Demand higher standards for homeschooling!

Spank me and make me cry. Or just read this freakin' terrifying article about homeschooling kids. First, start with the arrogance of Patrick Henry College:

"Christians increasingly have an advantage in the educational enterprise," he says. "This is evident in the success of Christian home-schooled children, as compared to their government-schooled friends who have spent their time constructing their own truths." The students, all evangelical Christians, applaud loudly. Most of them were schooled at home before arriving at Patrick Henry—a college created especially for them.

Then take a look at what their truths are like.

These students are part of a large, well-organised movement that is empowering parents to teach their children creationist biology and other unorthodox versions of science at home, all centred on the idea that God created Earth in six days about 6000 years ago.

Their "advantage" and "success" is completely artificial, the product of years of gutting standards so they can cultivate these little, self-satisfied, ignorant homeschooled kids in a hothouse of ignorance…and then they need to set up special colleges to maintain the illusion that they know anything.

Home-school parents are able to teach their children this way thanks mainly to a group called the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a non-profit organisation based in Purcellville—like Patrick Henry College (PHC), which the HSLDA founded. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the practice was largely illegal across the US. "The mechanism that was causing home-schooling to be illegal was teacher certification," says Ian Slatter, director of media relations for the HSLDA. In 1983 two evangelical attorneys, Michael Farris and Mike Smith, founded the organisation to defend the rights of home-school parents. They fought to remove requirements that parents be certified to teach their own children. Through an impressive run of legal battles and political lobbying, they managed to make home-schooling legal in all 50 states within 10 years. "We rolled back the state laws," says Slatter.

At my department, we just got the requirements for state licensure of education students, and we've been given the task of making sure our course content delivers what future teachers will need. It's not trivial getting licensed to teach; but any idiot can declare themselves to be a teacher for purposes of homeschooling, and apparently many idiots do.

Please. Can we bring those laws back?

…there is virtually no government regulation of home-schooling. "Some states say you need a high school diploma," Slatter says. "But we really don't have many problems getting people, shall we say, qualified." In Virginia, for instance, parents need a degree to teach at home, but there is a religious exemption, so those running a home-school for religious reasons don't need a degree. In contrast, a public high school teacher must have a bachelor's degree, and in some states a master's degree, plus a state-issued teaching certificate. Thirty-one states require teachers to take additional exams to show proficiency in their subject matter.

A religious exemption? A religious exemption? I call that the freedom to abuse children. This is shameful. The article talks about how, if they only get enough people to adopt homeschooling and pull their kids out of the public school system, public education in the US will collapse—and they speak of this as a good thing.

I'm serious. We need to stop this. I think any politician who professed to be concerned about educating the children of this country, by supporting the NCLB, for instance, ought to be required to support increasing the qualifications and standards for homeschooling…and if a district doesn't have the resources to monitor the competence of homeschool teachers, they ought to simply refuse to allow the kids to be pulled out of school.

Otherwise, we're going to increase the percentage of idiots like creationist Jay Wile in our next generation.

"Home-schoolers are going to be leaders in their field," says Wile. "They are going to change science and how science is done."

That's a horribly true statement.

(via Jim Anderson)

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I'm not worried about a subculture of scientists schooled in creationism, any more than I'd be worried about a subculture schooled in alchemy.

Creationism doesn't work. It can't possibly produce useful results, so the graduates of these schools won't be successful as scientists.

"parents need a degree to teach at home, but there is a religious exemption"
Yet Xtians still believe they are persecuted and it's everyone else who gets special privilege. Doesn;t this fall under the seperation clause?

By James Orpin (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Doesn;t this fall under the seperation clause?

No, because the exemption applies to any religion. A SubGenius or a worshipper of Tezcatlipoca could claim the same exemption.

I have a hard time believing that anyone homeschooled is going much of anywhere without significant intervention of some sort, later in life.

While recognizing that the plural of anecdote is not data, every homeschooled individual I've known has had some sort of significant cognitive or social defect.

I've had this conversation, and received this reponse, with people from all walks of life, from MN to CA to TX:
Them: Seriously, what the hell is wrong with that guy/gal?
Me: Dunno, but.... s/he was homeschooled.
Them: *blink* Ooooh. Gotcha.

"Their "advantage" and "success" is completely artificial, the product of years of gutting standards so they can cultivate these little, self-satisfied, ignorant homeschooled kids in a hothouse of ignorance...and then they need to set up special colleges to maintain the illusion that they know anything."

Sounds more like brainwashed and abused kids to me...

I do want to raise a question. I myself was raised in a religious family but by the time I was about 13 or so I was well on the way to being an atheist and having serious doubts about the veracity of the bible. Why did that happen? did I have some kind on natural immunity to being brainwashed? Was I born with superior critical thinking skills? Are there any scientific studies on why some people do not become intellectual vegetables despite being brought up in this kind of environment? Just curious, as I guess I always have been...

By Fernando Magyar (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Why did that happen?

It is entirely possible that it is simply luck. There may have been things that predisposed you to questioning the faith you grew up in, or there may not. You may merely be an example of statistics.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

This is why I think your pessimism regarding successes against creationism is valid. The fundies, when not attacking science, have been busy raising a very large generation of super-fundies. These kids are way more steeped in this crap than their parents ever were. They're going to be a huge problem in the future. Even if you reverse all the laws that made this possible, you're still stuck with thousands of angry, brainwashed "God warriors."

Coming from the liberal NorthEastern side of the country I don't have a whole lot of experience with homeschooled fundies. Most of the parents I know that homeschool do so because the local school district sucks horrible and they either cannot afford to pay for a private school on top of taxes OR the only decent private schools in the area are Catholic or Lutheran run schools.

But then we have certain standard (which unfortunately vary greatly by school district) and many internet courses available to supplement the homeschooling. Our local colleges (esp the community colleges) take students as young as 15 for many classes so HOPEFULLY we aren't losing too many through the cracks.

I know people who homeschooled their autistic kids because the local school would not give them an apropriate education as required by law. My current school is great-we choose to move to a place with high taxes to get great special ed. If we had stayed in our old district, I would probably ended up home schooling (I have a MS in med chem).

To forbid homeschooling would be a basic infringement on ones personal freedoms. To ensure kids are properly schooled is an essential government function. To expect homeschooling parents to be professional teachers is over the top, but they have to be up to the job. The answer would seem to be that the state sets the courses, provides the materials and runs the tests. (No religiculous exemptions). If the kids are learning and passing the tests, let the homeschooling continue. If they fail, sorry but you cannot abuse your kids - they have to go to school.
The courses would have to be state standard, not nutty religious twilight-zone specials.

By oldhippie (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The scariest thing about this school is that these kids actually are going to be shaping policy in this country in some capacity in the not-too-distant future. According to a recent article in the Independent (you can find it reposted at: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0421-09.htm) 7 of 100 interns working at the White House in 2004 were from PHC which at the time had only 240 students, and was not and is still not accredited (though it is a candidate). And it's not just PHC, did anyone hear of the recent sucesses of the Liberty debate team? It seems like these kooks have moved past simple indoctrination and are now trying to give them the rhetorical skills to launch propoganda campaigns that would put Karl Rove to shame. Im already shuddering in terror.

By Eukaryote (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I've known a few people who were homeschooled, and seem to be well-rounded human beings, and I don't see the problem with homeschooling qua homeschooling, I do agree that anyone educating children must, absolutely, know what they're talking about and should be held to the same standards as state educators.

Certainly, the curriculum should be at least as rigorous as those mandated for public schools. Crap like this shouldn't be allowed.

So, overall, I'm in favour of homeschooling, so long as it's done properly, and not just because parents don't want their kids to actually learn this 2+2=4 nonsense.

Hrm, maybe I should have ended that last sentence after "learn"...

Actually I was wrong in my last post, that article is 2 years old, and the link doesnt work as is, you have to remove the parenthesis, sorry folks.

By Eukaryote (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

There are exceptions. After moving to the country from an urban area, I asked my parents to remove me from school because I was being bullied mercilessly and the subjects I was studying were far too simple.

My parents handled my education for the rest of my primary education and when it came time for me get into high school, they enrolled me in a correspondence course from the US with the goal of getting me into a university down south.

Most of the homeschooled kids I met were either extremely religious or like me, somewhat geeky and not well-adapted to the school system.

My point is this:

There need to be standards in home-schooling and parents are often negligent when it comes to enforcing them. Does this mean we should ban home-schooling? Why should I be forced to go to a substandard public school and study biased and incorrect texts while peer pressure and academic indoctrination take their toll?

An education is what you make it and having spent most of childhood buried in all kinds of books, I can say I had a better education than a lot of my peers, a gap which has only recently narrowed somewhat in my sixth year of undergraduate studies. I'm grateful for my education.

That being said, I would agree that quite a few parents are ill-equipped to teach their kids at home and religious conservatism combined with a general separation from one's surrounding community can contribute to some really fucked-up minds down the road.

Perhaps regulation is the key but what should the requirements be, how should they be followed up on and what should the process of applying for this exemption entail?

Jay Wile, nuclear physicist, is a prime example of the failure of homeschooling oneself in a discipline that one has no knowledge of. His writings on biology are ridiculously uninformed and stupid.

Well, PZ, how about moving to Europe? It would be nice to have people like you on our side when the inevitable war with the Christian Nationalist USA starts.

By valhar2000 (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Thomas Edison was homeschooled, because the teacher said he was "addled". I know a couple bloggers who homeschool their 'handicapped' kids because the local school systems just aren't up to the task.

But you read religious publications and they crow about how kids who were homeschooled can spell and do basic arithmetic. Fine, but they never learned to "construct their own truths" which could be otherwise phrased as critical thinking. Inability to think critically guarantees a citizen who can be led around by the nose.

The basic test of whether a power can appropriately be granted to government is to imagine that power falling into the hands of your worst enemies. If the goverment is controlled by people whose ideology you absolutely oppose, would you still grant them that power?

