Sunday, August 15, 2004

HOME SCHOOLING GROWS--Federal Bureaucrats Worry

by Al Benson Jr.

It was interesting to read a recent AP news release that dealt with home schooling. I suppose, though, that it is getting to that time of year when all the prospective brainwashees are expected t re-enroll at their local government brain laundries for more courses in Mind-bending 101. And maybe if they are fortunate enough not to get stuck with that one, they can take a course in sand shuffling or pebble-pushing.

It is worth noting that one agency that is part of the Department of Education at the federal level has admitted that home schooling has grown 29 percent since 1999 and that there are now almost up to 1.1 million students being taught at home.

In different surveys, parents listed two main reasons for voting with their feet in regard to seceding from the government school system. According to the AP release: "...31 percent cited concerns about the environment of regular schools, and 30 percent wanted the flexibility to teach religious or moral lessons. Third, at 16 percent, was dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools." What a surprise! Most parents that go to government education bureaucrats to complain about what their kids are being taught are blithely informed that they "are the only parents in the district to complain" about whatever the problem may be. These kinds of figures give the lie to that old saw.

Ian Slatter, a spokesman for the National Center for Home Education, a group that promotes home schooling, has said that: "Home schooling is just getting started. We've gotten through the barriers of questioning the academic ability of home schools, now that we have a sizable number of graduates who are not socially isolated or awkward--they are good, high-quality citizens."

Supposedly, the 1.1 million students in home schools accounts for only 2.2 percent of the school-age population. That is as may be, but knowing how the Feds love to play the numbers game, especially with groups they are not overly enamoured of, who can doubt that the actual number of home schooled students might well be about double what the Feds have told us, or even know about. Due to the unpleasant climate in many states for home schoolers over the years, many who have opted for this good system of education have just done it and said nothing to anyone. In many instances, if you were never a part of the Fed's "education" program, they have no record of you educationally. And that's not all bad!

Our children attended a Christian school in one of our Midwestern states for several years. When we arrived at the point where we could no longer financially continue in that direction we decided to teach them at home. The government school system was NOT an option. Since our kids had never been part of the government's "education" system, I could see no reason for groveling at the feet of some local educrat and seeking his permission to teach our kids at home. So I didn't. We just did it. We joined the Home School Legal Defense Association just to be safe and we went from there. We never made a secret of what we were doing; everyone who knew our kids knew they were being taught at home. In fact, many of the families in our church in that state tried mightily to persuade us to enroll our kids in the local "conservative" government school there, which supposedly had a lot of Christian teachers, and besides, they had a great band program, so our kids wouldn't be culturally deprived. I guess some of them thought my wife and I were from the Stone Age and possessed no ability to pass along to our children the finer things culturally. So our daughter grew up listening to classical music while many of theirs were listening to Rock and Roll. Even our son appreciated classical music to an extent, and even though it wasn't my favorite, I recognized that it was, indeed, good music and encouraged our kids to listen to it. At any rate, to the chagrin of most of the families in our church, we refused to heed their advice. When our pastor there tried to get us to put the kids in government schools (where his were) and we listed all the reasons, beginning with conscience, for our not being able to do this, he said that "With all the reasons you've given me for what you are doing, I guess what I'm saying to you sounds pretty close to blasphemy doesn't it?" I assured him it did. The subject never came up again.

Yet, even though home schooled students are now into their second generation of home schooling, and the home schoolers regularly take national prizes at spelling bees and other student contests, some of the federal bureaucrats still continue to bring up the old, hackneyed arguments of a generation ago to convince parents to keep their kids in the government brain laundries, and besides, it keeps those federal dollars flowing and supports the bloated bureaucracy.

Ted Feinberg, assistant director of the National Association of School Psychologists voiced concerns that parents have no formal training as teachers. That doesn't seem to have stopped them from turning out some of the brightest kids in the country in the last several years. Feinberg worries that students won't get the same materials at home that they would have in government schools. All I can say to that is "Thank God!" That's one of the main reasons for teaching them at home. And then he pulls out the old "socialization" argument that educrats have been peddling like snake oil for the past generation. He is deeply concerned that home schooled students will not have the needed exposure to other students or to "various cultures." In other words, no peer pressure to cave in and follow the crowd, and no multiculturalism! If the kids miss out on these "important" parts of the government school agenda they might not be quite as easy to manipulate in the future. They might ask politically incorrect questions and harbor politically incorrect thoughts--and you just can't have lots of people doing things like that.

Actually, most home schooled students have learned to get along with people of all ages as well as their peers and so they are less influenced by peer pressure because they have been exposed to a much broader viewpoint and, therefore, in many cases, have more discernment.

Now all we need to be able to do is to get more decent history material out there for the home school movement, especially American history. Should that happen we may well begin to rock the establishment's "New World Order" boat.

History is critically important, for if we have a faulty view of the past our vision for the future will be faulty also.


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