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Home Schooling and Child Custody:

The News & Observer (North Carolina) reports:

Wake District Court Judge Ned Mangum said on Friday that he will require Venessa Mills to enroll her children in a public school for the upcoming school year. The ruling came as part of an ongoing divorce case....

Thomas Mills, Venessa's husband, had raised concerns that the children would be sheltered in a home school instead of in a regular public school setting.

Mangum appeared to agree with Thomas Mills at last week's court hearing even as the judge said that home-schooling has "had a great benefit" for the children.

"I do think that in the interests of the children being well rounded that public school will be a great option for them," Mangum said during the court hearing. [Audio of that is available on the News & Observer site. -EV] ...

The Mills' three children, ages 12, 11 and 10, have been home-schooled by their mother since 2005. She said they have made noticeable academic improvement since then, with two of the children performing two grade levels above their ages.

WRAL (Raleigh) also reports:

In an affidavit filed Friday in the divorce case, ... Thomas Mills ... said he was "concerned about the children's religious-based science curriculum" and that he wants "the children to be exposed to mainstream science, even if they eventually choose to believe creationism over evolution." ...

In a verbal ruling, Mangum said the children should go to public school.

"He was upfront and said that, 'It's not about religion.' But yet when it came down to his ruling and reasons why, 'He said this would be a good opportunity for the children to be tested in the beliefs that I have taught them,'" Venessa Mills said....

Of course -- if the judge's oral statements are being accurately reported by Venessa Mills -- the same logic would apply to children who are taught at private schools that teach creationism: If one divorced parent objects to such teaching, the judge could order that the children be sent to noncreationist schools instead of creationist schools, or give custody to that parent who promises to send the children to such schools.

I should note that I would firmly oppose any judicial order interfering with the father's ability to expose the children to evolution when the children are visiting with him (assuming the mother is given custody and the father is given visitation). And I personally do think that it's more in a child's best interests to be taught evolution than to be taught creationism. I just don't think that the First Amendment allows judges to make decisions based on such matters, for reasons I mention in my Parent-Child Speech and Child Custody Speech Restrictions article.

For an earlier case suggesting -- in my view, wrongly -- that disfavoring the creationism-teaching parent is more legitimate in child custody cases, see Waites v. Waites, 567 S.W.2d 326, 333 (Mo. 1978) (suggesting that under "best interests" test court may consider whether parent "would refuse to permit the child to attend a school class where evolution is taught"). For lots of cases in which judges considered parents' religiosity, atheism, racism, Communism, pacifism, support for Nazism, advocacy of the propriety of homosexuality, condemnation of homosexuality, and more, see the article I cited above.

For more on child custody decisions and home schooling -- setting aside the creationism issue, which as I note could arise even when the child is taught in a religious school outside the home -- see these older posts.

Thanks to Patrick Martin and Robert Bell for the pointers.

Sk (mail):
A case which is impossible to get right.
If two parents want two different things for their children, the judge has to choose one of the two (religion, language, culture, clothing choice, diet, hair color, whatever). One parent will win, one parent will lose.

There is no principle upon which to base a decision.

Sk
3.13.2009 12:49pm
AJK:
I didn't see any information about the specifics of the home-schooling curriculum in the article, but shouldn't a judge be able to take into account whether the children are being taught objectively false material, regardless of whether or not the motivation is religious? I'm skeptical that the First Amendment would protect a parent's right to teach that the circumference of a circle is equal to 3 times the diameter as implied in I Kings 7:23 for instance. It's unclear to me whether this case is an equivalent example, but I don't think I have a qualitative objection.
3.13.2009 12:51pm
steve (www):
My first post here - VC is one of my popular sources.

I wrote about this subject here yesterday, and since mom and dad both agreed (as of yesterday) that mom's been doing an excellent job, I think it comes down to the fact that dad does not have the income to foot the bill, since mom would need to continue to stay home, to homeschool the kids.

Is it possible that dad is just now bringing the issue with religious based education because of the divorce?
3.13.2009 1:13pm
Random non-smoker:
If steve is right, then I would whole-heartedly agree with the father. The father should be under no obligation to underwrite the mom's decision. The mom should not get to stay at home at the father's expense. The kids will enter public school like every other child. Problem solved, no messy religion v. non-religion argument.
3.13.2009 1:20pm
Jam:
From where this judge assumes the power to order these children to go to govenrment school? Why not private school an option? So, why the ex-husband is now "concerned" about home schooling?

We homeschool and we have our children take a Stanford Standarized test to check our progress. All of our kids perform at least 1 grade ahead of their peers. In most cases they are 2 grades ahead and in reading/comprehension they usually score high school or higher. And our kids are not genuses. They take the standarized test in 6th/7th grade. And we home school, in part, for religious reasons.

This judge is obviously acting on personal biases.

============
AJK:

circumference = pi x 2Radius
or pi x diameter

pi = 3.141592...

Being that we do not know what the exact measure of a cubit is, it seems to me that the numbers are in the ballpark.

So, what is your problem? Don't like the Bible or Christians in specific?

And if the judge is to take into account "objectively false material" being taught, government schools are most definitely out of contention.
3.13.2009 1:22pm
Sigivald (mail):
AJK: It's impossible to show that even young earth creationism "is objectively false", since it's un-disprovable in its formulation (that's what makes it a non-scientific belief).

(There's always the fallback of "God made the earth look to all appearances far older than it is, for reasons we cannot comprehend or as a test of faith" tack; this is naturally impossible to disprove, and equally impossible to provide evidence for, making it a a claim that is outside of science.)

This all matters far less than your notional redefintion of pi.

(Which is something that nobody, no matter how religious, has ever defended, as far as I know.

Everyone I've ever seen even mention the matter, apart from those using it as an example of "why the Bible is totally wrong!", has quite sensibly pointed out that that passage isn't about geometry, and that the sizes are simply rounded. The point of the passage, after all, is to show the grandeur of the Temple, not to be a lesson in geometry.)

Someone teaching their child that pi is equal to exactly three is making it impossible for them to learn geometry or trigonometry, both of which are useful and relevant.

Teaching their child that the Earth is far younger than it is (by all evidence) and that the species were created ex nihilo has roughly zero real-world effect on their ability to function or indeed to do any sort of science apart from evolutionary biology or paleo-anything.

The harm done in either case is pretty minor, and in the case of creationism it rounds to zero.

There are plenty of false (or unprovable) beliefs whose harm to the holder is basically zero, and thus there's no grounds for the State interfering "for the good of the child".

Indeed, involving the state in the determination of what may be taught as "true" is dangerous ground; remember Lysenkoism? Alternatively, imagine a case where a new, true theory is invented but not immediately accepted, and the State prevents it being taught by the discoverer to his children.

Can Copernicus teach his children that the Earth orbits the Sun, if the State hasn't decided he's right yet?

Sure, Copernicus was right, and Young-Earth Creationism is wrong, but the principle involved can't differentiate accurately.)
3.13.2009 1:31pm
PubliusFL:
Jam: pi = 3.141592...

Being that we do not know what the exact measure of a cubit is, it seems to me that the numbers are in the ballpark.


Unacceptable! We must teach our children ALL the digits of pi, and it's shocking that the Bible did not provide enough significant digits for the measurements of the "molten sea" in I Kings 7:23 to allow precise calculation of pi's value. ;)
3.13.2009 1:37pm
pete (mail) (www):

The kids will enter public school like every other child. Problem solved, no messy religion v. non-religion argument.


Yeah since public schools are so great in this country. Only about half of the seniors in my school district graduate each year and it is not the worst district in the city.

I can understand why a father would not want to pay for the mom to stay at home, but the idea that 21st century American schools are automatically better than homeschooling is silly. Especially in a case like this where it seems that the kids are doing well academically already.
3.13.2009 1:49pm
Wilk Rowe (mail):
There are plenty of contradictions to be found in the Bible, but AJK's example is something of a canard. The cited verse describes a certain structure as being 10 cubits wide and 30 cubits around. But it's not clear that the thing is supposed to be precisely circular. Moreover, a cubit is only a rough unit of measurement -- the distance from elbow to fingertip. There doesn't appear to have ever been a standard cubit. Describing the circumference in decimal or fractional cubits would be like expressing non-significant digits.
3.13.2009 1:50pm
AJK:
Maybe my example was a little off base. If you need to invent a better example of a false, religiously motivated belief, go ahead. I think the essential point still stands:if you accept that the state can mandate schooling for children, I think you have to accept that the content of that schooling can be screened for accuracy. Otherwise, what's the point?
3.13.2009 1:51pm
glangston (mail):
"I do think that in the interests of the children being well rounded that public school will be a great option for them," Mangum said during the court hearing. [Audio of that is available on the News &Observer site. -EV] ...



What option?

Did he mis-speak or is he a weasel.
3.13.2009 1:55pm
trad and anon (mail):
Maybe my example was a little off base. If you need to invent a better example of a false, religiously motivated belief, go ahead. I think the essential point still stands:if you accept that the state can mandate schooling for children, I think you have to accept that the content of that schooling can be screened for accuracy. Otherwise, what's the point?
Just off the top of my head, the belief in a stationary Earth at the center of the universe was long held to be mandated by texts like Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30. I'm sure you can find some people who still believe exactly that.

If the Constitution really makes it impossible for the state to prefer teaching a child science to teaching a child superstitious nonsense, then so much the worse for the Constitution.
3.13.2009 2:06pm
scattergood:
The problem is that there are contradictory statements in the article.

1) The father describes that the issue is socialization of his children:

Thomas Mills, Venessa's husband, had raised concerns that the children would be sheltered in a home school instead of in a regular public school setting.

2) The father describes that the issue is related to religion / science:

In an affidavit filed Friday in the divorce case, ... Thomas Mills ... said he was "concerned about the children's religious-based science curriculum" and that he wants "the children to be exposed to mainstream science, even if they eventually choose to believe creationism over evolution."

3) The judge says his decision is not based on religion, and that it was based on religion:

He was upfront and said that, 'It's not about religion.' But yet when it came down to his ruling and reasons why, 'He said this would be a good opportunity for the children to be tested in the beliefs that I have taught them,'" Venessa Mills said....

4) The children are actually doing very well academically, as discussed by the judge:
Mangum appeared to agree with Thomas Mills at last week's court hearing even as the judge said that home-schooling has "had a great benefit" for the children...

The Mills' three children, ages 12, 11 and 10, have been home-schooled by their mother since 2005. She said they have made noticeable academic improvement since then, with two of the children performing two grade levels above their ages.


So exactly why did the judge order the kids to public school? For social reasons? For challenging their beliefs? For improving their academic performance?

