There was a time when I blogged regularly about homeschooling, though I have not done so in a long time. A while back I started to blog about gun ownership. I engaged in each of these topics for similar reasons. I have a political and professional interest in homeschooling (as a science educator) and a complex culinario-political interested in guns (as a political progressive who likes to eat wild animal but does not like people shooting each other). But the reason I blogged about these issues was more narrowly defined. I wanted to see if it was possible to achieve détente among people with dramatically different perspectives on a specific issue.

I was under the impression that most homeschoolers were Christians who did not want their children to be exposed to the real world because it is so Satanic and stuff, and especially did not want their children to be exposed to Evolution in science class. I knew there would be other homeschoolers out there with different reasons for homeschooling, but I figured they would be more or less in agreement with me about issues of curriculum, accountability, and so on

I thought that by drawing out homeschoolers into a conversation, and bringing in people interested in science education, we would have a conversation in eSpace that would otherwise never have happened in Meatspace1. And, it is absolutely true that this happened. There are people who come from that Christian homeschooling world that I still communicate with, and the communication is not as uneasy as one might guess. People who don’t know much about homeschooling learned a lot more than they thought they needed to know.

That bloggy experiment was also a dismal failure for two reasons. One is that I was very new to blogging and was utterly unaware of how to handle hostility, disputes, conflict, and what sometimes emerged as outright hatred. That was my fault. The other is that there is a community of homeschoolers that calls themselves the ‘Evolved Homeschoolers” because they teach evolution, and are generally not particularly religious (many are atheists) and they desperately want to distinguish themselves from the Christian Homeschoolers. One would think that these science-oriented individuals who happen to be homeshcoolers would be allies with someone like me, who wants to advance science education. But these folks are not allies to anyone. They homeschool because they hate schools and anyone who is in any way supportive of traditional schooling is seen as an enemy. They have a cultish siege mentality and charismatic leaders who are very angry people and whom no one within the movement questions. If it wasn’t for the fact that they live dispersed across the nation, I’d worry a great deal about a Waco Texas like end to them all.

(Two examples of homeschooling blog posts are: The Homeschooler Mind Set and The odd logic of home school jingoism. If you read through the comments you’ll notice some missing commenters, such as one known as “Doc.” Those comments were deleted because of violation of Scienceblogs.com or because threatening language was used.)

So that didn’t go well. But my foray into gun ownership went better, perhaps because I have more ambivalent feelings about firearms. Personally, I would have preferred it if guns were never invented. Personally, I would have no problems with strict ownership and possession laws that would make it very unlikely that anyone, upstanding citizen or criminal, would have a gun on them or near them at any moment in time. But, I’ve also come to accept the fact that in the United States, gun ownership is a big part of our culture. Assuming that most people are going to have the legal right to own any number of a large number of deadly weapons, there are things that can be done to stem what sometimes seems like insanity. Every day someone in the United States is shot by accident, an avoidable accident. (During hunting season this number goes up.) A certain number of killings or woundings occur because a gun owner insists on leaving a loaded firearm without a safety out on a nightstand or in a glove box so as to shoot the bad guy imagined to be poised to strike (note: this is not always a good idea). Perhaps the gun goes off when a pillow knocks it off the stand, perhaps the half asleep and possibly intoxicated gun owner shoots a 12 year old child who is out in the hall heading for the bathroom. My position on gun ownership is this: The community of gun owners, by and large, has not demonstrated that it can be trusted to posses such a dangerous thing without sensible, enforced, regulation. And there isn’t enough of that (the regulation, that is).

So here’s what I do. I write a simple blog post that lists a bunch of nasty stuff that has recently happened with guns. Perhaps a list of recent accidents, or perhaps a description of a recent school shooting. I don’t say much about; I just post the facts, more or less. I use tags (hidden clues used by search engines) like “gun control” and “gun ownership” and “firearms.”

There are people who patrol the Internet looking for anti-gun conversations, or who have an interest in guns so somehow gun related blog posts come across their radar screen. They show up (in small numbers, but they always so show up) and sometimes they are mad. They yell at me for calling for the banning of all guns. They spew NRA rhetoric about how guns don’t kill people, people kill people, etc. etc.

At that point I may note in a simple comment that I’ve not said anything about guns. Maybe a commenter or two chimes in. In a short time the gun-ownership supporting commenter figures out that he or she has (probably) miscalculated the situation. A conversation ensues. Sometimes the conversation is reasonable. A discovery is made: Most people really are not at one end of the spectrum or the other, at those distant poles, in the debate over gun ownership. There are areas of agreement. There are things people didn’t know that they now know. Gun control advocates learn that being pro-gun does not mean right wing, or anti-safety. Pro gun people learn to be more sensitive about teenage suicide and that a piece of string and a loaded firearm really are not the same kind of tool in the hands of a depressed 14 year old. Gun control advocates learn that the number of people who actually die when they shoot each other or themselves by accident is a tiny fraction of the total overall number of fatal gun incidents, and gun advocates learn that many “anti-gun” people mainly want gun owners to lock the things up when they are not using them. Gun control advocates learn that when a conceal-carry law is passed, the Wild Wild West does not ensue. Pro-gun people learn that when a conceal-carry law is passed, the number of gun-toting heroes that jump in and stop crimes does not change either.

We do not reach perfect agreement, but we make measurable and meaningful progress. And that is what we are … well, that is what we are shooting for.

(Most of my current blogging on guns is a The X Blog. Examples of “just the facts” posts that lead to interesting discussions include: Fun with Guns, Interesting gun-related facts, and Seven Year Old Jaymee Stewart Had Died.
__________________
1“Meatspace” is a term for “real life” as opposed to the virtual society of social networking and the internet.

Comments

  1. #1 Emily Willingham
    May 13, 2012

    I feel compelled to go on the record to say (1) I am from Waco, TX, and that conflagration was not in Waco, TX; (2) I homeschool my children because one is autistic and one is severe ADHD/tics/OCD (i.e., Tourette’s), and the “very good” school they were in couldn’t protect the former from bullying from students or the latter from his own teachers (a common practice that often goes undetected in the special needs population) or provide their federally mandated academic supports; and (3) we are not members of any cult, religious, homeschooling, or otherwise. I know a lot of homeschooling families who do it because and only because they have a child with special needs. I don’t feel any desperation to distinguish us from anyone else in particular but felt the need to clarify that homeschooling doesn’t necessarily fall into two intractable, angry camps. When I read reductionist descriptions of homeschooling, I feel compelled to offer this kind of clarification.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    May 13, 2012

    There probably are many good reasons to homeschool. Many people who would like to do so can’t because it also requires certain resources not everyone has. From the point of view of an educator, an individual’s opinion of whether homeschooling is good or whether it is being done well requires a trust in individual’s abilities to know and evaluate these things that sometimes come hard.

  3. #3 Russell
    May 13, 2012

    One of the things I find curious is how the use of an issue as a political wedge causes the side doing that to evolve to extremes beyond what it previously held. Texas’s concealed carry law, passed when Bush was governor, requires classroom training and a field proficiency test. At the time, it was viewed as a model by the right wing in Texas of how things should be done.

    A couple of decades later, the right wing views it as too restrictive. Precisely because it is being used as a wedge issue, there is no position that now is “enough.” Require training for concealed carry? No, no, everyone should be able to do so. Require people carrying handguns to keep them concealed? No, no, let’s allow people to brandish their guns openly. Keep them out of bars? Why, no, alcohol and guns make a perfect mix.

    This is more done in other states than in Texas, because guns are no longer an effective wedge issue in this state.

  4. #4 Emily Willingham
    May 13, 2012

    Also, as a scientist, I feel compelled to provide some data, so:

    The special needs population among homeschoolers is not negligible–in a 2009 U.S. government survey [http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009030.pdf], 21% of respondents cited “special needs” as one of their reasons for homeschooling, and 6% cited health problems or special needs as their main reason.

    That was 2008; I’d infer from trends that the “special needs” aspect of homeschooling has only increased in the intervening four years.

  5. #5 adam allen
    May 13, 2012

    i know when i was going to school i would have preferred to be on homestudy because in the area of the country that i lived gangs were in every school i notice that when reading this article you did not list the benefits and non benefits of both public school and private which would also be considered home study some benefits for home study would be stress free gang free more work based immediate adult help and to help with social development have friend come over or go to a friends house for a few hours but on the other hand going to a public school you learn to deal with gangs both good and bad teachers and police it prepares you for life but you can continue to learn at home to so its a toss up which direction does a person want to go

  6. #6 Emily Willingham
    May 13, 2012

    @Greg Yes, resources are a huge issue for the special needs population, in particular. More and more states are now offering free, public school-based homeschooling through online curricula with certified teachers, and that’s been very useful for many families I know.

    I agree that not all homeschooling is created equal. I’ve seen comments from homeschooling parents with content that tells me they are likely not the best educators for their children.

  7. #7 JLWP
    May 13, 2012

    @AdamAllen
    I agree: I live in Los Angeles, a city with one of the worst school systems in the country. If I had a kid, I would want to home-school it till 5th grade, then send it to a boarding school in the Northeast for Middle & High school, where it might get a proper education.

  8. #8 Willbill
    May 13, 2012

    “Pro-gun people learn that when a conceal-carry law is passed, the number of gun-toting heroes that jump in and stop crimes does not change either.”

    This is not true, and my sister is an example. When she lived in Tennessee she advocated gun control, and she stated that she supported a total ban on handguns. When she moved to Atlanta with its high rate of violent crime her views changed, and she got her firearms carry permit, took up shooting as a sport, and became an excellent marksman. In two separate incidents attackers tried to force their way into her car while she was stopped at traffic lights, both times, she brandished her Glock pistol, and both times the attackers fled. Two other people that I know that have firearms carry permits used their firearms for self-defense outside their homes.

    Moreover, criminologists have found that U.S. citizens use firearms for self-defense 2.5 million times a year.

    http://www.saf.org/LawReviews/KleckAndGertz1.htm

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    May 13, 2012

    Willbill, what I said (and what the attached link supports) is that there are not documented verifiable measurable visible changes in stats of gun use one way or another as these bills are passed. Your claims of personal experience for you, your sister, various friends are interesting and important, but they to not indicate or demonstrate changes or trends.

    Note that your sister’s experience changes when she moved form one place to another. She is not a population, her move is not a change in gun laws, and her experience is not systematically collected and analyzed data.

  10. #10 Homeschooler
    May 13, 2012

    The author reveals his ignorance of many topics in this article. I feel sad for science if this author is a real representative of the scientists in pursuit of it. In post-industrial America, homeschooling is the future norm and narrow minded folks like this simply show their lack of research and their intellectual laziness. That’s what a traditional education often leads to, I guess…

    Editor’s Note: This person is normally banned from this blog for prior poor behavior but I’m leaving this comment up to bracket the more reasoned and thoughtful comments about homeschooling.

  11. #11 Willbill
    May 13, 2012

    Greg, thank you for your reply. You wrote “Willbill, what I said (and what the attached link supports) is that there are not documented verifiable measurable visible changes in stats of gun use one way or another as these bills are passed.

