Pharyngula

Jerry Coyne gets email

Coyne was quoted in this article on homeschooling, which brought in an unexpected surge of email, including some rather nasty words from the Christians. This doesn’t surprise me at all; criticizing religion, especially the more far-out beliefs that are clearly unsupportable and in contradiction to all of the evidence, is always a reliable trigger to start some kooks spewing.

Homeschooling is another trigger. People care very much about their kids, and so telling them that they’re wrecking their children’s future by giving them a substandard education poisoned with a falsified ideology is not the kind of thing that will get you pleasant nods of approval…even if it is true. I’m one of those people who thinks we ought to be consistent and require everyone to attend an accredited school, public or private, and that private schools ought also to be required to meet certain secular standards, such as that their science education ought to address the evidence reasonably. You want to send your kids to a school that teaches them all about Jesus? Fine. But it doesn’t count as a legitimate education unless it also teaches the basics of science, math, history, English, etc. in a way that meets state education standards.

It’s the same principle that warrants requiring vaccinations for all children: for the defense of our society.

Comments

  1. #1 jackal.eyes
    March 7, 2010

    My brother was home schooled because the public school system couldn’t deal with his learning disabilities. The only other choice would have been to send him to an expensive private school that would have rammed Catholicism down his throat. Ideally, there would be better options, but in reality, home schooling is sometimes the best available. In PA, home schooled children are required to take yearly standardized tests to make sure they’re learning the public school material. As long as evolution is on those tests (I don’t know if it is), and as long as students who don’t pass the tests are no allowed to continue being home schooled (I don’t know how well the testing is enforced), then there shouldn’t be a problem.

  2. #2 Givesgoodemail
    March 7, 2010

    Drawing parallels between consistency in vaccinations and consistency in education isn’t valid.

    No one (in their right mind) does home vaccinations, because that would be inconsistent, ineffective, and absolutely dangerous. On the other hand, anyone who knows what they’re doing, or is willing to learn how, can educate their children (with or without religious components) much more adequately than a regimented curriculum.

    Children left to their own devices are amazing engines of self-education, if they are given opportunity and resources. Parents can tailor educational programs to suit their children’s strong and weak pints far better than a teacher can, because a teacher has to handle 20, 30, or even 40 students at a time.

    Homeschooling, particularly the style called un-schooling, works. I’m watching it work even now far more successfully than I dreamed it would.

  3. #3 Nessa
    March 7, 2010

    I just want to point out that not everyone home-schools for religious reasons. I am an atheist home-schooling my boys, because I don’t want to send them to a religious private school, but I want a better education for them than the public schools can provide.

  4. #4 jackal.eyes
    March 7, 2010

    The long and short of it is: home schooling would be fine if properly regulated.

  5. #5 Benjamin Geiger
    March 7, 2010

    I was ‘homeschooled’ for secular reasons. I was bullied daily, and the school administrators and faculty either turned a blind eye or actively participated. After years of threats failed to work, my mother decided to pull me out of school after sixth grade and educate me at home, using a (fully accredited) correspondence high school service based in Chicago. If memory serves, if I didn’t go through this correspondence school, and my mother instead taught me herself, then I would have to take the GED.

    I’d like to see similar services crop up, and possibly even have some run by the government. (I know school districts run “hospital/homebound” programs to educate those who cannot physically attend school; this might be a good overlap/replacement.)

    I’m not opposed to the idea of homeschooling, obviously. I just wish there were better regulation of it. Not everyone who homeschools is a religious nut; some actually do want the best education possible for their children.

  6. #7 1webdeveloper
    March 7, 2010

    I’m another atheist who has one child being home schooled. I suspect there may be quite a number of us out there.

  7. #8 Glen Davidson
    March 7, 2010

    In South Australia, religious schools are no longer allowed to teach creationism as science. They can teach it in religion classes.

    That seems appropriate to me. Why should people even be able to pay to have religious instructors lie to their children about science?

    Of course the parents don’t want to hear that they’re harming their children with their lies, especially when it’s demonstrably true.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  8. #9 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Home schooling has a negative image for various reasons:

    * All too often kids are home schooled so they won’t go to school with “them darkies” and other untermenschen.

    * All too often kids are home schooled to protect them from evilution, sex education (including acceptance of LGBTs as real people), and other unchristian topics.

    * Some home school teachers like Andy Schlafly are obviously incompetent.

  9. #10 Pen
    March 7, 2010

    Obviously, there is no absolute correlation between Christianity and homeschooling. I, for example, am an atheist homeschooler. My daughter (8) thinks she would like to be a biologist, and I have no doubt that I can send her to university better prepared than most of the students you get.
    Still, why don’t you write a post summarizing the evolutionary and other knowledge you would like/need to see in first-year undergraduates? I would be interested…

  10. #11 Steven Dunlap
    March 7, 2010

    Sorry I have to disagree with PZ on this one.

    The effective re-segregation of the public school system along class lines that started at the beginning of the Reagan administration makes options for poor families living in crappy places really thin on the ground. My brother’s family had to live in horrid places where the schools not only suck, but also lack any special needs programs at all. Laws that require a city to pay for special needs children to attend private schools with the proper programs usually require an expensive lawsuit to make such happen. (back in the late 90s I spoke with a lawyer who makes about half his income suing the city of Oakland, CA for exactly this conduct, but he would not do more than talk to me on the phone for 5 minutes without a $2K retainer).

    So, it’s home school or throw ‘em in the shark tank. What would you choose for your special needs child?

  11. #12 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 7, 2010

    I’m one of those people who thinks we ought to be consistent and require everyone to attend an accredited school, public or private

    HELL NO.

    On a recent incarnation of the endless thread, I outlined the authoritarian nature of traditional schooling, and how it can be held responsible for many of the problems in our society. Both public and private schools are, in general, more focused on instilling “discipline” and obedience to superiors, and on administering “punishment” on those who don’t conform, than on encouraging young people to think for themselves and form their own identity. Not to mention the fact that taking a random group of young people in the unstable throes of emotional and hormonal development, and cooping them up together in close quarters in an institution, is a recipe for bullying – which often crushes vulnerable young people’s self-esteem, and wrecks their emotional health for life. I strongly suspect that the authoritarian nature of most schools is a core reason why most of the population, including many comparatively intelligent and skilled people, accept whatever they’re told and rarely challenge established social norms. Boarding schools, of course, are even worse in all of these respects (I am incredibly glad I went to a day school).

    Yes, in theory this is an argument for fixing the school system and getting rid of authoritarian notions of “hierarchy” and “discipline”, rather than taking children out of schools altogether. And I would be happy to send a child to one of the democratic “alternative schools” such as Summerhill or the Sudbury Valley School. But for most parents in most areas, this isn’t an option – and so I sincerely believe that, in a lot of cases, homeschooling is the right choice. And I definitely don’t believe that the state ought to force all children to go through compulsory schooling.

    I am unlikely ever to have children myself – partially because I don’t think I have any particular wisdom as to the “best” way to raise and educate children without causing them psychological damage. I would want to homeschool them rather than put them through the authoritarian state school system, but I wouldn’t necessarily trust myself to do a good job of homeschooling. As such, I think it would be irresponsible for me ever to have children. (Not that it’s a realistic possibility in any case, but let’s leave that aside for a minute.) But I do think that parents who are wiser, more stable, and more educated in psychology than me should certainly have the option of homeschooling their kids.

  12. #13 randallstevens
    March 7, 2010

    Wow, those comments on Coyne’s were pretty informative. For instance, I never knew that he was gay. Not only that, he’s an “evolution faggot”. Learn something new every day.

  13. #14 dude070012
    March 7, 2010

    I went through public school and still am fine some schools though are better than others depending on the individual

  14. #15 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    Yet another atheist homeschooler here. I fail to see why my right to educate my child should be removed because other people do it badly, especially while the public schools are failing children in every respect at such astronomical rates.

  15. #16 raven
    March 7, 2010

    that they’re wrecking their children’s future by giving them a substandard education poisoned with a falsified ideology is not the kind of thing that will get you pleasant nods of approval?even if it is true.

    One of my minor problems with the fundie xians is that they often set their kids up to fail.

    A substandard homeschooled education except for religious cult indoctrination in a complex and changing world is going to make it hard for the kids when they have to face reality. Fundie xians on average are lower on the socioeconomic scale.

    Not all homeschoolers are xian cultists. But the article on the “xian” (kook) textbooks said that 83% are.

    Not all homeschoolers do a bad job either. Who knows what the numbers are who get a high school equivalent education but they are likely over 50%.

    Sometimes it is a disaster. Two people I knew took their kids out of school for homeschooling. Which meant doing nothing. Both kids are now adults. One reads on a third grade level and the other barely reads despite them being of normal intelligence. These were BTW, not fundie xians.

  16. #17 tomh
    March 7, 2010

    Givesgoodemail wrote:
    anyone who knows what they’re doing, or is willing to learn how, can educate their children (with or without religious components) much more adequately than a regimented curriculum.

    That’s simply not true. Very few people are qualified, or can educate themselves to be qualified, to teach children all the various subjects that they need to compete in the modern world. It’s also difficult to learn effective teaching techniques – that’s why teachers are required to learn how to educate students, as well as master the subject matter itself. And a home school educator needs to master a wide variety of subjects. To say anyone can do it is just wishful thinking.

  17. #18 raven
    March 7, 2010

    I just want to point out that not everyone home-schools for religious reasons. I am an atheist home-schooling…

    17% of homeschoolers are not fundie xians. No one is denying you exist.

  18. #19 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    Where did the article state that 83% of homeschoolers are Christian cultists?

    I read that 83% wish to educate their children on religious and moral issues. You don’t want your kids educated about religion and morality?

    It was badly worded, and the interpretations are worse.

  19. #20 AnneH
    March 7, 2010

    I think that a homeschooling curriculum MUST meet certain standards, including evidence-based science, set by each state. It is unacceptable for any child to be taught that creationism is science.

    In Germany, homeschooling is illegal. An evangelical Christian family applied for asylum here, and received it, so they could home school their kids. Their reasons, from this article:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1968099,00.html

    But their main objection involved what was being taught in the classroom. “The curriculum goes against our Christian values,” Uwe says. “German schools use textbooks that force inappropriate subject matter onto young children and tell stories with characters that promote profanity and disrespect.”

    But beyond that, many religious parents have problems with sex education and other curricular requirements.

    I read that as “Oh noes! The satanic schools are forcing my precious lil darlings to learn about EVILUTION! and EFFECTIVE BIRTH CONTROL!”

    I get so angry at parents who insist on keeping their kids fekkin’ ignorant. I am also angry, as an American taxpayer, that my taxes go to give aid and support to religiotards who are not even citizens. These people do not deserve asylum.

  20. #21 Nessa
    March 7, 2010

    tomh; Teachers spend all that time learning time and classroom management skills, and how to teach 20-30 kids all at once. Teaching a child one on one is far different than teaching in a classroom. And like Givesgodeamail wrote, children are very effective at teaching themselves, given the proper encouragement and resources.

  21. #22 Samantha
    March 7, 2010

    I think there’s pros and cons to both homeschooling and state schooling. The schools here are (at least in my opinion) somewhat decent at not being total authoritarian regimes when the teachers rule their students and stomp out all individuality. At the same time, they’re definitely not for everyone.

    One of the biggest problems that can occur in both cases is problem teachers. As a student a year away from entering Teacher’s Ed, I’m dismayed at how many new grads are in the program “just because” and are actually getting teaching jobs without giving two figs about their students or what they’re teaching. However, parents can pose the opposite problem: they can care too much about their kids and what they’re learning and miss the fact that they either really don’t know what they’re doing or they’re teaching something that is only going to hinder their child.

    I think homeschooling for special needs is both the best and the worst choice, depending on the parent. I’m currently studying learning disability psychology in order to become a special needs teacher and it’s a very complex field. An intelligent parent who is sensitive to their child’s needs may be better off than a hassled teacher with a dozen special needs students to attend to, but a parent who doesn’t have the empathy, skills and intelligence necessary may not know how to help their child succeed to their greatest ability and may find themselves lost or even taking their frustration out on their child.

    In the end, I would say this: a parent who has the wits, sensitivity and flexibility to truly connect with their child is likely to do better as a home school teacher. They don’t have to have a particular level of education but they DO have to be willing to learn what they’re teaching beforehand and be open to learning extra in the moment. They have to be able to balance being permissive about learning with keeping a basic schedule and end goal in mind. They have to teach basic social rules and help their child learn the way that the world is and works, even if they choose to encourage the child’s individuality. Too many parents forget that although total free-reign might be easiest on the child’s learning, it’s going to be a major shock when the child is forced to confront reality, be it in a job or college/university. It’s a difficult balancing game and a parent has to be able to do well at it to truly make home schooling a benefit.

  22. #23 John Marley
    March 7, 2010

    On the other hand, anyone who knows what they’re doing, or is willing to learn how, can educate their children (with or without religious components) much more adequately than a regimented curriculum.

    [citation needed]

  23. #24 bart.mitchell
    March 7, 2010

    Homeschooling ignores one glaring fact. Your kids success depends on having an educated populace. Our daughter is one of those bright kids that excels at learning. Her teacher told us that having kids like her in the class make a big difference. Smart kids can help and inspire others who might give up on education. We are social animals, and kids need to learn that.

  24. #25 tomdoc
    March 7, 2010

    I know secular people who home school. They do it because they don’t care for the public schools in their area, not because they think the universe is 6,000 years old. My question is though, aren’t most of the text books written for homeschoolers religous in nature. How would a secular homeschooler find a good sciene textbook?

  25. #26 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    Tomdoc, that is the question! The answer is, you don’t use textbooks. You go out and find books that speak to the topic you are covering and you build your own curriculum. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

  26. #27 John Marley
    March 7, 2010

    How would a secular homeschooler find a good sciene textbook?

    Probably with a small amount of research.

  27. #28 pteryxx
    March 7, 2010

    tomh @17:

    “Very few people are qualified, or can educate themselves to be qualified, to teach children all the various subjects that they need to compete in the modern world. It’s also difficult to learn effective teaching techniques – that’s why teachers are required to learn how to educate students, as well as master the subject matter itself.”

    Unfortunately many career teachers don’t even know that. They’re put through teaching-degree diploma mills, where they’re *also* taught how to submit to authority and function in a hierarchy. And they don’t necessarily know their material. I was saddened when I heard a middle-school physics teacher ask what the difference was between acceleration and velocity. No offense intended toward the bright, dedicated, competent teachers who do their best for their students in spite of crippling school policies and lack of funding or support.

    I don’t have a good solution, except to recognize perhaps that we need a variety of types of quality schooling and the flexibility to support different types of students. Some need challenge, some freedom, some work better in groups and some alone; and their needs may change with age and subject.

  28. #29 tomh
    March 7, 2010

    Nessa wrote:
    children are very effective at teaching themselves, given the proper encouragement and resources.

    That’s probably the worst justification for homeschooling I’ve seen yet. Children can teach themselves! Well, that certainly lifts all responsibility from the adult involved. Homeschooling should be banned, as it is in many civilized countries.

  29. #30 Sisyphus
    March 7, 2010

    I’m torn between wanting to home school my child or sending her to public school. I wish we could afford private school but with our financial situation the way it is we can do public or have her baptized and do Catholic school. Catholic school offers smaller class sizes and better quality teachers (they’re funded by tax payer money as well as the church) but, of course you get the religious garbage thrown in with the actual learning.

    I was in both catholic school and public (was expelled from catholic school in the 3rd grade for a bad attitude [read: asking questions]) then put into public for the remainder of my education.

    Unfortunately for me I was a very bright child who had to go to schools in very poor neighbourhoods. The schools couldn’t afford good quality teachers and a lot of the students, for various reasons, were, shall we say, unmotivated to learn. Unless the school system is revamped (i.e. bring back holding kids back a grade when they fail instead of pushing them along – it’s not fair on them and it’s not fair on the other kids in the class) homeschooling may be the best option for parents who want their kids to do well. I’m only afraid that if I home schooled I would short change my kid in areas that I’m not strong in. I think I’m gong to take the middle ground and send her to public school and offer her supplementary work to do at home (or in class if she’s like I was and finishes her work early leaving her with nothing to do in class).

    /end pointless ramble

    The speed of the class is the speed of the slowest student

  30. #31 kantalope
    March 7, 2010

    The textbook delivers a religious ultimatum to young readers and parents, warning in its “History of Life” chapter that a “Christian worldview … is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is.”

    When the AP asked about that passage, university spokesman Brian Scoles said the sentence made it into the book because of an editing error and will be removed from future editions.

    It is best to laugh and talk like Dr. Strangelove: “heh, ya that paragraph was added by some scamp in the mailroom you know. heh. We all thought it was very funny hehehe and then, you know, someone forgot to cross it off. Very unfortunate you know.”

    No science….no science credit. That was not so hard.

    Xtians think science is all bunk anyway why do they pretend to need/want it?

  31. #32 Egbert Green
    March 7, 2010

    It’s tiring to have homeschooling assumed to be Christian, and young-earth creationist at that. Homeschoolers already outperform other students on standardized tests, some of which do include science sections. If the quality of the science education is a concern, why not just use a few extra tests as confirmation? It’s not very efficacious to make no exceptions in school attendance.

  32. #33 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 7, 2010

    Homeschooling should be banned, as it is in many civilized countries.

    This kind of open authoritarianism and state-power-worship makes me very sad.

    I refer anyone who actually cares about freedom to my post at #12.

  33. #34 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    Psst. Walton! You’d make a great homeschooler. ;)

  34. #35 raven
    March 7, 2010

    “I feel fairly strongly about this. These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Jerry Coyne, an ecology and evolution professor at the University of Chicago.
    deleted 2 paragraphs

    The textbook delivers a religious ultimatum to young readers and parents, warning in its “History of Life” chapter that a “Christian worldview … is the only correct view of reality; anyone who rejects it will not only fail to reach heaven but also fail to see the world as it truly is.”

    When the AP asked about that passage, university spokesman Brian Scoles said the sentence made it into the book because of an editing error and will be removed from future editions.

    According to the Bob Jones biology book, if you accept evolution and an old universe, you are going to hell. Odd, I don’t remember learning that in science classes.

    They have been called on it before. And said they would remove that passage. They never did and probably have no intention of doing so.

  35. #36 jenbphillips
    March 7, 2010

    Drawing parallels between consistency in vaccinations and consistency in education isn’t valid.
    No one (in their right mind) does home vaccinations, because that would be inconsistent, ineffective, and absolutely dangerous.

    You’re drawing the wrong parallel. The comparison isn’t to ‘home vaccination’, but to the rejection of vaccination based on arrogant ignorance (e.g. considering the wild-assed assertions of someone like Jenny McCarthy to be on equal footing with vaccine recommendations from the AAP). People who feel that they are revolting against scientific ‘dogma’ make up the majority of the anti-vax community, just as they make up the majority of the homeschooling community*. Both positions are damaging to the children who must endure them, and to our society as a whole, either by spreading ignorance or spreading vaccine-preventable diseases.

    My question is though, aren’t most of the text books written for homeschoolers religous in nature. How would a secular homeschooler find a good sciene textbook?

    It seems that a lot of the prepackaged curricula are creationist-themed. I agree with loveberry that extra effort in finding fact-based resources is both challenging and ‘worth it’. That said, I would love to see the NCSE, or JREF, or CFI, or the DickyD Foundation, etc. put out some sort of accredited homeschool curriculum for science and critical thinking.

  36. #37 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 7, 2010

    I refer anyone who actually cares about freedom to my post at #12.

    After posting this, I realise how arrogant it sounded. I retract it.

    What I meant to say was that anyone who cares about freedom should be engaging with the issue of the gross authoritarianism practised in most schools, and working to do something about it. Anyone who condemns homeschooling needs to address those issues.

  37. #38 LenaGuinn
    March 7, 2010

    It looks like a lot of people have spoken up about this, but I gotta show my pride anyway.
    I am a college student now and I attended a homeschool/charter school all throughout high school. The public schools where I lived were a joke and I actually wanted an education. I wanted to spend high school preparing for where I am now – University! – not trying to placate a number of the many restless social groups there, from students the teachers to the administration.
    Yes, there were other students at my school who were very religious – JWs and Church on the Rock – but even they had the same Biology and Chemistry standards as I did. We even had special classes for the sciences (and many electives as well, like astronomy and art).
    Homeschooling can do a lot of good for a person so long as its keeping with standards of education. There are people who ignore those standards and just teach their kids their own preconceived ideas, but please don’t group homeschooling for the sake of education with homeschooling for the sake of perpetuating ignorance. They are very different.

  38. #39 amphiox
    March 7, 2010

    #11, 12, 15

    Your objections are merely arguments for making public schools better, and fit fully into the spirit of PZ’s comments about appropriate standards and accreditation.

    And if, under such a system, you still want to homeschool, then all you have to do is incorporate yourself as a private school, obtain the appropriate accreditation to prove yourself competent in providing the appropriate quality of education, and off you go, with your student body of 1 (or 2 or whatever).

    (It would probably work out best not for a single family, but for a group of likeminded parents to get together to homeschool their children – you can tap into a greater pool of adult expertise this way.)

    And it is certainly true that an appropriately motivated child, with just a minimal amount of guidance, is usually exquisitely capable at self-education.

  39. #40 kantalope
    March 7, 2010

    Dockter Jay Wile is a funny guy too. http://www.christianitytoday.com/momsense/homeschoolcenter/interviews/jaywile.html?start=3Of course he was an atheist before finding Christianity. Went to a debate of all things and was told to “check out the facts” -and here are two books. But does he name the books? No….I’m so sad. Proof for Christianity and this edukater won’t tell us where to find it. So, for now I’ll assume it was Mad Magazine.

    But wait there is more: “Science is learned by the book, not in lab. I ask anyone who thinks otherwise to give me one example of a situation in which a student learned a single concept of science during lab. I taught lab classes for years and never saw it happen. Not one single time.”

    Now I’ll admit that not every lab is super interesting — but if no ever learned anything in his labs…I don’t think it was the lab’s fault.

    Speaking of…I’m back in school (thank you economy) and taking Biology. It’s the all about plants and fungi test on Monday so enough goofing off. I need to make sure I know my sporophytes from my gametophytes. (both of which flag as misspelled by the way.)

    ciao

  40. #41 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 7, 2010

    Your objections are merely arguments for making public schools better, and fit fully into the spirit of PZ’s comments about appropriate standards and accreditation.

    Did you even read my post? I wasn’t just talking about the quality of government-run schools (and, indeed, private schools), but about the hierarchical, authoritarian structure, the way that they seek to control every aspect of young people’s lives and instil “discipline” and unquestioning obedience.

    And yes, in theory this is an argument for changing the way schools are run. But in practice, if you’re a parent living in an area where all the local schools are very poorly run, what are you supposed to do? Ruin your child’s life, and cause him or her permanent emotional damage, by forcing him or her to attend a bad school? In that circumstance, homeschooling is the only decent option. Trying to prevent parents from choosing that option, in those circumstances, is simply causing unnecessary suffering to children for reasons of dogmatic ideology.

  41. #42 jenbphillips
    March 7, 2010

    Oops, forgot to footnote the ‘*’ in #36

    *There are valid reasons for homeschooling, including, but not limited to, physical/medical/cognitive special needs, crap public school systems, etc. Similarly, there are valid medical reasons for not receiving childhood vaccines. No one denies that these groups exist, and neither group would be discounted in any broadly applied regulations requiring homeschooling or compliance with the vaccine schedule.

  42. #43 Hugo Rune
    March 7, 2010

    Personally I’m torn on the issue. I think there are a number of good reasons to allow homeschooling in principle but from what I’ve seen in the vast majority of cases its just abused to indoctrinate the kids and keep them away from “evil” secular influence. Here in (central) Europe it only ever comes up when some lunatic Christian fundies think that their children are not brought up in the “right spirit” i.e. sufficiently terrorized and frightened into religion in public and private schools. You’d think that there were crazy fundie schools enough out there for everyone to find something they can agree with.

    Last time we had something about homeschooling in the media it was about this case. I mean, one can argue about Germany’s ban on homeschooling. I’m not entirely sure I agree with it. But political asylum because of religious persecution? Everybody in Germany, religious or not, has to follow that law.

    I’m not from Germany myself but that whole thing really really annoyed me. Still does. How can one devalue an important human rights institution like political asylum for something like this?

  43. #44 raven
    March 7, 2010

    That said, I would love to see the NCSE, or JREF, or CFI, or the DickyD Foundation, etc. put out some sort of accredited homeschool curriculum for science and critical thinking.

    That is a great idea. We live in a capitalist society. Find a need and fill it.

    Christian-based materials dominate a growing home-school education market that encompasses more than 1.5 million students in the U.S. And for most home-school parents, a Bible-based version of the Earth’s creation is exactly what they want. Federal statistics from 2007 show 83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children “religious or moral instruction.”

    There should be 255,000 secular homeschoolers and this is a market with turnover as kids graduate. Many people are perfectly capable of devising such a curriculum. PZ could do it.

  44. #45 AlisonS
    March 7, 2010

    In this case, I too disagree with PZ. There are other reasons why parents may choose to home school. Some have been mentioned by previous posters. I have secular friends who live in rural Vermont and their children would have had to spend several hours a day being bused to school. She had been a teacher and taught them all the non-science subjects and her mother handled the science subjects. They also coordinated activities with other home schooled children. When the oldest started high school for his last two years, he was top of his class, and by miles. I believe that Vermont has regulations regarding home schooling and there are quite a lot of rural parents who opt to do this. Some do so for religious reasons, but as long as there are firm regulations in place as to curriculum and standardized testing, I generally do not see a problem (except, of course, for the poor kids who have religious nonsense shoved down their throats).

  45. #46 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    More than that, raven. Plenty of secular homeschoolers would mark “religious or moral instruction” on a survey as one of the reasons they choose to homeschool. Public schools do a terrible job teaching about religion because they have to avoid offending the religious, and pretty much everybody wants to pass on a sense of morality to their kids.

  46. #47 Matt Penfold
    March 7, 2010

    Walton,

    Your original post indicated you were opposed to requiring any form of accreditation for schools, or for home schooling.

    That suggests you do not see the need to for certain standards in what is taught. Presumably you see no need to require science be taught, and that creationism/ID not be part of that. In short you seem to be saying you see no requirement for even the most basic of standards, like being able to read or write.

  47. #48 David Marjanovi?
    March 7, 2010

    Homeschooling should be banned, as it is in many civilized countries.

    First, however, the USA needs to switch to funding all public schools adequately, nationwide, from sea to shining sea, regardless of how fucking rich the fucking neighborhood is a school happens to fucking be in.

    the gross authoritarianism practised in most schools

    “Most”? You seem to have been in one that was much worse than what anyone in my generation in my family has seen.

    Psst. Walton! You’d make a great homeschooler.

    This is in fact possible.

  48. #49 Danu
    March 7, 2010

    Another secular home-educator here. (Where I live, which is not the US, we don’t call it homeschooling as it’s all about education and not about school.)

    The State systems do not do a perfect job either – adult illiteracy rates tell us that. I taught adult literacy for a while and as part of our training we were told that in our country, as in all typical Western countries, functional illiteracy was about 16%.

    Next, the typical State education is not one I wish for my children. I am literate so I wasn’t let down there. But I spent my school years bored out of my skull, with all creativity and desire to learn knocked out of me as I was made to progress at the unbearably slow average level. And I’m not one of these ‘gifted’ children. I’m no more than averagely bright. My husband, educated in a different European country to me, was told in as many words not to try his hardest as it was showing up the other boys. One of my friends took her son out of school when the teacher complained he was asking too many questions! We don’t want that for our children.

    I also invite you to check out ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity’ on TED Talks. http://www.ted.com.

    As for the questions about curricula – we have the internet now! Knowledge is in no way rationed. Stanford University posts lectures on YouTube. MIT has 1800 of its courses free and available for download. National Geographic website … NASA website … need I go on?

  49. #50 raven
    March 7, 2010

    More than that, raven. Plenty of secular homeschoolers would mark “religious or moral instruction” on a survey as one of the reasons..

    And not all evangelical xians are evolution and reality deniers. Evolution is even taught at some evangelical colleges, Wheaton, Baylor, and some Nazarene. The head of the NIH, Collins is an evangelical xian.

    Polls show the younger evangelicals are getting away from YECism. Evolution isn’t mentioned anywhere in the bible and science and reality denial has nothing to do with xianity. 33% of the evangelicals voted for Obama.

    This is just something the fundies made up so they can whine a lot and cause problems. Most likely aided and abetted by cynical political leaders who find it useful to manipulate and use the morons by creating an US versus THEM division.

  50. #51 Lynna, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Okay, I admit I’m stumped. A Christian sent an email to Jerry Coyne that included this, “I beat the shit out of people like you, you cock smoking douche nozzle.”

    My problem is that I’m having trouble visualizing a “cock smoking douche nozzle”. Is it just me, or are christian insults incoherent?

  51. #52 okahnus
    March 7, 2010

    My parents homeschooled both of my older sisters, they turned out pretty damn smart. My father was a spanish teacher, which helped, but that’s beside the point; most well-educated people can educate other people given some practice. As long as it’s regulated to insure that children are getting education at all, that should be enough. I’d rather focus on making sure homeschooling is well-regulated in each state (as it is here) than just ban it unilaterally.

  52. #53 Cathy
    March 7, 2010

    Good to see so many secular homeschoolers writing in here. When I homeschooled my kids (K to 12–one now in college, two have graduated), we were part of a very active homeschool group with other parents that ranged from Jewish to Buddhist to Christian to lots and lots of atheists.

    Before I was a parent, I took every education class offered at my college and earned my teaching credential, and my husband is currently a biology teacher in a public high school. I can affirm that my education courses didn’t teach me about teaching and learning nearly as much as my own personal reading and actual experience.

    Most (but not all) of the other homeschooling parents I know did/are doing a great job for and with their kids. Homeschooling is challenging–but then all of parenting is challenging!

    Everyone in a free society should have a variety of options in regards to educating their kids. No, that doesn’t meant that they should have the right to lie to and mislead their kids (any more than they should have the right to beat and mistreat them). But our educational options should include low-cost, high-freedom choices like homeschooling and unschooling.

    By allowing such an option, the public schools have more incentive to provide better education. I have seen many situations in which authoritarian and even racist school officials were forced to bend to the more reasonable voices in the public school because the parent had the power to “walk” and homeschool his or her kid. So even families who don’t wish to homeschool benefit by everyone having the choice.

    An analogy might be the beleaguered “public option” in health care — IF we could get such a thing in the U.S., it would not only provide a valuable option to families BUT ALSO an incentive to health insurance companies to behave better.

    I hope PZ will rethink his position. Of course, I also hope that public schools will improve, no parents anywhere will beat, mistreat, and mis-educate their children, and religion will fade away. While we’re dreaming….

  53. #54 raven
    March 7, 2010

    My problem is that I’m having trouble visualizing a “cock smoking douche nozzle”. Is it just me, or are christian insults incoherent?

    Must have been a fundie xian who was homeschooled.

    One of the minor drawbacks of being a nearly illiterate religious kook.

    My theory is that a lot of those kids grow up to be….internet trolls. I doubt that pays too well though.

  54. #55 MadScientist
    March 7, 2010

    Wow … if only ignorance really were bliss. People have such delusions, such as that Polly Brown quoted about her 16-year-old son who wants to be a marine biologist:

    “He probably knows it better than the kids who have been taught evolution all through public school”

    Now if the kid were able to get his hands on real books there may be some truth to that, but if the poor kid had nothing but that jesus crap he hasn’t got a chance.

  55. #56 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    well, am I ever glad homeschooling is illegal in Germany. should I ever spawn, that’s where the offspring will be going to school.

    As long as schools are financed locally, and as long as there is no investment for people to support their schools because it’s just easier to take your kids out, the US educational system will never be any good. And what this does is fuck over all Americans, because you’re ending up with an ever-greater chunk of society that isn’t properly educated, because of 1)inept homeschoolers; and 2)underfunded and unsupported schools for those who can’t homeschool.

    Homeschooling promotes inequality, and inequality makes for unhealthy societies.

  56. #57 cheeseburgerbrown
    March 7, 2010

    I’d like to chime in as a member of another atheist freethinking family which has chosen homeschooling over the public and private options available in our small, rural district in Canada.

    I would be remiss if I did not confess that we do indeed push a certain worldview on our kids: it’s a worldview founded on rationalism, critical inquiry, intellectual exploration.

    My wife and I work (and study!!!) very hard to provide them a useful framework for parsing what they learn about history, science, culture, ethics, mathematics, health and art. I think this is working, because they ask incisive questions.

    Because our village is small and the population almost uniformly Christian, we also go to great efforts to teach our children tolerance for less defensible worldviews.

    If anyone out there is considering homeschooling their kids, be sure to think twice. Make no mistake that it’s no less a commitment than taking on a second job for yourself, and a responsibility with profound consequences.

    Yours in Christlessness,
    CBB

  57. #58 reesshelley
    March 7, 2010

    A frustrating aspect of this question is how it’s another issue that only people with money (and health care) are privileged enough to even consider. How many parents can actually afford to educate their children at home? I know I couldn’t, even if I wanted to. I have to work at a job. I’m not trying to call out homeschoolers or homeschooling advocates as a bunch of elitists, but part of the reason public schools have been allowed to deteriorate in some places is that people with money don’t send their kids there, and people without money have little to no power.

  58. #59 zach314159
    March 7, 2010

    I am a secular home-educated (see last bit of word) and what danu said about “But I spent my school years bored out of my skull,…” perfectly explains why some of my friends (as well as me) are home-schooled.

  59. #60 Tenebras
    March 7, 2010

    I agree that homeschooling at least needs standards. But if you want to get rid of homeschooling entirely, you need to make the American public school system worth going to first.

    I’m a product of the public school system, and while my academic education is decent enough (my math sucks though, I only had two decent math teachers in the 12 years I was in the system… And I’ve taught myself more science just by being curious on the internet than I ever learned in school,) I was a social wreck. I was everyone’s favorite punching bag for the first 8 years of my school life, with little to no intervention from the teachers/administrators, and it only slacked off in the last 4. I still have social anxiety problems from it. You have no idea, looking back now, how I wish my parents would have just pulled me out of that nightmare and homeschooled me. But back then, I didn’t know it was an option, so I couldn’t ask.

  60. #61 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Givesgoodemail (@2):

    I’ve scanned the thread (through #40, as I begin writing), but my initial responses to your comment remain largely unchanged by the subsequent comments.

    Drawing parallels between consistency in vaccinations and consistency in education isn’t valid.

    No one (in their right mind) does home vaccinations, because that would be inconsistent, ineffective, and absolutely dangerous.

    Really? Vaccine protocols are reasonably well defined, and I’d be willing to bet that the specific skills required to administer vaccines are easier to acquire and master than the skills required to administer a comprehensive educational program.

    Mind you, I’m not arguing in favor of home vaccination; on the contrary, I’m saying your analogy makes (to me, at least) exactly the opposite point that you intend.

    It’s true enough, as you point out, that children have amazing faculties to acquire knowledge, and that education occurs through a dizzying array of modalities (involving the child and all of the comprehensive adult culture in which the child is being raised), many of them self-directed and continuing throughout life. But the correctness of this assertion…

    Homeschooling, particularly the style called un-schooling, works.

    …depends entirely on what you mean by “works.” You seem to be assuming that the goal of the activity we’re discussing is the betterment of the individual child, and that assumption is something I unequivocally deny. The goal of education — that lifelong multi-mode activity that we’ve alluded to — might be individual betterment, but I’ll borrow the distinction Walton made (in an earlier thread, to which he refers @12 of this thread) between education and schooling: Schooling, I insist, has as its “product” not an improved individual, but an improved member of society… more particularly, in any democratic society, an improved member of the electorate. In that, homeschooling fails by definition, because it is inherently designed to segregate students (for whatever reason… please don’t lecture me about how many homeschoolers aren’t fundies) from socially integrated education.

    The key thing about public schooling is that it’s public. That is, it’s a reflection of, and accountable to, the public in a way that homeschooling (and, to a lesser degree, private schooling) implicitly seeks to avoid. Homeschooling may (or may not, depending on the people and situations involved) do a great job of building smart, well informed young people; it doesn’t even attempt to do the job of public schools in a democratic self-governing society.

    And BTW, most of the ills of public schools that folks in this thread have complained about — authoritarianism, instructional incompetence, inadequate resources, etc. — can happen just as easily in homeschooling or private schooling… with the difference being that, given the lack of tranparency or accountability inherent in such private settings, it’s vastly more difficult for third parties to intervene on behalf of the students.

    Finally, by removing the most committed and involved students and families (whatever else they might be, homeschooling and private-school parents are generally not indifferent to education) from the public schools, private forms of education actively damage their effectiveness and efficiency in meeting their social function.

    The civil libertarian in my recoils at the notion of banning homeschooling or private schools, but I honestly believe we’d all be better off if everybody went to public schools (in which case, as an aside, people might get a bit more serious about fixing the things that are wrong with them). Failing that, the public has, IMHO, every right to insist that homeschools and private schools meet publicly determined minimum standards for both curriculum and instructor training, if they’re to be accepted in lieu of compulsory public school attendance.