IMHO, the judge doesn't like what the mother is teaching her kids and wants to make it harder for her to do so. If academics is the issue, they are testing above their grades. If socialization is the issue, let's see some proof that they aren't doing well.
3.13.2009 2:26pm
Andy Rozell (mail):
There's no way a (presumably elected?) state court judge is going to suggest that the government schools aren't completely adequate. It'll give anybody who ever wants to run against him a big red flag to wave in front of public school employees, who are a substantial enough group to decide any local election.

As far as what's good for the kids - if that were really an issue, we'd probably restrict the availability of divorce altogether for people who are the parents of minor children. I don't see any big movement that direction.
3.13.2009 2:28pm
Guest14:
I was home schooled in a religious home, and I think it's child abuse, frankly. I've been cripplied compared to my peers for my entire life, and although I've made progress, I will never close the gap.

Bravo to the judge.
3.13.2009 2:42pm
Angus:
I've noticed a curious phenomenon in home schooling. When mom and dad evaluate the kids, their kids are ALL geniuses who are far ahead of their peers. At the same time, in college, nearly every home schooled student I've come across has struggled.

Methinks moms and dads can't help but grade on a severe curve for their own kids.

I'm not against home schooling. Indeed, I think it is quite amusing.
3.13.2009 2:53pm
anomdebus (mail):
Angus,
Could that be a factor of being taught with practically a 1:1 teacher/student ratio? (and in some cases maybe 2:1)
3.13.2009 3:02pm
Sarcastro (www):
The important thing is to lump all home-schoolers into one category and then fight over whether it's better or worse than the also lumped-together public-schoolers.
3.13.2009 3:02pm
Guest15:
I was schooled in an secular public school, and I think it's child abuse, frankly. I've been cripplied compared to my peers for my entire life, and although I've made progress, I will never close the gap.

Boo to the judge.

[I wasn't really... just wanted to show the silliness of Guest14's comment.]
3.13.2009 3:03pm
Wilpert Archibald Gobsmacked (mail):
scattergood has it right. The father and the judge are contradicting themselves by speaking from both faces. The father for financial and possibly personal vendetta reasons, the judge because of what Andy Rozell said:
There's no way a (presumably elected?) state court judge is going to suggest that the government schools aren't completely adequate. It'll give anybody who ever wants to run against him a big red flag to wave in front of public school employees, who are a substantial enough group to decide any local election.
. steve's post, imo, is spot on. Dad plays and the kids pay. Sad.
3.13.2009 3:17pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
This judge is obviously acting on personal biases.

Well, I suspect that any decision in a case like this is going to turn in part on what the judge thinks about homeschooling in general and religious fundamentalist-style homeschooling in particular. There's really no getting around that.
3.13.2009 3:31pm
someone who is not trad and anon:
Just off the top of my head, the belief in a stationary Earth at the center of the universe was long held to be mandated by texts like Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30. I'm sure you can find some people who still believe exactly that.

Totally. There's a huge literature on that watertight assertion...bravo.
3.13.2009 3:31pm
amused:



When mom and dad evaluate the kids, their kids are ALL geniuses who are far ahead of their peers. At the same time, in college, nearly every home schooled student I've come across has struggled.


While we're recklessly generalizing from our own experience, I know a handful of home-schooled kids who all did quite well in getting advanced degrees, and one has a Ph.D. working for the university of California.

So Angus, our exercises in extrapolation have now canceled each other out. Sounding off while armed with such an impressive sample (N= handful of people I met in college) is...amusing.
3.13.2009 3:45pm
theobromophile (www):
If this is about money (i.e. the dad doesn't want to support the mother when she hangs out at home with the kids), then why not reduce alimony and/or child support to reflect the fact that she is capable of working but chooses not do, and then let her decide whether or not to continue homeschooling?

Second question: what is so wrong about sheltering your kids? Will they be emotionally traumatised if they aren't having sex by age 16 and doing recreational pot behind the bleachers on the football field?
3.13.2009 3:49pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
The only reason this case looks hard is that lots of Americans don't believe in evolution, so the rest of us have to pretend that this sort of disbelief is more or less respectable. Suppose Mom had been teaching them that illness is caused by witchcraft, or that becoming a suicide bomber is the sort of career to which one should aspire, or that one adds fractions by adding the numerators and then the denominators. Any judge would take the kids away in an instant, and a good thing, too.

(Sadly, the adding fractions example is real, but the teacher was in a public school. He knew it didn't give the right answers, but it was easy for the kids. "And who has to add fractions in real life anyway?")
3.13.2009 3:56pm
mdmesquire:

Teaching their child that the Earth is far younger than it is (by all evidence) and that the species were created ex nihilo has roughly zero real-world effect on their ability to function or indeed to do any sort of science apart from evolutionary biology or paleo-anything.


Not true. A proper education in the sciences is just as dependent on a proper understanding of the scientific method as it is on the memorization of scientific "truths". Telling children that the Earth is 6000 years old, dinosaurs lived with man, evolution isn't true, etc. is equivalent to removing the scientific method from the teaching of "science".

Indeed, a child robbed of an understanding of the scientific method is worse off than a child who thinks Pi equals exactly 3. After all, how many times in your life have you actually had to use the number Pi?
3.13.2009 4:14pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Second question: what is so wrong about sheltering your kids?

Well, this is beyond the issue of the case, but it depends on what you are sheltering them from.

Nobody claims that one shouldn't, for instance, install a filtering software program or monitor what websites are appropriate for one's children, or put limits on their TV viewing, or similar sorts of things.

But the "sheltering" aspect of homeschooling (and to be clear, this is only one aspect of it) seems to be a feeling that there's something really dangerous about one's children being exposed to ideas that are contrary to those held by the child's parents. And, at bottom, that seems not only to be eventually inevitable but quite healthy for a child, because parents happen to be wrong about lots of things. And if the only way to shelter children from hazardous ideas is to shelter them from good ideas that their parents reject, that seems like a very high price to pay for sheltering.

Further, and more broadly, it's important to remember that our society has a strong interest in the development of children who are educated in the sciences including evolution. This is something that was broadly accepted during the Cold War but has sort of slipped from public consciousness a little bit, but it is true. We also have a strong interest in the development of young adults who understand how to use contraceptives and all the various methods of avoiding getting pregnant (not just abstinence) as well as spreading diseases. We have a strong interest in ensuring that people grow up to learn basic tolerance of people who are different than themselves. An integrated school can be a good cure for parental racism. A kid with gay friends can be a nice counterweight to homophobic parents. Friends with strongly held, contrary religious beliefs are a nice counterweight to parents who teach that there is only one truth and that everyone who doesn't accept it is going to hell.

Homeschooling is a very atomistic theory that says that the parents should have absolute control over the inputs that go into child development, and that the parents are always right about those inputs and the needs of society don't matter at all. That's certainly one theory, but it's not the only one and there are good arguments against it.
3.13.2009 4:21pm
Plastic:

If the Constitution really makes it impossible for the state to prefer teaching a child science to teaching a child superstitious nonsense, then so much the worse for the Constitution.

No, so much better for the constitution if it can't force people to give up or adopt certain superstitions. That used to be called freedom.



Just off the top of my head, the belief in a stationary Earth at the center of the universe was long held to be mandated by texts like Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30. I'm sure you can find some people who still believe exactly that.


Totally. There's a huge literature on that watertight assertion...bravo.


There's actually a fair amount of literature on that topic:
http://www.catholicintl.com/products/books.htm
http://www.geocentricity.com/geocentricity/index.html
http://www.fixedearth.com/

Nothing convincing, of course, but they are morbidly interesting nonetheless. Sometimes it feels like reading Douglas Adam's arguement that black is white, but expanded to include interviews with God and other experts.
3.13.2009 4:43pm
MarkField (mail):

Second question: what is so wrong about sheltering your kids? Will they be emotionally traumatised if they aren't having sex by age 16 and doing recreational pot behind the bleachers on the football field?


JMHO, but it's the kids of overprotective parents who can't handle the world once they (inevitably) have to face it. They end up being the ones doing recreational drugs and getting pregnant at 17. You do your kids no favors by sheltering them; you do them a favor by exposing them to the differences and teaching them why it's right or wrong.
3.13.2009 4:43pm
Wilpert Archibald Gobsmacked (mail):
Dilan Esper sez:
Homeschooling Public Schooling is a very atomistic theory that says that the parents state should have absolute control over the inputs that go into child development, and that the parents public teachers are always right about those inputs and the needs of society a family don't matter at all. That's certainly one theory, but it's not the only one and there are good arguments against it.


Dilan, it is an opinionated and only partially true statement either way, so atomistic is probably not quite right.
3.13.2009 4:44pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Wilpert, that's a completely inane comparison. "Public school" isn't a massive, 1984-like institution that espouses only one truth and pounds it into people's heads. Rather, there are a diversity of public schools (AND private schools, for that matter) which espouse different ideological beliefs, teach different curricula, etc. There are charter schools, magnet schools, experimental schools, etc.

Then, within that school, there are teachers. Each of those teachers does his or her job differently. There are different curricula, different methodologies, etc. And then, there are the students that the children are exposed to. Often different students, with different ideas, different backgrounds, different values.

This is the opposite of atomism. Indeed-- and this is where your point moves from simply being bad to being flatly dishonest-- THE FACT THAT PUBLIC SCHOOL MAY EXPOSE CHILDREN TO DIVERSE IDEAS NOT IN THE CONTROL OF PARENTS IS EXACTLY WHY MANY PEOPLE HOMESCHOOL.

In other words, whatever you think about public school, clearly these homeschooling parents believe that their kids could be exposed to all sorts of different dangerous ideas there. That's why they take their kids out of school!
3.13.2009 4:50pm
Suzy (mail):
If the children are truly doing better academically in the homeschooling environment, then I think there's no reason to take them out of it, even if they are going to be deficient in one area. However, what seems more likely is that it's six of one half dozen of another in terms of the quality. At that point, if the father prefers public school on the grounds that the kids will actually learn biology, then it makes sense for a judge to choose public school. It has nothing to do with the first amendment. If religious reasons prevented me from wanting to teach history to my children, then a school where they did get to learn some would be better. If you aren't learning about evolution, you simply aren't learning about biology, period.


It's impossible to show that even young earth creationism "is objectively false", since it's un-disprovable in its formulation (that's what makes it a non-scientific belief).

Don't mistake "objective" for "absolute". We have plenty of objective evidence that young earth creationism is false, even if it cannot be absolutely disproved. Luckily, that's not the standard for scientific knowledge. I mean, we can't be absolutely certain that the sun will rise tomorrow, but we have plenty of objective evidence that makes it highly likely. Evolution is in a similar category of certainty.
3.13.2009 4:51pm
Wiggum:
Awesome Online Conversion Site

I know that the cubit was elbow to finger tips, so it varies, but the link has a cubit ranging from 17.5 inches to 20.6 inches. (The curious entry is why an Egyptian cubit is 17.7 inches and a Royal Egyptian cubit is 20.6 inches.)

