Saturday, April 19, 2008

Educate the Children

Is Homeschooling a viable choice?

This writing focuses on three aspects of education.

1. History and results
2. Socialization –The ability to interact in society
3. Who’s to blame?

History and Results

In the early days of North America, children were schooled at home. Governor Bradford did not hop a school bus in the morning and head off to school. Nor did George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and so on. They were taught at home. I don’t think many would disagree with me that these were some of the finest minds in history, and we of course know that some of them created possibly the finest documents in history. The Declaration of Independence , the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United States. Many of that era did go off to apprentice with others. Again, one to one training.

The first organized public school didn’t come into existence until the 1850’s in Massachussetts. Even coming into our own lifetimes. How many of our parents and/or grandparents attended a one room school house in the early 20th century? Drive the countryside. You’ll see many one room school houses now being used as child care centers, or historical monuments.

Homeschooling became more popular and began to grow in the early 1970’s. It’s always been around, but it began to grow significantly in the 70’s. Today, there are 4 million children being taught at home and that number is growing by 20% per year.

There are several reasons given for the growth in homeschooling. Parents want their children safe. Parents don’t want the liberal agenda of the public school system. The majority are for religious reasons. In 1962, God was removed from the public schools.

Beginning in 1962, SAT scores plummeted. Teen pregnancies, drug abuse, pornography, sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, suicides and illiteracy immediately rose by 200%.

More recently, textbooks are missing information or have errant information in schools. One textbook says the atomic bomb caused the end of the Korean War instead of WWII. Another says that 53,000 American deaths came from WWI rather than the 126,000 Americans who actually died. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are relegated to six lines in textbooks.

Abortion is taught as a part of birth control while homosexuality, masturbation and premarital sex and adultery are taught as normal parts of life.

Safety is a big issue in the news in recent years. An elementary school in Washington DC suspended recesses due to the drugs and violence taking place no the playground until they could allow the children to have their recesses in a pit surrounded by police.

In light of this information is it any wonder why more and more people are choosing homeschooling over public education?

So what are the results of the past forty years of homeschooling compared to public and private education? Is homeschooling successful?

Here is an excerpt from a recent study of homeschoolers: "According to a report published by the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, homeschool student achievement test scores were exceptionally high. The median scores for every subtest at every grade were well above those of public and Catholic/private-school students. On average, homeschool students in grades one to four performed one grade level above their age-level public/private school peers on achievement tests. Students who had been homeschooled their entire academic life had higher scholastic achievement test scores than students who had also attended other educational programs."
One interesting facet of the study noted that academic achievement was equally high regardless of whether the student was enrolled in a full-service curriculum, or whether the parent had a state-issued teaching certificate.
The study states, "Even with a conservative analysis of the data, the achievement levels of the homeschool students in the study were exceptional. Within each grade level and each skill area, the median scores for homeschool students fell between the 70th and 80th percentile of students nationwide and between the 60th and 70th percentile of Catholic/Private school students. For younger students, this is a one year lead. By the time homeschool students are in 8th grade, they are four years ahead of their public/private school counterparts."
Do we really need to analyze that? It’s there in black and white. The performance of homeschooled students exceeds that of public and private education. A parent, that does not have a state-issued teaching certificate is just as high as those with the teaching certificate.

Another aspect of education is the tremendous waste of time in schools. A homeschooled student will participate in their education for 2-3 hours per days. In my own experience, my children averaged 3 ½ hours per day. Yet in the public education system they waste more than two hours per day on lunch, recess and class changing.


It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."
Many homeschoolers share this sentiment when it comes to public schools, believing that the moral relativism, violence, peer pressure, drugs and promiscuity found inside their gates provide an inadequate setting to properly socialize their children. Yet 92 percent of superintendents believe that home learners are emotionally unstable, deprived of proper social development and too judgmental of the world around them, according to a California study by researcher Dr. Brian Ray .

The facts of this research are interesting, but what’s even more interesting to me is that 92% of superintendents believe that home learners are emotionally unstable, home learners are emotionally unstable, deprived of proper social development and too judgemental of the world around them. I really don’t care what superintendents “believe”. I am more concerned with the facts.