Some of you seem to be in favor of society dictating what all children will be taught, but I think it's only because you think children will be taught what you want them to be taught. And who isn't in favor of people doing what they want? But you don't seem to be in favor of Dominionists and the like teaching kids nonsense. Presumably, if they took control of the public school system, you'd be demanding the right to have your own children homeschooled if necessary.

Ergo, I conclude that your desire to end the freedom of parents to teach their kids whatever they want is not ethically valid.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Upon a brief and light discussion about homeschooling, my mother, a teacher, told me that homeschooled children are required to to take a government-issued test to ensure that they are meeting government educational standards, lest the parents face grave legal consequences.

The fundies are not representative of homeschoolers. There are about 2 million kids in the US educated outside of the school system. About 300 attend college at Patrick Henry. The fear of them taking over government was overblown to begin with, and is especially overblown in light of Tuesdays election results.

No self respecting science organization is going to hire a biologist that believes Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs. And there are only so many jobs available at that creation museum in Kansas. This would seem to be a self correcting issue.

The press likes to focus on the 20% on either fringe of any group. The 60% of homeschoolers in the center are doing just fine. But nobody every wants to interview us.

I hope your don't consider all homeschooled kids are taught just that. Well hell I've only been to church about 12 times in my entire life. I never had bible study as one of my subjects in school.

I'm 14yrs old, I've graduated high school and I'm starting college in the Fall. My mother homeschooled me. I can pass my ACT's and SAT's. On my free time I'm studying Genetic Engineering, Evolution, and Charles Darwins On The Origin of Species.

I read everything, I love to learn. When I start college this Fall, I'm going to study to be an R.N and specialize in Anesthesiology. I'm going to the community college of Southern Nevada.

I already know all the bones and processes of the skull and spine. I actually know all the bones of the skeleton and where their located. I chose to be what I want to be. Nobody ever told me I had to read, or that I had to go into the medical, I chose to do it.

I'm currently reading every book I can find on Evolution, Genetics and Astral Projection. Next week when I go to the library I'm checking out some books on Quantum Physics, and Space Anamolies.

So no I've not been raised on Christian standards. So if you choose to categorize every homeschooled child like that then you need to take a step back and think about it.

Just remember I'm 14yrs old and I'm smarter than a hell of a lot of adults that I've met.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I hope your don't consider all homeschooled kids are taught just that. Well I've only been to church about 12 times in my entire life. I never had bible study as one of my subjects in school.

I'm 14yrs old, I've graduated high school and I'm starting college in the Fall. My mother homeschooled me. I can pass my ACT's and SAT's. On my free time I'm studying Genetic Engineering, Evolution, and Charles Darwins On The Origin of Species.

I read everything, I love to learn. When I start college this Fall, I'm going to study to be an R.N and specialize in Anesthesiology. I'm going to the community college of Southern Nevada.

I already know all the bones and processes of the skull and spine. I actually know all the bones of the skeleton and where their located. I chose to be what I want to be. Nobody ever told me I had to read, or that I had to go into the medical, I chose to do it.

I'm currently reading every book I can find on Evolution, Genetics and Astral Projection. Next week when I go to the library I'm checking out some books on Quantum Physics, and Space Anamolies.

So no I've not been raised on Christian standards. So if you choose to categorize every homeschooled child like that then you need to take a step back and think about it.

Just remember I'm 14yrs old and I'm smarter than a lot of adults that I've met.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Can we consider home schooling to be Darwinian? Those for whom it is a useful adaptation will thrive. Those for whom it is a hindrance will not thrive. Future generations will then have the benefit of this winnowing.

Just remember I'm 14yrs old and I'm smarter than a lot of adults that I've met.

Except for the double posting, of course.
(Kidding! Everyone double posts now and then! By Murphy's law, this will now double post as well.)

I don't think PZ was advocating for the abolishment of homeschooling altogether, just that it needs to meet the same standards that all other educational facilities must meeet. It's very similar to another problem that's finally being noticed regarding daycares. Religious daycares do not need to meet state standards in most states, and there has been some investigation into that lately because it turns out that those have higher incidents of accidents and claims of abuse (surprise). Being religious should not exempt anyone from minimal requirements of safety or education.

I know a few homeschool families (all fundie), and they do have to pass state tests every year to advance to the next grade, and their curriculum has to be submitted and approved by the state ed department. They do of course have the room to focus heavily on whatever they want, and if they so choose can teach for the test while telling their kids not to believe certain parts, but it is some amount of oversight.

Not being from the United States, I find it quite difficult to accept the entire home-schooling idea, because in my country, the public-private school divide does not have the same context, and all schools, no matter what, have to teach a common State-validated curriculum. And students do not have to be bound to a particular school because of their parents' residence. There are also many residential schools as well, of very high quality. All schools are judged by their students' performances in State-level or National-level school leaving examinations.

I would think that the same idea could successfully apply to the homeschooling procedure also. It is, after all, supposed to be equivalent of a 'school'. This idea was raised earlier in this thread by Oldhippie and Stanton: the State should set up a curriculum and take periodic tests for all students, including the home-schooled ones. If the home-schooled children do not fare well, or even as well as their properly-schooled peers, there should be a review of those home-schooling systems and the child in question must be sent to a proper school.

Someone did mention the fact that the children are the foundations on which this country's future depends. What kind of foundation would that be if they are not properly educated and equipped to handle modern life and challenges?

Can we demand higher standards for all schooling while we're at it?

One's feelings towards homeschooling are bound to be subject to a strong amount of confirmation bias. Specifically, I've noticed that people from the most anti-science, fundie part of homeschooling tend to wear their homeschooling on their sleeve, and point it out so that you can't miss it. On the other hand, how many unschoolers do you know?

Those who've claimed to have met several homeschoolers of the fundie type should have met some non-fundie homeschoolers, but even if they have, the remembered incidents likely don't hold with survey results. This survey found that only 72% of homeschooling parents do so "To provide religious or moral instruction". Would those of you who've met enough homeschoolers to form a general opinion about the practice say that the fundies outnumber non-fundies by more than 2.5 to 1? If so, I'd like to suggest that your mental image of homeschooling is distorted toward the fundie end.

I'll admit it, many large national organizations do their best to put the fundie face of homeschooling front and center. The HSLDA is especially notorious in this respect; they try very hard to be the face of homeschooling to the media and are themselves a hard-right fundie group. You don't have to hunt to find homeschooling groups strongly opposed to the HSLDA. However, a representative from HSLDA is always available to be quoted in any newspaper article on homeschooling.

I'm very glad that I live in a state (NJ) where homeschooling is legal and restriction free, even if we may decide for other reasons not to homeschool when our child gets old enough for public school. The only requirement is that home instruction must be "equivalent" to what's taught in the local public schools. Given that our local school manages to get only 53% of the students proficient at grade level in math (58% in science) on the state-wide 8th grade tests, that's a shockingly low standard.

Those scores may also give some indication as to why we're considering homeschooling - the choice we're facing isn't between homeschooling and some imaginary public school with well-funded classrooms, well-paid teachers, and violence-free schools. It's between homeschooling, the public schools we actually have, and figuring out how to budget for a private K-12 school.

Victoria,

If you're willing to listen to a physicist's recommendations on quantum physics books for the early college student, check out Heinz R. Pagels' The Cosmic Code, Feynman's QED, and Feynman's Lectures on Physics (it's a hard read in full, but his discussion of the two-slit experiment is the clearest I've found and you're going to have to take physics sometime.)

PZ, this my first big disagreement with you since I started reading Pharyngula. Looking at the education schools in my state (my wife has an MEd from one, and there's another on campus where I teach), they clearly don't know what they're doing. Sitting on an IRB that regularly reviews educational proposals, it seems that many of the ed school faculty really fufill the stereotypes of people who don't know how to teach, don't understand students or learning, but are passionately attached to their theories. My wife says that only one of the "Education" courses she took to get her MEd actually contained useful, applicable content. Until the education schools are fixed, somehow - and I don't have a prescription for how - requiring them to credential homeschool teachers is the blind leading the half-sighted.

(Disclaimer: we homeschool, although our kids aren't yet mandatory-schooling-age)

Wow! The ignorance and stereotyping here is just astounding. A couple of factoids that might or might not interest you--

1) Not all homeschoolers are fundamentalists/creationists.
2) On the whole, homeschooled kids tend to do extremely well on standardized tests, averaging about 4 years ahead of their age-group (see Rudner)
3) Private schools are also not subject to the state's mandates for curriculum. IOW, they're free to teach creationism.
4) In this country, parents are presumed to have the best interest of their kids at heart and have extremely wide latitude in how they choose to educate their children (See Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925)

Yes, my wife (M.S., Experimental Neuropsychology) and I (Ph.D., Physical/Analytical Chemistry) homeschool our four kids. We teach them real science, including evolution, the (estimated) age of the Earth and universe, radioactive dating, etc.

We're not all fundie yahoos. And, even if we were and were teaching our kids that Adam rode a dinosaur to work each day, that would be our right as parents. Just because you don't happen to agree with them does not give you (or the State) the right to dictate that their kids be taught something which goes against their religious beliefs. There's a good reason that Freedom of Religion is listed first in the Bill of Rights-- the founders thought that it was the most important.

The basic test of whether a power can appropriately be granted to government is to imagine that power falling into the hands of your worst enemies. If the goverment is controlled by people whose ideology you absolutely oppose, would you still grant them that power?

So just because if NAMBLA got in control of child sex laws they'd be reprehensible that means that there shouldn't be child sex laws? I don't buy it. If harm is being done, the government has a role to stop that harm.

Why is it that so many people here think state standards are the answer? Current state standards have led to the dismal test scores in math and science and the perception that the US is falling behind. How is more of that going to help anything?

Reporting requirements for homeschoolers vary by state. Some states require nothing, some are heavy on oversight. Here in VA, my homeschooled kids have to take a nationally normed aptitude test each year. We use the famous CAT9 tests that many of us took each year in school. They ace the test every year, usually missing only a few questions each. Neither of my kids are geniuses, and I would not even classify our curriculum as particularly rigorous. It's a testament to the effectiveness of one on one tutoring as the primary educational methodology.

