“The most important teaching is in the home, regardless of where kids are schooled.” – Homeschool Parent
My column on the California state appellate court ruling that says parents that homeschool their children must have teaching credentials prompted one parent to respond eloquently, pointing out that homeschooling has more positives than most people realize.
Here is his comment in its entirety:
That court decision is wrong. I hope and pray it is overturned quickly.
PARENTS have the PRIMARY responsibility to teach their kids. It’s not just a constitutional right. It’s also a God-given duty. The most important teaching is in the home, regardless of where kids are schooled. Any time people discuss problems in public schools or with gangs, etc, they point out that the solutions start at home, that parents can’t leave parenting to the schools.
The only difference with homeschool families is that they choose to teach the formal education as well. The results are indisputably positive. Homeschoolers as a group score WAY above the averages on all testing. Typical homeschooled kids are also incredibly well-rounded and involved in the community. Because they’re homeschooled, the student-teacher ratio is very low, so schooling goes faster. The many homeschoolers I know use the extra time to focus on music, sports, community involvement and other valuable extra-curricular activities.
Like many homeschool families, my wife and I have no teaching credentials. But, our kids excel. Their test scores are extremely high. They are accomplished writers, actors, singers and pianists. They are very talented athletes who are often champions & MVPs. Most importantly, they’re delightful to be around. Not the least bit perfect, but delightful!
Our kids are also well-socialized. There’s a silly myth that “socialization” is a major problem with homeschooling. That’s false. Homeschoolers are typically very well socialized. They’re often mature, wonderful to be around and relatively well-behaved. They’re socialized with people of all ages, not just their age-group peers.
We’re not credentialed, but my wife and I are educated. I’m a Harvard graduate and she’s a (retired) missile scientist. Despite our lack of teaching credentials, we’re qualified to teach our kids. The “proof is in the pudding”. No one can dispute the results. This is true for most homeschool students-the results speak for themselves.
But, what makes us qualified to teach our kids is not our education. It’s that we’re the parents, the people God trusted these kids to. We’re their most enthusiastic advocates, their most committed supporters, the ones who give our very lives for them. Surprisingly, the education level of the parents does NOT make a big difference in homeschooler test scores. Neither does having a teaching credential. Homeschooled kids, on average, perform WAY above average in every measurable category, regardless of the education level or credentials of their parents.
This does NOT in any way detract from credentialed teachers. My sister and one of my brothers and my mom are outstanding credentialed teachers who’ve impacted many kids’ lives. It’s just to point out that homeschooling is typically very successful. It’s partly because of the low student-teacher ratio. I know my sister and brother would be thrilled to have a student-teacher ratio of 4 to 1 (or 1 to 1, or however many kids are in a given family). Public school teachers do an incredible job, since they have to do it with 20 to 40 kids in a class, not 1 to 6 kids.
Just last night, a friend (who doesn’t homeschool) told me of calling a home in another state about a rental. She said a 14 year old answered. She said that the 14 year old was so polite and pleasant and well-spoken, she guessed that she was homeschooled. She later learned she was right. In other words, my friend’s first thought in encountering a respectful, articulate teenager was to wonder if the teenager was homeschooled. The results of homeschooling are fantastic.
SURE, there are exceptions. Same with all schools. Plus, “homeschooling” gets saddled with some undeserved bad examples. For example, it’s not uncommon that when a parent knows their kid is about to be expelled from school, they avoid it by pulling the kid from school and declaring they’ve “decided to homeschool”. I don’t know if that’s the case with the Los Angeles lawsuit-I don’t know those facts and I don’t mean to imply anything. But, it’s the extreme cases and wackos that make a good news story. Recognizing this, we must not “throw out the baby with the bathwater”. If there are bad parents doing bad things to kids, the state should protect those kids-we all should! But, don’t do it by trying to ban homeschooling, one of the most productive means of schooling that exists.
Even with the exceptions, those who claim to “homeschool” when conventional school isn’t working for their kid, often homeschooling ends up working well. There are many homeschool families whose kids weren’t initially successful in public school. They may have initially homeschooled as a last resort, only to be surprised by the incredible results from their homeschooling. Once again, because of the low student-teacher ratio, and because it’s their own kids.
People homeschool for many other reasons too. And, those reasons change. My family started for one set of reasons (and BOY was I a skeptic!). Now, we continue for another set of reasons. We homeschool today because we just LOVE it. We love all the unpressured time together as a family. We love watching all our kids grow and learn and bloom. We love teaching them about life, and love, and God, and nature, as well as school subjects and sports. We wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Don’t misunderstand. Homeschooling is NOT easy. Anyone who has coached their own kids can tell you that. I’ve coached 30+ youth sports teams. Of all of those players, the hardest work was often coaching my own kids. That’s a normal dynamic. Homeschooling means doing that 24-7. It’s not for everyone. It’s a major lifestyle choice that impacts your finances and every area of your life. But, it’s worth it!
On top of all this, homeschooling saves the State of California a TON of money. Someone stated today that there are 166,000 kids being homeschooled in California. I suspect it’s a lot more than that. But, even at 166,000, that’s 166,000 kids whose parents are paying taxes, but the State of California is not having to pay to educate those kids. The Oakland Tribune stated (12/1/06, “O’Connell searches for the true cost of education”) that CA spends $7,746 per student per year. That’s $1,285,836,000, plus the cost of building more schools to fit the additional 166,000 students. Not to mention, that if all those students were suddenly put into public schools, the already difficult student-teacher ratios would get worse!
Homeschooling clearly works. It’s good for the students, it’s good for the familes, it’s good for society, and it saves money for the state and for all non-homeschooling families. The California Supreme Court should de-publish and overturn this one bad decision. The California Legislature should pass a law confirming the current policy of the California Department of Education:
The California Department of Education currently allows home schooling as long as parents file paperwork with the state establishing themselves as small private schools, hire credentialed tutors or enroll their children in independent study programs run by charter or private schools or public school districts while still teaching at home (“Ruling seen as a threat to many home-schooling families”, Los Angeles Times 3/6/08).
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!