Home schooled children are at a distinct disadvantage. Housekeeping and teaching are both full time jobs. You can give one job the time it deserves and the other will suffer, or you can spread your time equally between the two and both suffer.

Theres nothing wrong with being involved in your child's education, but the idea that anyone could be both the teacher and the housewife is insane. It ranks right up there with career moms. Nobody ever thought men could be much more than a provider because there just isnt enough time in the day.

A big part of public school is the social aspect, the having to interact with others. Home schooling cant even begin to replace that.
3.13.2009 4:54pm
Suzy (mail):

It ranks right up there with career moms.


I don't think there's anything wrong with choosing to be a mother as your career. Is it so wrong to want to dedicate yourself to raising children as a full time job? Yes, I know that people parent successfully while holding down jobs, but I see no reason why they should be required to work outside the home if they can afford to do otherwise.
3.13.2009 4:59pm
Wiggum:
I don't think there's anything wrong with choosing to be a mother as your career.


I probably used the wrong word there...I meant Mothers with Careers, not Mothers as Careers.

Sorry for any confusion.
3.13.2009 5:09pm
Jam:

Guest14:
I was home schooled in a religious home, and I think it's child abuse, frankly. I've been cripplied compared to my peers for my entire life, and although I've made progress, I will never close the gap.
Bravo to the judge.


Interesting that we have close friends, whose family is in turmoil, where the kids are in government schools. Their older daughter was traumatized by her experience in said government schools. Yeah, we really want/need the socialization that comes from kids thinking that it is OK to call girls hoes and bitches. And that is the mild stuff.
3.13.2009 5:17pm
Fugle:
From the WRAL (Raleigh) article linked above:
"Her lessons also have a religious slant, which the judge said was the root of the problem…All sides agree the children have thrived with home school, and Vanessa Mills thinks that should be reason enough to continue teaching at home."

It is apparent that the judge's decision was focused on the religious aspect of the home schooling. Not sure there is much more to say regarding the above.

The "socialization" argument is a red herring. What is it about being in public school that provides for "better" socialization? Is school, in any form, about socializing -- or should the focus be on learning? Is it believed that home school kids are not involved in activities outside the home (e.g. ballet classes, scouts, sports teams, play groups, church activities, 4-H, neighborhood play, or community theatre) whereby they may achieve similar (if not better) social skills.

Having moved recently from a (largish) Midwestern city, and had the neighborhood kids over to play nearly every day after school until dinner (or later) I have no doubts that the "socialization" occurring in public school is not desirable.

And, yes, my children are all geniuses, genetically inherited from their mother -- despite my best efforts.
3.13.2009 5:21pm
Wiggum:
Yeah, we really want/need the socialization that comes from kids thinking that it is OK to call girls hoes and bitches.



The world is full of unpleasant people. If you police what your children say, they will grow up knowing what is appropriate and what is not.
3.13.2009 5:21pm
Jam:

Wiggum:

Theres nothing wrong with being involved in your child's education, but the idea that anyone could be both the teacher and the housewife is insane.

A big part of public school is the social aspect, the having to interact with others. Home schooling cant even begin to replace that.


You really do not have a clue. Teaching becomes a way of life. You learn to observe, especially whith younger kids, the surroundings and point out stuff. Five stars on a door becomes a lesson in math: how many stars? If I cover 2 stars how many are left? etc. At the grocery strore you teach math with the taxes and how to do quick approximations. Do they think that the layout of the store was planned? How and the whys? When on vacation historic places are a high priority for at least on excursion. Reenactments are great.

And do you really think that socialization is an issue? You really do not know any home schoolers then. Are you aware about COOPs, hedge schools, classical day schools, field trips, neighbors, little league baseball, basketball league, indoor soccer league, ball romm dance classes, piano lessons and recitals, banjo band and performances, .......

Trust me, socialization has never been an issue.

You really do not have a clue.
3.13.2009 5:26pm
Suzy (mail):
Fugle, I agree with you about the socialization argument. If parents never permitted their children to interact with any other children, I think that would be a good reason for a judge to suspect that something was amiss. However, as long as the children have opportunities to develop friendships in other settings, I see no reason why public school is a necessary venue for it. My child is doubtless friends with some of her schoolmates, but the kids she actually plays with outside of school are friendships developed elsewhere, through sports or other common interests.

Indeed, even if public school provided valuable special opportunities for socialization, it should be entirely the parent's choice whether their children need to take advantage of those extra opportunities, in the same way that public schools provide other facilities or opportunities that a homeschooling parent might choose are less important than other benefits of homeschooling.
3.13.2009 5:31pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
And do you really think that socialization is an issue? You really do not know any home schoolers then. Are you aware about COOPs, hedge schools, classical day schools, field trips, neighbors, little league baseball, basketball league, indoor soccer league, ball romm dance classes, piano lessons and recitals, banjo band and performances, .......

I don't think socialization, per se, is really an issue. Most homeschool kids are socialized-- and indeed, the greater parental involvement sometimes leads to much more socialization than typical publicly or privately schooled kids.

But they are usually socialized in homogeneous environments. Where's the opportunity for the homeschooled kid to make a friendship with someone of a different religion (or none at all)? Where's the opportunity to make a friendship with a gay kid? With a kid from a different socioeconomic background? With kids whose lived experience will give the child perspective as to which things his parents are teaching him are actually wrong and should be rejected?

And that's part of the broader problem here. The point of homeschooling is to achieve, for the parent, much greater control over what things his or her child experiences. But that comes at a heavy price.
3.13.2009 5:31pm
Ron Mexico:
Banjo Band? Ball room dancing? Socialization in the real world with their peers appears to have been a very big issue . . .
3.13.2009 5:32pm
Jam:
Wiggum: They are in government schools for how long each day?

No thanks.
3.13.2009 5:32pm
Jam:
Ron Mexico: Over time activites do decline due to cost and surviving in a single paycheck home is difficult. The activities listed are not all done at the same time. They reflect activities as children grow, interests change and money allows. Sport leagues have become so darn expensive.

The banjo band is big with us. It is foot tapping fun, we go places and meet people. It is a free ministry from a local church, the director is nationally renown and the band has, gasp, government schooled and home schooled kids.

I couldn't help it. Here is my youtube link to some videos of the band:
http://www.youtube.com/user/ConfederateCoqui

I do not have any videos of indoor soccer games. Sorry.
3.13.2009 5:39pm
CJColucci:
Will they be emotionally traumatised if they aren't having sex by age 16 and doing recreational pot behind the bleachers on the football field?

Speaking from experience, I would have to say "Yes, damn it."
3.13.2009 5:44pm
Suzy (mail):
What's wrong with homogeneous socialization? I absolutely prefer that my children socialize with other children who share her values and character. There is nothing wrong with that, and no reason for a judge to discount my preference in favor of some other less homogeneous form of socializing my child. If she doesn't learn to evaluate the relative merits or correctness of what I've taught her until she's 18, then so be it. Hopefully she'll have a long life full of time for questioning, but I still get my 18 years to do my best to give her a good start.
3.13.2009 5:45pm
tom:
THE FACT THAT PUBLIC SCHOOL MAY EXPOSE CHILDREN TO DIVERSE IDEAS NOT IN THE CONTROL OF PARENTS IS EXACTLY WHY MANY PEOPLE HOMESCHOOL


Hey Dilan, I see the broader point that you're making, although I expect perhaps those on the other side don't agree the expressed function of schools is to socialize norms and beliefs as much as to educate basics. We so heatedly debate the merits of secondary and tertiary functions of public education when by most accounts we're largely failing in the first function, to educate.

Several comments on this thread suggest a benefit of public education is to undo socialization decisions the parents have made. Maybe a lawyer trained in this area could explain the legal argument against that stance (probably related to the first amendment...), but it seems morally iffy for grade school teachers to say "Nevermind what your parents say, just listen to us" without the societal benefits being obvious enough to persuade a majority of the citizenry that the parents need to be overruled in that instance.

There are no doubt home-schoolers who teach values you and I hate (along with their reading, writing, and arithmetic), but is denigrating homeschooling as an institution the best approach? As though the anti-intellectual stripe of homeschoolers frequent the Volokh conspiracy anyway... :-)

When the state has the right to stop those parents (without assent from a majority), why stop with just their beliefs? My kids do just fine in public school, but I'd worry about the foundations of our country in a future where elementary schools hold an 'Equality trumps liberty!' day, and parents can't opt out without being viewed as overcontrolling and backward as current homeschoolers seem to be viewed. You know what I mean? Eventually, someone with whom we disagree will be the one setting district/state/federal curriculum standards, and we'll have painted ourselves into a corner.
3.13.2009 5:49pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Its kinda funny that all the strong public interests supporting public schools also support Dilan's own beliefs about what is good.

I also notice the assumptions he makes that home school parents are racists and homophobes. I don't find that funny though.
3.13.2009 5:50pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What's wrong with homogeneous socialization? I absolutely prefer that my children socialize with other children who share her values and character.

Of course parents prefer this. The problem is that it shuts off the marketplace of ideas from working-- parents that teach their children false ideas are more likely to have those ideas prevail when there is no lived experience to contradict it.
3.13.2009 5:51pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Maybe a lawyer trained in this area could explain the legal argument against that stance (probably related to the first amendment...), but it seems morally iffy for grade school teachers to say "Nevermind what your parents say, just listen to us" without the societal benefits being obvious enough to persuade a majority of the citizenry that the parents need to be overruled in that instance.

Actually, the heterogeneous socialization I mention runs more by example. It isn't the teachers saying "don't listen to your parents", it's the kids getting the chance to be exposed to viewpoints and perspectives they won't hear at home.

I also notice the assumptions he makes that home school parents are racists and homophobes. I don't find that funny though.

You noticed something that isn't there, Bob. What I said is that when a parent IS a racist or a homophobe, sending the kid to public school makes it more likely that the kid may be exposed to different, healthier ideas. Homeschooling makes it easier for a parent who is a racist or a homophobe to pass those ideas on to his or her children without push-back.

In no way does that mean, however, that this is what most homeschooling parents are doing. Rather, it's an example of my more general point, which is that homeschooling facilitates the transmission of all sorts of wrong ideas from parents to children. (And by the way, that includes left-wing ideas as well-- this same problem exists in the hippie commune.)
3.13.2009 5:55pm
Wilk Rowe (mail):
Good point, mdmesquire. What usually gets lost in debates about religion and science education is the meaning of the word science (in its specific, modern sense). Science is a method, not a collection of factoids, not even a subject matter (i.e., it's not defined by a set of objects of inquiry). It's a method of testing assertions.

I'm not sure that many science teachers understand this. I've often been tempted to say that all those elementary and middle school courses in which students memorize facts about dinosaurs and the solar system should be called Science Appreciation, Pre-Science, or the some such. The students aren't taught empiricism, but rather conclusions that, one assumes, have been reached on some unspoken empirical basis.