Let’s look at the socialization of the children. Most children are eligible to begin their kindergarten year if they turn age five by December 1. The parents may begin their child’s education the following year if they choose if the child is four at the beginning of the year, but turns five before December 1. Immediately, we’re told that all four and five year olds will begin school in early September. All of the four and five year olds are put together in the same grade. They will be with 25 or 30 other four and five year olds. The following year, they will be in the first grade with all five and six year olds. The second grade will be all six and seven year olds and that follows right on through their senior year in high school.

Lunches and recess are divided into sections. Kindergartners might be mixed with first or even second grade students. The third fourth and fifth grade students will each their lunch abit later and be on the play ground after the younger students are back in class. This also happens in middle school and high school. So the closest these children come to interacting with others that are not their age are at recess and lunch, and then only limited to within a year or two of their own age.

Homeschooled children aren’t limited to this age restriction. They will eat lunch with their parents, or guests that stop by, or in restaurants with people of many ages.

After 12 years of being confined to your own age level in public schools, you’re now turned loose on society in your chosen career. Look around at your own workplace. Is everyone the same age as you? The chances are you’re working with people that are older than you and younger than you. As you age, you’re not moved to another section confined to all 30 year old colleagues, and then 40 year old colleagues. You may gravitate to those of your age group for friendship, but you’ll be working with and dealing with people of various ages and lifestyles.

From an early age, children of homeschooled parents are mingling with, conversing with, and participating with others of various ages and various walks of life. Homeschooled students are actually more socially aware than those in the public education system.

So where do these children get their interaction with others? First, they get them in society. The libraries, where they spend a lot of time. 4H is very popular among homeschoolers as is boys and girls scouts. For sports, there are city athletic leagues and regional athletic leagues.

In recent years, more and more groups of homeschoolers are banding together for education and activity purposes. Spelling bees, science fairs, debate clubs, sporting leagues. From my own personal experience, I know that homeschool groups participate against each other in various groups as well as against the public and private school leagues. Lansing has a group. Grand Rapids has a group, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo have groups. All of this just in the mid and west Michigan areas.

Dr. Thomas Smedley believes that homeschoolers have superior socialization skills, and his research supports this claim. He conducted a study in which he administered the Vineyard Adaptive Behavior Scales test to identify mature and well-adapted behaviors in children. Home learners ranked in the 84th percentile, compared to publicly schooled students, who were drastically lower in the 23rd.

Dismantling the stereotype that home learners spend their days isolated from society at kitchen tables with workbooks in hand, NHERI reports that they actually participate in approximately five different social activities outside the home on a regular basis.
Furthermore, researcher Dr. Linda Montgomery found that 78 percent of high school home learners were employed with paying jobs, while a majority engaged in volunteering and community service.

Research presented at the National Christian Home Educators Leadership Conference divulged that homeschool graduates far exceeded their public and private school counterparts in college by ranking the highest in 42 of 63 indicators of collegiate success. They were also ranked as being superior in four out of five achievement categories, including socialization, as they were assessed as being the most charismatic and influential.

Boston University says, "We believe students educated at home
possess the passion for knowledge, the independence, and the self-reliance
that enable them to excel in our intellectually challenging programs of study.
More colleges are even having their own admissions policy's for children that are taught at home.

One more item that I saved for last, partly because I wasn’t certain how to present it and partly because it applies to both the success rate and the socialization in homeschooling is that of race.

As mentioned, homeschooling has been increasing since the 1970’s, but what of the minorities. This too has been growing of late. More and more blacks are electing to homeschool their children.

I have no statistics, nor do I have any research to cite as to why minorities, mostly blacks, are slower to come around to the homeschooling boom. I only have an opinion at this point. Prior to the 60’s, and even moving into the 80’s, the black people in this country had to work harder to succeed. They were hindered until the civil rights actions of the 60’s and as with all things, it does take some time to improve ones circumstances.