    It would be difficult to document such a change because many times incidents of self-defense go unreported to law enforcement as was the case with my sister. Moreover, law enforcement reports cases of self-defense as attempted crimes that are not measured as cases of self-defense in crime statistics. The Department Of Justice Crime Victimization survey does not distinguish between self-defense with firearms by those with carry permits and those cases like self-defense in the home. Many intended victims of crime do not receive the survey, and many that do receive it do not send it in because they do not consider themselves as victims but as survivors. Of course, those that do not report attacks to law enforcement don’t get the survey either. So of course there are no documented verifiable measurable visible changes in stats of gun use one way or another because the reporting systems are so inadequate. However, we point to research by John Lott who found that violent crime rates go down when states pass “shall issue” concealed carry laws.

    Furthermore, more citizens are now free to carry firearms in more places. Yet, homicides, including homicides with firearms, as well as all other violent crime have been decreasing since 2006. Moreover, after a dramatic increase in firearms sales and ownership after the last Presidential election including an increase in first time firearms purchases and an increase in firearms carry permits, gun ban groups and zealot predicted that there would be a corresponding increase in murders. However, the U.S. homicide rate decreased from 5.0 per 100,000 in 2009 to 4.8 per 100,000 in 2010.

    Preliminary data from 2011 shows Murder is down by 5.7%, Rape down 5.1%, Robbery down 7.7%, and Aggravated Assault down 5.9%

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl08.xls

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl01.xls

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl01a.xls

    I believe that John Lott got it right, but I also believe that more research is needed. I do not that believe that cases of self-defense with firearms by citizens with carry permits has not changed since those laws were adopted, and I believe that most people that support our Second Amendment rights would agree with me.

    Also, you wrote “Gun control advocates learn that when a conceal-carry law is passed, the Wild Wild West does not ensue.”
    All you have to do is look at gun control zealots and organizations arguments against firearms in National Parks or National Reciprocity Bill to see that they are still making the “Wild Wild West” prediction.

  12. #12 Cole B
    May 13, 2012

    As a libertarian who loves science, I find myself at-odds with this article. It ignores the necessity of gun ownership in a free state and the historical precedents that prove its legitimacy.

    The problem with gun control laws is that criminals are criminals simply because they do not obey the law. A criminal who wants a gun, whether or not he/she is legally able to obtain one, will obtain one.

    We’d have to melt them all down into plowshares (no thanks!). Also, comparing the phrase “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” to rhetoric is interesting — I read it as pejorative. Is the author in favor of banning rocks, bows and arrows, and hands as well? All things that have been killing people a lot longer than guns — just as Otzi!

  13. #13 John
    May 13, 2012

    I think you may have misread the gun death table; it’s in deaths per 100K, not percentages. The actual percent of accidental shootings in 2007, for example, is 5.41 (=5.21 + 0.2) / 33.53 (=the sum of the row entries) = slightly greater than 16%, hardly a tiny fraction of the overall number of gun incidents.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    May 13, 2012

    Cole, are you saying that a rock or an bow and arrow in the hands of a depressed teenager attempting suicide is the same as a loaded gun? It isn’t. Most failed attempts at suicide in young folks are followed by some kind of help or treatment and no second attempt. At the same time, most attempts that don’t use firearms fail, while most attempts that use firearms don’t fail.

    Regarding the inability to keep guns out of people’s hands by controlling their sales or distribution, that actually works even though you want to say it doesn’t! How well it works and what the best approaches are varies and probably depends a lot on the context.

    Regarding the free state thing, I’m not sure what you mean. What did I say in this blog post about gun ownership? Were you thinking that I wanted to ban guns? Was it where I said that I accept the fact that in the United States, gun ownership is a big part of our culture and that most people are going to have the legal right to own any number of a large number of firearms?

    I think may be you didn’t read the post carefully. As a science loving progressive, I wish you to do that!

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    May 13, 2012

    John, I didn’t report anything as percentages, but rather, as deaths per 100K. But you are right, 16% is not tiny. It probably make sense to use a term like “tiny” if comparing confidential deaths to overall deaths.

    Note the comparisons made at the end of that blog post related to the differences in death rate depending on conditions. Since getting killed by accident is rare (compared to the number of accidents) the number of accidental killings is low. I’ll adjust the text in the post above to say that instead. Thanks for pointing that out.

  16. #16 Cole B
    May 14, 2012

    No, a rock isn’t the same thing as a gun in the hands of a suicidal teen. However, plenty of people take the plunge off bridges. Statistics seem to show that just adding a small railing can cut suicide. The similarity between an unlocked gun and a bridge with no railing is that it’s easy to jump (if you’re depressed enough, I’ve jumped off bridges for sport and it was never easy for me!) or easy to pull the trigger. But does that mean teens shouldn’t have access to firearms? Does that mean someone who wants to die won’t find an alternate way? No.

    I’ve worked as a law enforcement officer, and have seen suicides both from guns and other means. If someone is emotionally disturbed, it’s not going to matter how they do it — they’ll jump, they’ll drown, they’ll OD, or they’ll shoot. It’s very sad.

    Yes, added gun regulation does control distribution. It controls distribution to law-abiding citizens. I think it’s a cop-out to say “gun control works” and then say “but how effective is dependent on the context” — it’s true but it’s a cop-out in my opinion.

    I read your article carefully and thoughtfully, as I do every article I comment on (I make it a personal policy to read an article twice if I’m going to comment on it). I am also glad you take the time to respond to folks.

    I never claimed you wanted to ban guns. My words were specific: I do not believe you understand that gun ownership is necessary to the existence of a free state (lest the populace be overtaken by a tyrannical government). That opinion stems from your statements about preferring nobody to own guns, the direct mention of gun owners leaving firearms unlocked (often with no legal mandate to lock them) while ignoring other gun crime issues, essentially equating armed people to be after “imaginary” boogeymen (you’ve never been to Killeen, TX, where a man drove into a Luby’s and executed twenty-some good citizens, I take it; or the cafeteria here in my hometown where Kip Kinkel shot students before being taken down by the wrestling team, etc) and gun owners who are half-asleep or intoxicated shooting children.

    The phrasing is clear in its implication. You imply gun owners are paranoid and irresponsible. While there are bad drivers, not everybody with a car is a terrible driver. You seem in your personal bias to throw the baby out with the bath water, while not explicitly stating such.

    So indeed, I did read the article carefully. On a third reading, my opinions are solidified. I empathize with your position of caution against guns, I really do. My cousin was in the cafeteria when Kip Kinkel was killing his classmates. I’ve eaten at that restaurant where two dozen good people were murdered. I’ve worked law enforcement where both criminals and honest citizens had guns.

    I grew up in a home with guns. I was educated as a young lad never to play with them or point them at people, because they could die and never come back. When I got a little older, I was trained on a BB gun. Then I graduated to a .22 “plunking rifle.”

    Gun-owning parents have a responsibility to educate their children and to keep their weapons away from the prying curiosity of toddlers (I am a gun owner and I have a toddler). While my long guns are locked up, I keep a pistol ready but out of his reach. I do not need the government to teach me discipline and morality. I do not want the government forcing regulations upon me or any other parent about what to do with their fire arms. Don’t take this as a straw man against your article — I offer this as a window into how I view the world.

    I hope it clarifies my position.

  17. #17 Wow
    May 14, 2012

    “If I had a kid, I would want to home-school ***it*** till 5th grade”

    Highlighted a reason why maybe you are not ready to procreate yet.

  18. #18 Wow
    May 14, 2012

    “she brandished her Glock pistol”

    Isn’t that the pistol that doesn’t show up on those scans at airports? Aren’t they VERY expensive?

    I call BS on this story.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    Cole: ” But does that mean teens shouldn’t have access to firearms? ”

    Your question is a red herring and ignores the underlying problem. The problem is not depressed teens + the existence of guns. It is depressed teens + guns owned by dad or mom that are not locked up as they should be. That accounts for a large percentage of those suicides as well as a fair number of accidental shootings. (not just teens, but younger kids as well, like the toddler that shot his younger sister the other day using Dad’s gun left on the truck seat loaded and unlocked!)

    I do not believe you understand that gun ownership is necessary to the existence of a free state (lest the populace be overtaken by a tyrannical government). That opinion stems from your statements about preferring nobody to own guns

    I don’t actually think that at all. I think that a lot of people believe that this is true, and I happen to be a person who respects other people’s beliefs as long as they are not harmful. Personally, I think that we are transiting, as a species and a set of societies, out of a time when using guns to effect political change isn’t the way it is done. Also, I don’t thing that gun ownership would help at all if a truly tyrannical state needed to be fought, because the truly tyrannical state has way way more guns and virtually unlimited ammo and helicopters etc. etc. I want to change the government other ways.

    But, and to repeat, I know a lot of other people have a list of reasons they want to own firearms and this is on their list, and I respect that. I do not, however, share that belief.

    ” gun owners leaving firearms unlocked (often with no legal mandate to lock them) ”

    The fact that so many people do this, like my neighbor who liked a teenager a couple of years ago, is why it must be legally mandated. Plus all those suicides, like the boy my daughter went to school with her whole life who killed himself earlier this year.

    The phrasing is clear in its implication. You imply gun owners are paranoid and irresponsible.

    Please do tread carefully when telling me or anyone else that you see clearly that they are implying. The word “implication” means indirect.

    It is probably true, though I don’t know of the data to test that, that many maybe most gun owners are not irresponsible. None of the gun owners I personally know own guns out of paranoia. I’m not talking about most people at all.

    “While my long guns are locked up, I keep a pistol ready but out of his reach.”

    How does that work?

  20. #20 Russell
    May 14, 2012

    Wow, Glock manufactures a range of popular handguns. They are quite common. They all show up on airport scanners. The fictional ceramic Glock in the movie was BS.

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    Glocks are famous for being made of plastic …. that is a key feature of their design and why they exist, in a sense, because that is what the original manufacturer and designer was going for. But only parts of the weapon are plastic (though much more than other pistols when it first came out).

    The totally undetectable gun you can’t see with xrays is the Glock 7, made of plastic and porcelain. So far it’s only been seen in movies.

  22. #22 Wow
    May 14, 2012

    Still an unusual and very specific make.

    Rather like someone who wants a “serious” gun but can’t afford the weight of a magnum 45, or someone who buys a “combat” knife to go camping.

    PS: “The phrasing is clear in its implication. You imply gun owners are paranoid and irresponsible.”

    They are.

    They would prefer their own safety theatre over the safety of everyone. That’s paranoid AND irresponsible.

  23. #23 Wow
    May 14, 2012

    “the truly tyrannical state has way way more guns and virtually unlimited ammo and helicopters etc. etc.”

    They would also paint the people they want to kill and silence as “leftist” or “Eco nazis” or “dirty hippies” or even “anti american”. I.e. “Not TRUE Americans, like you”.

    They you are no longer shooting down a fellow American, you’re defending America from people trying to destroy america from within!

