Response to Akron Beacon Journal
Homeschool Series

[COMMENT:  Home schooling, so far as I can gather, is superior on all measurable accounts to so-called public education (which is neither public nor education).  There is no reasonable case that can be made for government control of education.  The sooner we get our children out of the control of government, the better for everybody.  Especially for the "poor".    E. Fox]

                                         by J. Michael Smith
                                                    HSLDA President

A recent series of seven articles published in the Akron Beacon Journal
attempted to cast homeschooling in a negative light by implying that,
despite homeschooling's benefits, this form of education has flaws
warranting further government regulation.

Although Home School Legal Defense Association is confident that
homeschooling's success can withstand intense scrutiny, we are concerned
about the potential these articles have to mislead readers who are
unfamiliar with the movement.

It's always dangerous to attribute motives to actions, but one has to
question why the two authors of these articles would devote seven days
in the paper to homeschooling. A good guess is they want to see
homeschooling more regulated. Almost all of the stories concluded that
there is some good in homeschooling, but there is some bad and
government oversight is needed to correct the bad.

For instance, in an article appearing on November 15, 2004, the Beacon
Journal claimed that only 0.17 percent of college applicants are
homeschoolers and that this compares unfavorably to the 2 percent of the
student population that homeschools. What the article's authors failed
to take into account is that homeschooling has grown at a rate of 7–15
percent for the past 10 years. This means that most homeschoolers are
between 5 and 14 years of age—not even eligible for college! And a study
by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., with over 5,000 homeschool graduates
participating, indicates that over 70 percent of homeschool graduates
have taken college-level courses—much higher than the national average.
So what's wrong with the Beacon Journal's numbers? There are many
reasons why homeschoolers might appear to be underrepresented on college
applications. For example, in states that consider homeschools to be
private schools (such as California and Texas), the college applications
of home educated students reflect that they attended private school. And
since many homeschoolers attend community college, they actually bypass
college admission tests altogether.

In contrast to the Beacon Journal's insinuation that homeschoolers
receive an inferior education, colleges recognize that the one-on-one,
self-directed nature of homeschooling perfectly suits students to the
college environment. This is borne out by the fact that 75 percent of
colleges have either a homeschool admissions policy or a homeschool
admissions officer.

In the same article, the Beacon Journal took issue with a statement in
which I said, "Home School Legal Defense Association is unaware of any
serious critics who still argue that homeschoolers struggle
academically." The best refutation of my statement that the Beacon
Journal could come up with, after interviewing many homeschool critics,
was the claim that the data on homeschool academics is inconclusive.
Even Rob Reich, perhaps the highest-profile and most outspoken critic of
homeschooling, doesn't venture to say that homeschoolers struggle
academically.

HSLDA continues to stand behind the facts. As the homeschool research on
our website shows, one-on-one instruction by dedicated parents produces
children who outperform their peers academically.

As if challenging homeschoolers' academic achievements were not enough,
in a disturbing article appearing on November 17, 2004, the Beacon
Journal tried to make the case that homeschoolers should be subject to
increased government regulation because they could be child abusers.
Referring to the infamous Jackson case, in which four adopted children
of an allegedly homeschooling family were severely malnourished, the
Beacon Journal failed to mention that the New Jersey Division of Youth
and Family Services had visited the Jackson family an astounding 38
times. In the majority of cases HSLDA is aware of involving violence and
abuse in allegedly homeschooling families, government agencies have
become involved in the situations despite the fact that the children did
not attend public school.

According to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect
Information, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, 903,000 children in America were found to be victims of child
maltreatment in 2001. Although we do not have statistics demonstrating
how many of these abused children were educated at home, it's safe to
assume that the overwhelming majority attended public school, since
homeschoolers make up only 2–4 percent of the school population.
Unfortunately, school attendance did not protect that overwhelming
majority of children from abuse.

In fact, the Child Maltreatment Report of 2002 by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services shows that, out of 88,656 cases of confirmed
sexual abuse, teachers and daycare providers were responsible for
15,098—almost as many cases as those for which parents were responsible
(16,210). There is no legitimate basis for government oversight of
homeschool families to prevent child abuse.

On November 19, 2004, the Beacon Journal also felt the need to put a
negative twist on homeschoolers' political involvement. It's true that
homeschoolers are politically active and regularly contact their elected
officials, but the Beacon Journal chose to leave the impression that
homeschoolers are "rude" and disrespectful. Regrettably, in any group,
when thousands of people make contact with their officials on issues
they care deeply about, there may be a few who do not act appropriately.
To focus on a few rude homeschoolers and not laud the overwhelming
number of homeschoolers respectfully participating in the civics lab of
life demonstrates an agenda on the author's part.

After a considerable investment of time and resources, the Akron Beacon
Journal has rightly identified homeschooling as a significant
educational movement with the potential to challenge the status quo. But
the Beacon Journal was forced to use shabby arguments to try to
discredit homeschooling. Research simply does not bear out the charge of
poor academic achievement. And to blame homeschooling for child abuse is
an insult to the huge majority of parents who choose to homeschool
because they want the best for their children.

Homeschoolers excel academically, socially, and in ways that bring
lasting benefits to families and our nation. The reason for this success
can be traced to the individualized nature of home education. If the
government were given power to intervene even further in the lives of
homeschool families—as the Akron Beacon Journal calls for—then the
unique strengths of homeschooling would be lost to standardization.
That's not too different from what has happened in the public schools.

Other Resources
                Abusing homeschoolers WorldNetDaily.com 11/22/2004

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