Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Debunking the faulty research by Kati Criss on homeschooling

Dana at Principled Discovery wrote The life and death of homeschooling, a eulogy. Please drop by her blog to read it. She wrote it in response to Katie Criss' post Home-schooling Researched . Since there is very little research involved in this hatchet job, perhaps a better title would be Katie Criss' Bias Against Homeschooling.

She says
One reason that I frequently found through research was that parents home schooled their children because of the violence found in public schools.

If you are afraid of your child being bullied, what will happen when your child becomes an adult and meets a bullying boss? This is a real-world story; children need the exposure to different people. Why? Simple, because nobody in this world is the same.

Comparing a child being bullied in the public schools by another child or in some cases by a teacher to an adult with a bullying boss shows a huge lack of understanding about the problem of bullying in our public schools. For one thing the government does not require you to work at a certain place. If you encounter a bully in the work place you have options. You can 1.) Report him to his/her boss or 2.) Seek employment elsewhere. A child in the public schools who is being bullied has few IF any options. Reporting the bullying child to a teacher gets you nowhere. The teacher is unable to act unless she/he actually sees the bullying. And teachers often look the other way. If the bullying escalates into violence both children are often punished. If the teacher is the one doing the bullying the child is at a distinct disadvantage. And unless the family is willing to leave their home the child is unable to leave the public school where the bullying is taking place for a friendlier public school.

She also seems to be labouring under the misguided idea that homeschoolers live in isolation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Homeschoolers meet and interact with many different people through the various activities they are engaged in.

I am sure if you are living in Harlem, New York compared to South Park, Pennsylvania there is going to be an immense difference in the crime of the area.

Violence in our public schools is escalating to new levels and living in a 'nice' neighborhood is no longer enough to guarantee your child will be safe at their public school. As this depressingly long list of school shootings show, they can and do happen anywhere in the United States.

  • Columbine High School Massacre -On April 20, 1999, in the small, suburban town of Littleton, Colorado, two high-school seniors, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, enacted an all-out assault on Columbine High School during the middle of the school day. The boys' plan was to kill hundreds of their peers. With guns, knives, and a multitude of bombs, the two boys walked the hallways and killed. When the day was done, twelve students, one teacher, and the two murderers were dead.

  • Oct, 2007 - Two students and Two teachers were shot at Cleveland area High School. The injuries were not life threatening. The culprit was a 14-year-old student, Asa H. Coon who later shot and killed himself.

  • Jan, 2007 - Douglas Chanthabouly, 18, shot fellow student Samnang Kok, 17, in the hallway of Henry Foss High School.

  • September 2006, Cazenovia, Wisconsin - Weston School principal John Klang was killed by a 15-year-old student.

  • September 2006 - Six students were held hostage at Platte Canyon High School. One of the hostages, Emily Keyes (16), was then shot and killed.

  • April 2006 - Two teachers were shot at Essex Elementary School resulting in the death of one of the teachers.

  • November 2005 - The assistant principal at Campbell County High School was shot and killed and two other administrators were seriously wounded, by the 15 year old shooter.

  • March 2005 - Red Lake, Minnesota, Jeff Weise, 16, killed himself after killing his Grandfather, a school a teacher, a security guard and 5 students.

  • September 2003 - Cold Spring, Minnesota, two students are killed at Rocori High School.

  • April 2003 - Principal Eugene Segro of Red Lion Area Junior High School was killed by James Sheets, 14, who also killed himself.

  • April 2003 - One 15-year-old killed, and three students wounded at John McDonogh High School by gunfire.

  • January 2002 - Two students were wounded at Martin Luther King Jr. High School.

  • March 2001 - Gary, Indiana One student killed by Donald R. Burt, Jr (17), who had been expelled from Lew Wallace High School.

  • March 2001 - One teacher and three students were wounded at Granite Hills High School by Hoffman. Hoffman was shot and wounded by a policeman.

  • March 2001 - Kimberly Marchese, a student, was wounded in the cafeteria of Bishop Newumann High School by14 year old Elizabeth Catherine Bush who was depressed and frequently teased.