This may be hearsay around here, but I believe the only "stuff" that everybody needs to learn is reading, writing, and math up through about Algebra I / Geometry. Everything else is optional. Given a solid foundation in the 3 Rs, a person can learn just about anything else they want. If science isn't on the list, so be it. A person can function just fine in life believing dinosaurs roamed the planet 6000 years ago. It may not be a life anybody here would want, and it's certainly not a life I want for my kids, but it is a life.

I think a commenter above put it best. Any restriction on home education is one you might have to live under one day. So imagine you have to homeschool your kids because Dr. Dino somehow avoided jail and now controls the schools, with all science classes being biblically vetted.

Do you really want that government telling you what to teach your kids?

I suppose I should clarified that, yes, I've primarily dealt with fundie homeschooled individuals, obviously, it can (or could) be done well, and there are certainly extenuating circumstances where it might be better than available institutional education.

That said, the 1 or 2 individuals I've know who were given a non-fundie homeschool education still had issues with social development (more than the average screwed up teen, I mean) immediately post-graduation. Again, anecdotal, and I make no argument for causation.

Why is it that so many people here think state standards are the answer?

Perhaps because the question is not 'how do we make the education system perfect?' but rather 'how do we ensure a minimum standard for homeschoolers?'

PZ: "I should think most smart homeschooled kids would be all in favor of higher standards."

Requiring parents to have teaching certificates or equivalent expertise in all required subjects would effectively end home schooling, so let's not throw out the baby (kids who are effectively home-schooled) with the bathwater (kids who are ineffectively home-schooled). I'd support kids having to pass tests before getting high school equivalent diplomas.

James Orpin: "Doesn't this fall under the separation clause?"

Mike Crichton: "No, because the exemption applies to any religion."

Both of these statements are incorrect. The First Amendment has no "separation clause." It has two clauses affecting religion:

The "establishment" clause - This says that the government can't "establish" any religious belief (i.e., make it the official religion, or do things that would lead there, such as mandating or paying for church attendance or religious education). If government acted to "establish" all religions equally, it would still violate the establishment clause. Thus, a menorah in the town square doesn't legalize a statue of Jesus there.

The "free exercise" clause says government can't constrain the free exercise of religious belief, e.g., worship services, religious education, etc. Content-based regulation - "This religion is nutty, we won't allow you to practice it" - violates the free exercise clause. On the other hand, the government does have the power to regulate various *actions*, as opposed to *beliefs*, for the public good. For example, if your worship of the Snake God compels you to release cobras in public schools, the government can stop you from doing so, though they can't constrain your right to believe in the Snake God.

The ability to be home schooled may, but does not have to, be grounded in the right to free exercise of religion - that is, people can and do home teach or receive home schooling without religious education being involved.

PZ: "I should think most smart homeschooled kids would be all in favor of higher standards."

Requiring parents to have teaching certificates or equivalent expertise in all required subjects would effectively end home schooling, so let's not throw out the baby (kids who are effectively home-schooled) with the bathwater (kids who are ineffectively home-schooled). I'd support kids having to pass tests before getting high school equivalent diplomas.

James Orpin: "Doesn't this fall under the separation clause?"

Mike Crichton: "No, because the exemption applies to any religion."

Both of these statements are incorrect. The First Amendment has no "separation clause." It has two clauses affecting religion:

The "establishment" clause - This says that the government can't "establish" any religious belief (i.e., make it the official religion, or do things that would lead there, such as mandating or paying for church attendance or religious education). If government acted to "establish" all religions equally, it would still violate the establishment clause. Thus, a menorah in the town square doesn't legalize a statue of Jesus there.

The "free exercise" clause says government can't constrain the free exercise of religious belief, e.g., worship services, religious education, etc. Content-based regulation - "This religion is nutty, we won't allow you to practice it" - violates the free exercise clause. On the other hand, the government does have the power to regulate various *actions*, as opposed to *beliefs*, for the public good. For example, if your worship of the Snake God compels you to release cobras in public schools, the government can stop you from doing so, though they can't constrain your right to believe in the Snake God.

The ability to be home schooled may, but does not have to, be grounded in the right to free exercise of religion - that is, people can and do home teach or receive home schooling without religious education being involved.

That comment from "Victoria Fox" was a joke, right? She says she's studying Genetics, Evolution, and...Astral Projection? She claims to be so smart she can be accepted by a college at fouteen, but she doesn't know the difference between 'there,' 'their,' and 'they're?' Then she double posts? I call shenanigans.

By way of apology/explanation for my double post, I had trouble bringing up the display of my submitted post after previewing - in fact it was only the anti-abuse feature that prevented a truly embarrassing triple post.

I wonder if theyll start suing when their kids are not accepted to colleges based on their lack of knowledge of real science.

Religious discrimination! My belief in the age of the earth is religious! You can't force your scientism on me!

So just because if NAMBLA got in control of child sex laws they'd be reprehensible that means that there shouldn't be child sex laws? I don't buy it. If harm is being done, the government has a role to stop that harm.

No. This may difficult for you to accept, but sometimes external forces can only make a problem worse. No group, organization, or society can rationally be considered responsible to stop all forms of harm, and the power necessary to even attempt it would inevitably cause even greater harms if we tried to wield it.

There is also the matter of who decides what is a harm. I consider male circumcision to be a harm that is comparable, if not equivalent, to female circumcision. Yet many, many people would object rather violently (and in my view irrationally) to any attempt to protect children from this harm. So: if parents are to be given control over aspects of childraising that can affect the children for good or ill, which aspects? What powers are you willing to grant society over your children?

There was once a general recognition of the fact that appealing to mass opinion wasn't enough, that powers must be granted or withheld from society on a rational basis. Sadly, that understanding has been almost lost - and mass opinion in this country is increasingly falling into irrationality.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I agree tat when these kids hit college they will be at such a disadvantage it will be hard for them to complete a four year program. Unless of course they enter a theology program.

Daryl Cobranchi said:

We're not all fundie yahoos. And, even if we were and were teaching our kids that Adam rode a dinosaur to work each day, that would be our right as parents.

Ummm, no. While I agree with the other sentiments of your post this statement is untrue. Children are not chattel that you may do whatever you want to. They are people, young citizens of this country, with rights, and who have a right to a proper education. The kids cannot properly consent to having this type of education shoved down their throat, and it would be exceedingly unfair to a child for a parent to teach them, for instance, that trees should be called zisomats, or that Israel doesn't exist, or that blacks are an inferior race (like those Prussian Blue girls).

There is a compelling state interest in children learning a basic set of facts about how the world works, how science works, how the US government works, etc. It is also in the child's interest that laws should exist that prevent parents from raising little bigoted replicas of themselves. Kids don't have a choice about their education, but they still have a right to a good one. That's the problem here, and why standards will be inevitable if they don't cut this shit out.

Do you really want that government telling you what to teach your kids?

I'm going to call bullshit on this very popular meme. Nobody is talking about anything but requiring minimum standards and requring some demonstration of basic competence- literacy, numeracy, grasp of basic historical facts and scientific concepts- by students. Over and above that you'd always be free to teach your kids any old crap you wish. (That would include teaching them that everything they had to learn in order to pass the state test is bullshit, if that's your desire. But they'd have to master it at some basic level before rejecting it.) Sorry, anybody who thinks that's too much to ask has his head in an anatomically unlikely location, and can kiss that same location on my anatomy.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

home schooled children become leeches and parasites on the rest of the culture much like the Amish. You notice that after the school shooting in Amish country they did not send the victims to a horse and buggy hospital. They went to a modern hospital with intensive care and the whole "fancy" panoply of modern medicine. They were happy to leech off a culture which they despise and to which they do not contribute. Creationists do the same thing. They are happy to take the flu shots and antibiotics designed by the evolutionists they hate.

The notion of standards and testing for homeschoolers is a bit silly. Not that we shouldn't track their progress, but kids in the public school regularly score below average (about 50% of the time). What does it mean if a given homeschooler scores below average?

In my state, homeschoolers have to get tested, but since the state can't guarantee a high score for kids in public schools, they can't demand that a low score from a home schooler require they be placed back in school.

The key question is how homeschoolers do in aggregate relative to public schoolers. Of course, it's easier and more fun to highlight the tail of the distribution and advocate policies based on that.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

P.S. And I say that as one who at one point seriously considered exercising my right to homeschool my daughter because of the deficiencies of the public school where we were then living. So in no way, shape or form am I anti-homeschooling per se.

To Daryl C.: Fundie homeschoolers have every right to teach their beliefs to their kids. They do NOT have a right to keep them in purdah in order to try to shelter them from any contact with ideas that might conflict with those beliefs- that, quite simply, is at least incipient child abuse. Children are not their parents' chattel any more than they are the state's.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Nobody is talking about anything but requiring minimum standards

That's precisely the point. The people who set the minimum standards determine what children will be taught. When kids don't meet those standards, the government will then have power to intervene. Would you be willing to live in a society where the government demanded that your children learn religious doctrines that you didn't approve of as part of the minimum curriculum? What about interpretations of history that you think are wrong?

Giving absolute power to the State is just fine as long as you think the State will do what you personally think should be done. What protections will you demand be put into law to protect people who disagree from the State's coercive power?

Cutting a swath through the law to get to the Devil makes you vulnerable to the winds that blow. And what's blowing in the wind is that creepy versions of Christian Fundamentalism will be gaining more political power in the coming decades. Do you want to make it easier for that group to dictate what everyone's children must learn?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve LaBonne said, "Nobody is talking about anything but requiring minimum standards and requring some demonstration of basic competence- literacy, numeracy, grasp of basic historical facts and scientific concepts- by students."

Right. I'm all for testing to track how the HS population is doing. But I doubt that your local public school can demonstrate efficacy in any of these things for more than half of the students. When public schools demonstrate 95% of students working at or above grade level, I'll buy that they are better suited to education.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Of course, it's easier and more fun to highlight the tail of the distribution and advocate policies based on that.

