Since the sun (and its subsequent warmth) has taken leave of us, abandoning us to the coastal onshore flow typical of a bad Rose Festival season (or is that a ‘typical’ Rose Fesitval?), I must digress from my garden to something else. My garden is in a holding pattern, waiting for warm and real sun.
We no longer homeschool any of our children. We were hopeful the youngest would wake up and return to the fold, but her school counselor caught wind of our plan to subvert the public system and convinced Punk Child that she should remain in public school. I have not had any clear direction for this child and have allowed her to steer her own course. I am, however, disappointed that she has chosen to return to the high drama and low academic standards of her public charter school. If she has learned anything, it has not been academic, but has been dramatic and probably unsavory. Certainly it has not piqued her curiosity to learn more.
Over the course of the past few days, I have managed to read some blogs that are decidedly anti-homeschooling. My favorite is the poorly executed argument put forth by Portland’s own Russell Shaw. He starts out his argument with:
“Obviusly there were and are political reasons for this. Lots of home-schooling parents run with the creationists. Creationists are easily led, and they vote.
But as to other reasons for this blanket surrender to home school advocates- I for one, have never understood why.”
Obviously, Mr. Shaw learned to spell in a public school. I am only mildly amused by his poorly put together “argument” which would never stand in a good old-fashioned debate. But I’d love to try.
“There were and are political reasons for this.” Mr. Shaw does not give us what those might be, but let me enlighten the reader: Goals2000 or the Educational Act for the 21st Century as passed by the Oregon State legislature in 1991. No Child Left Behind Act, the brainchild of the past two presidents (but more commonly associated with Mrs. Bush). We have stripped schools of funding, increased the student:teacher ratio, removed the arts from the curriculum, taken away recess, and removed incentives to learn. Public schools are forced to ‘teach to the test’ in order to keep their government funding, force feeding children with rote memorization of facts they will never remember because they have no personal incentive to remember them. More government, less parenting. The school and the state are replacing the parent as nurturer and teacher.
Shaw follows that sentence with “Lots of home-schooling parents are creationists.” Whoa. Beware of any argument that begins with a generalization and offers no statistical data to back up the statement: Lots of. That could be twenty or twenty thousand. It could be one-third of the homeschooling movement or two-thirds. What we can be certain of, it is not ALL homeschooling parents. I could take on the hyphenated home-schooling(it’s homeschooling, Mr. Shaw) and the lack of capitalization for Creationists, but Mr. Shaw’s lack of grammar is obvious from the beginning. Or should I write “obvius”?
I lean toward Creationism, but not all Creationists agree with each other. There are folks who believe in a strict six-day Creation with no dinosaurs and no exceptions. There are Creationists who believe in a metaphorical six days. They believe there were dinosaurs. They have no problem with portions of Darwin’s Theory, but they expect the theory to be treated as such: an unproven theory. An idea or guess at what happened. And there are strict Evolutionists who believe that one single cell amoeba multiplied to its little heart’s content, mutating and evolving until it became what we now know as millions of creatures, from insects to mammals and everything in between, including fish and birds. They reject the “Theory” portion of the Theory of Evolution and accept it as fact. Probably none of us have it right.
“And creationists are easily led, and they vote.” Is that so? And where does Mr. Shaw think he will lead us? Or do you suppose that we vote because we are leaders, not followers? Perhaps we started our homeschool journey without the support of our friends or family or church? Would that not make us leaders in a movement considered by some to be subversive, rather than followers? If we have removed our children from the institutions of public education for whatever reason, are we not making a statement that we will lead and not follow? I think even my non-Creationist homeschool compatriots would agree with my conclusion: we are leaders, not followers. We are not easily led, Mr. Shaw, and that is why we removed our children from the State’s control. I always told my children that if they could be anything, they should be educated. Whenever there is a coup, it is the educated who are targeted first. There is a reason for this: people who think are a threat to any government that seeks to control its people. I homeschooled my children not because I wanted them to believe in Creationism, but because I wanted them to step outside and look back in at the government and the control it seeks to exert on us as a free People.
The fact that we vote should surely be in our favor: this is a Republic, after all. A democratic Republic, at that, where one vote (in theory) has power. Except in Oregon, where a non-vote is the same as a no vote, therefor nullifying all library levies because most folks do not vote in library levy elections. Mr. Shaw should know this: he is an Oregonian.
“But as to other reasons for this blanket surrender to home school advocates- I for one, have never understood why.”
What blanket surrender? Who surrendered?
Mr. Shaw’s blog continues along that line of thought. I never quite understood what his objection to homeschooling is. He ends his rant with: “One such scenario: kid comes home and tells her parent that “today our teacher said the universe is 14.5 billion years old, but we learned in Sunday School God created the world 6,500 years ago..”
Then, and only then, is the most appropriate time for the parent to get involved.”
Really? That merely sounds like an invitation for discussion and exploration: a perfect teaching moment when the child is ready to explore the options and choose for him/herself.
As for that being the only time a parent should get involved, I beg to differ. No, I don’t beg: I simply do disagree. I started my children in public school. I got involved when the kindergarten teacher sent home math homework. I categorically disagree with the current popular thought that homework belongs in kindergarten. It does not. In the subsequent parent-teacher conference, I won.
I got involved when a teacher (4th grade) began to read a substandard book out loud to the class. I went to the teacher, borrowed a copy, read it in an hour and reported back that I preferred that my child be allowed to go to the school library to read something at her reading level. The book I disagreed with is of no consequence; it merely was a substandard story written down to children. The child in question was reading “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling and enjoying it. I won.
I got involved when the State stepped in and began to remove local control from our smaller school districts. I fought in every forum and school board meeting to prevent the closure of the two-room school my children attended and to prevent the opening of a district-wide middle school with a 30:1 student:teacher ratio. I lost.
And the district lost our tax dollar because we pulled our children from public school and began our homeschool journey. The two children that continued through high school are now successful adults. One is a graduate of a university undergraduate program and the other opted for service in our armed forces.
Even now, when I have one in the public system, I find myself displeased with the quality of educating that happens in those ‘hallowed’ halls. It is all about teaching to the test to ensure the school in question will continue to have Federal dollars to keep the doors open the following year. Of course, all you get out of any education is what you put into it. I attended public schools and I can spell words like ‘obvious.’
I can also make the educated decision to home educate my children because I am displeased with the system in place on the public level, and I relish the fact that I live in a nation where I have the freedom to make such a choice regarding my own family.
And I vote.
And if you’re wondering about the title of this blog and what opinionated horses have to do with it, add an apostrophe and a five-letter word to that phrase. you’ll have my opinion of Russell Shaw.
I don’t intend to promote him or anything, but if you’re interested, his rant can be read at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-shaw/lets-restrict-home-schoo_b_49013.html