I want to ban homeschooling

Or I would if I wasn’t a citizen of a country where it’s generally illegal and live in a place that people get granted asylym from because it bans homeschooling.

I suppose this is tangentally related to the horrible case of a homeschooled girl being abused to death by her parents, but that is obviously an extreme case and you might as well bring up kids committing suicide after being bullied in school as counter-examples.

My problem with home-schooling is that I think children should have certain rights as citizens, the first one being that they have a right to actually be part of society. The requirement to attend school is a somewhat blunt tool, I admit, but it is the simplest, most constructive way of assuring the right of entry into society for children.
Another important factor can be likened to the separation of powers. It is generally accepted as a good thing in matters of state, and I would argue that it is a good thing when it comes to children. When children have to go to school, they are made visible and their safety can be guaranteed by more parties than just the parents, and it goes without saying that parents will exercise some control over the schools.

I get what you are saying, actually. However, I would focus on the right to quality education. Homeschooling in the U.S. is poorly monitored in many states. The social aspect is great, and I think it’s very important too, but would you also ban private schools because they might lack socio-economic diversity?

A public education system obviously serves multiple purposes, one of those being socialization for the students. Some states have specific requirements that home-schooled students be required to socialize with larger groups as a way to accomplish this, but I’m dubious as to how effective they are. I see home schooling mostly as another symptom of an increasingly fractured social framework, at least in the US.

Here in Indiana, most of the home schooling parents I’ve run into are part of a larger home schooling organization in the area. They get together to play sports and do all kinds of stuff. So they do socialize with larger groups, but who knows what they are learning at home. Personally I’m not a fan of home schooling.

Many years ago our son was going to turn 5 and enter kindergarten in the state of Illinois. Due to family circumstances we had to move to Missouri for a year and his birthday (late August) didn’t make the cutoff to enter kindergarten for Missouri but did for Illinois. My wife was home at the time so she home schooled him through kindergarten and when we moved back to Illinois a year later he went right into first grade like he was supposed to.

I’m glad home schooling was an option.

But they soon discovered differently, he said, facing fines eventually totaling over $11,000, threats that they would lose custody of their children and, one morning, a visit by the police, who took the children to school in a police van. Those were among the fines and potential penalties that Judge Burman said rose to the level of persecution.

Maybe it’s just the difference between America and Sweden but I read the above paragraph and I instinctively want to side with the family.

I’m okay with brief periods of Home Schooling as a bridge in unusual situations like yours. But I have to admit pretty much every home schooled kid I’ve ever met has fallen into one of three categories.

  1. Extremely bright kids who are great at what the parents are good at but shockingly weak in other academic areas. I.E., math whiz kids of math professors who know little or nothing about say, literature or philosophy.

  2. Cultural separatists. These are the kids homeschooled for religious reasons, and so deeply indoctrinated from so early an age they either toe the line forever or snap, run away to LA and get a nice heroin addiction ASAP. Or kids with hardcore “We don’t even own a TV” type parents who think bursting out with Gilbert and Sullivan is a rollicking good time.

  3. Kids so socially crippled they could be mistaken for being on the autism spectrum. Unlike the culturally ignorant kids above, these just can’t deal with people. They never developed the tools. Bureaucracies, small group politics, they’re just baffled.

(And I’m not saying you can’t get bad outcomes with conventional schooling, because obviously you can and do all the time. I just have never been convinced by actual home schooled kids that home schooling is the answer).

I guess I will be the lone homeschooling defender here, which my wife would find hilarious as I have been the doubter for many years, but I guess she affected me.

Background note - I was not home-schooled, but my wife was. She told me she wanted to home-school our kids before we got married when the subject of kids came up, and so I went into this with warning, I suppose.

I had my doubts about home-school kids growing up. The ones I knew tended to be from more conservative families and I definitely felt that some of them were under-socialized. However, even growing up, I had friends who were home-schooled and in my eyes then were perfectly normal.

That said, I had my doubts.

What convinced me was a couple things. First, we live in the DC area, and after looking at the DC/Prince Georges County school system, I couldn’t help but say “I can do a better job than that.” I don’t mean this to be an attack on the teaching professionals who work in these schools, as my father was a teacher for most of his life. But listening to people’s stories from the schools, I couldn’t help but think that my wife and I can do a better job, make our kids safer, and provide them with a better foundation for college/life.

The second was meeting some home-schoolers in the area we live now. Admittedly, I live in a more liberal area, and an area that tends to have a net higher education level for parents. But the home-schoolers I have met around here are well educated, not necessarily religious, and focused on group activities for their kids. (Generally at least two days a week the kids spend time with other kids from the area doing a variety of activities).

My kids are going to learn about evolution, they are going to be exposed to people from different backgrounds, and they are going to spend time with other kids their own age.

I am the first to admit that its not for everyone. While I am not wealthy in any way shape or form (we live in an apartment at the moment), I am in a position that both parents don’t have to work to pay the bills.

That said, as a home-schooling parent, I am totally against any of the voucher plans that are proposed out there. If one of the reasons I want to do this for my children is that I feel the public schools aren’t good enough, why would I want to pull my money out of them. They need it more than ever.

Not a particularly good reason to oppose vouchers. Funneling money into the school system without any other changes isn’t going to affect any kind of positive transformation. There are some arguments against trying to use competition to drive improvements in education, but giving more money to a bunch of people who have already conclusively proven that they’re not able to meet their goals isn’t a particularly attractive alternative either.