  61. #62 David Marjanovi?
    March 7, 2010

    Is it just me, or are christian insults incoherent?

    Obvious brainfart for “coke-“.

    By allowing such an option, the public schools have more incentive to provide better education.

    Incentives! Money is what they need first, so that they’ll be able to act on incentives!

    I have seen many situations in which authoritarian and even racist school officials were forced to bend to the more reasonable voices in the public school because the parent had the power to “walk” and homeschool his or her kid.

    Where I come from, homeschooling is forbidden, but you can choose which public school to put your child in. Was done with my brother when one moronic teacher and the moronic director became too much to bear; meanwhile he’s finished university.

    underfunded and unsupported schools for those who can’t homeschool.

    …of course, some of those who can’t homeschool do it anyway. :-(

  62. #63 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    So for all of those who want all the kids back in school out of some misplaced sense of fairness, what exactly would that look like? Shall we place our excelling children back in failing schools that did them no favors while they were there years ago? Turn a blind eye to the bullying and cruelty that schools ignore? Forget about the standards and excellence and independence that we have fostered in our children while they hunker down into mediocrity to avoid being noticed by the mobs of under-supervised kids?

    Yes, fix the schools. They are there for a reason. But just as I would not sacrifice my firstborn for some god whispering in my ear, I will not sacrifice him to a flunking school system because someone thinks it’s not fair that he’s getting a great education while his counterparts in this district are barely learning to read.

  63. #64 zach314159
    March 7, 2010

    I went through three schools before switching.

    PS. On the home-educated thing: I meant to say kid after word), making it “…secular home educated (see last bit of word) kid…”

  64. #65 Brandon
    March 7, 2010

    While I realize that it adds nothing to the discourse regarding the crazies that homeschool their children, I just wanted to bring a good story of homeschooling for those unfamiliar with some of the secular benefits. I grew up in a very small, rural school that wasn?t well equipped to deal with advanced students, I tested out extremely high on tests at a young age, and I was getting a bit out of hand at school because of sheer boredom. Rather than attempt to pay for private schools they couldn?t afford that were an hour away, my parents elected to homeschool me ? so, at the age of 9, I had attended by last public school class. Over the next three years, I educated myself through high school, and enrolled part time in a local university at 12 years old. Because of my youth, I took my time there a bit, and I?ve been slow in graduate school as well, but the end result is that I?m now 24 years old, have a B.S. in Molecular Genetics, and I?m finishing my Ph.D. in Microbiology. All told, I?ve got to say that my homeschooling didn?t hold be back in science one bit, and it?s exactly why I am where I am at a young age.

    Homeschooling has important uses ? those that would seek to strip it away altogether (as P.Z. seems to be suggesting), don?t seem to fully understand that, or just think that it’s grossly outweighed by the downsides. For people that have a good approach, it?s quite valuable.

  65. #66 David Marjanovi?
    March 7, 2010

    Shall we place our excelling children back in failing schools that did them no favors while they were there years ago? Turn a blind eye to the bullying and cruelty that schools ignore?

    All that must be fixed, too.

    It’s a bit like how banning handguns isn’t feasible in the USA because the black market is so large and so easily accessible.

  66. #67 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    David, my point is, I will not leave my child on a sinking ship while we rally to plug the leak. I will put him on the lifeboat, and then work to save the ship.

  67. #68 ckitching
    March 7, 2010

    public schools are failing children in every respect at such astronomical rates

    I’m not sure I believe this. I think this idea comes from the same line of thought that says that violent crime is increasing at astronomical rates, especially among young people, despite the fact the actual crime figures show the exact opposite trend. I do know some groups are intentionally trying to sabotage the public school systems either through policies that encourage failure or underfunding them.

    I’ve seen this annoying tendency of extrapolating the worst public schools as representative for all public schools, and then holding up the best-of-the-best private schools as representative for all private schools. Comparing the worst funded inner-city schools to the best funded private suburban schools is dishonest at best. So is comparing public school standardized test marks (since they cannot refuse admission to anyone), to private school results (who can, and do restrict admission).

    So long as one party in your government (and large portion of its citizens) hold public education with such open contempt, it should be no surprise that public education does not improve as it should.

  68. #69 caleb.beckett
    March 7, 2010

    As a former “student” of the very textbooks mentioned in the article, I’m very glad to see that the public is being informed of the disgrace that is fundamentalist homeschooling, and that people like Coyne aren’t afraid to say it like it is. I’ll spare you a long and wordy expose of the epistemology (or more accurately, the lack thereof) that is borne of Christian fundamentalist homeschooling and just say that if you haven’t been there, it’s simply not possible for you to comprehend it. I can best describe it as akin to the visceral reaction that I’m sure many of you get when listening to the likes of Ray Comfort, but expanded to the point where an attack on creationism is an attack on your fundamental beliefs about every aspect of reality. Therefore, the responses that Jerry Coyne received don’t surprise me in the least-I can say that having come from it and looking objectively on it now, that fundamentalist Christianity is, at its deepest level, about promulgating fear and abhorrence of anyone who challenges creationism, which really is its central doctrine.

  69. #70 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Jadehawk (@56):

    well, am I ever glad homeschooling is illegal in Germany.

    Having said (@61) that I recoil at the notion of banning homeschooling, let me clarify that this is only because it’s already legal here (mostly, in most places), and taking away existing rights always strikes me as fraught with peril; if I lived in a place that had universal public education and where homeschooling was not legal, I’d fight any attempt to legalize it.

    As long as schools are financed locally, and as long as there is no investment for people to support their schools because it’s just easier to take your kids out, the US educational system will never be any good.

    Wow, are those a couple of good points! As to the first, basing public school funding on local property taxes (as is the case in most of the U.S.) is infuckingsane! It both promotes district-to-district resource inequality and puts school funding directly at the mercy of tax-averse homeowners (the majority of whom, in many localities, do not have children in the schools). While I support local control of schools (subject to national minimum standards for curriculum, programs, teacher qualifications, and basic material resources), IMHO public school funding should come entirely from the federal general fund, and should be distributed on an equitable (which is not necessarily the same as equal, due to the variability of local factors outside the schools) per capita basis.

    As to your second point, it’s very much like what I’ve been saying: Sucking the families that care most out of the public system invariably makes it harder to fix what’s wrong and improve what’s working. There’s a synergy with the local-funding problem: The families most likely to leave for homeschooling or private schools are the very ones who’d be most likely to advocate (and vote) for investment in improving the public schools… if they didn’t have the private “off-ramp” available to them.

    Homeschooling promotes inequality, and inequality makes for unhealthy societies.

    Quoted for Truth! Preach it, sister!!

  70. #71 Samantha
    March 7, 2010

    loveberry @67

    I think the problem most people have with homeschooling is that a lot of parents take their children off the sinking ship only to put them in a lifeboat with a smaller but still problematic whole (i.e. lack of socialization) and then ignore both holes to pat themselves on the back.

    It is incredibly damaging to a child to be bullied throughout school (and I was one of those children) but it is just as damaging to have a child totally removed from normal society and only introduced to it post-developmentally at 18. That’s a trap a lot of homeschooling parents fall into and usually the attempt to fix it is something along the lines of getting together all the local homeschooled children once or twice a week. Of course, the parents ignore that these get-togethers are (usually) highly monitored by parents and rarely allow the children the opportunities to develop the social tools they will need to live in the larger world (which isn’t to say that they should be inculcated into every little social trope out there and denied their individuality!). Cautious parents can avoid this, but few know how important specific social situations are and truly believe that fully supervised play-dates are just as good as two kids playing on their own.

  71. #72 Legion
    March 7, 2010

    1. When our youngest Legioneer was 5, we enrolled her in a charter school. Due to poor management, the school was closed one year later.

    2. Next we enrolled her in the local public school. Big mistake. The school was overcrowded, the teachers overwhelmed, and the educational standards were subterranean. The behavior of many of the children at that school, suggested that many had been raised by wolves. At one point, our daughter was chastised by her teacher for reading ahead in a textbook, on her own time. Enthusiasm and self-paced learning was discouraged.

    3. So we enrolled her in a a public school across town that had excellent academics. When we looked closer, however, we discovered that the school was little more than an authoritarian conservative evangelical training camp, masquerading as a school. Obedience to authority was their main goal. Individualism was frowned on.

    4. So it was back to the the local school down the road, where after a few months, we saw the light in our daughters eyes go out.

    At this point, we said, “Fuck the fucking system” and decided to home school her instead.

    For those people who say home school should be banned, or that parents should send their children to failing schools for… for… well really, we’ve yet to hear any good fucking reason for why this is a good idea… for those people, STFU and walk in our shoes.

    BTW, we were part of a home school co-op where moist of the teachers (all mothers) were degreed professionals in business and science.

    And our daughter? She’s a godless heathen, attending college with a 4.0 average.

  72. #73 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    My kid spent 5 years in public schools. When he started a year proficient in a subject, I asked what they planned to do with him all year. Their answer?

    “Don’t worry about it, he has already met the standard.”

    When his grades dropped from As, to Bs, to high Cs, and I asked what I could do to help, their answer was, “He’s passing, don’t worry about it.”

    NO. HELL NO. Not for my kid. The public school system had him for 5 years and all they managed to do was convince him that math is impossible and the he’s a little bit stupid. Three years later he still doesn’t quite believe me when I explain that he is at grade level or higher in every single subject.

    You can’t generalize anecdotes across a population, of course. But honestly, how many of you resonate with what I have just said? How well did public schools serve you?

  73. #74 cheeseburgerbrown
    March 7, 2010

    #58: “A frustrating aspect of this question is how it’s another issue that only people with money (and health care) are privileged enough to even consider. ..”

    Anecdotally, we are not particularly wealthy. We do have health care covered (we’re Canadian), but few people in our part of the country subsist on a single income as we do.

    This is to say we have made some serious lifestyle sacrifices in order to keep one parent at home with the children — it didn’t come easy. We did our research, crunched the numbers, and figured out the best way we could manage to provide an enriched environment.

    We maintained the amenities we required for teaching (Internet access), but decided we could do without most other bills. We live in a pioneer schoolhouse with no central heating, for example, and draw our water from a well. We don’t have a television or a hot water heater, but we’re very good at chopping wood and sharing a boiled-up bath. We draw and pay for electricity from the grid, but not very much. Comparatively, our collective lifestyle is fairly cheap.

    A lot of things *would* be a lot easier if we sent our kids to public daycare — er, I mean public school. I wouldn’t have to moonlight and my wife could continue with her career instead of letting it dangle on “pause.” We could afford a dishwashing machine, perhaps, or some kind of robotic garage door opening dealie. All the spiffy keen baubles of life.

    Instead, we chose to stretch one income.

    I’m not trying to suggest that single-income living can work for all families in all circumstances or anything ridiculous like that, but I do think it’s fair to say that a lot of families spend money on crap that doesn’t substantively add to their quality of life.

    My wife and I do believe, however, that our somewhat unorthodox lifestyle — including homeschooling — does substantively add to the quality of family life. We get to go on field trips that nobody else does (recently my daughter got to use the electron microscope at a nearby university to image her bug collection, and my son had an opportunity to drive a commuter train locomotive in the repair yard!), we get to pursue their interests far ahead of the provincial curriculum, and we foster a family bond that I’m not convinced comes as easily when all you’ve got to work with are weekends.

    It’s good for my quality of life, too. There’s few things I enjoy more than lolling in a freshly boiled-up bath in the giant iron tub with my kids while I recount the next installment of the Epic of Gilgamesh. That’s why I rush home from work. That’s something to look forward to. Last night my daughter rendered the beast Humbaba out of soap bubbles. Delightful!

    My wife would chalk it all up simply: “Priorities.”

    Children discovering the world is one of the best parts of life. I really can’t imagine outsourcing it.

    Yours in meandering long-windedness,
    CBB

    Yours,
    CBB

  74. #75 Samantha
    March 7, 2010

    And that should be “stick them in a lifeboat with a smaller but still problematic hole (i.e. lack of socialization)” rather than “whole”.

    That’s not public school education at work, that’s three days straight of essay writing.

  75. #76 Legion
    March 7, 2010

    #72:

    BTW, we were part of a home school co-op where moist of the teachers (all mothers) were degreed professionals in business and science.

    Criminy! That should be ‘most’.

  76. #77 Brandon
    March 7, 2010

    Loveberry @73

    I can’t believe just how similar that was to my own experience! As a kid growing up way ahead of the curve, the superintendent of the school I was at actually said, “Don’t worry, we’ll slow him down”.

    I can still barely believe such a mentality exists.

  77. #78 glasnost0
    March 7, 2010

    @61: You seem to be implying that public education is the only (or, at least, the best) way for a child to learn to be a member of society, and that simply isn’t true. The world abounds with opportunities for children to interact with one another outside of school, and any conscientious homeschooling parent makes sure that their child is involved in such activities for precisely the reason you mention.

    I’ll second #65’s and #67’s sentiments wholeheartedly: my experiences with education are actually very similar to his/hers, and I have very little doubt that had I been left to languish in public school, I would not be where I am today.

    Yes, homeschooling is difficult, and homeschoolers should certainly be monitored to ensure that they’re educating their children to a high standard. But banning homeschooling? Really?

  78. #79 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    The “socialization” question is beyond silly. Unless your idea of homeschooling is kids locked in a room with their siblings all day, afraid of the sunlight, peering hopefully through the curtains at passersby for a little human contact.

    Ludicrous.

  79. #80 Draken
    March 7, 2010

    @Walton, #12: On a recent incarnation of the endless thread, I outlined the authoritarian nature of traditional schooling, and how it can be held responsible for many of the problems in our society. Both public and private schools are, in general, more focused on instilling “discipline” and obedience to superiors, and on administering “punishment” on those who don’t conform

    I guess you’re talking about the English school system, the one Morrissey sings about (“Belligerent ghouls / run Manchester schools / Spineless bastards all)? Because I have no recollection of such a school period in the Netherlands, and neither do I believe Danish schools look like military boot camps. Not even the German, go figure.

  80. #81 Samantha
    March 7, 2010

    loveberry:

    Unless your idea of homeschooling is kids locked in a room with their siblings all day, afraid of the sunlight, peering hopefully through the curtains at passersby for a little human contact.

    If that’s honestly what you think the only way for a child to not be socialized, then you’re the one being silly. I lived with two homeschooled children for a few months. Not once were they even able to speak to me or even look at me because they had no social skills. This was despite the fact that they regularly went on field trips and to the park and even had a half-dozen kids come over for “science” lessons two or three times a week. They were so poorly socialized because they were ALWAYS under the thumb of one parent or another and all their interactions were monitored and the parents were quick to step in and “sort things out”.

    Now, I won’t ever say that homeschooling should be banned or is always a bad idea, but that is something I’ve seen to be VERY common with homeschool parents (to the point where I’ve only met one homeschooled kid who hadn’t been raised like that) and it is something that those who want to homeschool should be aware of and dealing with. Unfortunately, a large percentage don’t. Just means that they’re not ideal for homeschooling, not that the idea as a whole should be scrapped.

  81. #82 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    CBB, we do it pretty differently, but we’re in a similar boat. I’m a single parent. I gave up the corporate world and I make ends meet working from home. We’re broke, really broke, but who needs cable and an Xbox anyway? We have access to the library and the park and have managed to squeeze in music lessons. It works. :)

  82. #83 Sastra
    March 7, 2010

    Jerry Coyne not only gets email: he gets creationists and home schoolers in the comment section.

    PZ gets home schoolers. Home schooling has many intelligent, reasonable advocates, and the ensuing discussion is both enlightening and thoughtful.

    Sorry, PZ: I think Jerry wins this one.

  83. #84 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    Samantha, you’ve met two socially awkward homeschooled kids. Have you ever counted all the rude, inconsiderate, socially awkward, obnoxious, shy, overbearing, mannerless or otherwise awful public schooled people you’ve met? No? Why?

    Do you ask every polite, kind, interesting, socially graceful, well mannered, intelligent, fun person you meet what their schooling history is? No? Why?

    Because it’s absolutely laughable and ludicrous to even consider the question seriously. Some humans are socially graceful. Some are socially awkward. I’m guessing quite a few geeky sciencey types in this thread remember how much fun it was to be the latter in school.

  84. #85 Utakata
    March 7, 2010

    I’m not sure where I stand on home schooling. As from the comments above it’s clear that some homer schoolers are not religious nutters. But at the same time I’m a little concerend that a child’s social interactions are limited. Growing up amoung peers is part of the whole education process IMO.

    But one thing I do disagree is with the quaint notion of private schools. A dinosaur that serves no function but to segregate the haves against the have nots…and in some cases, segregate on the based of genitalia and religious beleifs. Sorry to ruffle your feathers Penn and Teller, but this skeptic actually believes the elimination of private schools would evolve us as a human species by light years. Imagine a school with no religion and does not judge children based on the size of their perents’ wallets nor if your child comes to school wearing a skirt. That’s what you get with a public school system if done *right.

    *Note: I say this great sadness, because here where I live in Toronto, Ont…we have two publically funded school systems with one based on religion. And one that is not, it’s leadership wants to segregate it by race and sex. I see under this scenario why some commenting here would want home schooling as a viable option. /sigh

  85. #86 Falafel
    March 7, 2010

    in new zealand, i stayed with an evangelical family for a few days. they had like 9 kids, about 6 of them still in school ages. the mother home schooled them because “she wanted to keep them away from all the drugs, alcohol and premarital sex that was going on in the public schools.” While nodding, i was thinking “you stupid cow! those are the only 3 good things left in the public school system! god know they cant educate, at least let the kids have some premarital fun!

  86. #87 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk25bzfeJzooxtW_G2Jo9aQu4IkVxU0jns
    March 7, 2010

    @74:
    So, outside of gloating that you’re a better person than @58, what the hell is your point? You live in a different country and may have a different home situation. I know single parents who absolutely cannot afford home schooling in any way. I guess you’d throw them to the dogs, so your kids would get the advantage.

  87. #88 Legion
    March 7, 2010

    Samantha:

    I lived with two homeschooled children for a few months. Not once were they even able to speak to me or even look at me because they had no social skills.

    We heard of a story about two home-schooled children who donned trench coats and went on a shooting spree at their school… Oh wait. That never happened.

    Well, there’s the story about the home-schooled kids who beat a classmate to death… Oops. That never happened either.

    Then there’s the story about the home schooled kid who got in a fight with his parents and shot them both to death… Yikes, that didn’t happen either.

    All right, there was the story about the home-schooled kid who was so shy and socially withdrawn that she had no friends… and as everyone knows, that sort of thing never happens to kids who go to public school.

    The point of this exercise is that for every story about a maladjusted home schooled child, there are five more stories about screwed up public school children.

    Perhaps we should consider that kids with problems like poor social skills can be found wherever you look for them.

  88. #89 glasnost0
    March 7, 2010

    After reading through Coyne’s blog post, I think he says it best:

    It kills off the part of a child that most needs nurturing: her sense of wonder, and all the possibilities of life that are opened up by that wonder.

    He’s talking about religion-based homeschooling, but in my experience, the same applies to public schools. I’ve heard the “He’s meeting standards” excuse that #73 and #77 relate from at least two public school principals, and heard dozens of similar stories from other homeschoolers. The “teaching to the test” mentality that many people attribute to No Child Left Behind has been around in public schools for decades, to the point that mediocrity is celebrated and students are actively discouraged from excelling.

    Say what you will about how allowing parents to remove their children from the school system only contributes to its weakening, and you may well be right, but the solution isn’t to sacrifice a generation of learners to an inadequate system for a slim chance at improving that system.

  89. #90 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    The government does such a terrific job educating our children! Maybe if YOU were in charge it could be even better!

  90. #91 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Loveberry (@67):

    I will not leave my child on a sinking ship while we rally to plug the leak. I will put him on the lifeboat, and then work to save the ship.

    You may be the exception, but in my experience (and I’m referring to actual experience fighting the school budget wars here; that’s not just a rhetorical fillip), the vast majority of parents stop giving a rat’s ass about saving the “ship” once their children are (allegedly) safely in the “lifeboat.” Keep in mind that there are only enough lifeboats for a tiny fraction of the children on the ship; by putting your kid in the lifeboat, you’re dooming others’ kids to staying on the ship.

    That would be fair enough, as far as it goes — I agree every parent’s first duty is to his or her own children — but, unlike an actual, steel ship, the “ship” of public education is actively harmed by people abandoning it. I can’t fault you for looking out for your own, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t congratulate you for hastening the intellectual drowning of those you leave behind. I’d be much happier if you’d just help save the ship, full stop.

    And really, if people have the time, energy, and resources to effectively homeschool, doesn’t it stand to reason that they also have the time, energy, and resources to supplement their children’s education without removing them from public schools? To volunteer in the schools and help correct the social problems? To get meaningfully involved in the PTO/PTA, or the Board of Education, or the Town Council, to affect the funding and management of the schools?

    My observation is that the number of people who whine and kvetch about their local schools exceeds by an order of magnitude the number who actually raise a damn finger to do something about them.

    Legion (@72):

    For those people who say home school should be banned, or that parents should send their children to failing schools for… for… well really, we’ve yet to hear any good fucking reason for why this is a good idea… for those people, STFU and walk in our shoes.

    Sorry, but I won’t STFU. The shoes I’m walking in right now are those of someone whose local schools used to be really good, but which is in the process of collapsing because too many of my neighbors worship at the altar of tax cuts. When I see people who spend tens of thousands of dollars in catholic school tuition or give up a second income to homeschool, and yet vote against the town budget (~2/3 of which goes to fund our schools) because they “can’t afford” an annual property tax increase of (for the average homeowner) just a few hundred dollars… which is the bare minimum needed to just keep pace with expenses… <deep breath>… when I see that, I can’t bring myself to think of it as anything but selfish.

    My own child is safely through school, and halfway through her undergraduate years at Yale; I could easily just say, “I got mine; now the rest of y’all can just suck it.” But I actually can’t do that.

    I could never ask you to sacrifice your kids for… hmmm… as I was typing that, it dawned on me that we ask our neighbors to sacrifice their kids for the larger society, when we encourage them to join the military, or become police officers or firefighters, or any number of other socially necessary things that put people at risk… but I digress….

    What I meant to say is that I respect your concern for your own kids, but at some level, our society is a collective enterprise, and we’re all called upon to balance indivicual needs with larger social goods. Ultimately, I firmly believe, taking care of the latter is what best serves the former for most individuals most of the time, which is why we’ve formed societies in the first place.

  91. #92 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    glasnosto: You said that so well.

  92. #93 c9r
    March 7, 2010

    How many people here have gone to a US public school within the last ten years? I went to public schools. And supposedly good ones at that. I’m about to graduate with a degree in physics. But it took several years of post-public-school enlightenment to realize I wanted to be a scientist.

    I loved science as a kid. In fact, I loved learning more than just about anything. It took more than a decade of excruciating boredom and enforced conformity to wane my interest in things that I loved. I took two years off after hight school and basically started my education over. I read math books, watched physics lectures, read history and literature–all the things I would have done all those years before had nearly 100% of my time not been eaten up by worthless, thoughtless busy work.

    I know many people my age who shied away from careers in science and engineering because they felt hopelessly unprepared for such an education and were jaded by how bad their high school science classes were. We’re losing far more would-be scientists to high school science classes taught by non-scientists than we are losing to young earth creationists.

    PZ and others are so worried about losing people to creationist wackos (I worry too) that they don’t seem to notice all the people they’re losing who actually want to be scientists. I was almost one of them. I desperately wanted to go to a private school, or be home schooled, or just teach myself. All I wanted to do was learn. But my parents “believed” in the importance of public school; a belief as irrational and unsubstantiated as any “fundie xian” delusion. Universal, quality education is, I think, the most important responsibility of any society. But saying that it has to be through a demonstrably broken system is pathological.

    Anyone who thinks that schools can be fixed by improving standards doesn’t grasp the fundamental problem. There has been a positive feedback loop in place for the past few decades where the “C” students of one generation become the teachers of the next, whose “C” students become the next generation’s teachers and so on and so forth. We’re a society of idiots taught by idiots taught by idiots. And the copy of a copy of a copy is so distorted now that there’s no recovering it. And secular homeschooling is a fantastic option. Kids want to learn. It takes adults to stop them.

  93. #94 cheeseburgerbrown
    March 7, 2010

    @79: “…Unless your idea of homeschooling is kids locked in a room with their siblings all day, afraid of the sunlight, peering hopefully through the curtains at passersby for a little human contact.
    Ludicrous.”

    What — you let your kids know about “the outside world”? I’m shocked.

    (I’m kidding. Mine are outside playing with kids in the village now, enjoying an unseasonably warm day. Probably poking a dead thing with a stick or something.)

    Still, socialization *is* a consideration. We had a Swiss au pair come to stay with us for a couple of summers, and she had been homeschooled *at sea* aboard a small boat for most of her life, and her only contact really was her siblings. As a result she had some obvious social deficiencies at 17 (inability to make simple decisions in a group situation, for instance, out of a habit of deferring to elder siblings). She lived in a shell, and was painfully timid.

    After a few years of university she now seems to be much more socially well-adjusted. That’s the opinion of my wife, who studies adolescent development. My opinion is just that it’s nice she speaks up now, because quiet talkers give me a crick in my neck.

    My own kids aren’t nearly so isolated as the Swiss girl at sea, and she seemed to bounce back okay. Like Tom Hanks at the end of that computer animated movie about being lost on a deserted island — when he came back to society he was kind of shell-shocked, but recoverable. And I have it on reasonable authority that adolescents are far more plastic than Tom Hanks.

    We live in a small village full of playmates, and in a multi-generation home with grandparents. My kids socialize with all sorts of people of all ages all the damn time, including but not limited to other children. They go to gymnastics classes (or whatnot) with groups of other kids, and have to stand in line and do what they’re told. They have friends and cousins. Sometimes they play nicely and sometimes they dick each other around. That’s childhood society. We don’t hover.

    What critical aspect of “socializing” are we failing to cover? Please do speak up, if you think know.

    I end up exasperated at the number of people who feel that the socializing issue is a trump card. Except for dorky extremists, socializing usually given its due consideration.

    Yours,
    CBB

  94. #95 Cinnamonbite
    March 7, 2010

    Oh, I’ll GLADLY send my 14-year-old to public school just as soon as the FloriDUH public school is as good or better than my homeschooling program.

    Unfortunately, he’s 3 classes away from graduating under their lax standards. To fill time, he’s taking Latin (after 3 years of Spanish condensed down into 1 year). After he’s proficient in Latin, he thinks he might take Greek. And yes, he’s already taken AP classes online. So by the time the FloriDUH public school system even recognizes they have a problem, my boy will most likely be graduating COLLEGE. So I’m not holding my breath.

  95. #96 Samantha
    March 7, 2010

    loveberry:

    Actually, I’ve met 11 socially awkward homeschooled children, and 1 who wasn’t. Of the people I know for sure went to public schools, it’s between 40 and 50% who are socially awkward. Statistically, that’s significant, although, yes, it would have to be scientifically tested to be a true determination. I won’t address the rudeness or inconsiderateness because I don’t associate with those people to the point of knowing what kind of schooling they have.

    Unfortunately, I was one of those socially awkward geeky kids. I still am, but only to a certain degree. I was forced to associate with people I didn’t know and couldn’t predict, both in class and on the playground at recess. I did my darndest to escape it as much as possible, but I couldn’t every time. I was bullied and picked on, made friends and lost them, had some teachers support me and some put me aside. I learned from all of it. I had to.

    Fact of the matter is that kids need those sort of experiences to learn social tools. A good homeschool parent can and will replicate enough of them that their child learns at least the basic tools. Fact is that that’s extra time, money, effort and knowledge that a lot of parents just don’t have. Again, that doesn’t mean that homeschooling is bad. It means that the parents who do know should be telling and helping those that don’t and warning those that are considering it that “this is what you’ll need to do and if you can’t, it’s likely going to impact your child”.

  96. #97 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    Bill, do you hear what you are asking? You are asking me to watch my child flounder and fail, hate himself, hate school, and follow a path that almost certainly lands him in juvi and then prison, on the off chance that my volunteering in the classroom once a month might help some other kid not fail?

    LISTEN to yourself.

  97. #98 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    Samantha, you are ridiculous. Have a lovely day.

  98. #99 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Home schooling is one of those topics, like circumcision or abortion, where there’ll never be any consensus. On the one hand you hear “my friend was home schooled, is a YEC and reads at a three year old level” and on the other hand you hear “I was home schooled then went to university where I got my PhD in platonic neurophilosophy at the age of eight.”

    Home schooling is good for some people and double plus ungood for others. That’s the basic nature of the beast.

  99. #100 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    ‘Tis Himself, OM:

    It’s almost like you are saying that humans are different and need different things and that people should have some choices. That one system might not work for every single person!

    Sacrilege!

  100. #101 cheeseburgerbrown
    March 7, 2010

    @87: “So, outside of gloating that you’re a better person than @58, what the hell is your point?”

    I believe the assertion was that homeschooling was the pervue of the wealthy, to which I was providing contention (of at least the universality of the assertion) in the form of personal anecdote.

    Please note that I am not a professional summarizer, so actual mileage may vary. Plus I didn’t even bother to scroll back for extra checksies.

    Yours,
    CBB

  101. #102 G.D.
    March 7, 2010

    One argument against home schooling – regardless of how it is organized – that hasn’t been mentioned is this: if my kid learned something wrong in school, I could rectify it. If my kid learned something wrong from me, the school could rectify it. If I were home schooling, that mechanism of quality insurance would simply be gone.

    And loveberry: what on earth is the point of your harping on religion and morality? If you are unhappy with the negligence of these issues in public schools, why don’t you just supplement it? This is absolutely no argument for home schooling, just an argument for not thinking that school will teach your kids everything. In fact, many of the arguments for home schooling commits this mistake; no sane parent would think that a public school took care of everything a kid should know about the world. The obvious remedy is to supplement the information they get in school, not supplanting it. The latter option requires a completely different argument, and everything suggests, unfortunately, that the reason people keep kids away from public schools is not that there are things they don’t learn there, but that they learn stuff there the parents don’t want taught.

    The most scary line of argument for home schooling, however, is the argument from “parents’ rights”. The only appropriate response should be: fuck parents’ rights. The only important parameter is the kid’s right to be as well prepared for life as possible. We can of course discuss what this takes, but parents’ rights should just not enter into the equation.

  102. #103 badgersdaughter
    March 7, 2010

    But if you want to get rid of homeschooling entirely, you need to make the American public school system worth going to first.

    This. Commenters from outside the US… heck, commenters from outside Texas, where I live, just love to talk about how backward and ignorant we are here, how greedy and cruel, how superstitious and slavish, how obese and lazy, how nekulturny and anti-intellectual, how second-rate we are in every conceivable way. And then they turn around and tell me that I have to sacrifice the interests of my individual children, who are learning the arts, math, science, literature, manganimity, comparative history, humanism, critical thinking, and crucial skills for daily living, to the subnormal, pathological interests of the community? This community, in a country that you ridicule because the ideals you value aren’t taught in our schools? Fuck you.

  103. #104 Killer Bud
    March 7, 2010

    Home schooled kids better hope their mom is a human clown car, and they have lots of brothers and sisters to play with. Otherwise its gonna be pretty boring staying home instead of getting out and interacting with other kids their age.

  104. #105 fairhavenhorn
    March 7, 2010

    Reviewing the report’s other statistics shows that the commenters have a much better feel for homeschooling reality than PZ. Another, more important, statistic is the answer to “why was home schooling chosen”. Only 36% listed religious or moral motivation. 21% listed the school environment, 17% listed dissatisfaction with academics, 14% family time/schedule/distance/finances, 7% a desire for non-traditional education methods, and 5% special needs or health restrictions.

    So, in the words of an old TV show, “Homeschooling is not just for scary religious people any more.”

    I suspect the high percentage figures for religious and moral education as a component of home schooling is people like several local home schooling families I know. Two families are Unitarian Universalists and another is Quaker. They take their moral duties seriously and consider a moral education for their children to be important. Their notion of proper moral education bears little resemblance to that of a fundamentalist Christian. Their motivation for home schooling was dissatisfaction with the academic quality of the local schools.

  105. #106 badgersdaughter
    March 7, 2010

    Otherwise its gonna be pretty boring staying home instead of getting out and interacting with other kids their age.

    If you think homeschooling means that the kids never interact with people their own age because the parents keep them isolated, I fervently hope you never become a homeschooler.

    You also must have had the time of your life in public school, popular kid. Sorry if those of us who were the targets of relentless abuse in school feel like we’d have been far better off without that kind of “socialization.”

  106. #107 Magnifica
    March 7, 2010

    Had to chime in as another Atheist, science loving home school mom. We are pretty affluent, live in the town with the best public schools in the area, and could afford private school if we chose. After months of my daughter being bored silly in public school and learning some very bad habits regarding not trying hard if others around you weren’t and not wanting to learn new things any more we pulled her out. Now she flies through material two years above grade level and has a passion for learning and deep understanding again.

    We have great large groups of homeschoolers to hang out with and almost daily activities with the public school kids in town. If anything, the homeschooled kids I meet are given more freedom and self responsibility than most kids rather than the stereotyped smothering that people picture.

    Many of the comments here are clearly from people without children or who think they understand homeschooling from reading a few articles about it.

    Even the vast majority of fundy homeschoolers in our area that I have met are getting a hugely better educational foundation than public schools. The creationism angle is painful, but overcome-able by an intellectually curious person. Just learning the crap that passes as minimum math and language arts in public schools and not having a love for learning nurtured is a much worse handicap in my opinion. Don’t even get me started on the directionless hodge podge that passes as science education.

  107. #108 loveberry
    March 7, 2010

    G.D. you are wrong. As am I, all the time. There are these things called books, and this other thing called the internet. And even other humans and lots of other neat information resources. And when we often study we find out that that thing that Mom said half an hour ago was wrong (yeah, I was public schooled) and we all get a good laugh out of the fact that my 12 year old loves to prove me wrong.

    There is no way I am going to waste his time for 7 hours a day so I can bring him home in the evening and do school with him.

    How would you like your job to be like that. Here, go to work for 8 hours, bust most of it’s pointless, you get very little done, and half of what they tell you there is wrong or incomplete, so come home and do another 6 or 7 hours of working so you can really get that job done well.

    Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Great idea!

    As far as why I am harping on that particular line, it has nothing to do with justifying homeschooling. My frustration is with those who use the phrase “83 percent of home-schooling parents want to give their children religious or moral instruction” to suggest that 83% of parents who homeschool are religious nutters. It’s a completely fallacious conclusion based on a badly worded survey.

  108. #109 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    March 7, 2010

    Poor kids. Their parents are just filling their kid’s brains with mush.

  109. #110 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    glasnosto (@78):

    @61: You seem to be implying that public education is the only (or, at least, the best) way for a child to learn to be a member of society,

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m not suggesting that going to public school is the only way young people can learn to coexist or work together with others. I’m making the more specific and focused point that public schooling is, by design, our society’s conduit for transmitting its consensus values, and for ensuring that our youth possess the minimum knowledge and skills that we judge to be essential for a well functioning citizen and voter. Questions like whether or not to teach evolution (or conversely to teach creationism as if it were science) are precisely the sort of thing that the public has a legitimate stake in, and about which private schools and homeschooling dilute the public’s input.

    If we still lived in a loose confedration of clans, homeschooling would make more sense to me. But we don’t, as you may have noticed.

    @89:

    …but the solution isn’t to sacrifice a generation of learners to an inadequate system for a slim chance at improving that system.

    There’s no doubt that many of our public schools are troubled, but the notions that a whole “generation of learners” is at risk is hyperbolic in the extreme, as is the idea that we have no better than a “slim chance” of making our schools better. This is a meme promulgated by the right, including many who have an ideological commitment to the destruction of public schools. Sadly, I fear it may become a self-fulfilling meme: While I’m well aware that many homeschoolers do not share the anti-societal ideology of the far right, I fear their actions will, in practice, give aid to the goals of those who do.

    c9r (@93):

    How many people here have gone to a US public school within the last ten years? I went to public schools.

    For 17 of the last 19 years, I was the parent of a child in U.S. public schools, encompassing both Florida and Connecticut. For 3 1/2 years during the preceeding decade, I taught in 2 public schools (in New York state) and one private school (in Texas). For 12 of the first 17 years of my life I was a student in U.S. public schools, in Texas.

    I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in our public schools, but I have not seen an irredeemably broken, unsalvageable system that deserves to be abadoned like a sinking ship.

    I don’t dispute the veracity of any of the sad anecdotes recounted here; I do dispute the suggestion that y’all’s negative anecdotes represent anymore of a comprehensive verdict on U.S. public schools than my own experience does. I, for one, am not ready to give up on community and run for the bunker.

