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.

About Coralie

After 11 years of infertility, I am now a mother to three, a wife of a Presbyterian (ARP) preacher and a struggling homemaker. Welcome to my little corner of the net. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and join the conversation. View all posts by Coralie

5 responses to “What do we do with people who don’t know the facts?

  • AJU5's Mom

    Okay. I didn’t read the article, but what you posted is BAD. We plan on homeschooling because we live in an area where public schools aren’t the best. There are some Christian schools, but they aren’t close to our house and would cost more than I can earn. And, since I am educated as an educator, I feel I am qualified to teach my own kids (with the help of co-ops, etc).

    I hate when people think home-schooling either means locking the kids in the house and having no social interaction or no schooling. I think every state has at least one thing a home-school parent must do, and most have requirements that the parent keep records (if not turn them in). So, it isn’t like it is so easy to no teach your kids (like it is for kids to not learn anything at public schools).

  • Lollie

    I agree with you that he really doesn’t have his facts straight.
    And I still don’t really understand what he was trying to say.

    I homeschool. I was not educated to “be” and educator, but that does not make me unable to teach my children. I didn’t write the curriculum so I’m not worried about gaps. There are christian schools here, and public schools with in walking distance. For us we must follow how God leads us. This is not something we pulled willy-nilly out of the air. It was a decision made with prayer.
    I in no way believe that we are to all do the same thing with our kids. We must follow God alone, and sometimes that means, doing something different.

    I love you Coralie!! And I’m so glad we’re friends, I value your insight and opinions! oxox

  • suzanne

    Though I haven’t read Stein’s article, I have read about it in several places. That qualifies me to have a very strong opinion, right??? 😉 Anyway, I agree with (almost) everything you say and that’s as someone who had only had experience with the public school system her entire life (before teaching at our church’s school in St. Louis). The only thing I would point out, and I’m sure you already know this, is one huge reason homeschooling and private schooling yields more “highly motivated” students when judging by test scores, college attendance, etc. is that those students already have built in the #1 best indicator of their success: motivated and, usually, educated parents. I’m not saying the statistics are wrong, just that they are skewed somewhat because there are so many factors that determine a student’s success that happen outside of the schooling environment, whatever that may be.

  • Carole

    Both of my girls were educated at a Christian school close to us…I became involved with the school immediately, and we all had a positive experience for the most part. Now, however I’m pretty sure that I would homeschool.
    I’m horrified by the changes in thinking about issues that are important to me….abortion, homosexuality etc. Because of this, I think I would teach my children myself, with the help of the many strong resources available

  • Kim Crist

    Wow! I read the article you wrote, then the article she wrote, then the article HE wrote…and it sparked a lively discussion with Lou. 🙂 Both being homeschooled since we were babes in arms- we were duly insulted by his apparent “lack of vision” (that’s for the Star Wars fans). Seriously speaking, I think that HSLDA’s article containing objective facts about homeschoolers’ contributions to society was the most comprehensive rebuttal, unlike Pastor Stein’s it was factually based, not anecdotal or subjective. You can find it at http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/in/201010070.asp
    I really appreciated what Lollie posted above about the decision to homeschool being one made with much prayer, a weighty decision.
    As a homeschooled child who plans to homeschool, Lord providing children, I just wanted to say that the reason I will do so doesn’t have to do with improving grades/social interactions/societal functioning (although these are benefits it would be nice to reap) I plan to educate my children because I want to personally disciple them. Deuteronomy 11:19 “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” I know this is interpreted differently by Christians, but for me its my call to educate my children to love God and learn about him as my top priority, then the “reading/ritin’/’rithmetic” can follow. Naive? I hope not-my highschool educated mom homeschooled all 11 of us kids and we’ve all stayed out of prison and off welfare so far. And we only occasionally indulge in potato chips and NEVER watch ESPN, only Masterpiece Theatre and Fox News. 😉

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