It has been said that home schooling is a bit suspicious because it is possible for people to keep their kids home to abuse them. This is probably very very rare, but yes, it is possible and there are examples of it. however, home schoolers often (at least the most vocal amongst them) insist this is impossible and that it is merely a ploy to … ah, do to something, I’m not quite sure what.

As these arguments waft and weft across the intertubes, there is a very common kind of pseudo-logic that we hear. This is what is looks like:

“Home schooling is not bad because public schools are bad. So there.”

How could anyone make this argument? Does that really happen? Of course it does, and here’s an example:

For everyone who claims that all home schooling families are crazy fundies who lock their kids in the basement and are secretly abusing them and using home school as a way to cover it up, I present you with exhibit A:

The school board of a small central Ohio community voted unanimously Friday to fire a teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs despite staff complaints and using a device to burn the image of a cross on students’ arms.

source


This is clearly an example of pointing out a bad thing in the public schools as explicit evidence against bad things happening in home schools.

This reminds me of my neighbors when I was growing up. Two girls, younger than me, sisters, too close in birth spacing to each other, and always fighting. This is the kind of pouty post-toddler logic I heard from them all the time as they accused the world of being unfair because somebody (usually the sister) got something that the pout-er did not. And so on.

This is also an example of something else. The truth is that when events like this … branding a cross into the arm of a child as happened in this case … occur in a home school setting, we probably won’t know about it. But when it happens i a public school setting, we do. Usually, right away. I think in this case the teachers’ abuses may have gone on an inordinately long time (which is why this is a bigger news story than it otherwise might have been) and it needs to be investigated thoroughly. The point is, it WILL be investigated. Not ignored. Hidden away.

So, th is is an example of a home school supporter making an argument in favor of home schooling that is based on apparent facts that should actually lead to an argument opposed to home schooling.

Go figure.

Comments

  1. #1 JuliaL
    June 22, 2008

    You assume without evidence that pretty much the only cases that exist in public schools are those that are known? And you assume without evidence that an injury to a homeschooled child “probably” would not be known, despite the fact that many homeschooled children have numerous contacts outside their immediate families.

    The truth is that when events like this … branding a cross into the arm of a child as happened in this case … occur in a home school setting, we probably won’t know about it. But when it happens i a public school setting, we do. Usually, right away. I think in this case the teachers’ abuses may have gone on an inordinately long time (which is why this is a bigger news story than it otherwise might have been) and it needs to be investigated thoroughly. The point is, it WILL be investigated. Not ignored. Hidden away.

    You’re a capable, reasonable person. So why do you say such obviously unlikely things? Every physical abuse of every child in the world provided the abuse was done by a public school teacher WILL BE known and investigated like this one? What nonsense! And who is this “we” who is supposed to know, usually right away, every time such a thing happens? The parents? The police? The principal? The news media?

    I know of at least three people who were physically abused by a teacher during the time we went to school together as children, whose abuses have never been investigated. The parents didn’t know. The police didn’t know. The principal didn’t know. The news media didn’t know. As the teachers are probably dead by now, the four of us are getting up there in age, and those three people are apparently uninterested in having that information become public at this time in their lives; so the abuses almost certainly never will be investigated by anybody.

    I strongly suspect that there are many other such cases in our country right now. Children don’t always tell. Other adults don’t always notice.

    I’d find your arguments more convincing without these exaggerations and overgeneralizations. Something like, “The more adults the child is in daily or weekly contact with, the more likely it probably is that physical abuse will be noted and then investigated” would be a much more believeable statement.

  2. #2 JanieBelle
    June 22, 2008

    Wow, Greg.

    Prescient, apparently. Are you psychic?

    Giggles and kisses,
    JanieBelle

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    June 22, 2008

    Actually, JuliaL, you may be right in that I overstate that ALL abuses would be uncovered in a public school. But the level of this abuse … branding the children … would almost always be.

    The point is that there is a huge difference between the liklihood of something bad going undetected in a public school classroom vs. an abusive home schooling setting. Huge.

  4. #4 Captain Obvious
    June 23, 2008

    Terrorists and cultists brainwash their children in their homes.

    HONEST patriots have their children taught properly,
    in school, just like in the industrial age, to WORK.

    The sleazeballs who hold that they have the right to let their children grow up without Education also insist that WE pay their welfare and taxes, since they never hold real jobs anyways.

    Ever got a job without an Education?

    You CAN’T.

    Letting those liberals rob OUR country by arranging that their worthless brainwashed children not have to work, for the rest of their lives, is beyond criminal.

    When they are locked up or put down, their children Deprogrammed as agressively as necessary, for as many years as necessary,
    Then our country will be served.

    And the liars claim that their children are better than ours because they are allowed to slack off all goddamn day!

    “learning is a hunger”, “follow what God put in you”, etc.

    They DARE speak of God when they don’t enforce bible learning in their spineless homes.

    They can’t prove they know ANYTHING, yet they claim the right to weaken our country and world.

    They will burn in hell, but our accommodation of them may land us there, and our children, too.

    Florida was right to make it illegal to homeschool.

    When are the rest of the states going to obey what is right, too?

  5. #5 Luna_the_cat
    June 23, 2008

    Wow, Greg, you sure got the full flock of trolls showing up fast on this one.

  6. #6 Summer
    June 23, 2008

    I’d like to know when I ever said it was impossible for there to be abuse in the home? Or when I said home schooling was not bad because public school was? You are certainly capable of putting words in my mouth but it would seem more rational to take what I actually said rather than what you wanted me to say to prove your own point.

    If you actually had taken the time to read my post rather than just see the word homeschooling and began freaking out you would have seen that I was saying to the commenters who leave notes on my blog that all home schoolers are crazy and abusive that those are human traits, not necessarily homeschooling traits. There are crazy, abusive people in all walks of life and trying to claim they are all home schoolers is insulting and ignorant.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    June 23, 2008

    Summer,

    You don’t understand what I’m saying. I’m not suggesting that a priori homeschoolers are nuttier than non-home schooler (though there is some evidence to suggest this, the jury is still out). I’m saying something entirely different.