  110. #111 Legion
    March 7, 2010

    Bill Dauphin:

    What I meant to say is that I respect your concern for your own kids, but at some level, our society is a collective enterprise, and we’re all called upon to balance indivicual needs with larger social goods. Ultimately, I firmly believe, taking care of the latter is what best serves the former for most individuals most of the time, which is why we’ve formed societies in the first place.

    Can’t argue with that, but it’s a tough balancing act sometimes. We tried. We really tried to work with the schools. Individually, most of the teachers and administrators were decent people, but they were stuck within a malfunctioning system that seemed designed for failure.

    Once we scheduled a meeting with our daughter’s teachers. When the time came, we couldn’t understand why they seemed so guarded, even hostile. They wanted to know what was the problem.

    When we explained that we weren’t there to bitch at them, but to simply learn about how our daughter was doing and what could we do to support them, they were flabbergasted. They honestly didn’t know what to do with parents like us. In the end, we were ignored, because the system was really only set up to deal with problems, not solutions.

    And it’s true, we do ask fire fighters, soldiers, and others to make sacrifices for the common good, but for us to sacrifice our daughter at an age when she was unable to understand the gravity of that sacrifice, well, that was not a decision we could make. To do so would have been immoral.

    We believed then, and still do now, that by taking her out of a failing school, we were acting in the public good. Now that she’s older, she can decide for herself what sacrifices she wants to make.

    And given that she’s a compassionate person who understands her responsibility to work toward the public good, we think our decision was the best one we could make.

  111. #112 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    …of course, some of those who can’t homeschool do it anyway. :-(

    not “can’t” as in do not have the skill; “can’t” as in single parent working 50+ hours.

    David, my point is, I will not leave my child on a sinking ship while we rally to plug the leak. I will put him on the lifeboat, and then work to save the ship.

    Tragedy of the Commons FTL. which is why I’m glad homeschooling isn’t legal in Germany, and if legalizing it ever becomes a possibility, I’ll fight it even if I never end up having kids.

    Having said (@61) that I recoil at the notion of banning homeschooling, let me clarify that this is only because it’s already legal here (mostly, in most places), and taking away existing rights always strikes me as fraught with peril; if I lived in a place that had universal public education and where homeschooling was not legal, I’d fight any attempt to legalize it.

    yeah, this is sort of what David and I have been saying: you can’t end homeschooling because of the broken public school system, which is broken because there’s homeschooling; you can’t ban guns to fix the massive levels of gun violence because there’s so many guns out there, which is because guns are legal; you can’t end the balkanization of healthcare/flood and river management/education/etc. because the national alternatives are weak, ineffective, and underfunded and nobody demands for them to be so, because you have balkanization of these issues.

    IOW, I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that short of a second revolution, the USA are unfixable and royally fucked.

    Because I have no recollection of such a school period in the Netherlands, and neither do I believe Danish schools look like military boot camps. Not even the German, go figure.

    the German aversion to that sort of shit Walton describes is very easily understandable: “discipline” and “uniforms” and “obedient” sounds a tad bit too much like “Nazy Youth”, and Nazi-paranoia is strong in Germany. i mean, we’re talking about the country that feels ambivalent towards flying its flag during the worldcup, because national pride is what the Nazis had.

  112. #113 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    erm. “nobody demands them to be better”

  113. #114 badgersdaughter
    March 7, 2010

    …which is broken because there’s homeschooling…

    Citation, please.

  114. #115 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    citation for what? the lack of investment and motivation to fix public schools because you have the option to take your kids out? the Tragedy of the Commons seems pretty basic to me. I’m not claiming it’s the only reason of course, but it’s a reason.

  115. #116 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    @Jadehawk

    You think that the public school system is broken because of homeschooling? Where on earth would you get this stupid idea? Public schooling is getting worse and worse while home schooling becomes less and less feasible and acceptable.

    And your idea that gun control would work if only guns didn’t exist! Brilliant!!!

    If you think another revolution is going to “solve” America in the manner that you wish (with federal indoctrination, fascist gun control, and socialist health care), then think again. Whom do you think are going to be the ones revolting? It sure isn’t going to be the worshipers of the state.

  116. #117 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Loveberry (@97):

    Bill, do you hear what you are asking? You are asking me to watch my child flounder and fail, hate himself, hate school, and follow a path that almost certainly lands him in juvi and then prison, on the off chance that my volunteering in the classroom once a month might help some other kid not fail?

    LISTEN to yourself.

    I’m LISTENing to myself better than you’re listening to me, apparently, because that’s not what I’ve been asking of you. I’ve repeatedly acknowledged that every parent’s first responsibility is to his/her own children, and that I’m explicitly not asking people to sacrifice their kids to the sort of dire consequences you describe.

    What I am asking of you — and of parents considering homeschooling generally — is that you think hard about the whole issue. To begin with, while I obviously know nothing about your personal situation, your kids, their schools, in my experience the sort of man the lifeboats!! alarm you raise is usually hyperbolic in the extreme. Except in severely economically or socially deprived neighborhoods (blighted inner cities, impoverished remote rural communities, etc.), our schools, flawed as they are, are really not turning out vast numbers of the sort of virtually lobotomized incipient criminals you describe. Is your local school really so far gone that it’s impossible for kids to get a decent education there, no matter how involved you are¹ on campus and at home? There’s really no combination of supplemental home lessons and your involvement in the school community² that can yield satisfactory results?

    Maybe in your particular case, you really have no option… but I don’t believe that’s broadly true of all the people who seek to homeschool. If it is true, by all means save your child first. But please don’t pretend there’s no cost to your neighbors when you do so.

    ¹ BTW, while I don’t have numbers at my fingertips (though I believe they exist), the consensus seems to be that involved, active parents coupled with a healthy home environment is the single most important factor in the success of pubic schools and their students.

    ² And I’ll just note that if the resources you would commit to homeschooling are really no more than the equivalent of “volunteering in the classroom once a month,” UR DOIN’ IT RONG!

  117. #118 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    And your idea that gun control would work if only guns didn’t exist! Brilliant!!!congratulations on your shitty reading comprehension. the point was that gun control works in Europe because it’s always been there, and therefore it’s stupidly difficult to find a gun illegally (as opposed to the US, where it will never work unless you remove EVERY SINGLE gun in circulation, which is entirely unfeasible and undesirable to Americans), and public schools are good because either you’re invested in them, or your (future) kids and grandkids aren’t going to get a good education, and national healthcare/education/disaster control and river control/etc. systems work precisely because people don’t have the anti-government attitudes that government programs are evil and can’t ever work. instead, people are forcing them to work better.

    and the “revolution” comment was cynicism. I’m fully aware it won’t happen, but it’s the only way the entrenched, destructive systems could be repaired (except for the gun issue, obviously)

  118. #119 glasnost0
    March 7, 2010

    I’m not claiming it’s the only reason

    Then you might want to shy away from statements like “[the public school system] is broken because there’s homeschooling”.

    The problem with the Tragedy of the Commons analogy is that whether your child goes to public school or not does not actually directly impact the quality of public schools. Homeschooling parents pay the same taxes as non-homeschooling parents, which ostensibly go, in part, to public schools. The problem, as Bill said, is not that people are removing their children from public school systems, it’s that people are removing their children from public school systems, then not doing anything to fix said systems. One solution would be to force everyone to attend public school, thus giving them a vested interest in improving them, but legislating ethical behavior seems to me to be a poor substitute for encouraging it through other means.

    I would love nothing better than for public schools to become places that I trusted to educate my (hypothetical) children. If anybody has any bright ideas about how to change public education to solve such problems as overcrowding, accommodation of both gifted and challenged students, and stifling of creative thought, I’m all ears, and while, as a graduate student, I don’t really have the time to attend school board meetings or campaign for change, the education policy of a candidate is the first thing I consider when voting at any level of government.

  119. #120 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    dfminardi (@116):

    [addressed to Jadehawk] You think that the public school system is broken because of homeschooling?

    Jadehawk can speak for herself, but what I think is that anything, homeschooling included, that has the effect of preferentially removing the best students and most involved families from the public schools has the effect of perpetuating the “brokenness” of the system and hindering the fixing of it.

    Jadehawk (@112):

    I think you and I agree on principle about this issue right down the line, but I, for one, am far more hopeful than this:

    the USA are unfixable and royally fucked.

    The problems with our schools are real and serious, but I don’t believe for a minute that they’re unfixable, and I also think the vast majority of the most alarmist rhetoric is extreme and unwarranted.

    There’s plenty about our schools that “needs fixin’,” including some fundamental stuff like funding mechanisms; almost none of it is stuff that can’t be fixed, if we care to try.

    The more general problem, and where we may be a big closer to “royally fucked” is trying to reverse 3 decades of right-wing indoctrination about the inherent incompetency of the public sector and the moral unworthiness of socialistcommunitarian goals. But even there, I’m not ready to give up quite yet.

  120. #121 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    agh, blockquote fail. what comes before the !!!! is quoted, the rest is mine

  121. #122 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    There’s plenty about our schools that “needs fixin’,” including some fundamental stuff like funding mechanisms; almost none of it is stuff that can’t be fixed, if we care to try.

    The more general problem, and where we may be a big closer to “royally fucked” is trying to reverse 3 decades of right-wing indoctrination about the inherent incompetency of the public sector and the moral unworthiness of socialistcommunitarian goals. But even there, I’m not ready to give up quite yet.

    that being a large part of my point: that theoretically it might be fixable, but the US lacks a system to do so. The deepening obsession with individualism and competition and concurrent growing aversion to community and cooperation, the broken political system (a two party system where one party exists solely to sabotage government), and the already deeply entrenched problems that cannot be simply fixed even if introducing European solutions were even feasible; they all make it look to me like it’s a hopeless case. And maybe you’re right and fixing it is sill possible, but I’m currently in my “humans are fucking stupid, and we’re all doomed” mood. And the US currently serves as a shining example for my mood (the rest of the world follows closely behind, because of our glorious inability to even start addressing climate change, even though we’re possibly in the last decade where prevention is even still possible)

  122. #123 ckitching
    March 7, 2010

    Homeschooling parents pay the same taxes as non-homeschooling parents, which ostensibly go, in part, to public schools.

    This is not true. Many places have tax credits that apply to those who home school their children.

  123. #124 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    glasnosto (@119):

    I would love nothing better than for public schools to become places that I trusted to educate my (hypothetical) children. …as a graduate student, I don’t really have the time to attend school board meetings [emphasis added]

    You’re not a public school student nor a parent? And not a teacher? And you’re not cognizant of the governance of your local schools? So, basically, you’ve given up on our schools without even knowing what the hell you’re talking about?

    I don’t mean that as a personal slap, but this is an example of what I fear drives a lot of this conversation: People who’ve bought into the “common wisdom” that our schools are seething puddles of idiocy and malfeasance on the basis of right-wing talking points (which they may have heard second-hand, ironically enough, in conversations at liberal websites like this one), and independent of any actual evidence or even personal experience (beyond, perhaps, entirely anecdotal memories of their own school days).

    I’m the first one to say there are problems with our schools: The failing ones need fixin’ and the good ones need eternal vigilence to keep them good. But we’re really not facing the educational apocalypse many would have us believe.

    Oy! Here I am sitting at my desk, on Sunday, when my work is done and I could go home. Pharyngula, I wish I knew how to quit you!!

  124. #125 Greta Christina
    March 7, 2010

    Another voice for understanding why smart, secular people might want to home-school their kids. My friend (and big old atheist) Susie Bright home-schooled her daughter… largely because the California public school system sucks donkey dicks.

    It’s a tough issue. I don’t think parents have infinite power over how their children are raised, and I do think society has a stake, not only in protecting children from being harmed by their parents, but in making sure children grow up with the information they need to function in society. But given how crummy and underfunded so many public schools are in so much of the country, I think a smart, reasonable, loving parent might well want to keep their kids as far away from them as humanly possible.

    I think we could reach a reasonable compromise. Allow parents to homeschool their kids… but require that homeschooling parents be accredited, and that their kids get regularly tested to make sure they’re getting the education they need.

  125. #126 Tink
    March 7, 2010

    I work with a 24ish year old woman who was home schooled. She is currently involved with a drug addicted boyfriend. Her boyfriend was recently fired for stealing $800 in deposits form the business. She is so naive about the ways of addicts because she was sheltered form the real world due to the cloistering of her home school that she will inevitably be dragged into his criminal ways and ultimately will wind up either dead or imprisoned. Shame. All she needed was to have a chance to develop a sense of who to stay away from, but she was told that no one who loved her and the lord would lie. Tragic.

  126. #127 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Jadehawk:

    theoretically it might be fixable, but the US lacks a system to do so.

    I see where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure lack of a system is the key, because I think the underlying problem…

    The deepening obsession with individualism and competition and concurrent growing aversion to community and cooperation…

    …is attitudinal rather than structural. That may not be good news, though, because attitudes are notoriously resistant to orderly change. That said, I’m hoping for some sort of rational backlash to the Tea Party insanity… hopefully coming before it destroys the country.
    <Fingers_Crossed>

  127. #128 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    That said, I’m hoping for some sort of rational backlash to the Tea Party insanity… hopefully coming before it destroys the country.

    not bloody likely. not when teabaggers can bring weapons to protests and nothing happens to them, but left-wing demonstrators are charged with crimes under the Patriot Act for letting people know where the police is; not when teabagger events have government officials show up, while g20 protests are fought with sound-weapons and classified as riots by default.

    The Overton Window in the US is so far into crazyland, it seems more likely to elect a Sarah Palin for president than an Angela Merkel (let’s ignore citizenship issues for a sec. you know what I mean!)

  128. #129 David Marjanovi?
    March 7, 2010

    At one point, our daughter was chastised by her teacher for reading ahead in a textbook, on her own time.

    I once was, too. But I managed to ignore it.

    The “teaching to the test” mentality that many people attribute to No Child Left Behind has been around in [US] public schools for decades, to the point that mediocrity is celebrated and students are actively discouraged from excelling.

    You misspelled the No Child’s Behind Left Act.

    Home schooling is one of those topics, like circumcision or abortion, where there’ll never be any consensus.

    Interesting examples… because on circumcision there’s a consensus except among Americans, Muslims, and Jews. <slightly open grin>

    Only 36% listed religious or moral motivation. 21% listed the school environment, 17% listed dissatisfaction with academics, [...] 7% a desire for non-traditional education methods

    I smell a lot of overlap between all those. “School environment”? Evil Darwinist sex-educating gay-friendly school environment. Academics? Evil Darwinist sex-educating gay-friendly academics. Non-traditional education methods? Even more traditional education methods (the Bible).

    “Homeschooling is not just for scary religious people any more.”

    That’s misleading ? the right to homeschool was gained by hippies who wanted, you know, “alternative” education.

    not “can’t” as in do not have the skill; “can’t” as in single parent working 50+ hours.

    I know; I don’t think it makes much of a difference.

    You think that the public school system is broken because of homeschooling? Where on earth would you get this stupid idea? Public schooling is getting worse and worse

    It’s probably not the biggest reason. Among those, the stark raving mad way of financing the public schools in the USA has already been mentioned. Another is a vicious circle: because teaching is underfunded, there are no good teachers; because there a no good teachers, there’s no reason to pay the teachers better…

    But, yes, the option to just say “I got mine, fuck you” obviously contributes to making the US public schools even worse.

    while home schooling becomes less and less feasible and acceptable.

    Is that so.

    And your idea that gun control would work if only guns didn’t exist! Brilliant!!!

    You didn’t quite read for comprehension. Where I come from, most bank robberies are committed with toys and other fakes, because guns are so hard to get; it’s simply not true there that “if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns”. It is, however, true in the USA, where getting a gun illegally is ridiculously easy. So, any effort at restricting legal gun ownership* would have to be preceded by a crackdown on the already illegal black market; banning guns and not doing anything else would fail spectacularly.

    * Completely independently of whether that’s a good idea.

    If you think another revolution is going to “solve” America in the manner that you wish (with federal indoctrination,

    Ooh. True colors of paranoia coming out.

    fascist gun control,

    Dude, this is an insult to every single victim of any kind of fascism ever. You will therefore retract it.

    Perhaps I need to remind you about the fascistoid Saddam Hussein, under whose reign every man who considered himself one had a Kalashnikov?

    and socialist health care

    <headdesk>

    I have enough of your Dunning-Kruger effect. Every single halfway developed country, except the USA, South Africa (I think), and of all places China, has universal healthcare. Have you no shame about talking about things you don’t even know anything about???

    the anti-government attitudes that government programs are evil and can’t ever work

    …which were invented by the Raygun government.

  129. #130 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    [quote]the point was that gun control works in Europe because it’s always been there, and therefore it’s stupidly difficult to find a gun illegally (as opposed to the US, where it will never work unless you remove EVERY SINGLE gun in circulation, which is entirely unfeasible and undesirable to Americans), and public schools are good because either you’re invested in them, or your (future) kids and grandkids aren’t going to get a good education, and national healthcare/education/disaster control and river control/etc. systems work precisely because people don’t have the anti-government attitudes that government programs are evil and can’t ever work. instead, people are forcing them to work better.[/quote]

    Nice understanding of history! Gun control has “always” been there in Europe? Gun control “works” in Europe because people can kill each other with whatever they want, but there are less incentives for violent crime and robbing people is a lot easier when the commons aren’t armed.

    As I said, it’s silly to blame the decline of American education on home schooling. Public education used to be pretty good in this country when home schooling was more popular. Now it’s less popular but the public education is getting worse and worse and worse, so it’s forcing more and more people to seriously consider home schooling. Maybe you should learn a little more about cause and effect so you can figure out which is which.

    [quote]and the “revolution” comment was cynicism. I’m fully aware it won’t happen, but it’s the only way the entrenched, destructive systems could be repaired (except for the gun issue, obviously)[/quote]

    I agree, but the way it will be “repaired” is by abolishing entrenched bureaucracies, not expanding them. People aren’t going to revolt to ask for less liberty; it’s absurd.

  130. #131 glasnost0
    March 7, 2010

    Allow parents to homeschool their kids… but require that homeschooling parents be accredited, and that their kids get regularly tested to make sure they’re getting the education they need.

    To the best of my knowledge, most states do require regular testing of students, and those that don’t certainly should. Nobody in their right mind thinks that homeschooling should be a free pass to brainwash your kids.

    So, basically, you’ve given up on our schools without even knowing what the hell you’re talking about?

    Ouch. You’re right; the vast majority of my experience is personal and anecdotal. (I will point out, however, that said experience covers a little over a dozen schools in a wide range of both geographical and economical situations, and I haven’t encountered one that didn’t hold the attitude I mentioned in #89. You can see how I might have become a little jaded.)

    That said, I’ll back up on my rhetoric above, if only to point out that I haven’t “given up” on anything. Not all schools look like something our of a Pink Floyd song; supplementing their child’s public school education could, in some situations, be a better choice for parents than homeschooling; the next generation isn’t going to grow up unable to read, write, and ‘rithmatic; things are not beyond repair.

    But I said what I did because I think public education is something that we should be able to really rely upon, in the same way that we rely upon, say, safety standards for canned foods. When it comes to light that somebody got botulism from a bad can of tuna, there are recalls, public apologies, and lawsuits; when it comes to light that students are getting a poor education at a school… well, it doesn’t, because nobody really seems to notice. Or, worse yet, that (already failing) school gets money taken away from it by NCLB, sending it into a tailspin of underfunding and poor education.

    Perhaps I’m being unreasonable, but I think that the existence alone of schools like the ones I’ve encountered constitutes a failure of public education as a whole, one that needs major reform to be fixed, and I think that homeschooling your child is, in many cases, the best stopgap solution available.

  131. #132 David Marjanovi?
    March 7, 2010

    Now I’m imagining Merkel as US Prez X-D

    She could actually do it, you know. Too bad http://www.amendforarnold.com is down.

  132. #133 jgrn307
    March 7, 2010

    I posted a similar thread on the “Why evolution is true” website, but I thought I’d post it here. This issue brings to light a critical issue, that of proper education. How often when we (as scientists or scientific-minded) get into a conversation with a creationist are we left thinking, “Wow, this person simply does not understand evolution.” On the other hand, most of us are well versed in the literal interpretation of Genesis, we just don’t see any evidence to support it. Put another way: how many scientists would pass a test on what a Creationist believes, and the basis of these beliefs, a test CREATED by a creationist (probable answer: most of us). How many creationsts would pass a test on the theory and evidence behind evolution by natural selection (probable answer: not many). This is an issue of EDUCATION. If you are confident in your beliefs, then you shouldn’t care if you are exposed to differing ideas.

  133. #134 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    I agree, but the way it will be “repaired” is by abolishing entrenched bureaucracies, not expanding them. People aren’t going to revolt to ask for less liberty; it’s absurd.

    i completely missed in reading your first response that I was talking to a libertarian. could have saved myself the trouble, since American libertarians don’t live in the real world, and aren’t accessible by reasonable discussion. “fascist” guncontrol and “socialist” healthcare my big fat ass. “abolishing entrenched bureaucracies” my ass. dismantling the US government structures even more is just going to make it even more of a 3rd world country look-alike. but if that’s what you want, you’re fucking welcome to it. i prefer civilized countries.

  134. #135 David Marjanovi?
    March 7, 2010

    Gun control “works” in Europe because people can kill each other with whatever they want, but there are less incentives for violent crime and robbing people is a lot easier when the commons aren’t armed.

    One word: Canada.

    Three more: Bowling for Columbine. You should watch it. It’s not about “incentives for violent crime”, it’s about fear.

  135. #136 Pierce R. Butler
    March 7, 2010

    Pen @ # 10: … why don’t you write a post summarizing the evolutionary and other knowledge you would like/need to see in first-year undergraduates?

    Our esteemed host did that, some years back; those who have better memory for keywords or greater patience than I have may be able to search for it.

    My recollection is of five components: math, basic genetics, math, basic cellular processes, and math.

  136. #137 ckitching
    March 7, 2010

    One word: Canada.

    Maybe not a great example. We are having trouble stopping the flow of cheap, illegal weapons. It’s pretty clear where they’re coming from, but some people get really offended when someone suggests they’re coming from the States.

  137. #138 amphiox
    March 7, 2010

    Did you even read my post? I wasn’t just talking about the quality of government-run schools (and, indeed, private schools), but about the hierarchical, authoritarian structure, the way that they seek to control every aspect of young people’s lives and instil “discipline” and unquestioning obedience.

    Did you even read MY post?

    What law of sociology, nature, psychology, politics, or economics states that schools HAVE to be run this way?

    For that matter, on what grounds, other than ideology, do you base the claim that public schools have these qualities? How are you quantifying heirarchy, authority, control, discipline, and obedience, and by what criteria are you judging it to be “too much”?

    These issues are PART of the things that constitute the quality of a school. When I say making better public schools, I mean these aspects too.

  138. #139 thebigkahuna
    March 7, 2010

    Quickly (as it would take a while to read through all 137 comments):

    There are many secular home schoolers who do so for a variety of reasons. Home schooling is not for the timid or the unprepared, but a variety of resources and support groups exist for those who wish to try. I will also add that success is also largely dependent on the student’s willingness to learn; i.e., home schooling requires more self discipline, IMHO.

    We home schooled both of our sons. The oldest received a full scholarship at age 16 to the local
    community college and is now working on his Master’s in CompSci; the youngest is on the VP’s list and was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa. Not to shabby, if I do say so myself. FWIW, I hold a B.S. in an engineering discipline with 23 years in a technical field; my wife is a stay @ home mom with an A.A. in marketing and an extremely competitive drive … LOL!

    The Spousal Unit helps moderate/facilitate a home schooling blog to help other home schoolers, share notes/ideas/etc. At the risk of being accused of blog-pimping,

    http://www.peaknetwork.org/

    v/r
    Bo

  139. #140 amphiox
    March 7, 2010

    IOW, I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that short of a second revolution, the USA are unfixable and royally fucked.

    Maybe that’s why such a large proportion of its citizens seem to be so eagerly anticipating the rapture.

    (But seriously, seeing as how many of them are also flag waving rabid patriots, presumably they think the US is the best there is on this earth. Boy it must suck to be them. . . )

  140. #141 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk25bzfeJzooxtW_G2Jo9aQu4IkVxU0jns
    March 7, 2010

    @101
    I didn’t make that assumption myself, all that matters is can a family (of whatever makeup) take the financial hit? If they can’t, they’re screwed. What would you do to help those who financially cannot do anything but rely on public schools? I think I already know the answer.

  141. #142 amphiox
    March 7, 2010

    The most important aspect of, and the greatest good derived from, public schooling isn’t actually education, but socialization.

    Or, to put it another way, the most important thing that public schools teach is not science, language, history, or math, or any other academic subject, but rather how to live and function as a member of a large and diverse social group. The rest is just the icing on the cake.

  142. #143 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 7, 2010

    Tomdoc asked how you can find secular textbooks. Simply do a Google search for Secular Homeschool Textbooks.

    I used Amsco for Science and EMC Publishing Literature and the Language Arts for English. Saxon Math is great and has online resources for homeschoolers. For those publishers who do not sell directly to homeschoolers you can purchase their books at Amazon.Com, The Homeschool Supercenter, or various other places. The Internet allows any homeschooler willing to do the research to find what they need. I have more information about secular homeschooling on my blog http://alasandras.blogspot.com/

  143. #144 Rorschach
    March 7, 2010

    comedian @ 116,

    If you think another revolution is going to “solve” America in the manner that you wish (with federal indoctrination, fascist gun control, and socialist health care),

    Translation :

    I don’t want my mother the government to tell me what to do, because I think I know better !

    I am a historical illiterate who doesn’t have the faintest clue what “fascist” means, and that it is not “fascist” to prevent people from shooting each other all the time by limiting their access to firearms.Like, in the first world.

    I am a political illiterate who doesn’t know what “socialist” means, but I will use the term for anything that would be beneficial for many people including myself, but that is decided for me by the government.

    I LOL’ d !!

  144. #145 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    “One word: Canada.

    Three more: Bowling for Columbine. You should watch it. It’s not about “incentives for violent crime”, it’s about fear.”

    Bowling for Columbine is stupid, dishonest, and incoherent. It tries to make the point that guns are bad but then undermines its own point with lies and by pointing out the fact that news coverage of murders goes up even while murder rates are going down. And Michael Moore makes more stupid movies about the epidemic of violence even while murder rates are going down. Irony much?

    What makes Canada interesting? They have comparable gun ownership rates to the US but lower crime rates. They have a larger bureaucratic state and a smaller police state.

    Oh, and Jade, I love how you wave off your complete ignorance of the history of international gun control by recognizing the fact that I’m a libertarian. Oh no! You also seem to think that home schooling is something new that is tearing down public schooling because you have no sense of cause and effect. You are a genius!

  145. #146 PZ Myers
    March 7, 2010

    The problem with the Tragedy of the Commons analogy is that whether your child goes to public school or not does not actually directly impact the quality of public schools.

    Wrong. Your taxes go into a pool that the state distributes to the schools. How much money a school gets is directly tied to enrollment, which makes sense. But it does mean schools suffer when attendance drops.

    Here in my local school district, for instance, special interest groups (that is, religious cults) can hold the schools hostage by threatening to yank all their kids out if they don’t get their way. It means our administrators are quick to pander, because every head gone is a good sized chunk of money gone.

    It’s also another reason the public schools do a bad job. There is a strong disincentive against failing bad or disruptive students.

  146. #147 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    I love how you wave off your complete ignorance of the history

    lol… i’m being lectured on history of anything by a libertarian… the irony, it hurts…

  147. #148 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 7, 2010

    If violent crime is so easy for disarmed commons, and so hard against armed ones, why is the US’s violent crime rate so many times higher then Japan’s, despite a significantly less dense cityscape?

  148. #149 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Glibertarians. Arrogant, ignorant, and arrogant. Enough said.

  149. #150 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 7, 2010

    Er, easy AGAINST disarmed commons (your terminology, not mine)

    lol… i’m being lectured on history of anything by a libertarian… the irony, it hurts…

    In fairness, he isn’t necessarily as dumb as Ron Paul.

  150. #151 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    We have a higher crime rate because we have a bigger police state and we punish drug dealers and drug users too severely.

    I simply said that in general robbery was easier against disarmed commons than against armed ones. Do you deny that home robberies are much more common outside the US than inside?

    So, Jade, because I’m a libertarian, you get to pretend that your ignorance doesn’t exist?

    Please, explain to me, how is home schooling some new phenomenon that is destroying public education?

    Please, explain to me how strict gun control has “always” been around in Europe.

  151. #152 Midnight Rambler
    March 7, 2010

    Walton @41:

    Did you even read my post? I wasn’t just talking about the quality of government-run schools (and, indeed, private schools), but about the hierarchical, authoritarian structure, the way that they seek to control every aspect of young people’s lives and instil “discipline” and unquestioning obedience.

    Hey Walton, you’d love the public schools here in Hawaii. They don’t care at all about instilling authority, discipline, or obedience. Pretty much the kids just run around and beat the crap out of each other, and the parents complain if the kids get too much homework. Of course, consequently they don’t learn much either, but there you go.

  152. #153 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 7, 2010

    PZ (@146):

    Your taxes go into a pool that the state distributes to the schools. How much money a school gets is directly tied to enrollment, which makes sense. But it does mean schools suffer when attendance drops.

    That’s admittedly the way it has been in most places I’ve lived, but here in CT, schools are operated by towns, and though there’s some educational funds that come from the state government, the vast majority of public school funding comes directly from local property taxes via the municipal budget… which, horrifyingly enough, is subject to direct public referendum. This means school funding is always at the mercy of “my kids are all done with school; why should I pay for somebody else’s kids?” (Note that I’ve actually heard that argument made explicitly — more than once, and apparently with no trace of shame! — at public budget hearings! grrrrr)

    Historically CT has supported its schools pretty well, ranking high among states in per-pupil spending and in teacher salaries… but in recent years, our population has begun to age and we’ve been seized by the everything is free anti-tax religion, and I fear very deeply for the future of education here.

  153. #154 ckitching
    March 7, 2010

    What makes Canada interesting? They have comparable gun ownership rates to the US but lower crime rates

    Uhm, no.

    We may have similar long gun (i.e. rifles and shotguns) ownership to the States (~20%), but handgun ownership is practically nonexistent (~2%) because it is highly restricted. Furthermore, certain types of guns (like fully automatics) are prohibited and can only be legally owned by very few people. Licenses are required to purchase or use any firearms, and restricted (handguns, etc) or prohibited firearms must be registered.

    If you think the situation in Canada is even slightly similar to the US one, you are completely mistaken. The flow of unlicensed handguns into Canada is a serious problem in some cities, and there’s no question of where they are coming from.

  154. #155 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 7, 2010

    One of the most attractive features of libertarianism is that it is basically a very simple ideology. It’s even simpler than Marxism, since you don’t have to learn foreign words like “proletariat.”

    ? In the beginning, man dwelt in a state of Nature, until the serpent Government tempted man into Initial Coercion.
    ? Government is the Great Satan. All evil comes from government, and all good from the market.
    ? We must worship the Horatio Alger fantasy that the meritorious few will just happen to have the lucky breaks that make them rich. Libertarians happen to be the meritorious few by ideological correctness. The rest are fucked.
    ? Government cannot own things because only individuals can own things. Except for corporations, partnerships, joint ownerships, marriages, and anything else but government.
    ? Taxation is theft because we have a right to squat in the US and benefit from defense, infrastructure, police, courts, etc. without obligation.
    ? Libertarians invented outrage over government waste, bureaucracy, injustice, etc. Nobody else thinks they are bad, knows they exist, or works to stop them.
    ? Enlightenment comes only through repetition of the sacred mantra “Government does not work.”
    ? Only government is force, no matter how many Indians were killed by settlers to acquire their property, no matter how many blacks were enslaved and sold by private companies, no matter how many heads of union members are broken by private police.
    ? Money that government touches spontaneously combusts, destroying the economy. Money retained by individuals grows the economy, even if literally burnt.
    ? Market failures, trusts, and oligopolies are lies spread by the evil economists serving the government as described in the Protocols of the Elders of Statism.
    ? Central planning cannot work. Which is why all businesses internally are run like little markets, with no centralized leadership.
    ? Abolish all regulations, consider everything as property, and solve all controversy by civil lawsuit over damages. The US doesn’t have enough lawyers, and people who can’t afford to invest many thousands of dollars in lawsuits should shut up.

    Parrot these arguments, and you too will be a singular, creative, reasoning individualist.

  155. #156 badgersdaughter
    March 7, 2010

    Go get ‘em, ‘Tis. Run that fox to earth, then stand over him when he’s panting and wild-eyed exhausted, and lecture him to death.

    Hey… worked on me, didn’t it? ;)

  156. #157 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    “Furthermore, certain types of guns (like fully automatics) are prohibited and can only be legally owned by very few people.”

    Hey, just like the U.S.!

    You mean they can get their hands on “assault weapons” in Canada just like they can here in the U.S.? Why isn’t their murder rate as high as ours!? Surely it was almost as high as ours before Canada instituted their HIGHLY EFFECTIVE gun registry.

  157. #158 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 7, 2010

    badgersdaughter #156

    Hey… worked on me, didn’t it?

    Who were you before?

  158. #159 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 7, 2010

    dumbshit looneytarian,

    Most murders in the US are by handguns, not assault weapons. Even a dumbshit looneytarian should be able to figure out that if Canadians can’t get handguns easily, then there’d be fewer murders by handguns in Canada.

    Or am I estimating the intelligence of dumbshit looneytarians too high?

  159. #160 ckitching
    March 7, 2010

    Are you being obtuse on purpose? A prohibited firearm license isn’t just a matter of slapping a couple dollars down, and picking up your gun. There are strict regulations on the things, and not only would you need a license to own one, you need another license (ATT) just to transport it. In many places in the United States, fully automatic rifle sales are completely unrestricted, and storage and transport laws are equally lax. The two don’t even compare.

    As for the gun registry: The registry is useful for restricted and prohibited weapons, and the only part the Conservative government shows any serious interest in killing is the long gun part of the registry. Long guns are not often used in the commission of a crime, so excluding them may make sense.

    I’ll say it again: If you think Canada’s gun laws are anything like the US’s laws, you are sadly mistaken. But by all means, keep digging.

  160. #161 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    Explain to me why the US’s non-gun murder rate is higher than the total murder rate of most nations (including Canada), please. Please give me a simplistic explanation that blames guns.

  161. #162 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    “In many places in the United States, fully automatic rifle sales are completely unrestricted, and storage and transport laws are equally lax. The two don’t even compare.”

    You are severely misinformed on this issue. You should not speak of it any longer. In order to own a fully automatic weapon in America, you must go through an intrusive background check, pay fee, register your gun, and get your application personally signed by the chief law enforcement official in your area. If you call that “completely unrestricted,” you’re an idiot.

  162. #163 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    So, Jade, because I’m a libertarian, you get to pretend that your ignorance doesn’t exist?

    no, I get to laugh at an ignorant fool talking out of his ass, thinking he’s being clever

    Please, explain to me, how is home schooling some new phenomenon that is destroying public education?

    Please, explain to me how strict gun control has “always” been around in Europe.

    I See Straw People

  163. #164 badgersdaughter
    March 7, 2010

    “speedwell.” Gee, I thought everyone knew.

  164. #165 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Yawn, typical liberturd. Always showing his ignorance. Strawmen killed right and left, but no cogent points. Has to get the last word. Typical arrogance. BINGO. We have a winner…

  165. #166 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    Do you understand what a straw man is, Jade? A straw man is when someone actually mischaracterizes your argument. You literally said that gun control has always been around in Europe, and you literally blamed home schooling for the demise of public education. Where’s the straw man in asking you to defend those statements? You can’t defend your ignorance, so you simply distract.

  166. #167 ckitching
    March 7, 2010

    Explain to me why the US’s non-gun murder rate is higher than the total murder rate of most nations (including Canada), please. Please give me a simplistic explanation that blames guns.

    Because the level of poverty is higher in the United States than Canada. It is fairly well understood that poverty breeds crime. Why the hell would this have anything to do with guns? Being awash in cheap weapons simply turn more violent crimes into fatal violent crimes.

    In order to own a fully automatic weapon in America, you must go through an intrusive background check, pay fee, register your gun, and get your application personally signed by the chief law enforcement official in your area.

    Then I was mistaken. I read a wikipedia article that did not give me all the information I was looking for. I guess I’m an idiot for getting this one wrong.

    Regardless, it is much easier to get a rifle or handgun in the US than it is in Canada. There are also a lot more restrictions on the use and storage of those firearms. I was not able to find a statistic on handgun ownership in the United States, but I’m willing to bet it’s many times higher than Canada’s 2%.

