have been in those environments, I have TAUGHT in those environments (public and military). A good teacher/instructor can teach through application, not rote, and get people to pass the test. You FAIL as a teacher/instructor if you do not have the skills to look at a problem and come up with a real-world/real-life application of it. Regardless of subject, to claim that it cannot be taught any way other than rote learning should immediately disqualify you as a teacher. Knowing the mechanics of how to solve the problem does not demonstrate intelligence. Knowing WHEN and WHY to apply the mechanics does.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          True, but the incentives are for teaching to the test. Your comment highlights why public education is a failure, and necessarily so.

        • Mankoi

          I think you and I have different meaning of teaching to a test. Regardless of what real life application you pull out for teaching to a test, you’re teaching the material that you’re teaching because it’s going to be on a standardized test later.

          What if, for example, the homeschooling test says children at X age should know Y and Z about the civil war? Well then you have to teach them about the civil war at that specific time or before. Should people learn about the civil war? Sure, it’s important. But it could be that, at the time of the test, the kid has taken an interest in WWI due to, say, a visit to a local museum. What do you do? Tell them they can’t learn about that war, because they have to learn this one instead? Ditch another subject to teach both? Teach more than the child can handle to deal with teaching both and not suffering somewhere else? And that’s just American history. Say an American kid takes an interest in European history, or Middle Eastern history, or other important historical learning that they might not get at all in a public school. That doesn’t happen when you have to teach test material.

          When a kid is interested in something, that’s an opportunity you can grab and run with. It encourages learning for the sake of learning. It makes education a positive thing, not a chore. The civil war will always be there later. It’s not like it’s more basic a war because it happened earlier. And, if someone learns about history in a way that’s genuinely interesting, instead of forced, they might be excited to learn more, about other wars or historical events, later on.

          That’s what you loose in a standardized test. There’s someone arbitrarily deciding that this is the material you have to learn at this time.

          • Grotoff

            It’s on the standardized test because they need to know it. How hard is that to understand? If the test is asking the wrong questions, like harping on extraneous detail, then change the test. Don’t pretend that we shouldn’t test and hold people accountable.

            If homeschool allows the kid to learn more than the minimum, as it did for me, then I’m all for it. I was tested periodically throughout my homeschooling. It was clearly the best thing for me.

            • Mankoi

              Yeah, maybe it’s something they need to know, but do they have to know it at that specific time?

              Say you do need to know about the civil war. Because that’s the example I’m already using. Maybe, in reality, you don’t. That’s not the point. Let’s just say that, yeah, basic understanding of the civil war is on the need to know list. Let’s also say the issue of what you do and don’t need to know is cut and dry.

              Why do you need to know it at, say, age 12? What if your history at age 12 revolved around World War One, which is also something on the Need To Know list, but is on the test for age 15 instead of age 12. And, because of that, your Civil War education will get pushed back a year. You still learn everything you need to know… but you fail that age 12 standardized test. Because it was arbitrarily decided that you had to learn about one first, and the other second.

              That’s a vastly simplified model, sure, but in the real world, the problem still exists. Even if you say that someone has to know X, Y and Z, you have to give an order for them. What if someone knows all about genetics, but not cellular reproduction, and the standardized test has reproduction, and no genetics? Or vice-versa? You can’t test everything, or else you’d be expecting someone to be an expert on everything on their first test, instead of showing progress over time. You impose a standardized order that stifles the desire to learn.

              We talk a lot about how to get kids interested in science. You know how I got interested in science? Black holes. I thought black holes were amazing when I was a kid. Now that I’m adult, I think black holes… are even more amazing than I did when I was a kid. So I learned about physics. Not the Newtonian stuff I would have been taught, sure, but when I was older, I realised that understanding Newton was essential for understanding the stuff I enjoyed, and I wanted to learn the kind of stuff that you have to drill through most kid’s heads. I learned how stars were formed, and that made me want to know more about the fusing of elements, so I learned about chemistry, and that was cool too. By the time I got to biology 101 in my community college class, I was bored to death for the first entire week, because it was all basic chemistry I learned years ago.

              You don’t get to do that when you have to teach to a test. Is every kid going to learn this way? Hell no. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I’m not saying there can’t be any oversight either, but standardized tests? No.

              Also, the idea of what is or isn’t necessary to learn is pretty questionable. The schools in my area are, apparently, not as concerned with teaching critical thinking. When I got to proper university, I had a psychology instructor who everyone hated, because his test questions required critical thinking. You had to look at experiments and think about the flaws and benefits of them, and what they really told you. People dropped like flies because they were totally unprepared to think critically. It’s possibly the most important skill you can teach someone, but it’s hard to test for, so it’s not on standardized tests. So it doesn’t get taught. Schools generally think people need to know American history. My state requires a level of education in the state history, even though the state has very little significant history. Nothing anyone else would teach. Why do kids need to know it? Why do kids need to know so little about American Indians, but so much about traditional American history? Why don’t they need informal logic? Who is deciding what does and does not need to be taught, and on what basis? My god, aren’t we supposed to be skeptics? (Yes, I appreciate the irony of that sentence.) “It’s on the test because you need to know it” is dogma. Even if you have a reason why I need to know it, why now, and not later? Why don’t I need to learn this now, and not later? Forcing a kid to stop learning what they have a passion for, and start drudging through something else, because the test dictates they don’t need to know what they’re learning yet is madness. At least a kid who is taught nothing and ignored my try to learn on his own. A child who is taught that learning is hateful and dull never will.

              • Grotoff

                Well, for one thing the educational system was originally designed to create sufficiently educated workers for the economy. That isn’t exactly its purpose anymore, but you can see why they would use a factory method to deliver those workers.

                To the point, aren’t you arguing a question of process? That we should test according to topic and without regard to particular time-linear formulas? But if we are a throwing out the old formulas, we must provide a new rationalization for a new formula. To produce educated voters, citizens must know X, Y, Z. To develop an economy in the coming robot age, students must be proficient in X, Y, Z.

                Remember, society is paying for this. Collective society has the ultimate say in the purpose. I would agree that politics poisons this process, but that’s the nature of negotiating compromises between people who disagree. We need to know that students are learning. We need some sort of test/s in order to verify. That’s just the way it has to be.

                • Mankoi

                  Process is part of it, but a simplified part of it. To beat the civil war example to death, what’s more important to teach? The war? What lead to it? What it caused? The generals? The battles? The politics? The constitutional ramifications? The human cost? Potential alternatives? And that’s just for one subject.

                  I think there are some things too important for collective society. Gay marriage is one, church/state separation is one, and I think education is one. Society, collectively, doesn’t place much importance on science. They place just about none on art. So why do we bemoan the lack of art programs? If society is so concerned about education, the public schools the majority of students go to should be the primary concern. Frankly, the fact that homeschooling has little oversight is a shield to neglect by some, but a boon to others, because their education isn’t destroyed by horrible policies.

                  When society dictates what we should be learning, we get normalized. We need people who think outside those bounds. We need people with broader ways of thinking, we need people who aren’t told, from childhood onward, that things are the way society says they are. We need people who will question that norm. We need skeptics.

                  I don’t have any trouble saying that I do have a personal stake in this. If my instruction had been bound to a test, it would have suffered for it, and I got a very good education. I didn’t just learn facts, I learned to think.

                  You say that need for tests is just the way it has to be. I don’t buy it. I think making a test automatically oversimplifies a complex process, and forces educational conformity. The line between acceptable deviations from the norm in education, and unacceptable? It’s not as clear as I think we’d all like it to be. I would love to live in a world where you could just make up a test and that would work. We don’t. That’s the way it is. It’s a simple solution to a complicated problem, and it’s just not good enough. Hell, standardized tests are a bad solution for public schools as well. Trying to meet an arbitrary test crippled our educational system. To think we’d actually come up with a better one for homeschoolers is unrealistic. It’s not just a simple solution, it’s simplistic. Simplistic solutions cause more problems than they solve.

                  I know I’m biased here. There’s a reason for that. Testing like that would have destroyed my education, and the education of people I care about. As it is, our educations were fantastic successes. Yes, it’s an anecdote, but, well, so is the newspaper story. It’s hardly hard data. Even the original post says we don’t have any data. So, yeah, I see stories like this sometimes, and it’s terrible. But I also think back to when I was 16 years old, tutoring college students in their 20s because they could barely write a coherent sentence. When I remember that, I’m not willing, for one second, to destroy the foundations of the education that helped me get to where I am. Until I see good reason to think that homeschooling does more harm than good where it stands, I’m not willing to sink the rest of us.

                  Ultimately, I value the freedom in my education more than anything else in the world, because it gave me the skills to think. That’s what has allowed me my successes so far. That is what has allowed me to grow as a person in the way I have. I like who I’ve become as a result, and I like the freedom I have in the way I think, and that’s going to aid me for the rest of my life. So, if I seem protective of homeschooling freedom… it’s because you’re damn right I am.

                • Grotoff

                  We need to make sure that people understand basic facts about the world. If we are going to entrust the people with a democracy, then we need to ensure that they are up to it. Freedom in education is wonderful, particularly for pursuing education outside of a formal sphere. But there are some topics that must be understood by everyone and it is the DUTY of a democratic state to make sure of that. Sometimes, conformity is exactly what we need.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I you want factory/robot workers, by all means use factory/robot education. But some people don’t want their children to be factory/robot workers.

                  “Society” can do whatever it wants. Just don’t force those who don’t agree to go along with it and pay for it.

      • UWIR

        “It forces educators to teach to a test, and forces homeschoolers to teach to the standard conventions.”

        Teaching the standard conventions is the whole point. That’s an integral part of education.

        • Mankoi

          Go ahead and see my reply to meh’s response, just under this.

    • D in CO

      There are several problems with that approach. 1) Who decides what the standards are for testing? If you think there’s a consensus on what should be taught in which grade, you’re wrong (although there currently are those who are trying to impose their own decisions on the rest of the country via the Common Core). And what people think should be taught changes from decade to decade and even from year to year. 2) Are those tests really all that great? I’ve done a lot of reading about the tests, and most people whose kids take them in public school are finding they are unreliable. Computer scoring and the hiring of young, relatively inexperienced graders mean that the results of these tests are poor even for the kids they are meant to test. 3) How well do the kids in public schools do on the tests? If you’re going to require a homeschooler to put their student in public school, the school has to be doing better than the homeschool is. They tried that in Colorado, and discovered that in the worst school in the state, the students averaged only in the 13th percentile. That means if the state required homeschoolers to go to public school if they scored below the 50th percentile (which is what CO tried to do), you could have a student in the 48th percentile be required to attend that school, and their scores could actually go down. 4) How do you deal with students with learning disabilities? My younger daughter is dyslexic (I talk about it above). In spite of my faulty teacher training telling me dyslexia didn’t exist, I discovered it 4 years ago, researched it, bought what I believe is the best resource on the market, and have since mostly remediated it (her reading speed is still a bit slow, but she is reading well and continuing to improve). My daughter took those tests you’re talking about. They would have forced me to put her in school, where in my state they still don’t believe in dyslexia, and won’t invest the money in the remedial program my daughter needed. She would be behind, she would feel stupid, and instead of considering a career in math or science as she is today, she would be thinking of herself as a loser. Fortunately CO has an alternative, and today my daughter is bright and confident, reading madly this summer, and facing a positive future. Sorry, I just can’t agree with your “solution.”

  • Mankoi

    The problem would be finding regulations that actually work. I cannot stress enough that homeschooling isn’t just doing school at home. It doesn’t just reflect a lack of faith in the schools curriculum, but their methods.

    Some of the absolute smartest people I know were unschoolers. They didn’t have formal lesson plans, they didn’t have much in the way of curriculum, they didn’t know what they were going to do from day to day. It doesn’t work for everyone, some people need more structure. For some people though, it’s fantastic. Learning isn’t a chore, or a task, it’s intrinsically motivated, and done for it’s own sake. Maybe you see a cool program about trebuchets on NOVA and decide to build a scale model. Of course, to do that you need to know things about woodwork, and algebra, and all kinds of other skills and information.

    I didn’t grow up as an unschooler, and I don’t think I could have. But, I have no doubt that, if done right, it can be insanely powerful.

    I also know that it wouldn’t be easily legislated. Some unschoolers don’t learn the alphabet until after they can read and write, because until they have to look up a word, or find something in an alphabetized list, it’s pretty useless. It’s an educational style that doesn’t necessarily teach the “right” things in the right order, and that freaks a lot of people out.

    Our cultural views of progress in education are so narrow and limited, I frankly don’t trust regulations on homeschooling.

    • http://www.theartolater.com/ Jeff

      Your fourth paragraph is exactly the problem with “standards” in education which assume a one-size-fits-all situation when it comes to children being able to learn, and why we’re hoping to homeschool our child.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        Yes, “standards” have nothing to do with education, they are all about control.

        • RobMcCune

          Yes, quality control.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            Ha! Any business that had the quality control issues of public education would be bankrupt. And that’s based on pathetic standards that they set themselves!

            Oh, wait. The public school system is bankrupt. That’s why they keep asking for more and more money to overcome their past failures. Businessmen know how to cut their losses, but not the public school system. We can never do enough, “for the children” of course. The public school system is a racket.

            • Tom

              Read this, then hopefully you’ll realise just how much blithering, ignorant, not to mention unoriginal nonsense you just wrote.

              http://www.bctf.ca/publications/NewsmagArticle.aspx?id=9872

              The public school system is neither a racket, nor even a business, the reason being both rackets and businesses are supposed to make a profit. Public schools were never designed to do that. They are a service. Weirdly, one seldom hears cries to have the fire department or armed forces turn a profit with anything like the frequency that the demand is made of schools.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                But Spuddie keeps saying that life is all about “earning potential” and “net worth”. Are you saying he is wrong?

                Seriously though, that article just highlights the futility of public education.

    • UWIR

      You seem to be equivocating between “the alphabet” and “alphabetical order”. If you don’t know the alphabet, then you can’t read. Are there standardized tests that test whether a student knows alphabetical order?

      • Mankoi

        Honestly, I don’t know. I take the example from a friend of mine who had this issue when trying to get help for her autistic child, and being terrified she’d be reported to social services when they found out he didn’t know the alphabet song. It’s just an example anyway. If you prefer another, there might be a standardized test on the civil war, which a kid may reach later as a homeschooler, due to spending more time on American Indian culture than a public school would, or the like.

  • geralynmott

    i’m sorry – i know some people online who are home schooling, but in my considerate opinion, the only ‘home schooling’ that should be going on is if one or both of the parents have degrees in education.
    think of the things the kids AREN’T getting … and how ill-prepared they will be for the REAL world. Not to mention the social ramifications … i mean, i was miserable in high school, but that taught me how to get along with people i despise and resolve arguments (or start them!) and work out my own problems. home schooled kids won’t get any of that. i worry for them.

    • Mankoi

      Neither of my parents had degrees in education. … I’m doing pretty well for myself. I had my own group of friends. They were other homeschoolers, and I’ve tended to get along with people pretty well. I can make connections well enough, and I also know how to deal with people I don’t like when I have to. The real world is treating me well enough, I did fantastically in college, and I’m pretty happy with things. And most of my homeschooling friends are doing well too.

      Homeschoolers do learn social skills, we can get good educations without degree holding parents, and we’re pretty well prepared for the real world. Don’t worry, we’re doing fine.

      • The Other Weirdo

        We? So, you speak for all home-schoolers, everywhere, from every demographic, then?

        • Mankoi

          No, but I was replying to some fairly broad generalizations about homeschoolers being socialized, lacking in life skills, etc. So, to clarify, that isn’t a given. Just because someone is homeschooled doesn’t mean any of that is true in the slightest. For my small group of secular homeschoolers in the midwest, we did very well.

          Worrying someone is unsocialized or unprepared for life just because their homeschooled? Probably not necessary.

          • Guest

            In my experience, your experience is not the norm, but rather the exception for most home schooled kids I’ve come across.

            • Mankoi

              And in my experience, your experience is not about the norm.

              Homeschooling is very broad, very diverse. Not everyone turns out great, same as a regular school, sure. The problem here is how to create restrictions that aren’t too… well restrictive. The point of homeschooling done right is that the education style suits the learner. By standardizing it, you’ve destroyed the point.

          • Tainda

            I think a secular homeschooling is a bit different in the social aspect. A lot of religious people don’t want their kids hanging with anyone that doesn’t go to their little church so when they are home schooled it’s even worse.

            • Mankoi

              That sometimes happen. I do wish to clarify that when I say “secular homeschoolers” the group I was part of was secular, many of the members were religious. They just didn’t teach religion. Although I think we did have a higher than average number of atheists and non-believers.

          • The Other Weirdo

            Go read “Love Joy Feminism” blog.

    • Tom

      I have my own opinions about the social ramifications – I can’t help but feel that we damage our children by having them interact almost exclusively with other children, with minimal adult oversight, during their development. It always struck me as utterly perverse that we expect kids to learn how to function in a civilised adult society by interacting with other kids, especially when it’s with great big minimally-supervised mobs of other kids to the point where a definite playground subculture, completely untethered to and largely ignored by the adult world, comes to exist. This subculture can and does destroy schools outright; if it gets bad enough, the staff lose what little control they have and the only way to regain it is, in some cases, to literally shut down the school and disperse the kids to other schools with a more manageable playground culture, in order to break up the toxic subculture that’s formed.

      I’ve known grown people who behave in their adult life exactly as if they were still kids on a playground, with all the half-baked idiot social mores that involves, up to and including solving interpersonal disputes with nothing more than threats and aggression and instinctive contempt for those who cooperate with, invoke, or simply respect such trifles as authority, responsibility, fairness or rule of law. It’s not pretty and it’s a nightmare to try to deal with such people, and I’m sure that our assumption that it is perfectly right and natural for kids to grow up in a bubble filled only with other kids is a big cause of this. I’d *really* like to see some research papers on just how valid that idea really is.

      If your high school experience taught you the interpersonal skills you need to deal with your adult life, and you don’t think those skills could be learned elsewhere, but you were also miserable there, then I suspect it may be less that high school taught you skills for dealing with adult society and more that too many of your supposedly adult peers are thinking and acting like they’re still in high school.