We all remember or have read about how black people were banned from white schools, drinking fountains were segregated and they were just treated at worse than second class citizens. So as they increased in their learning, their opportunities and their success, more and more have come to join the homeschool movement. A

As bad as public education is, the inner city schools are even worse. Detroit is graduating less than 40% of their students. Many cities around the country are having graduation rates decline and that is hardest hit in the inner city schools.

The Blame Game

We all know there are problems with education in this country. Just open any newspaper or watch the news on television. Schools are constantly running out of money. They need millage elections to raise money to replace buildings, build football fields, put in a pool, get new computers and a myriad of other reasons.

Children are not learning and the answer of the NEA and the teachers, administrators, and Federal, State and local governments is to throw more money at the schools. For over 20 years, we’ve been throwing more money at the schools and still they continue to decline.

Liberals and Conservatives blame each other. School boards blame the economy, regardless of how the economy is performing. Teachers and Administrators blame the parents. Parents blame the teachers. BUT NOBODY ACTUALLY SOLVES THE PROBLEM.

We can go back to the ruling in 1962 that took God out of education and see that all bad things increased while all good things decreased. Perhaps we could blame that. Or we could blame the relaxed standards of education over the years. Or maybe we could blame government interference for forcing indoctrination to government is good, home is bad, or for taking on the feeding of the children through the school lunch program or breakfast program. Or we could blame the parents for using the schools as nothing more than a baby sitting facility. Or we could blame the schools for taking on the role of babysitter and being accepting of poor performance by the students.

Again, this is my opinion. No statistics or studies to back it up. Just my opinion. I blame two groups of people. The parents and the teachers. Not one more than the other, but both equally.

I blame the parents for turning over more and more power to the schools and accepting that they have little to no effective input at school boards or with the government. Parents have just turned over the lives of their children to the school systems without holding the schools accountable. They’ve entrusted their most precious possession, their legacy, their children to strangers and if there is a problem, they in effect, say “ well, they are the professionals, they know best”. I think the studies above have proven that these so-called professionals don’t know best.
I also blame the teachers as much as the parents. These teachers are with the children for 8-9 hours per day. They have our children for 1/3 of their day. We have our children for 2/3 of our day, and of that more than 1/3 they are sleeping. The teachers are also aware of the school board side and the government side of education. The teachers should have the character to stand up for the children and their education. They should know what is best for the children in their care regarding education. They should not be following the school board because the school board chooses to implement something. They should have more say or take more say in the education of the children in the public school sector. If teachers are going to be considered professionals, they should have more input into what is taught in school and not be worried about losing their jobs if they speak out about something that is wrong.

Since parents and teachers haven’t taken back the schools and the education system from the various government bodies, there is but one choice a parent can make if they truly care about the education of their children. That choice is homeschooling their children.

Homeschooling is more successful. All studies to date have shown that parents teach their children better than those with teaching certificates and that homeschooled children are better equipped to interact in society than public school children.

I believe that the public education system can never be better than homeschooling children, however, I also believe that public education can be a very strong second to homeschooling with some immediate restructuring of the public education system. I base my opinion on the studies, and the statistics.

My opinions are up for debate. However, the statistics and studies are no longer debatable. There have been too many over too long of a period of time for them to be in error. My opinion, based on the studies and statistics and NOT ON FEELINGS, is that homeschooling is the best form of education in this country and that public education (or government schools if you prefer) is the worst form of education in this country.

Do not take my word for it. Do your own research (or your own home education if you will). You can google the information that I’ve provided in this writing and verify for yourself what I’ve said. I started off by typing in Homeschool vs Public school on the google search line. From there, it snowballed and found a lot of information. It’s your choice. You can choose to believe the myths of anti socialization within homeschool students or you can read and find that the actual anti-social behavior is found to be in public education.

Public schools and the government have a habit of saying “our children’ when talking about the students, but your children are in fact, your children. They don’t belong to the schools nor to the government. The teachers are just entrusted with the teaching of the children. When the education system is failing, and it is, it is our responsibility as parents to either hold the education system accountable or to see to it that they are educated to the best of our ability. Our ability has been proven to be superior through homeschooling to that of the public education system.


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