I’ve Had Enough: My Reply to HSLDA’s Response

HSLDA has now offered an official response to my post about their defense of child abusers. Interestingly, they didn’t bother to link to my article, or even mention it by name. Were they worried that people would actually read it for themselves, and then not find their response convincing? Regardless, their response actually confirms that I had my details correct in that post, and also cements the concerns and problems I have with them as an organization. In this post I will look at their statement and offer my response.

First, because some of you reading this may not be regulars here, I want to take a moment to lay out my credentials. I am a homeschool alumna. I was homeschooled from kindergarten all the way through high school, and my parents were HSLDA members that entire time. I grew up reading every issue of the Home School Court Report, and when I was in high school I traveled to Patrick Henry College to attend a summer camp taught by Michael Farris himself. I’m not some outsider without experience with homeschooling.

Today I have two young children of my own. They are not yet school age, but I intend to put them in public school. While I received a decent education being homeschooled—I attended college on scholarship—I am making a different choice for my children. I’m not anti-homeschooling, and I absolutely want to keep homeschooling available as an educational option. I do, however, believe that there should be reasonable regulations on homeschooling to ensure that homeschooled children are being educated.

With that out of the way, let’s turn to HSLDA’s response.

“HSLDA does not condone child abuse”

The response starts with this:

It has come to our attention that HSLDA has recently been accused of condoning child abuse. HSLDA does not and will not ever condone nor defend child abuse.

Let me pose a question to HSLDA: What is child abuse? It’s easy to speak against something without defining it. Even though HSLDA continually says that it only supports “reasonable” corporal punishment, in practice HSLDA a track record of working against bills that would ban excessive corporal punishment. For example, in 2010 HSLDA opposed a Florida bill that it described as follows:

Includes inappropriate or excessively harsh corporal discipline in the definition of “criminal conduct” for purposes of protective investigations. Prohibits parents, legal custodians, or caregivers from inflicting such corporal discipline. Provides penalties and applicability.

Why did they oppose this bill? Well, because in addition to things like fractured skulls and disfigurement, the bill banned discipline that resulted in “significant bruises and welts,” including it under the definition of “excessive corporal punishment. In another example, HSLDA opposed a 2012 Mississippi bill that would have made it illegal to:

Whip, strike or otherwise abuse any child except as a result of reasonable discipline, in self-defense or in order to prevent bodily harm to a third party.

Because this bill lists reasonable discipline as an exemption from the prohibition on whipping or striking children, it would not have banned corporal punishment. In fact, it would have enshrined it as legal. It would only require that corporal punishment be reasonable. HSLDA opposed it and successfully mobilized homeschoolers to defeat it. Need I point out that this was not a homeschool issue?

HSLDA may claim that it does not condone or defend child abuse, but it appears that its words do not match its actions. Words are easy—it’s actions that matter.

The Cases: The Gravelles and the Carrolls

Now on to the next part of HSLDA’s statement:

HSLDA receives hundreds of calls each year from parents who are under investigation by CPS, often based on false, anonymous, trivial, or malicious reports. The vast majority of these are determined by CPS or a court to be unfounded and are dismissed. Because of this, we do not immediately assume that everyone who is the subject of an investigation is guilty of child abuse or neglect.

As a service to our members, we help homeschool families navigate the legal landscape in the early stages of an investigation before all the facts come to light. This could include helping families know their constitutional rights, helping them understand the legal process, or referring them to a local attorney. If the allegations include homeschooling, we generally will either assist their local attorney to defend homeschooling or represent the family on homeschool matters.

This is clearly a reference to HSLDA’s handling of the Gravelle case. In that case, HSLDA’s Scott Somerville spoke to Michael Gravelle after accusations of child abuse surfaced and then spoke publicly in Gravelle’s defense, even calling him “a hero.” Gravelle was accused, among other things, of keeping his children in cages, something he was not shy to admit. He claimed that he kept the children in cages to protect them, because of their special needs. I don’t know for sure what Gravelle told Somerville, but given that Gravelle never denied keeping his children in cages, and given that that is what he was accused of, it seems fairly certain that Somerville knew about the cages when he called Gravelle “a hero” and choose to believe Gravelle’s insistence that the cages were there to protect the children.

It’s true that we shouldn’t assume someone is guilty just because they are accused of it. But I don’t think it’s fair to automatically assume that they are innocent either (I’m not talking about in a court of law, where the assumption is, and should be, innocent until proven guilty). I think the correct course of action for us as individuals is to take a good look into the facts of the case before assuming one way or the other.

I don’t know how HSLDA determines whether HSLDA members who are accused of child abuse are guilty or not. I’d love to know more about how they go about this, especially given their extreme reticence to ever let child protective services speak to a homeschooled child alone. Does HSLDA do what is needed to make sure that the parents are not guilty with the abuse they are accused of before coaching them in how to ensure that child protective services never gets to speak with their children alone? How would HSLDA even know whether the allegations are true? Do they speak to the children, or just assume that the parents’ denial of the accusations must be truth? These questions are why HSLDA’s handling of the Gravelle case concerns me.

Back to HSLDA’s statement:

Of the three examples mentioned in a recent article, we did not represent two of the families and in the third we were involved on the question of homeschooling alone after the other issues were resolved by the court.

This is just what I said in my article. My interest in the Gravelle case involved Somerville’s verbal defense of the Gravelle parents, not legal representation, and as I stated quite clearly, the Jackson parents are being defended by an attorney affiliated with HSLDA rather than HSLDA itself. And in the Carroll case, as I stated, HSLDA defended the parents’ right to homeschool after they had been tried for and convicted of child neglect leading to the death of a child.

So let me turn to the Carroll case.

In late 1992 or early 1993, the Carrolls were indicted for involuntary manslaughter in relation to their 6 year old daughter Hannah’s death and pled guilty to child neglect leading to the death of a child. Four more children died in their care in the nine months after Hannah’s death. While three of these deaths—Chloe, Noah, and Molly—were determined to be natural or not conclusive, the coroner ruled Josiah’s death, like Hannah’s, a homicide—something the Carrolls did not dispute but has never been prosecuted. In December 1993 Samuel and Isaiah were removed from the Carrolls’ care, but were returned to them in May 1995, with the requirement that the Carrolls be subject to protective supervision. The Carrolls immediately began petitioning to end the protective supervision, and continued to do so every couple of months from this point on. In August 1995 the Carrolls decided to homeschool, citing religious reasons. A judge initially ordered them to keep their sons in a special public school program for children with disabilities. HSLDA intervened, defending the Carrolls’ right to homeschool.

It is true that HSLDA only dealt with the issue of homeschooling in the Carroll case. But in getting involved, HSLDA was defending the right to homeschool of a couple who had admitted to child neglect leading to the death of a child. I think it’s hard to separate these things out, really. At issue is this: Does HSLDA think that anyone at all should be allowed to homeschool, or just those who have not shown themselves to be irresponsible parents? It gets only harder to separate these things out when reading what HSLDA said regarding the Carrolls in the Home School Court Report:

Tim and Kathleen Carroll are a loving Christian couple who have adopted 10 special needs children over the course of their marriage. As a result of the unfortunate death of 4 of these severely handicapped children, the Carrolls have faced criminal prosecution and children’s services intervention for the last three years. Though their oldest child, a 19-year-old, is not permitted to live at home, the custody of all of their minor children has been returned to them. The only issue remaining to be decided is whether Mr. and Mrs. Carroll may be permitted to home school a 12-year-old child with cerebral palsy and a 7-year-old child with Down’s syndrome.

In other words, HSLDA was clearly defending the couple’s character, not just their right to homeschool. HSLDA took on the case as a question of whether people should be able to homeschool special needs children, and represented it as such to their member families. In fact, the Home School Court Report article didn’t even let on that the couple had pled guilty to child neglect leading to the death of a child, that two of the deaths had been ruled homicides, or that five children had died in their care within nine months. That seems more than a bit misleading to me.

Here’s the Rub

Now let’s look at the last section of HSLDA’s statement:

We believe that every child deserves a healthy upbringing and that parents have the high honor and duty to meet that child’s needs.

Does HSLDA do anything to ensure that homeschooled children have a healthy upbringing? Does HSLDA do anything to ensure that parents fulfill their duty to meet their homeschooled children’s needs? Believing that children deserve these things only goes so far if you simultaneously work against any safeguard that might ensure that they actually receive them.

