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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
And for you homeschool types who aren’t religious nutcases . . . 
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 | 01:48 pm [commentary, education, religion]
My article yesterday stated that the majority of American homeschoolers are fundamentalist Christian. That, as I have now stated in the article, isn’t the case. Most of the replies I’ve received have been from homeschool parents who are quite insistent that they are not fundamentalists, and that they are teaching their kids evolution in their science lessons. To them, I apologize, and say thank you.

Here are a few statistics I found, courtesy of a 2003 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics:

  • Approximately 1.1 million students were being homeschooled in the United States in the spring of 2003. I’ve seen estimates that the number has increased since the survey was taken to something like 2.1 million.

  • 85% of homeschool parents surveyed cited concern about the environment of other schools as a reason for homeschooling their children. 31% cited this as the most important reason for choosing homeschool. This was by far the most-cited reason for homeschooling students.

  • 72% claimed a desire to provide religious or moral instruction as a reason, with 30% citing it was their most important reason. This indicates that homeschooling in the U.S. has a strongly religious character, as I stated, but it in no way suggests that that character is fundamentalist Christian in nature. Unfortunately, “fundamentalist Christian” is how I characterized it in my article. I was wrong to do that, and I stand corrected.
The first comment I received to my previous article was from Dawn, a Christian mom who is homeschooling her young children, ages 6 and 9, in Nova Scotia. Check out her blog, Day by Day Discoveries, where she discusses her homeschooling experiences. “[My kids] learn evolution,” she wrote in her first comment to my article. “ID and creationism only come up as examples of pseudo-science.” She is one of the good guys. If only every homeschooling parent would follow Dawn’s lead.

Also linked on Dawn’s Day by Day blog is a CafePress storefront, where you can purchase your very own “Evolved Homeschooler” t-shirts and household items. None of you bastards have bought any of my CafePress stuff; the least you can do is throw a little change at somebody, for Christ’s sake.  (And P.S.:  Dawn mentions in the comment section below that the proceeds from sales of the Evolved Homeschooler gear go to St. Jude's Childrens Hospital.  So now you pretty much have to buy something.)

I also got an email from Theresa, a homeschooling mom from Tampa, Florida, who rightly chastised me for falling for the “continued mischaracterization of home educators as narrow minded fundamentalists.” Theresa is one of a great number of progressive homeschoolers who are standing up to oppose groups like the MDHSA, and to let clueless shits like me know that the religious nuts don’t speak for the whole group.

Theresa also turned me on to the website of Homeschooling Unitarian Universalists, HUUmans on the Web. The introduction reads “This site is a vehicle for the sharing of ideas and will interest a wide range of people — from Unitarian Universalist families who may or may not be homeschooling to those who are interested in homeschooling but may or may not be UU. This is a place where open minds can consider alternatives to traditional public education.”

The HUU site has a number of excellent articles where their progressive, non-fundamentalist view of homeschooling is put forward. There’s a terrific piece entitled “The Home School Legal Defense Association DOES NOT Speak for US!” wherein the HUU vehemently distances itself from the conservative Christian HSLDA, which has publicly encourages homeschoolers to oppose gay rights, and characterized the homeschool community as a fundamentalist Christian monolith:

[W]e cannot let HSLDA’s gross misrepresentation of home educators as a single-minded group with a collective conservative agenda go unchallenged. In fact, HSLDA’s over-reaching positions in areas far outside of home education serve only to underscore this organization’s exploitation of home educators to further its private political agenda, and in the process undermine the crucial cause of homeschooling freedoms for a large and diverse population of home educators. . . . UU Homeschoolers support the rights of all people to equal protection under the law. We believe we ALL have the fundamental right to direct our own lives in our own ways.

Can I get an Amen?

There’s also this great article by Mary Schnake, “Reclaiming My Idealism: Why a Unitarian Universalist Homeschools for Religious Reasons,” where one Unitarian Universalist homeschooler writes about her journey away from the Christian church, and why she decided to homeschool her children.

