What do we do with people who don’t know the facts?

Megan Dunham, whom I don’t know, but I read her blog, happened to mention an article on home schooling by a PCA pastor that rubbed her the wrong way.  Now I’m not a big homeschooling advocate.  I taught in a Christian school for four years, and believe pretty strongly in Christian Education as the first choice of Christian parents.  The title of the article in question, however, certainly sparked my interest.

“What do we do with home-schoolers?” by Tom Stein, PCA pastor in Richmond, Indiana.

Seriously?  Is there something to be *done* with home-schoolers?  I had to read the article to determine if he was advocating internment camps.  I mean there’s a lot that could be included in that title, isn’t there?  In his defense, he does not advocate home schooling internment camps.  He does, however, show an appalling ignorance of every aspect of home schooling.  I would like to respond to three specific errors in Stein’s article.

1.  “Are our local administrators quietly encouraging parents of troubled and troublesome kids to sign the form that promises home-schooling?”

Clearly Rev. Stein has never approached a public school official with the suggestion of homeschooling a student.  While there may be some districts more informed and co-operative with home schoolers than others, I have never encountered a single public school teacher or administrator who would recommend a parent home school.  This is more true of students judged to be “at risk,” such as the children to which Stein refers.  The overwhelming response of those in the public education system is that if a little bit of the system is good, a lot is better.  The system wide solution to troubled students is to get them deeper into the system, not to get them out.

2.  “Are parents claiming to home-school, so they can dodge the law that now requires kids to be in school until they are 18? . . . let’s say exasperated parents do sign the form, then allow their children to enjoy a curriculum of potato chips and ESPN.”

Exasperated parents don’t home school.  Home schooling takes a lot of commitment – even one that includes a curriculum of “potato chips and ESPN” because it requires things like constant supervision of minors.  Exasperated parents of troubled teens buy “The  Total Transformation“, or enroll their children in boot camp programs or military school.  The thing is, if a kid is having issues at school, he’s having issues at home, and most parents at their wits end with a kid who is at school eight hours each day isn’t signing up for *more* time with the source of their exasperation.  I’m not saying these parents don’t care, but they are not the type of parents who choose home schooling as an option.

3.  “Let’s say the schools do happily say goodbye to frustrating and failing kids through this home-school loophole, and never see them again. Or let’s say exasperated parents do sign the form, then allow their children to enjoy a curriculum of potato chips and ESPN. What is the result? Uneducated, unskilled, unmotivated people who will barely survive in the work force and might eventually drop out altogether. Then, since we are so generous with our social programs, we will have another group of people who take far more than they give.”

Here are the facts:  74% of home schooled students go on to higher education as compared to 44% of the general population and score in at least the 80th percentile on standardized tests.  Statistically, a student in the public school system is *more* likely to become a drain on society, not less.  Statistically, it is not the home schooled and private schooled student that ends up taking more than they give.  Of course there are exceptions to those statistics.  I, for instance, was schooled privately, and am not exactly a huge social contributor at the moment.  Steve Jobs is a product of the public school system.  These exceptions tend to argue against Stein, rather than for him.

The real question, after reading Rev. Stein’s article, is, “What do we do with people who choose to ignore the facts?”

Megan, a home schooling mom, wrote her own response to the piece at WorldMag.com that is well worth a read.