For 30 years we have been zealously advocating for the right of thousands of parents to responsibly homeschool their children.

Actually, no, for 30 years HSLDA has been zealously advocating for any parent’s right to homechool, responsibly or not. HSLDA has opposed laws that would provide extra monitoring when parents with previous substantiated abuse cases against them choose to homeschool. HSLDA has opposed any requirements or oversight of homeschooling whatsoever. So no, HSLDA has not limited its advocacy to those who “responsibly” homeschool.

To the extent that any statements we may have made could be misunderstood to suggest that we condone the abusive actions of some we repudiate them wholeheartedly and unequivocally.

Why would you repudiate statements just because they might be “misunderstood” rather than simply saying that people are misunderstanding your statements? Look, either say that people are misunderstanding what you’re saying and explain where they are misunderstanding it, or admit you messed up and take it back. This paragraph reads like some sort of weird technical legal maneuvering.

Where I’m Coming From

I think part of the problem here is that HSLDA members, including the ones commenting favorably on HSLDA’s statement, are coming from the perspective of homeschool parents. I’m not. I have never been a homeschool parent. What I have been is a homeschooled child. I think a lot of homeschooled children, even those who had fairly good homeschooling experiences, as I did, are aware that there are abusive homeschool parents out there, and homeschool parents who are not giving their children good educations, or even any education at all. We’ve seen it. We watched it happen to others, if not to us. And because we were homeschooled children, we think the rights of homeschooled children are worth defending.

But HSLDA doesn’t exist to protect the needs of homeschooled children. It exists to protect parents’ right to homecshool—any parent’s right to homeschool—even if those parents are abusive or neglectful. Even as they insist that they only defend parents’ right to homeschool, and not child abuse, HSLDA never speaks against allowing abusive or neglectful parents to homeschool. And while most homeschool parents are not abusive, some homeschool parents are, and the results are not pretty.

What is HSLDA’s solution? I’ll quote Christopher Klicka from a 2004 article:

We want to maximize parental freedom. We want the honor system.

The honor system? Really? HSLDA is really going to stand there and tell me that the only thing they want protecting homeschooled children is the honor system? I have news for HSLDA: Abusive parents don’t care about the honor system. Relying on the honor system to make sure that homeschooled children have the healthy upbringing they deserve is not enough. Homeschooled children need safeguards to ensure that their parents actually educate them, not “the honor system.”

And while I’m quoting Klicka, let me offer another:

If children have rights, they could refuse to be home-schooled, plus it takes away parents’ rights to physically discipline their children.

Klicka’s “if” indicates that he does not believe children have rights. But children do have rights—they have been ruled persons within the meaning of that term’s use in the Bill of Rights. I think I get where HSLDA is going with this, though, and I don’t like it. The byline of HSLDA’s affiliated parentalrights.org is “Protecting Children by Empowering Parents.” It seems as though HSLDA thinks parents will always act in their children’s best interests, so children don’t need rights. Interestingly, this is something that was once said about slaves, and about women. The thing is, we know for a fact that parents don’t always act in their children’s best interests—that some parents abuse and neglect their children—and that is why we, as a society, have granted children rights. But that’s not something HSLDA is willing to accept.

And one more from Klicka:

Mr. Klicka added that the only regulation he found “reasonable” was that families notify authorities of their plans to home school.

In other words, HSLDA doesn’t think it’s “reasonable” to restrict the ability of convicted child abusers or sex offenders to homeschool their children. HSLDA doesn’t think it’s “reasonable” to require additional oversight when those with open child abuse investigations against them opt to homeschool. HSLDA doesn’t think it’s “reasonable” to actually require that homeschool parents give their children an education.

You know what? I’ve had enough. Homeschooled children deserve more than this.

The Tony Jones Affair: Releasing the Documents
Fifty Shades of Disagreement: Evangelicals and Feminists on Fifty Shades of Grey
The Pennington Point on Adult Children, Maturity, and Drivers Licenses
HSLDA on those "Radically Atheistic" Public Schools
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • WordSpinner

    This, I think, lays out the reasons I’m really, really not okay with framing an issue as parental rights–because I honestly don’t think that is a good way to describe it. I think children have rights and needs, and parents have duties and legal abilities that help them meet those needs and protect their children, but if they are not carrying out those duties then someone needs to step in and do it for them.

    Parents don’t own their children.

  • smrnda

    On Gravelle’s case, he personally admitted to locking his kids in cages. This isn’t an unproven allegation, he said he did it.

    On the quotes on kids’ rights, I’m all for kids having the right to refuse to be home-schooled, and I’m all for parents not being allowed to hit their kids. I think that would be great.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana Hope

    I did find it interesting how many of those against HSLDA on the FB thread were former homeschool students while those opposing were overwhelming homeschool parents. The issue is that its personal. Our friends shared over coffee how they can’t even pass the GED, and our best friends would come over to escape the physical beats (both stories true in my friends’ lives, two separate families). As kids it all seemed normal, and then there’s the day when it all clicks. There is abuse in homeschool circles. By no means does this mean I am anti-homeschooling, but I firmly believe we need some accountability and regulation, and until HSLDA tells us how they will practically address child abuse, they will remain, in my mind, as part of the problem. Libby Anne, you are amazing. (And I’m off FB right now, and this *almost* makes me want to get back on, haha.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/melody.marie Melody Jones

      You know, I hadn’t actually noticed the way students and their parents chose sides, that but it is absolutely true. o_o Yeesh.

  • Heatherjanes

    Libby Anne, I just want to say that I think you did a great job of laying out these issues. I have appreciated this whole series on HSLDA so much. Hopefully it will start much needed dialogue and be a wake up call to some.

  • Jill

    Libby Anne, Rage On!! It’s been a while since I’ve been this interested and engaged in a series of blogposts. Thank you! I live in Canada, so reading your posts has been eye opening. Homeschool parents here are highly regulated in terms of the curriculum they must use and assessments etc. that must be done… I just can’t imagine that there are places in the USA that actually resist the mere registration of homeschoolers! And the posts have been very illuminating in terms of the downright diabolical actions of the HSLDA. I hope you really don’t mean “I’ve had enough” because I hope you keep going with this, because I’d like to see your blogposts get a lot of widespread attention. Obviously HSLDA has taken notice, which is wonderful. Thank you again for shining your spotlight on this.

    • Kimberly

      Thankfully, homeschooling is NOT heavily regulated across Canada, with the exception of a couple of heavily regulated provinces. Neither of the two provinces I have homeschooled in require approved curriculum or assessments, or anything of the sort.

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

        That’s … not something to be thankful for, IMO.

  • Jojo

    As a home schooled graduate, allow me to just say, “Take a break.” On behalf of the vast majority of home schooled graduates who had wonderful educations and fantastic relationships with their parents, please, just stop. You claim to have children’s best interest at heart and then imply that children know what’s best for them. The entire philosophy behind parental rights is that the vast majority of parents DO know what’s best for their children, MORE SO than their children do.

    No matter how you try to twist the facts, HSLDA has never argued that parents shouldn’t be held accountable for child abuse. They have defended the legal validity of homeschooling as a fundamental right, on the condition that the parents in questions are PROVEN NOT GUILTY of the child abuse in the specific cases you cite!

    So please, stop twisting the facts to meet your bias. Stop being “fed up” by a problem that you are largely concocting in your own mind. And stop making the rest of us feel “fed up” as well.


    • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana Hope

      “No matter how you try to twist the facts, HSLDA has never argued that parents shouldn’t be held accountable for child abuse.” Source?

    • Fanraeth

      Shorter Jojo: “You’re crazy and delusional and need to shut up, but I love you!”

    • Heatherjanes

      As a homeschool graduate who had an awful homeschooling experience, let me just say that telling Libby Anne to “take a break” is another way to shut down the stories and voices of people like me who have been hurt. You can speak for yourself but your experience certainly does not cancel out mine and your assertions that you speak on behalf of anyone but yourself are foolishness. You have no proof as to what the vast majority of homeschoolers experiences with or opinions on abuse are, so I suggest that if anyone should hush it, it should be you.

      One of these cases is pending and in the other two the parents were found guilty, with ample evidence. Not sure quite what you are yelling about there.