  24. #24 MarkH
    May 14, 2012

    You forgot to mention Ron Paul to achieve the blogging-crazy trifecta! C’mon man, you’ll never hit a thousand comments until you throw in a reference to his total worthlessness as a presidential candidate, the absurdity of the gold standard, and the larouche-like fanaticism of his cranky constituency.

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    Mark, good point, but where do I fit in the fact that the Civil War was fought to end slavery!?

  26. #26 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    By the way, Mark, I love your meat post:

    http://goo.gl/ry5Fa

  27. #27 Rose M. Welch
    May 14, 2012

    I agree with your normally banned commenter (although I would have used kinder phrasing).

    From your remarks in this post alone, it seems as though you’re falling prey to self-selection bias. We don’t, as a group, hate government schools and we’re not religious cultists. In addition, most religious homeschoolers are nothing like the caricature you describe, any more than all science teachers are soulless atheists who hate their jobs and molest children.

    I also began homeschooling because I have a child with special needs. Now my children attend a home-based charter school, which is the best of both worlds. The 1,000+ children who are enrolled in this school are all receiving a more thorough and hands-on science education than brick-and-mortars can provide, so I think that quite a bit more research is needed on your part.

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    Rose, I did not describe religious home schoolers other than to say that some are friends of mine.

    I have done quite a bit of research, and as I say in the post, there are different kinds of home schoolers.

    There are two commonly encountered problems with this issue, though. One is that we can’t really know that much about homeschoolers and homeschooling without more research, and many homeschoolers oppose any kind of reporting, inspection, verification, or anything else that things we arrange in our society for children do to, or even just basic businesses, would normally be subjected to. The other is that even though we have mostly lousy data (for the reason just cited) as to the whats who’s, whys, etc of homeschooling, homeschoolers and organizations supporting them or comprised of them are very ready to tell us all what the “truth” is.

    What if I said that I “worry about kids in homeschool” … (Which I do.)

  29. #29 smhll
    May 14, 2012

    I’m an atheist homeschooling parent living in a very liberal part of the country. We have fairly few fundamentalist homeschoolers in my area, and they segregate themselves away from me, and away from Catholic and Mormon homeschoolers.

    I don’t agree with fundamentalists about anything, with one exception. However, when you (or anyone) comes after them with the desire to pry their children out of their homes and put them in what can be quite a harsh institution (public school), then I feel solidarity with them. I’ve seen arguments lately about why parents shouldn’t be allowed to homeschool that contain the the same mistrust of the parents competence to make decisions that I see aimed at women in anti-abortion debates. I haven’t read your older homeschooling posts, so I don’t know if you’ve used similar logic or not.

    Let me suggest that people that strongly disagree with you are not necessarily “angry”. (As a feminist, I certainly get tired of that word.) Some of the perception of anger comes from how startled the writer is to be disagreed with, IMO. I think you used a fairly broad brush when you characterized the non-religious homeschooling movement as angry.

  30. #30 Wow
    May 14, 2012

    “However, when you (or anyone) comes after them with the desire to pry their children out of their homes”

    Ah, there’s nothing like a good rhetoric to ensure clear thought!

    How about:

    When you (or anyone) imprisons children in your home with the desire to brainwash them (or sexually abuse them)…

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    smhll: “However, when you (or anyone) comes after them with the desire to pry their children out of their homes and put them in what can be quite a harsh institution (public school)..”

    Why ever do you think I wanted to do that? All I’m really saying is that among home schoolers there are a lot of paranoid people … :)

    ” the same mistrust of the parents competence to make decisions that I see aimed at women in anti-abortion debates. I haven’t read your older homeschooling posts, so I don’t know if you’ve used similar logic or not.”

    right… you don’t know much about what I’ve said.

    Frankly, I’m very mistrustful of parents who are really really paranoid. But aside from that, no, I don’t personally think parents can educate their kids in a wide range of topics past a certain age and level. Some, maybe, but really, very few.

    Having said that, most homeschooling parents don’t rely on their own training and knowledge of advanced topics for this very reason. Yet, I often do see the claim made that they can do this. For some parents, it seems that if they desperately want to homeschool enough that somehow the abilities will emerge.

    Please don’t tell me I’ve not been “angered” at. You would be wrong.

    Thanks for your comments.

  32. #32 Rose M. Welch
    May 14, 2012

    I’m confused. You said that you’ve done ‘quite a bit of research’ and then went on about how there’s no good research. So which is it, teach? :P

    Also, your worry for homeschoolers strikes me as concern trolling, especially with your loaded comments about educational deficits. The fact is that even in one of the strongest homeschooling states in the United States, anyone can call CPS and report concerns about said deficits, at which point CPS can and will inspect your records and haul you into court if they find that your child is not receiving ‘equivalent* instruction’, or whatever your state requires. Neglecting a child’s education meets the legal definition of neglect and even Bible Belt states have no problem intervening on the slightest pretext.

    *Not equivalent to what the local schools are actually teaching, mind you, but equivalent to the standards that the local schools are supposed to meet. Right now, we’re transitioning from our sad PASS standards to the better-but-still sad Common Core Standards.

    “All I’m really saying is that among home schoolers there are a lot of paranoid people … :)”

    Note: Adding a smiley face doesn’t absolve you of whatever you previously wrote. Just FYI.

    Also, what makes you think that we’re paranoid? The home-based charter school that my children attend enrolled over 1,000 students in their first year alone. Most of us had been homeschooling previously, and voluntarily signed on to be monitored and endure state testing every year. That seems like the opposite of paranoid to me.

    “But aside from that, no, I don’t personally think parents can educate their kids in a wide range of topics past a certain age and level. Some, maybe, but really, very few.”

    And I don’t really think teachers can actually teach groups of 30+ students. Some maybe, but really, very few.

    Of course, neither of our opinions are relevant because past a certain age and level, the job of brick-and-mortar teachers and homeschooling teachers alike isn’t so much teaching as it is facilitating access to curriculum and supplies while supervising for safety and understanding.

  33. #33 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    I’m confused. You said that you’ve done ‘quite a bit of research’ and then went on about how there’s no good research. So which is it, teach? :P

    I don’t have a lot of tolerance for willful ignorance so please don’t play that game. Also, it doesn’t help your argument very much so you may want to reconsider that.

    Note: Adding a smiley face doesn’t absolve you of whatever you previously wrote. Just FYI.

    It was an ironic smile. You see, it was a response to a paranoid comment and that’s why it was … oh, hey, you got me with that willful ignorance thing again!

    Also, what makes you think that we’re paranoid?

    I wasn’t talking about you. Why do you think I was talking about you?

    And I don’t really think teachers can actually teach groups of 30+ students. Some maybe, but really, very few.

    We are in agreement with that. I happen to be in a state where 30+ is relatively unheard of because we have a teachers union and standards and stuff, but that does happen.

    But once again you are making this strange error of logic. You perceive that I’m disagreeing with you and then you extend that disagreement with things that are only in your head, that I’ve not said.

    The fact is that even in one of the strongest homeschooling states in the United States, anyone can call CPS and report concerns about said deficits,

    I can also call the AG and report bank fraud happening in my local bank. But I’d have t see it first!

    It may well be that since I was last engaged in this topic homeshoolers have changed their attitudes. Is this what you are saying? That would be great.

  34. #34 Willbill
    May 14, 2012

    Wow, Glocks are used by numerous law enforcement agencies because they are very reliable and lightweight. That is why they are also popular by carry permit holders, and yes, they are not invisible to airport security scanners. Today, there isn’t very much that is invisible to those scanners. Yes, Glocks are expensive, but no more so than a comparable Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Walther, Heckler & Koch, Etc.

    Wow, you have no justification for assuming that my sister was untruthful about the two incidents and calling BS.

  35. #35 Rose M. Welch
    May 14, 2012

    I don’t have a lot of tolerance for willful ignorance so please don’t play that game. Also, it doesn’t help your argument very much so you may want to reconsider that.

    I don’t have a tolerance for smelly stuff, but that isn’t relevant, since there’s no smelly stuff here. I also don’t see any ‘willful ignorance’ and any indication that I’m ‘playing a game’. Even more telling, I don’t see an argument.

    Back to the point that you didn’t address:

    If your opinion is based on research, then I’d like to see the citations and a retraction (or explanation) of your statement about the state of currently available homeschooling research. If your opinion, like my own, is based on your own experiences, with the confirmation bias and other issues that come with that, then I’d like to see you acknowledge that and retract your statement about basing your opinion on research.

    Either way, it’s obvious that your post is a little confusing in that regard.

    It was an ironic smile. You see, it was a response to a paranoid comment and that’s why it was … oh, hey, you got me with that willful ignorance thing again!

    So it seems like you think that I understood that it was an ‘ironic* smile’. I didn’t. I took your words in good faith, along with the knowledge that folks frequently pepper passive aggressive notes with false emoticons in a sad attempt to soften their words.

    I wasn’t talking about you. Why do you think I was talking about you?

    This comment does seem ‘willfully ignorant’. You see, I quoted the sentence to which I was responding, so you should already know what makes me think that you are speaking of a group in which I associate.

    Let me quote it again:

    “All I’m really saying is that among home schoolers there are a lot of paranoid people … :)”

    Again, I’d like to know how you came to this conclusion. I’m genuinely curious about your thoughts in this regard. (Also, it’s strikes me that you seem a little paranoid yourself.)

    I can also call the AG and report bank fraud happening in my local bank. But I’d have t see it first!

    No, you wouldn’t. You could probably call your AG if you even merely suspected it based on third-hand hearsay from someone who works in that bank. Of course, with CPS, a social worker has to investigate even if you didn’t give any detail about the basis for your concerns, whereas the AG can brush you off if your concerns don’t sound like they’re worthwhile. Also, there are specific laws and guidelines over what constitutes bank fraud, whereas a parent can be forced to send a child to public school on a single person’s opinion alone, even if that person is markedly biased.

    I think your analogy fails and my point stands.

    It may well be that since I was last engaged in this topic homeshoolers have changed their attitudes. Is this what you are saying? That would be great.

    Did you see me say that anywhere? If not, then it’s not what I’m saying. Also, I have no idea what attitudes you encountered when you were last engaged in this topic (which is ironic, since you rebuffed my attempts to ask you more about your experiences) so how would I know if the homeschooling community has ‘changed their attitudes’ since then?

    Upon further thought, it seems unlikely, since it’s a very large and diverse community that has never been accurately labeled as a whole. The idea of homeschoolers being accurately labeled strikes me as ignorantly simplistic, akin to pointing at an entire USian city and calling them all Asian because there’s a section called ‘Chinatown’.

    *Do you mean sarcastic, rather than ironic?

  36. #36 hoary puccoon
    May 14, 2012

    About homeschooling parents being incompetent to teach their kids past a certain age and level– I know it doesn’t always work this way, but in the Boston area there’s a homeschooling community that cooperates to teach small seminars for the homeschooling kids at junior high and high school age. One mother, for instance, put together a year long seminar in American history for a small group of kids including her own. (Her BA is in political science, so it was pretty much her field.) Math is definitely *not* her field, but her math-whizz son got his math taking college-level courses at the Harvard Extension. So, there are definitely ways to make it work.