  • March 2001 -Two killed and 13 wounded when Charles Andrew Williams, 15, fired from a bathroom at Santana High School.

  • January 2001 - One student shot and killed in front of Lake Clifton Eastern High School.

  • September 200 - Two students wounded with the same gun during a fight at Woodson Middle School.

  • May 2000 - One teacher, Barry Grunow, shot and killed at Lake Worth Middle School with .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol on the last day of classes by 13 year old Nate Brazill.

  • March 2000 - Two students killed while leaving a dance sponsored by Beach High School.

  • February 2000 - Six-year-old Kayla Rolland shot dead at Buell Elementary School near Flint, Mich. The assailant was identified as a six-year-old boy with a .32-caliber handgun.

  • December 1999 - Four students were wounded when Seth Trickey, 13, opened fire with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at Fort Gibson Middle School.

  • November 1999 - Araceli Tena, 13, was shot and killed in the lobby of Deming Middle School by 12 year old Victor Cordova Jr.

  • May 1999 - Six students were injured at Heritage High School by Thomas Solomon, 15, who was reportedly depressed after breaking up with his girlfriend.

  • Jun, 1998 - Richmond, Virginia, One teacher and one guidance counsellor wounded by a 14 year old who carried out the crime in the school hallway.

  • May 1998 - Two Students killed. 22 others wounded in the cafeteria at Thurston High School by 15 year old Kip Kinkel who had been arrested a day earlier for bringing a gun to school. The Killer killed his parents too.

  • May 1998 - One student killed in the parking lot of Lincoln County High School just 3 days before he was to graduate. The victim was dating the ex-girlfriend of the killer, 18 year old Jacob Davis, an honor student.

  • April 1998 - Teacher, John Gillette killed and two students wounded at a dance at James W. Parker Middle School by 14 year old Andrew Wurst.

  • March 1998 - 13 year old Mitchell Johnson and 11 year old Andrew Golden shot at their classmates and teachers from the woods. Four Students and one teacher were killed, ten others were wounded. This occurred outside Westside Middle School as school was being emptied during a false fire alarm.

  • Dec, 1997, Stamps, Arkansas -Two Students were wounded as they stood in the parking lot by 14 year old Colt Todd who was hiding in the woods.

  • December 1997 -Three students were killed and five wounded as they participated in prayer circle at Heath High School by 14 year old Michael Cameal.

  • Oct, 1997, Pearl, Mississippi -Two students were killed and seven others were wounded by 16 year old Luke Woodham. He and his friends were said to be outcasts who worshiped Satan. He also killed his Mom.

  • Feb, 1997, Bethel, Alaska -Principal and one student killed, two others were wounded by 16 year old Evan Ramsey.

  • Feb, 1996, Moses Lake, Washington - Two Students and one teacher killed and one other wounded by 14 year old Barry Loukaitis when he opened fire on his Algebra Class.

Using Katie Criss' logic this depressingly long list (gathered from Recent World Wide School Shootings) would be enough to have us crusading against public schools.

But if the recent public school shootings aren't enough to have you questioning the safety of students in public schools there are all the teachers who are sexually abusing the children under their supervision.

  • A former middle school teacher was sent to prison for six years Tuesday for having sexual encounters with five teenage boys. Authorities said Allenna Ward, 24, met 14- and 15-year-old boys at the school where she taught as well as at a motel, a park and behind a restaurant.

  • Lafave, 26, is serving three years of house arrest and seven years of probation after pleading guilty to having sex with the (14 year old) boy in a classroom and her home in June 2004.

  • AP reporters in every state and the District of Columbia identified 2,570 teachers who were punished for sexual misconduct from 2001 to 2005 alone, for actions that ranged from fondling to viewing child pornography to rape.

  • Richland High School teacher was sentenced to 40 years for having sex with two students. A teacher in Tupelo got 18 years for a similar crime. But a teacher in Clarksdale, who was accused of giving an eighth-grade student gonorrhea, struck a deal with prosecutors and walked out of court a free man. More than a dozen teachers in Mississippi have been convicted of sexual crimes since 2000. The sentences handed down vary widely from case to case.