      Note that this isn’t necessarily an argument in favour of home schooling; it could equally be made in favour of figuring out a better school system.

  • meh.

    This happened to a cousin of mine. It was all hush-hush in the family when I was younger and I only found out about last year (I’m now in my 30s and my cousin is in his late twenties). He was home-schooled for a few years in his early teens but fought to go to school. His parents would only let him attend school if he swore up and down he accepted Christ/Jesus/whatever. He did so, only so that he could attend public school. He was emancipated at 17 and left high school, moved out on his own, got his GED, and is now a very successful atheist and one of the most intelligent people I know. I still get chills every time I think about his personal journey.

  • The Inconsistent Atheist

    “By the time he was 16, he had never written an essay. He didn’t know South Africa was a country. He couldn’t solve basic algebra problems.”

    How is this different from many public high school graduates? And why are those skills/knowledge important anyway? Outside of school, I have never needed to write an essay or know that South Africa is a country. I have had to solve basic algebra problems for my job, but many people do not.

    “public schools let plenty of students through the cracks, too….but at least we can identify those students and try to rectify the situation.”

    Can anyone say Rachel Jeantel? The public school system is itself a big crack.

    I know Hemant is biased since he is a teacher himself, but why can’t others see the folly of “free” public education (which is more expensive and less effective than private education)? Public schools have nothing to do with education and everything to do with control.

    America wouldn’t be here if forced public schooling/regulation of education had been in place hundreds of years ago. Many of the Founders were homeschooled. Abraham Lincoln was homeschooled, so I guess a case could be made against homeschooling because of how he turned out.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Education isn’t always about the practical things you will use for your job. if it were, we might as well just leave it up to the corporations to educate the corporate towns with enough knowledge to let them do their basic jobs and nothing else. You may not have to write essays, but if you don’t even know how, you’re poorer for it, and poorer still because you don’t realize it.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        “Education isn’t always about the practical things you will use for your job.”

        Exactly. Education is primarily about instilling a worldview (aka indoctrination). There is no reason for the government to be involved with that.

        • Jim

          The government has an interest is make sure that a population is basically literate (able to read and write), as well as having some ability with math and some knowledge of science. Such people are more likely to obtain and keep employment and less likely to end up on government welfare programs.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            Why not just eliminate the government welfare programs?

            • Parse

              By that logic, removing seat belts and airbags will prevent car crashes.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                What kind of logic are you using?

                • Spuddie

                  Yours.

            • Spuddie

              Because then all those undereducated homeschoolers will starve to death.

        • RobMcCune

          Actually good education exposes people to multiple worldviews. Authoritarians believe in your definition.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            You mean like Hemant Mehta, “The Friendly Atheist”? He wants to dictate what everybody can and can’t learn in school.

            • RobMcCune

              I’m fairly sure his ambitions are modest and confined to the scope of the entire nation. ;) Adults need certain skills to function in our society, why is it unreasonable to ask parents to impart those skills to their children if they choose to take full responsibility for the child’s education? Why should parents be able to neglect their children in this way?

        • aaa

          “Education is primarily about instilling a worldview (aka indoctrination)”

          In other words, nothing like religion, right?

        • UWIR

          Instilling a worldview is quite different from indoctrination, and when someone says that they are the same thing, that’s a good clue that perhaps they hold a worldview that can be instilled only through indoctrination. You really don’t understand the proper function of government if you think it should not be involved in fostering a common culture. They shouldn’t be dictating culture, but they should be involved.

        • The Other Weirdo

          And religious education isn’t? You really don’t get this education doohickey, do you? You can cherry-pick my response as much as you like, but it still doesn’t say what you so desperate want to read into it.

    • Richard Tingley

      I write essays all the time. We call them emails. Judging by some of the email I receive, it is obvious that many other people are in the same boat as Josh.

      • The Other Weirdo

        …essays…

        • Richard Tingley

          Fixed.

    • Bdole

      Most if not all of the Founders were homeschooled.

      Yeah, well when the Powells start churning out prose comparable to the DOI or the Federalist Papers, we’ll reassess. And seriously, you don’t have a problem with this part:

      Most of all, he worries about his siblings: There are 11. One, old enough to be well into middle school, can’t read, Josh Powell said.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        Are you that ignorant of the state of the public school system? Many high school “graduates” cannot read.

        • Beth

          Many? Care to site that source?

        • Bdole

          Did you go to a public school? I did.
          Clearly, his public-schooled peers were getting a better education:

          He didn’t know exactly what students were learning at Buckingham County High School, in rural central Virginia, but he had the sense that he was missing something fundamental.

          Not ALL public schools are the same. This one, I bet, would’ve taught his sibling to read by middle-school.

        • Bdole

          I’m sure this PS would’ve taught his sibling to read. Especially since the educational gap between Powell and his PS peers was noticeable even to Powell, himself.

    • Spuddie

      This different in that the teachers in public schools are at least answerable to the state when it comes to standards and what is supposed to be taught.

      If a public school produces inadequate students, one has to blame the government at a local level for either not adhering to standards or failing to provide adequate resources to do the job. In VA, homeschooling parents are evidently under no oversight whatsoever. Nothing good ever comes from a lack of oversight, where oversight appears necessary.

      Americans would have had a much better educated populace had compulsory education been in place hundreds of years ago. Illiteracy is almost wiped out in this nation due to such things. Compulsory education is what eventually wiped out widespread child industrial labor.

      The Founders were mostly range from the (very small at the time) middle class to near aristocratic wealth. Home schooled and tutored are not the same thing. They could afford to hire quality personal teachers. Abraham Lincoln was not homeschooled either, he was self-educated. There is a big difference between the two.

    • The Captain

      Oh joy, where to even begin….?

      “and why are those skills/knowledge important anyway? Outside of school, I have never needed to write an essay or know that South Africa is a country.” ….Well lets see… The South African sales office called, they would like you to put together a client proposal detailing the scope of the work, why we should be the vender to fill that role and transportation cost. There, both in one shot.

      “Public schools have nothing to do with education and everything to do with control.” yea… and even if true, home schooling is not about “control”?! It seems home schooling is more about “control” than anything public schools have ever done.

      • SJH

        Controlling the education of your own children is quite different than a person feeling that they have a right to control the education of someone else’s kid through legislation.

        • The Other Weirdo

          Which is what religious people who are elected to school boards do, isn’t it?

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          Exactly. Hemant Mehta is a control freak.

          • baal

            How so? Were I in charge, I might have banned you a while back for being intentionally misleading.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        “The South African sales office called, they would like you to put
        together a client proposal detailing the scope of the work, why we
        should be the vender to fill that role and transportation cost. There,
        both in one shot.”

        What a contrived example! There is no reason that someone would need to know that South Africa is a country to fulfill this request, and if a vendor wrote me an school-type essay for such a request, I wouldn’t even read it.

        I’m not saying that it is not helpful for some people to know how to write essays or know that South Africa is a country, but 99% do not. And even for those who do need to know, there is no reason they have to learn those things in school.

        • Len

          A contrived example to nicely illustrate a point (hint: that’s the idea).

          In the real world, knowing what (and probably also where) South Africa is would likely mean a lot towards successfully fulfilling this request. Obviously a school-type essay wouldn’t cut it. But how you prepare to write a school-type essay would give you a start in deciding how to arrange your thoughts, the topics to cover, the audience you’re addressing, finding and emphasising the important points (from the reader’s point of view, not necessarily your company’s point of view).

          Or you can just keep on saying “Do you want fries with that?” for the rest of your working life (with apologies to anyone who actually has to do that).

          **EDIT**: You don’t have to go to school to learn how to do this, but it helps (or at least, it should).

        • The Captain

          “There is no reason that someone would need to know that South Africa is a country to fulfill this request, and if a vendor wrote me an school-type essay for such a request, I wouldn’t even read it” Congrats, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen on the internet in a week, and I’m on the Playstation network.

          Yea sure, why would you need to know that South Africa is a country when putting together a proposal for a client? I mean you sure you could just tailor the specifics of the proposal for any old place right? So put together a list of how you can help the South African client (which you don’t know is a country) prepare their business for coming challenges faced in Egypt or somthing????

          Also I don’t know what you think a “school-type essay” is, but I assure you mine where more complex and researched than many client proposals we make now. But then again you don’t think basic geography is important so perhaps your standards are really just that low.

    • Makoto

      Basic schooling is there to give you basic skills in a variety of areas – from art to0 music to math to science to gym to literature. It’s there to give you a base to work from, to help figure out where to go.

      Sure, you personally might not need more than algebra, or never need to write an essay. You aren’t a writer, nor are you a physics programmer, I would guess. Other people do grow up to be those things, and having that basis helps them figure that out, and helps them grow into the people they want to be.

      • SJH

        Public schools does a terrible job of teaching those basic skills and an even worse job at teaching kids how to think for yourself. They teach you how to memorize. They teach you how to think within a box. They teach you important facts that the kid forgets a week later. Unfortunately because the government gets involved in private schooling with the certification process, the private schools are following the same downward slope into bad education. Hopefully, as I said previously, we can find a way to insure that home-schooled kids don’t slip through the cracks but also keep the government out of the process.

        • Spuddie

          Waitaminute!, the whole point of homeschooling for religious reasons is to teach your kid to think within a box. A very narrow box. One which doesn’t allow for much in terms of reflection, reasoning, or personal opinion.

          People who teach religious dogma have zero problem with repetition and memorization. Less so than any given public school teacher.

          • SJH

            I think that is a generalization you are making based on your perception of Christian parents.

            • Spuddie

              Its a very well founded one.

              You have a large percentage of that group are homeschooling simply because they want to deny scientific principles accepted more than a century ago.
              You have religious education which consists of largely memorizing bible quotes and recitation,

              This does little to assure people they are trying to teach people to “think outside the box”.

        • Makoto

          So, you want regulation.. without gov’t involvement? I’m not sure how you think that can work. Sure, there are industries where it sort of does – say the MPAA for movies. Self regulated for fear that the gov’t would step in and do it for them, or the comic book industry, same deal.

          Two problems with this comparison, however – one, most movies (or comics) are released with the blessings of their overseer self-regulation group, intentionally so. Homeschooling does not have such a regulatory body.

          And two, there are still plenty of movies and comics that come out ‘under the radar’ that don’t need to fit into even the self-regulation group’s rules. I don’t mind indie movies not fitting into the G to XXX scale, but I want kids to at least get a minimum education level. They are our future.

          Why are you so afraid of the gov’t being involved in the process?

          • SJH

            Private groups can measure. The market can influence. Peer groups can measure. If we think out side of the box then I’m sure we can figure something out. If its one thing that public schools have taught us is that the only solution is a government solution. The government solution always fits nicely within the box.

            • UWIR

              The market can influence? What, if kids aren’t satisfied with the homeschooling they’re getting, they can shop around for new parents?

            • Stev84

              Yeah, private groups like numerous Christian homeschool lobby groups that have a vested interest in promoting homeschooling. I’m sure they will be super objective.

              There also isn’t much of a market in the American homeschool system. It’s all extremely monolithic and dominated by a few fundamentalist Christian companies.

        • onamission5

          “They teach you important facts that the kid forgets a week later”
          I’d love to see the study which shows that home schooled kids are better at retention of these important facts than publicly schooled kids. Just saying.

        • baal

          “keep the government out of the process.”
          Who the hell would fill in where the government is out to lunch? The local church? A group of neighborhood parents? Would it be a manditory civic duty or just the loudest guy in the room who shouts down every one else? Maybe you vote for who sets the oversight….like locally for say a school board election.

        • The Captain

          “an even worse job at teaching kids how to think for yourself. ” why do I have a feeling that for you “think for yourself” means to agree with you on your own beliefs?

          Funny, the public schooled people I know all have a rich and diverse set of opinions, and viewpoints on all subjects, both from each other and their parents. It’s the homeschooled ones who all seem to have adopted the exact same opinions as their parents. But I guess that’s them somehow thinking for themselves huh?

      • Glasofruix

        US public schools, cuz you know all that tax money is better spent on those shiny tomahawk missiles rather than on education.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Oh look, the angry hypocrite with the huge beam in his eye is saying nonfactual things again. Shocker.

      It’s telling that, having gotten (you think) enough education yourself, you’re fine with other people not getting it, Sociopath for Christ.

    • ZeldasCrown

      Just because a particular failing occurs in one schooling system doesn’t mean that’s it’s therefore ok for it to occur in another. If students can’t read or write, or do basic algebra, then that’s a problem regardless of what system was used to educate. Just because a problem occurs in public school doesn’t excuse it when it also happens in homeschooling-I would argue that we should strive to fix the problems associated with all educational methods (and each has its own positives and negatives).

    • Tom

      Don’t you think it just a bit ironic that you just wrote a multi-paragraph comment carefully explaining why you’ve never needed essay-writing skills?

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        Yes.

  • C Peterson

    Here in Colorado we have an oversight system that exists in theory, but not in practice.

    In my experience (which is fairly wide), home schooling fails more than 90% of the time. Not always as badly as this, but I’ve seen close to it.

    I don’t really see any oversight systems as likely to be effective. The only solution I think is practical is to require that kids be taught and evaluated primarily by credentialed teachers. That means any home schooling would be in addition to required hours at an accredited school.

    • SJH

      90%? Can you back that up? In my experience, home-schooled children are generally much smarter than your average public schooled kid. Obviously anecdotal but I would find it very hard to believe that 90% are failures.

      • C Peterson

        In my school district, it’s a disaster. And from what I’ve read, it’s pretty much a disaster everywhere.

        • SJH

          Your school district is a disaster or home-schooling within the district is a disaster?

          If homeschooling is a disaster, how have you been able to measure that?

          • Spuddie

            % of homeschoolers not going on to higher education comes to mind.

            • paul123454321

              The percentage of homeschoolers going on to college and graduating is higher than the percentage of regular schooled kids.

              http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2012/06/01/home-schooled-teens-ripe-for-college

              • Spuddie

                Its a non-article puff piece. The quoted figure does not come from an objective credible source and the article is mostly the anectdotal story of two homeschoolers.

              • onamission5

                I see this US News article cited all over the place, but it’s not a credible source, it’s an opinion piece constructed from the anecdotes of home school blogs and cited on even more home school blogs like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where is the peer reviewed study that backs up the anecdotes? That I have yet to see.

            • The Inconsistent Atheist

              That’s irrelevant anyway. There are all kinds of reasons why people choose to go or not go on to higher education.

              • Spuddie

                Not being qualified to get being the most common.

                Why have objective measures to justify your position after all? Credibility is so overrated these days.

                • Mankoi

                  Do you have an objective measure for homeschoolers not being qualified to get in?

                  I’m still in touch with my small, anecdotal, homeschooling community. Many of them aren’t considering college because of tuition costs. It doesn’t seem to be worth going into debt for. Obviously this isn’t to say that’s the main reason homeschoolers don’t go on to higher education. But, for all I know, it might be. I put it here simply as a plausible example. If you do have a source for your claim, great. Otherwise, we can just keep pulling out hypotheticals, and plausible, if unconfirmed, examples all day long.

                • Spuddie

                  Well that leaves a big ? as to whether homeschooling is even really effective. Higher education being really the clearest forum where one can compare home schooling to public education.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Well that leaves a big ? as to whether homeschooling is even really effective.”

                  Well, we already know public schooling isn’t effective.

                  “Higher education being really the clearest forum where one can compare home schooling to public education.”

                  But there is no way to compare. There are way too many variables. And what would be the point of comparing anyway? Are you a control freak like Hemant?

                • baal

                  Two groups doing education, let’s measure 1 to show you how bad it is and let’s not measure group 2…that’s too hard.

                  Double standard much?

                • Spuddie

                  “Well, we already know public schooling isn’t effective.”

                  No, you just consider that a foregone conclusion based on nothing in particular besides mudslinging and innuendo.

                  You are far too thickheaded to grasp the notion of the false dichotomy. Whatever complaints you have against public schools is not support of homeschooling.

                  If homeschoolers are less likely to enter higher education then they more limited in their career options and potential earnings. Not exactly proof of the effectiveness of an education system. More importantly they are less likely going to put themselves in a position to be compared with or compete with those educated publicly.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Yes, career options and potential earnings are what life is all about. Funny, they never taught me that in school. But then again, I went to public school, so my education was deficient.

                • RobMcCune

                  Yes, career options and potential earnings are what life is all about.

                  Strawman, on top that false dichotomy, you’re just full of logical fallacies today. Also homeschoolers are denied potential opportunities to learn and understand a great deal of knowledge.

                  Funny, they never taught me that in school. But then again, I went to public school, so my education was deficient.

                  Actually that’s a sign public schools aren’t the indoctrination factories of your fever dream.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Strawman”

                  Spuddie was the one who wants to use such standards to measure the “success” of education. I would agree that such measures are a strawman.

                  The heart of the issue is that we can’t even agree on what constitutes “success”. And there is no reason we need to. Would you want the government determining what constitutes “success” for your career, marriage, friendships, hobbies, thoughts? Why do people want to be enslaved to the government’s measure of “success” in education? I believe in freedom.

                • RobMcCune

                  I believe in freedom and I believe children must not be neglected, and when it comes down to it I believe there is no freedom to neglect.

                • Spuddie

                  Not all of us can be living in poverty in a state of philosophical and spiritual grace. I guess you are just special. =)

                • Mankoi

                  I suppose it does, but that’s not saying much. It could be more effective in the long run, or less. We just don’t have the data. I’d be fully in support of doing research to see how things are working before we start slinging restrictive legislation around. A big ? isn’t enough for me to get behind restricting parents rights, especially when homeschooling (and college) has worked out so well for me and my peers.

                • Spuddie

                  If a large number of homeschoolers are not going to college, it represents a failure for the system.

                  It would mean that for the most part homeschoolers will be statistically earning less, will be more limited in career options and more likely to be a public burden.

