Home-school children are disrespectful and anti-social … at exactly the same ratio as public and private school children. But it’s perception that counts. A lot of people have encountered “that” home-school kid who is pampered or lazy or just plain weird. And that’s the home-school kid by which some people judge all home-schoolers.
Three recent commentaries concerning homeschooling piqued my interest: one on Feb 14 by Debra K. Sullivan, and editorials on Feb 20 and Jan. 28. My wife and I home-school our kids. As with all crazy, radical, uber-religious zealots, I like to think my wife and I are normal and raising well-adjusted children.
Ms. Sullivan asserts: “The balance within a school team, based on the school’s carefully nurtured, already developed environment, will be disrupted,” if an outside student participates. This environment is developed when kids “spend seven hours a day, 180 days a year, for years at a time interacting with their peers and the adult staff,” and “that if you were to place an outside child into that environment you would corrupt the system.” By that metric no school should ever allow new kids to enroll.
Groups benefit by exposure to fresh or alternate experiences. Should we reject exchange students because they are only part of the social fabric for one year?
It is true that some home-schoolers are disruptive and corrupting. King George III called George Washington a “sniveling imp of a home-schooler.” This isn’t completely accurate since Washington was only partially home-schooled. Abraham Lincoln, a home-schooler, tore the nation in half. And then there’s Rudolph. He wasn’t excluded from reindeer games just because of his nose. He was also home-schooled.
“Public school students mix with youths of many different ethnic and economic backgrounds, so they learn … society is widely diverse. We worry that home-schooled children may wear blinders and know only the views of their parents,” (Jan. 28).
First of all, blinders only impair peripheral vision. Since it is also possible to learn by seeing things straight on, or by using your ears, many modern home-school parents have adopted sensory deprivation helmets for our children.
Secondly, I went to public school in West Virginia. I don’t remember a lot of diversity. West Virginia is 93 percent white. There are places in West Virginia where ethnic diversity is evident but also many schools where diversity means some kids are tall and some short. If that is the criterion, our home school is diverse.
Speaking of diversity, the editors lump all home-schoolers into one homogeneous group, as if home-schoolers are all the same.
“I see kids on a four-wheeler all day long and they’re home-schoolers,” Delegate Ralph Rodighiero, D-Logan, commented.
Not every home-school family is responsible, but given Logan County’s nearly 50 percent truancy rate, some of those four-wheeling kids may be public schoolers. The easiest way to tell is to check if the kids are wearing blinders or deprivation helmets. It is difficult to ride a four-wheeler in a deprivation helmet but it protects our children from getting hit with new ideas at 30 miles an hour.
Some of my kids’ best friends are public school kids, but it is true that apart from Scouting, Tae Kwon Do, swim team at the Y, city and church sports teams, church activities, city theatre productions, organized science, English and speech classes, ski club, extensive travel opportunities, and an active and somewhat diverse Kanawha-Putnam home-school group, my kids are almost entirely unsocialized and never hear any viewpoints but my own.
However, I do agree with the Feb. 20 editorial questioning the ethics of home-school parents. “What about [home-schoolers] fudging grades to qualify…?” to play sports, inquire the editors. Oh man, we are so busted! It is only right to assume that all home-schoolers are scheming to invent the never before employed tactic of lying about grades. The idea of academic cheating to benefit athletic aspirations is so novel that certainly no public or private school has ever been guilty of, or even considered, this avenue. I’m a bit chagrined that the editors so easily saw through our carefully plotted plan. Drats, foiled again.
I have no idea what it costs for a home-schooler to play on a public school team but I bet parents interested in their children participating would help defer costs.
Beyond that, I now employ the ol’ “I pay taxes” line. My tax bill is not lowered even though I home-school, as far as I know. I think I helped pay for the public school sports complexes. In fact, we have access to public school text books and my children have been welcomed into certain public school programs. I have happily voted for school levy increases. I believe that home schooling is a privilege and that since not every family has this opportunity or capability, I should do what I can to ensure that public schools in my community are of the highest quality.
Okay, it’s almost noon. Gotta go get the kids up.
Checkout Bil’s PEN Award winning children’s book The King of Little Things