As far as homeschooling goes, we’re running into another one of those ideological divisions again. Generally speaking, people who support homeschooling tend to be the sort of people who prefer that the government not be able to dictate to them the specifics of their lives. Homeschooling gives you an alternative to the public school system, and some people want to have an alternative. Trying to convince people that there should be no alternative to doing this thing one particular way is going to be, at best, an uphill slog, and not one that I’d recommend. Our somewhat lax educational standards might allow people to get out of a homeschooling program without learning some critical things, but the solution to that problem is to correct the standards - not the methodology by which you meet them.

Good point, I should have been more clear. I find that many proponents of the voucher system rely too much on the argument of “well my kids dont go there so why should I pay, why should I care what happens in public schools.”

I meant to be advocating for a position where homeschooling parents need to realize that not everyone can homeschool, and education is a type of public good.

Just acknowledge that this cuts both ways. For all the rugged libertarian freedomishness you also get the anti-evolution, anti vaccine, anti-modernity in general types as well.

I’ll agree with this. Home-schooling is a very viable option for those in the same area who are looking at terrible school choices or the reality that private schools aren’t really an option at $25K a pop annually.

Our plan is to still send the bambinos to public elementary school, assuming we get in the one around the corner instead of being bused to who knows where. But we’ve discussed the homeschooling route.

Semi-ironically, the person who first brought it up was the mother-in-law who’s a public school teacher with decades of experience (and an incredibly sweet health care package)

This of course, is where I ask for evidence that there are statistically significant percentages of ex-homeschoolers who are maladjusted in society versus those who went to public school.

Of course, in the US, this isn’t really fair, since our inner city schools are frequently so bad that we inject functionally illiterate teenagers into a modern economy, but what can you do.

Public school done wrong isn’t socializing them for society, it’s socializing them for prison conditions and social functions.

Oh yes, quite, but this is one of those situations where you can’t not have it if you’re going to have an alternative to the public educational system. If you allow private schools, it’s going to be very, very difficult to forward a consistent policy position that allows those to exist but does not allow individuals to essentially perform the same function. You might require that they receive accreditation, but that’s a standards issue. Not a bad idea, in most cases, though I fear for what would happen with that in my own state. If, by some accident of fate, I actually DID generate offspring (not a goal - defective genes), I could easily do a better job of teaching a child how, for instance, to do basic mathematics than the school my nephews are currently attending (I recognize this horrifying New Math as little more than Number Sense techniques, which work great if you already understand the fundamentals, but are not particularly useful without that basis of knowledge). Also, I recognize that there is such a creature as evolution.

Ideally, I think it would be best if we tightened the standards under which homeschooling can happen. Make the testing more aggressive.

One of my mommy friends has already been talked into homeschooling by her crazed libertarian husband. I don’t doubt that she’ll be able to teach her daughter well, and she’ll get plenty of socialization, but she won’t be exposed to anything critical of Ayn Rand or Ron Paul. So go figure.

Only when I get to flog the head of the NEA with a cat-o-nine tails if literacy targets in six districts of my choosing are missed.

The teachers I have talked to think well of home schooling. They are more concerned about the parents who don’t show any interest in their children (using school as a baby sitting service and angry when the school tries to involve them) than those who are concerned enough to go through the work required by home schooling.

But in the end it isn’t about public school = bad and home schooling = good. Its about parents that dont care = bad and parents that do care = good. The other factors in the equation are minor.

Oh, I’m not approaching it from a results-perspective as much as principle. Of course both home-schooling and public schooling can be done with varying degrees of quality, but I think it’s an important principle that children are not under the complete control of their parents when it comes to raising them. Children will always follow certain sets of rules, as they must, but I think, on principle, that the rules and discipline should come from two different sources, so that the two parties (school and parents) can control each other.

Of course, from a public policy perspective, if rich people with plenty of resources can choose to pull their child and their money from the public school system, the consequences would be horrible. Public schooling (though I also include private schools with the same admittance requirements as public schools in this) gives people a stake in the community, though that’s an issue of less importance to me.

The public educational system in this country is so fundamentally broken that I have a hard time railing against homeschooling for those who can’t afford private schools.

I mean, if you WANT to send your kids through a schooling system designed in the 19th century to ferret out kids to factory jobs without giving individual students any deference to different learning styles and paces, then by all means, go for public schooling.

I disagree.

I think children, being children, would not be in a position to have a clear understanding of their rights and how to keep them.

Therefore, it’s vital that the parents have those rights on their children’s behalf and the freedom to exercise them.

Sometimes this means parents will choose oddball options, so be it. What I may find odd might be ‘normal’ to someone else.

I think society has a responsibility to produce qualified parents. I think that’s where the real failure is, at least here in the US. We are at the point where kids are something to have, like a car or two weeks paid vacation, or healthcare. I’m talking about the parental failures here, not the general population of parents.

How did we get here? By fostering a belief that being a parent is something anyone can do without repercussion. You’re not financially sound, not an adult, not mentally prepared to be a parent, have no place of your own, have no steady employment, have no partner to share the work, have no education? So what, you can still have a kid. And people do.

It’s an all but impossible to address problem though. For one thing, you have that whole ‘be fruitful and multiply’ thing. A huge chunk of people feel that it’s their God given right, mandate even, to have kids. And since a big portion of believers happen to be let’s say poor and uneducated, that’s the kind of parent you get.