  8. #8 StuV
    June 23, 2008

    I shudder to think that this is the kind of reading comprehension home-schoolers will foist on their children.

  9. #9 Summer
    June 23, 2008

    Greg, you said that home schoolers insist that abuse is impossible then linked to my blog article about abuse in the school. How does that not make the assumption that you assume I am claiming that abuse is impossible?

    Greg you said that my post was an attempt to make the argument that homeschooling was not bad because public school was. Yet no where in my actual post did I say anything to that effect.

    Of course you also say this is a good example for public schools because the abuse was caught, yet fail to recognise that there had been complaints for 11 years before he was actually fired during which time we don’t know what else happened but was not reported.

    I don’t think you know what you’re saying Greg. You’re just too wrapped up in finding something, anything, to point out that homeschoolers are crazy and abusive.

  10. #10 Theo Bromine
    June 23, 2008

    Homeschoolers vs Groupschoolers arguing:

    Statement: The grass is green

    Response: No, you are wrong. The sky is blue.

    But as a strong supporter of both, I’ll jump into the fray anyway:

    quoth Greg:
    The point is that there is a huge difference between the liklihood of something bad going undetected in a public school classroom vs. an abusive home schooling setting. Huge.

    I am inclined to agree that blatant child abuse (a la Freshwater) is, at least these days, very likely to be noticed in group schools (especially public schools) as opposed to homeschools. Good homeschoolers will point out all the group activities that *their* kids participate in, but it is easy for a parent to keep an abused homeschooled child away from such things. Nevertheless, there *are* bad things that happen to some kids at group schools that, while not blatantly abusive, are still detrimental to learning. And in many cases, the only solution is to remove the child from the school.

  11. #11 Dawn
    June 23, 2008

    Greg, this is from the post in question:

    “I just like reminding the people who leave comments that get deleted immediately that being crazy is a human trait, not just a home schooling one.”

    It’s a sentence that admits crazy can happen in a homeschooling. Odd logic happens when you conclude:

    “This is clearly an example of pointing out a bad thing in the public schools as explicit evidence against bad things happening in home schools.”

    She’s saying cats can be black but look, dogs can be too. You’ve read that and somehow concluded she’s really saying cats can’t be black.

    Either you didn’t read the entire post or you didn’t care what Summer was really saying.

  12. #12 Cherish
    June 23, 2008

    This is the kind of pouty post-toddler logic I heard from them all the time

    Sounds like everything you post about homeschooling.

  13. #13 aaron
    June 23, 2008

    Yeah, homeschoolers are always sounding that way.

  14. #14 Summer
    June 23, 2008

    Well Stu-V, since I went to public school I guess this must have been the kind of reading comprehension the public schools foisted upon me. And I should send my kids there because….

  15. #15 AnnieT
    June 23, 2008

    Dawn: If the writer did not want to use crazyness in public schools as evidence for non=crazyness in homeschool settings she should not have used terms like “Exhibit A” ….

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    June 23, 2008

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  17. #17 Dawn
    June 23, 2008

    AnnieT – ? The use of ‘Exibit A’ says the writer is making a case but it does not tell you what the case is. Her case was that crazy isn’t something exclusive to homeschoolers and this is quite easy to see when you read the entire post.

    For her to have made the case that crazyness in public schools means there is none in homeschools she would have had to have said that. She didn’t. Greg simply picked that frame and apparently people here are buying it.

    Greg links to the post…It’s easy to check out.

  18. #18 Tom L
    June 23, 2008

    AnnieT and Greg, I think you had better go and read Summer’s post again, more carefully this time.

    “Odd logic,” you say (and say it without apparent irony, at that). Heh.

  19. #19 AnnieT
    June 23, 2008

    I think Greg’s post is dead on. It may be that the post in question was not well put together, but the presentation of evidence contrary to a point is blatant.

    The real irony is the spam comment about “The Easy Essay Dot Com” for home schoolers. That could explain a lot of things.

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    June 23, 2008

    Alright, you people, stop arguing. It is quite possible that Summer and I agree, and that her post was just not entirely clear, and that I misinterpreted it.

    I’m saying this: Physical abuse of children is more likely to go undetected and/or undetected for a longer period of time in a home school setting than in a public school setting. This is a potential problem with home schooling. (It is not the main problem, but a problem.) If you’all are saying that Summer is saying the same thing as me, then great, we are in agreement!

  21. #21 Shirakawasuna
    June 23, 2008

    What happened to the null hypothesis? That’s something one could interpret these people to be arguing for as well: there’s violence in both places. While your interpretation could be more obvious in terms of how people generally think, or at least would seem more obvious to me, after reading that source I’m not sure if it’s entirely defensible to make it.

    This is, of course, because it is written as a defensive piece. The part you’ve quoted is the very first line and we can see that right off the bat, rather than beginning with an attack on public schools, it qualifies the event with that defensive quip concerning violence and homeschoolers.

    Now, reading the tone of their blog post you might start thinking that it is just an attack on public school’s (I started to). But then we run across the same original sentiment again, sealing the stated thesis:

    The investigation is still going on, but if it is correct the guy clearly has some issues. Freshwater claims he burned Xs into their arms, not crosses. As if that excuses the fact that he burned anything at all into their arms period. I know this really is not a home school verses public school issue. I just like reminding the people who leave comments that get deleted immediately that being crazy is a human trait, not just a home schooling one.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    June 23, 2008

    Well, OK, to be honest, in my opinion 3 out of five homeschoolers are nutjobs. The other two are wonderful. Totally U-shaped distribution.

    That’s my hypothesis, anyway.

    By the way, I’ll go do appropriate damage to that spam upstream as soon as certain technical difficulties that cause me to not be able to do that are remedied.

  23. #23 Theo Bromine
    June 23, 2008

    quoth Greg: Well, OK, to be honest, in my opinion 3 out of five homeschoolers are nutjobs. The other two are wonderful. Totally U-shaped distribution.