Given the sorry state of science education in the U.S., it's no wonder that so many Americans think that science is just a set of assumptions -- essentially a faith -- that has no more claim to validity than any other. The question thus becomes, which has more authority, the Bible or some crappy school textbook?
3.13.2009 5:56pm
pete (mail) (www):

And that's part of the broader problem here. The point of homeschooling is to achieve, for the parent, much greater control over what things his or her child experiences. But that comes at a heavy price.


The other point of homeschooling is that public schools are crap. Of course not all public schools are bad, but a lot of them are terrible and many parents can not afford private school, assuming they are any better then the public.

In the state of Texas for instance only about 65% of the public school students graduate and that number is dropping each year and is expected to dip below 50% by the end of the decade.

Sure the schools teach evolution instead of creationism, but is that really that important if they are failing to teach anything else. (And I say this as someone who believes in evolution and will teacn it to our children if we homeschool)

And that does not even get into issues like the lack of physical safety in many public schools.
3.13.2009 6:03pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
RANDOM NON-SMOKER SAID: "The kids will enter public school like every other child. Problem solved..."

Like EVERY other child? Define every.
3.13.2009 6:04pm
Wiggum:
I dont think there is anything wrong with deciding what your children are exposed to. That is entirely up to the parents, but I do think you do them a disservice by limiting their interaction with other children the way homeschooling does. Whether you believe the positives of homeschooling outweigh the negatives is your choice.

To argue their arent any negatives is silly.

To deny that both teaching and housekeeping are equally full time jobs is negligent. A field trip to the grocery store once or twice in their young lives could be valuable, but pretending your teaching your children math while you do your grocery shopping is a fantasy.

This is a case of one person trying to do two full time jobs, and it begs the question, what job is getting neglected? Did you miss something on your grocery list? I didnt think so.


My school was 7 hours a day...

and another thing...the benefits from socializing with others isnt only derived from positive interactions. If your kid decides he doesnt want to play baseball next year, because there is a bully on the team, do you tell him to suck it up, and stick it out, because life is full of bullies? No. You talk to that boys mother, or you find him another team, or you put him in another sport. What social skills did your child just learn?
3.13.2009 6:06pm
tom:

The problem is that it [homogeneous socialization] shuts off the marketplace of ideas from working--


The heterogeneous socialization you speak of Dilon would be much less alarming were it not endorsed and enforced with state authority. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it sounds almost like you feel the state can socialize better, without the false notions of the child's parents. This is undoubtedly true for a minority of cases, but as a general policy it seems poorly supported. Where is the evidence that socialization is best carried out via the state instead of parents? As a developmental psychologist who studies socialization, I'd be interested in reading it.

Of the top of my head I can't think of a single empirical demonstration of a prosocial behavior the state socializes with more success than parents.
3.13.2009 6:10pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
SNIP: "I can understand why a father would not want to pay for the mom to stay at home..."

Is there any reason parents can't have shared custody and mom work a night job?
3.13.2009 6:12pm
tom:

I do think you do them a disservice by limiting their interaction with other children the way homeschooling does. Whether you believe the positives of homeschooling outweigh the negatives is your choice.

To argue their arent any negatives is silly.


Wiggum, to suggest all homeschoolers fall into this trap is equally silly.
3.13.2009 6:12pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
"As far as what's good for the kids - if that were really an issue, we'd probably restrict the availability of divorce altogether for people who are the parents of minor children."

I'll second that!
3.13.2009 6:15pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
Response to guest14:

I was public schooled in a secular classroom, and I think it's child abuse, frankly. I've been crippled socially and academically compared to my peers for my entire life, and although I've made progress thanks to many homeschooling family friends I now have, I will never close the gap.

Better luck next time, judge.
3.13.2009 6:17pm
Joe in NM:
Wiggum: What social skills did your child just learn?
That bullies operate with impunity in institutional settings managed by the state? You're saying this is a good socialization lesson for children?


tom: a single empirical demonstration of a prosocial behavior the state socializes with more success than parents.
Bullying! It's prosocial for public schools everywhere LOL
3.13.2009 6:19pm
Wilk Rowe (mail):
Getting a bit off topic here, but housekeeping is certainly not a full time job. Wiggum, do you not have electricity and running water at home? What on earth could anyone do for housework 40 hours a week?
3.13.2009 6:20pm
Wiggum:
Wiggum, to suggest all homeschoolers fall into this trap is equally silly.


tom, it sure is. Homeschoolers are trying their best to make up for what they believe to be an inadequate public school system. In a lot of ways, and in a lot of states it is inadequate. I'm not sold that homeschooling solves all of the problems of public schooling.

Of the top of my head I can't think of a single empirical demonstration of a prosocial behavior the state socializes with more success than parents.


What are we defining as prosocial behavior? I would say general social skills, the ability to interact with others is the greatest obstacle for home schooled children.

The differences are clear in an only child vs multiple child comparison. The ability to share, get along with others, work out disagreements all favor multiple children over the "only child."

Public schools are state sponsored "Lord of the Flys" environments with teachers and administration keeping them from killing each other. Highschool is by no means a good representation of the real world, but the relationships formed and the interactions between the children are very similar in most work environments.
3.13.2009 6:29pm
Joe in NM:
Wiggum: My school was 7 hours a day...
How much of that time was spent learning, listening to a teacher, thinking, practicing? 2 to 3 hours at most. 2 hours in lower grades, 3 hours for upper grades.
A full school day for K-8 does not take 7 hours.
3.13.2009 6:29pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
Angus said: "At the same time, in college, nearly every home schooled student I've come across has struggled."

Can you reference a source for your statement, or is it a personal bias against homeschooling? That statement doesn't line up with the research and quotes I've seen.

For example:

The following comment, made by Jon Reider, Stanford's senior associate director of admissions concerning the success of homeschoolers, was reported in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal: "Homeschoolers bring certain skills -- motivation, curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their education -- that high schools don't induce very well."

February 11, 2000, The Wall Street Journal, article by Daniel Golden
3.13.2009 6:33pm
ArthurKirkland:
The child's interest should be paramount in circumstances requiring the government to make a choice. A parent who proposes the child be taught non-science over science in an educational context, from that perspective, does not advance a position society should tolerate, particularly when another parent is acting in a sensible manner, enabling the government to vindicate one parent's position and the child's interest.

From my perspective, teaching the child to reject reason -- particularly in a science class -- makes as much sense as teaching the child to use a language invented by a parent and reject standard English.
3.13.2009 6:34pm
ArthurKirkland:
The child's interest should be paramount in circumstances requiring the government to make a choice. A parent who proposes the child be taught non-science over science in an educational context, from that perspective, does not advance a position society should tolerate, particularly when another parent is acting in a sensible manner, enabling the government to vindicate one parent's position and the child's interest.

From my perspective, teaching the child to reject reason -- particularly in a science class -- makes as much sense as teaching the child to use a language invented by a parent and reject standard English.
3.13.2009 6:34pm
Wiggum:
Wilk Rowe
housekeeping is certainly not a full time job. What on earth could anyone do for housework 40 hours a week?


I dont mean just doing the laundry, cooking, and cleaning. There might be a more appropriate term, so enlighten me if there is, but I mean taking care of the household.

To me that includes raising the kids(opposed to teaching children), keeping a budget, paying the bills, doing the taxes, sewing on buttons, cutting the grass, servicing the car, cleaning the gutters, etc,.

The list goes on and on. If for some reason your household doesnt require 40 hours a week of work, then you have time to do other things so your spouse wont have to.

We all know a 40 hour week takes more than 40 hours of your week. Even if their only paying you for 40.
3.13.2009 6:42pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
"...but I do think you do them a disservice by limiting their interaction with other children the way homeschooling does."


What about the disservice public school does by limiting interaction with other children? Socialization is spending 6-8 hours a day in a classroom with 20-30 kids roughly your age and one adult. High school freshmen are looked at as "lower class" by the "upper class" who sometimes are only one year older. After 13 years of that in public school, is it any wonder why the 18-year-old "punk-kid" can't get along with his 30-year-old boss? (Other examples come to mind, but that should substantiate my point)
3.13.2009 6:44pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
"The child's interest should be paramount in circumstances requiring the government to make a choice."

Do you mean the child should make the choice? What happens if the case was about nutrition and food, not education? Should the child's interest in eating ice cream and potato chips be paramount over veggies and fruit?
3.13.2009 6:47pm
Oren:

As far as what's good for the kids - if that were really an issue, we'd probably restrict the availability of divorce altogether for people who are the parents of minor children. I don't see any big movement that direction.

Yes, because my friends that grew up with parents that were obviously only together "for the kids" definitely didn't have any emotional issues. Have you ever spent any time in a household with two people that can no longer stand each other?
3.13.2009 6:48pm
Oren:


What about the disservice public school does by limiting interaction with other children?

At least at my high school, almost all classes were open to all grade-levels.
3.13.2009 6:48pm
Oren:

Public Schooling is [the] theory that says that the state should have absolute control over the inputs that go into child development, and that the public teachers are always right about those inputs and the needs of society a family don't matter at all.

Again, at least in my district, control of the schools was vested in a popularly elected school board. It was quite lively -- teachers would argue with administrators, administrators with the school board, school boards with the teachers. It would be quite wrong to think that anyone had absolute control over anything.
3.13.2009 6:51pm
Oren:


Do you mean the child should make the choice? What happens if the case was about nutrition and food, not education? Should the child's interest in eating ice cream and potato chips be paramount over veggies and fruit?

There's nothing wrong with the child believing that he would be better off with junk food and potato chips. Most kids believe that anyway, irrespective of what they actually get for dinner.
3.13.2009 6:53pm
Jam:

Wiggum:
"I'm not sold that homeschooling solves all of the problems of public schooling"


No kidding! Now, add to the mixture that if all home schoolers were to, suddenly, enroll in government schools there would not be enough buildings nor money to absorb them.

The example I gave you about the grocery store was just that, an example. I used the grocery store as an example bacause it is full of opportunities to also SUPPLEMENT teaching a subject matter.

For home schoolers, it becomes first nature, at almost every outing, to observe what's around and turn it into a reinforcement of a lesson or an introduction into another lesson.

And since we are not bound to a government school's schedule we live real live's. Things happen in life that break schedules and home schooled children lear to deal with those issues. Family vacations (not that we have afforded to take one in some years) are taken when job schedules allow and not a bureaucrat's artificial schedule.

And all this science bunk! I bet that on the average, home schoolers outscore the government schooled.
3.13.2009 6:55pm
tom:
@ArthurKirkland.

Ignoring the scientific method is maladaptive. I agree. However, should people be free to ignore it if they choose? Can they teach their children to ignore it? They can, unless we agree we as a society have the right to weed out inferior socialization beliefs by force. Some parents are willing to trade the chance of a high SES job for some other aim. (I admit, I myself hope my son does not decide the salary of a CEO is worth the stress it would likely entail.)

