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Poll: What do you think about home schooling?

It's a great method of learning and should be an option. 26 (29%)
I have concerns, but if the local schools are bad, it's good. 34 (37%)
It shouldn't be legal, even if the local schools are bad. 0 (0%)
It should be legal but heavily regulated 21 (23%)
Other 10 (11%)
   Discussion: What do you think about home schooling?
Andrea Krause · 17 years, 3 months ago

I do worry about socialization for the kids. And ensuring a rounded curriculum. I know that's not even guaranteed in actual schools, though. I think it can be a tool for excellence and compensating for a school system that doesn't do its job...but I also fear it could be used as a tool to isolate and bias children.

Wheeee. Another patented fence-sitting from Miss Krause! :)

danced with Lazlo Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
That's not fence sitting. That's a pretty good description of the pros and cons of homeschooling. It has to be legal, because in some cases it is truly needed. Special needs children need the option to have their education taken care of at home if the only schools available will do more harm to their children than good... but it is true that homeschooled children tend to be poorly socialized and have interaction problems in social situations ( i know this from wide experience). And yes, many use homeschooling as a means by which to keep their children ignorant or even prisoners in their homes. Its a problem, it really is.
Jillian Bird Back · 17 years, 3 months ago

I think I agree with the two above posts. It should definately be an option but only really for extreme cases for children with some kind of special need (be it a disability, behavioural problem, or whatever). But I'll admit that my opinion on the subject is largely biased based on the experience of the one person I know who was homeschooled. In that case, the mother was an over-bearing, needy shrew who didn't think anybody else could possibly be good enough for her babies, and at the same time, she needed the children close to her as an emotional crutch to combat her own neurosis. Creepy creepy stuff. I'm not suggesting that all cases of homeschooling are like that, by any stretch of the imagination. I'm just saying that it is possible to have an abuse like that.

I'm also concerned that a relatively uneducated parent can ruin a child's understanding of a subject by not teaching it properly. If the parent has never been to univeristy or studied Math, for example, how can she/he possibly teach it without getting a lot of it wrong? I think that, ideally, teachers should be experts in their field in order to teach it.

Nathan Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I went to public school, and I don't think I gained any more social skills than I would have by just staying home.
Jºnªthªn Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
That seems to be true... ;)
Agent Scully Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Look at the zlets (susan and kent's children)

One child is at a college level now as a early teen and they are homeschooled.

If you spoke with them at shows, you would see that their socialization skills are not lacking. On the contrary, if the parents (the teachers in the homeschooled situations) are doing their jobs correctly, then the children will know how to adjust in the real world.

What about children who are kept at home with mommy or daddy until they reach pre-school or Kindergarten? Are all of them poorly socialized? We should all remember this part - either we as children were kept home or not.

I, for one, was not. Being in pre-school and day care from age 3. I didn't attend kindergarten either since at that time it wasn't mandatory. I knew how to read and write.
A.J. Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
There is no could be about it. That is EXACTLY what my brother-in-law used it for.
Josh Woodward · 17 years, 3 months ago
I stand, 100%, for the legality of homeschooling. I also stand 100% against the practice of it. You miss an education from a diversified group of qualified teachers along with the social learning that goes with a real school.
Starfox Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I don't think the government should be involved in brainwash, er, educating anyone. If you go to a Christian school, what will they teach? That Jesus is great. If you go to an Islamic school, what will they teach? That Muhammad is great. And if you go to a government school? That government is great.

Home schooling should be absolutely allowed, and the private sector should handle education.

As for social learning, I, and others, probably could have done without the alienation and peer pressure, but there's no way to avoid that.
George E. Nowik Back · 17 years, 3 months ago

i honestly can say that as much as i loathed getting the crap kicked out of me every day after my days in elementary school (i mean, serious. i was beat up regularly), i would not be the person that i am today if it hadn't been for growing up around other kids and teachers who taught me that life is just plain not fair and it's a good idea to learn how to adapt early.

can you imagine a kid trying to get on in the world without knowing how to deal with other human beings?

alienation and peer pressure may be a terrible aspect of public schooling, but they're a harsh reality of adult life too. with virtual offices and the like, we're already drifting into a hermitage society. why start relatively normal kids with that mentality? humans do crave interaction, even if it's bad interaction. that's why raves and rocky horror exist. :D

aside from that, i'm with josh. to a point. i think there are certain reasons why it might be a good idea, but there aren't many...