                • Mankoi

                  A large number of people aren’t going to college, just in general, because right now it’s debatable how much college is worth it. I got lucky with my education, I had scholarships, subsidized loans, and parents willing to help me with my tuition. When someone tells me that going into debt for a degree that’s less and less likely to help them isn’t worth it? I’m not inclined to disagree with them.

                  Meanwhile, more high school students are getting into colleges they’re not ready for on A+ scholarships that get handed out like candy, inflating the public school numbers.

                  Besides, I thought education was supposed to be about education, not if you go on to more education. What you seem to be saying is, if homeschoolers, hypothetically, did significantly better on average than public schoolers, across the board, but they don’t go to college, then their education was a failure?

                • Beth Clarkson

                  I disagree. If is true that a higher percentage of homeschoolers do not go to college, it would indicate a correlation, not a causal relationship. That is, the choice to homeschool and the choice to go to college may both have the same underlying cause.

                  Consider that many public schools in inner cities have very low rates of students who go on to complete college. Should we consider those schools failures for that reason? It seems to me that the underlying cause is poverty.

                • Spuddie

                  “Consider that many public schools in inner cities have very low rates
                  of students who go on to complete college. Should we consider those
                  schools failures for that reason?”

                  You are mixing cause and effect here. The cause is poverty but the effect is in the rate of students going to college.

                  Average SAT scores are usually used as a benchmark for successful/failing high schools and typically also rate as a sign of average wealth of a community. It is typically a factor in the assessment of residential property values. If you are going to compare parallel education systems, you need to use the same benchmarks. Are the homeschooled students capable of achieving the same or better results than those who are relying on public or private group schooling?

                  If homeschoolers are not going to college in comparison to schooled students in the same communities, socio-economic levels, then one can draw negative inferences about the effectiveness of it.

                • Spuddie

                  ” if homeschoolers, hypothetically, did significantly better on average
                  than public schoolers, across the board, but they don’t go to college,
                  then their education was a failure?”

                  If they are stuck in work which wastes their potential as educated people, then yes. For the most part the work available with just a high school diploma is going to be fairly limited. I would consider trade school to be higher education in this context.

                • Mankoi

                  If that’s the case, surely the solution is to create more opportunities and incentives for homeschoolers to get higher education, and not push them into using a system that, in this hypothetical, is worse? If it even is the case that fewer homeschoolers go into higher education. Which, again, we don’t know.

                  Incidentally, fear of wasting their potential as educated people is the biggest reason I see for people not going to college. The fear, which seems valid at this point in time, that all that work getting the degree will still end in doing work you’re overqualified for and wasting that time, effort, and money.

                • Spuddie

                  For all the money pouring into defending homeschooling by various organizations, there isn’t anything left over for scholarship funds?

                  Not going to college due to lack of means isn’t much of an excuse in this day and age with the large numbers of educational niches available.

                  Frankly the job market dispels much of those fears of wasting a college education awfully fast. The entry level for white collar work is a college degree in the vast majority of professions. If you want to find well paying work, or anything remotely intellectual, its a necessity. Even in professions which don’t require a degree, some college education is necessary for advancement. Most people do not have the luxury of opting out of going on to higher education because they are afraid they will be overqualified.

                  But this is all conjecture because there doesn’t seem to be any reliable information about % of homeschoolers going to higher education. But it is as good a benchmark for effectiveness as one can get.

                • Mankoi

                  If you’re worried about the burden on society, or how successful, wouldn’t a better benchmark be how much they earn? Or, to factor in debts they may have from college, net worth? If we’re going results based, surely looking at the results is a better benchmark than looking at something correlated with results.

                  Also, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but… what are these various organizations you talk about? Where’s this money going? It is, and I don’t mean this in a sarcastic or sarky way, the first I’ve heard of it.

                  Of course, even so, if it’s in the interest of society for homeschoolers to be educated, it’s in their interest to provide incentives, the same way they do for other people.

                • Spuddie

                  By all means. Net worth is as good a benchmark as any. Something to show the homeschoolers level of success in comparison to their in-school counterparts.

                  As for the various organizations, there are many devoted to legal protection, promotion and lobbying on behalf of homeschooling. Many of them are the reason why various states do not want to regulate the activity.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Net worth is what life is all about. Pursue net worth at all costs.” – Spuddie (a paraphrase)

                • Spuddie

                  “Paraphrase” being a euphemism for complete misrepresentation. =)

                  So you really don’t want to give anything which would make your POV remotely credible to anyone not already “in the choir”.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Wow Spuddie. You’re a control freak just like Hemant. You want to make everyone’s decisions for them. Everyone must reach their full potential according to Spuddie because he says so. Spuddie is “god”.

                • Spuddie

                  Wow, you couldn’t act more like fool if you tried!

                  The stats don’t lie, not like you do. People with college degrees earn on average earn several times more than just a HS diploma. The Dept of Labor publishes the stats. You may try to deny them.

                  http://www.cesdp.nmhu.edu/youth-programs/docs/earnings.pdf

                  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm

                  If you were homeschooled, you are not acting as a very good representative of the community. If anything you appear to be an object lesson against it.

                • Mankoi

                  In fairness, those stats are over a decade old. The job market has changed a lot since then, and tuition has only gone up.

                  I don’t agree with Inconsistent Atheist’s remarks in all cases, especially in these… rather more personal matters. But the numbers are old, and don’t take debt from tuition, books, and housing into account.

                • Spuddie

                  There are more current ones available online. I just grabbed the ones which were first ones to come up.

                  http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

                  http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/censusandstatistics/a/collegepays.htm

                • Mankoi

                  That’s fair. I’m still not entirely convinced that earnings is the best way to look at it, especially when calculated as an average. I’d be interested in the median and mode for these numbers as well. But, also, it doesn’t account for debt from student loans, and interest rates. When deciding to go into higher education, it’s a trade off to see if the potential or earn more money offsets the debt, and time taken.

                  And, of course, maybe college is the better idea. Right now, people are filled with a lot of doubt. I hear a lot of people questioning college these days, homeschooled and public schooled.

                • Spuddie

                  Frankly other than business owner and sales work, I can’t think of too many middle class professions which do not require some form of higher education.

                  Btw if you are hung up on the student loan thing, I would consider trade schooling also a form of higher education in this context.

                  If there are large % of homeschoolers going into trades, then it would be a fairly good benchmark that it is effective at least in preparing people for some kind of professional future.

                  As you said, we don’t really know. But seeing where people go to in their adulthood is as close to an objective benchmark as you can get for comparison and evaluation.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Wow, you couldn’t act more like fool if you tried!”

                  Well, I guess that’s the result of a public school education.

                  Spuddie, I know this isn’t an advice column, but here’s a free piece for you. Please don’t get married and have children if you haven’t already. Life is not all about earnings, despite what you seem to think.

                • katiehippie

                  It’s still pretty important. I don’t want to try and live on the wages I would make if I was a high school dropout.

                • Tom

                  “Life is not all about earnings,” says the person who also thinks schools should be run like businesses and bemoans their financial losses. Your thought processes evidently are indeed very inconsistent – unless your only consistent intention here is to just argue with every post on principle, which would make you a troll.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  My comments about running schools as a business and life not being all about earnings and net worth are not at odds with one another.

                  However, I will admit that I’m fond of pointing out the inconsistent views of atheists. If they don’t like it, they should change their views to be consistent.

                  It seems to me that many of the other commenters here are trolls. They post ignorant and inflammatory nonsense, and then get upset with me for responding.

                • Spuddie

                  So this is an admission of your foolishness and an attempt at an excuse? Wow.

                  Actually I would sleep better at night knowing you haven’t passed on your idiocy to the next generation. I guess I may be too late for that. =)

                • mozzie67

                  Here in Australia homeshooling is audited, so there is no testing, but educators come around every 3 months to check the work of the children to make sure they are up to where they are meant to be in the basic subjects like maths, english and science. There is also a lot of help here if the parent is struggling with any subject…trained teachers helping. This seems to work well, and our home-schooled mostly children end up more highly educated than those in publc or private schools.

                • Spuddie

                  This makes sense!

                  The problem in the US is the most vocal supporters of homeschooling and their lobbyists are the ones least likely to be concerned with the academic adequacy of their efforts.

                  Most money and political actions taken on behalf of homeschooling in the US is from religious groups who want to use it as a form of indoctrination rather than education.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  You mean like the 19% illiteracy rate of U.S. public high school graduates? Oh right, I forgot, they need more money.

                • Spuddie

                  You mean the unattributed stat which is largely based on sketchy if not completely unsound methodologies.

                  Do you have a link to the actual study? You certainly didn’t the last time you bandied the figure about.

                  Are you even capable of honest and accurate citation of facts?

                • Hi Father!

                  Pretty sure this is the same person (goddess/godless) who was railing against Hemant for not doing his own studies in his post about the percentages of atheism in prisons.

                • Glasofruix

                  Maybe the lack of money IS a problem?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  You’re right. I have an idea. Let’s have everyone who supports the public school system to voluntary send all the money they want to support it, and everyone else can have their property taxes, etc. in support of public education eliminated so they don’t have to support that immoral system.

                • Glasofruix

                  Well, i live in Belgium, we have a pretty neat public school system, public universities and colleges that cost from 200 to 2000€ a year giving high quality education, pretty much anyone tried at least one major (we had a few US students when i was in college and they had to lower the standards considerably in order for them not to fail), it works wery well thanks to all that tax cash that is flowing in. And if you don’t want to get a degree you can still get a pretty decent training for free (the government spends up to 30k€ per person for a 6 months program, granted you can show you’re worth it). Oh, and socialized healthcare with meds not costing a month of salary (and without employers telling anyone what kind of treatement people can and cannot get). And you know what? Given the benefits i see no reason not to pay my taxes.

                • Glasofruix

                  It also works because we don’t have people like you to undermine curiculums.

                • Latraviata

                  Same here, I am from the netherlands

                • MD

                  I love Belgium. Can’t wait to move back there.

              • RobMcCune

                Could you name some that are more common in homeschoolers?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Not necessarily in this order:

                  1) Higher education is simply a continuation of the propaganda of the public school system.

                  2) Higher education is a racket (just like the public school system). The real beneficiaries of higher education are the tenured professors, administrators, board members, etc., not the students.

                  3) Higher education is not necessary for their chosen career (unlike public school students who blindly go to college even though they have no idea why or what they’re going to do with their life).

                  4) Higher education is too expensive (or not worth it cost/benefit wise).

                  I’m sure there are many others.

                • baal

                  TIA, why do you hate education and learning?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I love education and learning. I am simply against the public school system, which is immoral (not just what is taught, although much of that is immoral, but the very system itself is immoral).

                • Glasofruix

                  What the actual fuck are you talking about?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  To quote Thomas Jefferson, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”

                • Matt D

                  THOMAS JEFFERSON ON EDUCATION:
                  .
                  1782. (Notes on the State of Virginia) “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.”
                  .
                  1786 August 13. (to George Wythe) “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness…Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”
                  .
                  1787 December 20. (to James Madison) “Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to ; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.”

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’m all in favor of education, as was Thomas Jefferson, but there is no reason for it to be funded by taxes or controlled/regulated by the government. Liberty/freedom is hampered by the public school system.

                • Glasofruix

                  I’m amused every time i read one of you idiots gloat about ‘murikan freedom. Is it freedom to die from a toothache, because your health system is so expensive for the little people that they can’t afford a simple extraction? Or is it freedom to get paid just less than the minimum wage so your boss doesn’t have to pay for your healthcare? Or the freedom to get shot by a random dude because he’s free to substitute his dick with a legal gun in the middle of the street? Or is it freedom to get denied a life saving treatement because it’s against your bosse’s (or doctor’s) “deeply held beliefs”? Is it freedom to not be able to get a proper education because schools are run as businesses and are freaking expensive? I have a very long list of those freedoms people are better off without…

                • Matt D

                  And by the way, the quote you’ve provided by Thomas Jefferson is from..
                  .
                  “The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom – Draft”.
                  .
                  If you want to obscure and twist quotes made by our Founding Fathers to suite your obvious agenda, you’ll need to make sure the people you intend to dupe have no internet access, library, or critical thinking skills.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Are you saying that the public school system is not religious? Thanks, you gave me a good laugh.

                • RobMcCune

                  Which religion is it, and how does it teach it?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Secular humanism. By leaving God out.

                  Didn’t you learn that in public school?

                • RobMcCune

                  Religions can’t be defined or taught by the absence of something.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Really?

                • RobMcCune

                  Can you show how the absence of something can be considered a religion based on the definition of religion?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Yes. The following definitions are from Merriam-Webster.com.

                  religion – a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

                  religious – relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity

                  Let me know if you need me to connect the dots for you.

                  See also the definition of secular humanism in my comment above.

                • RobMcCune

                  The definition of religion you cite only actions, beliefs and attitudes, none of these criteria can be met solely by not doing something. Furthermore to be religious these actions, beliefs and attitudes must acknowledge an ultimate reality or deity, this contradicts your complaint that public schools don’t acknowledge an ultimate reality or deity. That inaction does not constitute secular humanism by the very definition you cited. Since schools “leaving god out” was the only way you tried to show schools are teaching a religion, you’ve actually severely undermined your original position by failing to meet criteria that you yourself established.

                • DavidMHart

                  As I’m sure has been pointed out to you before, if you are defining secular humanism as a religion, then you are playing humpty-dumpty with the ordinary meaning of ‘religion’. The ordinary meaning is something like a system of beliefs and practices which asserts the existence of some supoernatural powers or beings, and which aims to communicate with or otherwise placate those powers or beings. That is the sense of religion that public schools are forbidden from promoting. If you are defining religion as any set of beliefs, or the absence of any beliefs, then whatever you are talking about, you are definitely not talking about whatever most people are talking about when they talk about religion.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I’m just going with what the dictionary says. From Merriam-Webster.com:
                  secular humanism – humanistic philosophy viewed as a nontheistic religion antagonistic to traditional religion

                  Actually, it is the secular humanists who are “playing humpty-dumpty with the ordinary meaning of ‘religion’.” You are confusing what the courts have ruled with what the word actually means. If you really are that stubborn about it, substitute “worldview” for “religion”.

                • DavidMHart

                  The great thing about the internet is that everyone can play the game of ‘let’s look it up on an online dictionary and pretend that that’s decisive’.

                  As it happens, Merriam Webster does not actually say that secular humanism is a religion; it says that it is viewed as a religion – viewed, presumably by
                  a) people like you who are determined to accuse everyone else of being as divorced from reality as you are, and
                  b) legal systems, on occasion, when they need to make a legal fiction that secular humanists are a religious group in order to guarantee them the same freedoms that genuinely religious-is-the-normal-sense groups are.
                  If secular humanism is a religion, then so is any ideology or any non-ideology, which would make the word ‘religion’ so broad as to be utterly useless.

                  Certainly it would mean that libertarianism is a religion. You are a libertarian and a Christian – do you really think that you follow two religions?
                  No thanks. The Merriam Webster definition of secular humanism is clearly lying a bit outside the ordinary everyday understanding of ‘religion’. However, the Merriam Webster definition 1 and 2 of religion is pretty close to the normal understanding of the word. Even their definition 4 doesn’t quite fit secular humanism because the definition specifies ‘faith’ – and faith (in the religious sense) is exactly what secular humanists repudiate as a valid reason for believing anything.

                  You get the point. You know full well that the majority of people, the majority of the time, use ‘religion’ to mean not just any worldview, but specifically a worldview that asserts the existence of , and the value of interating with, some sort of supernatural phenomena or beings, and you know full well that that is the sense of ‘religion’ that public schools in the US and not allowed to either promote or discourage. Secular humanism is not religious neutrality – it is a positive commitment to living one’s life on the assumption that no gods exist (which is very different from refusing to take a stance on whether or not any gods exist), and therefore a public school cannot legally promote that any more than it could promote Christianity or Islam.

                • RobMcCune

                  1. Continued paranoia

                  2. What about statistics showing higher salaries for college grads, are they in on the racket too? What about private and religious schools, which are more expensive than state colleges?

                  3. Why do the home schooled have such different career asperations?

                  4. What careers can a person with a high school diploma get that pay comparable salaries to those that require a college degree?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  1. I see the propaganda worked on you.

                  2. I don’t deny that college grads do generally have higher salaries. So what? Oh, I did forget to mention bankers, who are in on the racket.

                  3. There are as many different reasons as there are people. Maybe they aren’t content being cogs in a machine. Many homeschoolers would rather own their own business instead of working for someone else. Some may simply not be as concerned about making a lot of money (as if that’s the ultimate goal in life).

                  4. President/CEO of Microsoft/Apple. But seriously, many skilled laborer jobs pay more than many jobs requiring a college degree (eg. plumber, electrician, etc.).

                • Glasofruix

                  I’m pretty sure “electrician” requires a bit more knowledge than homeschooling can bring…

                • Spuddie

                  Trade school is as much higher education as college.

                  1. Just you venting like a 4 year old being denied candy.

                  2. Claiming there is a racket is not the same as making a coherent, well reasoned argument. Obviously you can’t weaselword your way out the well established fact so you just throw some random shit out there.

                  3. Sounds like sour grapes to me. What you are saying is home schoolers lack the skills and motivation to compete with everyone else in the job market so they have to make do on their own.

                  4. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates went to college, were never homeschooled and both came from wealthy families.Apple and Microsoft were created largely due to efforts of people both of them met in college. Their options were far greater than the overwhelming majority of people without college degrees.

                • Glasofruix

                  You ment that to that idiot, right?

                • Spuddie

                  Oh yes. My bad. =)

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Then you are ignorant of homeschooling.

                • Glasofruix

                  Because your creationnist mom knows so much about ohms and U = Ri….

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Thanks. Would you care to provide more examples of your ignorance of homeschooling?

                • RobMcCune

                  1. I see the propaganda worked on you.

                  Let me get this straight, you think that an adult fearing the contamination of their world view, that have been instilled in them by their schooling and presumably trained them to understand and defend said beliefs, is perfectly reasonable?

                  If their home schooling education will fall apart under exposure to different opinions, maybe it’s not as strong a form of education as you claim.

