Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sean Paddock and Tyler McMillan weren't even homeschoolers, so why are their deaths being used to harass homeschoolers?

In America one is generally considered innocent until proven guilty, but this editorial, Our View: Help protect home-school children implies that homeschoolers are guilty until proven innocent.

The editorial writer ignores the fact that Sean Paddock was four years old and thus not school age. The editorial also fails to mention that Sean Paddock was adopted. Wasn't some sort of government agency involved in the adoption process? Wasn't it their job to insure the adoptive Mother would provide a loving home? Why isn't the editorial calling for more oversight before people can adopt? instead of implying that legitimate homeschooling families can't be trusted and therefore need a government watchdog. What's next government watchdogs for stay at home moms who don't put their newborns and preschoolers in day care?

As for the Tyler McMillan case. The bare bones seems to be that his Mother died of cancer in 2004 and he lived with his Father and Step-Mother. According to a neighbor the family moved from Florida to North Carolina about 3 months ago and oh yeah, they homeschooled, which considering the public schools would have been out for summer break in most areas in June is a moot point. What is more to the point is why didn't any of their neighbors notice this child was tied to a tree not ONCE but TWICE??? There also seems to be some doubt he was actually homeschooled according to this article "The teen began his education at Greenville Christian Academy and then attended Trinity Christian School." For those who are unfamiliar with Greenville Christian Academy and Trinity Christin School, both are private schools in North Carolina. So again we have the death of a child who wasn't even being homeschooled used to call for the harassment of legitimate homeschoolers.

When a public school student dies at the hands of a parent no one suggest they should increase the oversight of public schools, so why do they use these tragedies to harass legitimate homeschoolers? Why did they rush to the conclusion that these children were homeschoolers when one was to young for kindergarten and the other attended a private school?


  1. Who is "Our View"? I don't see the name of the author of this editorial. It's a bunch of post&run nonsense.

  2. "Our View" meant the editorial board of the publication, back when I was actively involved.

  3. In many of these highly publicized cases like the Banita Jacks one, the families were already involved with the child welfare authorities. The solution isn't increased regulation of all homeschoolers, but rather making sure these troubled families don't fall through the cracks. We shouldn't be relying on schoolteachers to do a social worker's job...

  4. It appears to be a knee jerk response on the part of the public. They don't understand WHY anyone would homeschool, therefore all homeschoolers must be abusers because that's the only reason anyone would homeschool, right????

    It also shows why we must be careful who labels themselves as homeschoolers. If a woman sends her children to public school (Jetty Betty) but supplements their learning after school; she shouldn't be allowed to label herself a homeschooler.

  5. Hi Alasandra - you make a good point, that our own freedom and safety can be protected by helping the public get more comfortable with (thus less suspicious of) this still-misunderstood thing called homeschooling.

    And I agree we must be careful about how we go about building the public's understanding that homeschooling isn't about imposing rules and regulations, laws and labels on each other. We need people generally to feel that just because home education is different and private, doesn't make it scary and wacko much less abusive, that we're no threat to our own children or to THEIR children.

    So what these tragic cases in the news ought to show us, imo, is what a wrong turn we'd take appointing ourselves to police what all mothers are "allowed" to call their own children's learning. Putting a prescriptive special-interest face on homeschool advocacy has been tried already -- through a couple of lawyer-led national lobbyist groups and the more grassroots "We Stand for Homeschooling" -- and imo backfired badly, much as NCLB did in the schools and for similar reasons.

    If we see public kneejerking as a problem, it makes sense to be careful of kneejerking ourselves. :)

  6. JJ,
    I understand your desire to allow someone to label themselves whatever they want.

    BUT, there has to be some common definition for what homeschooling means, who is homeschooling, etc. Without a common understanding of what a word means confusion reigns.

    We generally understand that the 'laws' regarding homeschooling only apply to legitimate independent homeschoolers.