  • A man honored as among the best teachers in Utah pleaded guilty Thursday to felony sex charges involving 11 students at his suburban classroom. Frank Laine Hall, 37, who taught first grade in the Salt Lake City suburb of Riverton until his arrest last March, could get up to 30 years to life in prison, prosecutor Rodwicke Ybarra said.

She justifies her harassment of homeschoolers by questioning the safety of homeschooled children.

  • In the Warren case she cites, she fails to mention that county workers got an anonymous tip: better check on those kids. Someone knew there was a problem and reported it to the proper authorities.

  • Since she didn't even provide names in the Iowa case it is impossible to find any further information.

  • Many people were aware of Andrea Yates' mental illness. In fact her husband was desperately trying to get her medical care. Also the Yates' children were Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, Mary, 6 months old. Under Texas compulsory attendance laws only Noah (age 7) was school age.
    a child who is at least six years of age, or who is younger than six years of age and has previously been enrolled in first grade, and who has not completed the academic year in which the child's 18th birthday occurred shall attend school.
Ms Criss is erroneous in her belief that homeschooling bore any responsibility in these children's deaths. She also fails to acknowledge that some public school parents abuse their children undetected by school officials, and that some of the public school teachers are abusive.

I have concluded from this information that a child can only go as far as their parents have, and in some instances that may not be very far. Therefore these children are being cheated out of a valuable education.

Homeshooled children are not being cheated out of a valuable education. Often parents choose to learn along with their children, they hire tutors or form cooperatives (where classes are often taught by former public school teachers), they enroll in distance learning programs. Homeschool parents have many options when it comes to educating their children.

She also fails to address the public school students who are not receiving an education, see Stupid in America by John Stossel

Also I have questioned, having a parent as a teacher... are they teaching their children their bias's? In an institution goals are made to make sure that the material being taught is bias free.

Public schools are full of bias.

  • Florida's current standards require the teaching of evolution using code words like "change over time." Thankfully the nonsense of using 'code words' has finally come to an end. Florida's State Board of Education has voted to use the term "scientific theory of evolution" in new science standards. It's the first time the word "evolution" has been included. Maybe Ms Criss should spend sometime worrying about the poor kids that were trapped in the Florida schools that refused to teach evolution until recently. Florida isn't the only State that has balked at teaching evolution.

  • Bias in Textbooks

  • Civil rights organizations representing broad sectors of communities joined together on Oct. 23 to call attention to incidents of bias-related harassment plaguing California’s public schools.

  • Study Finds Racial Bias in Public Schools.
Ms Criss also seems unaware that homeschoolers are a diverse group and that there are many inclusive homeschool groups where homeschoolers associate with homeschoolers of differing beliefs and backgrounds.

However in a home a parent, especially with no education on how to educate, would use only one teaching method.

Ms Criss couldn't be more wrong. Homeschool parents educate themselves on the different teaching methods and use the method that works best for their child. I used different methods with both my children as both children had different learning styles.

how will a child develop his or her socialization skills if they are not exposed to different people? The school environment is much like one's work environment.

Homeschoolers socialize with many different people. They join recreational sports teams, scouts, robotics teams, and many other groups.

The school environment is nothing like the work environment. I don't know of any company that segregates their employees by age.

These children will not have the experience that public school provides, they will not have the experience that unites us citizens and provides us with a common background. They will not get to experience the simple things like go to prom's, participate in sports in which an entire school is benefited, have a school lunch, a lock on their locker, a ride on a school bus, recess, watching for their school to be cancelled on TV from snow days, and all the other little but character building events that take place in a public school students life.

I hate to break it to her but many public school students don't go to proms either. Some homeschool orgainzations have proms, most homeschoolers participate in sports some homeschool groups even have their own sports teams.

Homeschooling is a viable choice and provides a solid education for many homeschooled students. Parents have the right to choose the best educational option for their child, without government interference.