      Also, HSLDA has never argued that parents SHOULD be held accountable for child abuse or how that should be done. That is the issue. You can feel “fed up” with it all you want but it’s a real problem and I’m personally quite glad Libby Anne is doing such a thorough job of addressing it. I hope HSLDA feels compelled to address it too, spell out what they think should be done in the event of suspected child abuse and define what it looks like to them.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        I don’t know, Heatherjanes, your personal experience was clearly “conconcted” in Libby’s mind to support her “bias.” And, anyway, it’s totally not important. What’s really important is that every special little snowflake who ever either gave their children a perfect homeschooling experience (according to them, anyway) or who had a perfect homeschooling experience as a child not be troubled with the accounts of those with different experiences. Remember, it is all about them!

    • Nancy Shrew

      “The entire philosophy behind parental rights is that the vast majority
      of parents DO know what’s best for their children, MORE SO than their
      children do.”

      Full body shudder.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      “They have defended the legal validity of homeschooling as a fundamental right, on the condition that the parents in questions are PROVEN NOT GUILTY of the child abuse in the specific cases you cite!”

      Source? Where does HSLDA say the don’t think child Abusers should be allowed to homeschool? What I have here in this article shows the opposite.

    • jmb

      Children are far more at risk of violence–physical, sexual, verbal, and fatal–from their own parents than from any strangers. Read the FBI stats.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Never attempt to speak for an entire group. All you do is make yourself look like an entitled jerk.

      Further, Libby hasn’t twisted any facts. If you’d have actually read these posts, you’d realize that.

      And lastly, please get over yourself. The fact that you had a good home schooling experience, and some other people do as well, DOES NOT erase the kids who don’t, the kids who’ve been abused, the asshole parents…ETC.

    • AnotherOne

      I’m a homeschool graduate too, and I say Libby Anne keep going.

      Jojo, in your anecdotal experience, the “vast majority” of homeschooled graduates got great educations and have wonderful relationships with their parents. In my anecdotal experience, around a third of the homeschoolers I know got mediocre to terrible educations and lived in a home situation that ranged from not great to horrific.

      The truth is, we don’t have statistics to tell us what the experience of the “vast majority” of homeschoolers is, because there are few regulations and no reliable, wide-ranging studies.

      I’m glad you had a positive homeschooling experience. But is it really so hard to believe that many children don’t? To realize that a lack of regulation and an emphasis on parent’s rights allows many people to abuse and neglect their children under the cover of homeschooling?
      You can’t take your own positive experience and extrapolate it to everyone else. You seem to have been a part of a thriving homeschool community or group; good on you. But you might want to take into consideration that 1) the circle the wagons mentality and strictly-enforced behavioral standards mean that abusive and controlling behaviors in homeschooling families are often hidden behind a good-looking facade (as was the case in my family) and 2) many abusive or neglectful homeschooling families simply don’t socialize with broader homeschooling groups, so you wouldn’t know about them.
      This is a problem. I’m tired of healthy homeschooling families who associate with other healthy homeschooling families insisting that their positive expreriences are the norm, and that any negative experience is an aberration completely unrelated to homeschooling. Tired of good parents being so protective of their “rights” that they turn a blind eye to, or refuse to care about the fact that those “rights” give bad parents crazy latitude to abuse, neglect, and control their children.
      It’s true that cases like the ones Libby Anne details are on the very extreme/rare side. But there are so many more cases of families like mine where lax regulations and the cultural norms and reflexive defensiveness of the Christian homeschooling community are a breeding ground for misery, neglect, and less extreme abuse.
      I, for one, will not take a break. I hope Libby Anne doesn’t either.

    • Jayn

      “The entire philosophy behind parental rights is that the vast majority
      of parents DO know what’s best for their children, MORE SO than their
      children do.”

      The question is not “do most parents have their children’s best interests at heart” (Which is something I have a slight problem with anyways, given that some parents who believe they do engage in demonstrably harmful practices). It’s “what do you do when they don’t” and the answer the HSLDA has given is pretty much “nothing”. They have opposed even the most minimum levels of accountability–in that 2004 article they literally say “We want the honor system”. Also, I’m not sure where you’re getting that Libby is implying that children know what’s best for them. What I’m hearing is a call for other adults to be involved so that something can be done when the parents either don’t know or don’t care how to do right by their children.

    • Composer 99


      Please quote from the OP where Libby Anne asserts “children know what’s best for them”.

      The fact of the matter is that even parents with the best of intentions do not know what’s best for their children simply by virtue of being parents, nor do they necessarily have their children’s best interests at heart, simply by virtue of their good intentions. Of course, many parents don’t even have good intentions going for them.

      Libby Anne has clearly shown that, whatever HSLDA says about child abuse, it has made every effort to fight off legislation that would help alleviate child abuse, even when such legislation does not involve regulating homeschooling in any way.

      Between this and public statements by HSLDA personnel or affiliates defending the character self-admitted child abusers (e.g. calling someone who locks his children in cages a “hero”), it seems clear that HSLDA provides legal and rhetorical cover for people who neglect or abuse their children, whatever the HSLDA does or doesn’t condone.
      Finally, homeschooling is not a fundamental right in the way that, say, right to person is, if indeed it can even be called a legal right at all. If Parent A’s desire to homeschool trammels Child B’s rights to person because Parent A is abusive, Parent A has no business homeschooling.

    • http://www.shaneyirene.com/ Shaney Irene

      As a homeschool graduate, you do not speak for me. Please do not ever presume to do so again.

    • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

      You ignored the fact that they fought for the right to homeschool AFTER BEING FOUND GUILTY OF ABUSE!

    • chi7

      Sorry, Jojo, you can’t speak “on behalf of” the rest of “us” former homeschoolers. As a former homeschooler, I don’t need to have been abused myself to believe in advocating against abuse-enablers. Please take a moment to step outside your own “wonderful” and “fantastic” perspective and consider that everyone isn’t as lucky or blessed as you. And that is exactly the point: it shouldn’t be exclusively up to luck who gets a “wonderful” education and who gets isolated and abused.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      “On behalf of the vast majority of home schooled graduates who had wonderful educations and fantastic relationships with their parents, please, just stop.”

      You seriously need to cite your sources!

    • sylvia_rachel

      On behalf of the vast majority of home schooled graduates who had
      wonderful educations and fantastic relationships with their parents
      [citation needed]

      You don’t know that that’s the case. I don’t know it’s not. The point is that nobody can possibly know because the lack of even slightly consistent regulation means there are no good stats on this, no reliable studies, not even any good numbers on how many kids are being homeschooled in the US.

      It’s great that you had a good homeschool experience, but we have seen ample evidence in this space that lots of people have had experiences ranging from bad all the way to fatal. You can’t make those experiences go away just by extrapolating your experience to the entire population of homeschooled kids.

      It would be wonderful if, somehow by magic, all parents were able to always put their kids’ best interests first, always knew how best to handle every parenting situation, were all universally well equipped to teach their kids everything the kids might need to know, and were never tempted to abuse their position of power. That would be great. But that’s not what the world is actually like, which is why the world needs things like mandatory reporters and, yes, registration and regulation of homeschooling: it’s not because NO parents are doing a good job of educating their children, it’s because SOME are doing a TERRIBLE job and someone needs to be looking out for those kids.

    • Cassie

      Please don’t speak for me either. I am a home school graduate and I didn’t get a “wonderful education” or have a “fantastic relationship” with my parents (far, far, far from it). That is wonderful that you did but you made some huge generalizations there and that is poor logic.

    • http://twitter.com/TrollfaceMcFart Trollface McGee

      Of course HSLDA doesn’t defend child abuse*.
      *If you define child abuse into complete absurdity where only something as extreme as barbecuing your children (without sauce) would be categorised as child abuse.
      And of course because something hasn’t happened to you (or the majority of people you claim to speak for) means it isn’t an issue. I’ve never been murdered, clearly we don’t need homicide laws.
      Children aren’t property. We recognise that they are incapable of making adult decisions by protecting them. And yes, there are cases where parents don’t know best, where parents knowingly and willingly harm their kids, where parents brainwash kids. One of the cases Libby cites, the parents had 5 deaths out of 9 kids, that’s an over 50% fatality rate, being in a gang or shooting heroin is safer than living with parents like those. But yeah, it’s all about the parental rights right? And I bet they’re “pro-life” too.

      • smrnda

        This comment, so good. You totally caught the absurdity of the HSLDA mindset so well that your words will be burned into my mind for a long time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1068591569 Andie Redwine


      If an organization sends their attorneys out to fight for ‘justice’ for those who abuse children, they are sending a strong message about child abuse by implication.