    The Mom who claims to homeschool because she supplements her child's public school education after school/on school holidays doesn't feel the need to follow the 'homeschooling laws' for her state because she knows she isn't legally homeschooling. The same goes for the parents who do public school at home, they know they don't have to follow the 'homeschool laws' because they aren't legally homeschooling. BUT when they insist on labeling themselves homeschoolers they endanger everyone who legally homeschools because 1.) the public will not understand why we can't all do it their way ~ public school at home/supplement to public school education and 2.) IF they do anything WRONG it will reflect badly on legitimate homeschoolers.

    Tyler McMillan was enrolled in a Private Christian School but his death is being used to call for tougher homeschool regulations.

    Sean Paddock was 4 years old and would not have been old enough to attend public kindergarten, but his death is being used to call for tougher homeschool regulations.

    Neither child was being homeschooled, while their deaths are tragedies NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO LABEL THEM HOMESHCOOL TRAGEDIES.

  7. Alasandra,
    I understand your desire to protect our homeschooling freedoms. My desire is exactly the same. We just see different "campaign strategies" as the surest way to get there.

    Regardless of labels and definitions for charters or whatever, it certainly IS important to work together, to keep correcting the record in cases like these, explaining that physical and emotional abuse of children below compulsory school age has nothing to do with any kind of schooling.

    How about these words, could we agree on this?


  8. JJ
    How about these words, could we agree on this?


    Yes, I agree 100%

  9. The more popular homeschooling gets, the more things like this will happen. Homeschooling's great results trigger irritation on the part of those who make their money off the public schools (thus the NEA's annual proclamation that it wants to eradicate homeschooling) and a new awareness of its existence leads some abusive parents to claim they are homeschooling in an effort to get the authorities off their backs.

    I think the best thing we can do to fight back is write letters to the editor and blog posts asking why social services fail to keep after people with a history of child abuse. Blaming homeschooling, whether or not it actually occurred, is the easy way out.

  10. Yes -- always, always we should focus on protecting the children from abuse, not protecting ourselves from some regulation or legal language we would find annoying.

    And when I say we "should" I mean we ought, both because it is the right thing to do and also the politically most effective thing to do. I mean it's the best single response both to stopping the abuse AND stopping homeschool regulation creep.

    So those are the words we need to stay focused on and be really careful with imo, how we express protecting real kids as the point, never mind words and labels and laws and government employees generally.

    (Personally though, I think every time we make the public face how government doesn't know best and in loco parentis is a failed doctrine at home or at school, home education goes up in the public's mind although it's mostly subliminal, not put into words directly.)

  11. Tyler McMillan was homeschooled this past year if you want to call it that. He attended GCA and Trinity prior to homeschooling. Know what you are talking about before you post. I just cannot believe the lack of controls on homeschoolers. Not that all homeschooling is bad but just let me tell you I am shocked beyond belief by some of it. There definitely needs to be more controls over homeschooling.

  12. Anonymous, why do you THINK Tyler McMillan was 'homeschooled'? all the news sources say he attended a private school and was out for summer break at the time of his death.

  13. I don't think Tyler was homeschooled for the 07-08 school year, I know it for a fact. His mother taught school in a traditional setting. His step mother homeschooled him for the 07-08 school year....if you want to call it that.

  14. Tyler was homeschooled for the 07-08 school year. I know this for a fact because i was a friend of his and he attended a homeschool co-op that spring. He was private schooled before, but he was definitely homeschooled. This blog does make a good point though, it makes no difference whether he was homeschooled or not because it was summer break.

  15. I am not saying that all homeschooling is bad. I do know that homeschooling can be used as a way to isolate children as we have seen in the Tyler McMillan case. Tyler endured abuse during the school year that most likely would have been caught in a traditional school setting. He was part of a local home schooling co-op which I have been told requires for the students to be registered with the state. Tyler was not. I also have heard from family members that his end of the year test scores were much lower than when he left Trinity in some very basic educational areas. I also have heard from the family about the "homeschooling" which was done by Sandra for Tyler's brother which was next to nothing. I do think there are very good homeschools however, think of the wrong done to both Tyler and his brother. It is a shame that this could happen to anyone. There definitely should be more regulation on homeschooling.

