Monday, July 08, 2013

What About Jerry Webster?

Webster apparently read a piece about a homeschool graduation ceremony and felt compelled to write a post  (What About Me? ) about it.

When I graduated, I graduated with a group of people I knew.  Not well, mind you, as I transferred to Williamsport, Pennsylvania from a high school in the western suburbs of Chicago in November of my junior year.  It was still enough time to bond over chemistry, choir performances and SAT scores.   When we left high school, we did it with a shared understanding of our community, of our future and of who we were as citizens of a country.  That was in 1969.

I would have been 3 years old when Mr. Webster graduated, I daresay public schools have changed a lot since then. I graduated from a public high school in 1984 with 365 other students, I didn't even know the majority of them, thanks to busing we came from vastly different communities  and we certainly didn't share an understanding of anything.

To be honest I am not sure what point Mr. Webster is trying to make here. He stated
It also pondered the meaning of a celebration for students who only meet for the first time at the graduation rehearsal.
I am not sure how he knew they had "all meet for the first time". I find it doubtful this was the case as in most instances graduation ceremonies are arranged by homeschool groups. More then likely at least some of the kids knew each other. And as I stated above going to a public school doesn't guarantee your "knowing" the students you graduate with. 315 of the students I graduated with never crossed my path during my school years. Because I was in Honors Classes (which tended to be comprised of the same students) I knew around 50 of my classmates well enough to call them friends. Although after graduation I lost touch with the majority of the 50 classmates I knew well. In fact if it wasn't for Facebook, I would only be in touch with one of my high school classmates. The truth is after graduation most students go on to college, make new friends, move off for jobs and make new friends, etc. Very few of us stay stuck in our high school years.

To me, homeschooling seems to reflect a "me first" kind of mentality.  It's also a reason I look at homeschooling with at least distrust, if not outright hostility.   Why do parents choose to remove their children from public school?
I don't know Mr. Webster, why did you choose to send your son to an elite boarding school in New England? Just like parents who choose to send their children to elite boarding schools, homeschool parents have various reasons for making the choice to homeschool. Mainly we just want to ensure that our children get the best education possible.

Personally I think public school parents are the ones with the "me first" mentality. As they educate their children at tax payer expense. While those of us who homeschool or send our children to private schools pay for our own child's education as well as subsidize the public schools. Your distrust and hostility seem a tad misplace Mr. Webster.

I have no doubt that in many places public education has failed some children.   But that's not a reason to abandon public education.  It's a reason to invest time and energy into seeing that public education works.  After all, those young people will be paying your social security, if there is still social security.
Really makes you curious why he abandoned public education for his son and sent him to an elite boarding school. Apparently Mr. Webster believes his family is entitled to "the best schools", while the rest of us should just stay put in the public schools that pay his salary.

A parent no matter how much they care can not change the public school system in time to benefit their child. Ensuring your child gets the best education possible so they can be productive members of society should be every parents priority. See Rebel Homeschool's post

What kind of graduation address would you give to children who were homeschooled?  
Pretty much the same address I would give a public school or private school student. Congratulations on graduating, thanks to your hard work you have a bright future ahead of you. Enjoy your time in college while you prepare for the career of your choice.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Rebuttal - Home School Myths and Myth Makers by Jerry Webster

My rebuttal of Webster's hatchet piece Home School Myths and Myth Makers.

First I would like to clarify what homeschooling is as a number of public school parents have started referring to themselves as homeschoolers. Homeschoolers are self funded, they do not receive tax/tuition money and the State does not assist them with textbooks, materials or supplies. Homeschool parents are responsible for all record keeping, curriculum choices and choose what textbooks to use. Those who attend Virtual Public Schools are not Homeschoolers.

Homeschoolers are readily admitted to colleges, usually based on the parent kept transcripts and ACT or SAT scores, and have no problem earning the bachelor degrees or professional certificates needed for employment. I really hope Mr. Webster wasn't trying to imply otherwise.

With those pesky clarifications out of the way, I will now address Mr. Webster's "myths".

Myth #1 Homeschooling is Selfish: Kathy ignores the fact that most states support local schools by providing a per pupil amount for each child enrolled. In that way by withdrawing their children from the local school district, they withdraw that portion of income from their local school. They do not support their local schools.
Mr. Webster's assertion that homeschoolers are selfish is rather hypocritical considering the fact he sends his son to an elite boarding school, thus withdrawing him from his local school district. Also if the criteria for being selfish is merely a couple/home owner who doesn't have children enrolled in the local school district then childless couples and singles would also have to be viewed as "selfish". Homeschoolers just like childless couples, singles and parents of privately schooled students pay property taxes that do indeed support the local schools.   

Myth #2: Homeschooling is Elitist - I think most people just think they are misfits. It doesn't sound like an elite. It sounds like the Tea Party.
I am sure the elite boarding school Mr. Webster sends his son to is the embodiment of racial and economic diversity. Homeschoolers are neither misfits or elitist, we are just normal everyday people who choose to educate our children at home. Each homeschooling family is different, therefore each family has different reasons for choosing to homeschool. I know a Pagan Mother who chose to pull her daughter out of the public schools because not only were the other public school students bullying the child one of the public school teachers was telling the child that "her family was going to hell because of their pagan beliefs". BTW the Mother checked homeschooling for religious reasons on a survey of homeschoolers. Which just goes to show statistics can be misleading.

Myth #3: Homeschoolers have an Advantage.
OK, this one might be true. Certainly homeschoolers benefit from  a better teacher to student ratio than kids in public schools, no argument there. Also numerous studies have been done that show that kids from higher social economic backgrounds do better in school no matter what the educational choice their parents make for them private, home or public school. Studies have also shown that having a full time parent in the home is advantageous to children again no mater what the school choice is for them.