  167. #168 Jadehawk, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Do you understand what a straw man is, Jade? A straw man is when someone actually mischaracterizes your argument. You literally said that gun control has always been around in Europe, and you literally blamed home schooling for the demise of public education.

    yes, it’s a strawman to assume that “always” means “from the beginning of time”, since the argument is about existence of and access to guns. can you accuse me of sloppy expression? sure. but not of ignorance. and Godwinning that conversation isn’t going to be convincing either, since that’s not what allowed the Nazis to take over and stay in power. nice try though.

    and it’s only in your very own fevered mind that i blame the “rise” of homeschooling on anything, and certainly I don’t say that it’s the single cause for anything; you are welcome to go back and actually read the rather complex argument for the interaction of American politics, self-identity, public schools, and homeschooling, with the emphasis on how homeschooling with the others to be a major contributor to weakening public schools, and a major reason they won’t get fixed.

    until you can read for comprehension, rather than through the glasses of ignorant libertarian hatred for government, I can’t have a conversation with you

  168. #169 tomh
    March 7, 2010

    Gun laws are being liberalized in many states around the country, with the biggest new item on the gun rights agenda being open carry laws.

  169. #170 Tumblemark
    March 7, 2010

    Sorry, PZ.

    Like the surprising number of others of like mind here, I’m an atheist who homeschools. Originally, I homeschooled because I wanted my kid to have a completely secular education, with no punches pulled so as not to offend those who believe in Santa Claus or any other imaginary character. I continued when it turned out my kid was highly gifted–there’s no way my kid could be in ordinary school, private or public, it is very sad for me to say. Plus, she’s better socialized among the polyglot homeschooling community.

    If you’re looking for a reasonable elementary science curriculum, I’d recommend the My Pals are Here series of materials from SingaporeMath.com There are texts, homework, tests, higher-order thinking skills challenges, and teacher coaching materials that are reasonably accurate and up-to-date. All very affordable. It’s what they use in Singapore to kick our nation’s ass on the PISA and TIMSS rankings. It’s a shame that the only way to take advantage of it is to homeschool (or live in Singapore).

    Throw in Coyne’s book and…there you are!

    I see the need for an atheist’s homeschooling forum.

  170. #171 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    So, the last 150 years is “from the beginning of time,” now? Who’s using straw men, now?

    Where did I accuse you of blaming the rise of homeschooling on anything? It was MY contention that homeschooling is coming back in vogue because public school is getting worse, while it is your contention that homeschooling is a “major” contributor to the weakening of public schools, which I see no support for in fact.

  171. #172 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 7, 2010

    Yawn, still no evidence, just blather from the dfminardi. Opinion =/= evidence. Evidence might convince us, repeating your opinions won’t.

  172. #173 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    What do you even have to add to any of these discussions, Nerd? Would you like to support the assertion that homeschooling is a major contributor to the decline of public education?

    Was it opinion when I made clear the process of obtaining a fully automatic weapon in America? Is it my opinion that our non-gun murder rate is higher than the total murder rate of virtually all of Western Europe?

    You don’t even offer an opinion on anything relevant here, so what are your posts worth?

  173. #174 AndrewTheEternal
    March 7, 2010

    Is it my opinion that our non-gun murder rate is higher than the total murder rate of virtually all of Western Europe?

    dfminardi, you seem to have missed ckitching @167,

    Because the level of poverty is higher in the United States than Canada. It is fairly well understood that poverty breeds crime. Why the hell would this have anything to do with guns? Being awash in cheap weapons simply turn more violent crimes into fatal violent crimes.

  174. #175 ckitching
    March 7, 2010

    Would you like to support the assertion that homeschooling is a major contributor to the decline of public education?

    Plenty of people already have. School funding based on enrolment and tax credits given to home schooling parents, just to name two.

  175. #176 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    Andrew

    No, I didn’t miss that. That doesn’t refute anything I said; it just reinforces the point I was making. The United States are a lot different than Canada in lots of ways, and it’s incredibly simplistic to blame our difference in murder rate on guns.

    I don’t see the problem with cheap weapons. I think people have a right to own firearms so I don’t think intentionally preventing poor people from being able to obtain them is an acceptable solution. I applaud the availability of cheap guns. The last sentence doesn’t mean much to me; I don’t know that there’s a significant number of unintentional shooting fatalities. It’s not like people don’t frequently survive gunshot wounds to non-vital areas.

  176. #177 dfminardi
    March 7, 2010

    “Plenty of people already have. School funding based on enrolment and tax credits given to home schooling parents, just to name two.”

    You’re counting the same money twice and assuming that public schooling would be better with slightly more funding. You’re not showing any actual causation between home-schooling and the actual declining quality of public education. I don’t buy it.

  177. #178 tokenadult
    March 7, 2010

    PZ, you met my homeschooled then nine-year-old son when you had the “debate” with Jerry Bergman, and then I took him to see your talk at the U of MN TC about evolution of the nervous system. There are plenty of homeschoolers who homeschool because they remember childhoods when their intellectual interests, encouraged at home, were stifled at school. Pluralism is the way to go. Let people have to show that they know facts to get jobs teaching biology, for example, but let learners decide where to get learning, inside school walls or in libraries or in laboratories or wherever they can be at peace to pursue their curiosity.

    See

    http://learninfreedom.org/Nobel_hates_school.html

    for part of why I feel as I do about letting smart, curious people learn in supportive rather than compelled environments.

  178. #179 ckitching
    March 8, 2010

    dfminardi, you seem to want people to point to one single cause. There is no single cause for the decline of many public schools. Everything from increased homeschooling to private school voucher programs to No Child Left Behind to continued tax cuts to curriculum decided by the loudest political voice have all contributed to continually relaxed standards. Homeschooling is a contributor. Perhaps not the largest contributor, but it is part of the system that is slowly bleeding the schools dry.

    “No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood”

  179. #180 fishnguy
    March 8, 2010

    My wife and I home schooled both of our daughters. Not for religous regions to be sure. We both felt that the public education system was not in thier best interests. As for myself I specificaly did not want my children to get a sub par education in the sciences, specificly evolutionary biology. I made sure they were given the opportunity to be exposed to theory as well as all the sciences that show it to be the only way the natural world makes any sense. Thr oldest graduated from college last year in the top 10% of her class and the youngest is in pre-law and very active in lobbying our state legislature for the American Cancer Society. So not all home educators are religoiously motivated. I did attend one home schooling organization meeting, and found most of the attendees to be sickingly infected by the religion bug, I never went to another meeting.

  180. #181 Rorschach
    March 8, 2010

    It’s not like people don’t frequently survive gunshot wounds to non-vital areas.

    Ah, that’s alright then !!

    *facepalm*

  181. #182 bellerophon
    March 8, 2010

    In the US you may have totally secular schools. Here in the UK all schools are required by law to provide religious instruction classes and daily religious assembly.
    My wife & I decided to home ed our brood in no small part to protect them from this indoctrination. (and also to avoid compulsory Welsh language instruction!) We have found that the advantages of home ed are considerable and far broader than we had imagined.
    In the UK only a minority of home ed families choose that option as a way of positively promoting their religion to their unfortunate offspring.
    There is also an increasing perception that school is providing a depressingly falling standard of education, and that it’s primary purpose is to provide childcare to allow both parents to go out to work. A teacher friend of mine once said of kids, “90% of their time at school is wasted”

  182. #183 cancilla
    March 8, 2010

    My wife publishes Secular Homeschooling magazine, and I can definitely say that there are plenty of intelligent, science-positive homeschoolers out there. Her magazine has had articles on skepticism, Darwin, and evolution, all of which were well received by subscribers.

    And this may really blow some people’s minds, but some of her readers are religious people who are homeschooling for reasons other than religion (disabilities, etc.), and are very interested in trying to find pro-science materials that are appropriate for homeschooling.

    Don’t let the high-profile homeschooling religious nuts make you think that all homeschoolers are trying to “protect” their kids from science.

  183. #184 skeptifem
    March 8, 2010

    If only the problem with school ended with the teaching of evolution! I encourage everyone who is on the pro public school side to go look at the cirriculum for their state, and examine it critically. Pay attention to the kind of history and social studies information kids are required to learn. For example, the united states is portrayed as “increasing freedom, spreading democracy” in the state cirriculum for history here, it is required learning that we are do-gooders in the world. This seems more absurd to me than teaching creationism; no background knowledge is needed to see that portraying us foreign policy this way is propaganda of the worst kind. Even if an accurate view of every issue was presented, you cannot force anyone to care or understand the content. I am not sure what good it is to force people to learn things, they end up hating the chore.

    Schooling is the problem. Education has very little to do with schooling, and homeschooled creationist kids are being schooled the same way that public school kids are. They are just mindlessly repeating different slogans. A good understanding of evolution is extremely difficult to get from school; my biology classes didn’t really touch it, and my college bio class barely did. Everything I know about it I learned from my mom, I got to read through her college text books as a kid on my own time. She homeschooled me for about a year, and we usually got done before noon so I had a ton of time to do things I enjoyed. Learning wasn’t made into some terrible chore for me during that time so I actually enjoyed it and sought it out, instead of trying to unwind from forced learning via mindless activities like television watching. I learned the most valuable and interesting material on my own, because I was motivated by genuine interest. When our school taught abstinence only, I found books on women’s health to get the whole picture. I was a “problem student”, because I didn’t want to do meaningless work and said so. I used art supplies for my own projects instead of the suggested ones (and found out being too creative in art class meant being sent to the principal’s office every day). I read ahead when I wasn’t supposed to. I went to the school library instead of class (and almost ended up in court for it). What was I really getting in trouble for? I had exceptional scores on standardized tests, I just wasn’t learning the way they said I had to. The fact that I could have gotten a C in every class instead and no one would say a word about it illustrates the priorities in place at school. I heard over and over again that I was not going to go anywhere in life because I was an “underachiever”, everything they threatened never actually happened. I achieved plenty, I learned how to think for myself- something usually reserved for the privileged class, who make it into college and study things that require critical thought.

    Im going to copy and paste part of my response at a different science blog about this same subject, which goes into the problems of schools in general and how meaningless it is to talk about homeschooling as being a separate problem from schooling in general:

    All the degrees in teaching in the world cannot change the problems inherent in the system of schooling. Schooling is a system intended to produce unthinking obedience and apathy. Children are put in a room where they are taught what to learn and when, and it often has no relevance to their lives. Kids are isolated from people who are not the same age as they are, erasing a sense of community, past and future from their lives. They get in trouble for going to the bathroom without permission, talking to each other, learning something unauthorized (reading ahead, drawing, writing instead of doing what is assigned). The cirriculum is arbitrarily divided into subjects that cannot be easily justified as being separate, and the experience of mastering any specific material is difficult when classes end suddenly and move onto the next prescribed lesson and take up so many hours in the day. Kids who care about the things they learn are devestated by this, kids learn not to care too much about schooling. Teachers are often as bored as the students are, and have very little say in what they are allowed to teach and when. School makes learning into a chore which is to be avoided, instead of a constant and interesting feature of our lives. It makes learning into a proccess where a vessel is filled with knowledge, rather than something that people do themselves to improve their lives. Children stay childish because they don’t get to make any decisions for themselves, school is done to them. Their source of self esteem is narrowed down to being graded and measured by others, jumping through hoops for approval. If they are ‘behind’ on some subject, they are kept their for life, despite how they may perform later on. Independent thinkers get in deep trouble in school, because they realize that there is very little point to any of it. It weeds out people who do not blindly obey, and cements their class position for ‘underachieving’. There are kids with genuine learning and behavior problems, but there are a ton who can’t escape a label that makes them into the problem rather than the school.

    If the goal of education is to make sure that every kid can repeat certain pieces of information rather than understand any of it, then the rejection of homeschooling in favor of public schooling makes sense (sorta). If the goal of education is for people to be able to think and be able to learn things when the need arises then it makes no sense at all. It isn’t a secret what position people calling the shots take on this one. Woodrow wilson said this in a public speech:

    “We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. ”

    Homeschool in an environment where learning is facilitated rather than forced seems perfectly acceptable to me. Unschool and free school are good options as well. It takes a lot of effort to rid people of the curiosity and interest they naturally posess, but K-12 school seems to do a pretty good job.

  184. #185 skeptifem
    March 8, 2010

    “One argument against home schooling – regardless of how it is organized – that hasn’t been mentioned is this: if my kid learned something wrong in school, I could rectify it. If my kid learned something wrong from me, the school could rectify it. If I were home schooling, that mechanism of quality insurance would simply be gone.”

    If you taught your kid to LOOK INTO THINGS instead of blindly accepting them from the nearest authority figure they could rectify it themselves when needed, like we all do constantly. I have been wrong countless times in my life, I didn’t need someone to hold my hand to fix it.

    Oh yeah, I forgot one other criticism of school- it is like they avoid teaching things that actually matter. You have to sign up for a special class to know how to deal with finances and budgeting, you learn virtually nothing about the law and courts, very little information about health and first aid are given out, etc. I didn’t know what to do when you are in a car accident until I was in one, and that is a really crap time to learn. You don’t even get much education on how to get a job. But they will know how to write in cursive! that’s important, right?

  185. #186 negentropyeater
    March 8, 2010

    I think home education should be legal, but heavily regulated and controlled by the state.

    Parents shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose whichever textbooks they like, but be obliged to follow strict nationwide education guidelines. There should also be yearly inspections.

    That’s what we have in France, and I think it’s a good compromise between allowing parents a certain degree of freedom and maintaining necessary standards with regards to what is being taught.

  186. #187 skeptifem
    March 8, 2010

    I am seeing a lot of quotes about class inequality, and that homeschool is only for the rich. It didn’t used to be that way, teaching kids used to be the responsibility of the community in addition to schooling. I help unschool a kid along with her mother, father, grandmother, and a homeschooling family. We all have different things we know well, and it is honestly pretty fun when the responsibility is shared. I understand economic disparity can make this tough on a lot of people, but many people who do not have tons of money can work out arrangements like this when they can’t devote one care taker to education. I would actually say it is preferable to expose children to many different kinds of people with different kinds of knowledge. Communities of people working together can achieve a lot, and make the burden pretty light on each individual member.

  187. #188 skeptifem
    March 8, 2010

    “That said, I would love to see the NCSE, or JREF, or CFI, or the DickyD Foundation, etc. put out some sort of accredited homeschool curriculum for science and critical thinking.”

    Take a trip to a homeschool store sometime. I found multiple books for different age levels about logic and critical thinking the first time I went.

  188. #189 negentropyeater
    March 8, 2010

    Take a trip to a homeschool store sometime. I found multiple books for different age levels about logic and critical thinking the first time I went.

    Have never been to a homeschool store.
    Just a question : are you certain that all books that can be found there are meeting sufficient standards of quality, and if not, what stops parents from picking the bad from the good ?

  189. #190 a.human.ape
    March 8, 2010

    In South Australia, religious schools are no longer allowed to teach creationism as science. They can teach it in religion classes. That seems appropriate to me.

    Teaching Christian bullshit in a Christian religion class is child abuse. Child abuse is never appropriate.

  190. #191 skeptifem
    March 8, 2010

    @186 The problem with having heavy government involvement is that not everyone learns at the same pace or is ready for material at the same rate. It doesn’t make anyone stupid or unteachable, just different. Learning would still be a chore, and non learning activities are important. Sometimes kids need time to work on emotional/social/personal things in addition to learning academic material. It is extremely difficult to standardize. And like I pointed out before, the state mandated cirriculum has a habit of doing things like making history courses into cheerleading for US foreign policy.

  191. #192 negentropyeater
    March 8, 2010

    The problem with having heavy government involvement is that not everyone learns at the same pace or is ready for material at the same rate.

    Pace can be adapted to suit the child’s needs. A government inspection should take this into account.

    It is extremely difficult to standardize.

    Not everything needs to be standardized (eg pace, methodology,…). But some things can be (eg teaching material, tests,…).

    And like I pointed out before, the state mandated cirriculum has a habit of doing things like making history courses into cheerleading for US foreign policy.

    This calls for revising the history standards and textbooks, not just allowing for “anything goes”.
    Especially taking into account that homeschool parents are 5 times more likely to describe themselves as “mostly conservative” on political matters (according to Barna) than “mostly liberal”.

  192. #193 Legion
    March 8, 2010

    Blaming parents who home school (for the demise of failing schools) is like blaming a fireman, who rescues a child from a burning building, for setting the fire.

    It’s true that in many cases, each time a child is pulled out of a failing public school, the school looses funding and support, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe, the only way to improve education overall is to take the terminal schools off of life support and let them die. In doing so, we’re making room for better public school alternatives.

    Here’s one anecdotal example. A public school, mindful of the losses they were seeing to home schooling, began reaching out to home schools by encouraging home school parents to enroll their children in the school’s PE and music classes and allowing home school kids to join the school’s sports teams.

    Take this idea further and imagine a home school parent who’s weak in math or science who could enroll their child in just the school’s math and science class.

    It’s not a perfect solution but it keeps the child, the parent and some revenue invested in the schools.

    As secular home schooling grows and schools began to realize that they have to compete for some of the best students and most engaged parents, this might actually serve to improve the schools overall as they are forced to improve their ‘product.’

    Anyway, it’s nice to see so many atheists and free thinkers standing up for home schooling.

  193. #194 Miki Z
    March 8, 2010

    We decided to pull our son from public school over 3 events:

    1) When our son reported that another student was being bullied, the principal told him to mind his own business.

    2) When our son corrected a mistake that his teacher had made in math, he was sent to the office for insubordination.

    3) When we discussed with the principal that our son was not being challenged at school, she told us that “Your son says you have him read and do more studying at home, so not only did you cause this problem, you’re making it worse every day. I’m not sure what you want me to do about it.”

    I don’t know how it is in other states, but in California there are basically two legal options for homeschoolers:

    Work through the district’s homeschooling liaison to be sure that your child is meeting guidelines (including regular testing) or file registration as a private school. As Legion says, whatever we chose, the district representative made it clear that our son could join the sports teams, come play on the playgrounds, sign up for after school activities and so on.

    We chose to file registration as a private school. The form was about 1 page long, free to file, and good for 1 year. There may have been requirements about the education level of the teachers; both I and my wife have graduate degrees (math and psychology), so this may have played a part in the ease that I remember. It’s been a long time.

    Compliance is the easy part, educating is hard. Both my wife and I worked hard to make sure that our son got both breadth and depth.

    I believe strongly in public schooling, but it’s education that should be compulsory, not attendance at a state institution. I’m happy that my son did not learn the type of “socialization” being taught at the local public school. We vote against school vouchers, we donate goods and services to our local public schools (helping to set up the school’s IT network, math tutoring for the parents of students, etc.).

    I don’t believe the system is hopeless, but I don’t think that homeschoolers are the problem, only a symptom of it.

  194. #195 dfminardi
    March 8, 2010

    Of course, lost funding due to home schooling could ultimately destroy public if public school’s have already completely lost public confidence and if they’ve lost the majority of America’s youth. But that just facilitates home-schooling. It’s certainly more of a feedback loop than a direct cause.

  195. #196 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    …are you certain that all books that can be found there are meeting sufficient standards of quality, and if not, what stops parents from picking the bad from the good ?

    Negentropyeater, as you probably know, I live in Texas. The board that decides on the textbooks to be used in public schools here is hugely influential, so much so that they basically dictate textbook content, not only for Texas schools, but for the whole country. Tragically, they are overrun by religious and conservative special interests. They approve notoriously error-ridden texts. All you need to do is to Google “Texas textbook debate” to see what I mean.

    The take-away from this is that parents, by choosing to expose their children to the partisan, faulty school textbook choice process, are usually choosing a bad textbook. They would be better off closing their eyes and picking a random secular book off the shelf at a “homeschooling store.” At least those writers and publishers have to cater to actual parents, not to vested political interests at the state level.

  196. #197 negentropyeater
    March 8, 2010

    Tragically, they are overrun by religious and conservative special interests. They approve notoriously error-ridden texts.

    But isn’t that the problem right there ?

    Seems to me that very often in these discussions people argue that the government isn’t doing its job properly, therefore get the government out of there, or the government shouldn’t regulate.
    This is a recipie for disaster, it’s true for the education system, the economy, etc…
    No, it should be : make sure the government does its job properly.

    It almost becomes a self-fullfiling profecy, there is such general distrust of government in America and so much entrenched religious conservatism that you end up getting the kind of government you expect : an untrustworthy religious conservative government making all kinds of stupid mistakes.

  197. #198 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    Teaching Christian bullshit in a Christian religion class is child abuse. Child abuse is never appropriate.

    Erm, no. That is not what “child abuse” means. And congratulations: you’ve just trivialised the suffering of millions of victims of actual child abuse.

    It’s certainly stupid to indoctrinate children with Christian dogma. But it isn’t, in itself, child abuse.

  198. #199 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    …make sure the government does its job properly…

    Ah, right. Who’s going to bell that cat?

    The members of the Texas Board of Education are elected. Given that there’s so much entrenched religious conservatism in the voting population of the state, how are we (that is, the minority who wish to change to status quo) to go blithely “making sure the government does its job properly?” Before you suggest that we get out there and campaign and try to sway the voters, I suggest you review the original worldwide optimism over the election of our current President.

  199. #200 estraven
    March 8, 2010

    Well, we took our son out of school for his senior year because (a)he hated school and (b) he wasn’t learning anything anyway. He took classes at the local community college and did a lot of self-teaching. He was admitted to the University of Michigan.

    My daughter is homeschooling her kids because the atmosphere in public schools is so toxic with the bullying, rote learning, teaching to the test, etc. I’m behind her 100%. Now and then she looks at what kids at a certain grade level should know, and they’re usually way beyond that. I have no faith any more whatsoever in public education. We did our part, when our kids were in school, to be active in trying to make the schools better (my husband was involved in trying to improve the science curriculum, writing grants, heading up a bond issue committee, etc.), but at this point, I’m very cynical about the efficacy of our schools or how we can improve them without a mammoth effort to reverse the direction they’ve been going in.

    And frankly, I think the powers-that-be like things the way they are. As long as we don’t teach kids to question and to think critically, the elites now in power will be in power indefinitely. Cynical? You bet. Unrealistic? I don’t think so.

    By the way, our entire family is atheist, so there’s no question of Xian fundie values having anything to do with these decisions.

  200. #201 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    True, Walton, it isn’t child abuse in the dramatic sense of harsh physical and sexual assault. But if you teach children that they are wholly dependent on an invisible, unknowable, all-powerful being who is responsible for taking care of them, and the children see that they have no way of talking to or interacting with said being in any sense, except that they are told whispering their secrets to this unexperienceable being by talking essentially to themselves in strict privacy, you are essentially presenting them with an evil mixture of an absentee father and Big Brother. Going on to tell them they must love this mixture, and that everything they do right is because this being is possessing them while everything they do wrong is because they are being possessed by a malevolent being of the same type, is the horrifying icing on the miserable cake.

    To do such a thing deliberately strikes me as emotional abuse. It doesn’t matter if the teachers and parents mean to do harm, any more than it mattered whether they meant children to be harmed by laudanum or child labor or corporal punishment or any other outdated forms of widespread abuse seen as being done for the child’s own good. It doesn’t matter whether the religious abuse is as sickeningly obvious as blows or molestation. It results in the same cowed, emotionally damaged child who has to undergo a lot of healing and self-actualization to function as a full human being.

  201. #202 negentropyeater
    March 8, 2010

    The members of the Texas Board of Education are elected.

    Which makes no sense whatsoever. Education standards and textbooks should be decided nationwide by the best professionals in the respective fields.

    Look, I’m not discussing what I would do with my children if I were confronted with such a failing and pathetically organised and funded public education system, but how I think it should be organised.

  202. #203 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Education standards and textbooks should be decided nationwide by the best professionals in the respective fields.

    And I absolutely agree with you, and I was utterly shocked to find out it wasn’t the case. I don’t know why I was shocked, though. Telling children what to think is not a prize that politicians and priests would willingly forgo. However,

    …I’m not discussing what I would do… if…, but how I think it should be….

    is not essentially any better than standing around saying “The markets should be free.” I just can’t see how you get from here (Texas Board of Education; abusive actions in business) to there (a board of incorruptible savants; the invisible hand).

  203. #204 lizzief
    March 8, 2010

    I am also an atheist who homeschools my children, and my only complaint about people who want more regulation is that they always have an anecdote to support this view. I have many, many, many anecdotes that support the view that a government regulated education has failed a kid. Can’t everyone who went to the average public school point to at the very least a handful of kids who were not able to reach their full potential in the public school system?
    If a kid struggles with reading or math, there are no special pains taken to find a way to help that child. How could there be? Teachers have to be concerned with crowd control and supporting the kids who have the most “promise”. Kids who don’t fit the mold are winnowed out, even when the mold isn’t something desirable. Homeschooling is the best way to use a child’s strengths to help him/her reach full potential, and to overcome weaknesses without applying the label of “failure”. A child who isn’t good at or doesn’t like to read may be an excellent craftsman, gardener, artist, musician. A person who doesn’t like the public school model of force-feed-then-regurgitate may be able to excel in another format.
    I understand that it’s horrible that some homeschooled children are denied a decent science education, but one hour’s instruction per year on evolution – including a test that a child may or may not pass – is no competition for the type of constant bombardment they get at home about the mystical man in the sky. Forced schooling is not the answer!

  204. #205 ambook
    March 8, 2010

    This is a great example of poorly worded questions yielding iffy polling data. I’m a Jewish/Buddhist non-believer homeschooler, and I homeschool my kids for religious and moral reasons – I want my kids to learn ethics from me rather than from Nickelodeon and whatever other pop culture icons are current in public schools. I want my kids to read Richard Dawkins, watch BBC and PBS documentaries as schoolwork, collect bugs and fossils, and use the scientific method in daily life instead of just in “science class.”

    I have not removed myself from the educational community – my teen kids and I volunteer one entire day a week at a nature education center in our community and do a lot of work to bring evolution into our presentations. (Alarmingly enough, the government-funded park system that operates the nature center actually forbids mention of the word “evolution” in our programs because it’s considered “insensitive,” so instead we talk about “descent with modification” and include fossils and geological ages in all our talks.) But until our public and private schools are safe and nurturing for all kids, until our curricula improve across the board (it’s not like the literature or history standards are so great either!), until there are adequate resources for both gifted and LD kids, I will not be willing to sacrifice my kids’ education in order to support institutional schooling.

    For those worried about teacher qualifications, I don’t teach my kids everything. My kids take art, music, blacksmithing, and martial arts lessons from other teachers, and as they get older, they’ll do online and tutorial classes in subjects that I don’t know well enough to teach. Homeschooling parents are facilitators, not just teachers.

    I also want to request a summary of what kids should know about biology before entering college. (Right now I’m using the AP biology curricula available from the College Board, which I’m going to figure is probably sufficient.)

  205. #206 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DgiEGD9kscDJEdF9A.79OTdYGt3M006DmA--#6c479
    March 8, 2010

    I feel GUILTY over sending my kids to public school, and this is in one of the most affluent areas of New Jersey.

    I’m fully aware that most of the education they’re getting is at home. My kids learned double-digit multiplication during first grade — at home. They learned to read in kindergarten — at home. As a standing reward for good deeds, my oldest could earn time watching the science channel, and he was assiduous about doing so.

    The public schools start single-digit multiplication in third grade, when my kids were doing it (or will have been doing it) for three years or more already.

    I don’t see the “it’s an argument to improve the schools” as being particularly valid. You see, as a parent it’s most important to me for the schools to educate my kids well NOW. Not once it becomes difficult for them to do otherwise.

  206. #207 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    badgersdaughter @#201:

    I see your point, but I think it has to depend on the specific type of religion being forced on the children. I’m perfectly prepared to acknowledge that what Fred Phelps does to his children, for instance, is emotional abuse. Similarly, indoctrinating children with the kind of conservative beliefs that make them feel guilty for having normal sexual urges is, probably, borderline emotional abuse; it can cause them psychological problems for the rest of their lives.

    But I myself, and lots of other people I know, grew up in moderate/liberal religious families. None of us were “abused” by being taught about religion; I find that suggestion frankly absurd. As you know, I now think that all religious belief, even of a liberal or moderate type, is nonsense. But that doesn’t mean that I hold anything against my parents for sharing their beliefs. While all religion may be irrational, this doesn’t mean that all religion is equally harmful.

  207. #208 siriusknotts
    March 8, 2010

    PZ Squiddy is way off-base, as usual.

    If he bothered to look at the statistics [like the good little scientist he claims to be] instead of ranting out of his biased assumptions [like the maudlin mockstar he is], he’d know that homeschoolers typically score higher than public school counterparts. How is this a “sub-standard education?”

    Oh, because Squiddy wants our kids indoctrinated in a rosy one-sided argument for evolutionism [sorry, it's an ism when you guys decide to equivocate evolution as "change over time" to introduce the "big lie" er "idea" of evolution without bothering to clarify what you mean exactly] with no mention of its weaknesses or of competing theories. And here’s another way homeschoolers are one up on public schooled kids: our kids actually know both sides of the issue. We teach them about evolution and we compare it to Creation and, guess what? Creation just happens to be a better fit. But you don’t want kids to come to that realization; the only way you can protect your pathetic propped-up theory is to artificially hedge it from all criticism and indoctrinate kids into believing its true and uncontested.

    As for the unConstitutional assertion that US citizens be required to teach our children evolution as fact when it so obviously goes against the cherished beliefs of those who hold to the historical veracity of the Bible and can demonstrate how the evidence can also be interpreted to support our claim, well, let me admit that I’m glad no one in the government is letting Squiddy call the shots. Tell ya what, Squiddy. Communist China already does this. If you like the way they do things better, I’ll help you pack your bags. But you can be damn sure I’ll fight for my Constitutional right to freedom of religion – not freedom from it for a minority of atheists who don’t like democracry because it means the majority gets their way.

    You guys that support this unConstitutionl screed simply because he’s PZ Myers need a lesson in independent thought and a course on American civics.

    It’s also statistical fact that the majority of kids who are taught evolution [in public schools] as scientific fact largely go on to reject religious truth wholesale. Why? Because you can’t mention God in public schools, so they’re being indoctrinated in practical atheism. And even when evolution is taught in a “Goddidit” sense in churches and private schools, it doesn’t take a genius to see that millions of years of evolution and the Genesis account are completely incompatible. It’s only ingenuous atheists like Dr Michael Zimmerman and the late Stephen Jay Gould who give lipservice to ideas like non-overlapping magisteria but really only encourage the view that evolution and religion are compatible as a gradual surrender of the authority of God’s revealed Word to the presumptive authority of fallible men who weren’t there and don’t know everything – so long as they make their claims in the name of science.

    Think about it,
    Sirius Knott
    DefendingGenesis.org

  208. #209 Steve N
    March 8, 2010

    On the whole the comments from those opposed to homeschooling are suffering from that most irrational of afflictions, a belief system. If you want to mandate that my kids attend any kind of system the onus is on you to show me that the vast majority of children coming out of it have mastered the material, are happy, socially connected, successful, and still exhibit the thrill of learning that they were born with. If you can not do this, then you are exhibiting a belief that you can not support. If you can not do this, then it is not just my right, but my solemn obligation to do what I think is best to see my children educated and socially adjusted. If you further try to mandate my compliance in that system, without that evidence to support your belief, then you are following in the footsteps most totalitarian regimes by forcibly indoctrinating children into your specific beliefs. Let that one rattle around your mind for a minute.

    Further from reading those comments I’d also hazard a guess that the majority of them are from individuals without school age, or older children, and therefore cannot begin to grasp the magnitude of the obligation that parents carry towards doing what is best for their children. I would further hazard that those who have perpetuated the “unsocialized” homeschooler myth have done so out of ignorance. Again, show me your evidence. I have personally met quite a few homeschooling families, and I have found the kids to be far more socially adapted than their public school peers. These homeschooled kids are generally being socialized in an environment with mixed age groups and grown ups. As they tend to revolve in social circles and activities dominated by homeschooling families. They generally don’t see the grownups as enemeis, or unquestioned authority figures. Until you can present empirical evidence that contradicts the considerable anecdotal evidence before me then you are the ones pervaying an irrational belief system founded on supposition and ignorance.

  209. #210 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    There are thousands of secular homeschoolers, liberal Christian homeschoolers who keep religion and education separate, and those who homeschool for academic reasons because they believe the public schools are weak. Gifted homeschooling is one of the fastest growing segments. We seem to be undersurveyed and underreported.

    The public schools are doing a terrible job in many regions! 75% of 8th graders in my state are not proficient in reading or math and 60% of all students don’t graduate. Programs and teachers are being cut deeply due to a budget crisis in my area. The closest secular private school to me is 40 minutes away and out of my reach financially.

    What am I supposed to do with my very bright son? I have chosen homeschooling because it’s the best option for us.

  210. #211 Steve N
    March 8, 2010

    On the whole the comments from those opposed to homeschooling are suffering from that most irrational of afflictions, a belief system. If you want to mandate that my kids attend any kind of system the onus is on you to show me that the vast majority of children coming out of it have mastered the material, are happy, socially connected, successful, and still exhibit the thrill of learning that they were born with. If you can not do this, then you are exhibiting a belief that you can not support. If you can not do this, then it is not just my right, but my solemn obligation to do what I think is best to see my children educated and socially adjusted. If you further try to mandate my compliance in that system, without that evidence to support your belief, then you are following in the footsteps most totalitarian regimes by forcibly indoctrinating children into your specific beliefs. Let that one rattle around your mind for a minute.

    Further from reading those comments I’d also hazard a guess that the majority of them are from individuals without school age, or older children, and therefore cannot begin to grasp the magnitude of the obligation that parents carry towards doing what is best for their children. I would further hazard that those who have perpetuated the “unsocialized” homeschooler myth have done so out of ignorance. Again, show me your evidence. I have personally met quite a few homeschooling families, and I have found the kids to be far more socially adapted than their public school peers. These homeschooled kids are generally being socialized in an environment with mixed age groups and grown ups. As they tend to revolve in social circles and activities dominated by homeschooling families. They generally don’t see the grownups as enemeis, or unquestioned authority figures. Until you can present empirical evidence that contradicts the considerable anecdotal evidence before me then you are the ones pervaying an irrational belief system founded on supposition and ignorance.

  211. #212 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    blacksmithing

    Well that’s cool.

  212. #213 negentropyeater
    March 8, 2010

    is not essentially any better than standing around saying “The markets should be free.” I just can’t see how you get from here (Texas Board of Education; abusive actions in business) to there (a board of incorruptible savants; the invisible hand).

    Where did I suggest that “markets should be free”, or talk about the invisible hand (an imaginary myth loved by libertarians and other free market ideologues ?).

  213. #214 a.human.ape
    March 8, 2010

    It’s certainly stupid to indoctrinate children with Christian dogma. But it isn’t, in itself, child abuse.

    Huh?

    Teaching a gullible child bullshit as if it was fact is not child abuse? Repeatedly lying to a child about reality, about science, about god fairies, about how the human species developed, that’s not child abuse? Giving a young child the Christian disease, which is a severe mental illness that is often incurable, that’s not child abuse?

    I disagree. It is child abuse, and the Christian assholes who commit this crime should be put in prison.

    Yes, I know this form of child abuse, brainwashing, is legal, but the Christian parents who mentally abuse their children deserve to be locked up.

  214. #215 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    Bowling for Columbine is stupid, dishonest, and incoherent. It tries to make the point that guns are bad but then undermines its own point with lies and by pointing out the fact that news coverage of murders goes up even while murder rates are going down. And Michael Moore makes more stupid movies about the epidemic of violence even while murder rates are going down. Irony much?

    Evidently the movie was too complicated for you. Its points are more subtle than you expected. Watch it again? this time for understanding.

    We have a higher crime rate because we have a bigger police state and we punish drug dealers and drug users too severely.

    Those two factors certainly don’t help, but? what makes you think they are the biggest factors?

    I simply said that in general robbery was easier against disarmed commons than against armed ones. Do you deny that home robberies are much more common outside the US than inside?

    I certainly do. Show me I’m wrong.

    One of the most attractive features of libertarianism is that it is basically a very simple ideology. It’s even simpler than Marxism, since you don’t have to learn foreign words like “proletariat.” [?]

    I’m reminded of why you were awarded OM membership. Lest I forget!

    “speedwell.” Gee, I thought everyone knew.

    :-o

    That makes some sense in hindsight, but I’d never have found out on my own. Did you announce your name change somewhere?

    and also to avoid compulsory Welsh language instruction!

    What? Is there something bad about getting a language delivered home for free?

    Children stay childish because they don’t get to make any decisions for themselves, school is done to them.

    I stay childish anyway, though.

    It almost becomes a self-fullfiling profecy, there is such general distrust of government in America and so much entrenched religious conservatism that you end up getting the kind of government you expect : an untrustworthy religious conservative government making all kinds of stupid mistakes.

    “Almost”?

    I’ve already said it: it was the Raygun government that spread the word that government was inherently bad.

  215. #216 Kevin
    March 8, 2010

    Few days late for this, but:

    I was homeschooled from 8th grade onwards (from 10th I was ‘unschooled’ – I’ll explain later.)

    Not to toot my own horn, but I come from a rather intelligent family. We all placed high in the SATs, my brother graduated Magna Cum Laude from MIT, I graduated .4 points from Magna Cum Laude from Shippensburg University, and my sister – if she didn’t hate schooling – could probably do equivalently.