    The problem is, that for every example like the math-whizz (who, BTW, is now in his mid twenties, with an excellent job in computers) there are kids like those in another family I know, who pretty much spent their time playing computer games, while their mother tuned out into a fantasy of how great she was doing. The younger ones finally begged to get back in public school.

    So, the problem, as you have been saying, is not that homeschooling can’t work– it’s that it’s hard to judge (until it’s too late for the kids) whether it’s working or not.

  37. #37 Cole B
    May 14, 2012

    Your position is that guns should be locked up and your reasoning for this is because some emotionally disturbed people choose to harm/kill themselves and sometimes accidentally harm/kill others. Call me crazy, but I don’t think the government needs to legislate everything. It’s a tragedy when these things happen, but they are a small part of society’s ills.

    A locked gun is as good as a paperweight. Your example of the child getting Dad’s gun from his car seat is a perfect example of children not being taught gun safety. Generations of kids were taught gun safety and grew up just fine.

    It would be lovely for us to live in a world where violence is a thing of the past, but it’s not. I don’t know if it ever will be. While the best political strategies include voting (with your ballots and with your dollars and feet), guns or whatever comes next will always be necessary to ultimately protect our freedoms.

    The statement regarding government having more helicopters, etc, is a telling one. I just don’t share the sentiment. But I do share one thing with you, I’d much rather change the government peacefully.

    I lost friends in high school too, like your daughter did. I had two friends shoot themselves in the face with handguns — both over bad breakups. It’s ridiculous, but it’s life. Violent crime in this country is down (read the latest FBI statistics).

    I know what the word imply means, but thank you for the condescension. It always helps in a mature discussion between two adults.

    While you may not be talking about “most people at all,” you are advocating legislature that will affect the law-abiding, “most people” while your goal is to target the minority. It will not work. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you get a career in law enforcement and frequent some gun shows to get a better feel for the people you’re talking about.

    It’s quite easy to keep a loaded firearm ready but out of a child’s reach. He’s too young to know not to touch it, so I keep it where he cannot climb to it. Even if he were to grab it, the gun has 3 different safety features and a very stiff slide pull (my wife, who was active duty military as was I, cannot pull the slide back) — not to mention it is stored loaded but not chambered.

    The legislation you advocate will not help anyone. People will continue to get shot (either on purpose or by accident), people will continue to kill themselves, and liquor stores will still get robbed. Perhaps when more moms and dads spend time with their children, these statistics will go down.

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    hoary puccoon: It would be good to have a way to evaluate the quality of homeschooling in individual cases like that.

  39. #39 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    It’s a tragedy when these things happen, but they are a small part of society’s ills.

    I’d love to get you in a room with four or five families who have lost members because of this, and see how you feel after speaking with them.

    Call me crazy, but I don’t think the government needs to legislate everything.

    Who said anything about everything? Locking up guns makes sense. No one should not do it, yet many people don’t have the sense to do so. Thus, regulations are needed. If the gun owning community didn’t have this fairly large bit of slack, we would not be having this conversation.

    A locked gun is as good as a paperweight. Your example of the child getting Dad’s gun from his car seat is a perfect example of children not being taught gun safety.

    A four year old shot a three year old. You can certainly teach a four year old some things, but you are suggesting that we trust gun safety traiing of four year olds and thus leave locked guns around, and they’ll know what to not do.

    Sorry, but you are very much out of line to suggest that. I’ll assume you have no experience with children. But you have served a purpose with your comment! I don’t think we need to discuss the need for regulation instead of relying on people’s common sense for things like locking up guns.

    It’s ridiculous, but it’s life

    Most normal people would not have that reaction. Never mind what I said about you being in a room with people who lost family mebers. Obviously that would not help!

    It’s quite easy to keep a loaded firearm ready but out of a child’s reach. He’s too young to know not to touch it, so I keep it where he cannot climb to it. Even if he were to grab it, the gun has 3 different safety features and a very stiff slide pull (my wife, who was active duty military as was I, cannot pull the slide back) — not to mention it is stored loaded but not chambered.

    Ah, so, when it is your kid, you suddenly keep the safety on and in a place where he can’t reach it, but its OK for the guy I mentioned to have his gun within reach of a four year old and no safety.

    Cole, you are coming at this all the wrong way. You’ve identified this as a place where people want to take away your guns and you are making shotgun (pardon the pun) arguments against everything you can think of.

  40. #40 Cole B
    May 14, 2012

    I know several families who have lost people to suicide, I’m in one such family. Your sample would be hand-selected and not randomly generated, of course, to prove your point, right?

    While I agree that people should be mindful of their firearms, I do not support legislation for it. I think most gun owners do the right thing and thus don’t need the legislation.

    “You can certainly teach a four year old some things, but you are suggesting that we trust gun safety traiing of four year olds and thus leave locked guns around, and they’ll know what to not do.”

    What an odd sentence. What I said was that we need to get kids on board with gun safety at a young age. Three is not too early. Naturally, we should keep the guns away from them, but that does not need to be legislated (my entire contention). I would expect a three or four year old not to touch a gun if it was left out. The kids in my family and in my area certainly knew not to, as did millions of people who came before me.

    “Sorry, but you are very much out of line to suggest that. I’ll assume you have no experience with children. But you have served a purpose with your comment! I don’t think we need to discuss the need for regulation instead of relying on people’s common sense for things like locking up guns.”

    Apparently you missed the part where I said I was a father. I’m just a father who doesn’t value a nanny state that feels it needs to legislate my life and my property at every turn. Yes, that’s where these sorts of things go.

    You are most telling when you say that “I don’t think we need to discuss the need…” — so you’ve just declared yourself the moral authority on gun legislation? Like I said, tyranny.

    “Most normal people would not have that reaction. Never mind what I said about you being in a room with people who lost family mebers. Obviously that would not help!”

    Lovely polemic, but as I said — I have lost friends and family. I have also been the first responder to suicides (including one particularly terrible one of my friend’s wife). While imagining yourself some sort of moral authoritarian hero for the victimized, you merely show an authoritarian’s attitude. I grieved for the loss of my friends and family, I grieved for the loss of their parents.

    You’ve gone from a shoddily-written article, to generally poor responses, to ad hominem. Nicely done.

    “Ah, so, when it is your kid, you suddenly keep the safety on and in a place where he can’t reach it, but its OK for the guy I mentioned to have his gun within reach of a four year old and no safety.”

    Should I react as you did when you thought I wasn’t reading your writing? Reread my post dispassionately and you’ll understand what I said. I am all for gun safety, but not for legislating it.

    “Cole, you are coming at this all the wrong way. You’ve identified this as a place where people want to take away your guns and you are making shotgun (pardon the pun) arguments against everything you can think of. ”

    No Greg, you are coming at this the wrong way. Laws do not stop crime. That does not mean we need to throw the lawbooks out, but we certainly need to be mindful of the ones we enact. I believe the type of gun legislation you are proposing is just one more step in a slippery slope of government interference in our lives.

    Next you’ll be railing on about how we need bars on our windows so our toddlers don’t fall out of them and how we need inspectors to come into our homes to make sure our hazmat is out of the reach of children. All oppressive legislation that stems from a concern for safety. The “shotgun” reasoning you’re imagining is merely me trying to give you a wider perspective of the world, which you appear to so desperately need, brother.

  41. #41 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    I know several families who have lost people to suicide, I’m in one such family. Your sample would be hand-selected and not randomly generated, of course, to prove your point, right?

    No, actually, we’re talking about a huge pile of data pertaining to suicide and guns. Thus the need for reasonable regulation.

    I do not support legislation for it. I think most gun owners do the right thing and thus don’t need the legislation.

    But you’ve already told us that as a gun owner you DON’T do the right thing (keeping your gun locked up and unloaded).

    What an odd sentence. What I said was that we need to get kids on board with gun safety at a young age

    Actually, you were responding to the four year old shooting his three year old sibling with the gun daddy left around, when you said ” Your example of the child getting Dad’s gun from his car seat is a perfect example of children not being taught gun safety. Generations of kids were taught gun safety and grew up just fine.” and I was simply pointing out that your concept of how to make it safe for little kids was deeply flawed. You are simultaneiously a person saying that we don’t need regulation because most people will do the right thing, and a person demonstrating that YOU don’t know what the right thing is.

    Nobody is trying to take away your guns, Cole. It’s just that you seem to be untrustworthy in the safety department.

    YOur desire to have a handgun ready to fire at the government in case it shows up at your house outweighs your concerns for safety in your own home, it would seem!

    “Lovely polemic, but as I said — I have lost friends and family. ”

    Maybe it is just a general cultural thing, where people in your family and subculture are careless and thoughtless with firearms.

    Thus the need for regulation.

    No Greg, you are coming at this the wrong way. Laws do not stop crime.

    Do you realize that your right to bear arms is conferred on you by law? If there was no second amendment and gun ownership was not allowed in your state, what would you do?

    You’ve gone from a shoddily-written article, to generally poor responses, to ad hominem. Nicely done.

    Cole, this is an article you don’t agree with, and your brow beating has not changed anyone’s mine, and now you are calling me a tyrant and a moral authoritarian simply because I agree with most gun owners and most guns safety instructors.

    The word done, however, is appropriate here!

  42. #42 Corin Goodwin
    May 14, 2012

    Greg, has it occurred to you that your attitude toward homeschooling might possibly have been a causative factor in the responses you got? Your understanding of homeschooling seems to be based largely on who you managed to anger and how they responded, rather than doing any actual large scale research. As a scientist, you really should know better.

    If that was intended to be an example of how to discuss wedge issues, then it very poorly done. I hardly think you can base any valid conclusions on posting something off-the-wall, angering the people who try to give you better information, and then misunderstanding the data.

  43. #43 Cole B
    May 14, 2012

    “No, actually, we’re talking about a huge pile of data pertaining to suicide and guns.”

    Clever way to side step your thinly veiled accusations and lack of pertinent data.

    “But you’ve already told us that as a gun owner you DON’T do the right thing (keeping your gun locked up and unloaded).”

    Again, you’re starting from an unsupported assertion. On what moral or legal authority do you claim that I am doing the wrong thing? Oh, that’s right, I’m wrong because some people are stupid or emotionally disturbed. Well, as former military and former law enforcement, I guess I’m just gonna have to disagree with you there.

    “…I was simply pointing out that your concept of how to make it safe for little kids was deeply flawed. You are simultaneiously a person saying that we don’t need regulation because most people will do the right thing, and a person demonstrating that YOU don’t know what the right thing is.”

    So because I don’t agree with you, I don’t know the difference between right and wrong? Ah, that’s right, I’m not a moral or legal authority (despite years of service in the public sector), whereas you are an educator and blogger. I should learn my place perhaps?

    “Nobody is trying to take away your guns, Cole. It’s just that you seem to be untrustworthy in the safety department.”