These are religious people who homeschool their kids and, unlike the MDHSA and those represented by the HSLDA, teach them real, legitimate science, including evolutionary biology. The website’s list of suggested math and science sources includes a link to Becoming Human, a website devoted to telling the story of evolution and human origins. These, too, are the good guys.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not suddenly on the homeschool bandwagon here. I know our public education in the U.S. is in a terrible state, and I can certainly understand why some parents would rather teach their kids themselves than send them to school. I’d still be more comfortable with children being taught by teachers who have been to college and mastered their subjects, than well-meaning parents who are simply following a lesson plan. But in the day since I posted my article, I’ve heard from enough homeschooling parents who were adamant that the MDHSA did not speak for them, who told me that they are teaching their children real science and not creationism, that I felt obligated to acknowledge them, and correct myself.

I wish more homeschoolers were taught from sources like Becoming Human rather than Apologia, and I wish states would alter their standards to require real science education before granting diplomas. Until those things happen, though, I’m happy and a little relieved to know that there are people out there like Dawn, Theresa, and the HUU, teaching their children at home, the right way.
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Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 | 10:29 pm (UTC) - Re: More about Home schooling

My girlfriend and I talk about this issue a lot (she manages a branch of our county library and encounters homeschool families almost daily), and I've often said, grudgingly, that I have no problem with children being homeschooled provided their parents are qualified, credentialed teachers. So, good for you.

I still object to homeschooling for its lack of socialization, but I have a lot less to complain about when the homeschoolers are folks like you, who are qualified teachers.
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Thursday, April 10th, 2008 | 01:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link! I'll just note that any proceeds from the Evolved Homeschoolers gear goes to St. Jude's Children's Research hospital.

Thursday, April 10th, 2008 | 05:38 pm (UTC) - BS
Isn't it funny how most of the sheep in this country think you need some sort of "credential" from the state in order to teach? Reality tells us those “credentials” mean nothing. Government indoctrination camps fail at education, but they succeed at what they were designed to do, dumb down the masses and teach our children to worship the state.
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Thursday, April 10th, 2008 | 09:58 pm (UTC) - I wish I were a homeschooler
Your discourse on homeschooling shows lack of experience with public schools.

My children attend public elementary school. They go to school at 7:45 and are done at 2:45. During the day they get 30 minutes for recess and 30 minutes for lunch. Lunches start at 10:45 with the last one starting at 1:15. The kids are not allowed to move around during lunch they must sit and eat quietly. Physical education is half an hour once a week. The whole school district works on a similar schedule for over 100,000 elementary school children. How would you like to stay in your seat for that long each day? Do you do that at work? Do you like the “structured schedule”?

My children have observed the following behavior during their “socialization”.
Unhappy frustrated kids
Group punishment
Teachers that need “anger management”

My kids attend one of the top elementary schools in the district. Does this sound like an environment that promotes useful socialization?

The schools teach the flavor of the day government propaganda. They teach:
Bio-fuels like ethanol is the answer to our energy problems.
Homosexuality is good for society.
Global warming should not go through more scientific scrutiny. Man and the USA did it.
Evolution is fact, not science’s best guess. Maybe in a few billion years man will have a brain:-)

The schools teach the politically correct answers to today’s questions. That is if the schools could just keep the kids from dropping out.

Clearly we wish we could afford something better.
Thursday, April 10th, 2008 | 10:15 pm (UTC) - Re: I wish I were a homeschooler
I'm certainly not arguing that public schools are ideal. They need many, many improvements, from elementary school all the way up through high school.

Since the entirety of my elementary and secondary education came in public schools, I don't see how you can say I have a lack of experience with them. I remember elementary school, and it wasn't terribly different from how you describe it. I had to get up early, I had to eat an early lunch sometimes, I had to sit still and stay quiet for a long time. I did not enjoy it at the time. But I'm glad for the experience. It, along with my parents, obviously, taught me to be a polite, respectful person. Did it do that to everyone else? No, obviously not.

But it was a very important experience for me. It was a very positive thing for me to learn how to operate on a schedule, for me to learn patience and tolerance and courtesy. There are many things about it I would change, but I wouldn't trade it in for homeschool.

The negative things you mention are real problems that should be dealt with, especially bullying and out-of-control teachers. I'm not sure how observing cursing is so detrimental. I observed cursing in school all throughout my education, and I'm the most normal cocksucker you're ever likely to motherfucking meet.

I'm no big fan of political correctness, because it often stands in the way of honesty and candor, so I'm with you there. If your children are really being taught unequivocally that ethanol is the answer to energy problems, that's wrong. My suspicion is that they are actually being taught something more general, like alternatives to fossil fuels in general are necessary soluions to our energy problems. I see nothing wrong with that.