But...if we can replace inferior socialization beliefs held by the parents with our superior beliefs, and do it backed by the power of the state, why stop there? Can we down the road legally sanction intergenerational transmission of poor genetic material? After all, geneticists have offered a lot of evidence that the genes we got from our parents are just as important with regard to our social position as the values and beliefs they tried to inculcate in us. So can we start cleaning out the societal genepool too? Because, you know, the question of which genes are 'good' genes is quickly becoming even clearer than the question of which socialization beliefs are 'good' beliefs, and you've apparently agreed government should have the power to rid our society of the latter.
3.13.2009 6:55pm
Oren:

"At the same time, in college, nearly every home schooled student I've come across has struggled."

Can you reference a source for your statement, or is it a personal bias against homeschooling? That statement doesn't line up with the research and quotes I've seen.

Just anecdotally, I can say the same for my (university) students. Many of them are quite bright and have very good studying skills, but their education often substitutes depth for a decent breadth of topics. In particular, I recall a few (would be science majors!) hadn't seen calculus when they enrolled in a university level physics course.
3.13.2009 6:56pm
Oren:

However, should people be free to ignore it if they choose? Can they teach their children to ignore it?

Of course and of course. Just not against the will the other parent.
3.13.2009 6:57pm
Jam:
What is all this crap about trying to link home schooling with rejecting reason or teaching non-science?
3.13.2009 6:58pm
Oren:

I bet that on the average, home schoolers outscore the government schooled.

I bet that's true, although the link between the two is quite complicated by significant confounding variables in a way that is almost impossible to control for.
3.13.2009 6:59pm
Oren:

What is all this crap about trying to link home schooling with rejecting reason or teaching non-science?

Because, quite wrongly, homeschooling has been associated with the subset of homeschoolers that are, themselves, a subset of the populace that believes that the entire secular world is out to destroy their religion simply because public schools present some ideas that they believe are incompatible with their beliefs. For them, homeschooling is about reclaiming religious purity in some sense.

It's definitely unfair, I'll grant, but they are a substantial force in the homeschooling universe.
3.13.2009 7:00pm
tom:

...although the link between the two is quite complicated by significant confounding variables in a way that is almost impossible to control for.


And yet somehow, we are all quite confident in our anecdotal experience that suggests homeschoolers are doing harm to their children?

I love this thread.
3.13.2009 7:03pm
Jam:
when I wrote "I bet that on the average, home schoolers outscore the government schooled" I meant it to be more specific ... to science.
3.13.2009 7:07pm
Homeschooling mom (mail):
OREN:

I have to know...Where did you go to school!
3.13.2009 7:11pm
hattio1:
Theobromophile says;

Second question: what is so wrong about sheltering your kids? Will they be emotionally traumatised if they aren't having sex by age 16 and doing recreational pot behind the bleachers on the football field?


If my experience is anything to go by...yes.

More seriously, those who are desperately defending to home-schooling and those who are running it down are both making the same mistake...they assume that home-schooling fits their idea. The fact is the home-schooling experience has at least as many different "looks" as there are home that home-school. Are some home-schooled kids deprived of socialization or science education? Yes, definitely. Are there home-schooled kids whose socialization and science outstrips their government-schooled peers. Oh, definitely yes. So the home-schoolers assume there will be socialization and the anti-home-schoolers assume their won't be. They're both right.
3.13.2009 7:23pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
hattio:

I assume there will be socialization. All I claim is that HETEROGENEOUS socialization-- the opportunity to meet people with very different experiences, backgrounds, and outlooks-- is less likely in many homeschooling situations, and indeed, that this is one of the reasons people homeschool their kids.

Also, bear in mind that if the problem were simply an objection to the public schools, you wouldn't need to homeschool to deal with that-- lots of folks send their kids to private schools, including ones that they expect will inclulcate their values. To homeschool, you have to be pretty radically rejecting even the risks attendant to the loss of control in sending your kid to a PRIVATE school.
3.13.2009 7:29pm
tom:

All I claim is that HETEROGENEOUS socialization-- the opportunity to meet people with very different experiences, backgrounds, and outlooks-- is less likely in many homeschooling situations, and indeed, that this is one of the reasons people homeschool their kids.


Heterogeneous is sometimes good, like, when there's no standard, because then random errors cancel out. However, when one has a standard, it makes sense to move towards it. If I know I only like comedies, then randomly sampling from the entire netflix list is probably going to give me sub-optimal results.

If your response is "Well, you need to broaden your movie-going experience" I'd respond that you may be right, but for the state to enforce your opinion (i.e. "heterogeneous socialization") is not, at the current time, widely recognized as a legitimate function of our government.
3.13.2009 7:40pm
Suzy (mail):
tom, I agree. It's not the govt's business to tell people that they should have their children interact with a wider variety of people. Even if this heterogeneous socialization were a good idea, there's no reason that the public schools would be the appropriate place or way to achieve it, to the detriment of the homeschooling option.

To be quite blunt, I seek out friends for my daughter who are her intellectual equals and who behave with some decent manners. I don't care what race, class, religion or other background they have, but if they are polite and modest and smart, that's who I want her to socialize with. I think that's actually an excellent way for her to develop the intellectual independence necessary to assess the validity of the claims her father and I make, much better than any random experience she's going to have among the various kids in her school classroom.
3.13.2009 8:12pm
keypusher64 (mail):
In other words, whatever you think about public school, clearly these homeschooling parents believe that their kids could be exposed to all sorts of different dangerous ideas there. That's why they take their kids out of school!

There are some strange comments on this thread. Public schools as buzzing marketplaces of competing ideas? Not any public school I ever attended.

My sister homeschools her three boys because (i) she is very religious (ii) she thinks she can do a better job than the public schools. She is very bright, well educated, motivated and hard-working, and her boys are flourishing.

My other sister has three boys and is a public school teacher, and two out of her three are flourishing too. The one that isn't -- well, I don't think public school is the problem.

But everyone has anecdotes. How do homeschooled children actually do when they go to college/join the workforce? Maybe someone should do a study.
3.13.2009 8:34pm
Jam:
"To homeschool, you have to be pretty radically rejecting even the risks attendant to the loss of control in sending your kid to a PRIVATE school."

Or the inability to pay such an expense?
3.13.2009 8:34pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Heterogeneous is sometimes good, like, when there's no standard, because then random errors cancel out. However, when one has a standard, it makes sense to move towards it.

First, that isn't the way a free society operates. Rather, we assume that the clash of people with different ideas and backgrounds is the best way to reach the truth.

But furthermore, even if there is a "standard", you assume whatever parents want for their kids is that standard. In fact, parents can get things wrong. Indeed, 2 parents are much more likely to be and more frequently are going to be wrong than the synthesis of the ideas of many, many people who have an opportunity to influence a child. (This is a form of "the wisdom of crowds".) And I am especially concerned because homeschoolers include a significant number of dissenters from the liberal ideals of American society. Thus, homeschooling is a big temptation for someone who has bad views and wants to make sure his children won't learn any contrary ones.
3.13.2009 8:35pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Or the inability to pay such an expense?

To homeschool, one parent has to give up work. If instead, both parents work, the extra income is going to be enough to pay for a private school (and more).

Homeschooling, in terms of opportunity cost and cost of time, is extremely expensive.
3.13.2009 8:36pm
Jam:
For some reason "HETEROGENEOUS socialization" makes me think of Che Guevara.
3.13.2009 8:36pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
To be quite blunt, I seek out friends for my daughter who are her intellectual equals and who behave with some decent manners. I don't care what race, class, religion or other background they have, but if they are polite and modest and smart, that's who I want her to socialize with. I think that's actually an excellent way for her to develop the intellectual independence necessary to assess the validity of the claims her father and I make, much better than any random experience she's going to have among the various kids in her school classroom.

It's pretty creepy for a parent to be choosing who her daughter's friends are going to be.
3.13.2009 8:37pm
keypusher64 (mail):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

It's pretty creepy for a parent to be choosing who her daughter's friends are going to be.

Do you have children, Dilan?
3.13.2009 8:39pm
Wilk Rowe (mail):
That's cute, picking entirely at random the name of a Communist historical figure and commenting that an idea that is unrelated and possibly antithetical to Communism reminds you of that figure.
3.13.2009 8:44pm
Jam:
"How do homeschooled children actually do when they go to college/join the workforce? Maybe someone should do a study."

I guarantee you that home schoolers will come out looking even better than in the academics.

How about you doing a little research with regards to home schoolers and volunteer work. Another are that might be enlightening.

After Katrina, while most children were still in school, home schoolers had the flexibility to travel to the Miss. Gulf Coast to help with cleanup, sheetrcoking, roofing, etc. Just one example of volunteer work. Ther are many others.
3.13.2009 8:45pm
keypusher64 (mail):

Rather, we assume that the clash of people with different ideas and backgrounds is the best way to reach the truth.

The Constitution does not enact Mr. Justice Holmes' dissents...particularly when taken completely out of context (and with "backgrounds" thrown in too!).
3.13.2009 8:45pm
Jam:
Rowe: It was not random. Learn the writings of Humberto Fontova. Here is an example:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/fontova/fontova74.html
In a famous speech in 1961 Che Guevara denounced the very "spirit of rebellion" as "reprehensible." "Youth must refrain from ungrateful questioning of governmental mandates" commanded Guevara. "Instead they must dedicate themselves to study, work and military service."

And woe to those youths "who stayed up late at might and thus reported to work (government forced-labor) tardily." Youth, wrote Guevara, " should learn to think and act as a mass." "Those who chose their own path" (as in growing long hair and listening to Yankee-Imperialist Rock &Roll) were denounced as worthless "lumpen" and "delinquents." In his famous speech Che Guevara even vowed, "to make individualism disappear from Cuba! It is criminal to think of individuals!"
3.13.2009 8:51pm
Wilk Rowe (mail):

How about you doing a little research with regards to home schoolers and volunteer work. Another are that might be enlightening.

This comment causes me picture Karl Marks making love to Grover S. Cleveland. Don't ask me why.
3.13.2009 8:51pm
Wilk Rowe (mail):
No relation to Karl Marx.
3.13.2009 8:52pm
Jam:
Esper: have you done the calculations on 2 income earners? For some it may work for many other it is not worth the small net incremental.

Ultimately it is not economics that drves our decision. But economics does play a part.

"Another are " One day my mind will be one with my typing. Should read "Another area "

Rowe: :P
3.13.2009 9:02pm
Oren:

OREN:

I have to know...Where did you go to school!


Here.
Then here.

Care to explain why?
3.13.2009 9:31pm
tom:
First, that isn't the way a free society operates. Rather, we assume that the clash of people with different ideas and backgrounds is the best way to reach the truth.


And where is the clash you speak of in a society where the government gets to dictate to parents what socialization beliefs are unacceptable? Does 'A free society' now mean 'whatever Dilan finds convenient for this debate'?