                • Beth Clarkson

                  I have a Ph.D. Some car salesman and cable customer service reps make more money than I do. Not that I want those jobs, but there are certainly many careers (mostly sales I think) that don’t require a degree that pay as well or better than those that do.

                  While college graduates do make more money on average, I would suspect that because I.Q. correlates strongly with income as well as level of education. While you don’t have to be a college graduate to have a high I.Q., a low I.Q. is sufficient to keep someone from becoming a college graduate. That fact alone may be sufficient to account for the correlation between pay and education level.

                • RobMcCune

                  A college degree is more than an indicator of IQ, it shows that a person is willingness to put time and effort mastering a field of study not to mention that certain degrees show that person has a valuable set of knowledge and skills.

                • Glasofruix

                  3) Higher education is not necessary for their chosen career

                  Huh? HUH? I don’t know about you, but i prefer my doctors with a degree from a recognized establishement.

                • Mankoi

                  So, that reason wouldn’t apply if their chosen career was medical then, that’s all. There are high paying jobs that don’t require a degree. That reason doesn’t apply in every single case, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t ever apply.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  Right, and everyone should be a doctor.

                • Glasofruix

                  There are lots of careers that require a minimal amount of knowledge and training, most of that knowledge is unattainable without proper education.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  I don’t have a problem with people being educated. That’s why I’m so against public schooling.

          • C Peterson

            The school district is no more a disaster than most. :)

            I assess it by personal experience. I know dozens of homeschooled kids, and virtually all have serious educational deficiencies, as well as social deficiencies. As an educator, I pay close attention to literature on the subject, and I think the evidence strongly supports what I’ve observed firsthand.

            The worst resources are the pro home schooling organizations and websites, which are about as useful in that area as big oil websites for learning about global warming.

            • The Inconsistent Atheist

              The only websites worse than the big oil websites for learning about global warming are the global warming cultists’ websites.

              • RobMcCune

                Global warming cultists are a myth.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  You mean like global warming?

                  I thought most of the people on this site were skeptical.

                • C Peterson

                  I thought most of the people on this site were skeptical.

                  An important aspect of skepticism is the evaluation of evidence, and recognizing ideas that are well supported, and can largely be treated as facts, from those that are not well supported.

                • moose

                  Perhaps you ought to take your own advice and start exploring the philosophies behind alternatives to institutional schooling. You don’t have to agree with them, but maybe you’ll learn something–including how the “evidence” that institutional schooling is the be-all and end-all in education isn’t quite as solid as you seem to think

                • C Peterson

                  I consider myself very well educated about a variety of educational modalities.

                • RobMcCune

                  We are, we’re skeptical that decreasing the amount heat the earth radiates into space will defy the laws of thermodynamics and not increase the temperature of the earth’s surface. Extraordinary evidence required to prove that has not been provided.

                • Tom

                  There’s skepticism, and then there’s denial. You’re not a skeptic.

            • D in CO

              C Peterson, anecdotal evidence is fine, but I still have no idea where you’re getting the 90% data. I work in a homeschooling enrichment program in Colorado. We have over 300 students in our program, and I’ve been connected as a sub with several other related programs. Of the 300 kids in our program and all the kids in the other programs as well, I’d estimate less than 3% of them have “serious educational deficiencies,” or social deficiencies either. Our program hires certified teachers to work one day a week with these kids, and I’d frankly be surprised if these teachers have concerns about even 9 of them. Sure, there are a few; I’d guess those are the kids who have significant learning disabilities or other disabilities such as Asperger’s. In our program of over 300 kids K-12, about 80 of the kids are grades 7-12; at least 40 of those have been accepted for concurrent enrollment in our local community college based on their Accuplacer, ACT, or SAT scores (and remember a good number of those 80 kids are in grades 7 and 8). I know literally HUNDREDS of homeschoolers, and I simply don’t see the “disaster” you’re talking about. I would love to know where you get your evidence for anything remotely close to 90%.

              • C Peterson

                I don’t know of any kids in our district working with organizations providing actual teachers. Most are either winging it, or buying curriculum, which for the most part isn’t worth much because the parents simply don’t know how to teach. In addition, by the end of the first year, most kids are getting no more than a few hours a week of structured education.

                The 90% number was just me being generous. In fact, I don’t know of a single example where the kids aren’t either socially or academically stunted, often both.

                Home schooling is a huge disservice to most kids. It should not be allowed. The single best predictor of long term academic success is parental involvement. Students in even very poor public school environments tend to excel when their parents play a role in their education and their school.

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  “Home schooling is a huge disservice to most kids. It should not be allowed.”

                  Yes, it produces renegades like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, etc. We wouldn’t want anyone like that around. They may dispute our benevolent elitest rulers and the status quo.

                • C Peterson

                  Stupid argument. Just as stupid as those from people who believe we should interpret the Constitution exactly as it was interpreted in those days.

                  Times change. We do not live in the world of Washington or Jefferson. The amount of knowledge has vastly increased. Our fundamental understanding of nature has vastly changed. Our methods of teaching and learning have vastly changed.

                  No, today we would not want to produce minds that operate in the mode that was successful a quarter of a millennium ago.

                • 3lemenope

                  We wouldn’t want minds of the facility of Jefferson or Lincoln? Yeah, someone has a stupid argument, and it isn’t TIA.

                • Spuddie

                  No, it didn’t you lying piece of crap.

                  Being professionally tutored or self-educated is not being homeschooled.

                • D in CO

                  Umm – Spuddie – that’s exactly what most homeschoolers do. In fact, we do that and more. We hire professional tutors; we enroll our kids in co-ops or enrichment programs where they are taught by professionals in their fields or by professional educators; we buy them loads of books so they can self-educate; we take them to museums and zoos and botanic gardens; we buy videos or borrow them from the library (where we spend hohe librarians know our families by name); and a ot more. There are at least 2 million homeschoolers in ica; very few of us allow our kids to go uneducated, and thecolleges recognize that. Schools like Harvard, Dartmouth, MIT, and Stanford allowdmit a much higher percentage of homeschooled kids , because they know the truth – that most homeschoolers have gotten a vastly superior education than most public-schoolers.

                • Spuddie

                  Um comparing the education of 18th century middle class and aristocrats to modern homeschooling is wild distortion at best. A person learning on their own or having professionals teach them on the manor, in the absence of widespread schools is not even remotely equivalent to homeschooling. TIA lied as usual.

                  You speak of the group as if they all do what you describe. Obviously that is not an accurate generalization for the group.

                  The article here has a clear example of someone who did not do as you described and had a vastly inferior education than most public schoolers. So it is not much of a panacea.

                  I am glad you had a good experience from it. Frankly I don’t have to trust a word of how “superior” home schooling is unless there is some verification in the form form of official oversight.

                  Several of the homeschoolers here have commented that regulation was not much of impediment to their education and at least 2 have thought it absolutely necessary to prevent abuse.

                  I have no problem with homeschooling provided it has some testing requirements and oversight. Education is compulsory, if you are going to opt out of the system, it is your burden to show why they should let you.

                • D in CO

                  Actually, Spuddie, you don’t have to trust a word of how superior homeschoolng is even if there IS official documentation – and something tells me you probably wouldn’t. If it’s not enough for you that almost all universities now accept homeschoolers, if it’s not enough that homeschoolers’ SAT scores (according to the College Board itself) are significantly higher than public schoolers’, if it’s not enough that research shows homeschoolers are more likely to vote and volunteer in their commuities and to go to college, if it’s not enough that homeschooling has gone from illegal in many states to legal in one form or another, then something tells me “official documentation” isn’t likely to convince you.

                  As for testing, I believe it does more harm than good. It’s imposed by an arbitrary system that decides what must be learned by each grade level, regardless of a student’s needs or interests and without any consideration of learning differences or disabilitiemy daughter is dyslexic, does that mean the school will do a better job of teaching her than I can do one-on-e, with my intimate knowledge of her personality, problems, and needs, with my deep love and concern for her future well-being, and with my ability to adjust my budget to accommodate her needs (even if we have to eat bns and rice to do it)? Her dyslexia causes her to have poor test scores. – but how many public school parents feel like their school does a good job meeting the needs of their special ed child?

                  While I agree that a few kids slip through the cracks (just as many do in lousy public schools), it’s pretty obvious from e glee with which the media pounce on the “Joshes” that they are the exceptions rather than the rule. As I mentioned earlier, I know at least 500 homeschoolers, and I can count on my fingers the ones who struggle with either social or academic issues. In most of those cases, the parents recognize the problem, have had the students tested and diagnosed, and are addressing it through various resources, in many cases far more expensive and targeted resources than the public schools are willing to use, because the parents actually care deeply about each individual one of their kids and don’t have to deal with a bloated, bureaucratic school system to solve the problem.

                  Testing imposes arbitrary standards on kids – most school teachers would agree. So why, for the sake of a handful of “Joshes,” should we impose those standards – standards the public schools frequently can’t and don’t meet – on parents who care enough to be really, deeply involved in their children’s education – to spend their own time, money, energy, and effort to ensure their kids have a better future and learn to love learning and to think carefully, wisely, and critically about life?

                • Spuddie

                  The allegedly higher SAT scores are not verified by a reliable study. Your research consists of a single study disavowed by its own writer. A man who constantly told the HSLA not to repeatedly cite it because they were making inherently misleading inferences from it. All you have is some anecdotes and self-congratulations in your corner.

                  Of course testing does harm for people who don’t want to act responsibly. It means you have to hold their results open to official scrutiny and honest comparison.

                  How is anyone supposed to believe homeschooling is even adequate unless you can show their reading and math skills are on par with students of the same ages and abilities? Since testing is meant for showing minimum competency, there should be
                  no problem since you are allegedly exceeding such standards.

                  Its not your given right to homeschool your children the way you want because education is compulsory in nature. By choosing to opt out of what is demanded of you by the state, the burden is naturally your to prove you are meeting the education requirements they require.

                  Avoiding accountability does nothing to instill any degree of credibility to your claims. If homeschooling is superior for people, then you should have no problem proving so in an objective fashion. Such as testing their reading and math skills in comparison to children of similar age and ability.

                • Mankoi

                  Parental involvement is very important. I had tons of it because my parents were the people teaching me. ANd, incidentally, I went on to be academically and socially successful in higher education, as did my older brother, and most of the other homeschoolers I knew. When I interact with children in the homeschooling community, I often find them far more polite and engaging than public schooled children, because they get to interact with people outside their age group regularly.

                  While I argued in support of anecdotal evidence in some places, when you claim “Home schooling is a huge disservice to most kids. It should not be allowed,” you’re going to need to give more data than just doubling down on your made up number, before proposing such a restriction to parental rights.

                • moose

                  Maybe you ought to get out of your public school bubble sometime. Maybe travel a bit, meet homeschoolers in other communities, other states and regions. You want to meet my kids? Oh, that’s right, meeting a few well-adjusted, academically sound homeschoolers would just be anecdotal–therefore worthless–evidence that it can work. More than two million homeschoolers in the country and a school board member’s encounters with some of those in his own district are all the evidence needed to prove it doesn’t work. I am curious, though–do you have ANY idea how silly your contention about parental involvement sounds? You’re admitting that a school can be horrible–providing virtually no education at all–but if parents are involved they can overcome the utter lack of decent teachers and materials. How–are they supplementing at home? Helping them with the homework, reading the textbook with them so they can learn alongside their kids and then do the job of teaching? Or are they just making sure their kids show up to class everyday and complete the work? And you think that’s sufficient to overcome a crappy school? But homeschooling parents who enroll their kids in co-ops (there are secular ones, BTW) or have a fellow homeschooler with, say, a chemistry degree, teach chemistry) cannot possibly do it?

                • C Peterson

                  Maybe your kids are fine. But I don’t believe in basing rules on the exceptions. I think the damage of homeschooling to many far outweighs the benefits to a few. It should not be an option.

                • 3lemenope

                  Says the entirely not self-interested schoolteacher.

                • C Peterson

                  I receive no recompense at all for my mentoring services. I have no financial interests in the state of education at all.

                • 3lemenope

                  You had described yourself as a middle-school science teacher very recently. If you are not, I withdraw the cranky snark.

                • C Peterson

                  I am a professional astronomer, in academia.

                  I volunteer my time at our local charter school mentoring science in the 5-8 grade classroom. I construct a good deal of the curriculum and do most of the work with the students. Although I’ve been doing it for 10 years now, and think I’ve developed good teaching skills, I’d still not want to do this outside the partnership of the professional teachers I work with, and who have primary responsibility for the education of these students.

                • moose

                  And yet, you’re making blanket assumptions based on your personal anecdotal evidence from the homeschoolers you’ve met in YOUR local district. So why are you so gung-ho to base a rule (i.e., ban homeschooling altogether) based on your own anecdotal evidence? Banning it outright because you’ve seen damage in some people makes as much sense as my calling for a ban on public schools because I’ve seen damage in some people who’ve attended them. Maybe the kids in rich suburbs are fine, but what about those in Detroit?

                • C Peterson

                  I also read a lot of professional literature on the subject. I have good reason to believe that the harms of homeschooling substantially outweigh the benefits. My personal observations simply support the more rigorous evidence I’m aware of.

                • Beth Clarkson

                  “Home schooling is a huge disservice to most kids. It should not be allowed. The single best predictor of long term academic success is parental involvement.”

                  This seems a paradox. It’s hard for parents to be more involved than homeschooling their children.

                  “In fact, I don’t know of a single example where the kids aren’t either socially or academically stunted, often both.”

                  This doesn’t sound like an objective observation of a correlation but a biased assessment of ability based on your opinion of homeschooling.

                • C Peterson

                  The problem is that most parents are not competent to teach their kids what they need to know in today’s world. Involvement alone isn’t enough; also required are teaching skills.

                  What would you think of parents who don’t allow their children to receive professional medical attention, instead handling it themselves? Deciding on vaccines and medicines. Removing tonsils and appendices. Making diagnoses. In most cases, the courts would take kids away from parents like that and place them in a protected environment. At the least, they would require the practice to stop and order regular monitoring. In my view, home schooling is no different.

                  Sure, you could create a system that still involved professional teachers, but I don’t see that happening. Much more practical is simply to require children to receive an accredited education. That doesn’t stop parents from augmenting that with any amount of home education they choose.

                • Beth Clarkson

                  “The problem is that most parents are not competent to teach their kids what they need to know in today’s world.”

                  I have to disagree with this statement. Parents can generally be considered functioning members of our society, thus they know what their kids will need to know in order to do the same.

                  Whether or not they are competent to teach all of those things is irrelevant because they don’t have to teach everything themselves. They only have to provide the resources and management to make sure their children learn what they will need to know.

                  “What would you think of parents who don’t allow their children to receive professional medical attention, instead handling it themselves?”

                  I think, as long as their child is healthy and growing, it’s not any of my business how often they are seen by professionals. If the child is not healthy and growing, well, that’s why we have laws regarding neglect.

                  “That doesn’t stop parents from augmenting that with any amount of home education they choose.”

                  Actually, yes it does. There are opportunity costs to sending a child to school. A child has only so much energy and time to devote to academics. It also completely defeats the purpose of alternative approaches such as unschooling.

                • C Peterson

                  Functioning members of society are no more competent, typically, to teach their kids than they are to perform surgery on them. Even if they know what their kids need educationally (which is debatable), it is unlikely they know how to provide it themselves. Most homeschool parents don’t involve professionals. They teach themselves, using commercial homeschool curricula which are frequently poor, and ineffective when used incorrectly.

                • Beth Clarkson

                  Depends on what you mean by ‘surgery’. If you want to include removing splinters as a form of surgery, in which case, yes, most functioning members of society are competent to handle that type of thing. Is teaching a child a task that falls closer to removing splinters or performing brain surgery? I’d have to go with the splinter side of that continuum.

                • C Peterson

                  Teaching a child a task may be similar to removing a splinter. Providing a complete education strikes me as much closer to massive surgery, however.

                • NancyP

                  That’s interesting…except for mathematics texts, and a couple of science books, I buy mainstream textbooks (you know, the ones the school systems buy); my high schoolers use pretty much the same textbooks that our local Catholic high schools do, for example. Perhaps you’re also not aware that quite a few “commercial homeschool curricula” textbooks are already aligned to the Common Core, which has been adopted by a majority of states. How “frequently poor” can that be?

                • D in CO

                  C Peterson, where in CO do you work? I live in the Denver metro area, and all over the area, there are programs sponsored by public school districts for homeschoolers. Every one of these programs is required to hire highly qualified teachers, and most of them consist of 100 or more kids. Who are these districts? Well, Jeffco schools has multiple programs; so does St. Vrain, Boulder, Estes Park (not sure the name of that district), Aurora, and Douglas, at least. There are multiple hundreds of kids in these programs, homeschooled days a week and in class once a week. And these kids are overwhelmingly smart, socially aware, clear thinking, independent, and respectful of all ages and social standings. Most of the teachers in this program LOVE their jobs and love the kids, and most don’t ever want to go back to the regular classrom. I think it’s important to note that any homeschooled student coming into your classroom is probably there for one of two reasons: 1) The parent has recognized that they have failed at homeschooling, and has put the child back in school; or 2) the parent and the child are having relational issues, and the parent can’t get the child to do the work – meaning the child is failing. Either way,these are not representatives of the many thousands of successful homeschooling families. There’s a reason colleges welcome homeschoolers with open arms, and that’s because most of them do exceptionally well.

                • D in CO

                  C Peterson – I notice you didn’t answer where in CO you work. I don’t care, but I do wonder. As a professional astronomer, is it possible you work in the Denver metro area and have never heard of any of these district programs I mentioned? Because if so, that sort of undermines your credibility on the subject of homeschooling in CO, doesn’t it? If you live outside the metro area, I can see how you might have missed it – though perhaps you might consider looking into it, as it would allow you to a) see some successful homeschoolers rather than the handful of failures who end up in the schools, and b) have an influence on some of the successful ones so they won’t end up the failures you seem convinced they will be.

  • Patricia Dawe

    Education and health of children should not be controlled by religion, and if parents are failing to provide the best of both, the proper authorities need to step in and make sure it is provided. Religion has to stop being the excuse for not . The welfare of the children is more important.

