Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

July 10, 2006

Moral Issues

Someone over at Spunky’s website commented with two moral concerns regarding homeschooling. You really need to read the complete comments to get the full flavor.

The first concern is the line between parenting and child safety. If she hadn’t brought up testing, this has nothing to do with homeschooling. (Even though she did bring up testing, it still has nothing to do with homeschooling.) Horrible abuse happens before the kids are even school-aged or during the summer. Sexual abuse often doesn’t happen until children are school-aged and this can easily persist through high school. Public school doesn’t stop or prevent abuse.

The second issue is interesting on several levels. By denying homeschoolers outside influences are we brainwashing them? No more so than public schools are, it’s just a question of who is doing the brainwashing. Not everything children learn (notice, I didn’t say taught as in the curriculum) is good. Go visit any very wealthy or very poor school and see how much diversity there is in the student body.

The more interesting part of the comment is this

SpunkyHomeSchool: Typical Homeschool Questions:

I am different from my parents in many ways including my political beliefs and religious beliefs, they respect that. I got the opportunities to think for myself from the things I learned and the people I met in public school.

Now I’m just guessing here but I would guess that the poster diverged from her parents in a more liberal/secular direction. That’s why she posted at Spunky’s rather than to something like a HEM blog. She (another assumption) probably doesn’t even know about HEM or is aware that there are liberal homeschoolers out there just as guilty of “brainwashing” their children as the perceived religious majority.

It’s a natural assumption since we as liberals tend to see children “breaking away” from the traditions of their parents and that society often benefits. If you think all homeschoolers are religious conservatives or that school is the only place where children can form a separate identity from their parents, I guess this is a moral concern. However, as a liberal homeschooler, I see it more as an uninformed bias if not outright prejudice based on the belief that all homeschoolers are conservatives. Is it okay to “brainwash” if it’s done with a liberal bias?

I think that’s why so often I (as a liberal homeschooler) am treated as an “exception.” I’m “different” because my husband and I have advanced degrees from public universities, our parents are teachers, our son plays Little League (not a church league), we listen to NPR. So it’s okay for me to homeschool. However, if it’s okay for me to homeschool, it’s also okay for radical fundamentalist Christians to do the same.

The reality is that NCLB mandates test for academic skills, not moral beliefs. Not that I believe in the current system of testing, but to test for anything else does make public education an overt, brainwashing experience.



  1. It was I who made the comment in the first place (he as hit happens) :). I had to make the point several times in the ensuing comments but I want to say it here too. I am not implying that homeschoolers abuse their kids and get away with it. I’ve seen no statistics on the subject and I’m hardly equipped to make such a generalization. I was asking where the line was with “getting the government out of our family?” If the government has no say in family issues, how many children will go on abused because the government buts out, my statement was more one of morality and government then one of homeschooling. As for the other portion of the post, I’m referring to the many things I learned by being with other students in public school (and presumably with other students of private school) I was given the opportunity to be close to people who were nothing like me, even, on occasion, mocked for my beliefs, but I think all of these things gave me strength in myself. I wouldn’t be as strong a person as I am if I was never called a name or jeered by a peer. I’ve met a number of home school students, and I know this issue is brought up constantly, but they’re smart, they’re polite, but there is a “children of the corn” thing going on that I’d rather not see in my child.

    Comment by John — July 10, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  2. I certainly cannot speak for everyone but I have three children that no one would think have a “children of the corn” thing going on. I go to events with other homeschoolers almost every week and I can’t think of any of them who would fall into that category either. I think you are assuming that all homeschoolers are religious or exclusionary in some way. That simply isn’t true. Granted, your original comment was on a religious homeschooler’s blog but homeschoolers run the gamut of beliefs, races etc. We aren’t all the same and while I have met a few who like to stay only within their confort zones in my experience they are the exception, not the rule.

    Comment by Another opinion — July 11, 2006 @ 7:43 pm

  3. Unfortunately, I do see it. Or rather, I don’t because those type of homeschoolers wouldn’t have me around. I do think it is a small percentage but they have greater influence than their actual numbers. This is what I see happening:

    The majority of homeschool groups around here are “statement of faith” organizations. If you don’t sign the statement of faith, you might not be allowed to participate or maybe your kids can go to activities but you can’t be any position of responsibility. I know someone who couldn’t teach elementary math in her co-op because she was Greek Orthodox and wouldn’t sign the statement of faith.

    Anyway, the fact is that most people in this country are Christian and so they don’t have any problem signing the statement. It’s often presented to them as “no big deal” so why wouldn’t you sign it? Since most of the well established support groups have a statement of faith, people do it and don’t give it a second thought. They are there for the activities and the religious aspects are secondary. People who don’t sign it are just considered “trouble-makers.”

    The “trouble-makers” include Greek Orthodox, Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Pagens, Muslims, and Christians who don’t think your faith, or lack there of, should have anything to do with teaching a math class.

    Fortunately, there have been enough of these trouble-makers recently who have gotten together to form some of their own groups and don’t require signing any statement of faith. These groups include Christians who do see the statements as exclusionary, controlling, and the work of a few with a political agenda. The success of these “secular” groups where Christians participate without feeling persecuted for being Christian, is starting to get members of some of the statement of faith groups to step back and think about what that statement actually accomplishes.

    The statement of faith organizations still exist and are doing well. However, I do think that many of the Christians in these groups are starting to wonder how they would suffer if they started to let Catholics in. Many didn’t realize that their statements were designed to exclude Catholics.

    As more secular options become available, some of the statement of faith organizations have responded by becoming even more exclusive. This includes our self-proclaimed “regional organization” which has recently driven out a number of incredibly energetic and productive Catholics who had organized and participated in many of its activities.

    Ultimately, I think this a positive trend since those groups that only want to associate with certain type people under specific conditions can do so without forcing other homeschoolers to go along with them since they were the only game in town. Yet as long as Christian homeschoolers who are open to interaction with people of other faiths continue to support the statement of faith groups, they provide these leaders with a broad sense of legitimacy. These groups will be perceive by non-homeschoolers to represent all homeschoolers. It’s really like the HSLDA issue but on a smaller scale here in Texas.

    Comment by texased — July 12, 2006 @ 9:57 am

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