    I was always bored in school, and I went through a track of terrible campuses. 3rd-6th grade, I was held down to the standards of the rest of the class, the teachers refused to let me skip ahead (it would have hurt the other kids’ self esteem,) and even though I finished all my work quickly and correctly, they wouldn’t apply higher learning to my education (unlike 1st and 2nd grades, where the teachers would give me 3rd and 4th grade worksheets to do while the rest of the kids finished up.)

    In 7th grade, the school was just awful. I was completely bored with classes, I was learning things I learned already in 6th grade, and the only thing I got from that entire year was a mild case of aggravated scoliosis (being shaken off the ropes, slammed into lockers, flipped over a kid’s back onto cement, etc.)

    My mother homeschooled myself and my sister when I was in 8th grade. 8th and 9th grade we had a strict curriculum and it was more like a student-teacher relationship with my mother leading class. In 10th and 11th grade, though, she dropped that format and we were unschooled. She would let us choose our own curriculum, we were given the ability to do work when we wanted as long as we finished a quota by week’s end. In 11th and 12th grades, I was dual-enrolled at my local community college, and I was doing college work two years ahead of other students.

    It was, honestly, the best thing she ever could have done for me. I languished in public school because very few of my teachers (1st and 2nd grade teachers, and one of my 6th grade teachers) knew how to handle a student whose intelligence was higher than the average. I was bored, I wasn’t learning what I should have, and the only ‘socializing’ I learned was that being a short, skinny, sensitive, smart kid was like being a wounded gazelle on the Serengeti.

    It worked for me, and I got a great education out of it. I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone, but don’t say it’s a bad thing.

  216. #217 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    Welsh language instruction is only mandatory in Welsh state schools.

    Since in order to going to a Welsh state school you must be resident in Wales I fail to see what the problem is. Unless being ignorant of the culture in which you live is your goal.

  217. #218 negentropyeater
    March 8, 2010

    siriusknotts,

    If he bothered to look at the statistics [like the good little scientist he claims to be] instead of ranting out of his biased assumptions [like the maudlin mockstar he is], he’d know that homeschoolers typically score higher than public school counterparts. How is this a “sub-standard education?”

    For any comparison to be valid, it would have to compare results of a representative sample of ALL homeschoolers with a representative sample of ALL public schoolers. Because there is no mandatory testing for homeschoolers, this seems difficult.

    If you were scientifically minded, you would immediately recognize that statistical comparisons on self selected test results and not self selected are completely meaningless.

    Do you understand that ?

  218. #219 a.human.ape
    March 8, 2010

    But that doesn’t mean that I hold anything against my parents for sharing their beliefs.

    The vast majority of Christian parents don’t “share” their beliefs. They teach religious ideas as fact. The child is forced to join the religion of their parents, and the parents, with the assistance of the local preacher man, make sure those kids learn to love Jeebus or else. It is child abuse, and Christians must never be allowed to forget it.

  219. #220 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Where did I suggest that “markets should be free”, or talk about the invisible hand (an imaginary myth loved by libertarians and other free market ideologues ?).

    Sigh. I was afraid you’d take that the wrong way. I was using the arcane arts of “analogy” and “illustration” to point out how you seemed to be not taking the reality of the existing status quo into account, in order to advocate a pie-in-the-sky pious wish for things to adhere to a theoretical optimum state. I was not accusing you of being a Libertarian. I was using that analogy, in fact, because I thought it would help you see that you were falling into a similar sort of error.

  220. #221 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    seriouslystupid @ #208

    If he bothered to look at the statistics [like the good little scientist he claims to be] instead of ranting out of his biased assumptions [like the maudlin mockstar he is], he’d know that homeschoolers typically score higher than public school counterparts. How is this a “sub-standard education?”

    Citation please… (it’s customary around here to provide citations with assertions, especially when citing statistics).

    Oh, because Squiddy wants our kids indoctrinated in a rosy one-sided argument for evolutionism

    Ahh… I see… you couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the actual topic.. this is just a stupidity laden screed against evolution.

    with no mention of its weaknesses or of competing theories.

    Moron… your bus is laving…

    There are no scientifically valid competing theories, liar.

    And here’s another way homeschoolers are one up on public schooled kids: our kids actually know both sides of the issue.

    Umm… what you did there is actually present a weakness… You do know the difference, right? For example, teaching both sides of the “round earth / flat earth” debate isn’t a strength. Savvy?

    But you can be damn sure I’ll fight for my Constitutional right to freedom of religion – not freedom from it for a minority of atheists who don’t like democracry because it means the majority gets their way.

    No such right to teach kids religiously based (and frankly silly) views in favor of actual science exists, bub, except in your head. Thankfully you’re not the one calling the shots, simpleton.

    Oh, and by the way… you’re not a hero… this isn’t a civics issue. You’re only making it one because you know damn well you don’t have any science on your side. If you can’t make it about the science (and you can’t), better make it about the politics. Right?

    It’s also statistical fact that the majority of kids who are taught evolution [in public schools] as scientific fact largely go on to reject religious truth wholesale.

    a). Again, citation please.

    b). So? It’s also a fact that kids who suddenly notice their parents putting wrapped gifts under the tree stop believing in Santa. There’s a reason for this. It’s obvious.

    because you can’t mention God in public schools

    Liar.

    And even when evolution is taught in a “Goddidit” sense in churches and private schools, it doesn’t take a genius to see that millions of years of evolution and the Genesis account are completely incompatible.

    The only sensible thing you’ve said thus far. Bravo!

    the authority of God’s revealed Word to the presumptive authority of fallible men who weren’t there and don’t know everything

    Hmmm… do you go to the Dr? Use a computer? Drive a car? Ride a train? Drink pasteurized milk?

    Seems like your list of things that “fallible men who don’t know everything” should be trusted to “know” is awfully fucking selective.

    Hypocrite, Liar, moron for Jesus… get lost.

  221. #222 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution, #208 is a Poe (say his name aloud). He/She is a periodic visitor.

  222. #223 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    NoR #222

    Dammit… really?

    How the hell did I miss that? It’s an excellent Poe, then.

    *sigh*

  223. #224 Legion
    March 8, 2010

    And here’s another way homeschoolers are one up on public schooled kids: our kids actually know both sides of the issue. We teach them about evolution and we compare it to Creation and, guess what? Creation just happens to be a better fit.

    WTF!! Our Legioneers learned that creationism was bullshit and that the only context in which it should be discussed was as an example of primitive mythology.

    We feel sorry for your kids.

  224. #225 cheeseburgerbrown
    March 8, 2010

    Wow — aside from the gun control sidebar gone bananas, this is a very interesting thread. As an atheist homeschooling parent who chimed in earlier, I’d like to respond to a few of the general points that seem to keep rising to the surface:

    1. Regarding the concern that there is no safety net to catch factual errors in the teaching materials, my own experiences in public school did not convince me that error correction is managed very well. Misinformation from teachers (outmoded theories at the best of times, outright balderdash at the worst of times) was not uncommon. My own parents would not have been equipped academically to correct such errors. As an earlier poster said, the idea is to teach your children research and critical thinking skills so they can ultimately perform their own verifications (as those of us who went through the public system had to do anyway).

    2. Regarding the idea that the educational purpose of school is secondary to its purpose as a socialization engine, I think if such a thing were true it would represent a monumental waste of resources. Over a decade in an institution in order to learn how to hang out and make friends? Seriously? That’s a woefully warped point of view.

    3. Regarding the idea of mandated examination to ensure homeschoolers are covering the provincial curriculum, I think that’s a fine idea and I was shocked and appalled when I found out there was no such requirement in my home province. I would happily submit my kids to such tests/benchmarking/exams/whatnot as often as once per academic year. I agree with some of the posters here that it is criminally irresponsible not to enforce basic standards of education, regardless of the venue or mode of teaching.

    Yours,
    CBB

  225. #226 bellerophon
    March 8, 2010

    Matt Penfold said “Since in order to going to a Welsh state school you must be resident in Wales I fail to see what the problem is. Unless being ignorant of the culture in which you live is your goal.”
    You’ve never been to Wales have you? In fact Welsh language is very much a minority language. In Monmouthshire, where I live only 2% of the population speak any Welsh at all and I am sure the other 98% would be offended by your ill informed and opinionated view that they are not culturally Welsh. Personally I and my family are culturally English. As the Duke of Wellington once said “Just because one is born in a stable does not make one a horse.

  226. #227 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    you guys decide to equivocate evolution as “change over time”

    WTF!?! Evolution is descent with heritable modification. Period.

    and, guess what? Creation just happens to be a better fit.

    Look, why don’t you talk about things you actually understand, for a change? Surely there must be some.

    As for the unConstitutional assertion that US citizens be required to teach our children evolution as fact when it so obviously goes against the cherished beliefs of those who hold to the historical veracity of the Bible

    Teaching religion as truth is unconstitutional, because it requires preferring some religions over others, which the First Amendment (as amended by the Fourteenth) forbids. Fuck “cherished beliefs”. I repeat: fuck them. When they’re religion, teaching them as truth is unconstitutional.

    Never mind the contradictions in the Bible. Which is it ? were man and woman created at the same time and last, or was man first created, then the rest of the world, and then woman?

    Both wrong. Both demonstrably wrong. Both laughably obviously wrong.

    and can demonstrate how the evidence can also be interpreted to support our claim

    Show me.

    Communist China already does this.

    “Communist” China? The place without public health insurance? The place where old people just die at home? The place with separate hospitals for rich people and for poor people?

    Slowly but surely, the Communist Party of China (as it still calls itself) is metamorphosing into the Republican Party of the USA. Well, except for the religion thing perhaps (that was ditched when Mao died). It’s about time you noticed.

    But you can be damn sure I’ll fight for my Constitutional right to freedom of religion -

    Ooh, are we having hero fantasies today.

    Nobody is even proposing to take away your or anyone’s right to believe whatever they like. The Constitution just says the government ? schools included ? doesn’t have the right to prefer one such personal belief over any other, because that would be unfair.

    not freedom from it for a minority of atheists who don’t like democracry because it means the majority gets their way.

    <sigh>

    <tapping on Serious? Not!’s little head>

    My son, a constitution is a set of laws that a simple majority cannot overturn. The explicit purpose of this is that the democracy doesn’t become a tyranny of the majority. If 51 % could become happier by killing the other 49 %, should they have the right do it? You are saying yes. I’m not sure you’ve noticed.

    You guys that support this unConstitutionl screed simply because he’s PZ Myers need a lesson in independent thought and a course on American civics.

    Good I never bought an irony meter. I’d need new ones all the time.

    so they’re being indoctrinated in practical atheism.

    Lack of indoctrination is indoctrination in atheism? Right. And bald is a hair color, and off is a channel on the TV, and not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    This is so old?

    as a gradual surrender of the authority of God’s revealed Word to the presumptive authority of fallible men who weren’t there and don’t know everything – so long as they make their claims in the name of science.

    You simply claim that anything is “God’s revealed Word“. If you were wrong, how would you know?

    That nobody knows everything is the very point of science. It’s the very reason the scientific method has been developed.

    DefendingGenesis.org

    Because the LORD God Himself cannot defend it.

    Think about this.

  227. #228 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    David Marjanovi?:

    Did you announce your name change somewhere?

    Hmm. Let me consult the bucket with a hole in the bottom that passes for my memory. OK, it says, “Maybe.” If I did so, and you had noticed it at the time, what would be different?

    Walton:

    But I myself, and lots of other people I know, grew up in moderate/liberal religious families. None of us were “abused” by being taught about religion; I find that suggestion frankly absurd. As you know, I now think that all religious belief, even of a liberal or moderate type, is nonsense. But that doesn’t mean that I hold anything against my parents for sharing their beliefs. While all religion may be irrational, this doesn’t mean that all religion is equally harmful.

    I was around when you underwent your deconversion, even though I was an infrequent commenter at the time. I understand better than you suspect. I’ve been a deconvert, myself, for about eight years. For at least half that time, I considered my family’s religion mostly benign, a flawed attempt at understanding the nature of reality, much as chemists today must think about scientifically minded alchemy, or modern biologists must think about biology before the notion of descent with modifications became commonly accepted. It wasn’t until quite recently, in fact, that the opportunity to sing hymns (I sing them lustily and using the alto harmony after the first verse, incidentally) didn’t make up for the frustration of having to sit and listen to the crap being spewed by the faithful. I sang solos for my mother’s Assembly of God church choir before she died; I picked the hymns for my father’s funeral last year, but I simply can’t stomach going to church with my religious brother when I visit the family anymore.

    I don’t hold any more or less against my parents than I do against them for teaching me there was a Santa Claus. But I have reason to believe that neither of them were especially strong believers; my father once professed to be a believer in “Spinoza’s God” (this while serving as a church elder), and my mother was brought up casually as a Jewish girl and attended Unitarian Universalist services in college. They should have known better. But the church abused and brainwashed both of them eventually, and it was possible because they were basically good, decent people who believed that the church would make them better and more decent. If they had looked harder into the Bible, as I did that Easter morning eight years ago, they would, of course, have found something quite different.

    Review what I said in the post you responded to, and tell me whether I mischaracterized anything that you would find in a baseline, garden-variety description of Christianity such as that presented by C.S. Lewis.

  228. #229 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution, #208 is a Poe (say his name aloud). He/She is a periodic visitor.

    ?and has never made a single funny point.

    In fact Welsh language is very much a minority language.

    Again, what’s wrong with getting a language delivered to one’s home for free?

  229. #230 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    You’ve never been to Wales have you? In fact Welsh language is very much a minority language. In Monmouthshire, where I live only 2% of the population speak any Welsh at all and I am sure the other 98% would be offended by your ill informed and opinionated view that they are not culturally Welsh. Personally I and my family are culturally English. As the Duke of Wellington once said “Just because one is born in a stable does not make one a horse.

    I live in West Wales.

    Still nice for you to admit that you are happy to live in a country and cannot be bothered to learn to speak the language.

    I bet you are the type of Brit who goes abroad and demands the locals all speak English to you.

  230. #231 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    If I did so, and you had noticed it at the time, what would be different?

    I wouldn’t be so surprised now. :-)

  231. #232 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    Again, what’s wrong with getting a language delivered to one’s home for free?

    I guess he might learn something.

    Bellerophon does not strike me as the type of person who would happy learning things.

    There are a fair number of jobs in Wales that require the ability to speak Welsh. Many jobs in healthcare, local government and education require the ability to speak Welsh. I guess bellerophon does not want his offspring doing such jobs.

  232. #233 David Marjanovi?
    March 8, 2010

    Still nice for you to admit that you are happy to live in a country and cannot be bothered to learn to speak the language.

    I wouldn’t use that particular argument, because some parts of Wales have been English-speaking for centuries? but I still don’t understand why anyone would actively avoid having their children learn a language.

  233. #234 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    I wouldn’t use that particular argument, because some parts of Wales have been English-speaking for centuries? but I still don’t understand why anyone would actively avoid having their children learn a language.

    Fair point, but actively avoiding having your children learn the language seems to be taking a political stand against the encouragement to use Welsh.

  234. #235 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Been trying to keep up with the comments in this thread… it’s been an interesting topic (agree with CBB above about the derailment into the gun control issue… for another thread).

    I sympathize with many of the opinions being expressed here on all sides. I do appreciate PZ’s (and Jerry Coyne’s) points on homeschooling and the dangers of a farily unregulated environment potentially crippling an innocent child’s academic and social development, but as far as this thread pertains, I also see the points of some of our more intelligent and thoughtful commenters who home-school themselves or see the merits of it.

    I think the issue for me, and the problem that I have with PZ’s post, is that he paints homeschooling with a very broad brush and seemingly makes blanket assertions that I don’t think are appropriate or representative of all homeschoolers.

    And it also does not surprise me that we would find a large contingent of home-schoolers in this thread that are the clear opposite of what PZ describes. This place tends to attract some fairly intelligent and thoughtful people.

    I think it would lend the OP more credibility if PZ were to qualify it by referring to Christian or religious-based home-schoolers, specifically. Even then, you are going to find exceptions where some home schoolers, even if christian, will keep the religious part of things out of the schooling and keep a fairly secular curriculum.

    I personally agree with PZ, that in an ideal world, we would have a system of public and private schools that were well funded and required to meet secular standards. But I also do see where, for many parents, this situation doesn’t come close to existing and home-schooling is, in their mind, a far better alternative. And I can see where PZ’s post might come across to those people as narrow-minded and a bit myopic.

    I personally prefer to send my daughter to public school and then work within that system to assure that it has the highest education standards for not only her but her classmates. I think the social aspect of her school environment is a critical component to her development process, which I’d have a very difficult time recreating if I home-schooled her.

  235. #236 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    …I still don’t understand why anyone would actively avoid having their children learn a language.

    Taking this back in the direction of the thread subject… If you believe that the school to which you are sending your children is wasting so much time already that your children are not learning the basic academics and life skills that they need, why would you happily agree to yet another optional time-wasting subject mandated by political correctness?

    I say that as someone who would love to learn Welsh, but not in place of physics and calculus, if I ever attend an engineering school in the UK.

  236. #237 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    I say that as someone who would love to learn Welsh, but not in place of physics and calculus, if I ever attend an engineering school in the UK.

    The requirement only extends to age 16.

    However for adults who want to learn, or improve, their Welsh there are a wide ranges of course, daytime, evening, intensive and so, available either free or at nominal cost.

  237. #238 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Cool. Good to know that. Already, I’m trying to learn broad Scots, but as a Texan who has enough Spanish to order Mexican food in a restaurant and tell a housemaid what to clean, and enough Hungarian to count to one hundred and ask where the bathroom is in a passable accent, I have little opportunity to learn or practice it.

    Forbye I’m no’ verra guid at it as yet.

  238. #239 Kevin
    March 8, 2010

    @Celtic_Evolution (#235)

    In reaction to that. My homeschooling was actually done in a Christian family. Although our studies in Biology were lacking and we did have some religious bible study added to the curriculum, it was… different.

    My bible study teacher was one of the pastors at the church we went to. He was, by far, the best teacher on the bible I’ve ever had. While other pastors will talk to you about the morals and implications and ‘Jesus this, Jesus that,’ this pastor would go far, far more in depth. We took years to finish the book of John (never did, because he got kicked out of the church.) He taught barely a few words at a time, explaining in huge detail about etymology and history and relating parts of the book to previous books and how they worked together and what was meant by the authors.

    It was as secular a bible study you could get at a church. The replacement pastor was the kind of touchy-feely ‘Jesus loves us’ kind of guy.

    But I feel I’ve veered off the point of my post. Even though I had a Christian upbringing, my mother understood that learning was the important part of the experience.

  239. #240 Matt Penfold
    March 8, 2010

    badgersdaughter,

    If I recall Hungarian is one of those languages that does not seem to be very related to many others. Bit like Finnish and Basque, in that it not related to any of neighbouring languages.

  240. #241 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    “I think the social aspect of her school environment is a critical component to her development process, which I’d have a very difficult time recreating if I home-schooled her.”

    You and I may have very different ideas as to what “social aspects” are important, and how best to include social development, however it’s not as hard as you may believe between sports, music, clubs like 4-H and various community activities.

  241. #242 FrankT
    March 8, 2010

    It’s important to note that our schools are not crumbling edifices of a once-proud nation. High school graduates are smarter than thy have ever been. They have to make the SAT harder every year to keep test scores from maxing out. Even so, college attendance is at an all time high.

    The golden age of the past never existed. Even when there are demonstrable attempts to undermine education and reason throughout society, the fact remains that progressivism is still on the march. Literacy rates have not fallen. We’re mad at Bush because during his attacks on progressive policies the rate of growth of the literacy rate fell.

    The US literacy rate is 99%, and people perform better on the literacy assessment test they do every decade. People who claim that high schools are failing the public are not being realistic. They could, and therefore should be doing better – but the answer to Bush’s famous question “Is our children learning?” is still yes.

  242. #243 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 8, 2010

    ckitching
    In most states homeschoolers do NOT receive tax credits.

    Your argument about enrollment could also be leveled at couples who choose not to have children or single people who choose not to marry and have children. People are not obligated to have children in order to keep enrollment high.

    Also since one of the problems in the Public Schools is large class sizes, one would think that homeschooling or sending a child to a private school would be seen as a plus to the public schools as it would reduce the class sizes.

  243. #244 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Matt, that’s true. The Finno-Ugric language group, to which Hungarian and Finnish belong, is still considered a major language group, though, because of the wide variety of languages that belong to it, many of which you’ve probably never heard (and I had never heard, either, until I looked deeper into it).

    Basque turns out not to be quite as mysterious as people like to say. Linguists have known for some time that it was related to a group of languages in its region. Those languages, however, have dwindled into nothing, leaving Basque as a language isolate.

  244. #245 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    FrankT: It’s not just about academic achievement, performance on tests, or cramming young people’s heads full of maximum knowledge. (Indeed, too much attention to jumping through hoops and maximising test scores is a large part of the problem with the school system.) The problem with conventional schools is the harm they cause to young people’s personal, emotional and psychological development, and the fact that they promote conformity, unquestioning obedience and “discipline” enforced by “punishment”, rather than encouraging young people to reject authority and think for themselves.

  245. #246 nigelTheBold
    March 8, 2010

    The problem with conventional schools is the harm they cause to young people’s personal, emotional and psychological development, and the fact that they promote conformity, unquestioning obedience and “discipline” enforced by “punishment”, rather than encouraging young people to reject authority and think for themselves.

    Exactly. And that’s only dealing with other students. “How ’bout a swirly, nigel. Next time you salute when the captain of the football team walks by!”

    On the plus side, school does prepare you for the real world, which sucks, too. “How ’bout a swirly, nigel. Next time you salute when the CEO walks by!”

    *sigh* It never ends.

  246. #247 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawkGyiXAV-PH4_PSj8uwvYCFWQWQwYaVHWc
    March 8, 2010

    To add another data point to the discussion, my wife decided to homeschool our eldest son for a few years. We know now that he as Asperger syndrome and was the stereotypical “little professor” that Hans Asperger described in his research. Our son learned to speak very precisely at an early age and soaked up knowledge, particularly mathematics, like a sponge.

    We initially tried enrolling him in a well-recommended private school for kindergarten at significant cost to try to support his abilities, but we soon found out he was poorly-suited to the school environment. He had gone into the school being able to glance at a group of objects and tell you how many there were, knowing simple arithmetic, and understanding three-dimenisonal solids like spheres. We decided to take him out when the kindergarten teachers had reduced him to counting on his fingers and telling him that, no, it wasn’t a “sphere” it was a “ball”. He also showed difficulties interacting with his peers that the school missed an opportunity to diagnose as relatively clear-cut AS.

    So, for a few years my wife and I (though mostly my wife) endeavored to home-school our son. Both of us were college-educated and he took to it very well. We finally ended up enrolling him in a local charter school that used progressive education techniques that fit him better, and they were more willing to work with us to handle his social retardation.

    Home schooling isn’t always a road to entrenched ignorance, but I admit it’s hard to get right.

  247. #248 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    You and I may have very different ideas as to what “social aspects” are important, and how best to include social development, however it’s not as hard as you may believe between sports, music, clubs like 4-H and various community activities.

    Depends on where you live and the availability of those resources. Note that I said it would be difficult for me to reproduce, but not impossible as a general rule, I’m sure. I live in a rural area, and the daily interactions my daughter (especially being an only child) gets through her school experiences is something I simply could not reproduce appropriately, in my opinion.

  248. #249 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    The problem with conventional schools is the harm they cause to young people’s personal, emotional and psychological development, and the fact that they promote conformity, unquestioning obedience and “discipline” enforced by “punishment”, rather than encouraging young people to reject authority and think for themselves.

    Walton, I think this needs serious citation… specifically the part about the harm caused to “personal, emotional and psychological development”. I don’t recall seeing statistics or studies that specifically bear this out (although I may not be aware of them, in which case, kindly point them out so that I might learn more), and it smacks a little anecdotal to me…

  249. #250 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    The problem with conventional schools is the harm they cause to young people’s personal, emotional and psychological development, and the fact that they promote conformity, unquestioning obedience and “discipline” enforced by “punishment”, rather than encouraging young people to reject authority and think for themselves.

    This is the opposite of how my schooling went (save the one year at boarding school).

    You should probably the word “some” before “young people’s”.

  250. #251 dfminardi
    March 8, 2010

    David:

    “Evidently the movie was too complicated for you. Its points are more subtle than you expected. Watch it again? this time for understanding.”

    It’s been since the movie was in the theater since I watched it, but I know how much he lies about everything in that particular movie. But if there is some interesting thing in the movie that makes a good point and makes it honestly, I would enjoy a summary if you would like to continue this discussion in private.

    “Those two factors certainly don’t help, but? what makes you think they are the biggest factors?”

    I think drugs and our prison-industrial complex are bigger factors because they make more sense to me than to simply blame guns which makes absolutely no since to me given global evidence.

    “I certainly do. Show me I’m wrong.”

    If you’re really interested, I can try to look up the statistics after school. Perhaps there is a discrepancy in international crime statistics that I am unaware of. Again, we can discuss this off this thread if you wish. I’m certainly not averse to polite discussion.

  251. #252 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Exactly. And that’s only dealing with other students. “How ’bout a swirly, nigel. Next time you salute when the captain of the football team walks by!”
    On the plus side, school does prepare you for the real world, which sucks, too. “How ’bout a swirly, nigel. Next time you salute when the CEO walks by!”

    Yes… this…

    Learning to cope with bullying or other social / anti-social behavior is a skill best learned at a young age, IMO. And yes… it often sucks. And no, it’s not confined to school. Happens at any place where social groups gather. You think you’re protecting your kids from social abuse by keeping them out of school? Hope you don’t then send them to play organized sports or other closely confined activities where they will be exposed to the same behaviors on a much more personal level, and might have an even more difficult time without having been exposed to it prior…

    Dunno… i can see that argument too… school is just ONE place where kids are going to be exposed to this sort of thing. Sheltering them from it by home-schooling might reduce the exposure, but does it also perhaps reduce the development of coping skills?

  252. #253 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    but I know how much he lies about everything in that particular movie.

    I’m getting tired of saying this already… but…

    Fucking citation please.

  253. #254 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    I think drugs and our prison-industrial complex are bigger factors because they make more sense to me

    full stop…

    please read what you wrote again and then look up “argument from personal incredulity” and why it’s a poor argument. Then come back with any data that actually supports your argument.

  254. #255 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Learning to cope with bullying or other social / anti-social behavior is a skill best learned at a young age, IMO. And yes… it often sucks. And no, it’s not confined to school. Happens at any place where social groups gather.

    Right, it prepares them so well for how to get along in prison.

  255. #256 PsychChick
    March 8, 2010

    Hi, I was raised as a Christian, though I am currently not religious and do not believe in any gods, but I was homeschooled and will probably homeschool my children for the first few years.

    My siblings and I consistently performed at least one grade level above our grade when we took standardized tests in the state of Illinois.

    In my opinion, it is not difficult to be a teacher, especially as a parent who knows your children well, and accreditation for parents to teach is superfluous government involvement in a civil liberties issue.

    To commenter #187: When I was homeschooled, we wore secondhand clothes and only homecooked food because my parents decided to take the financial consequences of being a one-working parents family. I do realize there is a lot of privilege in coming from a two-parent family, but I disagree that only rich families (or even middle-class families) can support homeschooling.

    People have a choice. They still have to pay taxes to schools for other people’s children to be educated.

  256. #257 Kevin
    March 8, 2010

    @Celtic_Evolution (#252)

    In a case such as mine, I think being pulled out was the better thing. I was, for lack of a better term, tortured by the bullies in my 7th grade school. I don’t know if it was because I refused to pick on the kid with Aspberger’s or I was smart and polite, or because they just saw me as an easy target, but I was the subject of every last bully in my class’s ridicule.

    It was me (at 5’4, probably 100 lbs) versus about 6 taller, stronger, meaner kids. My grades were slipping because I spent most of my energy figuring out how not to be killed on the playground or walking home from school rather than remembering my studies.

    Of course, the summer after I was pulled out, I got my growth spurt, shot up to 5’10, towered over the bullies, and was still smarter and nicer than the lot of them. So, even if I wasn’t pulled out, seventh grade would likely have been my last year of official bullying.

    (That brings to mind a couple of, I’m guessing dual-enrolled students, at my community college who were picking on me during class. I calmly turned around, glared at them and reminded them that “we’re adults, stop behaving like adolescents and listen to the lesson.”)

  257. #258 bellerophon
    March 8, 2010

    It’s a political stance against the compulsion to learn Welsh. I have no objection to my kids voluntarily learning it. The whole point about home ed is that parents, and not the state have control over the curriculum. As for requiring Welsh language to work here, Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust (as was) introduced a system whereby callers could opt to conduct their call in Welsh. After a year the option had not once been requested. But then there are parts of Wales where you are lucky to see someone who speaks English, let alone Welsh. Was able to do my job perfectly well without Welsh when I worked in West Wales too.

  258. #259 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Right, it prepares them so well for how to get along in prison.

    Eh? Am I to read that as typical school behavior = prison behavior?

    If not, please explain what you mean… if so, have you attended either? Again, I have not seen any studies that bear this out beyond anecdote… and it certainly doesn’t jibe with my data, anecdotal as it is (my own experience plus 2 teachers in the family and involvement on school boards, PTO, etc…).

    Again, I’m willing to be convinced, but I’d like to see the data.

  259. #260 Cathy
    March 8, 2010

    Bill (#110)–
    I have been a public school teacher and currently tutor public school kids. My husband is a public school teacher. We both went to public schools K-12. I really, really, really wanted to fix what I saw as a broken school system back when I was a young teen getting my first taste of the writings of John Holt. That was in the 60s, and there seemed to be a whole movement afoot to change the authoritarian system and create learning environments instead.

    (BTW, Walton #12, you rock!)

    So I kept reading about education and learning, and I eventually went to an excellent college with great education program/profs., and I got my teaching credential.

    And I got a job teaching…But I soon stopped teaching full time in a public school because the reality was that I was unable to help the kids in my classroom enough to justify all the damage I was personally inflicting on them (IMO) by participating in the system.

    I had of course kept on reading, reading, reading about schools and learning and education, and the movement toward true reform had collapsed and some stupid new movements were coming up (Back to Basics, stuff like that).

    Bill, I respect you for your passion and your involvement in the public school system you believe in, but I come from a learning-orientation and an individual-kid-orientation, and I think the system is bad at its most fundamental level. Of course I know lots of teachers who are caring and try hard on behalf of kids (my husband, for example), but a look at how the system is set up shows that it is NOT set up along lines to best help kids learn (how to be good citizens, or reading/math, or whatever). It is set up to be convenient for adult jobs (i.e., babysitting) and to sort kids into categories of winners and losers (grading and testing). The second point is buttressed by the fact that the system tries really hard to convince kids and their parents that they deserve those winner/loser rankings. That grades and test scores really mean something about the kid, his/her abilities and knowledge and future possibilities. That the kid really deserves his/her “loser” or “winner” status (both are harmful, although being stamped a loser is of course way MORE harmful).

    If schools were really about learning, kids would be exposed to concepts, subject areas, and skill sets in a positive way, would be urged to engage with group projects that are meaningful, would be allowed to do individual study when appropriate, would be challenged to go further with a personal gift or interest, and so forth.

    Instead, a concept is taught. The kids are tested on the concept. An evaluation of the kids’ mastery is made, marked into a book, and usually used later to justify an overall label.

    And then the class moves on.

    Wait–it seems that the kid didn’t really get that concept! Clearly, the kid doesn’t know what you mean by “borrowing.” Shouldn’t we stick with that until he/she DOES get it?

    Oh, no, we have to move on. Some kids get it, and there is so much to cover, and it’s his/her own fault he/she didn’t get it (probably bad parents, bad home), we taught it…

    But how’s that kid going to GO ON to other math stuff without getting what you mean by “borrowing”?

    One tiny example. But one that had relevance to me. I really did not “get” formal school math when I was young. I was smart and could do enough to sort of squeak by somehow, but I missed some key concepts somewhere and ended up basically only learning two things (1) math was unconnected to any sort of reality that I could access and understand (2) I hated math and was terrible at it. I eventually (age 20 or so) un-learned those two things, but I work daily with kids who have learned precisely those two lessons.

    And although I went to school already reading, I work with tons of kids who are being left behind by their reading classes. (No Child Left Behind? Ha!)

    Another example: if schools were set up to best help kids and teens to learn, high schools would start a lot later in the day. Science has shown that teens shouldn’t necessarily even be awake, and certainly not trying to engage in pre-calc and chemistry, at the hours that we have the kids in high school. But adult jobs dictate the start time, not concern for learning.

    As a tutor I work with a lot of kids who are doing terrible and also a fair number of kids who are doing great in school. (Because parents of “winners” want their kids to get A’s in geometry, too, for example.) But one thing I do for every kid and their parents is to subvert the system. I teach them, first and foremost that they CAN learn XYZ, that grades and test scores are pretty much meaningless, that they were born with everything they need to be able to succeed with decimals, say, or reading.

    I stick with important concepts and skills, trying different tactics and modalities, until the kid truly gets it.

    I help kids make break-throughs all the time. One kid just needed to calm down from his testing panic (he was so scared even of ordinary classroom tests that he flubbed on stuff he could do outside of the test), another kid just needed an adult to tell him the truth about test scores and grades and transcripts and college and scholarships, one kid needed her confidence in herself restored, another kid just needed to go back to the beginning on fractions and learn the entire subject again (in maybe 5 1-hour sessions) before she could bound forward and conquer everything on her math-menu.

    I have never counseled any parent to take his/her child out of the system (although I let them know that there are alternatives and that I homeschooled my kids), but I am honest about stuff in the system that is impeding their learning. For example, when asked to teach kids test-taking skills, I first present information about the test they are about to take — including what detractors say about it, how the school system uses the scores, whether or not the scores will affect their own future, and how, etc. Then we go over how the tests are made and scored, the kind of questions they will meet up with, etc. Kids come out of my test-prep classes a little less cowed by the litany given them by the school: that these tests really really matter.

    I could go on all day. But I just wanted to say that some of us don’t put our kids into a sinking ship, AND try to help save other kids on the sinking ship, but really think the ship is BROKEN.

  260. #261 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution, I am aware that I am only familiar with government-run schools in the US. The following article is about schools across the country, but I could tell you point-for-point how my local Texas schools meet this description, and then I could go on and tell you even more.

    http://www.districtadministration.com/pulse/commentpost.aspx?news=no&postid=19280

  261. #262 ambook
    March 8, 2010

    A small digression into the environment of evolutionary adaptedness and the homeschool debate. Human beings did not evolve in a setting where all the juveniles were sent to be in age-segregated groups with limited supervision by older juveniles or adults. Even 100 years ago, in many areas of this country, children were socialized by spending time in multi-age groups with other kids and spending quite a lot of time in family or small community groups. The modern school environment does not provide anything remotely resembling this small group, multi-age socialization.

    My sample of homeschoolers is certainly not representative – I live near a major metropolitan area and many of the families I spend time with have parents with multiple advanced degree (a lot are religious or even evangelical, though). My observation is that kids show more tolerance for individual differences and engage in a lot less of the peer group bullying stuff, and are much more able to resist the bullying when they encounter it. Adolescents also seem far less likely to decide that their parents are total fools and that they should get all of their advice about sex, drugs, and rock&roll from their similarly inexperienced peers. It doesn’t necessarily lead to good decisions, since if you have a parent who’s a chastity ball enthusiast, you’re probably not getting good advice anyway, but I’d rather my kids listen to me and other adults in addition to their peers.

    And just to brag a bit, my 13 year old daughter went to 3 weeks of Girl Scout camp last summer and encountered a fairly intense version of mean girl adolescent bullying, much of it focused on her religion (Jewish/Buddhist) and refusal to engage in various female grooming rituals. Her response, having been homeschooled with a strong emphasis on human evolution, was to decide that the hazing was basically like that of adolescent female chimps entering new chimp bands, and that she wasn’t trying to fit in with their particular group so she didn’t have to respond to it. She spent her free time hanging out in the woods, reading a college biology textbook and Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale. It’s just anecdotal, but I was so proud of her.

    Oh, and all the girls in that camp attended public schools in some of the highest-ranked and most affluent school districts in the U.S. Go figure.

  262. #263 nigelTheBold
    March 8, 2010

    My mom has been a school teacher for a couple of decades now (after her career as professional student, and then a brief stint as a biologist). After all of these years of listening to her gripe about the school system, it seems there are three primary problems with the system:

    1. Students.
    2. Parents.
    3. Administrators.

    Most parents don’t give a damn about their kids’ education, unless school is teaching something they don’t like, such as evolution or other things that promote a liberal agenda. Try to teach their kids something useful (like actual science) and the parents get all irate. Otherwise, they don’t care, as long as their kid is getting babysat for 6 hours a day.

    Couple that with that fact that many kids are antagonistic to learning, and administrators who prefer rules and regulations over educational content (coming in at #3 on our list), and you have the makings of our flawed educational system.