  • deepak shetty

    As someone who has tried teaching a few young kids and a few engineers , there are some things parents who want to home-school should recognize

    a. That you are good at some subject doesn’t make you a good teacher.

    b. That it is difficult to be good at teaching a wide range of subjects as you move onto higher levels. You might be good at maths or science or literature but its rare to find someone who is good at teaching all the above once you move out of kindergarten
    That’s why i think , even if your school is lousy , its probably better for parents to supplement that rather than replace it. (if you are home schooling for religious reasons then I only have abuses for you.)

    • SJH

      There are all kinds of coops and groups that would help solve that problem for home-schoolers. Also there are schools where the children attend a classroom setting a couple days a week and are homeschooled other days.

    • The Captain

      I would bet that just like the phenomenon where when asked the question “are you smarter than average” most people answer yes (which is statically impossible), most home school parents think they are the great teachers.

      • Spuddie

        Everyone likes to think of themselves as smart and every one of their kids is a special unique snowflake who is naturally better than the other kids.

  • SJH

    It would be nice to know what children are slipping between the cracks but one of the best things about home-schooling is the lack of government intervention. Some standards might be nice though we need to be careful not to turn home-schooling into a form of public school at home.
    I wonder what the percentages are for kids that slip through the cracks in home-schooling vs. public school. My guess is that it is worse in public schools but that is my bias talking.

    • Guest

      In my experience, and I’ve know quite a few home schooled kids, they end up being socially inept. While they may be proficient in many areas academically, few of them know how to interact with children their own age or how to deal with certain situations that require tact and social skills. I’m sure there are many that can function normally in social situations, but it’s just been my experience that most can’t.

      • SJH

        I have not experienced this. Again, their are coops and groups to address this issue. They get all of the socializing they need.

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        I’ve known a lot of public school children, and they end up being socially inept. While they are not proficient academically, they also don’t know how to interact with anyone not their own age. I’m sure there are some that can function normally in social situations, but it’s just been my experience that most can’t.

    • Spuddie

      “Some standards might be nice though we need to be careful not to turn home-schooling into a form of public school at home.”

      Why would this be a problem? The major problem public schools have is that they don’t have the resources or time to deal with the needs of students on an individual basis. The children who “fall through the cracks” in public schools tend to be from communities which are fairly lacking in such resources.

      Its not an issue with home school since the students are presumably no more than a handful at best and they have all day and night with their “teacher”.

      The real problem with lack of oversight with homeschooling is that it easily is a cover for child abuse. Abuse is frequently reported by people who see signs of it from the child in their interactions in the public. Homeschooling enables an abusive parent

      • SJH

        Good point. Though the problem I have with it is that in order to standardize education you have to teach everyone the same thing and then somehow test them in order to compare apples to apples. The government cannot do it in any other way. In my opinion, this is the problem with public schools. The school doesn’t know each individual child and what their talents, needs and dreams are. Their parents are better at knowing this.
        Standardizing education homogenizes the population. It puts everyone in a particular box because thats how it must measure. If you fit within this box then you are educated, if you do not then you are not educated. To the government, it is that simple. Unfortunately, in reality it is much more complicated.

        • Spuddie

          Sometimes you need some kind of bare minimum standards to ensure that one is doing an adequate job of it. A floor, not a ceiling. Something to give a baseline with plenty of room to go up from there.

          If you can’t even meet a minimum standard of adequacy, why should anyone believe that you are doing anything substantial to help the child develop according to their talents, needs and dreams?

          Government has been making evaluations of these kinds of standards for decades. For all of you moaning, it works for the most part. Children who meet minimum standards and exceed them function in higher education environments.

          Ultimately the child will probably need to attend higher
          education to achieve some form of success. If they lack the skills and knowledge that is already taken as a given, they will ultimately suffer as a result.

          Public education does not standardizing education and hardly homogenizes the population. Public education is neither uniformly standard nor homogenous. It is a function of local government and personal economic resources.

          • SJH

            Minimum standards set by the public school system are generally pretty low and do not suit each child. Example, what if my child were talented in art? If so, he would pretty much fall through the cracks since they get virtually no art education in schools these days. He would be pressured into a math/science box and would never meet his full potential. As an example, look at the art produced by our country these days. Artistically, we are inept.

            • Spuddie

              If you can’t meet the minimum standards, more likely than not your child will not be particularly functional. If you are not meeting them, the child is not only falling through the cracks, they are being extruded through them at high pressure like caulk.

              If your child was talented in art, but can’t read or perform mathematical functions at their grade level or above, they are probably going to have the baseline knowledge necessary for higher education in a timely manner.

              Education is a public concern. The state has a compelling interest not to have citizens who are not capable of functioning economically due to inadequate education. When a public school fails, it is a failure of government and must be held accountable for it.

              What assurance does the public have that a homeschooler is actually bothering to educate their children? Their word? Not good enough.

        • cary_w

          But no matter what the child’s talents, dreams and needs are, every child needs to be able to read, write, do basic mathematical calculations and have some knowledge of the world they live in. A teenager, of average mental ability, not being able to read is unacceptable. His parents should be charged with child neglect. This is why there needs to be more oversight. The parents don’t always know best, that’s why we have laws about child abuse and neglect.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            “A teenager, of average mental ability, not being able to read is unacceptable. His parents should be charged with child neglect.”

            This is true of many students in the public school system. I would agree that the public school system should be charged with child neglect.

            • Tom

              Where we really seem to differ is that you look at the public school system and see something to be abandoned, whereas we mostly seem to look at it and see something to be repaired.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                It’s been being “repaired” for decades. If the public school system were a business, it would have closed its doors long ago.

                As I mentioned elsewhere, the public school system necessarily fails at providing education. Its only successes are in padding the pockets of insiders in the system and increasing governmental control of our lives and thoughts.

                Read the books by John Taylor Gatto who was New York City Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.

                • Tom

                  Read my other post in response to your notion of treating schools like businesses.

    • cary_w

      Yes, I think you are biased, but at least you are willing to admit it. There are plenty of good public schools out there where very few students fall through the cracks and the majority of student who do fail have some other issues, such as living in poverty, drug or alcohol abuse, unstable or abusive home lives, un-diagnosed mental illness, chronic illness, parents who are uneducated or don’t speak English, and so on. And another thing, even at the worst public schools, the top students, the ones who are self motivated and willing to work hard, will get an adequate education. They may have to work harder and they may still get an inferior education compared to their peers at a really good school, but the opportunity is there for every student to get a decent education at any public school, they just have to be willing too take advantage of it.

      When we talk of homeschooling we really need to separate it into at least two kinds of homeschooling. Those parent who are well educated and homeschool because they move around all the time, their kids have some sort of special need, their kids don’t fit into a regular school or aren’t getting an advanced enough education, reasons like that, probably very rarely fall through the cracks and often do get a better education at home. Parents who are motivated primarily by religious reasons and fear of the “evil” that goes on in public schools, on the other hand, are much more likely to give their kids an inadequate education.

      • SJH

        Good point. I could see how homeschooling can be problematic for lower income, less educated parents. That is the balance that needs to be struck. How do we educate the low-income without sacrificing education as a whole. How do we allow for public, private, homeschooling and maintain freedoms and quality.

        I would agree that there are two types of homeshooling. Unfortunately, many parents have a fear of public school education due to that state of the value system being promulgated at many schools. Those parents need to be given alternatives that don’t sacrifice their values.

        • cary_w

          I reluctantly agree with you. Personally, I would like to see all kids forced into public schools (physical or online) or accredited private schools with exceptions made for homeschooling only in the most extreme and unique cases where the parent can prove they have a good reason for doing it and have the education and resources to do it properly. Other parent who want to homeschool can enroll their kids in a public online or accredited private online school. But I do see the problem of infringing on parental freedom, that’s why I think the compromise is to at least have someone checking up on them now and then to make sure they’re learning something. The easiest way to do this would be to have homeschooled kids take the same end-of-the-year tests all the public school kids take, if they fail, make some consequences for the parents, either put them back in school, present a plan for improvement, prove they have shown significant improvement over last year, or something.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            Why should homeschooled kids be forced to higher standards than public schooled kids? Public school kids regularly get “advanced” even though they don’t meet standards. And why should there be “standards” anyway? Aren’t we talking about educating people, not making widgets?

            • cary_w

              In our schools there are consequences for failing the tests, some kids are held back or go to summer school, the specifics are determined case-by-case with input from the parents and the teachers. I’m not asking for higher standards for homeschoolers, just the same. All kids deserve at least a basic education.

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                “All kids deserve at least a basic education.”

                And who gets to decide what constitutes a basic education?

                • baal

                  States and school boards determine education standards all the time.

                  Why do you think that’s hard or unfair to do?

                • The Inconsistent Atheist

                  So if a school board decides that “basic education” includes teaching that God created everything about 6000 years ago, you would be okay with that?

                  Maybe you’ll bring up something about separation of church and state. But what if the majority of people (or even everybody) in the district want that teaching? Don’t we live in a democracy?

                  Why does the State have the right to control education? It doesn’t, despite what some people like to think.

                • baal

                  “Why does the State have the right to control education?”
                  Heh, this one is easy. Because it is of concern to the entire population of a State that the children are educated. higher education levels lead to better economies, fewer teen pregnancies, higher standards of living, longer lives and about every other positive demographic measure I can think of including reduced religiosity. That’s the tail that wags your dog TIA and why folks like you and Santorum are consistently taking pot shots at effective State run education.

                • Shockna

                  “But what if the majority of people (or even everybody) in the district want that teaching? Don’t we live in a democracy?”

                  What if the majority in a particular state wanted to tax all the Christians at 90%? You might bring up something about religious liberty (something guaranteed by Church/State separation), but don’t we live in a Democracy?

  • Dr Mat Hunt

    Home schooling is fine if you have degrees in the subjects you’re teaching.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com/ KevinKat

    I was homeschooled, and while it was very good in a lot of ways (I was exposed to interesting stuff I’d never read about before) my science classes were creationist stuff. Homeschooling killed any of my curiosity I had in scientific endeavors.

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      That’s funny considering that most of the great scientists of history were creationists. It was their belief in God as the Creator that inspired them to study.

      • Beth

        Sure, most great past scientist were creationists…you know…before Darwin came along. It’s like saying great composers aren’t fans of the Rolling Stones, Beethoven wasn’t alive in the 1960′s when the Stones rolled around.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          What about all those who came after Darwin, like Joule, Mendel, Pasteur, Kelvin, Maxwell, and many others? Today’s scientists are dependent upon the discoveries of creationists. Modern science would not exist but for those who believed in a universe ordered by God.

          • aaa

            and imagine what modern science would be like if not for the dark ages, which were ruled by those who believed in a universe ordered by god.

            • The Inconsistent Atheist

              Yes, we would be much further behind if we did not have the benefit of the discoveries during that time.

              • Shockna

                Many of said discoveries, if you recall, were made outside of Europe, in the Islamic Caliphate, which held the most vibrant scientific community that existed at the time.

                We would be much further along had Rome not fallen so violently, and volumes of knowledge lost for centuries along with it.

          • Beth

            Shall we start listing all the times that belief in a God hindered science and exploration?

            “Modern science would not exist but for those who believed in a universe ordered by God.”

            Funny thing about science is that it doesn’t require a belief in something supernatural. If these people had not made their discoveries others would have. I know that everyone wants great thinkers and brilliant scientists on “their” side. Trust me, atheist do it too. But how they worshiped is irrelevant to their work.

            • The Inconsistent Atheist

              “If these people had not made their discoveries others would have.”

              That is complete conjecture.

          • Adey5

            Yeah, and as per my message above, they all achieved their great ideas by not accepting god/magic as an explanation. So basically they sidestepped religion, and used the scientific method. Naughty theists tut tut. What WOULD god think?

            • The Inconsistent Atheist

              But atheist scientists assume the orderliness of the universe which only God’s existence can guarantee. Naughty atheists tut tut.

              • RobMcCune

                Why is god required for the universe to be orderly?

                Also it’s not an assumption, it’s a requirement that the phenomena being studied behave in a way that can be replicated through experiments. Uniformity and orderliness are also observed, and can be falsified with counterexamples.

        • baal

          Historical scientists were not followers of what’s currently called creationism. There is very little evidence that they thought the earth showed up 6000 years ago (for example).

      • RobMcCune

        Most of the great scientists in history didn’t believe in quantum mechanics, because it hadn’t been discovered yet. Scientist don’t do productive work if they hang on to antiquated ideas about the world.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          Are you dissing Bacon, Galileo, Kepler, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Joule, Mendel, Pasteur, Kelvin, Maxwell, and the many other creation scientists who provided the basis for modern science?

          • RobMcCune

            No, I’m simply saying they didn’t stick to old disproven ideas about the material world for the sake of religion. Today that includes creationism. Imagine if Galileo had tied his belief in God to the idea of heliocentrism, his astronomical contributions wouldn’t have happened.

            • The Inconsistent Atheist

              “they didn’t stick to old disproven ideas”

              Are you dissing Darwinism now?

              My point earlier was that the modern scientific method was born out of belief in God. Scientists believed that they could and should study the universe because it was created by God with order and He commanded mankind to take dominion. Unbelieving scientists have no such basis, but they continue to build on a foundation which they deny.

              • baal

                “but they continue to build on a foundation which they deny.”
                Come back when you understand how science works; the meaning of peer review and consensus.

              • RobMcCune

                Are you dissing Darwinism now?

                You obviously need to look up the definition of disproven.

                Whatever the motives or beliefs of the scientists on your list, belief in god is not necessary for science, which is about systematic inquiry into the material world. Also the idea that the scientists you mention constitute some kind of unquestionable cannon or tradition is antithetical to science and shows you don’t understand what it’s about.

                [Edit: Woops had the wrong quote copied, fixed]

              • Tom

                You’re quite correct. What you fail to mention is that whenever the scientific method subsequently stops indicating a universe where a god could exist, such people promptly turn their back on it.

          • baal

            Let me get my bingo card. You’re reciting apologetic talking points.

          • Adey5

            Well as far as Newton was concerned, he was one of the most amazing scientists to have lived, ….and a Christian too. But the point is this, when he formulated his Laws of Motion etc he did it NOT by reading the bible, but by observing REALITY, and not because he believed in god, but DESPITE it, and perhaps most importantly of all because when he asked himself the questions how do masses move and interact, he was not satisfied with the explanation that God Dun It!
            He also made the common mistake (and he wasn’t the only one) of when he got to the limits of his understanding or instruments, he inserted god, the argument from ignorance, and science had to wait until later scientists picked up the ball once they had more evidence and ability to test with better equipment.
            So to summarize, Newton’s achieved what he did not because he was religious, but because he set religion aside and concentrated on observation, hypothesis and experiment, and faith had no part in it. If Newton did what creationists/IDers do today and just slotted god into the gap where his knowledge ended, he would never have discovered what he did.
            Neil de Grasse Tyson give a lecture on exactly these issues. Very interesting. You should check it out.

          • Shockna

            Of course not. They can’t faulted for not accepting something unknown when they lived.

            And some of those don’t belong on that list; Pasteur disproved the notion that spontaneous generation could occur. This notion was that rotten meat could generate fully-formed maggots, and similar examples for other pests. And even attempting to generalize to abiogenesis in the sense that it’s understood today, it doesn’t work (and has nothing to do with evolution, at that).

            And in the case of Maxwell, that’s just lying by omission (see http://www.charlespetzold.com/etc/maxwellmoleculesandevolution.html, which restores context the typical creationist quotes omit). Maxwell never issued an opinion on evolution by natural selection.

            They weren’t “creation scientists”. They were simply “scientists”.

      • Spuddie

        Can you say anything which isn’t weaselworded or just plain fictitious?

      • Anymouse

        Inspired because their Creator doctrine provided only untestable claims, not explanation.

      • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com/ KevinKat

        When you hear day in and day out that scientists are liars and con-artists, it kills your thoughts of curiosity and desire to understand.
        And you’re playing the Appeal to Authority, Appeal to Popularity, AND the Biased Generalization fallacies.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          “And you’re playing the Appeal to Authority, Appeal to Popularity, AND the Biased Generalization fallacies.”

          Likewise.

          • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com/ KevinKat

            Do you understand words? Cause seriously I don’t know what you’re even talking about there.

            • aaa

              maybe it’s his version of “I know you are, but what am I”

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            How’s that beam coming?

            *peers closely*

            Oh bloody hell, you’ve lodged it deeper.

  • http://diff-path.blogspot.com/ Jennifer

    Atheist homeschooler here, just popping in to offer a reminder that we’re not all ignorant fundamentalists. There are growing numbers of secular homeschoolers who are opting out of the public school institution strictly for quality of education reasons. That doesn’t mean that I am simply responsible for filling my kid’s head with a prescribed list of facts; it means I am a facilitator to find the very best resources to fit his interests and learning style. It is my job to connect him with books, websites, programs, field trips, people, etc. so that he retains his curiosity and love of learning, rather than him receiving the standard association of learning being a boring, painful chore. I know quite a few religious homeschooling families, and while I do have a big problem with all the creationism BS, I very strongly do not want my own rights infringed upon – so that’s something I remain torn about. Most of those fundie families pretty strictly replicate the “school-at-home” setting and their kids are actually better educated in many areas than most public-schooled kids I know (with the obvious exception of science, of course). That has been my direct experience anyway – as opposed to a lot of what you will hear from our very biased media, or that one guy who knows someone who lived next door to “that one weird homeschooling family.” People seem to have very strong opinions on this subject with little knowledge or experience of actual homeschoolers, so I would caution everyone to keep that in mind.

    • The Other Weirdo

      That obvious exception of science is pretty important, though. If they grow up believing the world 6,000 years old, what sort of continuing education can they look forward to?

      • The Inconsistent Atheist

        How does disbelieving philosophers posing as scientists hamper someone’s education?

        • Spuddie

          There can be people like yourself on local school boards who waste taxpayer money trying to illegally set curriculum which deny scientific principles accepted more than a century ago.

          If you are a Creationist, you are either an idiot or a liar.