  1. Nice work, Alasandra. You had me here:

    perhaps a better title would be Katie Criss' Bias Against Homeschooling.

    I couldn't help but laugh. As I read it the first time, I thought maybe she thought that referring to "her research" enough times substituted for actually doing any.

  2. Thanks Dana.

    I kept looking for her research ;>)alas it was impossible to find.

  3. Great research, Alasandra! ;) The "What about prom!" horror always cracks me up. I was a public school kid and I went to neither prom nor home coming. I don't think it scarred me too much.

  4. April,
    I too was a product of the public schools. I never went to a football game or to the prom when I was in high school.

    I know a lot of public school students who didn't. It frankly amazes me that some people think not going to a football game or prom would be the end of the world. I wonder how they do in the 'real world' where life doesn't revolve around cheer leaders, football players home coming games and proms.

  5. What I was struck most by -- and what undermined any validity that this opinion of Criss' might have -- is her atrocious use of grammar and mechanics. Inability to use the English language according to normal standards of usage tends to undermine any kind of point the author might be making about anything remotely educational.

    Alasandra, you've done a fine job responding to this piece of tripe. I only wish it hadn't stirred up people because frankly, it's not worth it. Great post.

  6. She also fails to acknowledge that some public school parents abuse their children undetected by school officials, and that some of the public school teachers are abusive.

    I used to know a lady that worked as a sign language interpreter for a school in a very poor neighborhood. She said the sad thing was that they would report abuse to the authorities over and over again, but their reports were not being acted upon.

    Great job!

  7. Adso of melk, thank you for your kind words. According to Crimson Wife

    Crimson Wife
    Posted February 18, 2008 at 8:19 pm | Permalink
    A quick Google search on “Katie Criss” reveals that she has a dual degree in Early Childhood Education & Elementary Education. So it’s no wonder that she’s spouting the NEA party line…

    So not only is she a product of the public schools, she may be teaching in them.

  8. Lori, you are so right.

    There was a tragic incident awhile back in Moss Point/Pascagoula where a Mother got so frustrated helping her first grade public school student with her homework she killed her. Her boyfriend dumped the body and they reported her as missing. It was a few years ago, so I don't remember the names. But at the time in was in The Sun Herald and MS Press.

    But the Mother had never been reported for abuse by anyone.

  9. *sniff*
    I never even had a locker. We had to carry our books everywhere and students took turns watching our bags during gym class. I was so deprived.

    Great work Alasandra! You must have done about a hundred times the research of the original "researched" article!

    Peace and Laughter!

  10. Good job, Alesandra.

    Your work on bullying is especially good. Just today, I heard that one of my son's friend, who has been the target of continuous anti-Jewish slurs and bullying, was suspended. What happened? He had continually gone to the teachers about the problems, and they did nothing because they "didn't see it." (This is BS. A good teacher could and should still talk to the bully and make it plain that s/he is being watched). So yesterday he defended himself. And now he is being deprived of several days of this wonderful education that Criss is lauding.

    And the rest of the arguments are not bad either. And if these writers present their work as "research" the least they could do is cite the studies.

  11. Teachers often ignore the bullying in the name of "letting the kids work it out for themselves".

    Unfortunately this usually gives the bully power and when the victim stands up for him/her self they both wind up getting punished. Which besides being unfair sends the WRONG message to the bully.

    I wish your son's friend good luck. I will keep him in my thoughts.

  12. jugglingpaynes having a locker is highly overrated. My hand got slammed in my locker by A BULLY.

  13. Regarding the Iowa case, if she wants to get anecdotal, she should look at the Sarah Neely case (spring 2005). Sarah attended public school for years. A mere two months after she started "homeschooling", she was finally removed from her abusive home.

  14. Very interesting reading. I find it so common that socializing comes up so often as a reason home schoolers ought to be in public school. I had 5 children in the public schools and two schooled at home. They all turned out really well, however, the home schoolers seem to have less scars from their educational process. Hmmmmm.


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