For you, evidently, it's easy and fun to ignore the fact that the tail consists of children whose prospects in life have been damaged, perhaps irreparably.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

They do NOT have a right to keep them in purdah

You're making a statement as to what you perceive as the absence of a moral right. Legally, they most certainly DO have that right - parents have almost absolute authority over their children. Whether that is a good thing or not (I would emphatically argue not), it's legal reality.

If you want to change the law, you'd better change it so that everyone's rights are protected - not just the rights that you personally think are being used well.

Christ, it's like the whole of Enlightenment politics has just skipped some people by. A byproduct of our school system, perhaps?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

But I doubt that your local public school can demonstrate efficacy in any of these things for more than half of the students

You'd lose that bet- my local schools are quite good, whoch is why I live where I do. But I certainly am all for efforts to bring that quality of education within reach of ALL kids, which in many places may require breaking down the monolithic bureaucracy using tools such as charter schools.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I conclude that your desire to end the freedom of parents to teach their kids whatever they want is not ethically valid.
Posted by: Caledonian

It's valid, actually. What you're suggesting is that members of a society have the right to openly flout that society's standards in any way they choose, based on any other standard they might wish to align with.

This is not how societies operate.

Deliberately lying to children, deliberately addling their brains, deliberately telling them blatant untruths about how the world operates is not a right. It is child abuse. Just as we do not allow parents the "right" do discipline their children by, say, locking them in a closet for a week, we must not allow parents the "right" to turn their children into lie-filled, zealous bigots.

As a society we have a right -- actually, an obligation -- to ensure that future members of this society will be functional, rational participants. Thus I refute your conclusion.

Legally, they most certainly DO have that right - parents have almost absolute authority over their children.

I don't know what country you live in (or planet you live on), but this is certainly false anywhere in the US.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Caledonian said, "When kids don't meet those standards, the government will then have power to intervene."

Hell, I wish they would fucking intervene already. A few years ago in Florida, ~25% was a passing grade on the state proficiency test. Those damn homeschoolers, so stupid they can't even hit that bar? I doubt it.

Of course, the typical gov't response is NCLB. If that's not worrisome to liberals, consider how easily the legislature changes hands. A few months ago, theocracy was going to last forever. But don't worry, PZ has a plan. Give him your kids, and he will raise them right.... BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

At least, until the Dems lose out in his state, or on the local school board.....

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

This is a bit silly. My son was homeschooled, got a scholarship to Stony Brook and has a pretty good grasp of both science and politics. Parents who want to educate their kids in kooky science at home can send them to private schools that teach the same crap should homeschooling be stopped.

Don N.

This is a bit silly. My son was homeschooled, got a scholarship to Stony Brook and has a pretty good grasp of both science and politics. Parents who want to educate their kids in kooky science at home can send them to private schools that teach the same crap should homeschooling be stopped.

Don N.

Steve LaBonne said, "For you, evidently, it's easy and fun to ignore the fact that the tail consists of children whose prospects in life have been damaged, perhaps irreparably."

Yeah, because believing in God will land you in a homeless shelter with no prospects for employment at all. Please. The unschoolers and some of the ultra wingnuts may not be helping their kids, but then neither is the school bureacracy. And charter schools, vouchers, etc. are roundly opposed by many liberals.

I have no problem with some kind of minimum standards requirements, but for legal reasons it will have to apply to public schoolers, as well. I'm not convinced public schools can pass that test, so I'm not going to lose sleep over whether the damage is happening to kids in poor urban or rural schools, or in home schools. Public schools will have to get their own house in order before they can go bossing other people around.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I apologize for the double posting, I don't use message boards and forums that often. Thanks for the advice on quantum physics books.

By the way Paul, I was serious about what I said, I am 14yrs old and I do study those subjects. I also apologize for the misuse of my words, if you'd like to correct my grammar smartass go teach english class.

Yes the college will accept me, I've already checked with them and they are happy to let me enroll. I apologize for offending anyone, because none was meant.

By the way Victoria Fox is not my real name it's my internet name.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Couple of things: first, I effectively do some home-schooling already supplementing and extending what my kids are already being taught at school; second, if I were to home school them exclusively, we'd all have to be committed after a week or so because, good grief, we need a break from each other from time to time!! Finally, unlike some of the commenters, I don't think that having a graduate degree automatically makes me a great teacher of my children in all the subjects they need to master. Regrettably, the Tinkerbell theory of teaching -- that any fool can do it if they want to do it hard enough -- is pretty widespread.

I don't know what country you live in (or planet you live on), but this is certainly false anywhere in the US.

No, it's not. Children have no right of association. They have no right to make medical decisions for themselves, and cannot refuse medical treatment. They can be forced to attend religious services and go through religious rituals. Their freedom of speech is constrained by parental authority to restrict their access to public places and people. They can be forced to endure punishments that would constitute assault if levied against legal adults without their consent.

'Almost' is a very important word, Mr. LaBonne. I suggest you study its meaning carefully.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

What you're suggesting is that members of a society have the right to openly flout that society's standards in any way they choose, based on any other standard they might wish to align with.

Actually, they do. It's called "being in a free country". Society's standards are NOT the law. In a free country, the law is restricted in what things it can regulate, what kinds of harms it can be used to seek redress for, and how majorities can exercise political power against minorities.

This is usually an ironic cliche, but in this case it's quite literal: what exactly do you have against freedom? Your words indicate that you have serious issues with the concept. Traditionally, the benefits associated with it are considered worth the risks in incurs. You seem to believe differently. Care to justify that belief?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

While I believe all parents should do their best to supplement the work of the schools -- if only by having a substantial library that they give the child relatively free access, but better by actually working with the child on his areas of interest -- I tend to oppose home schooling in general, for several reasons.

First is the fact that schools do provide a diverse environment for the kids, intellectually, ethnically, sexually, and religiously.

Second because, like school vouchers, homeschooling can 'cherry-pick' kids from the public schools, leaving them only for the poor, and thus inspiring politicians to underfund them, making them worse in a self-fulfilling cycle. (A side note, btw. A public HS here in Brooklyn, James Madison, has just added a third graduate to the roll of current Senators, with Bernie Sanders joining Charles Schumer and Norm Coleman -- and alumni meetings in Washington could also include Ruth Bader Ginsburg.)
I still wonder how home-schooled students could be tested in the way PZ and I both would want. Would they have to be tested away from the home, and if not, how do you keep the parents from helping?

But, for 'Christian' homeschoolers particularly, there is a further 'dirty little secret.' Homeschooling is frequently chosen as a way to cover the physical abuse of children, abuse that is, in fact, encouraged by many "Christian child rearing' manuals, including those by James Dobson. I am not talking merely about spanking, but the use of sticks and plastic tubing, and not on unruly ten-year olds but on infants.

Here's a quote on suitable size instruments as suggested in the Fugates' WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ... ABOUT CHILD TRAINING.

From the time the toddler begins to crawl until about 15 months ("age is no real criteria [sic] -- how large and how stubborn the child is will be the real issue") use a blackboard pointer, a balloon rod, or an eighth-inch dowel rod.

Age 1-2 a "tot rod" -- 3/16" by 24" dowel

2-4 "mob control' -- 1/4" by 24"

4-8 "train or consequences" -- 5/16" by 27"

8-12 "the equalizer" -- 3/8" by 27"

12+ "the rebel router" -- 1/2" by 33"

Many of these manuals recommend homeschooling so that Child Protection Services cannot intervene to prevent the parents from giving their children 'proper Christian Discipline.'

(for more on this, you can read my
http://saltosobrius.blogspot.com/2006/10/jim-benton-on-bible-based-baby…
and follow the links. And, to be fair, one of the strongest groups opposing these ideas is StopTheRod.net which is composed of mothers who are, themselves, Christian homeschoolers.)

I apologize for the double posting, I don't use message boards and forums that often. Thanks for the advice on quantum physics books.

By the way Paul, I was serious about what I said, I am 14yrs old and I do study those subjects. I also apologize for the misuse of my words, if you'd like to correct my grammar SMARTA$$ go teach english class.

Yes the college will accept me, I've already checked with them and they are happy to let me enroll. I apologize for offending anyone, because none was meant.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

home schooled children become leeches and parasites on the rest of the culture much like the Amish. You notice that after the school shooting in Amish country they did not send the victims to a horse and buggy hospital. They went to a modern hospital with intensive care and the whole "fancy" panoply of modern medicine. They were happy to leech off a culture which they despise and to which they do not contribute. Creationists do the same thing. They are happy to take the flu shots and antibiotics designed by the evolutionists they hate.

The Amish pay full taxes (though their income, and thus their tax liability, tends to be below average) and they make very few demands on the state - they have no tax-funded police, they don't claim unemployment benefit or pensions... In short, they are net contributors to the culture which they "despise".

I agree that there's something laughable about creationists accepting any factor of modern medicine, but I don't see this as hypocrisy due to their never having contributed, but rather as simple ignorance in that they have no idea how solidly grounded in evolution medicine is.

After all, I have never in my life contributed anything to the study of immunology, and yet I feel no guilt in reaping the benefits of other people's hard work.

I apologize for the double posting, I don't use message boards and forums that often. Thanks for the advice on quantum physics books.

By the way Paul, I was serious about what I said, I am 14yrs old and I do study those subjects. I also apologize for the misuse of my words, if you'd like to correct my grammar go teach english class.

Yes the college will accept me, I've already checked with them and they are happy to let me enroll. I apologize for offending anyone, because none was meant.

PS: Paul I'd like to call you some really horrible names, but they won't let me post my comment if I do.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Bleeding-heart liberal atheist homeschooler here:

Whenever this comes up (regularly), I have to comment that most US students go to public school and, yet, the majority of Americans believe in some form of creationism.

How and where the children are schooled does not seem to be the deciding factor in what they end up believing.

Nance

By Nance Confer (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve LaBonne said, "For you, evidently, it's easy and fun to ignore the fact that the tail consists of children whose prospects in life have been damaged, perhaps irreparably."

Yeah, because believing in God will land you in a homeless shelter with no prospects for employment at all. Please. The unschoolers and some of the ultra wingnuts may not be helping their kids, but then neither is the school bureacracy. And charter schools, vouchers, etc. are roundly opposed by many liberals.