-= george =-

Jillian Bird Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I went to public school and we certainly didn't learn that government is great. That's complete nonsense. I don't know where you're getting that from, Starfox. My teachers where generally at odds with the government and encouraged us to question politics on all levels. I credit my public high school Latin teacher for showing me how not to be complacent about the way our society is run.

Now, I'm not saying that Public education is perfect: far from it. But it's incredibly naive to assume that all the problems associated with education could possibly be solved by turning control over to the private sector. I mean, first and foremost, if there was no such thing as public educaion, nobody living below the poverty line would even have a shot at attending school since they wouldn't be able to pay for it. Call me a socialist, but I don't think that just because a child's parents work in a factory does he deserve to be illiterate. Public funds must be used in education so that everyone has some kind of oppourtunity to learn.

The options of homeschooling, private education and other alternatives should definately be available for people who choose not to send their children to public schools, but an decent, civilized society should have a properly-funded government sanctioned public system for anyone who so needs ore desires it.
Starfox Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
"Public Funds." There is no such thing. If someone can't afford to go to school (which would not be the case in a free market education system), why should someone else have their money siezed to pay for their education?

I don't have kids right now, but I have to pay enormous property taxes which go to education. If I had no say in the kid's being brought into this world or his upbringing, why should I be forced to pay for his education?

And WHO is to provide this education "free" to anyone who wants it? Nothing is free, so therefore someone must be forced to provide it.
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I don't have kids right now, but I have to pay enormous property taxes which go to education. If I had no say in the kid's being brought into this world or his upbringing, why should I be forced to pay for his education?

In a phrase, "Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract".

I expect you'll disagree on this too, Andy. :) But everyone benefits from quality universal education, which from the early 19th century on has been offered in the US as public education. The benefit is not an immediate return, but the early training of those who go on to become our doctors, lawyers, clergy, and other professionals, not to mention all those free-market experts. Funding this type of education through taxes is a basic social contract, paying not only for the early education of current professionals but also those of the future.

If you want to live in a country without any such social contract, where most of these professionals would never have been able to afford the childhood education that is the foundation for how they help you now, fine. But I'd rather have them around in abundance, and not as a rarity -- a rarity whose services, under the basic laws of supply and demand, would then ALSO be a rarity, out of the reach of all but the very affluent. I'd also rather have the bulk of the citizenry that does not become professionals in health care and other "helping" fields nonetheless be participatory, productive, educated citizens than face the alternative that would be their lot in life with no education at all.

That's not to argue that there aren't dire problems in many public education systems. But I'm not going to condemn wholesale an egalitarian philosophy that has done much for nineteenth and twentieth-century development worldwide simply because some of the most underfunded and stressed school systems in the US are, predictably, displaying the signs of that underfunding and stress.

Starfox Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Underfunding? We've been throwing more and more money at the problem of education since the 1950s, and the education standard has been getting WORSE. How much money do we have to flush down the drain until we see that having government provide education is a loosing scenario?
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Yes, underfunding. If the total government (local, state and federal) allotment per pupil in any way approached the the average tuition and numerous fees of a private school, including nontuition factors like fundraising, endowment revenue and gifts from alumni and other patrons, I'm sure the public schools would have a much better performance record. But it doesn't. The fact of the matter is that ALL education costs have risen exponentially since 1950, including church-based private schools.

The TOTAL per-pupil expense in my school district is under $6000/year. It is an "economically stressed" district serving many disadvantaged children, and is further stressed by the doublespeak "No Child Left Behind" federal funding program that emphasises aggregate standardised test scores (and which isn't even budgeted fully for schools that meet its standards, let alone the rest.) But where in the private sector, pray tell, would I find a cohesive system of private schools that for that fee offers regular classes K-12, special education including gifted education, a complete roster of AP courses, and over 200 high-school electives, along with numerous clubs and a full roster of sports and arts activities for both boys and girls?