  16. Anonymous homeschool regulations are not needed to prevent abuse. Child abuse is a crime, no matter where you attend school private, public or homeschool. By your own admission Tyler belonged to a local homeschooling co-op, so he was hardly isolated. By your own admission family members knew what was going on, why didn't they report the abuse to the authorities?

    And again why didn't any of their neighbors notice this child was tied to a tree not ONCE but TWICE and report it to the authorities?

    You said "Tyler endured abuse during the school year that most likely would have been caught in a traditional school setting." Why???? Unless he told someone, it would have most likely have passed unnoticed.

  17. You are making assumptions about my statements that are not correct. I am not saying that homeschoolers are all abusers by any means or that homeschool regulation is needed to prevent abuse. However, Homeschooling is another way for an abuser to isolate children. Yes, now the family knows about the abuse but they did not know it when it was happening. They were isolated from the boys and not able to see them. Believe me they tried. I don't know how much was done with the homeshcooling co-op but I am sure Sandra controlled that enviroment and did not let the boys get close to anyone. The boys were taken away from all their friends, teachers, classmates, church and family. They were completely isolated. Please don't blame anyone except the parents. They moved out to an isolated place. There was no way for neighbors to hear or see anything going on. Tyler was allowed to join a new youth group. From a post I read Tyler did tell a new youth pastor but the pastor was not trained (as public school teachers are) to report abuse. According to the post he went to the parents instead of the authorities.

    I can tell you that next to nothing was done to homeschool Tyler and his brother. We can only see Tyler's test scores from the end of the year but I can tell you after a year of "homeschooling", he was behind the level he was at when he left Trinity. It hurts my feelings to hear about his scores. It is like Tyler's brother just skipped a year of school but even worse.....after a year a child will even forget the basics - like writing, spelling, basic math. It is a shame that it was possible for this to happen to any child. Both children were smart and did not have any learning disabilities except for Sandra.

    I hope you will admit that homeschooling can be great and the learning can far exceed any school but on the flip side in the wong hands, children can be isolated and learn next to nothing. I have seen both sides. Where would Tyler and his brother be if they had continued in this kind of learing enviroment? Regulations are need to make sure EVERY child is given a chance.

  18. Anonymous, you are what experienced bloggers call a "Concern Troll." Find another bridge to blather from under.

  19. Call me what you like. I just did not like the incorrect information posted on this website from the very beginning. Please get the information correct before posting on the internet for everyone to see.

  20. Anonymous, it's hard to take you seriously when you don't even reveal your name.

    You said Tyler did tell a new youth pastor but the pastor was not trained, it doesn't take any training to call CPS, you just pick up the phone and dial. If the family was concerned about not being able to see the children and the children being isolated they too could have called CPS.

    Homeschool Regulations are NOT NEEDED to prevent abuse. There are already laws to protect children from child abuse and educational neglect.

  21. LOL!

    Josh Lyman in the White House West Wing:
    "Someone is wrong on the Internet! I have to correct them!"

    and his wise press secretary's response:
    CJ: Let me explain something to you. This is sort of my field. The people on these sites? They’re the cast of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The muu-muu-wearing Parliament smoker [control freak]? That’s Nurse Ratched.

    When Nurse Ratched is unhappy, the patients are unhappy. You? You’re McMurphy. You swoop in with your card games and fishing trips -

    Josh: I didn’t swoop in, I came in the exact same way everyone else did.

    CJ: Well, now I’m telling you to open the ward-room window and climb on out, before they give you a pre-frontal lobotomy and I have to smother you with a pillow.

  22. My name is Sarah. I do not have a gmail account and did not know how to use the other options other than anonymous. I am not an avid blogger by any means. This will be my last post on this site....I am not into posting just to post.