    Yeah, that’s why I served as a SWAT entry team leader and instructor and have been asked by friends and family to instruct their loved ones on firearms safety.

    “YOur desire to have a handgun ready to fire at the government in case it shows up at your house outweighs your concerns for safety in your own home, it would seem!”

    Really? Did I ever say I was armed for the government? Oh, no, I didn’t. That was you putting words in my mouth to support your untenable position with your imaginary authority on victims’ advocacy. Have you ever even been to a victims’ advocacy group regarding violent crime? I have.

    I keep a firearm at the ready because, as former law enforcement, I know the statistics and I have seen violence the likes of which you can only try to shield your daughter from. It’s why I lock my car and make sure my windows and doors are locked. But then, does that make me paranoid to lock up my house?

    “Maybe it is just a general cultural thing, where people in your family and subculture are careless and thoughtless with firearms.”

    Lovely ad hominem, again. You really don’t have anything to support your position, do you? I cannot believe this drivel is on Science Blogs, a normally respectable web site.

    “Do you realize that your right to bear arms is conferred on you by law? If there was no second amendment and gun ownership was not allowed in your state, what would you do?”

    I would not choose to live here, or I would disobey the unlawful regulation.

    “Cole, this is an article you don’t agree with, and your brow beating has not changed anyone’s mine, and now you are calling me a tyrant and a moral authoritarian simply because I agree with most gun owners and most guns safety instructors.”

    I do not know any firearms instructors with your narrow viewpoint on the world, and I hope I never meet one.

    The only thing you’ve been right on so far is that I do not agree with this “article” (seems a stretch to call it such). We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  44. #44 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    Corin, are you saying that this is definitively true, that the information being proffered about home schooling by homeschoolers is the result of what you call my “attitude”?

    “If that was intended to be an example of how to discuss wedge issues, then it very poorly done.”

    I gave home schooling as an example where my efforts to engage with the home schooling community failed. It wasn’t an example of how to discuss wedge issues.

    Your comment [42] is pretty typical of homeschooling ‘defenders’ … the main contribution to the conversation is to find ways to blame, discredit, devalue, etc. anyone who looks like they may be something other than a home school jingoist.

    Keep ‘em coming!

  45. #45 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    Cole: “Clever way to side step your thinly veiled accusations and lack of pertinent data.”

    Go read every single one of these posts and comments therein, and follow the links then report back:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/politics/gun_ownership/
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/?cat=28

    I’m only kidding, you obviously don’t have to read them all, but do look through them, you’ll see that we’ve had extensive discussions of data and there is quite a bit.

  46. #46 Rose M. Welch
    May 14, 2012

    It would be good to have a way to evaluate the quality of homeschooling in individual cases like that.

    There is. If you see something like this, you should call CPS so they can pass it on to a judge, who will order those kiddos into a public school. That’s how the system works.

    Greg, has it occurred to you that your attitude toward homeschooling might possibly have been a causative factor in the responses you got? Your understanding of homeschooling seems to be based largely on who you managed to anger and how they responded, rather than doing any actual large scale research. As a scientist, you really should know better.

    If that was intended to be an example of how to discuss wedge issues, then it very poorly done. I hardly think you can base any valid conclusions on posting something off-the-wall, angering the people who try to give you better information, and then misunderstanding the data.

    Corin, I absolutely agree.

    Corin, are you saying that this is definitively true, that the information being proffered about home schooling by homeschoolers is the result of what you call my “attitude”?

    I’ve seen you do this repeatedly, and it’s like a weird offshoot of the extension fallacy. I saw Corin offer a theory on your experiences. Instead of responding to Corin’s idea, you seem to be trying to twist them, in order to dismiss them. You’d gain alot more credibility, in my eyes, if you just owned it and discussed the idea in good faith.

    …the main contribution to the conversation is to find ways to blame, discredit, devalue, etc. anyone who looks like they may be something other than a home school jingoist.

    Hehe, a cliche comes to mind… You rebuffed my questions and attempted to discredit my points using the same method that you used with Corin. Are you the pot, Greg?

  47. #47 Henry
    May 14, 2012

    “the need for reasonable regulation.”

    Who gets to define what is “reasonable”? You?

  48. #48 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    Who gets to define what is “reasonable”? You?

    Are you implying that I think it should be me? Why?

    We have a system for doing this already in place, we can use that.

    Personally, I think guns should be stored in locked containers and empty of bullets. That is what I think is reasonable and that is what I would lobby for.

    In any event, the simple truth is that there are people out there who accidentally let their guns fall into the wrong hands and sometimes that causes injury or death of innocent people. That includes accidental discharge and acquisition of the firearm by criminals (who easily snatch it because it wasn’t locked up, or because your teenager sold it for drugs or whatever) and everything in between. Guns are dangerous and there are enough people who are irresponsible that reasonable regulations are, sadly, necessary.

    This is not about taking guns away from people.

    And besides, why worry about reasonable regulations if you are following reasonable procedures anyway?

  49. #49 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    There is. If you see something like this, you should call CPS so they can pass it on to a judge, who will order those kiddos into a public school. That’s how the system works.

    Seriously? What kinds of things do you think are going on in homeschooling settings? Do you really think it is appropriate to prosecute poor instruction?

  50. #50 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    You’d gain alot more credibility, in my eyes, if you just owned it and discussed the idea in good faith.

    I’m not likely to own something I utterly disagree with. The two of you need to work on your argument skills.

  51. #51 Rose M. Welch
    May 14, 2012

    Seriously? What kinds of things do you think are going on in homeschooling settings? Do you really think it is appropriate to prosecute poor instruction?

    Greg, again, I directly quoted you, so you already know the ‘kind of thing’ of which I am speaking. Why do you continue to ask questions like this? It’s really disingenuous of you, because you complained about a lack of accountability in homeschool and about families that don’t successfully homeschool and now you’re trying to discredit the methods of accountability and ensuring quality education that are available. Also, you haven’t responded to any of my points.

    Oh, also, your use of the term ‘prosecute’ denotes a special ignorance of how our system works.

  52. #52 Greg Laden
    May 14, 2012

    You’ve really jumped the shark Rose. Measurement and accountability means, are home school families doing a good job at home schooling? You’ve completely changed the meaning of what I’m referring to.

    I think you’ve made your case rather well regarding home schooling. Or, rather, mine. But then again, I don’t suppose anyone had hired you as ambassador!

  53. #53 Rose M. Welch
    May 15, 2012

    You’ve really jumped the shark Rose.

    How so?

    Measurement and accountability means, are home school families doing a good job at home schooling?

    Your complaint was that we don’t have oversight of homeschooling families when, in fact, we do. Homeschooling families are accountable to their state, and are measured by the laws of that state, so by whatever definition that you decide to use, it’s there.

    You’ve completely changed the meaning of what I’m referring to.

    No, I didn’t.

    I think you’ve made your case rather well regarding home schooling. Or, rather, mine. But then again, I don’t suppose anyone had hired you as ambassador!

    How so?

    Also, I’m still waiting for you to respond to my comments, including the ones that you declined to post. :)

  54. #54 Bert Chadick
    May 15, 2012

    All these tales of daring-do seem to be suspiciously anecdotal. I have never seen any unbiased correlation between gun ownership and crime stats. We had an incident in Tacoma where four well trained cops sitting in a coffee shop doing their reports were all murdered by one guy. Those cops were all well armed and were wearing body armour, but couldn’t get one well aimed shot off before they were killed. There are people wandering the streets with concealed pistol permits thinking they are ready for all comers but chances are it will all be over before they can remember where their holster is.

    My motto is “disarm the enemy”.

  55. #55 NJ
    May 15, 2012

    Cole B @ 43:

    Really? Did I ever say I was armed for the government? Oh, no, I didn’t.

    Cole B @ 16:

    My words were specific: I do not believe you understand that gun ownership is necessary to the existence of a free state (lest the populace be overtaken by a tyrannical government).

    You were saying?

  56. #56 Greg Laden
    May 15, 2012

    Ha! I’m afraid that going from “There are no unbiased studies” to “We had an incident” is going to get you in trouble..

    Anyway, I think I remember that incident … it was horrific. There were some interesting complexities that I no longer remember.

  57. #57 Alan B.
    May 15, 2012

    The other is that there is a community of homeschoolers that calls themselves the ‘Evolved Homeschoolers”

    The Evolved Homeschooler community seems to have fizzled with Doc no longer blogging and stirring up trouble.

  58. #58 Chris
    May 15, 2012

    However, when you (or anyone) comes after them with the desire to pry their children out of their homes and put them in what can be quite a harsh institution (public school), then I feel solidarity with them.

    Interesting thing to say to someone who was home schooled, IIRC.

  59. #59 hoary puccoon
    May 15, 2012

    Rose M. Welch @46–

    Are you really in favor of homeschooling? Because having no check on homeschooling parents short of friends, neighbors, or family calling up Child Protective Services is the worst idea I can imagine to foster homeschooling. How do you think that will play out?

    Regarding the family I mentioned @36, where the kids were sitting around playing computer games, I know this family, but I got all the details of their problems from the mom’s sister. (The sister– the kids’ aunt– is herself a homeschooling mom. So there was no anti-homeschooling agenda, there.) How well do you think it would work, for the aunt to report her own sister to CPS? My guess is, the sisters would stop speaking and the kids would not have the benefit they have now, of their aunt’s efforts to give them some education.

    There needs to be some non-punitive way to test homeschooled children. And calling CPS is definitely not it!

    The issue is complicated, though, because a lot of kids are homeschooled in the first place because of problems like autism-spectrum disorder, and quirky learning disabilities. They aren’t going to do well on objective tests, regardless of how they’re educated. The sister of the math-whizz (@36) has had terrible problems with math– except for certain aspects of geometry, where she’s brilliant! She’s now in an art college studying for a BFA, playing to her strengths. I think if she had been in public school, she might have been labeled globally dumb, and never gone to college at all.

  60. #60 Willbill
    May 15, 2012

    “I’d love to get you in a room with four or five families who have lost members because of this, and see how you feel after speaking with them.”

    So if you are against the reinstatement prohibition then let’s get you in a room with four or five families who have lost members because of drunk drivers or alcohol related illness and see how you feel after speaking with them. Suicide is a mental health issue and not a gun control issue, and I’m sure that family members have the same feelings on the loss of members whether the method of suicide was a firearm or jumping from a bridge.

    It also should be noted according to the latest data Japan has among the world’s strictest firearms prohibitions and according to smallarmssurvey.org ranks 164th in civilian firearms ownership per 100. Yet, their suicide rate is 23.8 per 100,000.

    By contrast, the United States is 1st in civilian firearms ownership per 100, but the U.S. suicide rate was 11.8 per 100,000.

    Gun control does not equal suicide control.

    http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/A-Yearbook/2007/en/Small-Arms-Survey-2007-Chapter-02-annexe-4-EN.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_rate

  61. #61 Greg Laden
    May 15, 2012

    Suicide is a mental health issue and not a gun control issue,

    Suicide rates in the US would be lowered if young folks had less access to firearms that were improperly locked up. So it is partly a gun control issue.