Likewise, I find it hard to believe your kids are learning that "homosexuality is good for society." Homosexuality is neither good nor bad; it is neutral, it is simply a fact. They might be learning that acceptance of homosexuality is good for society, that tolerance of people's differences is good, that there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality. If that is the case, I applaud their teachers. There is no reason other than bigotry to teach that there is anything morally wrong about homosexuality.

And if they are being taught that evolution is a fact, good for them. It IS a fact. Evolution happens. It's real. And the theory of evolution, which explains how the factual process of evolution works, is just as valid and empirically sound as the theories of gravity or planetary motion. It is not a guess. It is a carefully tested and refined theory compiled from empirically observed, objectively interpreted evidence, and that's exactly what students should be told about it in school.
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 07:56 am (UTC) - Ignorance is Equal Opportunity
Please don't take this too personally, but ignorance is equal opportunity. As a homeschooling parent and a member of AAAS, I was really put off by your assumption that homeschooled children were, for the most part, spoon fed wholesale delusions.

Teachers, while they may be trained to educate, come in all varieties and are ultimately bound to teach from whatever curriculum is handed to them, even if that curriculum can't stand up to reason. Public education is a form of tyranny, where the majority can skew the beliefs and perceptions of the masses so that their ideological agendas are fulfilled.

In the future, please make a greater effort to question your own beliefs and biases; everyone sees the world through a skewed lens, but this does not necessitate hypocrisy.
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 10:51 am (UTC)
I wish fellow homeschoolers would drop attacks on public schools to justify their homeschooling. The simple fact is that we don't need to justify it. We made a legal choice and, in most cases, one that works well for our families. Instead of getting defensive when confronted with criticism maybe it's time we started sharing what goes on in our homes. That's really what's going to help people see what we're really doing.

Anyhow, I'm going to see if I can address some of the concerns about credentialling on my blog Steve - draw in some readers to discuss it maybe. Please feel free to join in!
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 12:55 pm (UTC)
The biggest proplem I have is that we are forced at gunpoint to pay for government schools.
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Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 12:58 pm (UTC)
The "socialization" aspect of our Prussian-style educational system (imported from Germany by Horace Mann and others in the 19th century) is the most crucial aspect, from the view of the state.

The Germans, through their new educational system, turned the nation of Goethe and Beethoven into the nation of Bismarck and Hitler. Their students were thoroughly "socialized"; that is, they were indoctrinated to be loyal and obedient to state authority. This made them better soldiers and factory workers.

In about the same time frame (about a century and a half), our school system has accomplished the same "socialization."
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 03:08 pm (UTC)
Some anonymous homeschooler wrote:
The Germans, through their new educational system, turned the nation of Goethe and Beethoven into the nation of Bismarck and Hitler.
Hitler actually went to school in Austria, not Germany. Also, he dropped out of high school when he was 16. Who knows how things would have been different if he had simply stayed in school.
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Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 01:57 pm (UTC)
Steve: I did up a post on my blog for some of my regular readers to offer up posts for you if you're interested in looking into the matter more. Subjects I suggested were 1) why we're comfortable homeschooling without college mastery of subjects and 2) the diversity our children are being exposed to by virtue of being homeschooled.

Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 07:44 pm (UTC)
I just checked out the post! If I can think of something relevant to offer, I definitely will. I appreciate you and the readers of your blog participating in the discussion. I think it's great!
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 04:33 pm (UTC)
Judge Croskey obligingly explained: "A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare."

Imagine that. "Loyalty to the state." Almost as if what they're running are, I don't know ... mandatory government youth propaganda camps, or something.
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 04:36 pm (UTC)
The home schooling movement is the best hope for saving this country, by producing hundreds of thousands of individuals who can think and act independently; who can read, write, and reason; who have a grasp of history and philosophy.

Such people cannot but rebel against governments that steal their wealth, their children, and even their very lives.

The government cannot abide such independent people. That is why they are so determined to smash the home schooling movement. This is one area in which we cannot compromise. You have absolute, non-negotiable right to educate your own children.
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 06:15 pm (UTC)
So.... you are home-schooling your kids so they can eventually grow up to overthrow the government? Home-schooling does not promote individuality or independence. Far from it. Kids can't become independent by spending every waking moment with their mothers.
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Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 04:37 pm (UTC)
Throughout history, most great advancements in science (and other fields) have been accomplished away from the crushing conformity of schools.