In a free society, if the value of our 'ideas' is really as self-evident as you claim they are, then we ought to be willing to exert the effort necessary to convince parents, before we start getting petulant about not being able to convince their children.

To try and purposefully undermine parents' socialization by exposing their children to "a diversity of beliefs" (i.e., whatever just and true beliefs you champion, but of which you've failed to convince their parents)...in a classroom where children must attend, where the parents cannot effectively inform the discussion, is in effect admitting your argument is too poor to convince an adult. So you try to convince children.

If your beliefs were really as compelling as you feel they are, perhaps you would not be compelled to resort to the backdoor tactics...
3.13.2009 9:36pm
BenFranklin (mail):
How can the cult of Global Warming gain new members if people are allowed to opt out. Public schools are just as bad with the quackery they dispense if not more so. At least with homeschooling there is more variety so one type of quackery doesn't get to be so prevalent that idiots start running around making statements like "I am going to bankrupt the coal industry" and think that they are making a stand on anything other than religious grounds. Variety inoculates us intellectually from viruses like Marxism and environmentalism and creationism.

I say all of this as an atheist so I don't really have a dog in the fight--- but I can recognize magical thinking when I see it. Just because the judge worships at a different altar doesn't mean he isn't on bended knee when deciding which mythology is worthy and which is not.
3.13.2009 9:41pm
Anatid:
At what point is homeschooling still effective? I'd suggest that a child would probably learn arithmetic much more effectively from one-on-one interaction with a focused parent than in a classroom of 30 other children.

But is that same parent capable of teaching the equivalent of ALL of the following of AP/IB chemistry, physics, biology, environmental science, government, economics, US history, European history, English language, English literature, foreign language and literature, art design and sculpture, statistics, calculus ... I could continue. My government school had a large number of social problems, but among other things, we offered an excellent AP program, as did neighboring schools. The AP teachers were educated in their fields, passionate, and became mentors for many of the students looking to pursue a certain field. The level of instruction also provided excellent preparation for what to expect in introductory-level college classes.

I understand that many schools have a poor or nonexistent AP/IB program. But wherever those good classes exist, I'm just not sure that a homeschooling parent with, say, a master's degree in engineering would be able to adequately teach the equivalent of AP Art Studio.
3.13.2009 9:45pm
Oren:


To try and purposefully undermine parents' socialization by exposing their children to "a diversity of beliefs" (i.e., whatever just and true beliefs you champion, but of which you've failed to convince their parents)

You must have very little faith in the rightness of your beliefs if they can be undermined so easily. It's a sad state of affairs when someone that believes X can't even stand to have someone consider whether it could be Y or Z.

Anyone that takes their beliefs seriously and thinks they have real merit has nothing to fear from a 'diversity of beliefs'.
3.13.2009 9:46pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
To try and purposefully undermine parents' socialization by exposing their children to "a diversity of beliefs" (i.e., whatever just and true beliefs you champion, but of which you've failed to convince their parents)...in a classroom where children must attend, where the parents cannot effectively inform the discussion, is in effect admitting your argument is too poor to convince an adult. So you try to convince children.

Quite the contrary. The school officials and fellow students and fellow students' parents whose beliefs are being exposed to said child are not concerned that their beliefs will not prevail or trying to prevent the child from being exposed to the views of his or her parents. They aren't making arguments at all.

Take the gay fellow student who befriends said child. That gay student is an example of the wrongness of homophobia, even if no argument is ever explicitly made. Simply being around openly gay people is a good educational experience. Nobody has to pound messages of tolerance into the kid at all. The kid simply sees these people and says "gays are just like I am".

As Oren points out, it's the parents who, deep in their heart, realize their teachings can't survive the experience of the real world who want to ensure that their kids don't obtain that experience.
3.13.2009 10:01pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
have you done the calculations on 2 income earners? For some it may work for many other it is not worth the small net incremental.

Even the most expensive private schools have annual tuition comparable to a middle class annual salary. Catholic and parochial schools are much less expensive. It's easily more expensive to leave the workforce to homeschool, even before we factor in the cost of instructional materials.
3.13.2009 10:02pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Do you have children, Dilan?

I was once a child, and I chose my own friends. I had no obligation to enjoy a peer's company just because my parents did.
3.13.2009 10:04pm
Martha:
@Jam

For some reason "HETEROGENEOUS socialization" makes me think of Che Guevara. . . .

"Youth, wrote Guevara, " should learn to think and act as a mass." "Those who chose their own path" (as in growing long hair and listening to Yankee-Imperialist Rock &Roll) were denounced as worthless "lumpen" and "delinquents." In his famous speech Che Guevara even vowed, "to make individualism disappear from Cuba! It is criminal to think of individuals!

Jam, isn't Guevara calling for homogeneous socialization in that quote, not heterogeneous socialization? Why did heterogeneous socialization remind you of Che Guevara?
3.13.2009 10:06pm
CBDenver (mail):
re: "Of course -- if the judge's oral statements are being accurately reported by Venessa Mills -- the same logic would apply to children who are taught at private schools that teach creationism: If one divorced parent objects to such teaching, the judge could order that the children be sent to noncreationist schools instead of creationist schools, or give custody to that parent who promises to send the children to such schools."

Then I guess this logic would also apply -- if one divorced parent objects to teaching evolution instead of creationism, then judges should order that the children be sent to creationist schools rather that evolutionist schools.
3.13.2009 10:19pm
Ken Arromdee:
Anyone that takes their beliefs seriously and thinks they have real merit has nothing to fear from a 'diversity of beliefs'.

By this reasoning you shouldn't object to anything at all taught in public schools. Teach kids creationism? Fine, you have nothing to fear as long as you take evolution seriously and think it has merit.
3.13.2009 10:21pm
Oren:

By this reasoning you shouldn't object to anything at all taught in public schools. Teach kids creationism? Fine, you have nothing to fear as long as you take evolution seriously and think it has merit.

Well, there's only a finite amount of time in the school day and we can't possibly teach everything and still hope to have enough depth to convey any real meaning. This isn't too controversial in any other subject -- no one gets angry that they teach differential calculus and not algebraic geometry because nobody believes that teaching the one makes any normative statement about the other.

That said, my High School did teach a comparative religion class that was focused on creation stories across cultures, so obviously somebody thought it was worthwhile to study creationism. No one complained. In fact, the whole comparative religion thing was a rather popular elective.
3.13.2009 10:44pm
BobDoyle (mail):

First, that isn't the way a free society operates. Rather, we assume that the clash of people with different ideas and backgrounds is the best way to reach the truth.

Rather ironic isn't it that Dilan should champion the "clash of ideas" except, of course, for those ideas that clash with his ideas of the proper way to educate our children.

You know, we should have uniformity in our means to teach heterogeneity! Otherwise, these home-schooled kids won't have the same ideas about heterogeneity as the public school kids!
3.13.2009 10:50pm
tom:

You must have very little faith in the rightness of your beliefs if they can be undermined so easily.


And you must have very little faith in the rightness of your beliefs if, for them to be persuasive, they must be presented to children.

It's really quite craven of your side; in order to expose people to your clearly superior beliefs, you seek government intervention! Then in the next breath you suggest those on the other side lack faith in the rightness of their positions.


Simply being around openly gay people is a good educational experience.


Dilan wins for pointing out the elephant in the room. Less than .05% of the population is really going to get this excised about home schooling because of concerns about the scientific method, pi, or natural selection. Home school kids know those things, on average, better than kids at public schools. Those are chaff; arguments that are at the core, dishonest. The real disagreements about home schooling are generally fueled are social issues. Now that Dilan's let that cat out of the bag, we can follow up with the obvious question: why not pursue these ideological debates the honest way, at the ballot box (with adults)?
3.13.2009 10:56pm
tom:
@Oren

Are you Oren of "you can't go South from the North Pole" fame from Eugene's riddle thread a couple of days ago?

If you, my hat off to you, because that thread was absolutely hilarious.
3.13.2009 10:59pm
Uh No.:

I didn't see any information about the specifics of the home-schooling curriculum in the article, but shouldn't a judge be able to take into account whether the children are being taught objectively false material, regardless of whether or not the motivation is religious? I'm skeptical that the First Amendment would protect a parent's right to teach that the circumference of a circle is equal to 3 times the diameter as implied in I Kings 7:23 for instance. It's unclear to me whether this case is an equivalent example, but I don't think I have a qualitative objection.


*Sigh* I wish that Skeptics/Atheists would at least update their talking points.
3.13.2009 11:14pm
Uh No.:


A big part of public school is the social aspect, the having to interact with others. Home schooling cant even begin to replace that.


Except that it can and does.
3.13.2009 11:20pm
Uh No.:
http://www.indiana.edu/~reading/ieo/digests/d94.html

The stereotypical home-schooled child is often portrayed as being shy, passive, and lethargic because of his/her isolation from the normal socialization found in formal schooling. Critics further allege that the self-concept of the home-schooled child suffers from lack of exposure to a more conventional environment (Stough, 1992).

Another socialization-related accusation faced by home educators is that of overprotecting their children from the real world. If this is true, however, at least one researcher (Bliss, 1989) does not consider this to be a serious problem. She argues that "Protection during early, developmental years for purposes of nurturing and growth is evident in many arenas: plant, animal, and aquatic. Why should it be considered wrong or bad in the most vital arena, human development?"

Stough (1992),looking particularly at socialization, compared 30 home- schooling families and 32 conventionally schooling families, families with children 7-14 years of age. According to the findings, children who were schooled at home "gained the necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to function in society...at a rate similar to that of conventionally schooled children." The researcher found no difference in the self concept of children in the two groups. Stough maintains that "insofar as self concept is a reflector of socialization, it would appear that few home-schooled children are socially deprived, and that there may be sufficient evidence to indicate that some home- schooled children have a higher self concept than conventionally schooled children."

This echoes the findings of Taylor (1987). Using one of the best validated self-concept scales available, Taylor's random sampling of home-schooled children (45,000) found that half of these children scored at or above the 91st percentile--47% higher than the average, conventionally schooled child. He concludes: "Since self concept is considered to be a basic dynamic of positive sociability, this answers the often heard skepticism suggesting that home schoolers are inferior in socialization" (Taylor, 1987).

From the findings of these two studies, it would appear that the concerns expressed by teachers, administrators, and legislators about socialization and home schooling might be unfounded. Indeed, Bliss (1989) contends that it is in the formal educational system's setting that children first experience negative socialization, conformity, and peer pressure. According to her, "This is a setting of large groups, segmented by age, with a variation of authority figures...the individual, with his/her developmental needs, becomes overpowered by the expectations and demand of others--equal in age and equally developmentally needy."