    It also should be noted according to the latest data Japan has among the world’s strictest firearms prohibitions and according to smallarmssurvey.org ranks 164th in civilian firearms ownership per 100. Yet, their suicide rate is 23.8 per 100,000.

    Japanese culture and American culture are dramatically different and one of the big areas of difference is in suicide. In the US suicides are dominated by the young, and success in suicide in that group is linked to gun access. In Japan, suicide is among an older group. The data are not comparable.

    Gun control does not equal suicide control.

    Reasonable regulation to get people to lock up their guns and keep them out of the hands of depressed young folks would reduce both accidents and suicide.

  62. #62 Greg Laden
    May 15, 2012

    Mr. Greenfield, the overall pattern for youth (12-25yrs) is this:

    1) Depression leads to a suidice attempt

    2a) A gun is available. Attempt successful nearly 90% = death
    2b) A gun in unavailable. Attemtp successful a MINORITY of the time.

    Those who survive past step 2, meaning mostly those not living in households where guns are readily avaialble, get treatable, don’t repeat suicide attempt.

    It is very possible and quite common for someone to attempt suicide by jumping and not be able to do it. It is not so hard to pull a trigger. There are probably simple evolutionary reasons why drowning oneself (without weights) or jumping is hard, but moving your finger on a stick is easy.

  63. #63 Rose M. Welch
    May 15, 2012

    Are you really in favor of homeschooling? Because having no check on homeschooling parents short of friends, neighbors, or family calling up Child Protective Services is the worst idea I can imagine to foster homeschooling. How do you think that will play out?

    This system has nothing to do with ‘fostering’ homeschooling. It’s a good legal balance for oversight, however. Unless you favor a different system? If so, tell us about it.

    Anyway, I don’t think this is the best system EVAR, and if you look at my comments, you’ll see that I was explaining the system that we use, as opposed to advocating for such a system.

    Regarding the family I mentioned @36, where the kids were sitting around playing computer games, I know this family, but I got all the details of their problems from the mom’s sister. (The sister– the kids’ aunt– is herself a homeschooling mom. So there was no anti-homeschooling agenda, there.) How well do you think it would work, for the aunt to report her own sister to CPS? My guess is, the sisters would stop speaking and the kids would not have the benefit they have now, of their aunt’s efforts to give them some education.

    …? I think you missed some points there. As I stated before, you can report anonymously, and they don’t tell who reported, anyway, so how would the sister ever know? It could be their kung-fu teacher, doctor, next door neighbor, anyone. Next, they might be bereft of their aunt’s efforts (although why her tutoring would have to stop is beyond me), but they’d receive an education, which is pretty much the point, right?

    There needs to be some non-punitive way to test homeschooled children. And calling CPS is definitely not it!

    Again, you’re missing alot of info. CPS is not a punitive organization. A judge isn’t going to fine them, jail them, or take otherwise healthy kids out of their home. They’re simply going to take steps to ensure that the children aren’t being neglected. In the event that the children are being neglected, the judge may order them into a public or private school, or requiring signs of improvement by x date. (The former is far more common than the latter.)

    I’m speaking about real cases here, in multiple states, by the way. This is what actually happens when someone reports a family for educational neglect.

    The issue is complicated, though, because a lot of kids are homeschooled in the first place because of problems like autism-spectrum disorder, and quirky learning disabilities. They aren’t going to do well on objective tests, regardless of how they’re educated.

    Actually, the opposite is true. Objective testing would show how they’re doing. (My oldest son and oldest younger brother both have autism.) Of course, this isn’t relevant because judges don’t normally order testing.

    They generally review the educational records of the family or ask for references. In families with special needs children, such as my own, I’d suspect that the judge. With CPS, very case is handled on an individual basis, which is the only way to look at homeschooling families. (Which doesn’t mean that someone might come up with a better option.)

    The sister of the math-whizz (@36) has had terrible problems with math– except for certain aspects of geometry, where she’s brilliant! She’s now in an art college studying for a BFA, playing to her strengths. I think if she had been in public school, she might have been labeled globally dumb, and never gone to college at all.

    I’m glad to hear that. My oldest kiddo is pretty advanced in science and engineering and I don’t think she’d have any outlet for those things in our local brick-and-mortar schools. As it is, she is on her way to a promising future. :)

  64. #64 Greg Laden
    May 15, 2012

    It should be, and it is, increasingly so.

    I might be a statistical anomaly, but there happen to be a number of people very close to me, or in my past who were (but now geographically separated) who were very close to and/or attempted suicide. Two people I know quite well spent a lot of time not jumping off of things. One of those finally got hold of a large quantity of barbituates and did it that way, but was rescued at the last minute. The other eventually disappeared, last seen heading for the Atlantic.

    I’m really not at liberty to repeat all of the stories I know but I know enough to take it somewhat personally when someone who simply wants to own guns without restrictions twists facts and ignores the realities of suicide and firearms just to keep the regulations away form his toys. I find that kind of thinking and behavior to be equivalent to commercial arson … people who burn down buildings that are probably empty for personal gain. You have to pretty much be unconnected emphatically to the rest of the human race to demand that society let you keep a loaded pistol on your nightstand when you are raising teenagers or have depressed adults in your house.

  65. #65 hoary puccoon
    May 16, 2012

    Rose @65-

    You and I are talking past each other, so it’s useless to argue. I just have three questions–

    1. What percentage of homeschooled children end up being evaluated by CPS?

    2. Do you actually know people who had CPS show up at their home, who thought it was a pleasant experience?

    3. I agree an objective test can show *how* a child is doing. What specific– (the official name of the test, and the name of the testing organization)– test is able to differentiate between children who haven’t mastered material because of learning disabilities and children who haven’t been exposed to grade-appropriate materials?

  66. #66 Wow
    May 16, 2012

    At university two people had to get counselling for depression and exhaustion-based nervous breakdown in the final year of the degree.

    They had to close off the clock tower because students (often asian, where failing at an exam is a loss of FAMILY honour) were jumping off the tower when they didn’t get a first class honours.

    Imagine if they had been able to get hold of guns.

  67. #67 Wow
    May 16, 2012

    “She’s now in an art college studying for a BFA, playing to her strengths. I think if she had been in public school, she might have been labeled globally dumb, and never gone to college at all.”

    However, if there had been nobody willing to let her study art, she wouldn’t find out how to play to her strengths.

    Whereas a school curriculum including “useless” mandatory courses (to a certain school age) ensures that, even if the parents are ABSOLUTELY convinced that it will be of NO USE EVAR, the child still gets “forced” to try it and find they like it.

  68. #68 Wow
    May 16, 2012

    “but in the Boston area there’s a homeschooling community that cooperates to teach small seminars for the homeschooling kids at junior high and high school age.”

    And this is different from publicly funded schooling how?

    Just thought this “fix” to homsechooling was rather amusing. To avoid the public schooling scenario, enact a scenario identical to it…

    :-)

  69. #69 Chris
    May 16, 2012

    There is nothing wrong with this, but it is true that most “fixes” to homeschooling are additions of traditional schooling modalities.

  70. #70 hoary puccoon
    May 16, 2012

    Wow @70, 71–

    There’s an old French saying that, loosely translated, goes “the good is the enemy of the best.” That pretty much applies to homeschooling. At its best, kids are much more involved in setting the direction of their schooling, without being allowed to ignore the standard subjects of a well-rounded education. In the Boston group I mentioned, the literature seminar ran for years- actually, long after the child of the mom teaching it had gone on to college (ahem… Harvard….) The kids were given much more choice about what they read than I ever was in school. But the teacher was adamant it had to be what she considered serious literature.

    Some of the kids wanted music, so the entire family joined a group which does public performances in the Boston area. Others were in an amateur drama group that included both kids and adults. The math whiz had a part time job writing computer programs for a science lab at a university. Another kid, interested in film, worked for an independent filmmaker. One family did a gradeschool-level unit on European history– coordinated with a family vacation to Europe. (Public schools obviously don’t have that kind of budget!)

    The kids usually end up very much more involved and motivated than most kids in public school– as well as making close friends with the other homeschooling kids. That’s homeschooling that really shines. If you saw it in action, you’d know the difference from public school.

    There are two other kinds of homeschooling. One is homeschooling that follows a strict curriculum. French children of world cruisers, for instance, use materials from the French government, are given the same tests as children in regular classrooms, etc. Sometimes this works all right. Sometimes it creates conflict between the parents, who have to enforce this rigid schedule, and the kids, who are as bored as kids often are in public school, with added distractions like dolphins playing around the boat’s bow.

    The last kind of homeschooling is the worst- parents who don’t actually *want* their children educated. So their education revolves around *not* learning about evolution, etc. This is the kind of homeschooling that really hurts the kids.

    The problem is, what kind of regulation and oversight would catch the third kind of homeschoolers, without undercutting the first? It’s a difficult issue. I don’t think there are any easy answers.

  71. #71 hoary puccoon
    May 16, 2012

    Oh, and full disclosure– I was not homeschooled, nor were my children.

  72. #72 Greg Laden
    May 16, 2012

    Voltaire: “The best is the enemy of the good.” but probably better in English as “The perfect is the enemy of the good” especially on the blogosphere.

  73. #73 Wow
    May 16, 2012

    “The kids usually end up very much more involved and motivated than most kids in public school”

    Kids usually end up very involved and motivated in school FOR THE SUBJECTS THEY LIKE than most kids homeschooled.

    I note too that the kids had to get their parents to agree to let them take these subjects.

    But how did the kids learn of their existence?

    If the parents don’t know or don’t want their kids to know, then they must be being educated outside their parents remit.

    Something that homeschooling doesn’t ensure happens. Unlike the state school system.

  74. #74 Wow
    May 16, 2012

    “The problem is, what kind of regulation and oversight would catch the third kind of homeschoolers, without undercutting the first?”

    The same kind of regulation and oversight.

    Duh.

    The problem being, as you put it, the dolphins playing nearby.

    Not the course.

    If your kids want chewing gum, chips and twinkies for every meal, every day, do you let them?

    No.

    Even if they don’t LIKE a proper cooked meal, malnutrition is not something we’re able to notice until after it bites. And as a responsible parent (and responsible society) you dictate some of what they get to eat.

    It seems to me that homeschoolers do not want and do not like a democracy.

    It seems that they do not want anything other than dictatorship in their own homes.

    Except, unless you’re dictacting terms to your own self, you HAVE to have a consensus view of what to dictate on others in a democracy. Your children are merely in your care, not in your power. They are separate people and should NOT be forced to YOUR idea of what they should be.

    As with any other influence on a third party, a democracy requires that your society, not your single member of it, define what should be the bounds applied to another. Even if it is “your” kid.

  75. #75 hoary puccoon
    May 16, 2012

    Greg @75– Merci.

    Wow @76, 77–

    I can see you feel strongly about this. But you know, sweetie, you don’t actually sound like you know a whole lot about homeschooling.