    That’s the thing about homeschooling: people don’t just “fall in” to doing it – either the parents or the kids or both have to really want to (or need to) do it, whether for good reasons or bad. So, is it worth it to allow the 3 nutjobs to homeschool because otherwise the good ones won’t be able to?

  24. #24 Dawn
    June 24, 2008

    Greg said:
    “I’m saying this: Physical abuse of children is more likely to go undetected and/or undetected for a longer period of time in a home school setting than in a public school setting.”

    What you said is in your original post. The main point is displayed in the title of that post, “The odd logic of home school jingoism.” You can’t backtrack now and berate everyone else for picking up the discussion you intentionally started.

    Take responsibility for what you wrote.

    You misrepresented what Summer said. Either way you owe her an apology, preferably in a post rather then buried in these comments.

  25. #25 Marcy Muser
    June 24, 2008

    “Well, OK, to be honest, in my opinion 3 out of five homeschoolers are nutjobs. The other two are wonderful. Totally U-shaped distribution. ”

    Wow, Greg, that’s quite an accusation! I wonder how many homeschoolers you know personally (not just as commenters on your blog, but as real people)? I have taught and worked for the past 6 years in a homeschool enrichment program with an enrollment of 120 kids (not to mention my involvement with homeschoolers in ordinary, everyday life situations). So I know hundreds of homeschoolers – and I don’t know any I’d describe as “nutjobs.” Oh, I’ve seen some homeschooling “nutjobs” commenting on blog posts, but I’d say they are severely overrepresented in that community compared to their distribution in real life.

    Of the hundreds of homeschoolers I’ve known during my 8 years of homeschooling, I know of TWO who have really done a pretty poor job. I know of a couple of families who’ve tried homeschooling for a year or so and decided they weren’t doing a good job, and who have then put their kids back in school. I also know of a handful of kids who have some social issues (maybe 30 kids out of hundreds I’ve ment). The majority of the homeschooling families I know are good, honest people who love their kids and are working hard to give them a truly excellent education – and the majority of the homeschooled kids I know are bright, friendly, confident, well-adjusted, and smart. Not only that, most homeschooled kids I know enjoy learning and are basically happy people.

    I have also worked for several years of my adult life in the public school system. I cannot say that most of the public schooled kids I know are like the homeschooled ones. I don’t see the joy in learning and in life from the majority of kids in public school; I don’t see the open, friendly, accepting attitude from them either.

    So where on earth do you get that 3 out of 5 are “nutjobs”? And how exactly do you define “nutjobs”? You need to be careful about using statistics unless you can support them – for one thing, people sometimes believe you, and make decisions based on what you’ve said. If your numbers are simply pulled out of thin air, or if your statistics are skewed, people are making decisions based on erroneous information.

    Theo says, “That’s the thing about homeschooling: people don’t just ‘fall in’ to doing it – either the parents or the kids or both have to really want to (or need to) do it, whether for good reasons or bad.” In this, he’s exactly right. However, he then uses your statistics to suggest that if that many homeschoolers are “nutjobs,” homeschooling ought not to be allowed. The trouble is, your statistics don’t reflect real life.

    Here’s the thing: If your numbers are right, out of 300 homeschooling families, 180 are “nutjobs,” and the other 120 are “wonderful.” If mine are right, out of 300 homeschoolers (that’s an approximation of how many homeschoolers I’ve known personally over the years), perhaps 3 (1%) are doing a very poor job, 20-30 (up to 10%)have significant social challenges (which they might also have had in school), and the rest are doing a reasonably good job of educating their kids – perhaps 50 of those kids are really remarkable in their achievements, and the rest are as I described them above: bright, happy, confident, friendly, and well-adjusted. I’d be willing to allow for the possibility that one or two (less than 1%) of the 300 homeschooling families might be abusive (those would be the ones I wouldn’t have met, since I’ve never met one that I, as a trained teacher, felt was abused; but I’ll recognize that out of 300 perhaps one or two might be hiding out claiming to be “homeschooling” in order to cover up abuse). That means about 270 out of 300 homeschooling families (90%) are doing a good job, and their kids are really doing well. Keep in mind that I’m leaving out ALL the kids who are struggling socially, in spite of the fact that many kids struggle socially in public school too; if you eliminate the kids who have social issues, you end up with 295 out of 300 families (98%) are doing well, with perhaps 3 doing a poor job of educating their kids and 1-2 being abusive. This fits with test scores and research results for homeschoolers.

    Now, honestly, is it reasonable to regulate homeschooling as you all seem to be advocating if homeschoolers are actually doing anywhere near as well as real-life experience seems to suggest? Can you say that public schools would have statistics as good as this? Among the public schools I’ve worked in, a school of 300 students would be more likely to have 30-50 kids (10-15%) getting a poor education, at least 50 (15%) with significant social issues, and perhaps 15 (5%) being abused – and maybe another 15 (5%) who are really exceptional.

    You may dismiss me as a “nutjob” if you like – but I’ll take the real-life numbers I see from homeschooling over your numbers any day. And I’ll take the results I see in the lives of my own daughters over what I see among the public schooled kids with whom I work. The reason you get so much argument from so many homeschoolers is that we see the real-life results of homeschooling. (That’s also, by the way, the reason Ivy League colleges admit a higher percentage of homeschoolers than they do of public schooled students.) It’s hard to argue with success.

  26. #26 Lynn
    June 24, 2008

    Greg: I’m saying this: Physical abuse of children is more likely to go undetected and/or undetected for a longer period of time in a home school setting than in a public school setting.

    So, if this is true, what do you suggest as an effective solution? Outlawing homeschools? Subjecting homeschooled children to mandatory physical examinations? And, would schooled children be subject to them, as well? Certainly “registering” and “certifying” homeschools would do nothing. What, specifically, do you propose? Seriously. I’m not baiting you. In fact, I just recently blogged about some “bad things that go on in (a minority of) homeschools” and I couldn’t come up with any satisfying answers that didn’t also violate my sense of what it means to live in a free society… And, contrary to rumors, I’m not even a Libertarian.