    I was just trying to correct some incorrect information. We both agree that homeschooling regulation is NOT NEEDED TO PREVENT CHILD ABUSE.....WE AGREE on that point. I will state that homeschooling is a way for an abuser to isolate and controll a child (you can agree or disagree but it is the truth). You say there are laws to protect against educational neglect. PLEASE let me know which law protected Tyler and his brother. They went a whole year with no education. They should have been registered with the state but were not registered. The homeschool network they were a part of states that you must be registed with the state to join.....again they were not registered. How long could this have continued if Tyler did not die? What good would registering with the state have even done for Tyler and his brother?

    Tyler and his brother were definitely both victims of Educational neglect but WHAT PROTECTED THEM? They went an entire year with no education. We can try to blame family, friends, neighbors,pastors, CPS etc you keep trying to do........but no one was there to protect the boys from Educational neglect. Who's responsibity is it? The family, friends and new neighbors were told the boys were being homeschooled. Should we all call CPS on everyone that homeschools their children because we don't like it? Should every Grandparent, Aunt, Uncle, friend, etc call CPS everytime they cannot see a relative as much as they want to see them? Lets be real. CPS is already way overworked and underpaid, can you image how crazy it would be if everyone called them like you suggested? I am not going to beat up on the youth pastor if the post on the internet is correct. He will have to live with his mistake for the rest of his life. According to the post -He went to the parents and the parents made Tyler say it was all lies.

    I know the family and I know alot has been done (and is still being done) to help get Tyler's brother up to grade level. The authorities have also NOW been informed of the educational neglect....but nothing has happened. How many years could the boys have had no education..... 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, ten years.......before the laws you talk about would have protected them.

    Again, I am big enough of a person to state that not all homeschooling is bad but I am very much in favor of more regulation so no child can go thru the educational neglect Tyler and his brother went thru.

  23. Women are abused domestically in much greater numbers than children are in homeschool settings, yet regulating private relationships with government inspections, etc, is not seriously proposed as the solution to end that abuse.

  24. JJ Ross - get real and grow up. Your sarcasim is childish. Abuse is wrong no matter what. The difference is an adult has choices and can leave a relationship, a child cannot.

  25. That wasn't sarcasm. And central to domestic abuse at any age is establishing the emotional control over another person that makes leaving seem impossible.

  26. Sarah,
    By your own admission they were not legally homeschooling as they were not registered as state law required.

    So all these "regulations" you want would NOT have HELPED as the McMillan's weren't legally homeschooling in the first place.

    Again the vast majority of homeschoolers provide their children with wonderful educations and do NOT isolate them. They should not be "regulated" because some do not. Especially when there are already LAWS in place to protect children from abuse and educational neglect.

    I am a bit puzzled in one of your former post you made it sound as if the family wasn't able to see the kids at all. In your last post you are saying they just didn't get to see them as much as they would have liked. Which is it????? If they did get to see the kids then surely they had a chance to notice the educational neglect and the abuse. If they weren't allowed to see them at all, then certainly that should have been a red flag to notify CPS.

    You want more "regulations", who is going to oversee these nebulous (as you didn't state what you want) regulations. By your own admissions CPS is overworked, Public schools have enough on their plates monitoring public school students. Whoever was suppose to make sure homeschool students were registered (a regulation) for your state obviously failed to do so in Tyler's case.

    Regulations would only create more work for legitimate homeschoolers while those like the McMillan's that don't even bother to register would NOT be affected at all.

  27. I come from a long line of educators - Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and sisters. They all complain about some of the rules and regulations. When I ask why something is required, it seems like the answer always boils down to the same things. Some teachers are not doing what they should be doing so everyone has to pay. I look at homeschools just like I look at teachers at public and private schools. Some are great, some are ok and some are just not doing what they should be doing. The difference is that there are more safegaurds in place to protect the children in public and most private schools.

    You say the vast majority of home schools provide childen with a wonderful education. Are you personally involved in the vast majority of home schools? How can you make this claim?

    What law protect against educational neglect? Who enforces the laws? Who makes sure that a home school child recognizes money, learns basic math and how to read and write? Who makes sure a homeschool parent is doing their job or even able to do such a job? At least we know that a public school teacher has gone thru training and is certified to teach.