The University of Pennsylvania (not a state-funded school but a private, Ivy League university)has stated that it finds incoming students from my school district better prepared for its course work than students from the most prestigious prep schools in the nation, whose tuition and fees can be quadruple the district's rate. So I fail to see how the idea of public education is a failure. What I see is simply that when put into practice, we get what we pay for in public education -- over a lifetime of paying school taxes, not just 1 year, or even the 13 years a kid is in school. And right now, in many school districts across the country, we're getting a cheap and shabby education because we're hamstringing the districts with a lack of financing.

Jillian Bird Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
"If someone can't afford to go to school (which would not be the case in a free market education system)"

How could this possibly not be the case?

Starfox Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
There is an urgent economic need for education. Are you telling me, in a free market society, that someone wouldn't figure out some way of providing education to the financially poor? Perhaps not with the current model, but I'm sure there would be some way of providing education to the poor.

Also, school education is not the only way to learn in this world. There's also the ability to learn a trade via apprenticeship.
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
True, for kids who WANT to be tradesmen (or women). And more kids should know that the trades are an option -- regardless of their family's economic or educational status. If a kid has the potential to be a master carpenter and loves the work, he shouldn't find himself in law school just because that's what his family can afford, and expects of him.

BUT. How can this parallel system of "academic" schools for the better-off and lower-fee or no-fee apprenticeships for the poorer meet the needs -- or fulfill the promise -- of poor kids who are highly gifted academically and who have an interest in teaching or research or any of the other non-"trade" fields?

All a segregated education system based on a child's ability to pay, and not on his ability and desire to learn, brings about is rigid re-enforcement of economic class boundaries.
Talcott Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Change the second 100% to about 90% and I agree with Josh ;-)

I can't think of a single good reason to not make it legal, but I can only think of a few cases where I support it (even in those cases, I think an argument could be made for public school).

Granted, what I think should be done is public education (which can be anywhere from wonderful to awful, and I've been in both extremes of public schools) with a lot of reading, discussion, and watching of national geographic and nova at home. What it comes down to in either case is that the kid has to want to learn. I think you can get an equal education from either (although having the same teacher every year does concern me) but I think public schools tend to be better as a whole. Yes, plenty of kids come out of home schooling without any social problems, but I've met more who do than don't.
Bender · 17 years, 3 months ago
... the only one who actually *was* home schoolled? Well, on homebound instruction, for the better part of two years...
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago

I was on homebound instruction for a total of a year or so too, but that's not quite the same as "home schooled" in popular parlance, because it involves school district teachers making regular household visits to carry out academic instruction, and not just parents.

(The pollster answered "legal but regulated", btw.)

Well done, home-schooling actually doesn't have the non-socializing liabilities that many of us, including me, are concerned about. Home-schooling parents get their kids together regularly for field trips, have them join outside organizations, and let them participate in the area public school's extracurricular activities (which participation, at least in PA, the school district has to allow to the degree that the kids are qualified; ie a home-schooled kid isn't entitled to be on the baseball team, but he is entitled to try out and show his merit, and if he qualifies he's on the team. And for school clubs where skill isn't an issue, there are no barriers to participation aside from the home-schooling parent's willingness to get the kid to meetings and fulfill other membership requirements.)

Poorly done, in terms of both socialization and academics it can be a disaster, and that's why I think a local Board of Education *has* to administer it, and be diligent about it. A bizarre recent case in NJ which is now being legally addressed involved a family of eight adoptive kids, all home-schooled, of whom 4 were being starved. An eighteen-year-old boy weighed less than 50 pounds. More than just educational administrators fell down on that job, clearly -- but if the kids had had more social exposure at a public school with a school nurse and a child psychologist and other student-welfare staff, instead of essentially being exposed regularly only to immediate family, church, and a clearly inadequate social services follow-up system, their lives may not have been so very endangered.

Finally, thanks to the magnificent Josh for cleaning up the options. As submitted, likely all of them exceeded the maximum length for the field.

Doug Smiley · 17 years, 3 months ago

A kid can be an Einstien but if he or she can not relate to kids their own age then they are up sh*t creek.