  27. #27 Stumped
    June 24, 2008

    My hypothesis is that teachers are totally over rated. That is high school teachers. People being in school passed an elementary level is a HUGE waste of taxpayers money. How many senior high teachers are there, what is their annual salary, multiply those two amounts and you have the amount of tax payers money being squandered. Leave teaching those kids who are capable in the hands of the real professionals, people who work in the field all the time. The over payed high school teachers could actually get into real professions and do something useful.

  28. #28 Gwenny
    June 24, 2008

    Hey, Greg, help me out here. I’m looking for statistics on the number of home schooled kids who have been gunned down by enraged fellow students, how many home schools have had to install metal detectors because of weapons being smuggled in, the number of home schooled kids who feel bullied, how many home schooled children have succumbed to peer pressure and tried drugs and exactly how many adolescent home schooled students have been kept after class for “special tutoring” by pedophile teachers.

    In fact, any statistics to support your irrational vendetta against all home schooling would be lovely. Because your extreme loathing of folks who decide to extract their children from the cookie cutter process called public school must be based on something more than how you “feel” about it . . . Right?

  29. #29 Tom L
    June 24, 2008

    quoting Greg: “I’m saying this: Physical abuse of children is more likely to go undetected and/or undetected for a longer period of time in a home school setting than in a public school setting. This is a potential problem with home schooling. (It is not the main problem, but a problem.) If you’all are saying that Summer is saying the same thing as me, then great, we are in agreement!

    I did not interpret Summer as saying that, nor did I interpret her as saying since bad things happen in public schools, bad things don’t ever happen in homeschools, as you claimed in your original post. (The two of which bear scant resemblance, but never mind.) What I interpreted her as saying is that bad things can happen in both the public schools and in homeschools; and that the theoretical safeguards in the public school system don’t seem to be doing all that good a job of protecting the kids, as evidenced by the quoted incident.

    There is an implication, perhaps unintentional, that since there are safeguards to catch abusers within the public school system, that makes abuse less likely. It only makes extended abuse less likely — and even then only in theory, as various forms of abuse are allowed to go on for long periods without intervention. One example would be schoolyard bullying. Another would be Freshwater, who apparently carried on like this in his public school classroom for something like 11 years, and still enjoys broad community support from his Christian neighbors. Indeed, the plaintiffs pursued the case anonymously for fear of community retaliation. Apparently, zealotry festers away perfectly well in broad daylight, not just in basements.

    In short, she is claiming — okay, to be careful, I am interpreting her to be claiming — that, whatever the potential problems in homeschooling may be, the public schools are not in fact a safer alternative, safeguards or no. That is a far cry from claiming that abuse cannot happen in homeschools at all.

  30. #30 Badger3k
    June 24, 2008

    Stumped – I guess we all are. What the heck are you saying? Who is better qualified to teach a subject such as chemistry, physics, biology, algebra, or even history, other than those who have received the education in those subjects and actually learn how to teach them? Your post makes no sense.

    Other than that, maybe it’s just me, but why do home school advocates always seem to fall back on fear? Maybe we can compare the numbers of school-age kids in total with the numbers of kids killed in public schools, private schools, and at home by relatives or friends, as well as those who are killed outside of schools and homes entirely. I’d really like to see those statistics. Somehow I suspect that the amounts would surprise a lot of people who use fear as a talking point.

  31. #31 Theo Bromine
    June 24, 2008

    quoth Marcy Muser:
    Theo says, “That’s the thing about homeschooling: people don’t just ‘fall in’ to doing it – either the parents or the kids or both have to really want to (or need to) do it, whether for good reasons or bad.” In this, he’s exactly right. However, he then uses your statistics to suggest that if that many homeschoolers are “nutjobs,” homeschooling ought not to be allowed. The trouble is, your statistics don’t reflect real life.

    Minor correction: I’m female.

    Major correction: When I asked “So, is it worth it to allow the 3 nutjobs to homeschool because otherwise the good ones won’t be able to?”, I’m not sure why my answer was assumed to be “No”. My sons were homeschooled for part of highschool – around these parts (Eastern Ontario, Canada), homeschooling was rare in general and almost unheard of for highschoolers. Probably lots of people thought *I* was a nutjob.

  32. #32 Cherish
    June 25, 2008

    Who is better qualified to teach a subject such as chemistry, physics, biology, algebra, or even history, other than those who have received the education in those subjects and actually learn how to teach them?

    What an excellent question! Now why is it that I have a degree in physics with minors in math and geology, and yet I’m supposed to go send my kid to school with elementary school teachers who are barely competent enough to pass Praxis exams in math? Why are college professors allowed to teach people in courses that determine their career and yet cannot teach people under the age of 18? And why is it that courses in classroom management are considered adequate replacements for actual knowledge in subject content?

    Why the heck would I want to send a kid to school when it’s painfully obvious that I know more about the area than his teachers…or in some cases, he knows more than his teachers? I’ve had more than one teacher admit that my son can read circles around them and has taught them vocabulary.

    The only answers I get to those questions are the standard “but teachers have knowledge of age-appropriate learning abilities” (my foot…I know what classes they take for their degrees) or “they’re professionals” (and that makes me what, exactly? I don’t buy status quo appeals to authority). I’m sorry, but those are woefully inadequate excuses for me to hand off the responsibility for my child’s education to people who quite obviously can’t handle it because all they want to do is turn him into another fact-regurgitating, busy-body automaton.

  33. #33 Stumped
    June 25, 2008

    Badger3k,

    Why should a 13 yo be molly coddled into learning something? If he/she needs to be taught something they have no interest in, why waste anyones time. Let them to some shelving at Walmart or burger flipping UNTIL they decide they actually have a need to LEARN, not be taught, LEARN. Someone needs to be taught how to teach history!, or for that matter any other subject?!? Anyone who is passionate about a subject and a people person can teach it to someone who wants to learn. Crowd control lessons are for police, not educators. Apprenticeship and self study delivers way better results than someone learning in a classroom. Nurses with practical training and experience are far more sought after than nurses with degrees and head knowledge.