    You are definitely expecting to much of CPS & a family and do not understand the role of CPS. CPS is not going to act on I have only seen my Grandchild, Nephew or friend from a distance or I have only seen the child in the presence of his stepmom or we can rarely get to see the children now that the father has remarried. If you expect CPS to act on such have no right to complain about any homeschool regulations. How is anyone to know if a homeschool is doing its jobs. One on one education would take a lot less time than a traditional classroom and can take place at non-traditional school times. An outsider would have a very difficult time trying to build a case against educational neglect.

    You may be part of a wonderful homeschool and may know many wonderful homeschools which far exceed traditional school enviroments but not every home school the same. From the stories I have heard, I definitely think there should be more regulations on homeschools. Every Child deserves a chance. Regulations in public schools are not perfect but they are a step in the right direction. Regulations in homeschools will not be perfect but will be a step in the right direction.

  28. And you get to believe whatever you want. You do not get to impose it on others. America, what a country!

  29. Bree, your argument doesn't even make sense.

    You said
    Who makes sure that a home school child recognizes money, learns basic math and how to read and write?

    Their parents do! Parents want their children to be productive members of society. Parents want their children to be capable of caring for themselves.

    Homeschoolers do not need to be regulated. Parents have their children's best interest at heart and parental rights should be respected.

  30. Alasandra,

    You are making some niave assumptions that just are not always true. Everyone would like to believe your statements are correct but it is not true in every case. Not all parents make sure their kids can do basic the basic things. The teachers in my family can attest that many public school parents do not care at all about their child's education. I personally know of 2 children that were homeschooled by a parent that were not taught the basic things I talked about. You cannot depend on all parents to make sure the basics are taught! I am all for parental rights but they should be held to some standard especially with something as important as a child's education.

  31. Bree, how do you explain this

    Hillsborough County prosecutors allege the four boys raped the 13-year-old victim multiple times over two months with a broomstick and hockey stick.

    The prosecutor said the victim's screams could be heard outside the boys' locker room at Walker Middle School, in southern Tampa, where the allegedly assaults took place.

    Multiple people witnessed the attacks, but no one reported the incidents, including the victim, Hindman said.

    Don't PUBLIC SCHOOLS have some sort of regulations to prevent their students from being raped??????

  32. Bree,
    You said, "The teachers in my family can attest that many public school parents do not care at all about their child's education."

    Well that is why the kids are in public school because the parents didn't care about their child's education and took the easy route dropping them off at public school.

    You want to punish everyone for the sins of a few. Where do your regulations stop? Do you want to regulate what time children go to bed? What they eat? What bedtime stories their parents read to them?

  33. Alasandra,

    Obviously, you like to make blanket statements but don't like the same made against your cause. There are lots of great public schools and private schools just as there are great public and private school teachers. Although many parents at public schools do not care about their childs educations. Many parents at public scools do very much care about their child's education.Your statement that "Well that is why the kids are in public school because the parents didn't care about their child education and took the easy route dropping them off at school." Is just not true. Many parents also feel that their child is getting a better education in a public school than they will get in a homeschool enviroment. Many parents also think that homeschool children alot of times do not get the necessary social skills. Some parents will even admit that they do not have the skills and abilities to teach there children and some parents need to work to support their family. Some parents like that their kids can be exposed to so much more in a traditional school enviroment. If you don't like false assumptions made about home schools then stop making them about things that go against your cause.
    Your statements are just obtuse. No one on this site has stated regulations are needed in homeschools to prevent abuse.....why don't you get off that topic. If you want me to, I can list many abused DEAD/MURDERED homeschooled children. I don't think anyone is trying to argue that point with you so why do you still keep going back to it. Yes, bad things happen everywhere....... even in churches.

  34. What is this, troll-feeding day at the homeschool zoo?

  35. Alasandra, wanna play "let's see what unlinked name is switched to next" to continue these contentious ramblings?

    We've had Anonymous, Sarah, Dean and Bree -- I'd tend to guess a male-sounding name next because trolls think those have more authority and like to pretend to mix it up. Except just by predicting that, have I altered the outcome? (as in Monty Hall's influence in Let's Make a Deal or the observer effect)

    Hey, come to think of it, this whole argument for government observers to regulate homeschooling is predicated on a belief in the tremendous power of the "observer effect" argument, hmmm. . .