      If HSLDA had arrived as a friend of the court on behalf of the abused child, I would stand and applaud. They did not. They filed briefs on behalf of an abusive parent’s right to homeschool their child outside of government oversight.

      You might have had a lovely homeschooling experience, and I applaud you and your parents. It isn’t easy to do. But your experience doesn’t negate the lives of children whose abusive parents use homeschooling to keep their children out of the public eye.

      I would hope that the issue of protected child abuse would make you feel ‘fed up’ – it’s time we stop protecting abusive homeschoolers for fear that the rest of the homeschooling community will “lose their rights.” If you’re not keeping your kids in cages and beating them with PVC pipe, I don’t think DCS is really concerned with you. If anything, why not be militant against those in your number who DO abuse — ultimately they are the ones who will erode your right to home educate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.marie Melody Jones

    Libby Anne, thank you so much for everything you’ve written, and especially for this series.

    Earlier this afternoon, my best friend and I were talking about the past few posts you’ve done and the HSLDA’s response and how for both of us, our first thought was that if you tweaked the subject words from homeschooling to rape, the HSLDA’s statement could be used to defend rape/purity culture without any further action.

    While it is good for parents to have choices in how they raise their children, oversight does not erase rights, and children are not robots who exist to fulfill parental expectations. I have yet to see anything come from the HSLDA that indicates that they’re even aware of either fact. :/

  • http://www.facebook.com/melody.marie Melody Jones

    Libby Anne, thank you so much for everything you’ve written, and especially for this series.

    Earlier this afternoon, my best friend and I were talking about the past few posts you’ve done and the HSLDA’s response and how for both of us, our first thought was that if you tweaked the subject words from homeschooling to rape, the HSLDA’s statement could be used to defend rape/purity culture without any further action.

    While it is good for parents to have choices in how they raise their children, oversight does not erase rights, and children are not robots who exist to fulfill parental expectations. I have yet to see anything come from the HSLDA that indicates that they’re even aware of either fact. :/

  • Slow Learner

    HSLDA don’t condone child abuse? Reaaaally.
    From what you’ve laid out in your last few posts, Libby Anne, they don’t just condone and turn a blind eye to child abuse; they aid and abet it.
    Their denial is thoroughly unconvincing, not least because it contradicts their documented actions.

  • Baby_Raptor

    A pregnancy is a life from ejaculation that has rights that trump anything a grown woman has to say about her life or her body.

    Once the kids are born? Shut up; they’re the parents’ property to do whatever they want with.

    • Fencerman

      It seems like these groups really are pro-abortion; but only AFTER birth.

      • jmb

        Well, the Dominionists have come out openly in favor of parents having the right to >>stone<< disobedient children..

      • Speedwell

        It’s the purity thing again, of course. In the womb, all is innocent and sinless. The born person is tainted by the world and born into a sinful, evil state because that’s how God wanted it. The pregnant woman is even more tainted and sinful… she’s even had (ick) sex. But she is saved by grace and thus trusted to transmit the grace of God to the evil, unsaved child, but she’s not quite up to the moral purity level of the fetus. See how it all works out?

        It’s not terribly Biblical, of course, and for that we might be grateful. Otherwise we might find many more cases of people attempting to baptize and kill babies before they have a chance to become evil, sinful children.

    • LL

      Every action the Fundamentalist Christians take leads straight back to this hypocrisy.

      This is how I know unequivocally that these Christians are simply using their “Pro-Life” stance as a way to control women, whether they are smart enough to realize it or not. They couldn’t care less if that child died from a club to the head 2 weeks after birth(especially if the parents did it – it’s their Parental Right), but have an abortion for any reason? EVIL!

  • Ken L.

    If they limited themselves to just providing legal defense to homeschoolers I could tolerate them. We have an intensely adversarial legal system. I sometimes wonder how anyone can defend some of these monsters, but in the end I’ll accept (through clenched teeth) that our legal system works best if everyone gets a full and vigorous legal defense. I’ll even tolerate calling monsters heroes as just another disgusting legal defense tactic. It’s not worse than full-force slut shaming of rape victims and that’s still pretty standard.

    But they clearly don’t limit themselves to this. They seem to do nearly as much political advocacy as they do legal defense and what they advocate for sickens me and betrays their true character and motives. They don’t want any “responsibility” at all for parents, just ownership.

  • Mel

    I think all states should require registration of minors who are home-schooled and have the students take the same battery of state tests. Most home schooled children and teens who enter my high school are in good shape academically, so these tests show where students are strong and if there are any spots they could use some help. On the other hand, I have had some students who were terribly behind. (A 20 year old student who was reading at 1.8 grade level still haunts me. He’d been pulled out in 3rd grade and returned to school after being kicked out of the house. ). For these students, home-schooling isn’t working as 3rd well. The local public school could help these students through diagnosis of reading problems or a part-time schedule to help boost their academic performance.

    Registration (with children present) and testing would also get the minors in front of professionals who could check for signs of abuse or neglect.

    Full Disclosure: I’m a public school teacher who lives in a state that requires registration in the form of “I’m homeschooling my children.” The students can take the battery of state tests, but are not required to. I think homeschooling works well most of the time, but we need more safeguards for the kids both physically and educationally.

    • BillyJo

      Tell ya what – when ALL public school graduates are capable of doing basic high school math, and can read and write at an 8th grade level, and all colleges can shut down their remedial curses, THEN we’ll have a discussion about testing homeschooled children.

      • smrnda

        If home-school kids are such high performers, don’t you want them tested by the same standards so we can have actual evidence of this? Unless you’ve got something other than anecdotal reports, you’ve got no meaningful data on whether home-schooled kids are doing better than other students. It would seem that home-schooling proponents would be eager to give home-schoolers the same tests. What you seem to be suggesting is that unless all public high school students meet standards, home-school children should just be assume, without any actual evidence, to be doing fine.

  • Lisa

    I find that the argument that “most people have had a GREAT homeschool experience” (empirical proof, please?) completely misses the point. You introduce a theoretical viewpoint from which it is ok for a minority to suffer in order to provide a good experience for the majority. By telling Libby to shut up, you do not only condone this philosophy, you actually help enforce it. “Shut up, don’t ruin it for the majority”. And what happens at the end of the day? We have at least a handful, if not a good percentage, of sacrificial lambs on our hands who paid with their lives, their emotions, their spirit and their future for YOUR good homeschool experience? Because it just happens so a handful of people falls through the net, but that’s a minor price to pay?
    I just want to take a minute to remind some people of the fact that they sell pro-life ideas as “fighting for the least”. Because the very moment you tell people like Libby to shut up and stop, YOU, YOU PERSONALLY, have given up that “fight for the least”.

    • DoaHF

      The homeschooling laws in Utah permit the LDS cults to teach that Warren Jeffs is the president of the United States.
      I think the homeschoolers of Utah should be more than willing to give up their complete autonomy for the sake of the children being kept ignorant of something as basic as US History.
      NO SACRIFICIAL LAMBS. If someone is hurt, abused, or kept in mental prisons, that is something that none of us should stand for, no matter WHAT ‘rights’ we have to give up.

  • Sally

    Great post. One little thing I’d suggest:

    “At issue is this: Does HSLDA think that anyone at all should be allowed to homeschool, or just those who have shown themselves to be responsible parents?”

    May I suggest it would be more accurate to say “… just those who have not been shown to be irresponsible parents?”

    I realize that creates a double negative, but I’m thinking of anyone from HSLDA or other people with their view interpretting this to mean that homeschoolers shouldn’t homeschool unless and until they *show* themselves to be responsible. I don’t think that’s really what you intended with that sentence.

    Otherwise, again, great post. Thank you for bringing this issue to light.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I just edited it to remove that ambiguity. I guess I would say that parents should generally be assumed to be responsible absent proof otherwise, but you’re right, that wasn’t completely clear.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

    Brava, Libby Anne. The fact that HSLDA has responded indicates that you’re putting real pressure on them. The fact that they were unwilling to even link to you indicates they’re afraid people will find you convincing.

  • Marta L.

    I’m reminded of an excellent blog piece ( http://morganguyton.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/how-did-jesus-come-to-love-guns-and-hate-sex/ ) about the thought process behind many gun rights and purity culture debates. This is in the context of Christian thought patterns, but I think it applies more generally. Morgan starts with laws allowing people to carry guns in church, and he gets to talking about how many people think that other people with guns are so dangerous, you have to be prepared to shoot them down at any time – but you certainly aren’t dangerous because you’re a good guy with a gun. Ditto with the purity culture. A teenage girl puts her sexuality in her father’s keeping because all the guys she’s going to meet for the next 5-10 years can’t be trusted to make good decisions in that area. Only her dad will make good choices there.