  34. #34 Marcy Muser
    June 25, 2008

    Theo,

    My apologies – I wondered, as I typed “he,” whether I was making a mistake on that.

    And thank you for the clarification. I guess I misread your post as indicating negativity toward homeschooling. Again, I apologize.

    The problem I see is that people DO use “statistics” like Greg’s to support negative perspectives on homeschooling. While in my opinion it is ignorant to accept such numbers at face value, considering he offers no documentation and even prefaces them with “in my opinion,” the fact remains that others will not only accept but quote them as somehow authoritative. Thus, the person originally using the numbers must be responsible to provide full and accurate documentation. If I remember correctly, Greg is a scientist – he ought to know better than to use numbers so irresponsibly.

    In the meantime, he continues to use general terms such as “nutjobs,” to quote his sources selectively and often out of context, to engage in ad hominem attacks and straw man arguments, and to ignore rational criticisms (of which there are several in this comments section). This kind of argumentation is unprofessional at least, and I believe irresponsible as well. I find myself less and less inclined to read his posts as his arguments deteriorate.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  35. #35 Greg Laden
    June 25, 2008

    I certainly do not use statistics to support anti-homeschooling assertions.

    This, in fact, is the very heart of the issue. And yes, as long as home schooling jingoists can’t get that, I will not think very highly of their capacity. With all due respect, of course.

  36. #36 Cherish
    June 26, 2008

    I certainly do not use statistics to support anti-homeschooling assertions.

    So you openly admit to not using statistics on which to base your opinions…on a science blog? And then expect us to just “get it”? Because, after all, your opinion means so much more than actual data…

  37. #37 Marcy Muser
    June 26, 2008

    >>I certainly do not use statistics to support anti-homeschooling assertions.

    This, in fact, is the very heart of the issue. And yes, as long as home schooling jingoists can’t get that, I will not think very highly of their capacity. With all due respect, of course. <<

    Greg, I’m not calling your numbers statistics (if you’ll notice, I put the word “statistics” in quotes in my previous comment, and described why they are not statistics). I’m quite well aware that putting “in my opinion” before the statement and using terms like “nutjobs” make it clear that these are NOT statistics. Nevertheless, you must be aware, as I am, that when you phrase something in terms such as “3 out of 5,” especially on a science blog, there are many who will think those are statistics, and will quote and use them as such in criticizing homeschooling.

    In the meantime, you have offered NO evidence whatsoever to support your opinion, even when challenged, nor have you made an effort to describe what you mean by “nutjobs.” I at least have experience to back up what I’m claiming – I realize that is anecdotal evidence, but it beats what you’re presenting. I also have the results of studies (done by both pro-homeschooling and neutral organizations) and standardized testing scores, which support my anecdotal evidence. Thus, my opinion is based on at least some evidence; on what do you base your opinion?

    From a scientist, I would expect more than simply an unfounded opinion. I make no claim to be a scientist, but I find it irresponsible to use numbers in an opinion which is based (apparently) on nothing more than stereotypes and Internet comments. Honestly, what would you think of a scientist who made a comment such as, “In my opinion, 3 out of 5 dogs are vicious,” and refused to back that up with evidence or further definition?

    So in what way do I not “get it,” again? Or is that another general term, like “nutjobs” and “homeschool jingoists,” that you are going to refuse to define? And what exactly is “the heart of the issue”?

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2008

    Sorry, you cant both withhold the evidence and demand it at the same time.

    Right now I’m sitting here with all the logic in the world supporting my argument. For now, that is good enough.

  39. #39 Theo Bromine
    June 26, 2008

    Greg,

    Setting aside the question of statistical validity, I still want to know how you think the existence of “nutjob” homeschoolers should influence policy decisions regarding permission for and support of homeschooling.

  40. #40 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2008

    The participants in a libertarian movement are unlikely to allow, without some degree of effective resistance or, as necessary, subversion, the systematic collection of data regarding their activities.

    Even now we see the subversion. The percentage of home schoolers who home school for religious reasons went from a very high percentage to a very low percentage with the number of people home schooling going up only a small amount over the same interval. A large proportion of religiously-motivated home schoolers decided to lie more or less at the same time.

    All you have to do is look at the kooks who count themselves as part of the DOC-kabal and cult, read what they write, and you will quickly see that a survey or free exchange of information is impossible. Honest is not a policy among these folks. Not even a little.

    Under these circumstances it is impossible to know anything. In the absence of knowledge, approval should be withheld, certainly funding, and possibly legality.

    This is not all home schoolers, of course. But the crazy bible humpers and the crazy libertarians are ruining it for everyone else. But I quickly add that this really is the majority ruining it for the minority.

  41. #41 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2008

    … and I say this as a person who’s formal education ended in 9th grade and did not resume until PhD school… for good reasons, and I liked it that way.

    … and who at present works in a totally non-traditional educational program. And so on.

    I am not anti homeschooling. But, amazingly, the majority (not all, but the majority) of home schoolers I’ve met or dealt with on line are full blown wackaloons.

  42. #42 Cherish
    June 26, 2008

    I am not anti homeschooling.

    You’re also not a very good liar.

    But, amazingly, the majority (not all, but the majority) of home schoolers I’ve met or dealt with on line are full blown wackaloons.

    Meeting someone online…you’re basing your judgement on that?? Further, simply because someone disagrees with you (which is all it seems to take) doesn’t make them a “nutjob”.

    So let’s see the reports and the statistics to prove what you are saying? Or are these not real statistics again?

  43. #43 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2008

    Cherish: I am not against homeschooling. And you can insult me if you like. But pull that on anyone else visiting here and you’re a gonner.

    People who do not agree with me are not automatically nutjobs. Just the nutjobs are nutjobs. The other people are merely wrong. A certain percentage of the time.

    So let’s see the reports and the statistics to prove what you are saying? Or are these not real statistics again?

    Did you not read anything I wrote? Jeesh!