  76. #76 Greg Laden
    May 16, 2012

    Hoary, probably true. I’ve read a few articles on it, I’ve read a small number of ed department reports and the literature from homeschooling websites, I’ve encountered homeshcooling from the perspective of traditional education teaching intro college classes for several years as well as via my work with teachers.

    I am self-taught from 10th grade through college, so I’m as “homeschooled” as the next person, having obtained a high school degree and a college degree (with honors and stuff) without any formal education. That is not the same as homeshooling one’s children.

    What I do know a fair amount about having spent some real time dealing with it is the culture of people who are both on-line and homeschooling. That culture is diverse; there are all sorts of people homeschooling. But a large proportion of these folks have some similar and overlapping characteristics.

    One of those is identifying people who they think are against homeschooling and then spending a fair amount of energy telling them that they don’t know much about homeschooling, or are otherwise flawed.

    For me, I think homeschooling, especially the more recent experiments that aren’t just mom who may or may not have gone to college at home with the kids, some old textbooks, and a bible, is pretty interesting and I think more people should do it. I support the idea.

    Having said that, I also think there are a lot of people “doing it rong” and the homeschooling community in general tends to be reticent to admit that it could possibly be imperfect in any way. My sense is that homeschooling parents are often not good listeners, and are often unable to take any kind of criticism at all.

    But it is not as bad as it looks by just reviewing comments on blog posts like this. For every person who shows up with 20 comments, seeming to be a little too paranoid, a little too willing to cast others in convenient molds, a little too biased, a little to crazy, there is another person who writes one comment, or even a private email, indicating that they are not like this and are a bit embarrassed about some off their fellow travelers.

    So, in the end, how much I know about it matters very little because most of the extensive commentary is not about what I’ve said. It is about what people assume I’m thinking. If that really is a common way of looking at the world among home schooling parents, then homeschooling really does have a problem. Presumably, though, those are just the loud-mouths.

  77. #77 hoary puccoon
    May 16, 2012

    Greg @ 79–

    Part of the defensiveness of homeschoolers is, I think, the defensiveness of almost all parents when their children or their parenting skills are questioned. The only difference is, parents who send their kids to a nice, suburban public school with good test scores almost never do get questioned about why they did it.

    Part of the defensiveness, I suspect, is also that a lot of kids end up being homeschooled because they have academic or behavioral problems. The two cases of that I know well, the children did much better homeschooled. (Both were in enriched environment homeschooling, with lots of contact with other kids.) So of course the parents were infuriated when people attributed the kid’s remaining problems to homeschooling, instead of complimenting the parents on the kid’s marked improvement.

    That said, yes, I have also seen parents who were blind to the problems of their homeschooling curriculum– especially curricula pushing creationism. Or, “unschooling” that was essentially no schooling.

    So the problem is, yet again, how do you test so you know who’s doing a good job– short of waiting until senior year to see if they pass their SAT’s?

  78. #78 Greg Laden
    May 16, 2012

    This is not even close to an unsolvable problem. I would evaluate home school students the same way as traditional school students, and that evacuation would allow for a wide range of methods and a great flexibility in timing. Any valid evaluation will not produce a false positive, yet many methods produce false negatives. While it might be reasonable for some subjects to be evaluated in a limited number of ways (though at the moment I’m not thinking of any examples) I would like to see us acknowledge that some students do well with one kind of evaluation and others with a different kind, make them all available to test reasonably standardized bodies of knowledge and allow for any subject to be covered by locally made evaluation as long as it meets whatever standards prevail.

    The point is, we really should have a widely applicable yet flexible system of evaluation such that it should not matter too much what the context of learning or study is.

  79. #79 Rose M. Welch
    May 16, 2012

    68:

    You and I are talking past each other, so it’s useless to argue.

    I agree that it’s useless to argue, but I have to wonder why folks here keep talking about arguing. Is it not possible to have a conversation in this space, to achieve détente? Also, I disagree that I’m ‘talking past you’. I’m responding to pretty much every question directed at me, whereas other folks seem to be cherry picking what points to reply.

    I just have three questions– 1. What percentage of homeschooled children end up being evaluated by CPS? 2. Do you actually know people who had CPS show up at their home, who thought it was a pleasant experience?

    *sigh* Please reread the comment thread. Greg laid out some BS about how homeschoolers are unaccountable and untouchable. I pointed out that this isn’t even remotely true, because in addition to the accountability measures in most states, all states offer the CPS option. I’m really unsure how that translated to ‘I <3 CPS! Ask me about it!'.

    Regardless, not only are there no reliable statistics for your first question*, but I don't even see how either question is relevant. If I think someone is neglecting their child/ren, my concern is not going to be for their entertainment. With that being said, my ex-husband called CPS on me several times during and after our divorce. The worker was a short, black lady named Patty that walked with a cane and probably could have kicked my butt with it, despite her age. She was a hoot and a half, especially there by the end, because after her first two investigations, she knew the score and the remaining two visits did have some pretty amusing conversations.

    *Who qualifies as a homeschooler, to you? Do I qualify? Do coop children qualify? Do 3-year-olds qualify? What kind of CPS visits are you interested in? The kind where a neighbor reports a child truant, the Cali parent sends over their license and the worker leaves without ever entering the home or speaking to a child? The kind where an angry family members calls for a non-educational reason? Or are you just interested in visits that were specifically prompted by an educational neglect call? And how would you get the various CPS-style organizations in each state to collect that data? A worker called out in a messy-home call who enters a sparkling abode may never evaluate for any educational issues, and their homeschooling status may not be entered into the record. Some states aren't allowed to disclose that kind of information, at risk of losing all federal funding.

    I think your first question is very interesting, but I wouldn't want to be the person in charge of the methodology for determining the answer. :)

    3. I agree an objective test can show *how* a child is doing. What specific– (the official name of the test, and the name of the testing organization)– test is able to differentiate between children who haven’t mastered material because of learning disabilities and children who haven’t been exposed to grade-appropriate materials?

    Again, I wonder at the relevancy of the question. You seem to be asking for a catch-all test, possible under the assumption that a judge will use a catch-all test? If so, case studies disagree with you. If you called CPS on me tomorrow, the judge is going to review my records. If my records don’t satisfy him, I’m going to have to provide references. If I can’t do that, a judge is probably just going to order us to stop homeschooling, and choose another option.

    However, if testing were relevant, I can’t imagine that the same test (evaluation is a better word) would be required for all of them. My children were evaluated at the beginning of this year by folks at the Anselm Center for Consultation and Evaluation and they all took different assessments. My son, Micheal, who does have learning disabilities, had a day of testing provided, whereas my daughter took two assessments that didn’t even take an entire afternoon. If I’ve misunderstood you, please feel free to rephrase. :)

    Oh, also, ‘grade-appropriate’ is really a misnomer, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation. :P

    71:

    “but in the Boston area there’s a homeschooling community that cooperates to teach small seminars for the homeschooling kids at junior high and high school age.”

    And this is different from publicly funded schooling how? Just thought this “fix” to homsechooling was rather amusing. To avoid the public schooling scenario, enact a scenario identical to it… :-)

    Those scenarios aren’t even close to identical. My own coop, for instance, is about to start a robotics program. So that’s 8-10 kids, ages 8-12, with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds engaging in an engineering program with 2-4 adults directing but not controlling their study. That’s about as different from an Oklahoma classroom as night is from day. Sure, they’re both sections of time, but that’s where the similarity ends. (See also: hoary puccoon’s spot-on comments.)

    Of course, alot of homeschoolers don’t have a problem with the idea of public funding at all, but rather with the local execution. In those cases, doing it better is a perfectly logical response.

    76:
    “The kids usually end up very much more involved and motivated than most kids in public school”

    Kids usually end up very involved and motivated in school FOR THE SUBJECTS THEY LIKE than most kids homeschooled.

    You think this isn’t true for children in public schools, as well? Of course people do better with things that they like. That’s true overall.

    I note too that the kids had to get their parents to agree to let them take these subjects. But how did the kids learn of their existence? If the parents don’t know or don’t want their kids to know, then they must be being educated outside their parents remit. Something that homeschooling doesn’t ensure happens. Unlike the state school system.

    Um…. No. You’re wrong. Very, very wrong. Again, parents are required to provide a standard education for their children, with very few exceptions. If a parent is not meeting those standards, they can be forced to stop homeschooling. More importantly, the state school system doesn’t provide an outlet for these things. State schools rarely teach more than the basics and, in many states, they don’t even teach that. (I offer my own evolution-free public school education as an example. And I took honors biology, to boot.)

    Yeah, some states have great schools and do offer alot of enrichment. In other states, you don’t have art, music, engineering, or even hands-on science. In Oklahoma, you’re lucky if you can even read, unlike 73% of our 8th graders.

    The same kind of regulation and oversight. Duh. The problem being, as you put it, the dolphins playing nearby. Not the course. If your kids want chewing gum, chips and twinkies for every meal, every day, do you let them? No. Even if they don’t LIKE a proper cooked meal, malnutrition is not something we’re able to notice until after it bites. And as a responsible parent (and responsible society) you dictate some of what they get to eat.

    I’m really trying to figure out how any of this is relevant. Do you think that public-schooled kiddos aren’t subject to distraction, or malnutrition/miseducation?

    It seems to me that homeschoolers do not want and do not like a democracy. It seems that they do not want anything other than dictatorship in their own homes. Except, unless you’re dictacting terms to your own self, you HAVE to have a consensus view of what to dictate on others in a democracy. Your children are merely in your care, not in your power. They are separate people and should NOT be forced to YOUR idea of what they should be. As with any other influence on a third party, a democracy requires that your society, not your single member of it, define what should be the bounds applied to another. Even if it is “your” kid.

    Ahh, I see that you are not only lacking in information about homeschooling, but also about parenting in general. You see, both require cooperation from the people in question. As for the rest, your philosophy applies equally to publicly-schooled students. Either way, someone with an agenda has created a program for these kids, whether they like it or need it or not. It’s an interesting philosophy (and one that I don’t necc. disagree with) but not really relevant to the topic at hand.

    79:

    One of those is identifying people who they think are against homeschooling and then spending a fair amount of energy telling them that they don’t know much about homeschooling, or are otherwise flawed.

    So, to recap, if you (the colloquial you, not the specific you) engage in the strawman fallacy, that’s okay. If someone points out that fact, they’re the bad guy. LOL, I <3 this statement. Seriously. Because an awful lot of people fight strawmen on just about every topic and your statement has just reduced the logical folks who point out those strawbattles to yet another strawman. Very meta. I'm impressed.

    With all of that being said, I wonder why people don't question families who choose private school over public school. In most states, private schools are subject to the same rules (or lack thereof) as homeschoolers. A friend of mine has a 9-year-old daughter who can't read, but whose private school was happy to keep taking her tuition and passing her. This is par for the course, yet only homeschooling families are subject to mass scrutiny and censure.