    In both cases you think that people can’t be trusted with X – but through the magic of personal bias, you exclude yourself from that category. And I see the same thing at work here. Certainly these people supporting the HSLDA wouldn’t be okay with paid teachers being on the honor system. They are human! Fallible! Even if you don’t worry about abuse and neglect of students, a lot of them pull their kids out of the system precisely because those teachers don’t do a good job. But somehow the parent can do no wrong. The HSLDA is walking a weird path where they make a leap based on the natural cognitive bias, that I’m not like those other people that need supervision. But then because they’re talking to whole groups they’re talking about a whole lot of I’s, a whole lot of people (the responsible homeschooling parents who haven’t completely drunk the kool-aid, and homeschool kids like you) who are convinced they couldn’t possibly need anything more than the honor code – and those people can look around at each other and see that, in at least some of the cases, they’re not so sure the guy standing beside them should be trusted.

    All of which makes for dangerous assumptions and weird disconnects between what is said and what at least some of the people hear it know is true.

    • smrnda

      This is a great observation. From the HSLDA perspective, nobody from a public school or a government welfare agency can ever be trusted and the worst is always assumed, both about their competence and their agenda. However, it’s clearly anathema to even suggest that parents aren’t 100% in the right all the time. It isn’t really about what actions are good or bad, just who is assumed to be automatically good or bad. It’s like their worldview rules out bad parents or good public school personnel from the beginning.

      • Marta L.

        I’m glad you liked my thought, smrnda. I think the message I take away is that the extreme is very rarely true, especially across the board: we’re all fallible to an extent, but there’s also room for good intentions. And our structures shouldn’t assume (if you’ll excuse the Christianese) that everyone is either a saint or a demon – we need to expect that most people will be somewhere in the middle.

    • Composer 99

      The fundamental attribution error at work.

  • ddrewa

    i’m certainly not condoning any of the alleged activities that began this discussion. and if even a fraction of the accusuations are true, i am extremely sad for these children who were hurt. but there are a number of bothersome inconsistencies and unsound conclusions, a few of which i’ve mentioned below, that the author draws in this post. (fwiw, i was homeschooled for many years.)

    “there should be reasonable regulations on homeschooling to ensure that homeschooled children are being educated.” (obviously ms. anne is referring here to the efficacy of educational programs, not alleged criminal matters.) who does she propose will write and enforce these regulations? federal, state, and local governments have a lousy track record of ensuring that children are being educated in the schools that they actually run. in fact it could easily be argued that increased government involvement and regulation nearly always results in lower performance, reduced efficiency, increased costs, and decreased accessibility. any public school teacher will claim that parental involvement is key to a good education. therefore, it seems a tad illogical to advocate a shift of responsibility from the parent to the government.

    the author seems to think that the term “child abuse” does–or at least should–have a universally agreed-upon definition. this simplistic assumption ignores the fact that there are many varying definitions of child abuse and neglect (federal versus state laws, civil versus criminal statutes, etc.) perhaps that is why ms. anne does not foresee any interpretation differences of the term “reasonable.” purely speculation here, but i’m guessing that at least some of the opposition to this proposed legislation was due to fear of varying interpretations. and i’ll climb out on a limb and presume that these states already had child abuse legislation in place.

    “this is clearly a reference to hslda’s handling of the gravelle case.” really? those two paragraphs sound awfully general to me.

    “but i don’t think it’s fair to automatically assume that they are innocent either (i’m not talking about in a court of law)…” i’m curious if the author would be fine with individuals assuming her guilt before knowing the facts.

    in the cases where hslda provides legal representation, they are likely far more familiar with the parents, children, situation, and circumstances involved than either ms. anne or i am. but let’s assume for a moment that all these accusations are true. maybe i’m misunderstanding something, but from a practical standpoint, it sounds like the author is questioning the rights of these parents to have their legal privileges defended in a court of law. does she also have a problem with individuals who have been accused of for more egregious crimes such as first-degree murder receiving representation to defend their legal rights? i find this quite disturbing, as any american should.

    • Christine

      No, she’s not. Please take the time to read this post and Libby Anne’s original post. If you still have complaints about what she is talking about feel free to start a discussion.

    • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

      Word fog!

      in fact it could easily be argued that increased government involvement and regulation nearly always results in lower performance, reduced efficiency, increased costs, and decreased accessibility.

      No it can’t. I’ll trust the opinions and advice of EDUCATORS over parents in what a curriculum should be ANY DAY!

      I don’t even understand what you’re third paragraph is about. What reasonable things are you objecting to, because the only thing I can think of, is the reasonable expectation that children have interactions with mandatory reporters. Which has absolutely nothing to do with any “definitions” of child abuse.

      If those two paragraphs sounded “general” to you, that’s only because you did not read the Libby’s article that HSLDA is responding to.

      And I’m sure the author would be fine with people prejudging her if people had an understandable reason to believe she abused her children(like one of them died from treatable bleach burns).

      , but from a practical standpoint, it sounds like the author is questioning the rights of these parents to have their legal privileges
      defended in a court of law.

      It only sounds that way, because you have an ideology you are reflexively defending, instead of an argument you are considering.

      What the author is questioning is whether it is necessary for HLSDA to lobby against homeschool regulations and child abuse definitions, if their mission was really about protecting parent’s legal right to direct their child’s education. And whether HLSDA has any metric to decide that SOMEONE, especially people convicted of abuse and neglect, should not homeschool.

    • Composer 99


      I work in the private sector (to be fair, not in education). I can tell you that the private sector can mismanage, work inefficiently, etc. just as bad as the government. That is, provided

      In addition, with regards specifically to parents, it’s a fact that humans as individuals have an extensive suite of cognitive biases, heuristics, and traps, and the like, which impair or override rational thinking. So we can’t just assume parents, however good their intent, are up to the job of homeschooling their children.

      Finally, your last paragraph is a hash of specious misrepresentation. HSLDA is not a public defender, with an obligation to take all comers. Insofar as their mission is to advocate for and assist parents who want to homeschool in legal contexts, they surely have the option of saying no to self-admitted child abusers. I should also like to know what “legal privileges” are under discussion here, as children are legal persons to, and not merely their parents’ property to exercise their “legal privileges” on. Please clarify, and be specific.

  • DoaHF

    My father cancelled his HSLDA membership and they called him repeatedly until he finally had time to sit down and talk with them. He homeschooled (or rather, oversaw my mother who homeschooled) 9 children ALL “under the table” in a state with very plain laws about testing certain grades, having evaluators come periodically and test the children, and having a curriculum submitted every year.
    My mother was proud of her work, and my father just wanted to “stick it” to the state and they refused to comply with ANY homeschooling laws.
    My father cancelled his membership because he did not think HSLDA would defend him for this behavior.
    Well, surprise surprise. After some discussion and back-and-forth they came to a conclusion that they could defend him based on ‘xyz constitutional saying’ and that if he renewed his membership and he was ever caught and taken to court they would take his case.

    They never once asked if we were being well educated. They didnt care that my father was a religious abuser and that his 20-something daughters couldnt leave the house without supervision and could never get a job or go to college (although they tried really really hard to recruit us for College-Plus!). They didnt know or ask or care.
    They just wanted my dad to sign up and be a member.

    All I have is my story. But I cant imagine that mine is anything out of the ordinary or one single isolated incident. I knew over a dozen families in our state who similarly homeschooled “under the table” in protest of the “overbearing” laws.
    I know my father discussed HSLDA’s promise to him with them as well and encouraged them to also call, get promised defense, and sign up.

  • kia

    I wasn’t familiar with HSLDA, BUT I was homeschooled. It was not a good experience and I struggle in college because of it. Though I think it should be a choice, I don’t condone homeschooling and I believe that it should be approached very carefully, with outside involvement to prove that the children are getting a good education.

    I wanted to be a person, not an object. Abusive families have no place homeschooling their children. This organization is appalling.