Webb (1989), one of the few researchers who has examined aspects of the adult lives of wholly or partly home-educated people, found that all who had attempted higher education were successful and that their socialization was often better than that of their schooled peers.
3.13.2009 11:21pm
Oren:


And you must have very little faith in the rightness of your beliefs if, for them to be persuasive, they must be presented to children.

The burden on proof is on those who would restrict the spread of ideas.
3.13.2009 11:30pm
BobDoyle (mail):

The burden on [sic] proof is on those who would restrict the spread of ideas.


Oren, why then are you trying to restrict the spread of the idea that home schooling is a valuable alternative to the public school orthodoxy?
3.13.2009 11:39pm
Gabriel Hanna (mail):
Using one of the best validated self-concept scales available, Taylor's random sampling of home-schooled children (45,000) found that half of these children scored at or above the 91st percentile—47% higher than the average, conventionally schooled child.

Where did this idiot go to school?

OBVIOUSLY the "average" conventionally-schooled child scores at the 50th percentile. And in what sense is a 91st percentile score "47% higher" than the "average" score—what does it even MEAN to combine those two numbers?
3.13.2009 11:41pm
MarkField (mail):
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):


It's pretty creepy for a parent to be choosing who her daughter's friends are going to be.

Do you have children, Dilan?


I don't know if Dilan does, but I do and a I agree that it's creepy for a parent to "choose" friends. Encourage? Sure. Discourage? Sure, but carefully. But "choose"? That's pretty controlling.
3.13.2009 11:42pm
Oren:


Oren, why then are you trying to restrict the spread of the idea that home schooling is a valuable alternative to the public school orthodoxy?

I have no problem with the idea, any more than I have a problem with my kids thinking they'd be better off eating ice cream than broccoli. That's not what we are talking about here though, this is not about persuasive debate but about actual actions and policies.
3.14.2009 12:04am
Suzy (mail):
I didn't mean to imply that I control all aspects of my children's social lives! However, we have a huge influence on who they hang out with, because they're still very young. When the woman who keeps wanting to dump her disobedient, pushy kid on us calls, we're often busy. When it's the people who want us to leave our kid over at their house under the supervision of their 15 year old and his friends, while they watch video games and the little ones do whatever they want, we politely decline. Meanwhile, when the people who have extremely well-behaved, gentle, sweet kids want to get together, we take every opportunity to pursue that. This is not some kind of fascist mind control, this is the way to start off a happy social life for our kids. I appreciate kids who say please and thank you and don't jump on the sofa. I like kids who care how other kids feel and think that my daughter's intellectual interests are cool rather than nerdy. Maybe someday she and her brainy, polite little friends can sit down and analyze all the false information we gave them, but that day is not here, nor is it the job of the public school or the State to hasten it.
3.14.2009 1:14am
tom:
The burden on proof is on those who would restrict the spread of ideas.


And with that comment, Oren's position is rendered internally inconsistent.

It's folks who want government to start dictating which socialization beliefs are 'invalid' who are restricting the stread of ideas. As was said in an earlier comment, anyone who thinks educators represent a random sample of social/political beliefs and allegiances either does not know the existing data to the contrary, or is trying to forget it.

To revoke the right of a parent to socialize as they see fit sounds like restricting the spread of ideas. Is it sometimes warranted? Sure. But not as a matter of course, and certainly not without the consent of the majority. The government is bound by rules, even if Oren's logic isn't.
3.14.2009 1:16am
tom:
p.s. all you homeschoolers rock!
3.14.2009 1:18am
Oren:

To revoke the right of a parent to socialize as they see fit sounds like restricting the spread of ideas. Is it sometimes warranted? Sure. But not as a matter of course.

Except that the instant case is one where the parents disagree over the best method. Hardly seems like an ordinary case.
3.14.2009 1:21am
Wilpert Archibald Gobsmacked (mail):
Lots of assumptions going on here over homeschooling motives. Even in the instant case. Yes, some parents in both political camps probably want to "control" ideas presented to their kids. But many others just desire to ensure ALL ideas are presented fairly. Commenters assuming that result in public or parochial schools today are out of touch with reality, I fear. Otoh, in many communities there ARE more options available today, so unless one lives in a remote area homeschooling is probably not the first choice for many families. Too bad in the instant case the parents couldn't have been more adult, or the judge less biased.
3.14.2009 3:06am
Borris (mail):


Interesting that we have close friends, whose family is in turmoil, where the kids are in government schools. Their older daughter was traumatized by her experience in said government schools. Yeah, we really want/need the socialization that comes from kids thinking that it is OK to call girls hoes and bitches. And that is the mild stuff


Actually, I fear you do need that type of socialization in order to function in the current world. I really do.
3.14.2009 3:47am
Linus (mail):


Heterogeneous is sometimes good, like, when there's no standard, because then random errors cancel out. However, when one has a standard, it makes sense to move towards it.



First, that isn't the way a free society operates. Rather, we assume that the clash of people with different ideas and backgrounds is the best way to reach the truth.
Funny, I thought a free society would operate to allow individual parties the freedom to move towards a standard if they so chose, if it made sense to them.


But furthermore, even if there is a "standard", you assume whatever parents want for their kids is that standard. In fact, parents can get things wrong. Indeed, 2 parents are much more likely to be and more frequently are going to be wrong than the synthesis of the ideas of many, many people who have an opportunity to influence a child. (This is a form of "the wisdom of crowds".)
Why doesn't this "the majority is always right" argument come up when discussing homosexuality or the polls showing how the majority of Americans feel about it? You don't really believe that a "free society" is one where the majority gets to overrule the desires of the minority, do you?

Thus, homeschooling is a big temptation for someone who has bad views and wants to make sure his children won't learn any contrary ones.
The mask comes off. We must stamp out "bad" ideas, for the children. Apparently, government-mandated-and-run education is a big temptation for someone who has what he fervently believes to be "good" views, and wants to make sure other people's children have no choice but to learn them.
3.14.2009 3:48am
theobromophile (www):
I should have explained my comment about socialisation a bit better.

There are certainly some advantages to public school: learning to interact with all sorts of people, realising that the world does not revolve around you, etc. At a good public school, there are scholastic advantages that even the smartest, most motivated parents cannot match.

The disadvantages, however, are real and numerous. The largest of them is that children are only exposed to other children who are within a year or two of their own age. This results in a warped and limited perspective on the world, and one which can be harmful in developmental years.

There is nothing inherent about homeschooling that fixes those problems, but the potential is much greater than with traditional schooling. Children have time during the day to interact in their communities in a meaningful manner, go out of town for more than a ski vacation, and see the world in a way that isn't limited to their peers from their hometown.

Depending on the town, the local public schools may be dismal. Rather than being bastions of free thought, education, and classical liberalism, they may be staffed with teachers who don't care about anything besides a paycheck, have outdated materials and not enough resources, and really aren't interested in hearing anything but their own dogma.

Finally, sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll: is anyone seriously arguing that kids are better off for being exposed to that stuff? This is about values, not academic ideas. It is illogical and counterproductive to teach your kid one set of values at home, and then allow her to go to a school in which another set are taught (implicitly and explicitly), as if they are both morally equivalent and will bring the same ends. It's particularly inane during adolescent years, in which the human brain becomes less capable of long-term thinking and the psyche is more prone to peer pressure.
3.14.2009 5:14am
theobromophile (www):
All I claim is that HETEROGENEOUS socialization— the opportunity to meet people with very different experiences, backgrounds, and outlooks— is less likely in many homeschooling situations, and indeed, that this is one of the reasons people homeschool their kids.

I'm claiming the opposite. At my public high school, I met people my own age, who grew up in my hometown (as I moved there when I was four, I was always a "newcomer" by their standards), had middle-class parents who grew up in MA, and had never really left the state, let alone Middlesex County. If it weren't for the METCO programme, 98% of my classmates would have been white. Only a handful were Jewish. One of my best friends was the only Muslim in the school.

Let's be honest: the only way that you could possibly ensure that students are in that homogeneous of an environment is to mandate, by law, that they be there five days a week, from 7:30 am to 2:18 pm, and know that 90% of them will also participate in athletics with the same group of people. Unless the parent of home schooled students kept her offspring under house arrest, they would be exposed to a more diverse group of people.

My $0.02.
3.14.2009 5:26am
steve (www):
I don't have the time to read all of the comments, but my thought up top in the third post was...

- The kids were being homeschooled for years and doing quite well. Mom was already staying home to teach the kids. That was the set up.
- Everyone seemed quite happy with the way it was going. Dad even said that the kids were doing great. No issues with mom staying home until...
- Dad fooled around, divorce comes.
- All of a sudden, with the divorce, dad does not want to pay the extra $ since it will cost more since he now has to pay for his own place and the kids/mom. HE screwed up.
- Then we start hearing how dad is "concerned" about the religious aspect of the homeschool atmosphere?

I'm thinking set up and the kids are now getting screwed.

Is there any evidence that dad was complaining to ANYONE about the religious aspect of the homeschooling BEFORE he committed adultery?
3.14.2009 8:40am
Jam:

Martha:
Jam, isn't Guevara calling for homogeneous socialization in that quote, not heterogeneous socialization? Why did heterogeneous socialization remind you of Che Guevara?


How do you think the attempt at homogeneity can occur? By placing all those different individuals under a system that redirects their development.

The evidence is here in the proponents of "HETEROGENEOUS socialization." They want to make sure that the context wherein a child is taught to deal with different people and ides must be done in an approved, centrally controlled, environment.

Oren stated that at "You must have very little faith in the rightness of your beliefs if they can be undermined so easily." You calculate the number of hours the children in government schools are under the influence of other children/adults versus the hours under the influence of their parent. I am sure that you understand the weight of influence very well.
3.14.2009 9:44am
Jam:

Dilan:
I was once a child, and I chose my own friends. I had no obligation to enjoy a peer's company just because my parents did.


You have no children then.

Whether you are for/against home schooling, if you have children you know the depth of ignorance displayed in this statement.
3.14.2009 9:47am
cottus (mail):
So much for the myth that Family Law Courts are set up to do "what is best for the child". Sentencing the children to public school is criminal. For those who would say I generalize, I do not know these particular kids and their situation like the judge does, I would request that someone show a link suggesting that public school kids surpass home school kids in ANY way. Team sports excepted.
3.14.2009 9:48am
Jam:
With regards to having a double income home and sending the kids to a private school and the inability for parents to teach advanced subjects.

When home schoolers reach high school, taking courses at the junior college for double credits is an avenue. Junior colleges are tapping into this source of students with gusto and they are very pleased with the results.

Four year colleges are also heavily recruiting from home schools, BTW.

An older childless couple, for years, have been teaching canoeing, botany, biology, math and physics. The Mrs. combines the canoeing with botany and biology and once a year they organize a large group to cleanup the bayou. She is very well known and loved by the officials in her town. The Mr. used to be a very high officer in a British oil company and he teaches the math and physiscs. My understanding is that if you take his high school physics class it is equivalent to 2 years of college physiscs. He is that rigorous and good.