  44. #44 Stephanie Z
    June 26, 2008

    How I know when I’m talking to a nutjob on the topic of homeschooling (note I did not say homeschooling nutjob):

    1. Any reference to problems in homeschooling is seen as evidence that I speaker want to end all homeschooling in favor of public schooling, no matter whether I explicitly state that I don’t.

    2. Any reference to problems in homeschooling is seen as attacking the nutjob’s specific homeschooling practices, no matter how irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

    3. No matter how specifically my statements are worded, they are conflated with statements by others who have also said there are problems, though generally different problems than any I’m talking about. Diversity of opinion is only recognized among homeschoolers.

    4. Requests for suggestions on how to make the homeschooling processes more transparent are met, without irony, by “show me the statistics that suggest we need transparency.”

    5. No research on homeschooling is considered a sufficient platform for voicing opinions on the topic–except personal experience with homeschooling a child. Frequently, even that is dismissed.

    Again, please note that none of these statements are intended to suggest that any individual, homeschooler or otherwise, is a nutjob. If I want to say that, I have no problem doing so directly.

  45. #45 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2008

    Requests for suggestions on how to make the homeschooling processes more transparent are met, without irony, by “show me the statistics that suggest we need transparency.”

    Prove it.

  46. #46 Cherish
    June 26, 2008

    I’m just sayin’…if you have no data to support your assertions, you’re really not in a place to run around calling other people “nutjobs”. That’s not terribly scientific where I come from.

  47. #47 Stephanie Z
    June 26, 2008

    Cherish, not having studies of population that refuses to be studied is not the same thing as not having data. I’ve seen you in several of the comment threads that I used to develop my “nutjob” description. Again, not that your behavior specifically was used for the description.

    And you said a lot more than that, enough that I was surprised because I usually consider your voice to be one of the more tempered. If you want to back down from what you said, “Sorry, that was a bit much,” might be more appropriate.

  48. #48 Greg Laden
    June 26, 2008

    Cherish.

    They are nutjobs.

    Let me give you a simple example. Doc is a homeschooler. Doc has claimed that a regular commenter on my blog, CMF, and I are the same person and that we comment on her site from the same exact computer. The. Same. Exact. Fucking. Computer. The box, with the keyboard, the screen, the mouse, all one thingie, in one place, in one room, etc.

    I have met CMF. The last time I was physically in the same room with CMF was in a room in Minneapolis, with 35 other people, in August 2006. Doc has made the claim that CMF (and variants of CMF) and I have made comments from one single computer on several occasions since then.

    Maybe I’m lying, maybe Doc is lying.

    It turns out that during this period of time, both I and CMF/etc. also made comments on the various sites of Doc’s minions.

    I challenged them — the nutjob minions — to look at their own web site data (which is easy to get to) and look to see if any of the comments made by me vs. cmf were from the same computer or isp. There is no way … no way … that if they looked at this that they would be able to verify the claims made by their leader. I suggested that if they valued honesty in any way whatsoever that they would do so, and stop claiming that CMF and I were “sockpupets” They had a clear choice. They chose to ignore that choice and continue to make these claims without directly addressing my challenge.

    I do not know who checked their stats. But I did read the reactions to this challenge that happened over the next few days.

    Cherish, if you believe that I am telling the truth … that CMF and I are different people, have never shared a computer (or much of anything else for that matter) then you (or anyone else) cannot possibly read the commentary by Doc and her cabal and not see them as cultish, dishonest, perhaps paranoid, high strung, wackaloons. Except maybe Rolf, but from the last item on this he posted that I read, I’m not so sure about him either.

    Wackaloons, Cherish. Nutjobs. They are claiming the absurd, the impossible, the not true, lying about it, insisting on it. I have met the most insane JFK conspiracy theorists. These folks are nuttier.

    A lot nuttier.

    You are asking me for data? Like survey data? Like systematically collected data? Why?

    And yes, people one interacts with over the internet are often real, and those interactions are often real. You can not back away from your claim with that canard.

  49. #49 Cherish
    June 27, 2008

    Stephanie:

    Greg runs around unapologetically baiting and insulting people like me. I’m not going to apologize for returning the favor. One eventually gets very sick of being called a nutjob…or whatever insult he’s come up with in a particular week.

    Greg:

    Speaking from a strictly logical and rational point of view, looking at IP addresses of logged comments is not necessarily proof of anything. You can easily use two different computers or manipulate the data somehow. You could call up a buddy to ask them to post something for you. You supposedly know a lot about computers, so you should know enough to realize you’re presenting a straw man.

    Aside from that, you’ve missed the point entirely. If you would quit saying stupid things about homeschoolers and baiting people, then maybe they wouldn’t make such accusations. Over and over again, you like to say nasty things about us, and it’s all bias and venom. Any attempts to have a rational discussion on the topic are completely ignored (as I and others have made this attempt repeatedly). Anyone who happens to justify the fact that they homeschool for good reasons, like the public schools suck, are “changing the topic”…because it doesn’t mesh with your preconceived notion of what homeschooling is about.

    You talk about the ignorant, uneducated, homeschooler zealots, and in making these sweeping generalizations, you appear to be indulging in exactly the same behaviors you decry. I have no sympathy that the “nutjobs” and “minions” are going after you because you’ve essentially been waving your arms and jumping about in an effort to gain their attention and turned yourself into an easy target. If you don’t want people making unfounded accusations about you, perhaps you should stop doing the same thing to them. Why isn’t that obvious to you?

    You claim to be a social scientist of some sort. What sort of scientist shuts his eyes, plugs his ears, and actively avoids having to deal with something that doesn’t fit his preconceived notions as you have done on this particular topic? A good scientist would be eager to learn the facts, actively explore the topic, and look for the flaws in his or her logic. I have failed to see any sort of effort on your part to do that and reflects quite the opposite.

  50. #50 Stephanie Z
    June 27, 2008

    Cherish, would you care to explain how “very very rare” and “3 out of five” means he’s calling you names or making “sweeping generalizations”?