Bender Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I disagree. I never had friends my own age until quite recently. I admit, it makes life harder, but you're not totally screwed.
Bel kjfdxcvuyjh8 Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Yeah, I have cousins who are home schooled...they are kinda socially funny but still very smart. They participate in community activities like sports and the home school association has meetings and stuff. It is working well, from what I can tell. Also, my 11-year-old cousin is taking Latin. Not a whole lot of public schools will have that option.
lawrence · 17 years, 3 months ago
at the very least, there should be similar requirements for advancement as there are in the public schools.

but I think there should be less need for it. rather than suggesting to many parents that it's a viable option and end up with a nation of homeschooled kids, we should work to improve public education so that parents don't feel they need to take their kids out of public schools.
Agent Scully Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Are charter schools popular in your area?
nate... Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
They sure are in my area.
renita Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
what is a charter school?
nate... Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
From Google:

Charter Schools - Publicly funded schools that are granted a high degree of autonomy from existing rules and regulations. Depending upon state law, teachers, parents, or other would-be educators can apply for permission to open a school. The "charter" may be granted by, for example, the local school board, the state board of education, or a public institution of higher education, depending upon the state. Some states also allow existing public or nonsectarian private schools to convert to charter status. Charter schools have the potential to control their own budget, staffing and curriculum, but their autonomy varies from state to state. They must attract students and achieve the results agreed to in their charters, or their contracts can be revoked.
A.J. Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Very popular here. With the Detroit system so bad, they are an important option for people living in the Detroit district.
Agent Scully Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Ditto here.

They have a waiting list in all the schools.

Parents do not want to send their children to the Buffalo Public schools and after teaching there, I don't blame them.
A.J. Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Why? Private schools don't have to meet (many) government requirements. Why should home schools?

Note, dispite this question, I'm generally against home schooling.
lawrence Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Why? Private schools don't have to meet (many) government requirements. Why should home schools?

actually, the real question is "Why shouldn't private schools?" I think ALL schools should be held to some kind of standards.
A.J. Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Nonsense. Private schools take no government money, so it is clearly their right to operate as they please.

Goverment standards and regulations are well intentioned but often not effective. The whole idea of private education is to be free from all that goverment red tape. Goverment has no right nor business poking its nose into the affairs of private schools. The rise or fall on their reputations, and those have served as a better guarantee of quality education than ANY regulation ever could.

The clearest evidence of this comes from the rediculous notion of teaching certificates. To teach in a public school you have to go through this whole education and certification process that is meant to insure that you are a good and qualified teacher. However we all know that along with the good, there are plenty of bad teachers in the public schools. In Independant schoos, most teachers are NOT certified. They didn't waste their time on stupid ed school bullshit classes but often have masters or doctorates in their subjects. I submit to you that the ratio of good to bad teachers in the independant system is much much higher than in the public system despite the lack of certification. So what good are all those government regulations?

lawrence Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
I was thinking more in terms of the curriculum. students should be required to study certain subjects in certain approximate sequences so that they can be adequately prepared for post-secondary education.

I've known quite a few people who came into college with little to no understanding of some of the accepted prerequisites for intro level courses, because they never had a chance to study the material.
A.J. Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Did they come from private schools though? See the thing is, who says the goverment knows what the best sequence of presentation is? I don't want them mandating that. I think we all KNOW what the basic subjects that have to be covered are. That is common sense. The goverment doesn't NEED to mandate that. That kids get "passed on" without mastering the subjects is a very bad thing, but I don't think that lack of regulation is the problem. The problem is lack of accountablility of the individual schools for how much the kids are learning, and a system that is overcrowded and underfunded which tends to encourage the "passing on" of unqualified students.

Those problems don't happen at many private schools, though. They aren't overcroweded because they don't have to take more than they can teach, and they care if the kids have learned the material, because they have their reputations to protect.
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
We "know", yes. But despite what we know should be basic curriculum, many private schools don't teach it, nor are they required to. Especially if they're religious schools that refuse to teach basic biology or geology, or any literature stemming from or addressing other cultural or religious traditions.

If I hadn't taken biology and physics in high school, or read Beowulf or Twelfth Night, or learned about the Greek and Roman pantheons and "pagan" philosophers -- not to mention medieval church-state synonymity in Europe and the events that culminated in the Protestant Reformation; or Soviet and Chinese and South Asian history/social studies-- I simply would not have been as prepared as I was for college (ie university). At a fundamentalist Christian school, or a fundamentalist Islamic school for that matter, what are the chances of those being part of the curriculum? But parents still send their kids to these schools. It's an exercise in anti-intellectualism and containment that really does put the kids' future at risk, imo.
A.J. Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Lori, I am not at all sure that islamic schools are so narrow in their focus. They may be, but I wouldn't want to assume.

