DEAR JAMIE GLAZOV,
Thank you for your provocative column about Andrea Yates. You are right. There is no worse crime than killing your own children.
But your comments about homeschooling, Mr. Glazov well, they reveal how misinformed you are about hardworking home educators.
You need a crash course. Take a seat at the front of the class, young man. Homeschooling 101 is about to begin.
You wrote: "As is almost always the case with the cultminded and socially alienated parents who engage in homeschooling" Stop right there.
In two decades of befriending and interviewing home educators, I have never encountered the "cultminded" or the "sociallyalienated." The McGrawHill parent newsletter succinctly describes the type of homeschooler I know and admire: "Contrary to popular belief, however, homeschooled children are more frequently exposed to a wider variety of people and situations than they would be in a traditional classroom with 25 of their peers. Homeschool families, in general, participate in their communities as part of their regular curriculum."
Homeschoolers also like to network with one another. There are national homeschool support groups for the disabled, people of color, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and even homeschoolers for peace.
These social creatures are smart. On standardized tests, like the Stanford Achievement Test, homeschoolers typically score in the 75th to 85th percentile.
Thanks to such a wellrounded education, the homeschooling movement has produced Jason Taylor, who plays in the National Football League; Kevin Johnson, who plays basketball for the University of Tulsa; Rebecca Sealfon and George Thampy, who won the 1997 and 2000 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee respectively; Emoly West, who was a runnerup in the 2001 Miss Oklahoma Teen USA pageant; Kyle Williams, who, at 13, is the youngest columnist at worldnetdaily.com; and Barnaby Marsh, who was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1996.
You wrote: " taking the kids out of public school is just another vehicle to insulate the entire family from the outside world." When children are removed from schools and please be informed that many homeschoolers have never set foot in a school the motivation is often personal safety. Dr. Brian Ray, of the National Home Education Research Institute, offers the reasons why many mainstream, middleclass parents remove their children from government schools: "Increased safety is a main reason for homeschooling (e.g. physical violence, drug and alcohol use, psychological abuse by schools, peer pressure to engage in premarital sex).
Jamie, have you walked down the halls of an American high school or middle school lately? They are packed with folks who routinely exhibit cruel, immoral behavior and who spout statefunded hogwash about saving the rain forest or freeing Mumia. One point of homeschooling is to avoid the company of such miscreants. The point of parenting is to protect children from such educational toxic dumps and provide children with an alternative environment that enriches, not insulates, them.
You wrote: "In this way, the inner demons of the family can be rationalized and left unexposed, while the control of the family tyrant can be solidified"
Rusty Yates may have "forced" Andrea to homeschool, but this movement is a chick thing. In 1999, Jared Green, the former publisher of HomeSchool Dad magazine, polled two hundred homeschooling fathers. This is what he learned: "As expected, we find that moms are the first to desire homeschooling. Of the families who responded, Mom originated the idea 59 percent of the time. Dads were the first to desire the homeschool lifestyle only 14 percent of the time, but they get a good mark for working with wives to make the decision together 27 percent of the time."
Meet Pam Kelly of Concord, California, a "typical" homeschooling mom. In 1994, she began to teach her three children after working as an independent computer/systems analyst for eighteen years. One of her daughters serves in the U.S. Army. Notes Pam, "No job has challenged me as much as being at home and home schooling my children. I am a fulfilled woman challenged as much to my 'gender' max as any triathlon competitor."
Melanie Krumrey was a public school teacher in Austin, Texas. She now homeschools her three young children in Amherst, Massachusetts. "I thrive as I see a warm (home) atmosphere being created for my family," she says.
The voices of the oppressed? I think not.
You wrote: "Robbing children of the fundamental developmental experience of growing up around their peers is just one of the crimes associated with homeschooling."
Homeschoolers are robbed in one way. They are robbed of having to sit, day after day, in rigidly conformist institutions. Meanwhile, they have the freedom to live their lives with purpose and panache, while they enjoy the company of their peers. When my son, Wid, was 14 he attended a homeschool learning cooperative in central Oklahoma. The cooperative had 200 students and a waiting list of 100. Twice a week, he took academic classes with other homeschoolers and even went on a chartered bus trip to Washington, D.C.
For the past ten years he has played ice hockey, football, and basketball. He has shared his bedroom with boys from innercity New York (as a participant in the Fresh Air Fund program), and, along with other teens, has pumped gas at a local service station.
Homeschoolers, according to conservative estimates, account for only one percent of the schoolaged population (about one million students). Given their small numbers, I think many of their accomplishments are most impressive.
Don't you agree, Mr. Glazov?
Class is dismissed. Please have your homework done next time.