  • http://twitter.com/AnneCME Anne Ehlers

    Hmm – Scott Somerville was at CLC. I’m not sure if he split with CJ et al, but I wonder how this might relate to the case against SGM and their systematic coverups of child abuse

  • littlemrsv

    Can I just mention the irony (if someone hasn’t already pointed it out) of the “rights” of an unborn fetus being SOOOOOOO important to these same individuals, but once these fetuses are born they are no longer deserving of any rights whatsoever? “If children had rights. . . ” ugh. IF???!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/RonanWills Space Blizzard

    “If children have rights, they could refuse to be home-schooled, plus it takes away parents’ rights to physically discipline their children.”

    This statement is really revealing. As far as I’m concerned HSLDA might as well just call themselves the Child Abuse Legal Defence Association and be done with it.

  • Deanna Berg

    It’s surprising to me (or not) that these people would use children’s rights as an argument against abortion. Do children’s rights only include the right to live? Or are people with a HSLDA mindset guilty of a huge inconsistency?

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    I know how scary it is to call the authorities.. here’s my story and why women should call for help http://thehomespunlife.com/homeschoolers-christians-hslda-we-must-do-better-kids-are-being-abused/

    • Sally

      I’m so glad you made that phone call!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.crawford.182 Kelly Crawford

    How hard is it to say “If you admit to putting your children in cages you are not a hero, you are a monster and we condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms.” ?
    These people are beyond belief,complete cowards!

  • http://profiles.google.com/sigzero Robert X

    Your position is insane and indefensible.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Hahaha your comment made me laugh! Way to call someone’s comment indefensible without actually, you know, refuting it! LOL.

  • kurmston

    This was a very well written, thought out and interesting article. Your critical thinking skills are above average. No spelling mistakes – even your punctuation is correct. Far superior to many. So you say you were homeschooled. This really makes me want to homeschool my kids. Your parents must have done a great job!!

    • Ortin

      Thank you for demonstrating how ancedotal evidence works. I’m glad you took the time to increase my knowledge of statistical fallacies.

  • Princess

    I think it is disingenuous to claim you are concerned that homeschooled children receive an education, while the majority of public school children receive a mediocre or poor education. Is that also a concern of yours? I might add that I possess a bias of enduring a horrible public school experience, and I attended the “good,” schools in the “good,” neighborhood.

    A friend of a friend stopped over, who was a VP at a local high school. After speaking with my children for a few minutes, she exclaimed, “Your children must be homeschooled; they are so articulate and have such a good vocabulary.” They also weren’t afraid to speak to an adult nor rude to one.

    I did have CPS show up once, It turned out a neighbor who disliked my husband and his interference with the HOA was the culprit. I didn’t speak to the social worker, except to ask her to leave unless she could produce a warrant. She tried threatening me that she didn’t need a warrant. She intercepted my husband who had just arrived home and attempted to get him to sign a document that would release MY medical records. She said she could claim the house was dirty as a reason for a warrant. (Toys, school work and crumbs were on the floor)

    My younger son has Aspergers. You often hear the, “Children with Aspergers need socialization.” Yes, they need positive socialization, with peers that are loving and accepting, in limited and sometimes supervised doses. Not the sort of socialization that leads them to feel rejected and that they are freaks, as some of my friends experience with their children.

    Certainly there are homeschooling parents that neglect or abuse their children, but vast numbers of parents who don’t homeschool their children are abusive and neglectful. Numerous children are abused at school by staff or other students, and you are aware of the epidemic of bullying and many resulting suicides. You can point to a handful of homeschooled children who were abused? Are you as concerned about your own children’s public school playmates who may be abused either in their home or in school?

    • Rosa

      Yes, I am. That’s why I support the programs that reach out to those families, support preventive measures (like every volunteer in the school having a background check), work with the kids at school and sometimes tutor kids (schooled & homeschooled) at other times.

      There’s a large, varied, and vigorous debate about the various ways to make our public schools better and keep the kids from falling through the cracks outside of school as well. It’s going on in lots of places on the internet, if you’re interested in it. But right now we’re talking about the homeschooled kids. Partly because, as Libby Anne says, she was homeschooled and her kids aren’t school aged yet, so homeschool is her base of experience.

      If you’re a homeschooling parent, aren’t you concerned about the homeschooled kids who are badly served by the experience? Doesn’t it hit you personally, knowing that some of YOUR PEERS who are out here speaking for “homeschoolers” as if they represent you are abusers, or defend abusers (like some of HSLDA’s lawyers)?

      • Princess

        There are alternatives to HSLDA for support and legal help. They have certain theological beliefs and a political agenda that I don’t agree with. I have heard those who say we no longer need a legal support organization as homeschooling is a legal, done deal. Now, with the German hs case, it appears this administration is hostile to homeschoolers. I have one child at University and another that will graduate hs next year, so I am pretty much out of the woods as far as any threats, like someone who I or my spouse offend calling CPS in retaliation. Plus my youngest will be 18 in a few weeks, so they can all shove it. I don’t agree that anyone should defend known abusers. HSLDA supported a cult called “Twelve Tribes,” as homeschoolers. This is a high-control, abusive cult with a history of child abuse, forcing underage children to work in their businesses and that the outside world is Babylon. Now, this doesn’t seem to be something that would be helpful for homeschoolers to be identified with, but it is a slippery slope. The government could decide that they don’t like the religious or political beliefs of families and remove their children, as occurred in Nazi Germany, and appears to occur in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland today. We should all be thankful for what the pioneers did, and faced jail and the removal of their children so we could have the freedom to homeschool. No one speaks for me; not other homeschoolers or any support organization.

      • Princess

        I would add that it seems highly unlikely that a neglectful and/or abusive parent would decide to homeschool, as it is so much more work, so much more being around your kids, so much less time for your own pursuits.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        I used to think this too, but it’s actually not true. See this post for more: Why Homeschooling Is Attractive to Abusive Parents.

        Oh, and you might take a look at this site too: Homeschooling’s Invisible Children.

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

        Oh boy, this argument again. It’s been demolished over and over and over again- some parents intend to homeschool, get overwhelmed, and don’t know how to get out again. Some parents deliberately yank their kids out of school due to abuse allegations, saying they plan to homeschool, but they never did plan to. Some parents really to want to homeschool well, but they get sucked into the fundamentalist Christian vortex and wind up teaching their kids that women are walking wombs, the Earth is 6000 years old, and that children deserve to be beaten for the crime of daring to talk back.

        Doing homeschooling right is a lot of work. Not homeschooling, or doing it badly, is even less work than getting your kid ready for school in the morning and walking them to the bus stop.

      • Princess

        Feminerd, when my kids would decide they would rather fight and squabble with each other than do their schoolwork, I would threaten to send them to school, and that seemed to calm things down. I know there are incompetent homeschoolers; there just weren’t any in my social circle. One mother put her kids in a private school for a year because she had a difficult pregnancy, and resumed after the baby was born. If someone is overwhelmed, they can get help and support from many sources. It is certainly not for everyone. You would need to show me some studies that evidence statistics of how many families claim to homeschool when they really just let the kids play video games all day. Let’s compare that with how many public school graduates can’t write a coherent sentence. Since my older son was accepted to a very competitive university and both had been taking community college courses since middle school (free here in CA,) I think I am doing ok. I had two friends who begged me to homeschool their kids for pay. I refused, because one of the kids was a brat :) and no one could pay me enough to make the sacrifice and put forth the time and effort that I do for my own children.

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

        I’m not saying homeschooling can’t be done well, or that you did it poorly. I was merely responding to your argument that of course only involved, caring parents would take the time and effort to homeschool their kids.

        That’s blatantly untrue.

      • Princess

        I would assume it is easier to send a child to school than to have to deal with the mess that is inevitable when kids are in the house most of the day, and to mediate the disputes that naturally arise. I have heard of situations in areas like Appalacia where the older children are kept out of school and not educated so they can care for the younger children. From my public school education, I recall teachers who were incompetent, just waiting for retirement, and mean and nasty. So it is also blatantly untrue that only caring, involved persons become teachers. I suppose I could consider myself homeschooled, or self-schooled rather, as I didn’t learn a darn thing in public school except that I was not a member of the “cool,” crowd. I educated myself through a habit of voracious reading and convinced my parents to let me take the GED at 16 and attend community college, where a whole world of learning and a varied social life opened up for me. As a parent of a special needs child, I would continually hear horror stories about the school issues for special needs children, and how they were continually doing battle to get their children’s needs met.

      • Rosa

        The difference is that a child with an uncaring, incompetent teacher gets to leave at the end of the day – and gets fed regardless of the teacher’s feelings on their performance – and has other teachers and school personnel to turn to, even if they get unlucky and also have uncaring, incompetent parents.