Myth #4: Homeschooled children don't know what the real world is like. Research (Bauman) does, however, show that 33 percent of homeschooling parent name religion as a primary reason for homeschooling, and 9 percent name "morality" as a primary reason. That's 42 percent. Statistically, that is significant. So maybe this isn't a myth.
Balderdash, many children including homeschooled children work part time after school. They also interact  with other children in their neighborhoods, community organizations etc. And remember how I said statistics could be misleading. My Pagan friend cited religion as her primary reason for homeschooling on a survey, what the statistics couldn't tell you was it was religious bullying by Christian Fundamentalist that motivated her homeschooling.

Myth #5: Homeschooled children don't know how to get along with others. The word of the day in education is not socialization, it is "collaboration" as this is considered one of the most important skills for the next generation of jobs, especially in technological jobs. There is no research, however, showing that homeschooled children are better or more poorly adjusted in social situations than "schooled" children.
I have to agree there are no studies that show homeschooled/privately schooled children are better are more poorly adjusted in social situations then publicly schooled children. And as I said to #4 many homeschoolers have after school jobs just like their public school counterparts.

Myth #6: Homeschooling parents are not qualified to teach their children. If it's true that anyone can be a teacher, why didn't you (homeschoolers) keep your kids in public schools?
Not sure what the point of his question is. There are many excellent public school teachers, there are also some awful public school teachers. In 5th grade my eldest son's wonderful teacher got the chance to be the guidance counselor for the school during the middle of the year, which was a better paid position. Being a young man with a family to think of he of course took the better paid position and as you can imagine most qualified teachers already had jobs. My son wound up with a young lady fresh out of college who didn't have a clue how to control a classroom or teach algebra. I am not kidding, I had to go up to the school and teach the kids Math Class on the days I didn't make it up there (I wasn't being paid to teach the class) they simply skipped Math, which meant his class was falling behind the rest of the 5th graders. That was the last year my children ever attended public school. My eldest son was homeschooled 6th grade to college and my youngest was homeschooled 4th grade to college.We never regretted our decision to remove them from the public school system.

Myth #7: Homeschool parents want complete control over their children's lives. Beats me. No research here. In my own experience, homeschool parents that I have met lack good social skills themselves and what may seem like control may actually be fear of the unknown. Since we seem to be using anecdotal evidence, mine is as good as Ms. Cereci's.
I know some public school parents that wanted complete control over their children's lives. Just like public school parents are different so are homeschool parents. Some parents will be controlling others will not be. And as Webster himself stated there is no research to back up his claims.

Myth #8: Homeschooling doesn't provide children with a good education. Neither Dr. Ray nor Kathy tells us what standardized tests students perform well on, and what groups (national? State?) homeschooled students were compared to. Since most homeschooled children do not participate in their states' high stakes tests, (Bauman) we don't know how they perform alongside their general education peers. That could be made up, too?
One could say the same thing about public and private schools it doesn't make it true. Just like each public and private school is different so are individual homeschools. In the majority of homeschools the students receive an excellent education.

The majority of homeschoolers take the ACT or SAT. I really find it hard to believe Webster was ignorant of the fact that homeschoolers would be taking these test in order to get into college. For those who do not know these are national test. And homeschoolers were indeed compared to public and privately schooled students.  In fact a  new study  suggest that homeschoolers may indeed be receiving a better education then their public or privately schooled counterparts.
A new study published in The Journal of College Admission suggests that homeschool students enjoy higher ACT scores, grade point averages and graduation rates compared with other college students. The finding are especially interesting because there has been a paucity of research focused on how homeschooled students fare in college.

The research, which was conducted by Michael Cogan, the director of institutional research and analysis at the University of St. Thomas, focused on the experiences of homeschooled students at an unnamed medium-sized university in the upper Midwest.
Of course Webster will probably find fault with Cogan's credentials, which seems to be his preferred method of negating studies that show homeschooling in a favorable light.

Myth #9: Homeschooling is un-American
That seems to be a popular insult thrown out by Conservative Nutcases these days. If they don't like something you do it is UN-American,  Socialist/Communist and Liberal. Homeschooling is as American as Apple Pie, the majority of the Founding Fathers were homeschooled.

Myth #10: Homeschooling is a threat to public schooling. The biggest threat is the number of children that our permissive public policy on home schooling may actually fall through the cracks. As many as half of all children not enrolled in public schools are also not enrolled either in private (parochial)schools or registered with the state boards of education. ( That these children may show up at our unemployment offices or in our prisons later may create a cost we all will have to bear. Does it undermine the public's commitment to public education? Perhaps. Do people who choose to send their children to public school resent homeschoolers? Probably.
I fail to see why parents who choose to send their children to public school should resent homeschoolers. Do they also resent parents who send their children to private schools?  We all know a large majority of public school students fall through the cracks each year. In fact I would hazard a guess that the majority of the prison population attended public school. I would also guess that a large number of those on unemployment also attended public school. The fact that a large number of those on unemployment or in jail attended public school, doesn't make public schooling bad or give us reason to do away with public schooling.   Webster also fails to note that EVERY STATE has laws on the books to deal with educational neglect. As to undermining the public's commitment to public education the same could be said for private schools. The majority of citizens including those who do not have children and those who have selected homeschooling or private schools for their children recognize the need for public schools and fully support them.

I will address Webster's criticism of homeschooling in What About ME? in a future post. 

Rebel Homeschool has a post I encourage you to read