          • The Inconsistent Atheist

            “which deny scientific principles accepted more than a century ago.”

            You mean like Einstein?

            “If you are a Creationist, you are either an idiot or a liar.”

            Great argument Spuddie!

            • Shockna

              “You mean like Einstein?”

              [citation needed]

              Hint: “God doesn’t play dice” was about the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics (which he rejected; he was wrong about that, BTW, proving that even great men make mistakes).

              • The Inconsistent Atheist

                I was referencing Einstein in relation to Newtonian physics (which had been accepted for a long time). I could have also mentioned any number of other scientists. My point was that Spuddie’s standard is anti-science. It doesn’t allow for any further discovery. “If something has been believed for a long time, then it must be true.” – Spuddie

                • aaa

                  Newtonian physics still holds and is perfectly fine for the majority of what we normally observe, relativity only applies in certain circumstances. Also, relativity has been thoroughly tested and confirmed to be true to an astonishing degree of accuracy.

                  Creationism…not so much.

                • Spuddie

                  Creationism is not a scientific theory so it never gets to be tested.

                • RobMcCune

                  New theories of science must be consistent with the established body of observations that support current theories, and should be better able to explain newly discovered phenomena than current theories. Creationism would have overturn or explain the large body of evidence from multiple fields for common descent, among other things.

                • Spuddie

                  You were wrong about that too.

                  My standard is not to accept something which is inherently dishonest and vacant.

                  Creationists claim their religious belief can be objectively proven to be true, therefore they accept it. But they will never accept the result of such claims, which is that it can be proven false by the same methods.

                  A Creationist will never allow for their religious belief to be proven false. They do not really accept their religious belief based on objective proof. So their claims are ultimately a lie.

                  Creationism is purely a way to browbeat people into accepting fundamentalist Christianity. Claiming otherwise is a lie or just idiocy.

                  There is no science in Creationism, there is barely religion in it. It is merely rationalization and dishonesty.

            • Spuddie

              You are going to quotemine something for me?

              I hope you aren’t going to use the “God doesn’t play dice quote” it would be far too dishonest to apply that to creationism. Besides, he was wrong on that part.

              As far as I know Einstein had absolutely nothing published in the field of biology in his lifetime nor held any kind of recognition as an expert in the field.

              As for creationists being idiots or liars, I have laid my arguments for that on many occasions. Creationists lie about the nature of their own religious belief and how it is accepted in the first place. Its adherents either willingly lie to that effect or are too stupid to understand the mendacious nature of their own arguments. If you are a creationist, I have zero respect for your views on the subject because it deserves none. I can elaborate, but it would be an unwelcomed diversion to the subject.

            • Tom

              Einstein didn’t deny them until he disproved them. Rigorously.

        • Matt D

          How does a criminal posing as a police officer, hamper the justice system?

        • The Other Weirdo

          I have no idea who these disbelieving philosophers are you of whom you speak.

      • Beth

        They don’t need continuing education, Jesus is coming back. Don’t you know we are in the end of times? ;-)

    • The Captain

      “That has been my direct experience anyway – …, or that one guy who knows someone who lived next door to “that one weird homeschooling family.” Just pointing out that you denounce people for using antidotal evidence for their opinion, while using antidotal evidence to back up your own.

      • http://diff-path.blogspot.com/ Jennifer

        I am just pointing out that I know and interact with many homeschoolers, and have thoroughly researched homeschooling before making to choice to follow this path. Many people have strong opinions on the subject without having actually met any homeschoolers or researched the subject at all. Also, the word you were looking for is “anecdotal”. You’re welcome.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          That was an asinine cap on an attempt to camouflage the issue.

        • The Captain

          “You’re welcome.” I’m not thanking you because you’re being an elitist little ass. How dare my autocorrect make a mistake?

          “Many people have strong opinions on the subject without having actually met any homeschoolers or researched the subject at all” true, but many have known a lot of homeschoolers and done some research an still may not agree with you.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          And I know and interact with many homeschoolers, and I have researched homeschooling enough to know that there is no possible way to thoroughly research it. Seriously. The studies aren’t there. The ones that exist are methodologically flawed to the point of uselessness; there’s a reason they don’t get published in peer-reviewed journals but rather by biased organizations like the HSLDA. What we know is we have no good data, and anecdotes flying all over the place.

          Here’s what we do know: we know homeschooling can be wonderful and it can be truly horrific. We don’t know how many children wind up with each type of experience. We know homeschooling can be a cover for the most terrible kinds of abuse, but we don’t know how often. We have a few methodologically unsound “studies” that suggest homeschooled students do better than publicly schooled students. We also know that when we actually look at those studies, homeschooled students do no better than publicly schooled students once socio-economic status, race, and other external factors are properly taken into consideration. We know that supporters of homeschooling have twisted those studies to suggest that homeschooling works wonderfully for everyone while ignoring the many instances in which it has not worked out well.

          Given the paucity of information available and the tactics of pro-homeschooling organizations like the HSLDA, I’d be extremely wary of homeschooling and homeschooling websites. I’m one of the smartest, best-read, widest-read people I know. I’ve worked as a professional tutor, so I have basic pedagogical training. I don’t trust myself to teach anyone everything they need to know; literature, history, philosophy, economics, political science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, art, and music are just the start of the list. If I don’t trust myself to fully educate a child, why would I trust some random stranger who is almost certainly less-educated than I?

          • Cake

            “If I don’t trust myself to fully educate a child, why would I trust some random stranger who is almost certainly less-educated than I?”

            Because Jesus?

          • Beth Clarkson

            “If I don’t trust myself to fully educate a child, why would I trust some random stranger who is almost certainly less-educated than I?”

            I’m not following this. Parents only have to trust strangers to educate their child when they send them school.

            Why would you need to trust some stranger to educate your child if you are homeschooling? Homeschooling parents do have to teach their children everything. They can vet every teacher for their child prior to entrusting them with some aspect of the child’s education.

            eta: I meant Homeschooling parents do NOT have to teach their children everything.

            • Fred

              Because those strangers are more qualified than you are in certain areas. Those qualifications are overseen by a standards board that continually adds and revises them as new and better information becomes available.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              I think you misunderstand. I don’t trust myself to educate a child on everything it needs to learn. Therefore, I don’t trust other people to educate their children to any meaningful standard, because I know I couldn’t do it, and I’d be better at it than the vast majority of homeschooling parents.

              I trust strangers to teach children what they need to know in their own area of expertise, of course. I wouldn’t ask a math teacher to teach a kid history, but that’s what the history teacher is for! The problem comes when a single person is trying to teach math and history and political science and literature and grammar and physics and art and music and … you get the picture. There isn’t a single person in the world who can do that. Parents aren’t special snowflakes who magically learn all this stuff by virtue of procreating. You said homeschooling parents have to teach their children everything. You’re right. That’s the problem.

              • Beth Clarkson

                Yes, I did misunderstand. Thank you for the clarification.

                Since many parents have successfully educated their children, I think it can be considered established that home-schooling can be successful in our society. If you don’t feel competent to teach your own, that’s perfectly fine. But I think you make a serious mistake to transfer your own abilities and ‘meaningful standards’ to others and conclude that homeschooling is a bad idea.

                “You said homeschooling parents have to teach their children everything. You’re right. That’s the problem.”

                Sorry, I meant to say homeschooling parents do NOT have to teach their children everything. They are the executive managers of their children’s education, not necessarily the sole teachers. That’s why it’s NOT a problem IMO.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Clearly homeschooling can work. I think it undermines the fabric of society in other ways and is a generally bad idea for a whole lot of reasons and that it fails more people than it serves, but it can work.

                  That’s why it’s absolutely crucial to have oversight. Much as I dislike homeschooling, I wouldn’t ban it with our public schools in as bad of shape as they are. There are plenty of public schools that aren’t capable of educating the children in their care, and that does need to be fixed. I would, however, absolutely require that homeschooling parents register all their children and that those children be required to either pass the state tests or have other meaningful evaluations on an annual or biannual basis. I would not let parents who had been accused of abuse or were under investigation for abuse pull their kids out of school. Homeschooling for religious reasons would be banned; what “religious reasons” means is that you don’t actually want to educate your kids, and that’s unacceptable. Any expenses in teacher support, textbooks borrowed from schools, personal evaluation of child portfolios, etc would be borne solely and completely by the homeschooling family.

                  All parents are the executive managers of their children’s education. That’s why we watched NOVA and went to the natural history museum and my mom let us play with her molecular bond magnets and we had legos and a lot of books and built race-car tracks and all sorts of thing. Public school is supposed to provide a solid grounding in all the subjects needed to function in our society, with access to additional information if wanted. It doesn’t let you neglect any one subject, but you can decide to only learn a little about it and not pursue it further. Put another way, public school is the floor, but you can rise to any height you want, and parents are integral to that process. And yes, public schools can fail, but at least we know about the failures and can try to fix them. Homeschooling doesn’t have a good way to make sure there aren’t gaps if there isn’t any oversight, and we won’t hear about the failures because they get swept under the rug; the floor of homeschooling is so deep in the darkness of ignorance it’s not even visible.

                • Beth Clarkson

                  “I think it undermines the fabric of society in other ways and is a generally bad idea for a whole lot of reasons and that it fails more people than it serves, but it can work.”

                  Why do you think homeschooling undermines the fabric of society?

                  What other reasons do you have for thinking it a generally bad idea?

                  Why do you think it fails more people that it serves? What evidence are you using to make that judgment and what is criterion for success/failure?

                  How do you think other schooling approaches would fare if evaluated using the same criteria?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  1) Homeschooling is all about the “I’ve got mine” idea. It says you and your children are super special snowflakes. When you pull your kids out of school, you make it a poorer place for every other student who goes there. Instead of learning about society, how to get along with people who are from different cultures or think differently or have different standards of behavior, the kids are generally raised in a little bubble of similar families. Successful homeschooling is also the preserve of the well-off; the amount of time and effort to make it work simply isn’t possible for the poor, especially single parents. Then many homeschoolers vote against paying for public schools properly, since they’ve got their kids covered and fuck the rest of them. So homeschoolers (and private schoolers) remove resources from public schools, segregate their kids from the general public, teach their kids that society and community isn’t important past one’s own tiny circle, reproduce inequality, and generally undermine the fabric of society.

                  2) Why else is it a bad idea? Homeschooling is a wonderful cover for abuse and neglect. It almost guarantees socialization issues (check out Libby Anne’s blog for more information). Gaps in education are common; history, science, and writing are some of the most common gaps, and those are pretty basic elements of education.

                  3) Why do I think homeschooling fails more people than it serves? Our data is extremely sketchy, but what we have shows that students who are homeschooled do no better than public schoolers of similar socio-economic status (SES). That data is cherry-picked from the elite of the homeschooling world; the methodology of those surveys is that they are snowball sample (send emails/links to your friends) and entirely optional, so only those doing well respond. That means, at best, homeschooling is only doing as well as public school, and given that the ones who fall through the cracks never get counted in such surveys, the reality is probably much grimmer.

                  Anecdotally, every single homeschooled person I have met has had educational and/or socialization issues. Every. Single. One. And, granted, that is anecdotal, but at some point the anecdotes start to add up. I helped socialize some of them; it was heart-breaking what they didn’t know and couldn’t do, and I was a sheltered, nerdy, somewhat shy kid myself.

                  4) I evaluate homeschooling by the exact same measures I evaluate other schooling approaches. Homeschooling fails when evaluated equitably.

    • Connie

      Another secular home school parent here. I promise not all home schoolers fall into one of two categories – either religious fundamentalists or crunchy hippies. There are those of us who are home schooling for academic reasons only. We ensure that those subjects we don’t feel confident to teach ourselves are outsourced to private tutors or online classes. I agree with Jennifer and would also encourage everyone to research all types of home schooling and home schoolers before coming to any conclusions.

    • Adey5

      While I can understand your dissatisfaction with the education system and curriculum (ie religion and creationism etc), and I make no assumptions as to the quality of the teaching you may be providing, I am sure it is fine, there is an advantage to actually sending kids to school that homeschooling cant do, and that is social interaction with other kids that he may not usually associate with and exposure to ideas that he may question, or outside of his comfort zone, and this is healthy to be exposed to this and be able to challenge opposing views based on argument and evidence. Having other students to compete against is also very beneficial and can coax pupils to make more effort and realise their full potential.

      Going to school and interacting with the ‘general population’ is important and will prepare him/her for the realities of the outside world, where he/she WILL have to interact with others. Sports and other activities, are also pretty essential and a healthy competitive attitude can help greatly, winning is great, but a just as important lesson is learning how to lose gracefully, dust yourself off, pick yourself up and improving yourself.

      While education is of utmost importance, it should not be at the expense of social participation and inclusion. Obviously if the schools are SO bad (ie drugs violence etc) then maybe homeschooling is the least bad option. Perhaps you can ‘top-up’ with some additional tuition at home (as my dad did for me) where the state school is lacking or wrong (ie creationism)

      He/she may well be inspired by teachers or other pupils and quite possibly make life-long friends as I have done or meet a future companion. I am so glad I went to school :-)

      Homeschooling in a sea of bad schools may be your best option at the moment, but maybe you might consider some of the disadvantages too.

      I wish you the very best of luck

      • http://diff-path.blogspot.com/ Jennifer

        This is one of the biggest objections to, and misconceptions about, homeschooling. The term “homeschooling” does not mean we are locked in the house all day. On the contrary, it means we have the freedom to participate in the real world on a daily basis. Socialization is honestly not a worry for me. We participate in secular co-op classes, metro park and library programs, museum and zoo classes, field trips, sports, etc. My son actually gets more socialization options and has a more diverse social group than he would if he were stuck in a room with the same 30 kids all day, every day. Not to mention playdates with friends, and playing with the neighborhood kids and his many cousins, also.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          Yes, socialization is a problem with public schooling, not homeschooling.

  • eric

    One argument in favor of home-schooling offered up by chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association Michael Farris is that public schools let plenty of students through the cracks, too. He’s not wrong

    Yes, he is, in one important way. In the public system, teachers try and prevent the kids from slipping through the cracks while the aministration tries to get them filled in as best they can, before anyone gets hurt. In homeschooling, parents like these are forcefully shoving their kids into the cracks face first, and when they don’t go in, getting a crowbar and widening the crack to make sure they do.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    After reading through all the comments to date, I feel the need to point out that in my experience, everyone’s anecdotes are wronger than mine.

  • Natalie

    Not all homeschoolers do so because of religious reasons – I would like to see some true numbers on that breakdown. Anecdotally, of the dozen or so homeschooling families I know, absolutely zero of them do so for religious reasons. They do it because their schools are failing, because of their child’s special needs, because they are don’t trust the government, or because they just wanted to see if they could (and they did, very well.)

  • busterggi

    But being ignorant IS the standard the theists don’t you see?

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      “But being ignorant IS the standard of the atheists don’t you see?”

      I couldn’t quite understand your grammar, so I fixed it for you.

      • baal

        But you didn’t fix his grammar, you changed the entire meaning.

        Lie some more The Inconsistent Xtian.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          The original comment was grammatically incorrect. I added three letters which made it a grammatically correct sentence. How it is possible to change the meaning of a non-sentence?

          • lora120

            Home schooled?

          • Shockna

            If you want to be pedantic, only two of those were needed for grammar; the third letter you added changes the meaning of the sentence.

            You’d be a dreadful teacher.

    • Matt D

      Considering the commentary of theists on this blog alone, that’s easy to see.

  • Jim

    I was homeschooled with Christian education materials from 1-5 grades, at which point I was put into public school. I was leaps and bounds beyond most other students as far as my abilities with math and reading, and I pretty much cruised through middle school, high school, and college. (I don’t recall much about science education at home, but I didn’t have any difficulties with science classes later on.) My dad had little more than a high school education, and his main role in my education was teaching me to read and keeping me on task. Beyond that, it was pretty much just me reading and doing school work out of the textbooks I had.

    All this is to say that not all children who are homeschooled are disadvantaged by it. I do agree that if you homeschool, you should be required to do some kind of annual testing to make sure that the kids are meeting a set standard (my dad did have us do that each year…I believe it was called a CAT test or something like that).

    • lora120

      “Cruised through” huh? Sounds like the curricula wasn’t very challenging.

      • Jim

        Much of the public school curriculum is not very challenging, as it’s aimed toward the lowest common denominator (even in the supposed advanced classes).

  • Beth

    Kids in this country have a RIGHT to an education. My mother is a public school special ed teacher who has to work double time when home-schooled kids try to join the public school. A kid not reading at 11 isn’t unheard of, parents have no idea if their kid has a learning disability or how to help. The state of some public schools is terrible but if they allowed a kid to go into Jr High with out reading…can you imagine the outrage? Heads would roll, politicians would get involved at the state level.

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      “The state of some public schools is terrible but if they allowed a kid
      to go into Jr High with out reading…can you imagine the outrage? Heads
      would roll, politicians would get involved at the state level.”

      Do you live under a rock? 19% of U.S. high school graduates are illiterate according to USDOE.

      “If the parents in each generation always or often knew what really goes
      on at their sons’ schools, the history of education would be very
      different.” ~C.S. Lewis

      • Beth

        The heads SHOULD roll and politicians SHOULD get involved.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          Great. Why don’t you get to work on that and leave homeschoolers alone until you get it fixed?

          • Shockna

            Because people can work on more than one thing at once, clearly.

            This is the same as saying “nobody should care about hunger in America until every starving child in Africa is fed”.

            • The Inconsistent Atheist

              Yes, we must do something! More money. More bureaucracy. More government control.

              Yes, people can work on more than one thing at a time, but if you don’t know what the problem is or how to fix it (the public school system), simply working on it isn’t helpful.

              This may blow your mind, but have you ever considered that the cause of the failure of the public school system and hunger/starvation might be the solutions provided by the government?

  • Stabby

    “Most of all, he worries about his siblings: There are 11. ”

    You simply cannot homeschool 12 children adequately. There are not enough hours in the day to give each child the amount of time needed. If you are going to hire external tutors for each child, you may as well send them to a private school, and if you have older siblings teaching younger siblings, everyone is being shortchanged. It’s just overall a bad situation for the kids.

