In Which I Am the Greatest Threat to Homeschooling

In Which I Am the Greatest Threat to Homeschooling August 28, 2014

Remember Thomas Umstattd, that homeschool blogger who spoke out against courtship a few weeks ago? Today he put up a post congratulating Michael Farris for speaking out against patriarchy. And, wow. The problems abound.

Homeschool Alumni – The New Internal Threat to Homeschooling

We are entering a new era as a movement where our biggest threats are no longer external but internal. Homeschoolers Anonymous (HARO) poses a bigger threat to homeschooling than any teacher’s union. These are homeschool alumni who understand homeschooling from the inside out and who often point out legitimate problems.

What gives the HARO power is not that there have been abuses in homeschooling. All communities have bad apples. It is that those abuses have not just been ignored but in some cases encouraged and condoned. If I had experienced those kinds of abuses I would be angry too. I thank God that I did not have Dragon Parents.

The problem is that HARO is calling for the government to solve these problems. And may God save us from the government trying to solve a problem.

You want to know something strangely ironic? Neither Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA) nor its parent organization, Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO) take any position at all on legal oversight of homeschooling. Really—none. They focus instead on awareness raising and community support. It is the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) that is advocating for legal oversight of homeschooling. CRHE’s board shares a one board member with HARO’s board, but the two organizations are fully independent and operate completely separately. Thomas Umstattd and his associates suck at opposition research. 

But what really floors me is that Thomas is labeling me and other supporters of HA, HARO, and CRHE the biggest “threat” to homeschooling. Farris at least argued that it was abuse and neglect in homeschooling communities that poses a threat to homeschooling (because someone might catch on and realize there should be some oversight). But no, Thomas jumps straight to the reformers and calls us the greatest threat. I tell you, being a whistleblower is no piece of cake.

HA and HARO are not anti-homeschooling. CRHE is not anti-homeschoolingI am not anti-homeschooling. And we—all of us—have been saying this over, and over, and over again. We are not anti-homeschooling. As homeschool alumni, we simply want to ensure that current and future homeschooled children have positive experiences. This is what alumni do, is it not? They work to improve their alma mater? They call for reform when they see problems with it? What am I missing here?

I would argue that the greatest “threat” to homeschooling is not posed by abused or neglected homeschooled children, or by alumni-turned-reformers, or even by homeschool leaders like Phillips or Gothard, but rather by individuals like Thomas Umstattd himself. The more leaders of the Christian homeschooling movement decry legal oversight and paint the whistleblowers as threats or traitors, the more they look like they have something to hide. 

Oh, and the icing on the cake? This:

We need leaders who can respond to internal issues while still defending us from external threats.

Thankfully, one of the Founding Fathers of Homeschooling has started to respond to our most glaring internal issues. Michael Farris has now come out against the abuses of the Patriarchy Movement. I applaud Michael Farris for his courage to take a stand on this issue.

To be fair, Michael Pearl spoke up about these same abuses 6 years ago, but it is Farris’ article that is getting attention and making waves.

. . .

I think homeschooling has a bright future. I suspect the movement as a whole will take heed of Michael Farris’ warning. People may be able to ignore Michael Pearl but it would be hard to ignore Michael Farris.

Yes you read that right. Michael Pearl, whose wife urges abused women to stay with and submit to their abusers and who advocates spanking infants and beating children until they utter a “submissive whimper,” that Michael Pearl is being held up as a positive and reasonable example and as part of the solution to the problems of abusive and neglectful homeschooling.

And of course, this is the close:

I hope less extreme elements of the movement can start getting control back over the conferences. I hope we can have a healthy conversation about what we need to do in this next season to respond to the HARO threat. As we address their legitimate concerns, the homeschool community will grow stronger and healthier.

I can’t help but wonder—who are these “less extreme elements”? Michael Pearl?

Oh, and here is what the self-policing Thomas advocates looks like:

If we do not police our own, the government will step in and do it for us. We must not allow that to happen. Government regulation is poison. Self-regulation is like manna from heaven. We must stop marginalizing the minority of abusers and do something about it instead.

It is time for those loving fathers within the Patriarchy movement to start challenging the abusive fathers to love their wives the way Christ loves the church. Parents need to challenge each other to not provoke their children to anger.

I’m sorry, but telling abusive husbands to love their wives and telling abusive parents not to provoke their children to anger will not work.

Umstattd can’t not know that Doug Phillips taught husbands to love their wives and that Bill Gothard taught parents not to provoke their children to anger—and yet he presents these things as the solution. Then somehow Michael Farris, who teaches that wives must submit to their husbands, is not a patriarch, and Michael Pearl, who teaches that parents must break their children’s wills, is not an abuser. WTF kind of world is this?! This is not change. This is more of the same, with some sort of added double-speak, and I’m fast losing my patience with it.

Homeschooled children deserve better. 

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