    Having said that, I also think there are a lot of people “doing it rong” and the homeschooling community in general tends to be reticent to admit that it could possibly be imperfect in any way. My sense is that homeschooling parents are often not good listeners, and are often unable to take any kind of criticism at all.

    I feel the same way about public schools. Lots of them are ‘doing it rong’, but the community in general tends to be reticent about admitting any imperfect that can’t be foisted back on the parents. (And they’re not always wrong about that.) But in the end, bureaucracies are not usually very good listeners, and are unable to take any kind of criticism or make any kind of real improvements.

    90:

    So the problem is, yet again, how do you test so you know who’s doing a good job– short of waiting until senior year to see if they pass their SAT’s?

    Some states requires parents to send notification, test scores, and/or professional evaluation of student progress. Some other states require parents to send notification or achievement test scores and/or professional evaluation, plus other requirements (e.g. curriculum approval by the state, teacher qualification of parents, or home visits by state officials), although I think that’s a little extreme.

    If you asked me for my ‘best’ scenario, it would be a yearly eval by an independent organization that is trained to use a variety of methods with which to measure student outcomes. In Oklahoma, we have the Anselm Center. I don’t know that all states have similar orgs, however, and any evaluation system is subject to manipulation.

    This conversation makes me recall the vehicle inspection that we used to have in this state. Some places were happy to take your $5 in exchange for an inspection sticker, while carefully not seeing any problems with your vehicle. Other places jumped on non-existent problems to serve their own financial agenda. We eventually scrapped the system, and now rely on police and the public to keep an eye out for malfunctioning vehicles. I suspect that most homeschool evaluation programs would be the same, especially since states have such a vested financial interest in keeping children in public schools.

  80. #80 Ruth Luria
    May 16, 2012

    “It seems to me that homeschoolers do not want and do not like a democracy.”

    Libertarians often don’t. Or is that librarians.

  81. #81 Wow
    May 17, 2012

    “So the problem is, yet again, how do you test so you know who’s doing a good job”

    Someone whose JOB is to teach can be evaluated on past performance to ensure decent expectation of a reasonably high future performance.

    However, unless you’re popping out kids on a production basis, a parent homeshcooling will give barely enough datapoints to assess their ability before they no longer have to bother.

    So for homeschooling, you HAVE to wait for SATs. The only way is to grade the child after the fact.

  82. #82 Wow
    May 17, 2012

    “So of course the parents were infuriated when people attributed the kid’s remaining problems to homeschooling,”

    Yet are completely blase about attributing kids problems to state schooling…

    “you don’t actually sound like you know a whole lot about homeschooling.”

    I don’t have to know much about dog-turd cuisine to know I shouldn’t eat it.

    You don’t seem to know much about homeschooling either. Doesn’t seem to hinder you proclaiming on it. So why should I?

  83. #83 Rose M. Welch
    May 17, 2012

    Someone whose JOB is to teach can be evaluated on past performance to ensure decent expectation of a reasonably high future performance. However, unless you’re popping out kids on a production basis, a parent homeshcooling will give barely enough datapoints to assess their ability before they no longer have to bother. So for homeschooling, you HAVE to wait for SATs. The only way is to grade the child after the fact.

    So you can evaluate a first-year teacher after one year, but another first-year teacher only after a decade and an SAT? Really? That doesn’t seem very logical to me. Also, the previous points have been made regarding the evaluation of students, which can be done quite handily in a variety of ways.

  84. #84 Wow
    May 18, 2012

    “So you can evaluate a first-year teacher after one year”

    Hmm. Another failure of the Homeshcooling regime.

    Seems you can’t actually read Rose. Never said anything of the sort. Even though you quoted my comment, you didn’t actually read.

    Then again, I don’t expect someone who got homeschooled to have the same level of competence at basic English comprehension as someone who had to do what professionals have considered the required learning.

  85. #85 hoary puccoon
    May 19, 2012

    Are you quite sure, Wow, that you want to bring up reading comprehension? I was going to let this go entirely, but I must point out that nobody claimed public schools *cause* problems like autism spectrum, attention deficit disorder, or dyslexia. That was *your* misreading.

    In fact, in the 2 cases I know well where the kids had recognized problems (dyslexia and autism spectrum) the school personnel tried conscientiously to give children extra help. But, in fact, the kids did better at home.

    The autism spectrum child could have his school day broken up into shorter periods with rest in between, so his stress levels didn’t build up.

    The child with dylexia had a very intensive program at home– hours and hours of reading and being read to, with books the child found particularly interesting.

    Those are the kinds of solutions public schools simply don’t have the resources to carry out.

    Just a suggestion–If you want to convince us that public schooling is vastly superior to homeschooling, you really need to make sure your own comments are spot on, carefully worded, and free of vulgarity. Otherwise, the natural reaction to your comments is going to be, “Well, Wow obviously doesn’t know anything about a good education. He clearly never had one.”

  86. #86 Greg Laden
    May 19, 2012

    Has anyone made the claim that traditional public education is vastly superior to homeschooling??.

    READING COMPREHENSHUN PEOPLE!!!!!

  87. #87 hoary puccoon
    May 20, 2012

    Just got off the phone with the homeschooling mom of the autistic child I mentioned above. He’s now in tenth grade, and was recently given a standard achievement test. Reading comprehension level: 12th grade 5th month! :-)

  88. #88 hoary puccoon
    May 20, 2012

    Wow @87 says–

    “I don’t expect someone who got homeschooled to have the same level of competence at basic English comprehension as someone who had to do what professionals have considered the required learning.”

    Yes, my comprehension of that, poor as you may find it, Greg, is that traditional public education is vastly superior to homeschooling. As my post above indicates, however, that is not necessarily the case.

  89. #89 Greg Laden
    May 20, 2012

    I hadn’t read that.

    That is, however, what a lot of teachers think of home schoolers, because that is what they encounter. What many middle school and high school teachers encounter is one of the following: 1) A student shows up after having been home schooled and they have that whole socially awkward and/or not up to snuff in key areas thing going, or 2) a student in regular school suddenly vanishes (perhaps in 10th grade or so) and returns after a year or a semester “home-schooled” and oh, look, one of the courses finished over that time was biology.

    Here’s the thing: It isn’t any more valid to make the claim that all home schooling is bad because the above happens (and it really does happen) than it is valid to make the claim that traditional schooling totally sucks because (fill in the blank with your favorite public school horror story). Both happen, and neither is the whole story.

    The thing that annoys me about much of the home schooling community is this: Lots of people in traditional public education are willing to critique it and readily admit to its shortcoming. I work with traditional public school education issues all the time in several different capacities and this is often the conversation. Among homeschoolers, it is much more common to see great effort expended to boost homeschooling, identify real critiques and deflate them without really addressing them, and there is often an added sensitivity whereby critiques that are not even being made a are address.

  90. #90 Wow
    May 21, 2012

    “Reading comprehension level: 12th grade 5th month! :-)”

    I was sent to school very young. When I was 8 my reading age was 18 years.

    I also had tonsilitis and spent many many weeks at home making noises like an angry Walrus on heat. REALLY bad tonsils.

    And I watched Open University (as well as kids educational programs).

    However, I’m not normal.

    And, in needing to cater for “most children” (as with TV catering to “most viewers” or corporations producing goods for “most consumers”), school could have gone a LOT faster to get me through it, but would have had an unmanageable process for dealing with the 30 kids in a class of different abilities and interests.

    My parents, too, didn’t mind me learning geometry, biology, geology and all manner of “irreligious” study.

    Most parents aren’t like that either. Most USians that want homeschooling want it to avoid having their kids learn irreligious/liberal/hippy stuff.

  91. #91 Wow
    May 21, 2012

    “I was going to let this go entirely, but I must point out that nobody claimed public schools *cause* problems like autism spectrum, attention deficit disorder, or dyslexia.”

    I’m somebody, therefore I too haven’t claimed “public schools *cause* problems like autism spectrum…”.

    “That was *your* misreading.”

    Going for a search, I find “autism” in:

    Posted by: hoary puccoon | May 15, 2012 10:25 AM
    Posted by: Rose M. Welch | May 15, 2012 8:51 PM

    So I find nowhere your claim of *my* misreading supported.

  92. #92 Rose M. Welch
    May 25, 2012

    Wow: “Hmm. Another failure of the Homeshcooling regime. Seems you can’t actually read Rose. Never said anything of the sort. Even though you quoted my comment, you didn’t actually read. Then again, I don’t expect someone who got homeschooled to have the same level of competence at basic English comprehension as someone who had to do what professionals have considered the required learning.”

    I love this comment, as I love all comments that are so obviously hypocritical. Wow, I’ve neither stated nor implied that I am, myself, homeschooled, so everything you just said about reading comprehension really only applies to youself. :D

    hoary: “The autism spectrum child could have his school day broken up into shorter periods with rest in between, so his stress levels didn’t build up. The child with dylexia had a very intensive program at home– hours and hours of reading and being read to, with books the child found particularly interesting.”

    My son has ADHD and is severely dyslexic and we do many of these things, as well. Being able to skip the meds and focus individually on the needs of each kiddo is pretty amazing. :)

    Greg: “A student shows up after having been home schooled and they have that whole socially awkward and/or not up to snuff in key areas thing going…”

    And students who have always been publicly schooled don’t?

    “…and oh, look, one of the courses finished over that time was biology.”

    This is a silly scenario. Do you have any evidence that this actually happens? I ask because parents already have the right to ask for alternative assignments, and because many public schools don’t teach evolution. My high school certainly didn’t, and I passed Honors Biology with flying colors.

  93. #93 gregladen
    May 25, 2012

    Rose, the particular students I am talking about are distinct. They do not represent all home schooled students. No, they do not resemble modal public school students … That is the point made by these teachers. Referring to the state of public schools and public education is one of those vacuous and defensive homeschoolers arguments that everyone recognizes and no one is impressed by.

  94. #94 Larry Staley
    KY
    July 17, 2012

    Wishing something away will not make the world safer, England tried some of the laws you thought about and thier crime rate has risen to epidemic levels. If no guns it would be swords, if no swords it would be baseball bats, no bats, it would be rocks, no rock it would be knives, so no matter what you make illegal the problem will still be there. As far as suicides, the ones that use a gun are more serious about committing suicide, alot of failed suicides are just an attempt to draw attention to themselves. Any person that is serious will succede, car running in the garage, cars should be banned? You can’t fix stupid, some people are not equipped to live long productive lives, cold hard fact. Drugs and alcohol ruin more lives every day than firearms, but the line at the liquor store is as long as ever. No one wants to tackle prohibition again. Banning things does not work, creating more red tape rarly helps either. If Dr’s got some balls and entered info to instant check system when pt’s were suicidal that might actually help with your complaint, perhaps you should get someone to lobby for the input to the instant check system for suicidal pt’s. Might be a worthy goal, and have much better chance of succeding than a gun ban.

  95. #95 Troy Staten
    us
    July 31, 2014

    nice blog, i read it.
    Homeschooling is best way to understand the subjects and it’s far superior to face-to-face as the student is feel relaxed in their home environment.

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