There’s a romantic tradition about home schooling. Those who support it like to rhapsodize that George Washington was home schooled, for example. Well, yes, he was.
However, he also didn’t need to be computer-literate, owned slaves to do his heavy lifting for him, and died from a throat abscess that one shot of simple antibiotics probably could have cured today.
We live in an increasingly diverse society with an ever-more technologically complex civilization.
Hillsdale College is about as conservative a liberal arts school as exists on the planet. But Hillsdale’s honors program director recently told the Detroit Free Press that the home schooled children he sees are typically badly deficient in science education. [See Administrator Note Below]
That should be enough to tell you that something is wrong with this picture. Home schooling is a growing fad. If the national average holds for this state, as many as 68,000 Michigan kids may be being home schooled.
There is now a bill before the legislature that would require people home schooling their kids to report this fact to their local school system. Frankly, I thought that was required already.
It certainly should be. Yet the home schoolers are screaming that this would violate their rights.
That’s nuts. This bill is necessary, and they should know better. For one thing, if we don’t know who is home schooling their kids, how can we know who is teaching their kids at home – and who are simply letting their kids run wild?
Actually, this bill doesn’t go far enough. We need a strong package of bills firmly regulating home schooling. They should prescribe a curriculum and require home schoolers to prove they are qualified to teach. We owe it to our kids and ourselves.
We need to accept the fact that this is no longer the wild frontier, and our kids need higher learning to survive.
If I announced I was going to “home doctor” my family and take my son’s appendix out on the kitchen table, the cops would be there pretty fast. Educational malpractice should be illegal as well.
Schools have facilities and laboratories nearly impossible to duplicate at home. Education also involves hard-to-quantify things like social interaction. You learn from each other, not just from facts and exercises.
Now, there may be rare cases where homeschooling makes sense and a parent is fully qualified. It also has to be said the failures of many of our public schools has made homeschooling much more attractive. But the solution for bad public schools is to fix them.
And yes, homeschooling is necessary. But as a supplement, not a substitute. Mom and Dad need to take part in homeschooling every night. They need to take a vigorous part in their kids’ homework.
They should also get involved with their school. More and more, we are evolving into a place where two kids the same age have wildly different educational experiences.
That’s a prescription for eventually losing our identity as a people and a nation. And if that doesn’t scare you more than internet porn, you clearly need more education.
ADMINISTRATOR NOTE: After the publication of this essay, Mr. Lessenberry posted a clarification stating the following: "First of all, there WAS something I said in my essay that I would like to amend. I quoted a recent Free Press story as saying that Hillsdale College’s honors program director recently told the Detroit Free Press that the home schooled children he sees are deficient in science education. In fact the man who said that, David Stewart, actually said it in 2002. I do not think that is ancient history, nor do I think the situation is likely to have radically changed since then. But I would not have used the word “recent” if I had to do it over. Mr. Stewart is also no longer the honors director, and I apologize for that error. What I actually did was take that statement from another article. Here is what that article said. “David Stewart, director of Hillsdale College’s honors program, told the Detroit Free Press that home schooled children are typically deficient in science education: ’I can generally count on them for having almost no science and virtually no lab science.”"