In any case, yes it is unfortunate that there are parents who will send their kids to places whos mission is to HIDE the truth and teach only a specific dogma, however you and I both know that that gets into a liberty issue, and clearly parents do have the right to do that if they wish. Otherwise there would be no freedom of religion, and the the goverment COULD actually force it's agenda into little minds as Andy seems to think they are doing now.

The reality is that MOST private schools aren't like that. Most private schools are pretty decent to excellent, because they wouldn't survive if the weren't. They provide a very important alternative to the public system, and part of that alternative is that they don't have to answer to the man. Public funded (and therefore regulated education is vital to the country, no doubt. But JUST as vital is private and truly independant education. It is the same principal is the free press. If the goverment controls all access to information then tyrany is sure to follow.
(like it hasn't already) ;)
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
In any case, yes it is unfortunate that there are parents who will send their kids to places whos mission is to HIDE the truth and teach only a specific dogma, however you and I both know that that gets into a liberty issue, and clearly parents do have the right to do that if they wish.

I agree completely that it's a liberty issue, but unfortunately that means the kids' liberty, and their right to a real education, get utterly lost in the shuffle. Children are not simply their parents' property, nor should they be at the mercy of the government. But that seems to be how they are viewed legally, when we give all control over their educational choices to adults who may have a narrow agenda in mind rather than the child's real interests or aptitudes.

As for Islamic private schools, I'm sure there are many fine ones, just as there are many fine Christian private schools that teach a broad array of subjects and don't turn their back on other ways of thinking or on scientific findings. And I have no quarrel with their existence or the value of what they offer their students. But the bad-apple "schools" that indoctrinate rather than teach -- and these do tend to be of the fundamentalist stripe -- really alarm me. I don't know, legally, how it is possible to encourage such schools to offer anything resembling an actual "education" if they do not have to meet any regulations. As long as there's a pool of parents unconcerned that they're compromising their kids' academics for exclusively religious teaching, they'll stay in business whether they teach anything besides the Bible or Koran, or not.
A.J. Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
Yes. They will. That is the price of a free society. There is no way government can go there. The constitution blocks it because you can always claim that the goverment is interfereing with your religion, and in that case you'd be right. There is no test as to whether or not a religion is whacko or not. Unfortunately we have t let those people do as they please, as long as they don't get violent. It is like letting criminals go due to improper proceedures. It is the price you pay for a free society.

(Wait I hear gella jumping up and down). You are right that children are not property. Maybe the KID in question should have a voice. THAT we can certainly talk about, but that is very different than thinking the goverment is going to do a better job of taking care of a kid's interests than the parents.

Ok, and here is a question for you. Before the Scopes trial, the law of the land was that evolution was not to be taught and creationism was. That was the LAW. So are you saying that some fucking bible belt state full of fundemetalist loonies should be able to require the teaching of creationism in the nice resonable private school where people aren't all bible thumpers? That idea goes along with what you are suggesting. The only solution is to leave education to educators and for the goverment to mind its own business.
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
(Wait I hear gella jumping up and down).

Hee. She has been bouncing for the past few posts, methinks. Hi Gella!

You are right that children are not property. Maybe the KID in question should have a voice.

The paradox there is, how can the kids possibly have an informed voice -- how can they understand their options -- if stifled and contained by mind-controlling parents in a state/nation that holds inviolate those "parental rights" to stifle and contain?

As for the Scopes comparison, point to you. That "fucking Bible belt state" could easily become a "fucking Bible belt nation", ie our own larger Taliban-style Afghanistan, were we to rely on federal rather than state guidelines. And local community guidelines would be just as limiting for kids -- or schools -- in that community. I suppose even a voluntarily-submitted-to accreditation process could be abused in that manner (not to mention, again, that some parents wouldn't care whether a school was accredited by an educational body or not) or state-mandated graduation exams such as New York's Board of Regents exams could be tools of government indoctrination rather than academic minimums.
Agent Scully Back · 17 years, 3 months ago
New York does that but it's required now to pass the regents exam. (you take a math sequence, science, english, history, foreign language - all state tested).

Before it was optional (like when I graduated from high school). But we were still required to take certain subjects because it was a college prep school.

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