        You should really read the stories at Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Every one is a well-documented case, there are more than “a handful”. I find the food-deprivation cases the most horrific and also the most easy to prevent, since it doesn’t take any sort of special training to see that a child who weighs 50 pounds or less in their teens is in need of serious care.


      • Princess

        I don’t doubt that there are abused homeschooled children. Is a homeschooled child more likely to be abused than a public schooled child? I don’t know of any studies. What is your solution? That parents not be allowed to homeschool, or that homeschooling parents deserve special surveillance as they are suspected of abuse? Do you know who the number one person likely to abuse a child is? It is a single mother’s boyfriend, who is not the father of the child. The second most likely suspect is a female babysitter. So, do we expose these situations to extra supervision, in an already overburdened and incompetent system?

      • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

        You have kids, so I’m assuming you’ve seen A Bug’s Life, so hang in with me here, this is like that whole pretend the rock is a seed thing.

        This post, well it’s a shoe. And this shoe, well it doesn’t fit you. So stop trying to wear it.

        Most the homeschooling parents(and it’s always the parents, never the children) that have come into these discussions with this huge mass of defensive anxiety about Libby’s critique, not of homeschooling or the culture, but of the Lobby/legal defense group that caters to homeschoolers. It’s almost like y’all got something to be defensive about.

      • http://www.facebook.com/NanMcV Nan Mcv

        The problem is, Libby’s critique is about a subculture thatis Dominionist fundamentalist protestant christian who believe that women are lesser than men and that children are lesser than women. But she frames it in terms of “homeschooling”. Not “corporal punishment parents” or “misogynist men” or “cultish religions” or even “homechurching”.

        So those of us who are in the majority of homeschoolers, who do not pay money to HSLDA to be “represented”, those of us who do not beat our children with plumbing hose, are being tarred with that same broad brush.

        We do not want public schools – which by and large hate homeschooling – to have authority to decide if our kids may be “permitted” to homeschool. We do not want to being contact with, or forced to subject our kids to close association with, people who look down on us. (Please don’t bother to claim that NEA members respect homeschoolers. Some do – some teachers homeschool their own kids – but homeschoolers won’t get to pick their “supervisors”.We’ll be stuck with those with the biggest axe to grind.)

        We do not want to be forced to “teach to the test”, which is typically the most common regulation proposed. Home education allows us to individualize curricula to fit our kids. We get to toss out arbitrary “grade levels” and work with our kids at their pace, not at a speed dictated by a book or an administrator. We don’t have to “grade” our kids – we can keep working until they’ve mastered a subject or topic or skill. Standardized testing doesn’t sync with that.

        If Libby has a problem with her upbringing, she could better attack that subculture through its theological roots instead of by putting focus on a peripheral practice.

        Homeschoolers have every right to be wary when public school enthusiasts start on yet another “Let’s regulate them for their own good!” campaign.

      • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

        I’ve seen scant evidence that Dominionist Fundamentalists DON’T make up the majority of homeschoolers.

        Also, if you think Libby’s critiques stems from her own upbringing, you aren’t reading her posts, but reflexively defending your own choices, since she’s stated that her own experience was fine. It’s just that time and distance allow her to realize that homeschooling offers little protection to the children involved.

        Most PUBLIC school parents share the same concerns about their children’s education. The difference is that they work within the system to make things better for ALL children served by public schools, whereas most homeschool parents I’ve engaged with onlone have a “I’ve got mine, fuck your kids” attitude towards public education that is antithetical and detrimental to society.

        I have several friends who have homeschooled their kids, after YEARS of butting heads with educators, because their kids needs weren’t being met, and I can respect that. I can understand that. What I can’t understand, is the attitude that would lead someone to classify someone a “public school enthusiast” as if it were a pejorative, as if a concerted effort to make knowledge accessible to everyone were a BAD thing.

      • NeaDods

        Princess, since you demand to see studies about homeschool and abuse before you believe people’s word about the own lives, I don’t think it’s out of line to demand to know the factual basis for your assertions about boyfriends and babysitters. And do be sure to cite studies that include data on children in the care of their parents so you can’t continue to imply that it’s those slutty divorced women or parents who dare leave their child who are the main factors of abuse.

        Andrea Yeats stayed home with her kids. How did that work out?

      • Princess

        Thank you, I had the opportunity to check out the link. These are very sad situations. But, have you ever heard the comment, “Tragic situations make bad law?” There are perhaps 1.5 million homeschooled children, and to use several cases of abuse as an attack on homeschoolers is hypocritical, unless you also supply a list of public school bullied children who have committed suicide, which I might guess would be a longer list. It appears more than half the cases involve adopted or foster children. I assume that an overburdened system was happy to dump unwanted and perhaps special needs children on anyone willing to take them, with improper vetting and no follow-up. In the cases of a child being removed from school following allegations of abuse or neglect; somebody dropped the ball here, and didn’t follow up. BTW, there have likely been far more cases of schools retaliating against families for removing their children mid-year (because they lose funding.) That is why homeschooling advisers recommend not doing this unless there is a critical situation. Statistics show that children in foster care are 100 times more likely to suffer abuse than those living with natural parents. So, what is the solution?

      • Rosa

        Establishing regulations is not attacking homeschoolers. It’s the intransigence of people (like HSLDA, which is an official homeschoolers organization with many members) arguing that any recognition of existing problems and attempts to prevent or mitigate them is an attack on homeschooling as a whole is what puts “homeschooler” and “abusive neglectful parent” under the same umbrella – basic regulation to sift one from the other is what the supposed attackers are attempting.

        For instance, if a parent under suspicion for abuse pulls their child out of school to avoid oversight and mandated reporters, not following up is not “dropping the ball” – it’s following the law. Several of us are arguing for that law being changed. HSLDA and many of the homeschooling parents who comment here have argued that is “singling out homeschoolers for special oversight” or “treating all homeschoolers as suspect”

        The same with limiting or specially overseeing the homeschooling of fostered or adopted children – HSLDA and many homeschooling parents have spoken up and said that’s unacceptable because their “right” to homeschool is more important than that “handful” of cases.

        If “tragic situations make bad law” is such a universal truism, did you oppose legislation about how institutions like public schools deal with the small percentage of cases of abuse there? I should hope not.

      • Princess

        As I mentioned prior, HSLDA doesn’t represent me, and I encourage people to use alternative legal support services for various reasons. I am not opposed to law; I am opposed to draconian law that denies constitutional rights based using a few tragic cases as fuel. In any instance of adoption or fostering, the agency has to ensure that the parents are capable and can handle the situation prior to any placement. Then there needs to be follow-up to ensure things are going well. It doesn’t have to do with homeschooling, it has to do with parenting. I assume the system doesn’t have the resources to do this. Even the idea of a family adopting and/or fostering many children, especially those with special needs, concurrently should be looked into. Families receive larger stipends for caring for special needs children, and perhaps some fostering is done for financial benefit only, with no regard for the children. I do know of a family that run the NATHHAN ministry that adopts and fosters special needs children and provides resources and counseling for others who do. So, I am not assuming that a family that adopts and/or fosters many children is doing it for nefarious purposes. Certainly, if a child is removed from school to cover up abuse, the school no longer has any authority over them, but the local social and legal services do So they need to refer the case to the appropriate authority. Even so, you can’t assume the various social services are competent and unbiased. My youngest is almost 18, so it is not an issue for me, but it will be for others. I do not believe I should pay the bill for incompetents and evildoers. And who is going to do the evaluating and oversight? Lets see, I think they propose that public school officials, who oversee a failed and failing system should have authority over those whose success is an embarrassment to them. Public school unions and officials also attempt to shut down charter schools that take some of their marketshare, as well as target homeschoolers who also cut into the marketshare of this monopoly. They mostly don’t target private schools, especially the secular ones, as this is a monied class that they won’t mess with. Let’s throw this out: Suppose a homeschooled child scores poorly on a standardized test? What is the solution? Force the child into a public school that evidences children who also score poorly on the same standardized tests? I remember when President Clinton claimed that homeschooled children who weren’t learning should be forced into public schools. And what of the public school children that aren’t learning? Should they be required to attend private schools or be homeschooled? Perhaps nothing I am saying means anything, because it depends what dog you, and various posters have in the race, and many seem to not be forthcoming. I am quite open about the dog I have in the race.