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      That’s an indictment of public schools which generally have a lot more than 12 children per teacher.

      • onamission5

        Per *trained* teacher. You can’t get a job in an elementary school in my district without a Master’s in education, and every classroom in the lower grades has a teacher’s aide.

        • The Inconsistent Atheist

          You mean, per “government licensed” teacher. There is a big difference between training and licensing, and if you don’t understand or believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Manhattan and some land in Florida I’m willing to sell ya.

      • fiona64

        Right, because the person teaching a 12-year-old has to suddenly run and change the infant’s diaper in the middle of a public school class.

        Oh, wait …

      • Stabby

        Those kids are all at the same level and the multiple people teaching them have been formally trained to do so in their area of expertise. They don’t have classes with a 17 year old, a 15 year old, 10 year old, 8 year old, 6 year old, 5 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old all being taught at once by one person with general knowledge.

        And that would still only be eight kids.

  • baal

    “these parents need to be held accountable for their kids meeting the same standards that public school children are held to.”

    That. Maybe they could take the standardized tests the religious are so fond of forcing on the public school systems.

  • Stealth Avenue

    This could apply to some private schools, too, at least where math and science are concerned. Not very many doctors/scientists/engineers are coming out of evangical christian institutions…. and there is a reason for that.

  • karl meyer

    Based in the UK I understand my experiences don’t tally exactly with the US but we home educate precisely because we don’t want religion in education. Our three nearest primary schools all are run by the Church of England and are virtually extensions of the church in many areas. We do know of some extremely religious families (including creationists) who home educate but thankfully we all rub along.

    However the church’s role in educating in the UK is a worry with many schools selecting pupils based on their religion leading to difficulties for families with the wrong or no religion.

  • Mike

    Everyone seems to hate monopolies until it is a government run monopoly then many people seem to think they are the best thing ever. Public school is a government run monopoly and no one should be forced to participate.

    Making home-schoolers take standardized tests would make home-schooling worthless since “teaching the test” is exactly the problem with public schools. Public schools are more interested in filling kids’ heads with trivia that can easily be looked up rather than teaching them HOW to learn.

    • baal

      For profit schooling without a role from government means that the rich get educated and able to compete where the poor will not. Are you so afraid of educated poor people that you want them to be uneducated?

      Have you noticed that the atheists, secularist and humanists of this board are generally for education for everyone and it’s the religious and libertarians who want a population that is not educated?

      • Mike

        I simply said that “no one should be forced to participate” in public schools. I also suggested standardized testing and teaching trivia was largely to blame for the dismal quality of public education.

        I never claimed public schools should be abolished. You have made a giant leap by claiming I suggested I want an uneducated population.

  • Anna

    Most of all, he worries about his siblings: There are 11. One, old enough to be well into middle school, can’t read, Josh Powell said.

    What’s really sad is that there are some within the fundamentalist subculture who don’t have a problem with this. Especially for girls. Girls aren’t expected to grow up and get jobs, so it doesn’t matter if they are fully literate or not.

    [Sproul] tells the story of a family friend whose homeschooled nine-year-old daughter still cannot read. “Does that make you uncomfortable?” he asks. Are you thinking, “Mercy, what would the superintendent say if he knew?” . . . But my friend went on to explain, “She doesn’t know how to read, but every morning she gets up and gets ready for the day. Then she takes care of her three youngest siblings. She takes them to potty, she cleans and dresses them, makes their breakfasts, brushes their teeth, clears their dishes, and makes their beds.” Now I saw her, rightly, as an overachiever. If she didn’t know how to read but did know all the Looney Tunes characters, that would be a problem. But here is a young girl being trained to be a keeper at home. Do I want her to read? Of course I do . . . . But this little girl was learning what God requires, to be a help in the family business, with a focus on tending the garden.

    http://killingthebuddha.com/mag/dogma/victory-through-daughters/

  • LonesomeDove

    ” He didn’t know exactly what students were learning at Buckingham County
    High School,… but he had the sense that he
    was missing something fundamental.” – The punny irony is overwhelming :D

  • Tobias2772

    When you add all of these homeschooled kids to the even larger number in christian academies, I think the numbers becomne quite alarming.

  • cipher

    It’s scary to think that 7,000 children in the state are being home-schooled and we have no idea how many of them are getting a decent education.

    They’re going to heaven, Hemant. That’s all that matters. We won’t need no fancy book learnin’ in hell!

  • Tobias2772

    I hate to support standardized testing (which is killing our public schools) but couldn’t these guys be forced to take the same standardized tests as everyone else ? Then when they failed the third grade test, they would lose their privilege to be homeschooled any further.

    • Mankoi

      I argue against this below, and my arguments there are likely to be more complete. Short answer is no, because that forces certain information to be learned at a certain time, which is a fantastic way to crush someone’s desire to learn.

  • pagansister

    Obviously not all children who are home schooled fall into the realm as this family—which is truly sad. This family needs help, but probably don’t even know it! Also, what is with there being NO over sight on home schooled children in that area? Expect this family (11 children??) has no idea what birth control is either. The children in this family are the losers here, education wise. How will they end up making any type of living here? Reading is essential—–and if a middle school child can’t read, then there is a reason. Public (and some private) schools may not be perfect, but perhaps this child may have gotten help to find out WHY he/she can’t read by middle school age! Sure hope Mom isn’t pregnant yet again—is this a Quiver-ful family??

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    The case law of Pierce v Society of Sisters, Wisconsin v Yoder, and so on would seem to make more complicated the legislative crafting of such regulations to withstand Constitutional muster — even presuming the political will to do so can be mustered.

    Neglecting that last presumption, my initial notion would be federal law to create a cause of civil action of students against parents, when the results of homeschooling are deficient.

  • Fat Milhouse Sean

    The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

  • Jaala Squishy

    WRONG!! EVERY state requires YEARLY state testing, just like in public schools. If you don’t take it, you WILL be taken in for Truancy. (IOWA testing, Wava testing, etc. whatever your states does, if you’re homeschooled, you’re required to do it until 9th grade, as the GED is a 9th grade level)

    • Mankoi

      Uh, no, I don’t think that’s actually true. If so, our truancy offers out here suck, because no one I knew had yearly testing, and no one got taken in.

      Where I lived, we were required to keep records to show we’d had a thousand hours in the school year, split across subjects like history, math, science, english etc.

    • katiehippie

      Wow, more people that think CAPITAL LETTERS = TRUTH.
      Every state is different.

    • Artor

      Sorry, no. I know a local family with 9 kids. One of them, only one, took his own initiative and educated himself. His siblings are barely literate, have no knowledge of history or science, and mostly smoke pot all day. There’s no excuse; the dad is a doctor, and mom used to be a high-school teacher. None of them ever saw a truancy officer, or ever took state tests.

      Try yelling less. Even when you’re obviously wrong, you look like less of a jerk when you don’t use all caps.

      • lora120

        Too often home schooling = no schooling. When child protective services find out the children are being neglected, the parents will just pick up and move somewhere else. A social worker friend of mine says it’s very common.

    • Spuddie

      Virginia does not. Testing is strictly at the discretion of the local Board of Education and purely optional.

      You can feel free to STFU now.

      • Jaala Squishy

        How about you do your research before you comment?

        http://vahomeschoolers.org/guide/home-instruction/progress/

        “Unless you submit the results of a nationally normed standardized test (Option (i)), the local superintendent is required to make a determination as to whether the evidence of progress submitted demonstrates adequate growth and progress.”

        You have to turn in your work to the superintendent or take a state test, either way, you have to prove your work. If your child can’t read, they’ll know either way.

        • Spuddie

          How about you read your entire webpage citation. There is a massive loophole in the testing regulation:

          Under the Home Instruction Statute, evaluation or testing must be provided for all children who are between the ages of 6 and 18 as of September 30th of the current school year (regardless of grade level).

          The following do not have to provide evidence of progress::


          Children who are exempt from the Compulsory Attendance Code due to a Religious Exemption.

          • Jaala Squishy

            Yet again…

            http://vahomeschoolers.org/guide/religious-exemption/

            They have to file for a religious exemption, which includes “A letter that describes the family’s religious beliefs, particularly including those relating to the education of the family’s children and the spiritual basis for opposing attendance at school

            Letters from friends, relatives, or members of the faith, that confirm the family’s beliefs are sincere

            Scriptural or other spiritual quotations, if available, that support or affirm the family’s beliefs

            A letter or affidavit from a religious expert or scholar or a religious leader, if the family has such an authority, that confirm the beliefs as spiritual in nature and/or genuine.”

            They have to wait for it to be approved, and it CAN be rejected for whatever reason the school board wants. And the school board CAN request for an annual re-evaluation.

            “Families who do not send their children to school using the religious exemption and who do not file with the school board could face civil and criminal process for truancy, neglect, etc.”

            It’s not as easy as you are making it out to be, you can’t just say “Oh, I’m Amish” and that’s it. If your school wants to be a doucher, they can deny it, or they can make you re-evaulate yearly, and there’s not a damn thing the family can do. If anything, it would be harder and more complicated to claim Religious Exemption.

            • Spuddie

              So a fairly dilatory filing allows one to go completely under the radar of any kind of regulation and accountability. It’s a big loophole. One which played a very big role in the article here.

              Yes it is as easy as I am making it out to be because the requirements are not particularly stringent. A couple of notarized self-serving statements will suffice here.

              It is as easy as saying you are Amish and getting any member of the congregation to sign off on a statement and ponying up $25 for a notary stamp on a document, plus filing fees with the district. Once its approved, you can effectively be done with any kind of official scrutiny. Like the family in this article.

              You bring up the key point, it is only really treated with any degree of burden if the school board chooses to. Such discretion means it can be completely unenforced and still be in compliance with the law if they wish. Meaning it has no teeth whatsoever.

              Considering the connection between religious homeschooling organizations and conservative political groups, such dutiful enforcement would have severe consequences for elected officials. Like school board members.

              Obviously it can happen because it already did. The article is clear proof how a family can use the religious exemption to avoid any form of official accountability in homeschooling.

  • rick

    11 kids with all of them struggling with their education doesn’t sound like the parents are doing anything more than screwing around ( literally 11 kids is ALOT )
    We don’t let real teachers teach without any proof of their education, why dont we require the same from parents who wish to homeschool?

  • Bill Rubin

    Parents should have the choice to send their children to public or private accredited schools or educate their children with home schooling. However, accredited public and private schools are required to assess student progress at certain age thresholds, and home schooled students need the same required assessments for the same reasons. States should come up with a basic fundamentals assessment that home schooled children are required to take at certain threshold ages or merely require the already required assessments already given to public and private school students. Home schooled children that do not pass these assessments should be given a second chance to pass within a fixed timeframe. If the homeschool children do not pass the age assessment at the second time, then the students should be required to enroll in their local public school or a properly accredited private school for the duration of their required schooling requirement.

    One reason ignorance continues to be a problem in our country is the lack of proper schooling. Religious parents might object to the subject matter or issues with the public schools, and they are entitled to send their children to a private school or consider homeschooling–as long as they can suitably demonstrate that their homeschooling is getting the job done. When parents are unable to teach at home, or their children show no ability or knowledge to function in society based on other state assessments, parents should lose the right to home school their children. Period.

    • Mankoi

      Some of this is reasonable. The problem is, creating a fair standard that allows for homeschoolers to teach the way they want to, as long as they teach. Most standardized tests are very firm about what you need to know when. You can’t substitute knowledge about American Indians for knowledge about, say, the Cold War. You can teach history, and teach it well… but if it’s not the history that’s been arbitrarily put on the test, you’re out of luck.

      Also, another issue is making allowances for things that might not be taught in public schools at all, like logic, or critical thinking skills. They aren’t always part of school curriculum, but they’re important life skills. There has to be a way to recognize when legitimate concepts are being taught, even when they’re not taught by the public schools.

      Finally, saying that failing the test means automatically going to a public or private school is overly simplistic. That should be handled on a case by case basis to see if it’s necessary, or if there are ways of working with parents to find ways to satisfactorily teach without going to that extreme when possible. Will it always be possible? No, of course not. But in some cases it might be easily possible. I think if we’re worried about homeschool education, we need to make more resources available, not just more restrictions.

      • Spuddie

        Reading and math skills are pretty objective measures and benchmarks for age/education levels.

        Standardized tests look for a level of minimum competency. If the homeschooling is at least adequate, if not superior as claimed by its proponents, then it really should be no problem for it to be reflected in standardized testing.

        Again, the point is not to evaluate the entire learning experience, but to gauge whether a homeschooled student is at least meeting the bare minimum expected. If the student can’t even rise to that level, there is no reason to objectively claim home schooling is even being effective for that person.

    • guestguest

      So if the public schooled kids fail several years in a row, will they be required to go home for their education?

  • S

    Ah! That’s horrifying! I was homeschooled all the way through grade 12, but in Florida. There, you’re required once a year to bring in proof of all your studies to an examiner, and take a placement test, to prove you’re improving. The phrasing is “improving commiserate with his or her ability”, I think, allowing for those with handicaps who can’t progress as quickly as average.

    But, there definitely needs to be some sort of accountability! Good lord. D:

    • fiona64

      “improving commiserate with his or her ability”,

      I believe the word you want is commensurate … but the Freudian slip is pretty amusing.

  • G

    I’m pretty sure Warren Throckmorton, a Christian professor, has been calling out David Barton since before the NPR story.

  • Elizabeth

    There are fairly strict requirements for assessing academic progress in my state, and I’m happy to fulfill those requirements. My kids are tested every year and I think it’s great. I find the results reassuring. I want to know that I’m educating them properly. My kids also have the option to go to school if they wish. We chose to homeschool because we wanted them to experience as much of the world as possible.

  • James William Jake Frizell

    Some people just can’t teach. Some won’t. Both don’t help students or the future generation of people who will have to make up the slack for them.

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      I agree. That is the problem with the public school system.

  • UWIR

    Read and write funny Klein no see teach.

  • Ross Gibson

    It is more telling about the state of education that private individuals think/can do better then the system.

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      It is telling about the state of the nation that people think we need a system.

      • Ross Gibson

        I do not follow you. There needs to be a system to provide universal education, to make sure everyone can and will learn.

      • Tom

        A nation *is* a system. With no system, there is no nation; just a lot of individuals on a landmass.

        It’s not necessarily that we need a system. We could, as individuals, get by without. But, and this may be hard for you to grasp, some of us actually prefer to live in a world with a certain degree of structure, rather than 100% anarchy, and that necessarily means a certain level of coercion above the base value. Rights are an inherent property of the social structures we construct, and I for one quite like to have rights, even if they come with responsibilities. With no structure to enforce them, rights don’t exist; people talk of freedom and rights as if they were part and parcel, when the irony is that a truly free person, in an entirely free world, has no rights at all.

        And, to anticipate what I feel you’re quite likely to say in reply, that we prefer a certain finite degree of centralisation doesn’t mean we’d be happy with 100% central control and no personal independence whatsoever. Rights are more like a bell curve; total freedom for all means you have none, and total despotism means you have none.

  • Dave The Sandman

    How are they doing their best? They have 11 kids and expect they can teach them all to the same level as the kids at normal schools. 11 kids, all mixed ages and abilities – even a frickin trained teacher would struggle.

    And despite clear evidence they are failing miserably in the fact their son was, to be frank, educationally sub normal when compared to normally schooled kids, they seem to be continuing with their stupidity.

    Arrogance personified. A total disgrace. Tantamount to child abuse – educationally crippling your kids because…. Jeebus.

    I’m just glad I come from a country where these parents would find themselves in court, and we don’t indulge the stupidity of expecting (or allowing) amateurs to do a highly skilled professional job.

    • The Inconsistent Atheist

      “even a trained teacher would struggle.”

      You expose your ignorance of homeschooling and teacher training.

      • Spuddie

        No you are just flinging poo, as usual. The article is a clear example of how at least this homeschooling teacher has failed miserably.

      • Jennifer Starr

        If your kid gets to eleven and can’t read and probably would even struggle in remedial classes, that’s a sign you’re doing something wrong.

  • athiesthomeschoolers

    We are an anti-thiest home-learning family who push our kids to learn lessons of social justice, non-violence and to question illegitimate forms of authoritarian rule such as exist in America today. We do this along side of the “regular school” subjects- for which we have purchased carefully picked curriculum from reputable educational publishers. We have removed all TVs from our home and use the library for entertainment. There is love and laughing all day long every day. It’s truly an alternative life style in which the children thrive. (There’s a lot of crazy christian curr. out there- see Sonlight if you can stomach it. We’ve met these families. They are fundamentalists and their children are dunces who say things about how Goliath had a dinosaur for a pet when he was young. At conventions, we hold our tongue and our bile.)

    We are able to intertwine all subjects together and learn at our own pace- custom tailored to each child in a one on one basis. PS cannot do this, ever. We both have college degrees and live frugally but fully. Every day and every thing is a lesson. Today’s public and private schools push corporate propaganda and corporate curriculum on kids with no vetting process of any kind from parents. The kids sit supine and stare at tablet computers digesting visual stimulus for visceral effect. Our 16 year old went to an urban high school for her freshman year. In history class (read: history class), they watched 3 hollywood movies as a part of the field of study. How much time lost to mindless entertainment! How much Socratic conversation could have been had! That’s part of the reason why we don’t use the public schools.
    As a matter of fact, if society decided to make an investment in the schools to educate whole human beings rather than worker-drones stuck in their class designation, we’d be large supporters. I believe in the theory of the schools, but they have been turned into some kind of strange focused world of herd mentality.
    My children won’t be taught conformity, consumerism and obedience so they are really good at standing in line and raising their hands and really bad at critical thinking and community building. The ruling class doesn’t want thinkers, then we might demand a society! Or, worse, a democracy!. The de-funding and privatization of public education is no accident. We are getting exactly the society they refuse to pay for. It’s social engineering on a mass scale. Say the pledge, wave the flag, shout freedom, have a pep rally and a dance and wholla- a citizen pops out at graduation!
    The public school teachers are a truly wonderful bunch who sacrifice and bleed for their profession and their hearts are in the right place, but they are unwitting poorly paid servants of a system intentionally designed to cripple the brains of its produce. I didn’t bring children into this world just to throw them into the meat grinder of our rabid capital-industrial system. I will teach them to refuse that system, to question that system and work to destroy that system. They won’t learn that in PS 202.