I have no problem with some kind of minimum standards requirements, but for legal reasons it will have to apply to public schoolers, as well. I'm not convinced public schools can pass that test, so I'm not going to lose sleep over whether the damage is happening to kids in poor urban or rural schools, or in home schools. Public schools will have to get their own house in order before they can go bossing other people around.

In my state, considered by homeschoolers one of the most onerous in terms of homeschool standards and requirements, you have to get a legit credentialed teacher to approve your curriculum, demonstrate actual progress, and submit to regular proficiency testing. This sounds a lot like what PZ is asking for. But. There is a large population of credentialed teachers, for religious reasons or from burnout from the shitty public schools, who are happy to ratify almost any curriculum. And demonstrating progress is trivial: 2+2=4 in September, and 10+2=12 in April, counts as having "learned."

And as I said above, the state proficiency requirement is just a joke: you can flunk it (just like a public schooler), and the state can't do dip. If the state kids flunk, nothing happens to the administration in those schools.

I do wonder, though, if enough gifted students pulled out for homeschool or early college, the school average scores would plummet, and that might initiate NCLB or some local equivalent. Or if the nerds got together and decided to hold the school's blue ribbon hostage for, whatever they want.

But the notion that we can somehow hold homeschoolers to a standard higher than we can hold public schoolers to is just silly.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I suggest you study its meaning carefully.

Since it's you who appear not to understand the very real limits covered by that "almost", I strongly suggest that you repeat this advice while facing a mirror.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Yeah, because believing in God will land you in a homeless shelter with no prospects for employment at all.

Hey, you're using up the entire straw supply- please leave some for the other trolls.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wow. I totally forgot about that case. They lost right?? Please please tell me they lost.

Children can be compelled by their parents to undergo antihomosexual "reparative" therapy. And I'm not talking about prayer sessions, but forms of conditioning, frequently utilizing psychotropic drugs and electric shocks. They have virtually no rights and quite limited legal protections. Convicted felons have a more-protected status.

Quite simply, Mr. LaBonne, you don't know what you're talking about.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Prup said, "First is the fact that schools do provide a diverse environment for the kids, intellectually, ethnically, sexually, and religiously."

Some schools do this well. Other schools provide a diverse environment in terms of drugs, violence, homophobia, and racism. If you're rich enough to be in one of the better districts, good for you.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Those of you rationalizing homeschooling by arguing that the public schools perform poorly really need to read the blueberry story. Average public school test scores don't explain the situation because public schools are obligated to accept every student and do the best they can with them. They have the job of trying to raise the incompetent to the mediocre as well as encouraging the brilliant students who excell.

And no, I'm not interested in shutting down homeschooling altogether. I think we as a society have an obligation to see ALL of our kids get the best possible education, and sometimes that will mean some kids will do better when taught at home rather than in the schools. The problem here is that these new homeschool programs are not designed to educate at all, and they are slipping through the cracks. As the article points out, many religious ignoramuses are seeing this as an opportunity to lie to their kids and warp their brains.

Don't believe me? Look at A Beka Books. I have a copy of the Science of the Physical Creation mentioned in the article, and I've got to tell you, that thing is a blatant example of child abuse. They couldn't make it much worse if it included a trephine and a bucket of industrial sludge to be poured into the kids' heads.

I can sympathize with defending a quality homeschool education. When you're making excuses for tolerating breathtaking inanity like the crap that comes out of A Beka Books and Bob Jones University Press, the two biggest sources of homeschool texts, you lose me.

The Amish are not hostile to medical science; in fact, the reason so much is known about the genetics of Amish communities is because of an openness to scientific research on these matters. How the Amish reconcile technology and tradition is, in any case, their business, particularly given that they make no efforts to impose their ideas on others.

to Fox1: you said
While recognizing that the plural of anecdote is not data, every homeschooled individual I've known has had some sort of significant cognitive or social defect.

One of the reasons to homeschool children is *because* they have some sort of cognitive or other defect that the public school isn't able (or willing) to cope with, in spite of what the laws say they need to do. My son has some neurological deficits, and I almost resorted to homeschooling because the local public school was so toxic for him. Fortunately, we have schools of choice, and I was able to get him into another school that is able and willing to make the accomodations that he needs, but until we worked that out, homeschooling was a definite possibility.

Steve LaBonne said, "Hey, you're using up the entire straw supply"

My state has controls just like PZ wants, and they are worthless in terms of curbing unschooling and the like, for a host of legal and political and social reasons.

But rather than deal with this fact, or the fact that public schools often suck and people aren't rich enough to move to better distircts, it's better to post a rejoinder to one flip comment. Because *you* care about the children, whereas I want to eat them for breakfast.

I totally concede defeat.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Caledonian, that stuff might fly in the most benighted fundie-heavy jurisdictions. I can tell you with great confidence (since I work for the prosecutor's office and know him well)that it would be prosecuted where I live, which is a rather conservative area. I'm not the one who knows not whereof he speaks.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

//Homeschooling is frequently chosen as a way to cover the physical abuse of children..//

I'd ask you to document that statement, but since I know the documentation doesn't exist, I won't bother. Yes, their are Christian wingnuts that believe in a level of discipline against their kids that most of us find abhorrant. And some of them homeschool. Big deal. Far more of them are in private school or public school.

Can we close any public school in which a teacher had a sexual tryst with a student? After all, since it happens in schools, the school must the problem, right? There were two in the news yesterday, in the right wing conservative bastions of Colorado and Oregon.

Honestly, I expected a higher level of discourse here. But we have anti Christian bigots resorting to the Nazi argument, outright expressions of anti religous bigotry, and now the famous closeted child beater argument.

I can tell you with great confidence (since I work for the prosecutor's office and know him well)that it would be prosecuted where I live, which is a rather conservative area. I'm not the one who knows not whereof he speaks.

Under what law, Mr. LaBonne? Psychiatric facilities can utilize "therapies" that in other contexts would be considered child abuse by some. The things I've described are all completely legal - there are no grounds for prosecution.

And that's just the "reparative therapy". The other points I made aren't considered justification for legal intervention either, and in fact have a much greater history of being societally accepted.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

PHC is a breeding ground of GOP staffers. They have insinuated themselves into our politics and are fundamentally incompetent. As if you didn't know. I hope that we are seeing the worse of it and that this is as lasting as the Jim Jones cult.

The educational standards need to be clearly defined and firmly applied. Politics has brought us into this situation and it is up to us now to extricate ourselves from it. The recent wins on the board of education in Kansas is a very good sign. When people get involved, things happen. The religious got involved in the 70's and we now see the results of that.They did one thing and did it really well. The results are that they have redefined science in such a way that their own students don't have a clue. Fortunately for us they have not one iota of evidence suggesting that their redefining science has brought any better scientific progress. In fact their science isn't taking us anywhere. That is the unfortunate truth. And political science isn't science.

I have a copy of the Science of the Physical Creation mentioned in the article, and I've got to tell you, that thing is a blatant example of child abuse.

Is it really any worse than this?

http://shrimpandgrits.rickandpatty.com/2006/08/02/ace-should-be-put-in-…

(the ACE curriculum, used by a number of homeschoolers and some private Christian academies - with links to some scanned book pages)

If so, I'll have to scrounge up a copy for my bookcase of shame.

Our family homeschools--leaning toward unschooling. My mother, a public school teacher for 20 years, strongly supports our decision because of the politicization and catering to the lowest common denominator that necessarily happens in classroom schools. And I strongly object to standardized testing of homeschoolers for the same reason I object to it for any other learners: all it really measures is a student's ability to fill in bubbles with a #2 pencil.

If the State really wanted to know if, what and how kids were learning, we would have a portfolio- or interview-based assessment system instead of bubble tests. In fact, my mom's school district in California tried such a system... for all of one year. Apparently it was too time-consuming to administer. Much easier for the bureaucrats to just run a bunch of papers through an opti-scan machine.

When the public school system can demonstrate to me that it meets the needs of all types of learners (not just visual-auditory oriented kids who don't mind sitting still) and that petty regulation and political infighting are secondary to conveying real knowledge, then maybe I'll accept the idea that such a system has any right to assess my children's learning. Until then, we'll go on learning by reading real books and building hands-on projects and asking our own questions and staying the heck away from standardized tests. That seems to be working pretty well so far.

PZ said, "Average public school test scores don't explain the situation because public schools are obligated to accept every student and do the best they can with them."

This is a valid criticism, to the extent that a student in a homeschool environment and testing poorly *might* do better if relocated to a public school.

However it confuses two issues. First, the point of standardized tests is not always to evaluate individual student performance, it's often to evaluate school performance. So the usual "teaching to the test" litany, devoid of critical thinking, etc. problems apply. A homeschooler not pass algebra at grade level. This is often the case with individuals who use alternative math curricula, like Singapore math or one of the other non-spiral methods. Or the student might be publishing a novel (I know of a kid who's doing this), and not be focused on the particulars of his state's history.

Did these students fail because they are being abused, or because the test instrument is insensitive?

The second issue with "might do better in public school" is the actual quality of the local school. The argument is valid in rich districts, but a homeschooler testing at 40% grade level in a poor district, while her peers are testing at 28% in the local crime syndicate, er, school, should definitely not get the "benefits" of intervention.

So, any requirements will have to meet a broad range of criteria. Having a checklist of requirements, like college-educated parents or some level of proficiency on a standardized test, will not be enough. It will fail tests of fairness and legality: you say the student 'might' do better, but you can't guarantee it.

"I think we as a society have an obligation to see ALL of our kids get the best possible education, and sometimes that will mean some kids will do better when taught at home rather than in the schools. The problem here is that these new homeschool programs are not designed to educate at all, and they are slipping through the cracks. As the article points out, many religious ignoramuses are seeing this as an opportunity to lie to their kids and warp their brains."