    My mom teaches what she can to as many kids as she can in the framework she’s given. (She teaches science to a bunch of future NBA stars, and future fishermen who will be on The Deadliest Catch. This is a big show where she works, as it’s filmed there — St. Paul Island, in the Pribilofs. But you don’t need no science to fish, or to play basketball for the Lakers.)

    Homeschooling seems like a really good idea. Let’s put the hopes of the future in the hands of a bunch of recalcitrant kids who really would rather not get an education, and their apathetic and lazy-ass parents. That’s a crackerjack idea.

  263. #264 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    To inject some science into the debate; Dr. Eric Kandel recently mentioned on Charlie Rose, and confirmed to me via email, that he believes modern ideas and knowledge of brain development and learning in children have not been integrated into the US school system.

    Our public schools haven’t changed much in scope or style since the industrial age, and the whole system isn’t very adaptable even when we identify problems.

  264. #265 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Cathy – #260

    Very good post. I think I might be poorly representing my own views on education and school in general, so far ,and am in danger of getting into an unintended tete-a-tete with badgersduaghter, whom I respect immensely… so let me try to sort through it a little better, using some points from your post…

    a look at how the system is set up shows that it is NOT set up along lines to best help kids learn (how to be good citizens, or reading/math, or whatever). It is set up to be convenient for adult jobs (i.e., babysitting) and to sort kids into categories of winners and losers (grading and testing).

    While these points may be true (I’m not sure about the babysitting thing… school was set up much the same as it is now from before the 60’s, when there was usually one parent always home ion most families… it may be a convenient baby-sitting function, but you haven’t convinced me that’s it’s intended to be such), I think they are incomplete. The system is also set up to provide as comprehensive an education as possible for a fairly large population with a fairly small amount of resources. This obviously leads to many of the problems you’re talking about, of course. But the intention is not to simply sort and supervise, as you seem to imply. There is an actual desire to educate, IMO.

    That grades and test scores really mean something about the kid, his/her abilities and knowledge and future possibilities… If schools were really about learning, kids would be exposed to concepts, subject areas, and skill sets in a positive way, would be urged to engage with group projects that are meaningful, would be allowed to do individual study when appropriate, would be challenged to go further with a personal gift or interest, and so forth.

    While ideal, and certainly would be of immeasurable value to the individual student, is this type of personal level of attention for each student realistic, even if we doubled the amount of resources available? Especially in densely populated urban areas? I’m not saying there isn’t a ton of room for improvement, but this level of personal attention to individual development is something only realistic in small, expensive and privately funded schools. Am I wrong there?

    Wait–it seems that the kid didn’t really get that concept! Clearly, the kid doesn’t know what you mean by “borrowing.” Shouldn’t we stick with that until he/she DOES get it?

    Perhaps not… and such a child deserves some special attention to work on difficult concepts. But do we have that resource available? And if not, what of the rest of a class? Stagnate while the lone resource available is devoting attention? Are there enough tutoring options? I’d vote for that while continuing to move the curriculum along, assuming it’s being given at a fair pace that most can stay with. I don’t know… What’s the right answer? Again I feel like it’s a resource issue and there is certainly room for improvement, but to the level you’re speaking of? I’d love it, but is it realistic? Does this happen in other countries? (I’m asking, not being sarcastic).

    As a tutor I work with a lot of kids who are doing terrible and also a fair number of kids who are doing great in school. (Because parents of “winners” want their kids to get A’s in geometry, too, for example.) But one thing I do for every kid and their parents is to subvert the system. I teach them, first and foremost that they CAN learn XYZ, that grades and test scores are pretty much meaningless, that they were born with everything they need to be able to succeed with decimals, say, or reading.

    This is laudable… I really respect what you are doing. But as a tutor you are able to provide that personal level of attention. Is that available, realistically, to every kid in an inner city school district?

    There’s alot more to your post and I could go on for another page going over each example and detail… suffice to say I really like some of your ideas… and I really respect the passion you have for properly leading kids towards being intelligent and thoughtful, and not just being “smart”. I guess what I would ask is, I agree that at a very basic level our system of education is broken. But home-schooling is really not an option for about 90% (or more?) of the population to properly educate our youth. And resources for public schools are scarce… and even for some private schools. Do you think your ideas and approach are realistic on a public-school in a large urban area scale? What would be the one thing, above all else, that you would change to “fix” the system?

    Oh… and one point about testing and grades. I agree, it’s a limited system that says too little about the student and his or her ability to learn. But, is there a better way for a state public school authority
    to ensure, on some level, that a student body has a basic level of understanding of the curriculum? Again, there are not rhetorical questions… I’d like to hear people’s thoughts. I am currently on the local school board and I want to hear ideas I can use to make our schools as comprehensive and positive an experience as possible.

  265. #266 Legion
    March 8, 2010

    We’ve always found John Gatto’s take on schools, interesting. He taught for thirty years in the NY public school system and has been recognized as an award winning teacher. However, he has few good things to say about America’s school system. Consider this excerpt:

    Schools, he says, are irremediably broken. Built to supply a mass-production economy with a docile workforce, they ask too little of children, and thereby drain youngsters of curiosity and autonomy. Tougher discipline, more standardized tests, longer days, and most other conventional solutions are laughably short of the mark. “We need to kill the poison plant we created,” Gatto has written. “School reform is not enough. The notion of schooling itself must be challenged.” His alternative: to get rid of institutional mass-production schools, allow every imaginable experiment to blossom, make free public libraries universal, and expand hands-on apprenticeships.

    From a 2000 Fast Company interview.

  266. #267 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    badgersdaughter #261

    Thanks for the link… that’s along the lines of what I was looking for. Looks like some good info with links there. I’ve got some reading to do, but what I read so far does open my eyes quite a bit…

    I’m still not sure I’m ready to buy in to your “school behavior = prison behavior” analogy fully. But I do see where you’re coming from, to a degree.

  267. #268 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    sigh… a few typos in my #265… but the only one I want to take time to correct is in my last paragraph, it should say “these are not rhetorical questions”.

  268. #269 Steve N
    March 8, 2010

    Nigel #263
    You made sense right up until your last paragraph. In my experience the homeschooling parents are the ones that do “give a damn” more than others. That’s why we won’t send our kids into your broken system. And the homeschooling kids are obviously not the “antagonistic” kids causing the problems in your schools. And we are not hampered by the framework in in which your mom works. In my prior post (211) I asked specific questions of those that would mandate my sending my kids to public school. So far no one has even tried. Your little rant about how bad the schools are does nothing to make me want to send my kids there.

  269. #270 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution, I have an idea. I’ve long known (though his blog) a liberal atheist scientist who has been a successful homeschooler and homeschooling activist for years. Back when I met him, he was not a liberal and not an atheist, but in my opinion, he became so because he was increasingly disgusted with religious, conservative, homeschoolers. His blog is at http://cobranchi.com and I assure you that bits from the archives will reward study. He makes the case I’m trying to make with far more authority, experience, and knowledge.

    (Daryl… Speedwell says hello!)

  270. #271 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    You made sense right up until your last paragraph. In my experience the homeschooling parents are the ones that do “give a damn” more than others.

    You’re missing his point… he’s saying that most parents don’t reallygive a damn about their kids education on any level that really matters, at least to the level that you would not want them attempting to home-school if that was the actual requirement.

    That’s why we won’t send our kids into your broken system.

    You’re making the mistake of assuming all home-school parents have the same motives for home-schooling that you do. Not sure you can make that claim with any authority.

    As to the rest of your post, I think you are taking it too personally. I think nigelTheBold’s point isn’t that home-schooling should be banned or that kids should be mandated to public schools. His point (I think) is that the solution of home-schooling would be a monumentally bad idea for most of the general population.

  271. #272 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    badgersdaughter #270

    Thanks for the link… more info is always appreciated. I will definitely check it out and look through his archives.

  272. #273 FrankT
    March 8, 2010

    You guys understand that bullying and group behavior happens in corporations too, right? Dealing with that kind of unpleasantness is a valuable, even necessary life skill.

    But all anecdotes aside, the American highschool graduate is more productive and more competitive for jobs then ever before. Whether you personally value the kinds of knowledge that the American school system gives its children is fascinating and all, but the fact remains that society at large clearly does.

    Of course the education system can and should be improved. But it hasn’t gotten worse, and it’s not bad. It’s the best we’ve ever had. And as long as we keep fighting the Creatards trying to take it apart, it will keep getting better.

    You do your child no favors by trying to keep them from learning how to sit at a desk for eight hours a day and complete arbitrary assignments for authority figures that they don’t know or like. Because that’s what modern society actually gives you food and services in exchange for.

  273. #274 Steve N
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic #271
    I think you’re missing my point. I’m involved in a couple homeschooling communities. And on the whole the parents are doing it precisely because they are highly involved and interested in their kids education. I acknowledge that people do it for a lot of different reasons, some that I don’t agree with. But it’s a lot of work and sacrifice. It’s by no means the easy or expedient path that someone who is disinterested would take.

  274. #275 Kevin
    March 8, 2010

    @FrankT (273):

    The thing is, though, that the average high school graduate will most likely transfer into college, where schooling is done correctly. Where classes are more suited to what you want to learn, group assignments are more plentiful, and responsibility for your actions get put on your shoulders.

    One of the first things we were told in our freshman orientation (though I was a sophomore, technically) was that high school teaches you how to learn, while college focuses on teaching you to learn.

  275. #276 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    Homeschoolers also attend college, all the time. Many universities discuss homeschool admissions right on their websites.

  276. #277 Kevin
    March 8, 2010

    @LadyShea (276):

    Not ALL the time – my sister was homeschooled and didn’t go to college.

  277. #278 siriusknotts
    March 8, 2010

    @222, 223, 229:

    I’m not a Poe. NoR keeps asserting that I am, but in fact I’m not. Perhaps NoR should provide a sodding citation for this assertion [nm that PZ NEVER does when he tells bald-faced lies about Creationists and now homeschoolers] so that Celtic won’t have an aneurism.

    Re: Celtic #221

    If you had any knowledge on this subject you would have dissembled as #219 did. Here’s your citation: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp [Note especially section II]

    Re: “There are no scientifically valid competing theories, liar.”

    Yeah, stick your head in the sand, ostrich-boy. Better yet, let’s see your 3 Monkeys impersonation so we don’t have to listen to your hubris. Your denialism doesn’t disprove the validity of competing theories.

    Re: “Umm… what you did there is actually present a weakness… You do know the difference, right? For example, teaching both sides of the “round earth / flat earth” debate isn’t a strength. Savvy?”

    I do savvy. I savvy that knowing both sides of the issue you present helps me to be more ceratin as to which theory is a better fit. I think we’d both go with round earth. Since when has only hearing one side of an issue ever been a REASONable path to truth. Who needs reason when you darbots can parrot dogma. eh?

    Re: “No such right to teach kids religiously based (and frankly silly) views in favor of actual science exists, bub, except in your head.”

    And now Celty doesn’t understand science. You’ve conflated science with evolution. You probably think of it the same way you do gravity or technology, right? [You just believe ewhat they tell you, eh?] Except those things are subject to the scientific method. Evolution is not observable, testable, repeatable science; it’s not subject to the scientific method because it deals with singularities [past events] that cannot be directly tested, observed or repeated. You did know this right?

    Re: “you don’t have any science on your side. If you can’t make it about the science (and you can’t), better make it about the politics. Right?”

    It’s not about politics. It’s all about science. Bad science propped up by the US Government on our tax dime with no competition allowed versus good science that actually affirms God’s revealed Word. Big shock since He made it. If you’d bother getting your head out of your assumptions, you might note several sites dedicated to Creation SCIENCE. Here’s an idea: Try knowing what your opponent actually professes before you bother diswagreeing with him.

    Better yet, We’ll just go with your tactic and scream, “There is no science but naturalism and Darwin is its Prophet!” You’re awesome, Celty.

    Re: “It’s also statistical fact that the majority of kids who are taught evolution [in public schools] as scientific fact largely go on to reject religious truth wholesale.
    a). Again, citation please.”

    OK. http://kcsg.wordpress.com/2009/01/04/ex-christians-the-evolution-factor/

    You can also check out a book by [gasp] Ken Ham called Already Gone. IF you can be bothered to get your head out of the sand long enough, that is.

    Re: “b). So? It’s also a fact that kids who suddenly notice their parents putting wrapped gifts under the tree stop believing in Santa. There’s a reason for this. It’s obvious.”

    Wow. False analogy. Awesome. So you’ve actually seen evolution [vis. dinosaurs turning into birds] happening right in front of your eyes. Dude, how old are you? Cause that’s supposed to take like, um, ages, right? It’s not obvious, Celty. YOU are interpreting the data. facts always have to be interpreted. You’re overstating your case.

    Re: “Liar.”

    Back atcha.

    Re: “Hmmm… do you go to the Dr? Use a computer? Drive a car? Ride a train? Drink pasteurized milk?

    Seems like your list of things that “fallible men who don’t know everything” should be trusted to “know” is awfully f___ing selective.”

    Celty, Christendom gave the world science. We gave you the scientific method. Here’s some food for thought. I stomped a guy named unTheist in a debate for attempting this sort of argument: http://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2009/06/15/how-did-we-get-here-the-creationist-argument-from-the-creationevolution-debate-with-untheist

    Read it and start thinking [the first time's always hardest, but you CAN do it]

    And once again, NOT a Poe.

    Sirius Knott
    DefendingGenesis.org

  278. #279 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    I think you’re missing my point. I’m involved in a couple homeschooling communities. And on the whole the parents are doing it precisely because they are highly involved and interested in their kids education.

    Ok. No argument there, but I don’t think that has anything to do with NigelTheBold’s post, nor my point.

    I acknowledge that people do it for a lot of different reasons, some that I don’t agree with.

    Do your homeschooling communities include religious home-schoolers? I think that’s a huge portion of the home-schooling community and I think within that group, the motives and quality of education are questionable… I think that’s the point, at least in my view.

    I wouldn’t make that statement about the home-schooling community in general, though, and I’ve said that several times.

    But it’s a lot of work and sacrifice. It’s by no means the easy or expedient path that someone who is disinterested would take.

    Which is exactly the point, and why it should not be recommended as a solution for the general public. It requires a level of intelligence, dedication, care and attention that is not common enough among parents to be a useful solution.

  279. #280 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 8, 2010

    Posted by: nigelTheBold
    “Let’s put the hopes of the future in the hands of a bunch of recalcitrant kids who really would rather not get an education, and their apathetic and lazy-ass parents. That’s a crackerjack idea.”

    Those are the parents that send their kids to PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
    ~Alasandra

  280. #281 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    Yeah, stick your head in the sand, ostrich-boy. Better yet, let’s see your 3 Monkeys impersonation so we don’t have to listen to your hubris. Your denialism doesn’t disprove the validity of competing theories.

    Which competing “theories”?

  281. #282 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    From your link

    The Origins Argument isn?t about facts. The creationist and the evolutionist have exactly the same evidence: we have the same universe, the same Earth, the same physics, mathematics, rocks, fossils ? the same facts. And FACTS are not self-explanatory. Facts must be interpreted? usually according to our pre-existing beliefs and assumptions.

    One problem here, you creationist types are haphazard with your us of well established scientific method to the point that any and all evidence (which is all evidence) that goes against your pre-determined conclusion that the bible is inerrant gets tossed, denied, obfuscated or ignored.

    Here PZ did a pretty good job summing up just why your above paragraph is a complete total pile of shit.

  282. #283 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    Speaking of haphazard, that was me being haphazard with the submit button.

    One problem here, you creationist types are haphazard with your use of well established scientific methods to the point that any and all evidence (which is all evidence) that goes against your pre-determined conclusion that the bible is inerrant gets tossed, denied, obfuscated or ignored.

    fixed

    There’s a good reason creationism is not regarded as a fair equivalent to the scientific point of view. It’s because the former fails to pay attention to the physical evidence, while the latter is built, not on presuppositions, but on that evidence.

  283. #284 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    Not ALL the time – my sister was homeschooled and didn’t go to college.

    I meant colleges accept homeschoolers all the time, not that every homeschooler goes to college. Sorry for my colloquial use of the phrase.

    You do your child no favors by trying to keep them from learning how to sit at a desk for eight hours a day and complete arbitrary assignments for authority figures that they don’t know or like. Because that’s what modern society actually gives you food and services in exchange for.

    That is the most depressing, and amongst the silliest things, I have ever heard. I do not plan to tell my kid that he is destined to do mindless boring desk work as a career.

  284. #285 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Here’s your citation: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp

    Thanks… all I did was ask for a citation at that point. The citation is appreciated. And also thanks for being an asshole. Do you reply like that to every person that asks you to back up every assertion you make? Or do you just assume every person has exactly the same info you do and citations are superfluous?

    Yeah, stick your head in the sand, ostrich-boy. Better yet, let’s see your 3 Monkeys impersonation so we don’t have to listen to your hubris. Your denialism doesn’t disprove the validity of competing theories.

    Cute… but umm… did you forget to cite the competing theories accepted by the scientific community in that there little spasm? Somehow I missed it…

    Your refusal to actually site any competing theories and the scientific literature in which they can be found speaks volumes. Care to provide them? Nah… you’re not gonna do that are you, cupcake? Can’t provide that which doesn’t exist.

    And now Celty doesn’t understand science.

    Heh… made even funnier when followed up with this:

    You’ve conflated science with evolution.

    Bwaaaaaahahahahahahaaaaa. Wait… ti gets better… then this:

    Bad science propped up by the US Government on our tax dime with no competition allowed versus good science that actually affirms God’s revealed Word.

    Dude… you wouldn’t recognize science if it jumped up and bit you right in the bible. But thanks for revealing your ignorance on such a grand level. I’ve wasted enough of my time on you. You might be one of the more ignorant trolls I’ve seen round these parts in an age.

    Moving on…

  285. #286 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 8, 2010

    BTW: I homeschooled both my children. My eldest started college full time at age 16. He got early admission based on his ACT scores. He now has a BS in Computer Science (graduated cum laude) and is working on his Masters. My youngest is a freshman in college.

    Homeschoolers are successful, they do go to college and they do succeed in life.
    ~Alasandra

  286. #287 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Those are the parents that send their kids to PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
    ~Alasandra

    Hey look! It’s another broad, narrow-viewed generalization!

    – A kid whose parents sent him to public school.

  287. #288 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 8, 2010

    You’ve conflated science with evolution. You probably think of it the same way you do gravity or technology, right?

    Science developed the theory of evolution, and evolution is science. A million or so scientific papers says it is. Ergo, anything else is a lie.

    you might note several sites dedicated to Creation SCIENCEreligion

    Fixed it for you idjit. There is no creation science. Only an attempt to make religious belief (lies) sound sciency. Otherwise, you could cite papers in the peer reviewed scientific literature. What an idjit.

  288. #289 FrankT
    March 8, 2010

    I do not plan to tell my kid that he is destined to do mindless boring desk work as a career.

    Perhaps you’d prefer they grew up to be a janitor?

    I’m in medical school. I’m going to be a doctor. I’m still going to have to do a bunch of mindless boring desk work for my career. This is the modern bureaucratized world we live in. In exchange for the marvels of personal computing, flight, antibiotics, and refrigeration… we have to do a bunch of paperwork.

    Your children have to come to grips with that fact. And you, as a parent, need to come to grips with the fact that your kids have to come to grips with that fact.

    If you try to keep your children trapped in a fantasy world where they don’t have to spend a period of time doing the same electric bill payment paperwork every month, you are setting up your children to wake up to a very dark day.

  289. #290 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 8, 2010

    We have a higher crime rate because we have a bigger police state and we punish drug dealers and drug users too severely.

    My example was Japan. We do not, by any stretch of the imagination, approach them for ‘police state’ status. Try again, this time without the talking points.

  290. #291 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Wow. False analogy. Awesome. So you’ve actually seen evolution [vis. dinosaurs turning into birds] happening right in front of your eyes. Dude, how old are you?

    Couldn’t let this gem go.

    That’s what you think evolution is? Dude, how ignorant are you?

    The Santa analogy is perfectly apt. Young adults realize that the silly, childish hogwash they learned in the bible about how life came to be as it is simply can’t be possible once you actually look at the evidence. And that frankly it was pretty silly to have ever believed such far-fetched balogna.

    Similar feelings arise upon observing parents put gifts under the tree… c’mon… you can work that out in your head. I know ya can, sport.

  291. #292 Steve N
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic #279
    I don’t hear anyone saying that homeschooling is “recommended as a solution for the general public”. And I think your implication that professional teachers are likely to show more “dedication, care and attention” for students in a classroom of 20-30 than their own parents can in a one on one situation is frankly preposterous and bizarre. So that only leaves “intelligence” left in your list of qualifications. So I’d be interested to see any studies done about the average intelligence of public school teachers. But unless such studies have been done I would recommend you leave that one off the table.

  292. #293 raven
    March 8, 2010

    religious kook lying:

    The Origins Argument isn?t about facts. The creationist and the evolutionist have exactly the same evidence: we have the same universe, the same Earth, the same physics, mathematics, rocks, fossils ? the same facts. And FACTS are not self-explanatory. Facts must be interpreted? usually according to our pre-existing beliefs and assumptions.

    This is simply the standard lie of the creationists. The creationists don’t have the same facts. They ignore 95% of the facts and twist, pervert, and lie about the other 5%.

    The “Origins argument” sure isn’t about the facts. It is about religious kooks lying a lot versus the real world and the truth. The attempt to cram a 13.7 billion year old universe into two pages of bronze age mythology failed centuries ago.

  293. #294 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 8, 2010

    That’s what you think evolution is? Dude, how ignorant are you?

    This ignorant

  294. #295 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    Perhaps you’d prefer they grew up to be a janitor?

    That’s the only alternative to a mindless, boring desk job? False dichotomy much?

    If he chooses a career that spends time at a desk that’s fine, I do it myself, but your statement made it sound like that’s the only type of career that exists.

    I’m in medical school. I’m going to be a doctor. I’m still going to have to do a bunch of mindless boring desk work for my career.

    8 hours a day, to “complete arbitrary assignments for authority figures that you don’t know or like”?

    This is the modern bureaucratized world we live in. In exchange for the marvels of personal computing, flight, antibiotics, and refrigeration… we have to do a bunch of paperwork.

    If you try to keep your children trapped in a fantasy world where they don’t have to spend a period of time doing the same electric bill payment paperwork every month, you are setting up your children to wake up to a very dark day.

    I am not arguing that we don’t all have some paperwork. But “some” paperwork is not 8 hours a day as your career. Some paperwork isn’t even arbitrary, and not all desk jobs are boring or mindless.

    You painted a very dreary picture of the work world is all.

  295. #296 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 8, 2010

    Posted by: Celtic_Evolution you took my comment out of context.

    I do not believe all PUBLIC SCHOOL parents are lazy. I do believe that lazy parents send their children to PUBLIC SCHOOL. Homeschooling takes a lot of time and dedication. A lazy parent is not going to sign up for that.

    I agree with the poster that said one of the problems his/her Mom had as a public school teacher was parents that didn’t care and children who didn’t want to learn. But his/her assumption that these same lazy parents would choose to homeschool is ludicrous. It would be too much work for them and they would just send their children to PUBLIC SCHOOL. If Mom & Dad can not be bothered to help little Johnny or Susie with their homework they certainly are not going to take on the burden of homeschooling.

  296. #297 raven
    March 8, 2010

    religious kook going hysterical:

    Yeah, stick your head in the sand, ostrich-boy. Better yet, let’s see your 3 Monkeys impersonation so we don’t have to listen to your hubris. Your denialism doesn’t disprove the validity of competing theories.

    Your total ignorance of science and evolution proves nothing except your total ignorance and that fundie xianity produces uneducated, hostile people.

    She is getting hyterical here. What fundies do when someone asks them to do the impossible, that is to think coherently. Next step. Tell everyone they are going to hell. Spout some bible verses. Maybe toss in a few death threats.

  297. #298 nigelTheBold
    March 8, 2010

    Evolution is not observable, testable, repeatable science; it’s not subject to the scientific method because it deals with singularities [past events] that cannot be directly tested, observed or repeated. You did know this right?

    You know you can test evolution, right? You do know that evolution has undergone many tests, right? You know evolution has been observed, right? You know that evolution was actually accepted even before Darwin formulated his hypothesis of evolution via natural selection, right?

    You did know this, right?

    Further, you realize that creationism is not science, right? That for it to be science, you’d have to have some sort of falsifiability condition, which creationism does not have. You might say, “Irreducible complexity proves creationism,” but then you’d have to accept the hypothesis has been disproven when most of the identified “irreducibly-complex” structures have been shown to be made up of simple components that evolved separately.

    Or you could say that there is no way the information could’ve just randomly came into existence; but once a physicist demonstrates that the sun provides the earth more than enough energy to drive the entropy gradient (by orders of magnitude), that hypothesis has been disproven.

    So, if you were to count creationism as a science, it has been disproven at least twice already. And yet we have idiots who come here spouting off about how creationism is just as valid as evolution through natural selection.

    Further, there is the ontological failure of creationism. First, you must have a creator. As the creator has not been provided, nor even hypothesized (outside the necessity of creationism), you have no theory. Your proposition just does not have the ontological standing of evolution via natural selection.

    So, to sum up: creation proposes a highly complex model, in which the key factor (a creator) lacks evidence. Further, the very few predictions made by creationists (too much information to have evolved, some structures could not have evolved due to their complexity) have both been shown to be false. (Further, those predictions aren’t really predictions. They are propositions intended to show how natural selection could not account for evolution.)

    Really, you’ve got a big mess, not an hypothesis.

  298. #299 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    And I think your implication that professional teachers are likely to show more “dedication, care and attention” for students in a classroom of 20-30 than their own parents can in a one on one situation is frankly preposterous and bizarre.

    I find your assumption that most average parents would have more dedication, care and attention in home-schooling their kids than a professional teacher who CHOSE such a career is frankly preposterous and bizarre, and an insult to many, many dedicated, attentive and caring teachers.

    So that only leaves “intelligence” left in your list of qualifications. So I’d be interested to see any studies done about the average intelligence of public school teachers.

    And once again I’d ask you to back up the simply ridiculous assertion that teachers are NOT more intelligent than the average population. In most states a degree is required to be a teacher, and in many an advanced degree in the subject being taught is expected. What is the percentage of the population with degrees? That would be about 27%. And advanced degrees? That would be about 9%. There’s my citation… care to provide yours refuting it?

    I think you’re continuing to make the mistake of being overly defensive against a position I’m not taking.

    In my view, home-schooling can be an excellent and advantageous alternative to traditional schooling, if it is done by parents with the correct level of care, attentiveness, and dedication. It sounds like YOU are one of those parents. And I applaud you for it. However I will not accept that it is a better proposition for the population at large. And I’m not saying that you’re making that argument… I’m saying that was Nigel’s original point, wherever it was directed.

  299. #300 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Posted by: Celtic_Evolution you took my comment out of context.

    Ahh… I was afraid I may have after I posted that. Thanks for the clarification and sorry for the hair-trigger response.

  300. #301 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    RBDC #294

    This ignorant

    Wow. That’s pretty ignorant. I’m sorry I asked. Really.

  301. #302 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 8, 2010

    Why do people keep saying there is no evidence or test to show evolution? Do you not reading any journal or magazine the pretains to science?

    As for creationism, there is a fundamental problem with it being completely bias towards one view. That is to say, why is it that all these “evidence” support only Abrahamic creationism? You do realize there are other form of creationism, and they could just those same “evidence” too if they wanted to. And why are they only found by Christian/Jews/Muslims? If it were using the same evidence as evolutionist, then people of all faith would find evidence for it (evolution OTOH, is supported by people of all and no faith.)

  302. #303 Steve N
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic #299
    For the most part we are in violent agreement :). But the reason you will find homeschoolers touchy is that our rights to homeschool are constantly under legal pressure and challenge. It is not just an academic discussion. And we are always lumped together with religious fundamentalists. Which granted are a portion, but I haven’t seen anything showing them to be a statistical majority.

  303. #304 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    Why do people keep saying there is no evidence or test to show evolution? Do you not reading any journal or magazine the pretains to science?

    bingo

  304. #305 raven
    March 8, 2010

    Evolution is not observable, testable, repeatable science; it’s not subject to the scientific method because it deals with singularities [past events] that cannot be directly tested, observed or repeated. You did know this right?

    Total lies. More standard creationist lies.

    Evolution is both a fact and a theory.
    Fact. Life changed through time.
    Theory. How life changed through time.

    It is also both a historical science and an experimental science.I couldn’t tell you how many evolution experiments are running on any given day, probably hundreds at least, more likely thousands or tens of thousands. I’ve run more than a few myself.

  305. #306 dfminardi
    March 8, 2010

    “My example was Japan. We do not, by any stretch of the imagination, approach them for ‘police state’ status. Try again, this time without the talking points.”

    I apologize; I was referring to our prison industry, not the surveillance state itself, which is not as bad as several other countries.

    But Japan, where they kill themselves more than we kill each other, is your shining example of blissful gun control? I’ll pass.

  306. #307 Gyeong Hwa Pak, Tai Dam lum Pun
    March 8, 2010

    Do you not reading any journal or magazine the pretains to science?

    I’ve spent too much time on Engrishfunny.com.

  307. #308 nigelTheBold
    March 8, 2010

    But his/her assumption that these same lazy parents would choose to homeschool is ludicrous.

    No. No, it’s not ludicrous.

    My ex-wife homeschooled our daughter due to religious reasons (one of the reasons we’re ex). She was lazy. My daughter is now off to a local college, trying to catch up. She wants to be a nurse, and her lack of decent biology is hindering her.

    My response was to the idea floating around here that our mandatory school system is broken, and so should be scrapped in favor of something else. My point is, what’s that “something else?”

  308. #309 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    But the reason you will find homeschoolers touchy is that our rights to homeschool are constantly under legal pressure and challenge.

    I totally understand… and I’m sorry it’s such a pain in the ass.

    And we are always lumped together with religious fundamentalists. Which granted are a portion, but I haven’t seen anything showing them to be a statistical majority.

    While I understand that you may be involved in a home-schooling group where this is not the case, unfortunately the statistics do not remotely support your claim. According to the NCES, 83% of home-schoolers cited “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction” as an important reason for home schooling, and nearly 36% sited it as the most important reason. This was by far the largest reason given above all others.

    I’m sorry to say that you are lumped in with religious fundamentalists because they make up the largest portion of the home-schooling population. That doesn’t mean you should be, however… and I want to make that clear.

  309. #310 aratina cage
    March 8, 2010

    But Japan, where they kill themselves more than we kill each other, is your shining example of blissful gun control? I’ll pass. -dfminardi

    What? o_0

    Japan had the lowest rate, at 0.05 gun deaths per 100,000 (1 per 2 million people). The police in Japan actively raid homes of those suspected of having weapons. (source)

  310. #311 raven
    March 8, 2010

    wikipedia: Experimental evolution

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    In evolutionary and experimental biology, the field of experimental evolution is concerned with testing hypotheses and theories of evolution by use of controlled experiments. Evolution may be observed in the laboratory as populations adapt to new environmental conditions and/or change by such stochastic processes as random genetic drift. With modern molecular tools, it is possible to pinpoint the mutations that selection acts upon, what brought about the adaptations, and to find out how exactly these mutations work. Because of the large number of generations required for adaptation to occur, evolution experiments are typically carried out with microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or viruses.[1][2] However, laboratory studies with rodents have shown that notable adaptations can occur within as few as 10-20 generations (see below) and experiments with wild guppies have observed adaptations within comparable numbers of generations.[3] keeps going

    I realize the current fundie creationist chew toy has probably shredded down by now.

    But this is a new lie of the creationists. That evolution is a historical science like astronomy that we can only observe.

    It is false of course. Evolution is also an experimental science and quite a lot of work is done in this area. The wikipedia entry is not good, way too superficial and incomplete.

    Besides standard lab experiments a lot has been done with in vitro molecular evolution of aptamers, computer programs, and natural experiments.
    The new swine flu was predicted decades before it occurred as well as some of its properties. Those have so far been proven correct. Just another year, another pandemic, and another correct prediction of an important and powerful theory, TOE.

  311. #312 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 8, 2010

    Celtic_Evolution you said
    83% of home-schoolers cited “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction” as an important reason for home schooling, and nearly 36% sited it as the most important reason. This was by far the largest reason given above all others.

    I’m sorry to say that you are lumped in with religious fundamentalists because they make up the largest portion of the home-schooling population. That doesn’t mean you should be, however… and I want to make that clear.

    ———————————————
    This poll is very misleading. The 83% are not necessarily Christian Fundamentalist (which you have chosen to assume they are). Pagans, Buddhist, Muslims and many others homeschool out of “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction”

    Religious Fundamentalist no longer make up the largest portion of the homeschooling community although that is a LIE H$LDA would like you to believe.

  312. #313 nigelTheBold
    March 8, 2010

    But the reason you will find homeschoolers touchy is that our rights to homeschool are constantly under legal pressure and challenge.

    It’s a thin line to walk. How do we maximize education within society, while still providing parents with political choice?

    Myself, I’m of two minds about homeschooling. The reason you’re lumped in with folks who homeschool for religious reasons (like my ex) is because they are the majority. And I’ve seen the terrible results.

    Yet I was essentially homeschooled. I attended high school in southeast Alaska. I graduated with 3 other people. For two years, I was one of 13 high school / junior high students in a one-room school. I was far ahead of the teacher in math, science, and computers. So I basically got to take college-level correspondence courses in, well, everything.

    On the third hand, the good homeschool parents (like you) have removed yourself from the public education system. Teachers have even less help, less encouragement, and fewer voices of reason on their side.

    There’s a lot of complexity here, at the center of which is a flawed education system that nobody seems to know how to fix. Those who might be most interested in getting it fixed have voluntarily removed themselves from the solution (whatever that might turn out to be).

    It’s a complex issue. I certainly don’t hold homeschooling against you — that’s your kid you’re talking about. I know how important your kid is. Mine is very important to me.

  313. #314 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    This poll is very misleading. The 83% are not necessarily Christian Fundamentalist (which you have chosen to assume they are). Pagans, Buddhist, Muslims and many others homeschool out of “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction”

    Well, let me make a couple of minor points.

    First, I didn’t say they were christian fundamentalists. Not sure where you got that. In my comment I was careful to say religious fundamentalists because of the very point you made.

    Second, why is the poll misleading? You’re going to have to provide some sort of data to refute it or support it as misleading. The poll states clearly that 83% of home-schoolers polled felt religious compunction as a reason for doing, it, and more importantly, a whopping 36% of respondents claimed it as the most important reason. This is statically significant.

    Religious Fundamentalist no longer make up the largest portion of the homeschooling community although that is a LIE H$LDA would like you to believe.

    Ok… I’ve provided data that states that they do… show me your more recent or updated or less misleading data that refutes that and I will happily concede the point.

  314. #315 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 8, 2010

    But Japan, where they kill themselves more than we kill each other, is your shining example of blissful gun control? I’ll pass.

    I explicitly don’t care about suicide, and before you even try, libertarianism’s favorite talking points of sadness has NOTHING to do with their remarkable suicide rate. That’s got to do a lot more with their incredibly high stress business and public lives then it does with anything else.

    Either way, if guns were only used to commit suicide, I wouldn’t object to them. Nonetheless, were you going to address the actual point I made? Here’s the recap.
    “Police States and gun control laws create crime; Guns reduce it”
    “Japan has more of the former, less of the latter, and less crime. Please explain.”

  315. #316 nigelTheBold
    March 8, 2010

    This poll is very misleading. The 83% are not necessarily Christian Fundamentalist (which you have chosen to assume they are). Pagans, Buddhist, Muslims and many others homeschool out of “a desire to provide religious or moral instruction”

    If the point is to provide religious education above useful education, is there a significant difference between any of those groups?

  316. #317 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    a desire to provide religious or moral instruction

    It’s complicated by that “or”. I am an atheist, I wish to give my son moral instruction, I may choose that answer as one of multiple reason I choose to homeschool, correct? Does that make me a religious fundamentalist?

  317. #318 Celtic_Evolution
    March 8, 2010

    It’s complicated by that “or”. I am an atheist, I wish to give my son moral instruction, I may choose that answer as one of multiple reason I choose to homeschool, correct? Does that make me a religious fundamentalist?

    Fair enough, but as an atheist, it’s unlikely you would have chosen anything that had the word “religious” in it, and certainly would not have chosen that reason as the most important. And again, that’s the statistic I find more telling.

  318. #319 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    It said “or” and the survey allowed multiple reasons to be chosen.

    Certainly I wouldn’t be in the 36% listing it as the most important reason, but I wouldn’t have shied away from the morality clause just because it was poorly worded and lumped in with religion.

  319. #320 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 8, 2010

    Call me dumb, but why would you need to not enroll your kid in public school just to teach them ethics? I get that you’re competing against folks not using your filter, but still..

  320. #321 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    The question was “what are your reasons for homeschooling” and you could choose as many as you wanted from the options offered. All I am saying is that I might have check marked it as one of many, and so it’s not a very useful stat.