      • Anat

        Princess, are you playing the game of anecdotes? Some kids have a great homeschool experience and turn out fantastic, some end up with gaps in their education, some internalize their parents’ anxieties about certain subjects, some are actively discouraged from certain subjects, some don’t receive any education whatsoever, some are horribly abused. There are also parallel distributions of public school experiences, charter school experiences and private school experiences. The public schools in the US are being targeted by the ‘small government’ folks, but they are overall better than they are depicted by their detractors. Schools where fewer than 25% of the students qualify for free lunch do as well as countries with similar poverty levels.

        There are problems, mostly in schools with high poverty rates and a high proportion of ELL students. Part of those problems are the result of insufficient funding – due to the poverty of the local tax base. Yet another part is the result of adversarial policies from public school detractors under the guise of school reform.

      • Princess

        I don’t know what you mean by “game of anecdotes?” I assume people want to share their own experiences. There is not a lot of research, but homeschoolers come out ahead as far as research goes; 2 years ahead on average academically compared to public school students. Why do you think the Ivies are recruiting homeschoolers, because they are inferior? CA has the next to worst schools in the US; but if that’s what you want, that’s your choice. Everyone has to make the choice that is best for their family.

      • Anat

        You aren’t just sharing your experience, you are being confrontational about it, making biased assumptions about public schools and insisting your own children are evidence for the superiority of homeschooling in general. Your children’s achievements are evidence that good homeschooling can be done, no more.

        Research based on self-selection is useless. The children of neglectful, abusive and just plain not-competent-enough homeschooling parents are not going to be represented in these surveys.

        US public schools are comparable internationally to the school systems of countries with similar levels of poverty. As long as schools are funded locally that will be a problem. In California, just like any other US state, the schools with low levels of poverty do well, often excellently, whereas those with high levels of poverty do badly.

      • Princess

        I haven’t examined the methodology of research into homeschooling. Besides my own children, I am in contact with numerous homeschooling families both in real life and online. I suppose I don’t know any of the bad ones. As mentioned repeatedly, why are Ivy League schools aggressively recruiting this demographic if they are so deficient? Do you think that throwing money at a problem will solve it? Why are some schools that receive the highest per capita funding some of the worst? Why are some small, private schools that charge tuition that is half of what a public school receives per student do so much better? Children do well academically when their parents are actively involved in their education, and I don’t just mean in regard to school, but encouraging learning in all its forms. Anyway, I am staying up responding to all these posts waiting for my darling older son to come home for Mother’s Day weekend, otherwise I would be asleep.

      • Anat

        How were subjects recruited to the study/ies you speak of? What effort was made to seek out homeschoolers from the full range that exists?

        Throwing money at a problem has a chance of solving it when those throwing the money want to be constructive about it. The problem in US politics is that there are those (mostly conservatives) who want to use the money to destroy the system and there are those who were duped into ‘reforms’ that would do so. But without money the problem cannot be solved.

      • Princess

        I discovered this blog by following a link, so I was unaware that its purpose, apparently, is to allow a voice and venting for those who were abused, and especially those abused within the homeschool system. Is this correct? If it empowers someone to attack a homeschooler or homeschoolee; be my guest, use me as a target. But I would urge anyone who would listen to move beyond victimhood and survivorhood and chose to be an overcomer. Overcome evil with good; no one is denying evil exists. Regarding the current US educational system, I am no expert on this subject, but there is such a layer of politicians and administrators and other players with conflicting interests and their hands in the till, that I don’t see it as a fixable system. Perhaps you have some examples of policies and programs that have worked? For some reason, that something works is not a criteria. Often charities have good ideas. One example I read about is a charity that gives low-income children backpacks full of food for them to eat over the weekend. A man in my church collects children’s clothing and school supplies and partners with a church in Mexico to distribute them. He has to personally pay duty (or bribes) to Mexican officials to bring these goods that we have donated. I have seen charter and private schools solve the money problem by requiring parent volunteerism, partnering with local businesses and other creative solutions. I do remember, many years ago, interviewing a local restaurant to do a review for a local paper I was writing for, and the owner confided to me that he had to donate a large sum of money to the teacher’s union in order to get the school contract to provide lunches. That is just one small example of the corruption. I’ll throw out an idea regarding the ELL situation. Why not create a program modeled after the Israeli Ulpan system? Have a summer camp type program where children can receive intensive language instruction using a method geared to their age group. Perhaps partner with a Boys and Girls Club or something similar. Employ paid professionals along with volunteer assistance.

      • Anat

        If you want to know what this blog is about, how about clicking the ‘about’ button at the top of the page? Homeschooling is one of many topics Libby Anne blogs about.

        This topic here was part of an ongoing thread regarding the HSLDA and the abuses they help cover up and to which they give support. There is another thread about regulating homeschooling.

        I don’t think the entire US public education system is in shambles. For the majority of schools the most important change needed is to stop harmful policies in the spirit of NCLB. A few things like introducing foreign languages earlier.

        Charters that demand volunteer hours from parents are not a solution for children from low income families where parents work multiple jobs or otherwise work crazy hours to make a living. My daughter’s suburban school had many parents volunteering (I participated in coaching the Math Olympiad team for a few years). Poor schools can’t get that.

        And speaking as an Israeli – the ulpan is intended for adult immigrants. Children get support at schools, not very different from the US ELL system.

      • Rosa

        Actually, you’re not that clear about what your dog is in this race. If you don’t support HSLDA and aren’t a member there, are you here defending their stance that there should be no regulation of homeschooling? Because that’s what you appear to be doing by

        1) commenting on the article about HSLDS

        2) echoing common points of their defenders, such as
        * public school kids are abused too!

        * parents who decide to homeschool are by definition caring and committed parents, so would not be abusive or neglectful

        * the public schools are awful so homeschooling should not be regulated

        * I am a good homeschooler

        * any regulation is an attack on homeschooling

      • Shayna

        “Why are some small, private schools that charge tuition that is half of what a public school receives per student do so much better?”

        Oh gee, I don’t know…let’s take this one at a time.

        Small – The teacher has maybe 10-15 kids per class rather than 30+
        Private – The school does not have to accept a child like your son with Asperger’s, or a learning disabillity, or Cerebral Palsy, or Down’s Syndrome, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or anything else they don’t want to bother with.
        Tuition – By charging tuition, you are automatically selecting for higher socioeconomic class (scholarships being a possible exception). Parents who choose (or can afford) to pay extra also tend to be more involved in their children’s educational achievement.

        And that is just for starters. My personal opinion is that if you don’t like public school, work to make it better. That way you are helping not only your own children, but every child in this country (or at the very least, your local school district). I feel like homeschooling in general is kind of a cop out (to clarify, I DO understand that there are exceptions to this).

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne
  • Jennifer Steele

    Home School Legal Defense Association Court Report, April/May 1996, page 11.

    The number of Home School Legal Defense Association member families who are contacted by social workers continues to rise. Contacts are based upon either anonymous or identified individual complaints alleging that the families are abusing and/or neglecting their children. One constant theme throughout the complaints is that the type of discipline the parents administer to the children is abusive (i.e. spanking).

    Many people do not believe any child should disciplined with corporal punishment. But despite the fact that most social workers regularly tell parents they do not have a right to spank their children, or that they can only spank their children with their hand, this is not the law in California.

    The law provides that reasonable, age-appropriate spanking cannot of itself be considered abuse or neglect of a child. There is nothing in the California statutes that prohibits a parent from using an object, other than the hand, to administer the corporal punishment.

    It must be clearly stated, however, that any abuse to a child which occurs during administration of corporal punishment will be presumed child abuse by the child protection industry. The burden will be on the parents to demonstrate otherwise.

    In light of the above, here are a few suggestion advocated by child Psychiatrists and pediatricians for parents who use corporal punishment as one of the means of disciplining their children:

    1. Do not spank your children or anyone else’s children in public or outside the confines of your home. The windows and doors of your home should be secured when administering corporal discipline. Spanking should be done in private.

    2. Avoid spanking someone else’s child unless you have clear written authority to do so.

    3. Do not administer corporal discipline when angry. A spanking is most effectively administered immediately after the children’s offense.

    4. Use corporal discipline only for clearly understood and intentional disobedience.

    5. Clearly explain to the child why corporal discipline is being administered.

    6. After the discipline, always affectionately express your love for your child. A verbal review of the offense and verbal reassurance of the parent’s unconditional love for the child should conveyed.

    7. Spanking should always be administered with regard for the child’s age and development.