I agree with you that this is what we should desire, and that some people are abusing it. I'm not convinced the proportion of people who are abusing the system is large, or significant enough to merit draconian regulation. I'm also not convinced that any set of regulatory criteria can be sensitive enough to work. If you set the goal of the 3 r's, the religious nuts will pass it easy. If you mandate science curriculum, they can jump through that hoop (honestly, do highschool biology and geology really require critical thinking, atheism, or that much mastery to pass?) and still indoctrinate their kids.

As I said, my state has very strict homeschool standards (considered one of the top 5 worstest states EVAR to be a homeschooler) but this kind of nonsense still goes mostly unchecked. Parents can teach to any test as well as any teacher.

I think what's needed is a broad cultural offensive, certify the 3r's, and that's about all you can hope for. You might try some kind of class action suits or something, or find ways to make these curricula labeled as abusive, but even then you can get skirted.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The Bob Jones textbooks are a side effect of living in a free society. The state can not control the outcome for every possible kid. The USSR tried that, didn't work so well.

So yes, in a free society, some tiny minority of kids are going to be screwed out of a decent education by their ignoramus parents. I feel bad for the kids, but I'm not willing to limit the freedom of 300 million other people to fix it, if it even can be fixed. Hell, just as many other kids would then somehow get screwed by the system they were forced into. Life is messy, and science has yet to figure out how to reduce raising kids to a repeatable scientific process :)

And for the record, many, maybe most, parents are not homeschooling for religious reasons. My kids ace their standardized tests, but we'd keep homeschooling even if they just average. The freedom to not push them onto a bus every day at 0-dark-thirty, the freedom to go to a museum whenever the mood strikes, the freedom to change the curriculum on the fly to follow their interests, the freedom to go camping on civil war battlefields for a week while the other kids are in school, and the freedom to entirely blow off a day and go to a baseball game on a whim are the reasons we are homeschooling.

The fact that my kids are academically way ahead of their peers is just a fortunate side effect of one on one teaching.

I was home schooled for religious reasons from junior high onward starting in '84. I essentially taught myself english, grammar, french, german, biology, chemistry, physics, geometry, algebra, calculus, etc. I also finished high school a year early and took college courses in general chemistry, calculus and physics, which helped me finish my undergrad in marine science/biology in 3 yrs. Now, I am post-doctoral fellow at a major biomedical university. I would say that homeschooling was a boon for me as well as a safety net. I was already abused by fellow students almost every day for the being the nerdy gay kid.

Even though my family believed in creation, I learned about evolution simply by going to the library and researching it. I was curious and motivated and wanted to be a biologist. Sadly, I only had a library (and PBS) but today's children have the internet.

Not every homeschooler is at a disadvantage nor do they only learn what their parents want them to learn.

[Me]

What you're suggesting is that members of a society have the right to openly flout that society's standards in any way they choose, based on any other standard they might wish to align with.

[Caledonian]

Actually, they do.

[Me]

Wrong. There are plenty of things that are done every day which flout society's standards. Attend any open criminal court hearings to learn of just a few dozen -- before lunch.

[Caledonian]

This is usually an ironic cliche, but in this case it's quite literal: what exactly do you have against freedom?

[Me]

I'd appreciate your arguing with me, not a convenient straw man.

Reality is not up for referendum. Facts are not democratic. And when children are deliberately told lies -- indoctrinated, perhaps -- their ability to function in the real world is impaired. This is, at best, child abuse. It is systematically comparable to the way molesters seek to normalize sexualization of children as a justification for raping them.

I realize that's an emotionally hot comparison to make, but I think it's valid in terms of the methodology used. By slowly introducing the very young to extremely sexually-graphic material, a molester gradually turns sex into a normal mode of expression for his intended victim until his objectives are reached.

Similarly, those who seek to undermine the rational intelligence -- which is our birthright -- in the young by deliberately exposing them to lies which are contrary to the observable facts of the real world are committing a form of psychological rape the aftereffects of which may never be undone.

I have nothing against freedom. I think there's nothing wrong with homeschooling per se, unless it is used blatantly as a tool to raise a crop of reality-denying fifth-column anti-freedom revolutionaries.

And let's face it, that's what right-wing fanaticism actually is. It wants to establish a theocracy, to compel an entire nation to follow its extremely narrow, dogmatic and bigoted perspectives on life -- including those perspectives (such as creationism) which fly in the face of facts. This is dangerous. That is a simple truth.

I love freedom and I want to keep it. I'd ask you what you have against reality.

"I should think most smart homeschooled kids would be all in favor of higher standards."

Yeah, but implemented how? Annual testing sounds like No Child Left Untested, which I thought most of us think is a bad thing. It also runs into different educational philosophies (unschooling), or individual rates of progress -- if a kid burns through several math texts in a year but doesn't progress on her reading test, do we toss her back into the public school?

As for standard curricula, blech. One reason I'd want to homeschool would be to avoid the Approved In Texas pablum textbooks. Darwin and Dawkins instead of some biology text which mentions evolution in Chapter 17, Joy Hakim and Howard Zinn instead of whitewashed history books. Sure, I could give books to a public schooled kid, but why waste time?

And I say this as a liberal atheist who got one of the best educations to come out of the Chicago public school systems -- because I know what the forces against that were.

Homeschooling for cognitive defects was mentioned; the flip side is gifted kids, programs for whom have been increasingly cut since I left school. If your kid is fricking *bored* day in and day out, in school, I'd say *that's* child abuse as well.

@ Warren:

The comparison of biblical literalists to child molesters is a bit over the top. Is there a corollary to Godwin for this one?

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Oh, and I know I'm mixing multiple threads here, but believing that your political opponents are a bunch of brainwashed ignorami is one thing; using it as a serious argument against their politics is quite another.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Hello Becca, I'm not sure if you were referring to me when you said Fox. But I do not have any neurological defects.
I don't have any defects at all. I was homeschooled because when I was in kindergarten and my brother was in 1st grade at a public school, a 4th grader in the class next to my brothers brought a gun to school and threatened to kill the teacher and all the students. So our parents took us out of public school and homeschooled us.

So no you don't have to have a defect to be homeschooled, the people around could have a defect to cause you to be homeschooled.

"The Empires Of The Future, Are The Empires Of The Mind."
"Winston Churchill"

"Man Invented Language, To Hear Himself Complain."
"Lily Tomlin"

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wrong. There are plenty of things that are done every day which flout society's standards. Attend any open criminal court hearings to learn of just a few dozen -- before lunch.

Criminal court hearings are for violations of law. Society's nebulous standards are not the law, and they are not enforced in court.

And you're all for freedom, except that you think society ought to be able to compell adherence to group opinion?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

And let's face it, that's what right-wing fanaticism actually is. It wants to establish a theocracy, to compel an entire nation to follow its extremely narrow, dogmatic and bigoted perspectives on life -- including those perspectives (such as creationism) which fly in the face of facts. This is dangerous. That is a simple truth.

So what? It's also perfectly legal, and has absolutely nothing to do with home education in the US. There are about 2 million homeschoolers in the US. HSLDA has about 80,000 members. Assume 3 kids per family average and you have them representing about 15% of homeschoolers. However, not every HSLDA member is a raving mad fundie. Many of them join because somebody in their church told them they needed to, or they bought the propaganda that they need the legal protection of HSLDA lawyers. If we are generous and say 1/2 of HSLDA members are raving mad fundies,that's 7.5% of homeschoolers, and an inconsequential number in the overall population.

Clamping down on the rights of many to control a few (terrorists) is a large part of why we just voted the Republicans out of office. Is it really your position (as it appears to me) that you are perfectly OK with that when you disagree with the people being clamped down on?

May I ask how old you people are?
Because your acting like a couple of pups in a dogfight.
Come on seriously, can't we all agree that Bush needs his A$$ kicked out of office and somebody like Ross Pero needs put in. I just hope to god that they don't put Hilary in, if she gets put in all hell's gonna break loose. Not to mention she is the worst example to be the first female president.

"Our Country Needs To Know That Their President Is Not A Crook." "I Am Not A Crook."
"Richard Nixon"

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

As a homeschool mom, I was sorry to see the inaccurate picture presented of homeschoolers. Many homeschoolers are indeed evolutionists. In fact, among the many homeschoolers I have known (and I've homeschooled in three states), it's the majority. But of course, if you ask evangelicals or visit an evangelical college, you will certainly find the bias toward creationism and against evolution. You'd have to come up with an, um, much more scientific sample to provide a conclusion about homeschoolers in general.

Many homeschoolers love real science and some of us, in fact, homeschool in part because we can provide a MORE scientific approach at home. As you may be aware, the teaching of evolution in the schools is a tricky business. Many schools spend as little time on it as possible in order to avoid raising the ire of some parents. At home, we can infuse evolution into many/all areas of science. In our home, in the last several days, we have been reading from Hakim's Story of Science Vol. 2, Hawking's A Brief History of Time, Davis' Don't Know Much About the Universe, and TIME magazine's article on Religion vs. Science. As for history, most recently we have been listening to the audiobook classical version of world history, Story of the World, vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer. I think you'd find any of these to hold up to an evolutionist's view of the world (my view), and I doubt you'd find most 16 year old public school kids (not to mention my 8 year old, who has listened avidly to all) exposed to this much evolution material in just a few days (especially noting that my family's current topics are more cosmological and physics-related than biological (since we are doing Big Bang, expanding universe, Newtonian vs. Einsteinian stuff) -- but we get to point out how it ALL works together and provide opportunities for real synthesis for the kids.

Please, do not broad brush homeschoolers. I'm an evolution-understanding, feminist, stay-at-home mom with the ability and education to do whatever I want in the world. I choose to nurture my children and provide them with the opportunity to LEARN. My 18 year old, who is currently an exchange student in South America, has participated in online debates defending evolution even tho' he is a humanities-oriented guy. He gets the basis for the science, and I'm proud that he got it from his homeschool experience.

If you go looking to support the stereotype of homeschoolers as narrow evangelicals who re-write history and science to support their beliefs, you will certainly miss the many homeschoolers who learn and understand evolution and have a non-providential view of history.

But I've heard this has happened before, right? That many scientists have, throughout history, been the victim of their own methodology in just this way, seeing only evidence that supports an existing stereotype or social norm, thus creating and perpetuating inaccuracy.