Isaac Newton, for example, did much of his best work while living alone in the countryside while the plague raged in London.

Thomas Edison was kicked out of school for being "incorrigible." Thank God for that!

Albert Einstein did his most revolutionary work in physics and mathematics while working as a clerk in a patent office. He was, by the way, a "C" student in math in the public schools.

Incidentally, NONE OF THE ABOVE-CITED GENIUSES WOULD BE ALLOWED TO TEACH IN AN AMERICAN PUBLIC SCHOOL!!! They never got the government-sanctioned "Teacher's Certification" showing they had their butts in chairs taking totally worthless "education" classes.

Let that sink in for a moment. Teachers typically come from from the bottom third of entering college freshman, and the bottom third of graduating students. They are allowed to "teach." Albert Einstein would not be allowed to teach physics.

Newton would not be allowed to teach calculus, despite the fact he invented it.

Edison would not be allowed to teach general science.
Friday, April 11th, 2008 | 06:57 pm (UTC)
Einstein wouldn't be allowed to teach physics? He was a physics professor at the University of Zurich. He also lectured many, many times at Cal-Tech and at Princeton.

Not only was Sir Isaac Newton allowed to teach mathematics, he was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge.

Thomas Edison was a hack that stole the ideas and worked to discredit the work of others. See Nikola Tesla. Edison would have no business teaching general science. I'm sure he would insist on teaching that DC is superior to AC. Once again, see Nikola Tesla.

Out of the three men you mention, Edison is the only one that was actually home-schooled. Go figure. The rest all went to school where they flourished.
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Saturday, April 12th, 2008 | 07:26 pm (UTC) - Been to public school lately?
Interesting perspective and I'm glad for the updated post anyway.

I haven't seen anyone mention No Child Left Behind when referring to the public schools. My first grader reads at a 6th grade level and is fascinated with square roots and fractions. Guess what! He's learned NOTHING at school all year. And he will be homeschooled next year.

I'm not going to take down all public schools, but ours and many schools out there are so focused on these test scores that they do teach anything beyond the very basics. And if your child is gifted and operating well above grade level - forget it.

My husband and I are also UU and both have multiple higher technical degrees. It turns out we are actually vastly more qualified to teach our children than the average elementary school teacher. I'm not denying that there are amazing and talented teachers out there. There focus is just not on everyone learning to their potential. It is about "Adequate Yearly Progress".

The socialization and "schedule" of the public school is vastly overrated. No other time in your life are your own needs so ignored. When you're working in your office, you're free to stretch your legs or get a drink. You're free to say hi to your co-workers and talk about the election. My kid is not the same kid I sent to public school before kindergarten. I hope I get that kid back.
Monday, April 14th, 2008 | 05:08 pm (UTC) - Your Article About ... And for you homeschool types who aren´t religious nutcases . . .

Yep, they're discussing your articles on some of the homeschooling lists I belong to.

I'm not a religious nut case. In a former life I was a Mechanical Engineer with graduate credentials from an Ivy League school. Hope that makes you feel better....

I think these days it's probably hard to find "teachers who have been to college and mastered their subjects" (it's the mastered part that rings with me) or even "well-meaning parents" in the majority of our population.(Go to a Saturday afternoon soccer field and see the soccer moms for yourself....raising wonderful little darlin's in our plug-n-play public education system.)

Some of us pull our kids out of "the system" because they don't know how to deal with the truly "bright" kids, they systematically "dumb them down", "real science" or not, so by the time they'd go to college...well I submit the following:

American Kids Dummer than Dirt: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2007/10/24/notes102407.DTL

As for those who think they speak for "all homeschoolers", well, they're misinformed, and the surveys, well it's usually the lemmings who answer those anyway.

Best Regards,



Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 | 12:59 pm (UTC)
"When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side,' I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. in a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'"

~Adolf Hitler

I keep a copy of this quote in my wallet for people who ask why my children aren't in public school.
Tuesday, June 10th, 2008 | 02:15 pm (UTC)
Do you also keep a copy of Charles Manson's quote that "total paranoia is total awareness?"
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