All my children did the canoeing and the botany with her.

The bottom line is that most commenters against home schooling have no idea of what our world looks like. And that is the point, isn't it. You do not like it that it is our world, that we decide at which point they are exposed to new and different experiences and ideas and how we choose to train the children on how to handle it.
3.14.2009 10:06am
MarkField (mail):
Suzy, I think your clarification makes sense. It was only your word choice in the original post which sounded "off".


Finally, sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll: is anyone seriously arguing that kids are better off for being exposed to that stuff? This is about values, not academic ideas. It is illogical and counterproductive to teach your kid one set of values at home, and then allow her to go to a school in which another set are taught (implicitly and explicitly), as if they are both morally equivalent and will bring the same ends. It's particularly inane during adolescent years, in which the human brain becomes less capable of long-term thinking and the psyche is more prone to peer pressure.


In an ideal world, these and lots of other temptations wouldn't exist. Ours is not that world. The question, then, is how best to prevent one's child from succumbing. In my personal experience as a parent, the WRONG way is to shelter the kids and hide the world from them. That leads to college students who go nuts when they finally leave the cloister. A much better approach is to "vaccinate" them early by exposing them to the existence of these dangers, helping them learn about them, and being able to step in only where necessary.

It's pretty much the same argument libertarians use all the time: treat people like children and they'll behave like children; treat them as adults and they'll behave responsibly.
3.14.2009 11:27am
Jam:

Mark:
A much better approach is to "vaccinate" them early by exposing them to the existence of these dangers


I agree that these issues must be broached but the question is when and under whose primary influence and direction. They are not adults and should not be treated as adults. We should treat the children according their maturity level, as much as is humanly possible.

I disagree with the proposition that exposing children to adult problems does anything positive.

By what I see around me with the government schooled children, and I live in a "premium" ISD, trust me, I take my chances and my children's with home schooling.

THis may have been my last post on the subject of defending home schooling in this thread.

Someone wrote that the reason for the divorse is that the ex-husband committed adultery. If accurate, that SOB not only deserted the marriage, he also is destrying the children. Why should he have a say on the children's education now, after home schooling since 2003, when he is the one who committed the cause for the divorse?
3.14.2009 11:49am
Ken Arromdee:
Well, there's only a finite amount of time in the school day and we can't possibly teach everything and still hope to have enough depth to convey any real meaning.

So your only objection to teaching creationism in schools is time? Or better yet, since creationism is religious, would your only objection to teaching in schools that the US destroyed the World Trade Center be that it takes up time? You've said that a parent who objects to something taught in school, on the basis of content, doesn't have enough "faith in the rightness of their beliefs". Obviously a parent who objects to this teaching doesn't have enough faith, right?

For that matter, would you not mind if a school taught that black people are inferior? Would a parent unable to teach his kids racial equality anyway lack enough "faith in the rightness of their beliefs"? Could a school teach flat-earthism? If not, why not, considering you just said that parents have no reason to object to school teachings based on content?
3.14.2009 12:27pm
Ken Arromdee:
And lest anyone not understand the obvious: Parents have influence over a kid, but not 100% influence. Pretending that the only reason the parent could worry about a school's teachings is that he doesn't have faith in his own beliefs is nonsense. The reason is not that he lacks faith in his beliefs, but that no parent has the absolute perfect ability to teach anything.
3.14.2009 12:33pm
MarkField (mail):

I agree that these issues must be broached but the question is when and under whose primary influence and direction. They are not adults and should not be treated as adults. We should treat the children according their maturity level, as much as is humanly possible.

I disagree with the proposition that exposing children to adult problems does anything positive.


But the public school system doesn't "expose children to adult problems". It exposes them to the problems common to each age level as they go along. That's actually a pretty good way to make sure the kids are ready and able to meet the challenge at each level.

I see it as much like disease prevention. We'd all like to make sure our kids don't suffer from colds, flu, measles, etc. But the way the right way to raise them is NOT to hold them in quarantine -- a tactic which leaves them incredibly vulnerable as adults -- but for their immune systems to develop the antigens needed at an early age so that the adult illnesses are reduced in both number and severity.

The fact is that most kids leave the public school system as reasonably adjusted and well-behaved adults. Many of the problems we associate with schools (e.g., drugs and gangs) are actually larger social problems which intrude on the schools. In LA, for example, the worst drug problems are at the most impoverished high schools and at the high end private schools (who else can afford the drugs?). Keeping them at home can't isolate them from those larger social problems, it just leaves them unprepared to face them when, inevitably, they do.
3.14.2009 1:11pm
nicestrategy (mail):
My gut reaction: man loses custody of his children and has to live with seeing them periodically. In exchange, he wishes for his children's full spectrum of educational curriculum not to be 90+% filtered through his ex-wife. He accepts that she will house them and be the dominant caregiver and thus be the locus of their lives. Of course the balance of influence will tilt toward the residential parent, but she is not content with that. She wants dominant influence.

Legal complexities don't interest me, unless the man is actively criminal this doesn't seem like a reasonable balance to me. It may be best to choose a primary parent and not have the child's residence ping-ponged around out of an elusive sense of equity. Nonetheless, for one parent to demand to control the child that absolutely over the wishes of the other natural parent, when (she) already is the center of the child's life, that's taking the word "custody" and extrapolating into a broader judgment about both adult parties and may not be truly justified by the circumstances.

I intentionally skipped reading the comment thread. This is my direct reaction.

I do not accept free exercise argument that claims the absence of constant exercise or exposure to religious matters amounts to a restriction of one's religion.

If the mother's attempt to indoctrinate her children into her faith is unsuccessful unless she has their undivided attention, well, too bad. The father and children get to have some say in the matter. As the kids approach an age where the public school system can offer classes at different ability levels, the risk of academic underperformance, the supposed opportunity cost of attended a public school, diminishes.

Once again a libertarian approach to the law (limiting government power) seems to me to conflict with a libertarian view of the individual. I cannot fathom libertarian adults who exclude the child's liberty -- their freedom of conscience and faith -- from consideration. They are not the property of their mother, and the father has a legitimate interest in seeing that the environment in which they are raised give them the latitude to come to their own conclusions. Its all about the freedom to choose, no? Isn't is obvious which arrangement maximizes the children's liberty?
3.14.2009 2:11pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
"Actually, I fear you do need that type of socialization [girls being called ugly names] in order to function in the current world. I really do."

I function in the current world. I have never had that type of socialization and do not find that I need it. Do we want it to be the case that people have to be vaccinated against this kind of thing in order to function? I sure don't. Push back!

BTW, my daughter's honors Biology class in high school did cover evolution and a whole lot of other stuff. They finished the curriculum before the final six weeks and spent the rest of the time watching "Jurassic Park" and things of that nature. I myself somehow skipped over biology in high school and thus didn't get evolution or anything else. In college I had botany, zoology, cell biology, and genetics, and then a few years ago I picked up a class in microbiology for my job. Not learning about natural selection and so forth in high school did not slow me down a bit. I'm all for teaching evolution but I have to say that I don't see the tragedy if some kids don't get it before college. There are much bigger problems with education nowadays. If I could trade teaching evolution for teaching kids in K-12 to act like human beings, I'd consider that a worthwhile tradeoff.
3.14.2009 8:25pm
Oren:

If I could trade teaching evolution for teaching kids in K-12 to act like human beings, I'd consider that a worthwhile tradeoff.

Agreed (even as a practicing Biophysicist).
3.14.2009 9:53pm
ReaderY:
Although I think this case's general outcome is a permissable outcome, I think it would have been much better, and avoided serious constitutional problems, for the judge to have phrased things in terms of seeking an arrangement that would give the father somewhat greater control over the children's education to counterbalance the mother's custody, rather than phrasing things in terms of what the judge personally thinks is the way the children should be raised.
3.14.2009 11:44pm
Luis Gonzalez (mail) (www):
Easy call as far as I am concerned.

Mom wants home schooling and The Bible, Dad wants public school and evolution. Mom shouldn't automatically win just because she's Mom, and she has God on her side.

The Judge's solution allows for both parents to exercise their parental rights over the upbringing of their children; they learn about Darwin and evolution in school, and about Creation in Church.

This isn't about legislating from the bench, an attack on homeschooling, or religious freedom...this is about the dissolution of a marriage, and about the right of BOTH parents to have an impact in the future of their children.

I don't see where religious groups or people like Alan Keyes believe that they have some sort of a voice in this.

It doesn't take a village to raise a child...not even a religious one.
3.15.2009 3:52pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
I agree with the above two comments. If the court simply made sure that both parents had authority over the kids' education, then each parent could make sure that their views get taught. There is no real conflict here, except when some silly judge is allowed to make a decision that he has no business making.
3.16.2009 1:35am
Jam:
<blockquote>
http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=91907

The judge who ordered a North Carolina homeschooling mother to place her children in public school demanded all objections to his order to be filed today -- the day the mom in the case observes the Sabbath.

Venessa Mills says she was unable to meet the deadline for two reasons -- because it was Sunday and because she was up until midnight assisting her estranged husband to move out of the house as part of the judge's order.
</blockquote>

Sure, the judge is not biased. It seems to me that the this judge must be excused from this case.
3.16.2009 1:10pm
theobromophile (www):
MarkField,

Can you provide ANY evidence that children "go wild" in college if not exposed to drugs and booze and promiscuous sex in high school? Anything, aside from a sorry cliche and the belief that the world should be the way you want it to be?

The people I knew in college who went the craziest were... drumroll... the ones who were crazy in high school. Those of us who were boring and sheltered in high school naturally sought out a familiar environment and friends: drug- and- alcohol free, relatively chaste, hard-working, studious.

All evidence points against you. Once certain things, like alcohol, come into your life, they never go away. We can expose children to them and hope that they defy the odds, or we can understand that if they start drinking at 16, they will continue drinking throughout college. People who start drinking at an earlier age are significantly more likely to become alcoholics. (The developing brain gets used to the infusion of booze.)

Then again, I'm one of those super-sheltered types who has never touched drugs or cigarettes, didn't drink until she was 21, and had never even went to a frat party. Lemme tell you, those nights spent drinking chai tea and ordering pizza and Ben &Jerry's with my friends were really wild - we had all been so sheltered in high school that we would just bust out and order TWO pints of ice cream.
3.16.2009 8:52pm
Oren:


The judge who ordered a North Carolina homeschooling mother to place her children in public school demanded all objections to his order to be filed today -- the day the mom in the case observes the Sabbath.


So the business of the state has to pause because you want a day off work?

I'm going to start a religion that has Monday as the Sabbath and see if I can get out of showing up in court. In fact, I think I might have to take the whole week off to properly do God's will. You know what, your honor, why don't I just call you when I'm ready ...
3.17.2009 11:45pm

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