You'd think the scientific world would have learned the dangers of such from folks like Ptolemy and Tycho Brae. Alas, susceptibility to suggestibility continues to color the conclusions of the science community.

99 Bottles: If you read the rest of my comment you'll see that I fess up to the emotionalism of the comparison, then go on to offer reasons why I think it's a valid one. You can glibly raise Godwin parallels all you like, but such a rejoinder does not constitute an argument.

Caledonian and COD: The reason we aren't dealing with law here, as opposed to violation of social propriety, is simply that homeschooling parents have fallen through a loophole that doesn't require them to adhere to standards.

Were those loopholes not present, certain homeschooling families would in fact be in violation of education standards -- which would effectively take the bluster out of your "it's legal" arguments. Thus, your arguments hang on a technicality and are not truly about the "ethics" of freedom at all.

And while I never claimed there was anything like a majority of raving-mad fundies who are doing homeschooling, I can point to plenty of political polls that seem to indicate a good 35% of Republicans are, in fact, right-wing fanatics -- which suggests to me that at least that many HSLDA members fall into that category.

Finally, I'm unsure how requiring parents to teach to the same educational standards (minimally) as public schools represents "clamping down" on anything or anyone. Certainly religious idiots have the right to be religious idiots. They do not, however, have the right to circumvent the laws of society exclusively for the purpose of filling their children's heads with unchallenged lies -- and raising a crop of religious uber-idiots.

Insisting on universal minimal standards for education is not an abrogation of rights. It is a public good.

Hello Jeanne, and the rest of you people who are debating.
I have to make this clear before anyone states their verdict about me. I'm an open minded person, I don't really care what other people beleive in. For all i care you can beleive that god decides when you die. I'm not going to try and change your beliefs or your opinions. It is up to you to decide what you beleive and don't beleive. Hell you can beleive that Barnie is real, I won't try to change that. Hey I beleive in Giganto-Pithicus
(A.K.A BigFoot) along with many other people who beleive in him. I beleive in a lot. Unless you can prove me wrong, then there is a possibility that it exists. But what would be the fun if you could prove that these things exist or don't exist, it would take the mystery out of life.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Here's my surefire litmus test to distinguish between responsible and crackpot homeschoolers:

Q. Your homeschooled child wants to go to college. Where will you encourage him or her to apply?

1. To accredited colleges or universities that encourage intellectual inquiry, and are good matches to my child's academic interests.

2. To Patrick Henry College.

Well I'm going to sign off, here in a little bit. So I'll talk to you people later. I respect your opinions, and beliefs. As I said, I have an open mind. Share you thoughts with me, I'd love to hear them. Hasta Luego.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria -- appreciate your articulation, but it's worth pointing out that a skeptical worldview is not lacking in a sense of awe or mystery.

When I contemplate, for instance, the depth and intricacy of the simple coevolution of bees and pollenated flowers, I tend to feel awed humility at the intricacy of the biosphere as well as the realization of how much time -- deep time -- was involved in their dance ... a dance which is still going on.

I don't have to fall back on a deity to explain it; that's the only obvious difference between be and a theist, but it's a crucial one.

...homeschooling parents have fallen through a loophole that doesn't require them to adhere to standards.

In many states, the "loophole" that makes homeschooling legal is setting up homeschools as private schools.

Just to judge from the trend in my (rabidly conservative) area, there are probably four or five times as many kids in fundamentalist religious private schools as there are being homeschooled by anyone, let alone by fundie parents.

What are your feelings on forcing these private schools to conform to public school educational standards? How much political traction do you think such a movement could get? It's much easier to pick on those wacky homeschoolers than on a well-entrenched establishment like private religious schooling.

Hi Julie, Myanswer to your test is neiter of your answers.
My answer is, you send your child where they want to go, you let them make their own choice in what they want to learn. You let them decide where they want to go and what they want to be, as long as it fits your budget and you know their not going to turn into junkies or alcholics, and that you know their going to get their education and not drop out.

PS: If that makes me a crackpot, then so be it.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Insisting on universal minimal standards for education is not an abrogation of rights. It is a public good.

What happens if the fundies take over government and decide the the "truth" is that the earth was designed by an intelligent creator?

If you are going to use the force of government to impose your will you have to be willing to accept the consequences if you lose control of the government. I'm not willing to take that risk.

Here in Nevada, they monitored homeschoolers for a while, made sure they were doing their job so to speak, and found that it did little to improve the education the kids were getting.

People who use homeschooling to let it slide or teach an agenda, do the same things even without homeschooling. There really is no way to stop people from being, you know, people.

By Jeffrey Boser (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Jeanne, if you're really into science, why do you use the term "evolutionist"? Either you're playing for the other team, or you've managed to swallow their rhetoric so completely it has gotten into your head.

Victoria -- You may be only fourteen, but yes, you do need to brush up on your spelling and grammar, especially before you hit college. You more than likely will have to take essay courses there, and your instructors won't take kindly to confusions such as the ones you've made in your (multiply redundant) posts. Before you make some kind of snarky comment about my background, I have two degrees in English-related subjects and I have taught college-level English courses in the past. You might want to get yourself a copy of the Merriam-Webster Concise Handbook for Writers; it's available cheaply second-hand, and it will tell you more than you need to know about how English functions.

On topic, I'm also one of these people who believe that everyone should have the same basic core set of competencies, and that publicly-funded schooling is the most efficient way of achieving that end for the vast majority of people. (Caveat: I'm Canadian, and curricular standards work a little differently here; further, I'm a product of an excellent public education system, and several of my teachers were considered such leaders in their field they helped to author provincial and federal curriculum standards. YM, as always, MV.)

By Interrobang (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Oh, and, um, any journalist who uses an HSLDA spokesman as his/her authoritative source on anything should be bitch-slapped.

The HSLDA uses homeschooling law as a thin veneer to disguise their right-wing, Christian Dominionist political agenda. They employ scare tactics ("The truant officer will take your children!") to terrify people into joining their organization... then pick and choose which homeschool legal cases they'll actually defend.

They were also instrumental in getting a law passed to force the military to accept homeschool graduates as Tier I enlistees (a status previously reserved for high-performing classroom school graduates)--something most centrist and left-leaning homeschoolers utterly oppose. (There's plenty of research that shows that kids from a one-on-one, self-paced educational environment don't do nearly as well with military regimentation as do kids from a classroom environment. Wonder why not?) So HSLDA supports reduced military effectiveness for the sake of throwing a bone to their right-wing constituents. A disservice to our military, and a disservice to the homeschooled kids who are now more likely to enlist and fail (taking a fat chunk of taxpayer dollars along with them).

Warren--Yes life still has it's mystery and wonder, especially in nature, I love nature. It's beauty, it's wonder and its grace.

All that I meant was that we need to beleive in monsters, we as a whole still need that mystery. If we beleived that there was nothin bigger than us out there, we would make a stupid move somewhere and possibly cause such irreversible devastation.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria, the only remotely 'crackpot' item you've mentioned, is Astral Projection. That's a very sad story, full of people who believe in it because they do not know any better, and people who take advantage of the ignorant.

I wonder what the whiny thin-skinned libertarian freak Timmy Sandefur would have to say about all this.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

RedMolly -- Traction aside, I don't think it's unreasonable to insist on minimal educational standards. That is, after all, the putative rationale behind "No child left behind".

As to whether standards-based education can ever really be enforced, let alone legislated ... well, it hasn't worked yet. :\

COD -- you're strawmanning. You are proposing as plausible the very society that could well happen if children are allowed to be lied to and told those lies are facts.

There is a big difference between the "truth" you suggest and the reality of the actual, physical world we inhabit. Creationism is bullshit, intelligent design is bullshit, and anyone who tries to teach these bullshit ideas as "truth" is lying.

That is simply not the case with the fact of evolution.

Again: I have no issue with freedom. And one of the most effective ways to keep freedom is to teach reality (and, more importantly, how to judge what is real and what is not) to the next generation of Americans.

Teaching religious-agenda'd lies as fact is simply not in line with maintaining rationality, which is the bedrock of intellectual -- and physical, and social -- freedom.

Let's turn this on its head. If the right-wing idiots were in charge, do you think we'd even be permitted to debate the plausibility of evolution, let alone discuss the social dangers of indoctrination on a forum led by a biologist who is clearly atheistic?

Sometimes maintaining a just and rational society means enacting and enforcing legislation designed to maximize freedom by -- and this is an apparent contradiction, but it has to be swallowed -- abrogating certain rights, such as the "right" to teach nonsense as fact. Sometimes, in order to protect the largest liberty for the largest number, the rights of some must be curtailed.

I'm not trying to say parents can't indoctrinate their children into their beliefs. What I'm suggesting is that they should not be allowed to do so and claim (at the same time) that they are teaching them hard, incontrovertible facts.

What about this is so hard to grasp?

Interrobang.
Thank you Interrobang for the information, I appreciate it. But I'm perfectly aware of my faults and what I need to brush up on before I start my higher education. I've actually aced several english college courses. I'm just having an off day. I don't mean to be snippy at anyone, it just isn't a great day for me. I apologize to anyone that I've offended. I did not mean any of the rude comments, I was just blowing off steam.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Sometimes maintaining a just and rational society means enacting and enforcing legislation designed to maximize freedom by -- and this is an apparent contradiction, but it has to be swallowed -- abrogating certain rights, such as the "right" to teach nonsense as fact. Sometimes, in order to protect the largest liberty for the largest number, the rights of some must be curtailed.

So the quotes indicate that it's not really a right, but next it's a right that must be abrogated?

We grasp your argument just fine. It's simply that you're wrong. The power of the state cannot set people free. People have to set themselves free, and trying to force people into freedom inevitably results in their becoming enslaved.

The simple fact of the matter is that people have to be allowed to make their own mistakes. The people who choose wisely will prosper, and those who choose poorly will suffer. Suggesting that your own judgment is superior to the consequences of reality itself is absurdly egotistical.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria:

If we beleived that there was nothin bigger than us out there, we would make a stupid move somewhere and possibly cause such irreversible devastation.