  36. Hey....lets make everyone happy and do away with all rules and regulations. If it is a perfect world like you think and everyone does as they should, we need no rules regulations, jails...etc.

    JJ Ross - You are right, it is America.....please go on with your all so insightful comments. Heaven forbid anyone have a different opinion than yours.

  37. JJ, it's amazing this post is almost two years old but it is generating more comments then my newer post.

    Bree, Of course there are public school parents who care about their children's education. I never said there wasn't. But it is far easier and cheaper to drop your kids off at a public school then it is to homeschool them.

    And of course we need laws in a civilized society. There are laws against bullying and sexual harassment. That didn't prevent the poor 13 year old in the Florida public schools from being raped. But you don't hear people screaming for more public school regulations, do you???????

    And obviously at some point a teacher/coach failed to make sure all the children under his/her supervision were safe.

  38. Not amazing at all if you adopt my perfectly simple explanation. One concern troll hungry for free rein to gorge itself to its heart's content on YOUR good heart and southern manners, at your own blog!

    As for my own southern manners, well, my mama's been gone 20 years and recently I finally stopped hosting fools and trolls politely out of deference to hers. ;-)

    Think of it like Wednesday evening church fellowship. Wash up first and bring something to the table other than a bad attitude -- fried chicken or a covered dish or mississippi mud pie or at least a fruit cocktail jello mold -- or you won't be welcome next time, even if you pretend to be someone new every week. We may be slow here in the South but we do catch on eventually --

  39. Alasandra,

    Maybe you need to go to public school so you can count! Your original post was almost 1 year ago not 2.

    Please keep calling names, posting incorrect information and stating that every poster against your position is the same person. Maybe all will see this site for what it is.

    Maybe all of you need to go back to school. Let me help you with a thought process---My guess is this site is seeing more activity now because the Tyler McMillan case should be going to trial soon and people are looking for more information---this is how I found your site.

  40. Bree,
    I graduated from PUBLIC SCHOOL. I myself was never homeschooled. I have just homeschooled my children.

    I have never called you names or implied that you were the same person.

    I misread the date you are correct it is closer to a year then to two years. I haven't seen anything about Tyler McMillan in the news so I was unaware it was going to trial soon. That would explain the new activity on the post.

    And what incorrect information have I posted??????

  41. For anyone who actually found this post via good-citizen newsreading to inform education policy positions:

    Official Letter of Apology for Homeschool Child Abuse SLUR

    A letter of apology has now been sent to Education Otherwise signed by NSPCC Director of Public Policy, Phillip Noyes.

    He writes: “I would like to apologise for the offence this has caused. Clearly there is no connection between home education and Victoria’s tragic death as she was not being educated at home.

    “Despite the fact that it was not the intention of the NSPCC’s spokesperson to suggest such a connection, I recognise, as does he, that it was inappropriate to refer to Victoria in this context.”

    The letter adds: “The NSPCC is concerned about the safeguarding of all children whether they are educated at home or at school and that will be the basis of our involvement with the Government review.”

    The NSPCC made clear that it is not opposed to home schooling and that parents have the right to decide what is in the best interests of their children.

  42. Thanks for the info JJ.

    Have you seen anything on the Tyler McMillan trial? I couldn't find anything about it going to trial. The most recent articles I found were autopsy reports from December.

  43. It is really hard to find out any information about court dates for the Tyler McMillan trial or for his brother and sister. Someone has posted that it is so they can have a fair trial???? I have read that there is a court date on the 16th of June for Tyler's siblings but who knows it may get delayed like what happened in January. In January they scheduled Sandy's trial for July 6 but no one knows about Brice's trial date or if the July 6th date is definite. They are being tried separately. There is a cause on facebook called Justice for Tyler that everyone is welcome to join.


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