    It certainly doesn’t follow that 83% are fundamentalist Christians teaching creationism…that’s pure projection.

  321. #322 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Kevin #216

    My mother homeschooled myself and my sister when I was in 8th grade.

    I see your mother did a piss-poor job of teaching you English grammar.

  322. #323 dfminardi
    March 8, 2010

    “Nonetheless, were you going to address the actual point I made? Here’s the recap.”

    I explicitly said that I meant to refer to our prison system, not our surveillance state, which is not nearly as vast or oppressive as that of many others. The way we fight our war on drugs is certainly not conducive to actually winning it and it does little but facilitate violence.

  323. #324 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 8, 2010

    I explicitly said that I meant to refer to our prison system, not our surveillance state, which is not nearly as vast or oppressive as that of many others. The way we fight our war on drugs is certainly not conducive to actually winning it and it does little but facilitate violence.

    Alright, two things. First off, I think it’s a bit ridiculous to say that the war on drugs negatively affects our crime rate to the extent that you do. It certainly hurts our ability to fight real crime to a degree, but that degree has more to do with the number of prisons we have to spend the budget maintaining, and the limited nature of prison cells in general.

    Second off, you’re still not actually addressing “No guns, low, low violent crime”.

  324. #325 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 8, 2010

    Oh, and thirdly, using “Police State” to refer to the War on Drugs is prety much a Godwin, don’t you think?

  325. #326 Kausik Datta
    March 8, 2010

    *raises hand*
    I have two questions:
    First, Walton repeatedly brings up this:

    The problem with conventional schools is the harm they cause to young people’s personal, emotional and psychological development…

    Is it possible to see some evidence for this assertion, beyond personal anecdotes and horror stories? Specifically, I ask evidence for the generalization “problem with conventional schools” that, to me, seems rather egregious.

    …and the fact that they promote conformity, unquestioning obedience and “discipline” enforced by “punishment”, rather than encouraging young people to reject authority and think for themselves.

    This brings up questionlets:

    • Why does discipline have such a negative connotation in Walton’s mind?
    • Why shouldn’t a sense of personal discipline be instilled in the young children?
    • Are homeschoolers’ children so angelic that they never have to be disciplined in any way?
    • Are all forms of punishment uniformly bad?
    • If young people are to reject ALL authority, why would they submit to the requests and remonstrances of their parents and study anything? When one rejects ALL authority, where does one start to learn? How about the authority of the textbook, or internet source?

    Second question to the fervent homeschoolers: In this very interesting discussion, US, UK and Canadian homeschoolers have presented their perspectives, AFAIR, while people opposed to the practice of homeschooling have spoken, too.

    If one can successfully homeschool one’s children to become successful in life and a well-educated, well-adjusted individual, more power to them. But do remember, that the world does not consist of only US, UK and Canada. In several European, Latin American and Asian countries, for example, where there is no homeschooling system in place, children go through public (state-supported) and private (privately-run) schools every single day. Many of these schools in the third world countries are beset with the exact same problems faced by the broken public-school system in the US, such as lack of funding, lack of good, dedicated teachers, uninspiring curricula and so forth.

    Can one say with certainty that the children in these countries do not get educated? Do they not become equipped to deal with life’s vicissitudes? Do they lack any intellectual capital or technical know-how to compete with the best of today’s world? This is a question, not a straw-man argument.

  326. #327 Kevin
    March 8, 2010

    @Tis Himself, OM (322)

    No, that would be from not grammar-checking my posts before making them.

  327. #328 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 8, 2010

    The poll states clearly that 83% of home-schoolers polled felt religious compunction as a reason for doing, it, and more importantly, a whopping 36% of respondents claimed it as the most important reason. This is statically significant.
    —————————————-

    No it doesn’t it says 83% are homeschooling for religious reasons.

    My Pagan homeschool friend is homeschooling because her daughter was being harassed for her parents Pagan beliefs in Public School. My friend marked she was homeschooling for religious reasons on the poll.

    Does this mean she is a Religious Fundamentalist?
    NO

    Does this mean she felt a religious compunction to homeschool?
    NO

    Also as any SCIENTIST will tell you polls can be worded in such a way as to produce a desired outcome.

    Another survey came up with different results
    Our Tapestry of Homeschool survey with nearly 1000 homeschool participants came up with some different results, including the fact that 80% were homeschooling for nonreligious reasons.
    http://learningis4everyone.blogspot.com/2008/04/life-launches-tapestry-of-homeschool.html

  328. #329 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    You guys understand that bullying and group behavior happens in corporations too, right? Dealing with that kind of unpleasantness is a valuable, even necessary life skill.

    That’s the problem. It shouldn’t have to be.

    As the regulars will know, I was an advocate of Friedman-Hayek-style orthodox libertarianism for quite some time. But I have since realised that, while libertarians are right to fear the expanding arm of the state, they fail to take into account the fact that the employment relationship can also be highly coercive in practice, and that it is necessary to redress the gross imbalance of power between employer and employee.

    Libertarians tend to conceive of the employer-employee relationship as a voluntary, non-coercive one; after all, they argue, an employee can leave his or her job at any time. But this disregards the fact that, in societies without a strong welfare safety-net to provide financial security to the individual, a person doesn’t always have a realistic option to leave his or her job, however oppressive, unpleasant or humiliating it becomes. If it’s a choice between working in a given job or starving on the streets, can this really be said to be a “voluntary” relationship?

    This is why, although I generally support a regulated capitalist economy, I am also in favour of the welfare state. Everyone should be guaranteed a minimum level of financial security: because if a person is being bullied, oppressed or humiliated in the workplace, he or she should be able to quit the job, without having to worry about making ends meet afterwards. This redresses the imbalance of power between employer and employee, and guarantees that an employee is not forced to comply with arbitrary and unfair treatmet by employers.

    However, there is also an accompanying cultural element. We need to get rid of this culturally entrenched idea that there is some sort of moral obligation for everyone who can work to do so, and that there’s something “wrong” with choosing to claim welfare benefits rather than take a job in which you are denied basic human dignity and autonomy. In the end, it’s not a matter of “sponging off taxpayers”. Our society creates plenty of excess wealth, and we have more plentiful consumer goods than in any other society in history. We can easily afford to support a sizeable non-working population.

  329. #330 Stephen Wells
    March 8, 2010

    …I think Walton just became more of a liberal-leftist than I am. I have whiplash.

    :)

  330. #331 Legion
    March 8, 2010

    Kausik Datta:

    Many of these schools in the third world countries are beset with the exact same problems faced by the broken public-school system in the US, such as lack of funding, lack of good, dedicated teachers, uninspiring curricula and so forth.

    Given that you’re talking about cultural, political, and economic groups that are, in some cases at least, substantially different from what one finds in the U.S., it’s a bit of a stretch to say that a school in, say, Ethiopia is beset with the “exact same problems faced by the broken public-school system in the US…”

    Can one say with certainty that the children in these countries do not get educated?

    No, nor can we say with certainty that they do get “educated.”

    Do they not become equipped to deal with life’s vicissitudes? Do they lack any intellectual capital or technical know-how to compete with the best of today’s world?

    Probably yes in some cases, and in other cases, probably no. Your questions are so broad and there are so many variables to consider, that we’re not really sure what you’re going for here.

    We think that a key problem many atheists have with home school is that they can’t separate the concept from the religious indoctrination that is, unfortunately, linked with it — even though they’re aware that home school can be accomplished in a secular environment as well.

    So let’s try a thought experiment. What if we got rid of the term “home school”, which admittedly carries a lot of baggage.

    What if we called it…
    1. private education
    2. on-demand tutoring
    3. personal learning
    4. private tutoring
    5. Targeted teaching
    6. Personal learning empowerment

    Further, what if a home school teacher was actually an accredited teacher who taught school in the student’s home. Would it be better then?

    What if that accredited teacher taught his own child at home?

    Finally, regarding requests for citations that show evidence of the efficacy of home school over public school, where are the peer reviewed studies in support of the premise that a public school education is inherently superior to a home schooled one — or are we just making an assumption that it is, based on our own personal anecdotes?

  331. #332 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 8, 2010

    Here is the link to the actual survey, it took me awhile to find it.

    http://www.learningis4everyone.org/images/stories/tapestry%20of%20homeschool%20survey%20report.pdf

    90% of the respondents were married, 4% were single, a little over 3% were in
    domestic partnerships.
    80% were homeschooling for non-religious reasons.

  332. #333 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 8, 2010

    …I think Walton just became more of a liberal-leftist than I am. I have whiplash.

    :)

    Don’t worry, it’s equally confusing to me. Especially as I’m still, ostensibly, a supporter of the Conservative Party.

    I wish my outlook on life was a bit more coherent. :-(

  333. #334 Paul
    March 8, 2010

    I wish my outlook on life was a bit more coherent. :-(

    You’re getting there, by the sound of it. For what it’s worth, you’d be a lot closer if you weren’t trying so hard to hold on to the Conservatives.

  334. #335 dfminardi
    March 8, 2010

    “Second off, you’re still not actually addressing “No guns, low, low violent crime”.”

    What is there to address? Do you see anywhere that I’ve claimed that lack of guns produces crime? I’ve claimed why I think our crime rate is high, and I doubt you can genuinely thank gun control for Japan’s low crime rate. The United States is a violent society; as I’ve pointed out, our non-gun murder rate is higher than the overall murder rate of most “civilized” countries, Japan included. So why do we kill each other with things other than guns at such a higher rate than the Japanese?

  335. #336 dfminardi
    March 8, 2010

    Though, one thing that you seem to think is a credit to Japan, is that it has no guns, and high, high police oppression. Surprise!

  336. #337 Kausik Datta
    March 8, 2010

    Legion,

    Your questions are so broad and there are so many variables to consider, that we’re not really sure what you’re going for here.

    I kept my question intentionally broad, because of the broad nature of the assumptions implicit in the homeschoolers’ stance. Allow me to explain what I mean. A homeschooler sees what he/she perceives to be a broken school-education system for one single reason: the system doesn’t offer the kind of education (qualitatively and/or quantitatively) he/she wants for his/her children. I hope you’d agree with me that in this line of reasoning, there is no difference between an atheist homeschooler and a religious homeschooler.

    Now, the system can be considered broken for various reasons and its brokenness evaluated by various parameters, right? In keeping with the
    cultural, political, and economic realities of various groups in the world (that you justly mentioned), these reasons and these parameters would vary from group to group – that’s also true. However, the basic premises remain the same: there is a broken system, and how to deal with it.

    The homeschoolers deal with it by pulling out their children and trying to provide them with an education as best as they can. You spoke of accreditation. I don’t know (I admit) how many of the homeschooling parents take the trouble of accrediting themselves, or whether such a system of accreditation of sundry parents seeking to homeschool at all exists or not. If it does, and if they do, more power to them. Whatever the benefits will go to the child.

    Citizens of many non-US/UK countries (I don’t know why you chose Ethiopia as your example, but – anecdotally – Ethiopian graduate students and postdocs that I have met in the US have always been highly educated and articulate achievers)… Anyway, citizens of many countries do not have that luxury of pulling their kids out of the school system. They deal with the situation by complementing their children’s education by various means. Many of these children, when they grow up, are no less competitive and no less able, compared to others. When parents take responsibility for their children’s education and academic well-being, it has a positive impact on the child.

    In contrast, if you scan the comments of the homeschoolers upthread, you’d see that they are glowing with the certainty that their way is the best, because they know what is best for the child.

    Joys, disappointments, situational difficulties are parts of life, and in a public (by which I mean, not a homeschool) school, a kid finds himself/herself in those situations day in and day out. Learning to deal with those situations – is that not a valid education? Do you really contend that a child will learn better and become a well-rounded individual under the protected environment of one’s own home?

    regarding requests for citations that show evidence of the efficacy of home school over public school, where are the peer reviewed studies in support of the premise that a public school education is inherently superior to a home schooled one — or are we just making an assumption that it is, based on our own personal anecdotes?Are you referring to my question to Walton? If yes, that’s not what I said. Walton made a categorical statement:

    The problem with conventional schools is the harm they cause to young people’s personal, emotional and psychological development…

    I wanted evidence from him for that assertion. In that context, I did not say anything about homeschooling.

  337. #338 Kausik Datta
    March 8, 2010

    Blockquote fail in the last part of my screed. It should be:

    regarding requests for citations that show evidence of the efficacy of home school over public school, where are the peer reviewed studies in support of the premise that a public school education is inherently superior to a home schooled one — or are we just making an assumption that it is, based on our own personal anecdotes?

    Are you referring to my question to Walton? If yes, that’s not what I said. Walton made a categorical statement:

    The problem with conventional schools is the harm they cause to young people’s personal, emotional and psychological development…

    I wanted evidence from him for that assertion. In that context, I did not say anything about homeschooling.

  338. #339 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    [blockquote]Joys, disappointments, situational difficulties are parts of life, and in a public (by which I mean, not a homeschool) school, a kid finds himself/herself in those situations day in and day out. Learning to deal with those situations – is that not a valid education? Do you really contend that a child will learn better and become a well-rounded individual under the protected environment of one’s own home?[/blockquote]

    All of those things happen in families, clubs, and with teams and playmates. Most homeschooled children are not locked up and hidden away, they are about in their communities.

    And, I am aware of at least three different school districts in two states that now enforce total silence at lunch, I wonder where and when they are supposed to socialize at school. Add zero tolerance ridiculousness with handcuffing for writing on a desk, and full on smiting for saying the word “meep”, expulsion for a simple hug, and you have, in my opinion, a prison, not a learning environment.

  339. #340 truthspeaker
    March 8, 2010

    Posted by: loveberry | March 7, 2010 12:40 PM

    I fail to see why my right to educate my child should be removed because other people do it badly, especially while the public schools are failing children in every respect at such astronomical rates.

    I agree with the first clause of your sentence, but exaggerated rhetoric like the second clause doesn’t help your case.

    Many American public schools are NOT failing chilren in “every respect” at “astronomical rates”. Yes, some are. And some people have to live in those districts. But the whole country is not like that.

  340. #341 'Tis Himself, OM
    March 8, 2010

    dfminardi, why don’t you move to the looneytarian utopia of Somalia. There you can have all the bang-bangs and other penis substitutes your little heart could possibly desire.

  341. #342 aratina cage
    March 8, 2010

    a credit to Japan, is that it has no guns, and high, high police oppression.

    All you have to do is read the Wikipedia article on law enforcement in Japan to see that your assertion is utterly false.

  342. #343 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    Wow, I lost a really long comment just now. I was responding to Walton’s post where he said:

    We need to get rid of this culturally entrenched idea that… there’s something “wrong” with choosing to claim welfare benefits rather than take a job in which you are denied basic human dignity and autonomy…. Our society…can easily afford to support a sizeable non-working population.

    I hope I didn’t truncate it too much. Anyway, this position shocked me to the point where I needed to break out the 7-year-old Glenfiddich to get the initial taste out of my mouth and calm me down enough to think coherently about it. Shall we see how well I did?

    In fact, I am now having a hard time seeing why I was so taken aback. It is true that a just and humanist society should provide for people who are mistreated until those people can regain the capacity to function independently. Anything a society can do to further the liberty and dignity of individual citizens makes the society a better one. When the rights of workers to keep what they have earned are balanced against their obligation to support the necessity of the society to redress violations of basic human rights, you come up with a finite quantity to contribute toward the welfare effort. Recovering some of the cost from employers who are ascertained to be at fault would increase this quantity, but here due process must ensure that the human rights of the innocent workers at the company at fault do not suffer human rights violations in turn.

    A free and just society must recognize that squalor and sickness are impediments to proper functioning. Mentally and physically healthy people wish to be functional, and sick and depressed people don’t. The welfare system in the United States, as I have experience with it, has evolved to produce more suffering than it supposedly alleviates. Rather than helping individuals and families become healthy and functional, it carps about symptoms (You didn’t buy milk this week! You’re not taking care of your diabetes! Your child was truant from school! You aren’t looking for work! You are drunk and high!) and refuses to consider long-term solutions (This is how you use your limited funds to shop frugally and prepare nutritious meals. Here is an appointment to a clinic where you can get test strips, medications, and suggestions for diet and exercise. This is how to check to see if your child is falling behind his peers academically. You seem depressed, let me refer you to a professional for screening. What do you need to get and stay sober and functional?). The “culturally entrenched idea” to which Walton refers is responsible for a lot of this treating welfare recipients as second-class citizens.

    If there was an epidemic of physical illness that was as damaging to the society as our present inability to care for the vulnerable and distressed without rewarding those who mistreat them, no rational citizen would stand by and argue that the sick deserved their sickness and did not deserve help until they demonstrated that they were becoming well. It’s religion, Christianity, that twists people’s minds until they believe that AIDS patients, drug addicts, and the obese deserve their pain as punishment for sin. It’s Christianity that instilled a “work ethic” that says that a person’s sin is responsible for their substandard lot in life and for abuse heaped on them. Enlightened humanism says that there liberty, health, and productivity are human rights that a just society must protect for everyone in all situations, and that there is no “sin” that is punishable by the denial of basic human rights.

    Sorry this so long… I don’t know if I could have brought it in much shorter. Furthermore it’s just an attempt to understand some of the liberal ideals I am learning.

  343. #344 Kausik Datta
    March 8, 2010

    LadyShea:

    I am aware of at least three different school districts in two states that now enforce total silence at lunch, I wonder where and when they are supposed to socialize at school. Add zero tolerance ridiculousness with handcuffing for writing on a desk, and full on smiting for saying the word “meep”, expulsion for a simple hug, and you have, in my opinion, a prison, not a learning environment.

    This, I cannot deny. I have recently come to know of these incidents, and I have been at a complete loss to understand who benefits from this moronic zero tolerance stance – certainly not the children.

  344. #345 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    And it’s 18-year-old Glenfiddich, not 7-year-old. I don’t know what I was thinking.

  345. #346 badgersdaughter
    March 8, 2010

    The following quote is from a website that was originally founded in order to protest the authoritarian excesses of the Katy Independent School District, west of Houston:

    Many parents in Texas do not realize that if their child is accused of a disciplinary infraction at their school, they can be brought into the school principal?s office, interrogated by school officials, interrogated by police, arrested and taken to jail before parents are notified. After all the dust has settled, you as a parent have few rights for an appeal. Once a citation is written, it cannot be taken back and your child will have to appear in court.

    The website http://www.texaszerotolerance.com/index.html has been extended to call attention to abuses in the state of Texas generally. This is part of where I’m coming from when I advocate homeschooling as a necessary defense of the human rights of children.

  346. #347 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    March 8, 2010

    Do you see anywhere that I’ve claimed that lack of guns produces crime?

    Well, yes, actually,.

    Gun control “works” in Europe because people can kill each other with whatever they want, but there are less incentives for violent crime and robbing people is a lot easier when the commons aren’t armed.

    Unless I’m to not count implication.

    I doubt you can genuinely thank gun control for Japan’s low crime rate.

    Not alone, no.

    The United States is a violent society; as I’ve pointed out, our non-gun murder rate is higher than the overall murder rate of most “civilized” countries, Japan included.

    I’m not sure about that. Not the raw statistics, but that the US is a violent society; I typically will start from the position that people are similar. It’s a possibility I’ve had to allow for recently.

    a credit to Japan, is that it has no guns, and high, high police oppression.

    I’m not sure I’d say the police are that oppressive themselves. Their problems more come from some pretty god damn weird laws.

    All you have to do is read the Wikipedia article on law enforcement in Japan to see that your assertion is utterly false.

    Well, when you equate guns with freedom..

  347. #348 aratina cage
    March 8, 2010

    Well, when you equate guns with freedom..

    True. I guess that would look like high, high police oppression from such a blinkered POV as the one presented by dfminardi. :P

  348. #349 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 8, 2010

    from such a blinkered POV as the one presented by dfminardi.

    And they always have to come here to spew their nonsense. Why? [/rhetorical

  349. #350 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 8, 2010

    Just dropping back in to this discussion atnear (hopefully the end of a really frustrating workday, and I’ve just got to say… where in the fuck did most of y’all (and your kids) go to school?!? Anyone scanning this thread would have to conclude that U.S. public schools — pretty much all of ‘em — are inescapably horrific, soul-crushing places that would make the bastard child of a Soviet gulag and Saw III look like a weekend on Paradise Island by comparison!

    I’m nearly 50 years old, and I’ve spent more than half of my life intensely involved with public schools as a student, teacher, parent, and political advocate, spanning all grade levels and encompassing 4 different states. Somewhere along the way, you’d’a thought I would’a gotten at least a sniff of one of these horrors; what’re the odds?

    Seriously, I would never deny that many schools are challenged, and some are deeply troubled; I would never question the veracity of your personal narratives of troubled schooldays (though, as others have noted, bullies and jerks, whether they’re the power elite of your own age or authoritarian adults, are hardly unique to public schools); I even agree that some aspects of our fundamental model for education need at least updating, if not major revision. But the high-volume assertion that our schools are invariably and irredeemably toxic is hyperbolic in the extreme. I know it’s easy to be cynical about your fellow humans, but really, where are the shuffling hordes of mindless zombies you’d expect if all the armwaving about unremitting dreckitude were true?

    A quick response to Legion (@I’mTooTiredToLookUpTheNumber), and then just a few general comments; I’m too fried to try to go point-by-point:

    Blaming parents who home school (for the demise of failing schools) is like blaming a fireman, who rescues a child from a burning building, for setting the fire.

    The analogy falls down on the point that in a real, nonmetaphorical fire, the child you’re saving doesn’t usually have any effect on the fire: Her presence isn’t helping put it out, and removing her won’t accelerate it. Also, of course, in a real fire, the firefighter would try to save all the children, and not just cherrypick one at the expense of all the others.

    That said, of course you have to rescue your child, if needed, from the educational equivalent of a burning building. Nobody’s been suggesting otherwise (at least, I haven’t, and I’m pretty sure nobody else in this thread has, either). Please take the time to determine whether it’s really a fire, and not just some excitable people mistakenly yelling “fire!” Also, take note of whether it’s just a little wastebasket blaze that you might put out with a simple squirt of the extinguisher (but that, if you ignore it in your haste to “rescue” your own child, might grow to engulf the building and all the other children).

    But at the end of the day, if your child needs rescuing, get rescuin’! I’ve said at every turn of this conversation that I recognize every parent’s duty to his/her own child.

    Generally:

    1. I don’t doubt that for some individuals, homeschooling is the best way to maximize intellectual performance, either because of deficiencies in a particular school or because the student (or the prospective homeschooling parent) is personally exceptional. But exceptional cases are not necessarily good models for public policy, and maximizing intellectual performance is not the only (nor even, IMHO, the primary) mission of schooling. And no, I’m not referring to some insipid notion of “socialization” that looks like a tepid combination of finishing school and citizenship class. I’m talking about the nuturing of new generations of citizens… the generational process of refreshing and rebuilding our very society. The libertarians among us may not believe there’s any such thing as “society,” but I do, and I don’t see how sequestering the best and brightest of each generation in their clan keeps can fail to undermine it.

    2. Homeschooling is not an option for the children of poor or uneducated families. Spare me the argument that “we homeschool, and we’re not rich”: The attention, time, and energy of any family’s adults is a limited resource, and any family that has enough of that limited resource left over after providing for its basic needs to do a decent job of homeschooling is by any reasonable definition rich; if you don’t think so, you need to acquire a definition of rich that goes beyond “swimmin’ pools; movie stars.”

    3. Not unrelated to #2 above… by all accounts, homeschooling requires lots of work; I can’t help wondering how education in this country would look if homeschooling parents instead put the same attention into supplementing and supporting the work of the public schools? When I suggested this up-thread, I got a response about “volunteering once a month,” but that’s not what I’m talking about (and surely you’re putting more into homeschooling than an hour or two per month, right?). I’m talking about supplementing and individualizing your child’s education as an adjunct to the public schools, rather than as an alternative. And I’m talking about getting involved in the governance of the schools, through PTO/PTA membership, going to parent’s night religiously, meeting with teachers and principals, attendance at school board meetings, even running for school boards: Really, the public schools are the most accessible of all democratic institutions, if one bothers to try.

    At the end of the day, leaving the public schools for homeschooling (or a private school or a magnet school or….) may well be the right choice for any given student, and as long as the numbers are relatively trivial, it’s no real social problem. But if it comes to the point that any significant fraction of the educated middle class pull their children out of public schools, it will mean the end of public education… and not long after, I fear, the end of our democracy altogether. (Yes, I know it’s ironic for me to make such an apocalyptic prediction after having bloviated against hyperbole at the beginning of this comment; nevertheless, it’s what I believe.)

  350. #351 Legion
    March 8, 2010

    Kausik, you make some very good points at 337, but you’re still making some critical and erroneous assumptions that are skewing your whole argument.

    citizens of many countries do not have that luxury of pulling their kids out of the school system.

    For most home schoolers, it’s not a luxury. In fact, there’s usually a severe economic penalty associated with home schooling, as the family must rely on a single income. Generally, people with money send there kids to private school. Home school is the poor man’s private school.

    They deal with the situation by complementing their children’s education by various means.

    Complementing a child’s substandard public school education seems like a good idea. Sometimes it can work, but sometimes it doesn’t.

    What if the environment and peer pressure at school turns your child against the idea of education. No amount of supplemental education will make a difference if a child decides that she doesn’t want to learn.

    What if a child is getting beat up at school? How does a parent supplement that? What if the child has a learning disability and the school lacks the ability to address the child’s needs?

    In contrast, if you scan the comments of the homeschoolers upthread, you’d see that they are glowing with the certainty that their way is the best, because they know what is best for the child.

    Are you actually asserting that no parent, under any circumstances could know what was best for their own child? Do you really believe that a one-size-fits-all public school education is better than a customized private one?

    Look at it this way. If you wanted to learn how to fly an airplane. Do you think you’d learn best by reading a book in a classroom with 30 other students, or by actually getting into a cockpit with a qualified instructor?

    Joys, disappointments, situational difficulties are parts of life, and in a public (by which I mean, not a homeschool) school, a kid finds himself/herself in those situations day in and day out. Learning to deal with those situations – is that not a valid education?

    It’s clear from the above paragraph that you don’t have much, if any, real experience with home schooling. It sounds like you think home school students remain chained to their desks at home, under the watchful eye of their parents, and never see the light of day. In fact, home schoolers often spend far more time out in the real world interacting with people across a wide range of age groups.

    It is true that some experiences cannot be recreated at home, but that truth also works in reverse in that there are beneficial experiences that home schooled children have that cannot be recreated in school.

    Do you really contend that a child will learn better and become a well-rounded individual under the protected environment of one’s own home?

    In some cases, yes. We really don’t understand why you find this so unbelievable? You’re an adult. Are you actually saying that you’re intellectually incapable of teaching a child their ABCs and their multiplication tables. If you are a parent, do you keep your child locked up in his/her room? If not, then why would you think a HS parent would?

    HS kids go to the library, movies, parks, science and art museums. They join baseball, football, basketball, and soccer teams. They play with their friends. They go on dates. They learn about birth control and sex (at least the secular ones do). They volunteer in the community and tutor other kids. They get in fights with their family members and friends. They make mistakes, have disappointments, and experience triumphs just like any other kid.

    It’s also not uncommon for home schoolers to have more than one teacher. As we said upthread, our children were part of a home school co-op which had a number of educated professionals in business and science as their teachers (medicine, molecular bilogy, business, etc.)

    Last year, we took our two home schooled children to see a theatrical performance of the Scopes Monkey Trials. Prior to the performance, we enjoyed a lecture on evolution. Another time, my wife took one of our kids to school to check out an autopsy that was being conducted for her anatomy and physiology class. And just recently, our other child went to the Winter Olympics.

    Are you suggesting that they’re somehow being injured by this parental “abuse.”

    But lets say you’re right about home schooled children being “protected.” What exactly do you have against protecting children? Isn’t that the role of the parent or do you prefer the Dickinsian model of child rearing?

    You charged home schoolers with making the assumption that their way (home schooling) is best, but aren’t you doing something worse? They’re saying they know what’s best for their own child, while you’re saying you know whats best for all children.

    If you’re interested in the subject, you should really find some secular home schoolers and find out what their lives are really like. I think much of what you’re saying is true with regard to some religious home schoolers, but even then, despite the insanity of religion, their are some religious home schoolers who are doing a pretty good job of educating their children.

  351. #352 Legion
    March 8, 2010

    Bill:

    I can’t help wondering how education in this country would look if homeschooling parents instead put the same attention into supplementing and supporting the work of the public schools?

    Bill, it sounds like you’re fortunate enough to live in a place where schools are functional enough and willing to accept help from parents, but you have to understand that there are some really horrendous and dysfunctional schools out there too. They may not want our help, or they do want it, but are so mired in bureaucratic red tape that they cannot accept it. Home schooling is a really big job, so believe us when we say that we wouldn’t have done it if there was any other option.

    When I suggested this up-thread, I got a response about “volunteering once a month,” but that’s not what I’m talking about (and surely you’re putting more into homeschooling than an hour or two per month, right?). I’m talking about supplementing and individualizing your child’s education as an adjunct to the public schools, rather than as an alternative.

    We tried that, but the anti-education atmosphere was so strong at school, that our child became infected. She withdrew into herself, stopped reading and writing (her favorite activities) and begged us to take her out of school. We had given her the option to try public school (this was middle-school) and told her we’d like her to stick it out until the end of the semester. She did, and then withdrew from the school. In a couple of months, she was her old self again — excited about learning.

    And I’m talking about getting involved in the governance of the schools, through PTO/PTA membership, going to parent’s night religiously, meeting with teachers and principals, attendance at school board meetings, even running for school boards: Really, the public schools are the most accessible of all democratic institutions, if one bothers to try.

    OK, I get it. You realize you’re asking a hell of a lot, but I understand where you’re coming from. Your apocalyptic projections for the future of public schools have given us something to think about.

  352. #353 LadyShea
    March 8, 2010

    And I’m talking about getting involved in the governance of the schools, through PTO/PTA membership, going to parent’s night religiously, meeting with teachers and principals, attendance at school board meetings, even running for school boards: Really, the public schools are the most accessible of all democratic institutions, if one bothers to try.

    This assumes that your local schools have any kind of autonomy in governance. Where I live everything is handed down by the state as far as curriculum and regulations, the local school boards don’t make policy.

    My sister in law did all of these things (in a supposedly top notch district), and remembers her kids schooling as an endless series of fights to improve things. I don’t want to waste my only child’s entire childhood fighting bureaucrats, thanks.

  353. #354 rose
    March 9, 2010

    Must be nice to have choices.Public School or home- schooling.As a single mother when my first child started school I did not have a choice… no matter how horrible his public school was. Yes,I fought bureaucrats,and teachers,I called them,send letters with my child,call the board of ed…I MADE THEM WORK DAMMIT!I did what I had to do.My kid still manage to make honor roll and exceed his standardized tests.After I remarried we move to a “better” neighborhood so he can attend a “better”public High School.We wanted him to be more competitive academically.Guess what? He knew just as much if not MORE on some subjects than these kids who always attended the “better” schools.He is a 14 year sophomore who is in the top 5 percentile in his class.He exceeds in math and science AND he is also an atheist.Not bad for a kid who attended schools in “corrective action” most of his life.
    Sometimes we MUST work with what is given to us.

  354. #355 El Guerrero del Interfaz
    March 9, 2010

    Rose, that’s the spirit!

    Although in general the schools our kids attended were all right, we also had to fight a religious extreme-right director of a public school who discriminated out daughter because she did not took the religious indoctrination courses. And my wife was the one the solved the problem by having him sacked and thrown out of his job. ˇA la puta calle! Nothing is more dangerous than a mother protecting her kids :-)

  355. #356 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 9, 2010

    In response to Bill Dauphin

    I agree that most homeschool parents enjoy financial security and while are not “movie star rich” or at least comfortably middle class. But I do know some poor families who homeschool. One comes to mind both parents work. They choose to work different shifts so an adult would always be home with the children and they borrow textbooks from other homeschoolers. They don’t have a lot of the “toys” (XBox, Designer Clothes) a lot of us take for granted, but they are putting their children’s education first.

    Maybe the public schools in your area are different but in the Deep South the good ole boys run the school. Unless your family going back to your great grandparents have lived in the community forever you are not going to get elected to the school board and no matter how much time you volunteer you are not going to make a difference in the schools.

    Each individual family has to make the best educational choice for their child. For some families that is homeschooling.

    You said
    “But if it comes to the point that any significant fraction of the educated middle class pull their children out of public schools, it will mean the end of public education… and not long after, I fear, the end of our democracy altogether.”

    The national system of formal education in the United States developed in the 19th century, so if public education comes to and end I am sure our democracy will survive. Public schools could do a lot to insure their survival by better serving the students in their care and being more willing to listen to parents. Instead many public schools have the attitude that they are entitled to “do” whatever they wish as they will still get a paycheck as taxpayers are forced to support them.

  356. #357 negentropyeater
    March 9, 2010

    The national system of formal education in the United States developed in the 19th century, so if public education comes to and end I am sure our democracy will survive.

    Oh goodie, there wasn’t a national Interstate Highway System in the United States prior to the second half of the 20th century, so if that one comes to an end, you are probably also sure our democracy will survive.

    What kind of an argument is this ?

  357. #358 bowerjim
    March 9, 2010

    My daughter, 12 is in a public middle school in northern WV. They are using the Glencoe “Science” text level red with a logo of National Geo on the cover. I was shocked to see the word evolution opr Darwin are never listed in the text anywhere. So while she is learning Golgi apparatus she hasn’t a clue how it came to be.

    Her teacher though flamboyant uses the word bless all of the time and is clearly religious. She is well liked by her students.

    My son is homeschooled and taking the Thinkwell online biology course and it has many units on evolution.

    It is no longer true that home schoolers do it to be religiots or because parents are backwards. My wife has a Phd in English from the U of M and have written some 35-40 technical manuals for the likes of AMD, Systems Engineering, and Omnidata.

    While we originally homeschooled because we travel so much we continued when we didn’t. Our middle girl chose to go and then disliked it on arrival and still does a year later. We find our homeschool friends that convert to public school are bored and at least a grade ahead of their public school peers as well as being better socialized. They are also more functional at doing in the world tasks.

    Don’t be categorically naive or you end up looking like Bill Mayers and vaccinations.

    Other than that I love your column!

    cheers

    Jim Newman

  358. #359 LadyShea
    March 9, 2010

    Must be nice to have choices.Public School or home- schooling.As a single mother when my first child started school I did not have a choice

    Are you saying that if you had not been a single working mom you would have chosen homeschooling? In my admittedly limited experience, those that say things like “Must be nice” have not really researched the option fully, and probably wouldn’t have chosen it even it seemed feasible.

    What did you do with your child before he was school age? What did you do with your child during school vacations? I assume you had some kind of caretaker while you were working?

    My son is not old enough to go to school yet due to the age cut off in our state, so we already have to have caretakers while we work. We decided to do a test run of homeschooling by doing Kindergarten type work this year. We figured if we can do it now, we could continue doing it. It’s working well. We do lessons before and after work and on weekends. There’s no reason school must happen between 8am and 3pm Monday through Friday.

    I am not saying homeschooling is the best choice for everyone or even most. I believe it is the best choice for us though, especially given that our school district is about to lose accreditation, has teachers doing building maintenance due to layoffs of custodians, and have increased class sizes due to teacher layoffs as we are in a serious budget crisis.

  359. #360 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 9, 2010

    Oh goodie, there wasn’t a national Interstate Highway System in the United States prior to the second half of the 20th century, so if that one comes to an end, you are probably also sure our democracy will survive.

    Erm… yes, it would. I like highways as much as anyone, but I don’t see how an end to interstate highways would in itself destroy democracy. (The only situation I can envision in which this might arise would be if, at some point, massive worldwide fuel shortages make it uneconomic to travel or transport goods by road, making interstate highways redundant. That would obviously be a massive disaster in many respects, but I don’t see how democracy would, as such, be threatened.)

    And traditional schooling systems are not serving the needs of “democracy” too well in any case. Most of the good for individual freedom and social liberalism in US history has been done by the Supreme Court, not by the voters or elected officials; and the same is true in many other countries. Whenever real democracy is implemented, and “the people” are given genuine control of the policy agenda, the result is usually a return to bigotry and stupidity (from Prop 8 in California to the ban on minarets in Switzerland). And I actually think there’s a case for arguing that formal regimented/disciplined schooling contributes to this failure of participatory democracy, by encouraging conformism and submission to authority, rather than rebellion and independent thought. I don’t know how strong the causal connection is, since, AFAIK, there are no studies testing this hypothesis (and I doubt it would be possible to conduct a scientific study on this, as one couldn’t control for all the other factors involved in a person’s political behaviour).

  360. #361 negentropyeater
    March 9, 2010

    Walton,

    it makes no sense whatsoever to argue that
    [a critically important public service didn't exist 50 or 100 years ago when democracy existed therefore doing away with this major public service wouldn't be a threat to democracy].

    We don’t live in the 50s or in the 19th century anymore, we don’t need to play those hypothetical games.