    And the point of the “sock puppet” story is that they either didn’t look or didn’t acknowledge what they saw. Your point is irrelevant. If Greg manipulated the ISP data, then Doc was lying. If he didn’t, then Doc was lying. I’d suggest a third possibility–that Greg is lying about not being CMF–but I’ve looked at the ISP data on my blog.

  51. #51 Marcy Muser
    July 2, 2008

    Greg,

    Well, so far in this thread I’ve seen you give exactly ONE example of a “nutjob” – Doc. As I’ve only ever read one of Doc’s blog postings, and seen a handful of her comments, I have no idea who she is or whether she is in fact a “nutjob.” It’s certainly possible that I would also define her that way. In the meantime, I know hundreds of homeschoolers in real life, and almost all of them are normal, nice, intelligent, educated people.

    If you are using online contacts (bloggers and commenters) as your data, Greg, you’re a scientist and ought to know better. Kooks and crazies are way overrepresented in the online community. Take a look at the Daily Kos website commenters, or those on Townhall.com’s website, or any number of others. Do you really think the proportion of crazies to sensible people in society is really as bad as it looks online?

    As for withholding evidence, you are accusing me – and others in the homeschooling community – of doing that, in spite of the fact that I (and many others) willingly participate in surveys and studies whenever I have the chance. Granted, there are some in the homeschooling community who DO refuse to participate in these kinds of studies. But many of us do participate, and there is now a great deal of research to support the contentions of homeschoolers. Take a look at the last three pages of this document to see just a tiny sample of the amount of research available: http://www.nheri.org/pdfs/thresh1B.pdf

    This brings me to another problem with your saying there’s no evidence about homeschoolers, and that is this: exactly what entity could produce statistics that you and I would agree are reliable and valid (and yes, I AM aware of what those scientific terms mean)? You won’t accept the numbers from the National Home Education Research Institute, though they are well documented and freely available, simply because the organization that wrote up the research is favorable to homeschooling. (I’d be willing to bet that in spite of your contention that evidence is not available, you haven’t even gone to the trouble of ordering NHERI’s “Annotated Bibliography,” listing over 1400 sources of studies and data about homeschoolers.) At the same time, I have NO confidence in any statistics produced by the public schools (though I have seen little or none), because they have a strong financial motive in proving homeschooling to be inferior. I do have some trust in the U.S. Department of Education numbers, though, and in the independent researchers who have studied homeschoolers, and they support exactly what NHERI claims (and what my own real-life experience bears out) – that homeschooling is positive the vast majority of the time.

    Are there kooks out there homeschooling? I’m sure there are a few – just as there are a few kooks who are public school teachers, and even a few in the U.S. Senate. With well over a million homeschoolers, though, how many kooks are there? Are you saying that you honestly believe over 600,000 homeschoolers (3 out of 5) are “nutjobs”?

    I’m sorry, Greg, but in light of our discussions here, your argument that “logic is on my side” sounds a bit lame. Your case is not helped by pulling numbers out of thin air, misquoting your sources or pulling quotes out of context, name-calling (“nutjobs”), and refusing to engage legitimate arguments. If you really intend to have any influence on people; if you really want to make a case that homeschoolers should be regulated; you’re going to have to do better than that.

  52. #52 Marcy Muser
    July 2, 2008

    Stephanie,

    I appreciate your providing at least some idea of what you mean by “nutjob” in the context of homeschooling. As a homeschooler (and hopefully NOT a nutjob), I’d like to address a few of your points.

    >>1. Any reference to problems in homeschooling is seen as evidence that I speaker want to end all homeschooling in favor of public schooling, no matter whether I explicitly state that I don’t.< <

    I've seen homeschoolers react this way to criticisms online, and I agree, it seems a crazy way to react. Have you ever had a conversation in person with someone who appears to be ignoring the real argument, and taking side trails to make their own point? (I have a brother-in-law like that - he doesn't homeschool, but he does the same thing in other arenas. Drives me crazy!) At the same time, I think homeschoolers have been criticized so often that we begin to see criticism where it doesn't even exist. We've also seen cases where, though the person claimed not to be against homeschooling, they turned out to want such stringent controls that homeschooling would have been impractical if not impossible. So please forgive us if we are a bit skeptical of claims to "not be against homeschooling." If you want us to believe that, make it clear in what contexts you definitely support homeschooling.

    >>2. Any reference to problems in homeschooling is seen as attacking the nutjob’s specific homeschooling practices, no matter how irrelevant to the discussion at hand.< <

    I've seen this too, and I think these people are wrong. I don't think they are "nutjobs," I just think they are overly defensive.

    >>3. No matter how specifically my statements are worded, they are conflated with statements by others who have also said there are problems, though generally different problems than any I’m talking about. Diversity of opinion is only recognized among homeschoolers.< <

    Again, I agree. I hate reading comments that don't directly engage an argument, or aspects of an argument. Unfortunately our public education system and our media have done a lousy job of teaching people to deal with the argument at hand. My kids study logic, so they know how to engage an argument directly.

    >>4. Requests for suggestions on how to make the homeschooling processes more transparent are met, without irony, by “show me the statistics that suggest we need transparency.”< <

    Here I see a fundamental difference between you and most homeschoolers, and I think that's why you're getting the kind of answer you are. You assume that transparency is automatically good. Homeschoolers, on the other hand, feel that "transparency" is a euphemism for invasion of privacy. Suppose, for example, I said, "Let's find a way to make home eating more transparent." What would that mean to you? It would mean you'd have to somehow prove to someone else that you are feeding your family appropriately. So who sets the standards? (Does some group of nutritionists in Washington decide what's best for your family?) And what happens if you don't meet those standards? And who says we need more transparency in home eating anyway? Doesn't "transparency" here become a negative term? See, that's what homeschoolers are saying: Show us why transparency, subjecting ourselves to someone else's standards and someone else's regulations, is a good thing. We feed our children at home; we teach them to eat, to drink, to walk, to talk, to use the bathroom, and countless other necessary skills and information. Nobody has the right to invade our family's privacy and tell us how to teach our children to eat or to walk. (Nobody even has the right - though far more babies and preschoolers are abused than older kids - to walk into a family's home and inspect their little kids for signs of abuse.) Why shouldn't we be able to continue educating our children as we believe is best for them? And isn't it an invasion of our family's privacy to require us to be more "transparent" - especially when there's no evidence that this would be positive?