    • Spuddie

      Good, then you would have no trouble giving at least some marginal assurance that you are doing what you say you are doing. Standardized tests for reading and math for the age level is more than appropriate.

      If you are providing such an exceptional education, then it would not be a problem since it would really be about the bare minimum of competency here that the state would be looking for.

      • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com/ KevinKat

        You are aware that there are a number of different laws in different states. Pennsylvania (where I was homeschooled) had very strict rules. Some states have completely lax ones.

        • Spuddie

          Yes I am. However, Virginia, the state where the family in the article lives, is one with lax rules.

          From several of the comments by former homeschoolers besides yourself, it appears regulation does not really pose a singificant problem to the process.

          I don’t buy a lot of the arguments against regulation of homeschooling because education is a compulsory duty. If one is to opt out of such a duty, it needs to be justified. It needs oversight.

    • fiona64

      and wholla- a citizen pops out at graduation!

      Voila. /nitpick

      Please don’t homeschool your kids if they want to study French. :-)

  • moose

    Atheist homeschooling mom here–I’m not going to defend my choice since it’s clear that most people (on all sides) have made up their minds and trying to explain how home education actually works in many households is like shouting at a wall. It’s just not worth the effort. And I’m certainly not going to defend the obviously fucked-up family depicted in this story. But I do want to say this–it’s a little depressing to me how much SOME of the atheists here sound exactly like religious people when discussing home education. Religious people frequently have very warped ideas of what atheists are like–we all hate god, we’re miserable, we lack a coherent moral system, etc. We atheists get understandably frustrated at the stereotypes and we know that if some of those religious types would simply examine their own beliefs closely, they may see the flaws. We also know that many of them refuse to examine their assumptions precisely because they are afraid to confront them and they know that they may be in for a rude awakening.
    In the same way, some advocates of public schooling (which is NOT the same as education, BTW) use the same cop-out. They hear some anecdotes or even mention that they’ve personally met “many” homeschoolers and suddenly they know that homeschooling cannot possibly work [the kids are weird (I've always wondered what planet these people grew up on that there were no weird kids in their own schools), they can't read, do math, locate South Africa on a map (when Jay Leno interviews idiots on the street, do you think he's talking to people who were homeschooled?].
    Well, substitute “atheists hate god, they’re always angry, they’re immoral–hey, I’ve met some and heard others on TV and that’s enough for me” and you’ll see what I’m getting at. The fact is, many non-homeschoolers refuse to examine their own assumptions about institutional schooling. Just as Christians don’t want to examine their beliefs too closely, many parents of public school kids don’t want to examine the schools (or schooling philosophy) too closely. A significant portion of the American public believes that American public schools are in general doing a poor job. International test results–and the sheer ignorance of many adult Americans, virtually all of whom were public schooled–support that conclusion, But when asked about their own kids’ schools, suddenly they’re saying, “well, MY local schools are great.” Why the disconnect? Maybe it’s because they’re afraid that if they look too closely they’ll see the flaws in their own local system–they’ll see the kids who are ill-served by the one-size-fits-all system. And then, horrors, they’ll be forced to confront the possibility that their own kids may not be well-served by the system. It’s like an evangelical delving deeply into his own church’s teachings and realizing, maybe this isn’t right, but I’m too scared to rock the boat. After all, I may end up in hell.
    Are some kids ill-served by their homeschooling parents? Absolutely. Are many public schooled kids ill-served by the system? Absolutely. Should states do a better job of making sure that homeschooled kids are receiving an adequate education? Sure. But while people obsess about homeschooled kids, their own kids’ public schools are fucking up kids right and left. Religious fanatics are trying to force public schools to teach creationism and fanatics of all stripes are trying to ban books from school libraries. Meanwhile, my kids read whatever the hell they want and know more about the workings of evolution than most American adults (who somehow resisted the public schools’ teaching of evolution). The public as a whole would be much better served if they focused on the problems in public education. But as long as most Americans are unwilling to question their own assumptions about the underlying system, that will never happen. Instead, school “reform” efforts will focus on vicious attacks on teachers and developing more standardized tests. Or people will point to the horrors of homeschooled religious fanatics being taught creationism at home, while the religious public school parents sneak in behind them to bring religion into the classroom. Just like some Christians will focus on condemning Westboro Baptist, but refuse to take a comprehensive look at their own church’s teachings. I hate to see my fellow atheists–usually so free-thinking and willing to challenge assumptions–refusing to question their own beliefs in the educational system.

    • Spuddie

      So the big question, do you have any objection to oversight to see if the homeschooled child is receiving an adequate education?

      Many places have them take standardized tests to see if they are learning math and english at the appropriate grade level. It seems fair. We can’t just take your word for it. Some level of assurance to the public is necessary here.

      I have no problem with homeschooling as long as there is at least a marginal level of accountability to the public for going that route.

      • Beth Clarkson

        “I have no problem with homeschooling as long as there is at least a marginal level of accountability to the public for going that route.”

        No more than I would have a problem with a government required assessment of the growth/health of infants, toddlers and preschoolers along with all home-schooled children to make sure that their parents are doing an adequate job of managing their health.

        How would you feel about mandating regular physicals for all children in our society as part of an effort to find and protect children of neglectful or abusive parents?

        • Spuddie

          So you would rather resort to shitty analogy than address the issue. Well just to play along, if the government was providing that kind of healthcare evaluations for children free of charge, it would be silly not to consent to such things.

          We have compulsory education in this country in order to create some kind of reasonable reassurance children are getting at least a nominal level of education.

          Homeschooling parents are voluntarily choosing to opt out of such a system. The compulsory aspect of education means government has more than enough reason to demand some level of accountability to see whether you are meeting the bare minimum standards. The burden must be entirely on the parents in this respect.

          We can’t just take your word for it that you would be doing such things and it would be foolish to consider it. How would anyone know you are doing an adequate job as a homeschool teacher? We wouldn’t. That is not a sane position.

          • Beth Clarkson

            I think there are similar underlying issues of parental choice and obligations for both education and health of children.

            Are we a society that steps back and allows people to raise their children as they see fit as long they are not obviously neglectful or abusive? That’s how we generally handle most such issues in the U.S.A.

            Or do we, as a society, check up on parents to make sure they are doing an adequate job of caring for their children regardless of whether there is any reason to suspect otherwise.

            While I do agree that there are issues with abusive or neglectful parents homeschooling, I don’t see this issue as pervasive enough to create an an exception to this general approach in our society.

            You ask “How would anyone know you are doing an adequate job as a homeschool teacher? We wouldn’t. That is not a sane position.”

            Your statement relies on certain underlying assumptions about our society. Specifically, you are advocating that our society assume that parents are not doing an adequate job and require regular examinations of their children in order to establish that they are doing okay.

            It’s not insane to go with the flip assumption, that parents are providing adequate care. We do it for all other aspects of childcare.

            Both approaches viable, but they will lead to very different societies. Which society do you want to live in?

            • Spuddie

              What a load of crap. You are under the mistaken impression that parental responsibility trumps all public consideration.

              Education is not like healthcare. Your analogy fails miserably because of the clear distinctions between the two.

              The local government does not spend the majority of its resources providing healthcare to children to the entire community. There are no laws mandating compulsory checkups and continued health.

              The local governments do however provide education services. Generally education takes up the lions share of the property tax income of communities (or local income taxes). The entire nation has laws mandating compulsory education. It is a civic obligation to ensure your children are adequately educated.

              Homeschooling means you are chosing to opt out of the local education system. Since the state has a duty to ensure children are being educated either in their own system or a suitable alternative, the state has a compelling reason to demand that you maintain at least the level of minimum competency that they would require of those they are educating themselves. The potential for abuse with homeschooling is enough to warrant regulation in of itself.

              We have a clear example in this article of parents who failed miserably at educating their child through homeschooling. Most parents are not professionally qualified educators. Many parents chose homeschooling for religious indoctrination reasons rather than educational concerns. The state must be reassured here.

              We have former homeschooled students chiming in here who are saying regulation was important in ensuring the adequacy of their education. At least 2 have said it would be silly not to have it.

              • Liya

                Excellent points, Spuddie! Poor healthcare habits mainly serve to enrich our medical and insurance businesses by costing the individual his own cash, yet poorly educated people are eventually becoming a huge burden on society.

                Gone are the days when HS diploma and a 6 month training could provide a lifetime of great – well enough to support a family – factory wages, benefits,paid vacation and a good pension. Those jobs are mainly outsourced ,so being well educated and up to date with technological advances is required for even median income jobs. Intellectual demands of a good paying job are high.

                Lack of good, competitive education qualifies one for nothing but a 2.75 an hour job at a fast food restaurant.

                Yes, as a taxpayer I do care.

            • TychaBrahe

              Why is it so offensive to require homeschooled kids to take the same tests that are required of every other student in public or private schools in the state?

        • Tom

          Are medical checkups as part of the curriculum really such a bad idea? You already get physical exercise as part of the curriculum in state schools, after all, but whether or not it’s actually keeping the kids adequately healthy isn’t so rigorously examined as the other subjects at present.

        • Jennifer Starr

          Actually when I went to school, they checked your height/weight and screened you for vision and hearing problems and scoliosis. If there was an issue they let your parents know.

          • fiona64

            I remember vision and hearing screenings in elementary school, but didn’t have the first height/weight and scoliosis screenings until high school. By that time, I was in treatment for scoliosis already … but it was still a good thing.

        • fiona64

          How would you feel about mandating regular physicals for all children in
          our society as part of an effort to find and protect children of
          neglectful or abusive parents?

          I would be behind it 100 percent. As noted below, we had hearing and vision tests, as well as height/weight and scoliosis screenings when I was in school. Mandating regular physicals would identify health issues in need of remediation … in addition to victims of abuse and neglect.

    • kelemi

      Sad, most people think Christian Fundamentalists when home schooling is mentioned. In the late 1960s, many who home schooled were left leaning hippies.

      Mt cousin home schooled her son and it was a great success story. Glad your story was a success.

  • margieR

    We home-schooled our daughter for high school. She took 9 AP courses and did all the work herself. Oddly enough most of the Ivy league schools didn’t believe her numbers, even though her GREs were also good. Fortunately the best school for her interests in science (having the biggest laser in the world, at the time) grabbed her.

    It should be mandatory for homeschooling families to have their children take the standardized tests to show that they have a decent grasp of science, history, math, and at least one foreign language.

    • kelemi

      My cousin home schooled her son. It worked out well, but she had to do a lot of prep work. Her son was accepted in George Mason University at 16 and graduated at 20. I don’t know if he took the standardized tests or not.

  • margieR

    I would add that good reading skills are essential as well. Through judicious rationing, we ended up with an avid reading and math/science child.

    • 3lemenope

      Homeschooling or not, books are the secret sauce.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Can you elaborate on “judicious rationing”?

      • RobMcCune

        Margie allotted her child more butter, fresh produce, gasoline, and tin than they needed?

  • kelemi

    I have seen success and failure stories on home schooling. It isn’t for everyone. There are help web sites that are not religious. There is even one for Atheists. There is a lot of work to home schooling when done right. If people ask me about it, I tell them about the work required if done right. The success stories attest to the parent’s preparation of lessons.

  • kanawah

    At a minimum there should be a required basic curriculum, and over sight. The children should be tested regularly by the state school system to be sure that they are able to read and do age level math.

    From what the article said, this family is a total failure. It will produce at least 8 and possibly 10 or 11 “dependent adults”. This family should not be allowed to continue home schooling.

    The same should apply to “charter schools”. If they are not producing, shut them down.

  • Mira

    If anyone here wants to say “Well just send ‘em to a religious school” remember that a lot of those schools are huge piles of shit too. I went to such a one: I’m STILL catching up on all the science and history I didn’t learn. I nearly failed both biology courses in college because I simply didn’t KNOW the information. I was so indoctrinated (even at that point) that it was genuinely difficult for me to learn what was being taught because I was terrified of learning something “bad.” Obviously I’m over it now…but I’m 23 years old and still voraciously reading information and learning new things that the average public schooler will have learned by the time they were in seventh grade. I’m devastated by how far behind I am, and I wonder if I had been able to tap into my love of science I have now if I would have had a different–maybe better–career path if my education wasn’t horribly stunted.
    My parents are religious, but they’re smart. However, had I been homeschooled, I’d have been in the same position scientifically. Even with a mom who has a PhD in electrical engineering (she wouldn’t have been around anyway…she’s active duty USAF), my parents refuse to discuss Darwin, evolution, or anything like that. I can’t imagine how they would have tackled basic anatomy, considering how unable they were to communicate to their first of FOUR girls that the menstrual cycle is normal and how to deal with it!

  • fiona64

    In Virginia, where this story takes place, there is no oversight whatsoever.

    While fully recognizing that I do not know every person in the world, it has been my experience that the first people to rush to “homeschool” their kids are the ones least qualified to do so … and their “reasoning” is almost always that they do not want their children having “inappropriate outside influences” on them.

    In the case of the youth cited in the story, apparently geography and algebra are on the list of “inappropriate outside influences.”

    I am in wholehearted concurrence with the countries where homeschooling is illegal. Keeping children ignorant is a form of abuse.

    • Liya

      Yes! I am puzzled as for why some believe that anyone, just anyone, can become a full time (home)school teacher, successful one no less!
      Thus essentially dismissing the importance of many years of education, learning, exams, evaluations and training in psychological aspects of kid’s development that real teachers go thru.
      What’s next? Homebred amateur heart surgeons?

  • gerber

    lets not forget that most functionally illiterate people in prison are the product of the public school system. Also articles like this lean towards bashing secular homeschoolers too and they need our support.

    • Heidi McClure

      citation, please

      • fiona64

        Ditto to Heidi’s request.

  • gericault23

    My younger sister and I were both home schooled for high school starting shortly after my parents joined a local Pentecostal church, which was a great disservice to both of us (luckily we were both straight-A students in public school before home school, and it was only for high school). My sister, who was very outgoing and sociable before, has struggled with extreme social anxiety since, even though neither of us has stepped into a church in 12 years. We learned literally nothing in christian home school, and were both massively behind in the sciences and mathematics compared to friends in public school. I consider my parents joining the Pentecostal denomination as one of the most damaging and harmful things in both our lives.

  • Jen Rosado

    Was the “dig” suggesting that all 7,000 homeschoolers in the state of Va come from bible thumping households absolutely necessary? Does the authors belief that a “religious exemption” automatically is an exemption just for Christians have any bearing whatsoever on the point of the article? Any insertion which is not relevant to the reporting or the argument is extraneous and should be left unwritten or unsaid. Oh, I see now, the author is an atheist. Funny how so may atheists get offended by any mention of the word “God,” yet they feel free to champion their own cause and beliefs at any given opportunity.

    • Spuddie

      Probably, since the people who tend to use the religious exemptions (its a real thing, no need for scare quotes) are the ones most likely to be doing so to indoctrinate their children rather than teach.

      Nobody is offended by the word God. We just don’t need it in our government buildings and tax subsidized programs. Your God doesn’t need my money =)

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Was the “dig” suggesting that all 7,000 homeschoolers in the state of Va come from bible thumping households absolutely necessary?

      This complaint is fictional. The history of such complaints suggests that it’s based on defensive projection.

      Funny how so ma[n]y atheists get offended by any mention of the word “God,” yet they feel free to champion their own cause and beliefs at any given opportunity.

      Funny how the commenter has to attack straw men in order to have an argument. See “defensive projection”, above, as well “lack of education on secular and Separation issues”.

  • character9

    If a person wants to homeschool, public school, unschool, it is none of my families business and vice versa….if people just focus on there own children and stop worrying about what others are doing we could all be better parents..what your kids do or dont do is not my problem, the government just wants to be in everybodys business and so do “some” people…just nosey busybodies with no life or unhappy and misery loves comp…I tell you when I got some business of my own to tend to I didnt have the time to be nosey and unhappy

  • Chris

    Homeschoolers should be made to take standardized tests like all elementary and secondary school students. If states don’t have these tests, then don’t blame the homeschoolers. I can find 100 kids who went thru public school and cannot even add. But these do-gooders just want control over the minds of your kids, to make them all atheists. These are control freaks, who demand higher pay and benefits for insufficient work. And by the way, people are not stupid, they will make it in society with little education and being good , Godly and hard-working. they won’t come out of public school feeling like victims and looking for handouts from the govt. for the rest of their lives. You want to see the % on food stamps (48 million) and social disability (80m after UIC run out). 1/2 the population now are on some type of gov’t assistance. that is all Public education.
    But look at me, I am beautiful and my hubby is just a plain old country clown, ill-preparted for leadership and servious debate.

  • kassi novello

    I have watched my overprotective (to a fault ) niece pull her kids out of one program after another, it was always something wrong w/the pre school teacher, the gymnastic coach, the tennis coach…so she decided to homeschool them. Her degree is in early child development. She has proven to be completely unequipped to give them a modern education.
    The eldest, now 11, she has zero to poor reading skills, another son w/speech impediment that should have been taken care of by a professional when he was 3. The youngest us kindergarten age, but his speech is also way off & he is also imposdible to understand. There ‘school hours’ are very minimal & inconsistent. All 3 kids are incredibly socially awkward. These parents -or at least the mom-has mistaken love for her kids as ownership of them & they are her constant companions–with an extremely limited outside existence & refuses to allow her kids any outside influences.
    I almost feel her sense of purpose is to hold on to these kids as possessions with very little interest in them being 3 separate human beings. I wish there was someone who could bring her around to reality, but like I said–she us a very controlling woman and banish’s people who disagree with her. No authorities have ever intervened. This is a train running down the track, gaining speed, with no hope right now of stopping…and it will crash. This just will not have a good ending and it is so painful to see it and be 100% helpless…


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