The popularity of home schooling, while not significant in terms of the number of children involved, is attracting growing attention from the media, which create the impression that a "movement" is underway. Movement or not, there are compelling reasons to oppose home teaching both for the sake of the children involved and for society.
Home schooling is an extension of the misguided notion that "anyone can teach." That notion is simply wrong.
So, I lack the ability to teach my kids anything. I should hand over all authority to the "experts".
Research on student achievement overwhelmingly supports the "common-sense" logic that the most important factor affecting student learning is teacher competency.
My common-sense logic goes as follows: A competent teacher will always do better than an incompetent one. Given a class of 8 kids who are all motivated and without "issues", the competent teacher will shine. But if "they" find out a class like this exists, they will ship in 16 more kids in various states of emotional disrepair. Then, the 8 kids will be looking out the window while the teacher spends his energies on the 16. I was an eye witness to this. Also, in my experience, there is one good teacher for every 8 sucky ones. I prefer to help my child beat these odds.
While some parents may be competent to teach very young children, that competence will wane in more advanced grades as the content and complexity increases.
One of the (supposed) virtues of home schooling is that the kids learn to teach themselves and the parents serve as support staff, making sure that the environment is conducive to learning, lining up the resources and materials that are needed.
But schools serve important functions far beyond academic learning. Attending school is an important element in the development of the "whole child."
Let me reflect on my own public school experience: Being beat up for being smart. Beating up other kids because they were smart. Falling asleep and drooling all over my desk. Having my shit stolen out of my locker and strewn all over the halls. Being interrogated for hours by the principal on the subject of "who lit the Kleenex box on fire". Buying incredibly potent marijuana wrapped in tin foil in the bathroom.
Schools, particularly public schools, are the one place where "all of the children of all of the people come together."
The children of Wayzata never "come together" with the children of South Minneapolis.
Can there be anything more important to each child and thus to our democratic society than to develop virtues and values such as respect for others, the ability to communicate and collaborate and an openness to diversity and new ideas? Such virtues and values cannot be accessed on the Internet.
The isolation implicit in home teaching is anathema to socialization and citizenship. It is a rejection of community and makes the home-schooler the captive of the orthodoxies of the parents.
I know that he is talking about good stuff like sharing and listening and respecting the values of others, but when I hear the words socialization and citizenship, I think of creating a compliant citizenry that lacks the facilities to question its leaders, that has had outrage and unreasonableness beaten out of it. I make the charge that schools squelch independent thought, keep the kids in a state of immaturity, and teach them that learning is possible only with the help of an educator and that organization and leadership comes from above and not from within the citizen.
I object to his painting of home schoolers as paranoid backwood freaks. I have not met any home schoolers yet who are particularly orthodox in their views. Isolation is in no way implicit in home teaching. There exist many different communities of home schoolers. A small effort in researching the subject would reveal , that they sponsor events, teach one another's children, are forming sports teams and bands. The notion of home schoolers forming networks and communities outside the bounds of traditional schooling is probably more chilling to this writer than the myth of religious weirdos raising backward children.
One of the strengths of our educational system is the wide range of legitimate forms of public, private or parochial schooling available for parental choice.
I might consider private or parochial schools if I could afford them. Does he support vouchers?
If the current system is so much better, why all the sorry statistics? I am going to guess that the answer would be "Not enough highly qualified and well paid teachers". I would agree that you get what you pay for. I don't feel that he is writing this out of concern for home schooled kids, but to defend the public education complex. I don't feel that to argue for more school funding, one must slam homeschooling. Meanwhile, the system he keeps sending freshly minted PhDs into is broken. Tell you what. You docs get together and fix the schools. Take all the money you want (That is, the money left over after buying new knees for the baby boomers) And when you get them fixed, I'll put my kids in. Until then, I'm homeschooling.