    Let’s focus on making those public services better. That’s a much more fruitful discussion.

    I don’t know how strong the causal connection is, since, AFAIK, there are no studies testing this hypothesis (and I doubt it would be possible to conduct a scientific study on this, as one couldn’t control for all the other factors involved in a person’s political behaviour).

    So on what basis do you continue to argue about this ?

  361. #362 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 9, 2010

    Actually, a study which could work: Take 1,000 randomly-selected adults who were educated at conventional schools, and 1,000 randomly-selected adults who were either homeschooled or educated at alternative schools. Conduct a comprehensive study of their voting behaviour, political attitudes, and prejudice or lack thereof towards minority groups. If my hypothesis is correct, the homeschool/alternative group would be likely to exhibit more independent and unconventional thought, and fewer authoritarian beliefs.

    The trouble is that the results might be skewed by the not insigificant number of fundamentalist religious homeschoolers. So you might have to control in some way for religious belief, though I don’t know how this could be done objectively.

  362. #363 LadyShea
    March 9, 2010

    http://www.nheri.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=171&Itemid=47

    Home Educated and Now Adults: Their Community and Civic Involvement, Views About Homeschooling, and Other Traits by Brian D. Ray, Ph.D

    This unique study takes a look at the lives of over 7,000 adults from across the United States who were home educated during their elementary and secondary school years. The purpose of this study was to describe and gain more understanding about these adults. In particular, the focus was on their general demographics, attitudes toward their own home-education experiences, and successes in life. Success was evaluated with respect to civic, social, educational, employment, and worldview traits.

    Statistics on the direct civic involvement of home-educated adults and the general United States population are presented. For all civic activities (e.g., working for candidate/political party/political cause, voting in national/state elections) and at all age groups, the home-educated adults in this study were more civically involved than the general population.

  363. #364 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 9, 2010

    Legion (@352):

    I appreciate the thoughtful conversation on what I know is an emotional topic for many.

    Bill, it sounds like you’re fortunate enough to live in a place where schools are functional enough and willing to accept help from parents, but you have to understand that there are some really horrendous and dysfunctional schools out there too.

    Actually, a significant fraction of my experience with public schools has been in two states — Texas and Florida — with rather infamous reputations regarding school quality, but admittedly I did live in economically and socially stable, middle-class communities in each case.

    But of course I recognize that there are some horrendous and dysfunctional schools, and many more that are not quite horrendous and dysfunctional, but are troubled in some ways. What I don’t quite buy, and it will require some fairly extraordinary evidence to change my mind about this, is the suggestion that U.S. public education in general is “horrendous and dysfunctional.” I’m not pointing a finger at you or any other individual commenter, but the overall impression one gets from the pro-homeschooling side of this thread is that our public schooling is an irredeemable failure as an enterprise, and that everyone who can should flee from it. That sentiment is, IMHO, both mistaken and threatening to the future of our society and our democracy.

    My observation and experience is that the number of public schools where the child of interested and committed parents (and anyone willing and able to homeschool is certainly that) can get a good education vastly outnumbers those in which she cannot… and many truly dysfunctional schools are the reflection of dysfunctional communities, such that abandoning the school exacerbates, rather than addresses, the root cause of the trouble.

    They may not want our help,

    This touches on the singular importance of public schools: They don’t have any right to “not want our help”! Oh, I don’t mean that any parent can (or ought to be able to) force his/her way onto a campus in contravention of rules and procedures… but the public schools are uniquely accountable to the public; at some level, they must respond to the values of the community.

    …the anti-education atmosphere was so strong at school, that our child became infected. She withdrew into herself, stopped reading and writing (her favorite activities) and begged us to take her out of school.

    As always, I recognize that your first duty is to protect and nurture your child. In your position, I think I would have tried to find a place to move to with better public schools (an unplanned move and potential job change would be a strain on family resources, to be sure, but in our case, no more so than one of us quitting work to homeschool), but I respect your choice.

    That’s the whole rub of this conversation: I respect the choice you made… but at the same time, I think if any sufficiently large percentage of the public made a similar choice, it would be disastrous for all of us.

    And I’m talking about getting involved in the governance of the schools, through PTO/PTA membership, going to parent’s night religiously, meeting with teachers and principals, attendance at school board meetings, even running for school boards: Really, the public schools are the most accessible of all democratic institutions, if one bothers to try.

    OK, I get it. You realize you’re asking a hell of a lot,

    The thing is, I don’t really think I am: Homeschooling requires a lot of personal/family resources; it’s hard for me to imagine that the steps I’ve suggested are any harder. On the contrary, I imagine that if parents who are considering homeschooling would put even half the attention and resources it would require into enriching their children’s public school experience¹, the return on investment would be huge… and the thing is, not only those parents’ children would benefit, but their classmates and the whole community.

    Your apocalyptic projections for the future of public schools have given us something to think about.

    I don’t mean to sound apocalyptic. I think (at least nearly) universal public schooling is vital in a democracy, and that its loss would be catastrophic… but I also think rumors of its demise in the U.S. are greatly exaggerated, first because the percentage of truly failing schools is smaller than the frightening anecdotal discourse suggests, and second because only a fairly small percentage of families can truly afford to opt out: Private school is hugely expensive, and while homeschoolers might not think of themselves as rich, relatively few families truly have the excess resources to pull it off.

    For good (i.e., my opinion) or ill (apparently many others’ opinion), we’re stuck with public schools; it behooves us to make them reflect the very best values and aspirations of the public.

    LadyShea (@353):

    This assumes that your local schools have any kind of autonomy in governance. Where I live everything is handed down by the state as far as curriculum and regulations, the local school boards don’t make policy.

    Though I don’t know what state you live in, I suspect that’s almost certainly not true. That is, I’m sure your state has curriculum standards and a framework of regulations, but the school board, superintendant, and campus administration still probably have considerable authority over what actually happens in your child’s school. Even if your state’s regulatory regime is theoretically as authoritarian as you suggest, what happens in local schools is almost always mostly by the people directly running the local schools, and they answer primarily to the local school board.

    Also, to the argument that since we didn’t always have public schools, democracy would survive without them, my response is that we have them now because a system of universal, free, compulsory public education was seen as essential to our democracy. There’s a qualitative difference between not having had something at some stage of our national development, on the one hand, and abandoning it after we have it.

    One of the most prevalent — and IMHO most important — progressive criticisms of right-wing ideology is the extent to which it raises up the individual at the contemptuous expense of common social goals. I see the argument about public education as an extension of that conversation: How can we expect to foster a progressive social democracy if we insist on focusing the very education of our children on strictly individual goals, conspicuously and deliberately separated from the larger society? What lesson does that teach?

    ¹ I’m referring only to those who want to homeschool for reasons of educational quality, of course; the ones who’re homeschooling to promote some form of ideological or theological extremism should just stay the hell away from the public schools.

  364. #365 Red Foot Okie
    March 9, 2010

    Bill Dauphin, you said a lot of what I was thinking, although a lot nicer than the way I was thinking it.

    What I was thinking was that some doth protest too much…

    I’ve had a lot of experience with the home-schooled. Emotionally stunted, logically challenged, gotta-be-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room-or-they-will-pitch-a-fit homeschooled. So, nah, I’m not a big fan of it.

    In fact, I wasn’t a huge supporter of ‘individuality’ back when I was actually in public school– at least when the expression of individuality was to be an insufferable ass.

    Nor, honestly, am I big fan of their parents, with their hand-wringing and bemoaning the end of education as we know it. Lucky they have the financial power to take matters into their own hands! Pity they don’t often don’t get the fact that they may not be as smart as they think they are.

    Not saying that in some cases the school or a particular situation at school is justifiable to pull a kid, but, uh… honestly I don’t care how far ahead your second grader is– that ain’t that hard, lunchbox. Come back and talk to me when he/she is 22 and see if they’re still leading the pack.

  365. #366 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 9, 2010

    Red Foot Okie

    My 21 year old is still leading the pack as you put it. He already has a BS Degree in Computer Science and is working on his Masters.

    Homeschooling does work and homeschoolers are successful.

  366. #367 https://me.yahoo.com/a/NjpAsp0pj.R6xUs6AwI0z3sPNPdMSRU-#e7837
    March 9, 2010
  367. #368 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 9, 2010

    Bill Dauphin, I do think that public schools serve a purpose. I think IF they were more responsive to the needs of their students and the wishes of the parents they would be a lot more popular. I do not think everyone should homeschools. Public Schools suit some families just fine. And actually IF you could send your child to the PUBLIC SCHOOL of your choice I think it would be a step in the right direction. The policies of the Public School my children attended were the reason we choose to homeschool. There are two nearby school districts that I would have been happy to send my children too but I had no wish to move from my home in order to do so.

    Parents deserve to be able to make the best educational choices for their children and for us that meant homeschooling as the only Private Schools in our area are religious.

    I do not think that if Public Schools as we know them came to an end it would be the end of democracy. I am certain we would find a way to see that all children were educated. It is very possible that in the future the majority of children will attend school online.

  368. #369 Kausik Datta
    March 9, 2010

    Thank you, Legion and LadyShea, for your reasoned responses to what is obviously an emotional topic for many. Legion, one clarification: “luxury” was perhaps a poor word choice in retrospect; what I meant was the opportunity or the option of having your children homeschooled, not in an economic sense.

    Let me recount an anecdote of a place that is culturally and politically different from the US, and economically, a lot weaker than the US. Where I grew up, it was not an option for my parents; but that did not stop my housewife mother from sitting down with me every single day after school, going over the day’s lessons, supervising my homework (yes, we were given homework to do) and helping me with maths, languages, history and so forth. She was a lot less qualified than many of the homeschoolers speaking here (who have advanced degrees); yet, I managed to do pretty well in school. Over the years, there were a few subjects in which I found myself to be deficient to begin with, and the school arranged for teachers to take special remedial classes, after school – not to gain ‘credit hours’ (we didn’t have that system), but to get at par with the rest of the class. Similarly, those students that proved to be above average in certain subjects were allowed to take advanced classes to learn more and explore.

    Was/is this school system fool-proof? Of course not. But the workforce of an entire nation (actually, five nations that I can think of off-hand) comes off this schooling system. I am not going to compare (because it is not possible to) the school students in the US and in these countries, but young people from these countries are spread all over the world, doing quite well for themselves.

    We had uniforms in our school. Yes [Gasp!] uniforms. The only thing it ensured was that as long as we were in the school premises, it didn’t matter whether we came from a rich or a poor family, didn’t matter what our parents did; we were there for only one purpose, to learn, to explore, to wonder. It didn’t matter if we all looked alike from a distance, because the teachers knew who we were. Intellectual creativity was encouraged; at school, we had no separate urge to express creativity through wearing different clothing, different hairstyle or hair color. We all did that in our own time, and the school officials did not keep a Big-Brother-like watch either!!

    When I look back, I find that this approach has worked for many, many of us, because the school instilled a sense of discipline (a swear word in Walton’s dictionary, probably) and personal responsibility. If you tell me that these are not virtues, I’d have a hard time believing you. Discipline did not make us pin-fixed butterflies. In order to succeed, even geniuses need sufficient mental discipline. We studied hard, because we knew that it was our only chance. Belonging to a lower middle class family, I was taught that the education was our only wealth.

    I understand I am VERY old-fashioned about this, and most of you have personal examples that would contradict mine and put me in my place. LadyShea (AFAIR) said it best, that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to educating a child, but I think that is truer for advanced countries such as US and UK where there is a surfeit of choices. If you can exercise those choices and bring up your children to be true citizens of the world, kudos to you; it certainly ain’t easy.

  369. #370 Kausik Datta
    March 9, 2010

    #366:Homeschooling does work and homeschoolers are successful.Can we quote that statement at a later date? (Although I am slightly hampered by the fact that your Google-signed in handle is a tad difficult to reference later…)

    :)

  370. #371 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawn7nC_SOspWbA-gblf5JA78ckCJ0cylCq8
    March 9, 2010

    Kausik Datta

    Yes you may. My screen name is Alasandra and I blog at Alasandra’s Homeschool Blog.
    http://alasandras.blogspot.com/

  371. #372 Kausik Datta
    March 9, 2010

    Alasandra, thank you.
    Strange blockquote fail in my comment! :(

  372. #373 dianoguy
    March 10, 2010

    I know I’m an extreme latecomer to this conversation, but I just thought I’d add my experience to those already described…

    — I was homeschooled from 5th grade through the end of high school.
    — My parents decided on homeschooling primarily due to the extremely poor quality of the local public schools (A mere 2% of each incoming high school freshman class went on to college after graduation… if they even graduated.)
    — A secondary reason for my homeschooling was “religious and moral instruction.” (Yup, my parents were young-earth creationists.)
    — I thrived as a homeschooler… I scored a 1580 on the SAT (when perfect was 1600), went on to do well in college, and am now a PhD candidate studying biochemistry.
    — I used the critical thinking skills I gained in my homeschooling years to eventually reject Creationism and fully accept the overwhelming evidence for evolution.
    — I still believe in God. (Sorry, in my mind, it’s not contradictory with accepting evolution.)

    Fascinated by the overwhelming disagreement with PZ on this topic (his rejection of homeschooling)… and interested to see how (or if) he responds…

  373. #374 Cathy
    March 10, 2010

    About a hundred comments back, Celtic Evolution (#265) asked what I would do to change schools.

    One thing I want to mention is that we keep talking about public schools in general, and we never acknowledge that whatever might be valid for high school age students, say, might NOT be valid for primary age students, and vice versa.

    That said, one of my most important suggestions for improvement of education is, at least for elementary grades (ages 5 to 11), no grades and little, if any, testing. Many kids are not ready for certain skills at the same age as their peers, just as some kids learn to walk, use the toilet, or talk at different ages. But by age 11 almost all kids will be reading independently, even the delayed readers, and most kids will be ready for paper-and-pencil math.

    I know my suggestion will seem ludicrous to most people. But study the literature on learning — both carrots and sticks (rewards and punishment) generally get in the way of true learning, letter or number grades give little information about what has been learned or even taught, most standardized tests in use have little power to predict success or measure intelligence, constant evaluation takes up valuable time AND tends to become the focus of effort and anxiety, etc., etc.

    So I say get rid of grades, at least for the first six years of school.

  374. #375 Michael X
    March 10, 2010

    My wife is testament to the fact that homeschooling is 80 or more percent utilized by those who with to indoctrinate their children in an particular religion.

    On the flip side we are talking about homeschooling our own child child.

    The discussion has not yet resolved.

  375. #376 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    One of the most prevalent ? and IMHO most important ? progressive criticisms of right-wing ideology is the extent to which it raises up the individual at the contemptuous expense of common social goals. I see the argument about public education as an extension of that conversation: How can we expect to foster a progressive social democracy if we insist on focusing the very education of our children on strictly individual goals, conspicuously and deliberately separated from the larger society? What lesson does that teach?

    Bill, I don’t think you can expect parents to put the good of wider society before the good of their children. Maybe, in a perfect world, they should do so: I don’t know. But I do know that in the real world, it’s not fair to expect that of them. It is deeply ingrained in human nature to do what one believes to be best for one’s children.

    Do I think government-funded schools should exist, and that a world with them is on balance better than a world without them? Absolutely, yes. Do I think schools benefit from the presence of bright young people and motivated parents? Obviously, yes. But if I were a parent, and lived in an area where all the local schools were very poor, would I compromise my children’s education, emotional development and future prospects by sending them to a local school anyway? No, I would not. Because my children would come first.

  376. #377 Cathy
    March 10, 2010

    Bill (#350) — There have been so many posts on this topic that you probably didn’t see my post telling you that I have tried in the past to fix schools from within, as have others, and that I REALLY think they are REALLY broken. Fundamentally. I honestly think that everyone leaving our current public schools might be necessary. (My post was #260.)

    I wonder if a combination of Internet learning and programs that function in a non-compulsory way, modeled on current museums, libraries, and parks-and-rec classes, might be the non-schools of the future.

    Also, I know that my family was lucky enough to be able (economically speaking) to choose to homeschool. But in order to do that, we worked off just one salary. And that salary was that of a public school teacher. Many people here have said that public school teachers are underpaid, and my husband works for one of the worst-paid districts in California (because we live in that town and he hates commuting), so it would stand to reason that we are even more underpaid than everyone else.

    So are we vastly underpaid, or rich, as you sorta-kinda said in your post?

    Well, okay, you also said that most homeschoolers are middle class. I guess we can claim that title: currently broke (health problems and crazy health care prices/insurance prices), but still middle class.

  377. #378 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    But if I were a parent, and lived in an area where all the local schools were very poor, would I compromise my children’s education, emotional development and future prospects by sending them to a local school anyway?

    No, I would not. Because my children would come first. I’d move to an area where there are good local public schools. And really if I couldn’t move (that would have to be for a limited amount of time, say a couple of years max), I’d send them to a good private school. And if I couldn’t afford that and couldn’t move, I’d be really angry and wouldn’t stop campaigning to ensure the local schools get the means to provide a good education for my children. And in the meantime I’d probably homeschool them. But that would be when I have no other option.

  378. #379 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    There have been so many posts on this topic that you probably didn’t see my post telling you that I have tried in the past to fix schools from within, as have others, and that I REALLY think they are REALLY broken. Fundamentally.

    This is probably a stupid question, but why would one want to have children if one was forced to live in such an environement ?

  379. #380 Nullifidian
    March 10, 2010

    This is probably a stupid question, but why would one want to have children if one was forced to live in such an environement ?

    Well, when a Mommy and a Daddy love each other very much….

    Honestly, browsing this blog is like trying to have a conversation with extraterrestrials. A child is the product of an act of love between two people (at least one hopes, though children as a result of rape or prostitution have been known). And many people, as irrational as it may seem, either do not consider something that is six years in the future or they consider it and decide that having a child is worth it anyway because of their biological drive, desire to cement their relationship, or for dozens of other reasons.

  380. #381 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    Honestly, browsing this blog is like trying to have a conversation with extraterrestrials. A child is the product of an act of love between two people (at least one hopes, though children as a result of rape or prostitution have been known). And many people, as irrational as it may seem, either do not consider something that is six years in the future or they consider it and decide that having a child is worth it anyway because of their biological drive, desire to cement their relationship, or for dozens of other reasons.

    I don’t think it’s ever morally justified to choose to have a child unless you are completely confident that you can provide a stable, loving family environment, a proper education, and a high enough material standard of living. Choosing to reproduce, without thinking about the consequences, because of “biological drive” or “desire to cement [one's] relationship” is just selfish. Children are not “acts of love” between their parents; they are independent human beigs with rights and interests of their own.

    Of course, children being born out of rape or by accident is another matter. But I support the right to abortion, the morning-after pill and so on, as well as a comprehensive system of adoption and foster care. Fundamentally, no one should be trying to raise a child unless they are capable of doing so properly. Raising a child is a privilege, not a right, and the interests of the child should always supersede all other considerations.

  381. #382 Nullifidian
    March 10, 2010

    But if it comes to the point that any significant fraction of the educated middle class pull their children out of public schools, it will mean the end of public education… and not long after, I fear, the end of our democracy altogether. (Yes, I know it’s ironic for me to make such an apocalyptic prediction after having bloviated against hyperbole at the beginning of this comment; nevertheless, it’s what I believe.)

    Indeed, you’ve managed a statement that’s far more hyperbolic than the statement that the American school system is, on the whole, broken.

    However, you’ve also inadvertently given a good reason for homeschooling. If widespread homeschooling means the end of “our democracy”, then the sooner the better and good riddance to it.

    American democracy is as much a farce as American education, and if widespread homeschooling means a population that won’t buy into the verities of a fifth-grade social studies reader, then that’s all for the best.

    Democracy in America–hey, somebody should write a book with that title–is a massive game of let’s pretend. Like medieval feast days when the traditional feudal order was inverted, the function of a vote is to allow me and schlubs like me to play King for a Day while affirming, by the absurdity of this inversion, that our Lords and Masters have the absolute right to pay not the slightest scrap of attention to our concerns for the next two to six years. It’s an aristocratic system with a just a gloss of populism to fool the rubes, just as it was designed to be when it was created. This is why presidents weren’t elected by popular vote until 1824, and why senators weren’t elected by popular vote until 1913(!).

    When my two “acceptable” choices for president veer between the two poles of a warmongering agent of globalization and U.S. empire and a warmongering agent of globalzation and U.S. empire, it does seem that anything that brings this system crashing down should be applauded. And by inversion, if it’s homeschooling that threatens to topple this towering fraud, then it’s the public school system that acts a form of social control, propping up a system that works against the interests of the ordinary person via school-sanctioned propaganda.

  382. #383 Nullifidian
    March 10, 2010

    I don’t think it’s ever morally justified to choose to have a child unless you are completely confident that you can provide a stable, loving family environment, a proper education, and a high enough material standard of living.

    Heavens, how inconsiderate of them. If only there were some way of stopping the rest of them from reproducing. We should all join the rallying cry: Three generations of prole babies are enough!

    A world where only the eager, upwardly mobile meritoid class were allowed to produce the next generation of merit babies would be even better than Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.

  383. #384 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    Honestly, browsing this blog is like trying to have a conversation with extraterrestrials.

    How do you know extraterrestrials don’t have children ? Or that it isn’t the product of an act of love between two extraterrestrials ?

    And many people, as irrational as it may seem, either do not consider something that is six years in the future or they consider it and decide that having a child is worth it anyway because of their biological drive, desire to cement their relationship, or for dozens of other reasons.

    As rational as it may seem, I do consider whether I’m going to be able to provide a satisfactory environment for the child before I satisfy my “biological drive” or the need to cement my relationship.

    Strange, isn’t it ?

  384. #385 Walton, Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome
    March 10, 2010

    For fuck’s sake, Nullifidian. In no way did I argue that the state should prevent people from having children. That would be both absurdly authoritarian and ultimately ineffective. Nor do my comments have anything to do with class; wealthy and successful people can be bad parents too. Your strawman tactics are either sloppy or dishonest.

    I was making the point that having children is not a recreational activity, nor is it a moral right of everyone. If you are going to choose to have children, you have a moral responsibility to ensure that you are capable of giving them a stable, happy and fulfilling upbringing. The interests of the child, not the desires of the parents, should come first.

    I am very unlikely ever to have children myself, because I don’t think I have the emotional stability or expertise to raise and educate them well. I believe that everyone who ever considers having children has a responsibility to make such an assessment.

  385. #386 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    A world where only the eager, upwardly mobile meritoid class were allowed to produce the next generation of merit babies would be even better than Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average.

    Nice strawman btw.

  386. #387 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 10, 2010

    And many people, as irrational as it may seem, either do not consider something that is six years in the future or they consider it and decide that having a child is worth it anyway because of their biological drive, desire to cement their relationship, or for dozens of other reasons.

    Considering your long rant about how terrible the United States is, I find it quite interesting that you make this comment.

  387. #388 negentropyeater
    March 10, 2010

    Nullifidian seems to have some difficulties understanding the difference between:

    “why would someone want to have children?”
    and
    “why would someone be allowed to have children?”

  388. #389 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 10, 2010

    Cathy (@377):

    I actually did see your earlier comment to me; I didn’t mean to be ignoring you. I intended that my “general” comments from Monday evening include my response to you.

    Also, I know that my family was lucky enough to be able (economically speaking) to choose to homeschool. But in order to do that, we worked off just one salary. And that salary was that of a public school teacher. Many people here have said that public school teachers are underpaid, and my husband works for one of the worst-paid districts in California (because we live in that town and he hates commuting), so it would stand to reason that we are even more underpaid than everyone else.

    So are we vastly underpaid, or rich, as you sorta-kinda said in your post?

    Is there any reason you can’t be both? I absolutely believe that schoolteachers are underpaid (even here in CT, which ranks fairly high in teacher pay compared to other states), and living on one teacher’s salary is, I agree, a challenge.

    That said, your family was in a position to devote half of its potential earning power — the equivalent of an adult’s full-time salary (and that’s just your labor, not even counting your actual costs for curriculum materials, equipment, field trips, and cocurricular activities) — to something you could’ve gotten for free, and the very fact that you had that option makes you wealthy by comparison to the vast majority of the world’s people, not to mention no small fraction of your fellow Americans. If you were in a position to spend tens of thousands of dollars on some luxury — vacation travel, a hobby, a fancy car, etc. — nobody would doubt that was a sign of wealth; the fact that you choose to devote those resources to something selfless instead of selfish doesn’t make you any less wealthy.

    I don’t mean “wealthy” as any sort of insult or sneer, mind you: My only point here is that it’s unlikely any large percentage of the public school population will be able to take up homeschooling, because it’s a resource-intensive thing to do.

    Nullifidian (@382):

    Indeed, you’ve managed a statement that’s far more hyperbolic than the statement that the American school system is, on the whole, broken.

    However, you’ve also inadvertently given a good reason for homeschooling. If widespread homeschooling means the end of “our democracy”, then the sooner the better and good riddance to it.

    American democracy is as much a farce as American education, and if widespread homeschooling means a population that won’t buy into the verities of a fifth-grade social studies reader, then that’s all for the best.

    There’s no way to meaningfully engage this: If you’re wrong, this level of intractable cynicism is corrosive to rational discourse (not to mention to my good will); OTOH, if you’re right in this sweeping condemnation (which I categorically deny), it appears we’re so irredeemably fucked that there’s no point in talking about it.

    Accordingly, I plan to ignore the remainder of your comments.

  389. #390 LadyShea
    March 10, 2010

    My wife is testament to the fact that homeschooling is 80 or more percent utilized by those who with to indoctrinate their children in an particular religion.

    How is 1 “testament” to 80% of anything?

  390. #391 Nullifidian
    March 10, 2010

    In no way did I argue that the state should prevent people from having children.

    I know. That’s why I was lamenting the absence of such a solution. All your message seemed to contain was moralistic finger-wagging, and that’s not very satisfying if you can’t do anything about it, isn’t it?

    Nor do my comments have anything to do with class….

    I don’t think it’s ever morally justified to choose to have a child unless you are completely confident that you can provide a stable, loving family environment, a proper education, and a high enough material standard of living.

    So how high is “high enough”? Forgive me if I’m being totally obtuse, but it does sound like this implicates class issues for those at the bottom rung of the socioeconomic scale.

    A “proper education” also implicates class issues depending on what you mean by a “proper education”. Nowadays, the higher ed credentialling sector exists as a way to stamp their mark of approval on middle-class children who need to enter the white collar workforce in order to maintain the same standard of living. Blue collar jobs and union power have been almost thoroughly destroyed by NAFTA, globalization, and an artificially high (and low) forex rate between the dollar and the peso or yuan. Therefore, if I’m one of those working class schmoes whose manufacturing job has been outsourced, or whose bosses have used the threat of outsourcing to leverage unprecedented pay cuts from the union, and I don’t have enough money to send a child to college, is it morally unjustifiable to have children?

    Not to mention, there’s all sorts of other goodies about it. For example, how “completely confident” is “completely confident”? Over 50% of American marriages end in divorce, and many involve children. Is having children thus a reason to never get divorced as this would detract from a “stable, loving family environment”?

    These are all issues that need to be resolved before I can know if I’m “morally justified” to father a child.

  391. #392 Nullifidian
    March 10, 2010

    Bill Dauphin:

    There’s no way to meaningfully engage this: If you’re wrong, this level of intractable cynicism is corrosive to rational discourse

    Now this is why I come here. Throughout all my education, primary, secondary, and tertiary, this is the first I’ve heard of the Pollyanna Principle for Rational Discourse. In my naďveté, I had assumed that rational discourse could continue regardless of one’s level of ‘cynicism’. (In fact, if you knew me, you’d know how optimistic I really am. It’s merely that my ‘cynicism’ about representative democracy is a learned response to the way in which politicians and their bloggy enablers and apologists behave towards the common folk.)

    (not to mention to my good will)

    Here’s the meat of the problem: my position annoys you, so you’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist, despite the fact that 50% of the electorate never bothers to show up, and many of them when asked tend to articulate objections much like mine.

    OTOH, if you’re right in this sweeping condemnation (which I categorically deny), it appears we’re so irredeemably fucked that there’s no point in talking about it.

    How does that follow? I certainly don’t think we’re “irredeemably fucked”, so what am I missing? It seems to me that the proposition that our current system of a single Republicratic Party overseen by an untouchable elite is some sort of inescapable destiny of politics is a proposition that needs some “rational discourse” to support it.

    I’m more than willing to present evidence for my propositions. For example, in 1992 and 1996, the Republican Party arguably lost to a third wheel in the running, Ross Perot. Republicans polled these disaffected voters and found out what they wanted from a political candidate, then proceeded to make these talking points the centerpiece of their 2000 campaign. After which, the Bush Administration pretty much did the opposite of everything that they promised and for which they were elected.

    In 2000, there was another third wheel who allegedly cost the Democratic Party’s empty suit the election (although this can also be better placed at the empty suit’s feet for refusing to take his own side in a fight). Democrats are slightly more efficient than the Republicans. Rather than going the focus group and phone polling route, they simply demonized the disaffected and made no adjustments to their policies. They did, however, take steps to attempt to shut out future third party runs both at the statewide level and federally. Rep. David Obey’s 2006 bill (what an apt moniker) was a perfect example of that. In setting up public funding for Congressional elections, it would deny federal funding to any third party or independent candidate that failed to surpass hurdles the two major parties could pass easily. Having failed to obtain public money, the third party campaign would be prevented from spending any privately raised money. In other words, if you failed to qualify by the stringent standards of the Democrat Obey’s bill (god I love that name), then you were banned from spending any money at all.

    Then in 2006, the midterm elections handed control of the House and Senate to the Democrats, in a move that was widely interpreted as expressing voters’ dissatisfaction with the Iraq War. Four years later, and the Iraq War is still continuing, while ‘anti-war’ Democrats like Rep. Nancy Boyda tripped over themselves trying to put some distance between them and the electorate that put them in office. Four years later, the Iraq War is still ongoing.

    Accordingly, I plan to ignore the remainder of your comments.

    ROTFL! Good one, Bill.

  392. #393 Nullifidian
    March 10, 2010

    As rational as it may seem, I do consider whether I’m going to be able to provide a satisfactory environment for the child before I satisfy my “biological drive” or the need to cement my relationship.

    Strange, isn’t it ?

    No, what is strange is that you assume your notions are so normative that you cannot understand why anyone else who failed to plan to the same exacting degree you do would want to have a child.

    That’s why I said it’s like talking to an extraterrestrial, about which you were so delightfully Aspie-ish and literalistic.

  393. #394 Red Foot Okie
    March 10, 2010

    #366, you still got a year to go, sport. And you don’t want to get me started on all the computer science majors I know who are (wait for it) poorly socialized, smartest in the room, fit-throwing, control-freaks.

  394. #395 Nullifidian
    March 10, 2010

    Considering your long rant about how terrible the United States is, I find it quite interesting that you make this comment.

    I find it quite interesting that you would interpret a criticism of the undemocratic manner in which representative ‘democracy’ functions as a “long rant about how terrible the United States is”. I guess the “Why do you hate America?” evasion is not the sole prerogative of freepers.

  395. #396 Ichthyic
    March 10, 2010

    I am very unlikely ever to have children myself, because I don’t think I have the emotional stability or expertise to raise and educate them well. I believe that everyone who ever considers having children has a responsibility to make such an assessment.

    Walton…

    YOU’RE 19.

    GET IT?

    NINE-
    TEEEEEEEEN.

    sweet jesus but I’m tired of seeing you think you’ve learned all there is about life already, even enough to judge that for yourself!

    give yourself some fucking room to grow up already!

  396. #397 ColumbiaView
    March 11, 2010

    I’m an atheist home-educating parent raising a free-thinker. More and more people are home-educating for ACADEMIC reasons. Please stop putting homeschoolers in a box with religious right wing wacko’s. Many of us choose to home-educated because we can do a better job teaching our child with a 2 parents to 1+ child ratio than 1 teacher to 30+ child ratio. We homeschooling parents invest a lot of extra time and money for our child to have the ultimate education at home. I have and deserve to continue to have the right to choose the educational path that I as a parent thinks is best for my unique child.

  397. #398 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 11, 2010

    ColumbiaView (@397):

    Please stop putting homeschoolers in a box with religious right wing wacko’s.

    Have you actually read the thread? It’s been a considerably more thoughtful and nuanced discussion — on both sides of the issue — than the sort of kneejerks stereotyping you suggest. For instance…

    We homeschooling parents invest a lot of extra time and money for our child to have the ultimate education at home.

    …some of us have expressed concern about an educational mode that’s only really available to the relative minority of families that have “lots of extra time and money” to invest. It’s one thing if a relative handful of families homeschool; if it becomes any large fraction of our overall educational system, there will be significant issues of educational (and hence social) inequality.

    I have and deserve to continue to have the right to choose the educational path that I as a parent thinks is best for my unique child.

    But you’re going to get someone to help out when it comes to teaching grammar and rhetoric, right?

    OK, sorry about the snark; it’s not the main reason I quoted that line. I’m actually concerned about the effect on our society of increasing the number of people whose education has been focused largely on their own personal uniqueness. Not that I’m eager for some sort of hive-mind uniformity, mind you, but I do think the world benefits when people have at least some sense of the interconnectedness and interdependence of human lives… some acquaintance with the notion that “no man is an island.”

    If you see maximizing knowledge and intellectual prowess as the sole mission of education, then homeschooling is probably a pretty optimal solution (for those families that have the material and intellectual resources to pull it off, that is)… but I see education has having the larger mission of being the vehicle by which we preserve, transmit, share, and collaboratively reshape our culture, and I see that mission as especially crucial in a democracy, because some baseline sense of what our shared culture is is essential to prudent self-government.

    In that larger societal context, homeschooling starts to look a lot like intellectual feudalism, and that’s not, IMHO, a recipe for a desirable future.

  398. #399 Walton, Janine's Hero
    March 11, 2010

    Walton…

    YOU’RE 19.

    GET IT?

    NINE-
    TEEEEEEEEN.

    Actually, I’m 20, and have been so for several months. Just FYI.

  399. #400 strange gods before me ?
    March 11, 2010

    I don’t think it’s ever morally justified to choose to have a child unless you are completely confident that you can provide a stable, loving family environment, a proper education, and a high enough material standard of living. Choosing to reproduce, without thinking about the consequences, because of “biological drive” or “desire to cement [one's] relationship” is just selfish. Children are not “acts of love” between their parents; they are independent human beigs with rights and interests of their own.

    So let’s take this seriously. Agreed already that forced abortion is too authoritarian, as is policing sex so that straight people simply cannot fuck.

    I don’t mind taking children away from outright abusive parents, but when children are living in material poverty with caring, kind and otherwise competent parents who simply cannot afford to provide for all their needs, breaking that familial bond can do more damage to the child than poverty does. I’m happy for all the people who’ve had good experiences with foster care, but on a macro level it’s a serious risk factor for child abuse.

    So what’s left? We as a society have to simply eliminate the condition where children are born without a high enough material standard of living.

  400. #401 Bill Dauphin, OM
    March 11, 2010

    The Artist Formerly Known As Extra Special Dumpling of Awesome (@399):

    Actually, I’m 20…

    Oh… 20? Well, that’s very different. Nevermind. </EmilyLitella>

    ;^)

  401. #402 monado
    March 11, 2010

    I could do without the anti-choice propaganda and in-class letter-writing campaigns from our Roman Catholic Separate School Boards, too.

  402. #403 Walton, Janine's Hero
    March 12, 2010

    I don’t mind taking children away from outright abusive parents, but when children are living in material poverty with caring, kind and otherwise competent parents who simply cannot afford to provide for all their needs, breaking that familial bond can do more damage to the child than poverty does.

    Yes, that’s very true. I think this creates a problematic dilemma.

    On the one hand, ideally, no child should be born in poverty, and families with children should be able to provide for their child’s needs. It is obviously unfair for a child to suffer due to being born in poverty.

    On the other hand, I worry that the range of benefits our society provides to families with children at the expense of everyone else – child benefit, paid maternity leave, free schooling, and so on – has the effect of encouraging the pernicious view that having children, in and of itself, is somehow a noble activity, a standard part of life, or even a moral obligation. In a vastly overpopulated world, far fewer people should be having children, and it’s a serious problem that people don’t recognise this. We need, in some way, to bring home to people the fact that, by and large, they are harming the world by choosing to procreate, and that they are placing an unfair burden on the rest of society. Yet I can’t think of a way of communicating this message without intruding excessively on liberty, and/or unfairly penalising children for the decisions of their parents.

  403. #404 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm_AlgR6cWktDNLU5pP1RmVXNJHu5FVOIE
    March 18, 2010

    In response to someone who wrote: How would a secular homeschooler find a good sciene textbook?

    I would say that attending one of PZ’s talks is worth a 100 science textbooks. I attended his talk at Galway university. Unfortunately my homeschooled son had compulsory orchestra practice at the same time or I would have brought him with me. At least Youtube made up for that.

    Apropos that talk, P.Z. mentioned that he did take his children out of school and enrolled them in college early. In Germany he would not have been allowed to do that.

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