    >>5. No research on homeschooling is considered a sufficient platform for voicing opinions on the topic–except personal experience with homeschooling a child. Frequently, even that is dismissed.<<

    I haven’t seen a whole lot of this, though I realize some may certainly go that far. I personally don’t put a lot of stock in anecdotal evidence – “I knew a family once who . . . ” – which is the typical argument against homeschooling. But I am very willing to engage solid evidence and research on homeschooling, and I’m willing to discuss problems with homeschooling. I don’t think it’s necessary for a person to have homeschooled in order to understand homeschooling, and recognize the real challenges involved, and I don’t believe I’ve ever argued that. I’m guessing most of the people you’ve heard this from are having trouble answering your real argument because they are unaware of the arguments against it.

    In fact, in the majority of the cases you’ve described here, the most likely reason you feel like you’re dealing with “nutjobs” is that the people don’t know how to answer your arguments. It’s not that there are no answers; there ARE answers, but most homeschooling parents aren’t taking huge amounts of their time to research those answers. They are too busy homeschooling their kids, re-learning subjects they have forgotten or were never properly taught in school, planning and thinking and reading and discussing and researching curriculum and so much more. They know what they’re doing is working well for their kids, so they try to argue in favor of it; but not having the time to study the topic deeply (because they’re doing so many other things), their arguments sometimes end up being, “Well, if you just did it yourself, you’d understand.”

    I hope what I’m saying here sounds reasonable. I can tell you for sure, my own kids are far better off at home than they ever would be in school (and I’ve worked in the local schools here and know what I’m talking about). I’m pretty sure I have a decent grasp of the arguments in favor of homeschooling (as well as those against it); I don’t believe homeschooling is for everyone, though I believe many more kids would benefit from it; and I don’t think you could pose an argument I haven’t heard and thought through. But if you did, and even if you succeeded in winning that argument, I’d still homeschool my kids, because I’ve seen what homeschooling has done in my own children’s lives. If that makes me a “nutjob,” so be it.

  53. #53 Stephanie Z
    July 2, 2008

    Marcy, thanks for the response. There’s a lot of information here to digest before I have anything coherent to say in reply.

  54. #54 Crimson Wife
    July 8, 2008

    Greg wrote: “The percentage of home schoolers who home school for religious reasons went from a very high percentage to a very low percentage with the number of people home schooling going up only a small amount over the same interval.”

    Better double-check your numbers. The absolute number of homeschoolers has increased dramatically in recent years. In 1988, there were an estimated 200,000 homeschoolers in the U.S. In 1998, there were an estimated 700,000. Today, there are an estimated 2,000,000.

  55. #55 the real cmf
    July 8, 2008

    Cherish:I have spoken to you on more than one occassion, and you of all ppl should be able to articulate the difference between Greg’s writing style and my own, if not actually check the IP address yourself.

    I suspect that false flagging DOC is just another pedophilic would be pedant hiding behind HS as a means to have access to kids, and the charge that Greg is really me–that our IP’s are the same–on the surface, and to an idiot, has a minutae of merit, in that we sometimes use computers that are in the same general IP range and originate from the same university, which has thousands and thousands of computers. But any savvy techie would quickly discern that our local machine names are different–and that Greg uses Linux, and I am largely PC only.

    But that ego driven cabal of child swapping HS’er, could be-pedophiles, namely DOC, JJ, et al, is in desperate need to sound authoritative via the well known technique of “the lie that travels the world a thousand times before the truth wakes up and gets its pants on” ala Joseph Goebbels.

    Primarily they are the kind of mothers that push so-called feminist agenda through the children they are indoctrinating. JJ for example is a woman who finds it “creepy” that Christian men have virginity proms with their daughters, but so-called feminist JJ and her gaggle can’t seem to find it equally creepy that her own daughter–the one she raised– writes obsessively about her own sexuality–a kind of opposite polarity weirdness, rather than say, science, for example.In the disguise of HS, that cabal are indoctrinating their children to accept female touch like the kind described in Eve Ensler’s “Coochie Snorcher,” while denigrating men, and perpetuating misandry.

    There seems to be a vein that runs through homeschoolers in general: manipulate the data, lie when you can about methodology, and then say that everyone else is wrong–that the HS kid is somehow far superior to any other kid–taunting “prove me wrong!” while hiding their means and methods, as well as their children, from the eyes of the society at large that will end up dealing with their whackery…

    and re: “Do you really think the proportion of crazies to sensible people in society is really as bad as it looks online?”
    The answer is that sensible is a matter of opinion, and normal is merely enforced social constriction–conformity for the sake of conformity; the cowards reward for feeling weird or left out is rule enforced social interaction with ‘likemined folk’. I think online is where the so-called normal hang their baggage, and where the rest of us–weirdos like me–just speak our minds, and laugh a bit at how shocking ‘thoughts’ can be for those who are trying out ‘thinking’ for the first time;-)

  56. #56 Greg Laden
    July 8, 2008

    CW: My numbers are fine. Most of the christian home schoolers suddenly started lying. Christians tend to do that. Not my fault.

  57. #57 Crimson Wife
    July 9, 2008

    How can you seriously say that a ten-fold increase over the past two decades in the number of homeschoolers in the U.S. is “only a small amount”? Over the same time frame, there has only been a 15% increase in the total U.S. population aged 6-17. That makes homeschooling the fastest-growing segment of the K-12 population.

  58. #58 Chmrj
    January 7, 2009

    “Well, OK, to be honest, in my opinion 3 out of five homeschoolers are nutjobs. The other two are wonderful. Totally U-shaped distribution.

    That’s my hypothesis, anyway. ”

    lol

    I used to homeschool and that is pretty much true!

  59. #59 Rose M. Welch
    May 14, 2012

    You did a nice job battling that straw man. :)

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