You might want to look at Michael Shermer's The Science of Good and Evil. It's one of many recent texts that goes into how morality or ethics can be seen as natural evolutionary conclusions rather than outside ideas imposed by a divine will (or the fear thereof).

Put another way, if the only thing keeping us from making big mistakes is our fear of something bigger than us getting at us somehow, we aren't really much good.

What keeps me from (for instance) robbing my neighbor is my ability to understand how crappy I'd feel if someone were to rob me. Why would I want to make someone else feel that pain?

Contrarily, if I believe in an afterlife, and I want to enjoy it, then my motivation for not robbing my neighbor (I want to go to heaven) becomes selfish.

And, of course, if I believe in an afterlife, I can always comfort myself with the delusion that, even if I do rob my neighbor, he stands a good chance of going to heaven anyway, so I don't have to feel guilty about making his life miserable today.

I'm not trying to say you shouldn't have a faith, BTW -- I'm just suggesting reasons why faith isn't strictly necessary to explain human behavior, or to make ethically-sound, reasoned decisions which, in some circumstances, may even be superior to faith-based ones.

COD:
I think you flunked troll school, at least going by your response to me.
You quote my sentence that "Christian homeschooling" is frequently a cover for a type of discipline that is, in fact, child abuse, then say
"I'd ask you to document that statement, but since I know the documentation doesn't exist, I won't bother."

In fact, both bleow the statement and in the article I refer you to, the documentation is there. If you follow the links, you will see two main sources, "dogemperor" at Talk2Action who is himself someone who grew up in this environment, and Stoptherod.net who are Christian homeschoolers themselves but who reject this style of discipline -- and who are working hard to get the sale of specifically-designed implements sold on Christian websites for the purpose of physical discipline made illegal.

If you read my article, you'd also see that some of the quotes, particularly from the Pearls, are my own selections of their writings.

You would also discover that, rather than this being a few wingnuts, much of the funding for Focus on the Family comes from the $25 million dollars that Dobson receives for the sale of his child-rearing manuals. (Dobson's two books are #2070 and 3380 at the current listing of Amazon, Tedd Tripp is #1847. Those are not low numbers considering this is the list of all Amazon books. Other writers I did not get to mention include Ginger Plowman, whose DON'T MAKE ME COUNT TO THREE is #6189, Lisa Welchel's CREATIVE CORRECTION is #12,912, one of Gary Ezzo's books is #28,624 -- and remember these books are published by religious publishing houses, not mainstream publishers, which depresses their ranks.)

Interrobang,
Thank you for the information, I truly appreciate it. I don't mean to be snippy at anyone, I'm just having an off day and I'm just blowing off steam. I've actually aced several college courses in english. I'm aware of my faults and I know what I need to brush up on. I apologize to everyone for the comments I've made, I really didn't mean them. I was just blowing off steam. I should not have done it in that way.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I'm not trying to say parents can't indoctrinate their children into their beliefs. What I'm suggesting is that they should not be allowed to do so and claim (at the same time) that they are teaching them hard, incontrovertible facts.

Warren... this happens every day, in every family, homeschooling or no homeschooling. Even in our snug little homestead, where my kids love call-and-response ("What's the only good reason to believe something, boys?" "EVIDENCE!"),
I'm still drumming my version of the truth into their heads. Of course, I could argue that my beliefs are supported by the twin pillars of Facts and Compassion, whereas others' might be supported by Tradition and Bigotry, but still.

Are we going to outlaw taking children to Sunday School, where they're going to learn all sorts of foolish and unsustainable notions? There might be a wee bit of a conflict with the Constitution there, and I'd personally rather tolerate a bit of nonsense than start messing with fundamental liberties.

And a brief note on "standards-based" education: I have no problem with the idea that all children, public-, private- or homeschooled, need to learn basic skills: reading, writing, arithmetic, and I'd add critical thinking and the contents of the U.S. Constitution. But beyond those basics, I think learning should be more interest-driven (us funky unschoolers call it "delight-driven") and based around a child's personal strengths and passions than dictated by any central authority. Frex, why should my kids spend time memorizing disconnected facts about the Civil War when what they're really into right now is black holes (my 7YO) and pirates (my 5YO)? Sure, I'll mention the Civil War when it has bearing on something else we're doing; I'll leave a couple books around and see if they pick them up, and if so, if that leads to a deeper interest, but I'm opposed to having a list of subjects that we Must Study this year because the Central Command says that's what kids of their age should be learning. And so what if we don't do subtraction with regrouping this week? Maybe we're more into multiplication, or tessellations, or figuring out percent-saved at the grocery store. We'll get there when we need to get there.

Overall, I think you and I agree. I'd like to see education of/by/for fundamentalists vanish from the earth. We just quibble about the possibility of implementation a bit...

"Jeanne, if you're really into science, why do you use the term "evolutionist"? Either you're playing for the other team, or you've managed to swallow their rhetoric so completely it has gotten into your head."

Sorry you don't like my terminology, which was indeed selected as intentional parallelism with "the other team's" verbiage. I'm a writer who loves science, not a scientist. I will forgive non-homeschoolers' lack of understanding about homeschooling if they can allow my writerly self a bit of leeway here.

If they can't, then I fear those who understand evolution but don't homeschool will never find themselves approachable enough to have camaraderie with homeschoolers who also understand evolution and enjoy studying it. Probably a loss all around, I'd say.

Splitting hairs with "your own team" evolution-wise (is that permitted? That term? Is it okay? I don't want to seem inauthentic!) seems unlikely to create greater understanding. Unless having homeschoolers on "your own team" is such an anathema that alienation is the goal even if we share other viewpoints.

And yes, unfortunately, with about 50% of our publicly-schooled population "believing in" Creationism, there has been a lot of new language slipping into our lexicon. Just a few years ago, who would have thought of "ID" being such a recognizable term? (By using that, have I somehow now insubstantiated my arguments? Or did you understand what I meant?)

Anyway, I'll try to be more perfect. If I manage that, let me know if that qualifies me as recognizably being "really into science."

I should have added two things. These numbers only reflect the sales through Amazon. The books are sold as well through churches and Christian book stores.

And, btw, while I am not ashamed of promoting my own article, it is my editor, Martin Rundkvist, who insists on putting my own name in the title, not me. (He's too good an editor to complain to, though.)

I will, again, refer people interested in this to the article.

http://saltosobrius.blogspot.com/2006/10/jim-benton-on-bible-based-baby…

I'm not trying to say parents can't indoctrinate their children into their beliefs. What I'm suggesting is that they should not be allowed to do so and claim (at the same time) that they are teaching them hard, incontrovertible facts.

What about this is so hard to grasp?

That makes no sense. If parents (or the church, or the government for that matter) are going to indoctrinate, they *HAVE* to claim they are teaching facts. How else are they going to successfully indoctrinate?

You are simply wrong. And luckily the law agrees with me.

There is nothing strawman about my fundie takeover argument. 8 years ago, who would have believed that in 2005, the POTUS would argue that he has the right to eavesdrop on anybody at anytime, with no disclosure or due process required?

There are very few certainties in life, but one of them is that if you give power to government, it will eventually be abused. Power used in your favor today can be turned on you after the next election.

What is so hard about that to grasp?

[Caledonian]

So the quotes indicate that it's not really a right, but next it's a right that must be abrogated?

[Me]

The quotes are intended to suggest that rights don't actually exist, objectively. They've been defined by social or legal agreement, but the entire idea of "right" belongs solely in the space of human imagination.

Thus any "right" that anyone claims to have -- innate or otherwise -- doesn't actually objectively exist.

[Caledonian]

We grasp your argument just fine. It's simply that you're wrong.

[Me]

This is pretty funny, and quite a tip of your hand. You seem to want to suggest I am against freedom -- yet you are willing to assert that you're absolutely, inarguably, unimpeachably correct about a matter of opinion.

Who's the one who really has trouble with freedom here?

[Cale.]

The power of the state cannot set people free.

[Me]

July 4, 1776.

[Cale.]

The simple fact of the matter is that people have to be allowed to make their own mistakes. The people who choose wisely will prosper, and those who choose poorly will suffer.

[Me]

On the whole I tend to agree with you, but that doesn't mean I should sit by while others make mistakes which will definitely cause me -- and others still -- to suffer.

[Cale.]

Suggesting that your own judgment is superior to the consequences of reality itself is absurdly egotistical.

[Me]

Not only does this undermine your own assertion above (that I'm "wrong") -- it flies in the face of observable fact.

My judgment, where plausible, tends to align with reality, not against it; and if you are trying to suggest that some people don't know more than others on a given subject, or that some people are not more wise or thoughtful than others along given lines, it's abundantly clear that you are yourself not a worthy judge of this very reality you invoke.

I submit that I am not the one who has ventured into absurdity.

Caledonian

"The simple fact of the matter is that people have to be allowed to make their own mistakes. The people who choose wisely will prosper, and those who choose poorly will suffer. "

Simple fact -- LOL! Here's something "simple" -- kids are people. Now do something about the gaping hole in your argument.

Someone else wrote:

"What happens if the fundies take over government and decide the the "truth" is that the earth was designed by an intelligent creator?"

That's easy: those fundies are killed.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Warren writes

"On the whole I tend to agree with you, but that doesn't mean I should sit by while others make mistakes which will definitely cause me -- and others still -- to suffer."

Word. And note that the suffering Warren refers to is in THIS life, not some imaginary "afterlife."

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Warren said, "You can glibly raise Godwin parallels all you like, but such a rejoinder does not constitute an argument."

Let me be more explicit, then. You, PZ, and a few others seem to be saying that Creationism should be listed in the DSM-IV along side pedophilia, on the grounds that it's warped and ignorant and harmful to children. I just don't buy it; pedophiles leave actually harmed children in their wake. Creationism per se is not abusive. The beatings and hazings that sometimes go with it are, but criminalizing the failure to teach the glory of Darwin would lead to the indictment of as many highschool biology teachers as it would homeschoolers.

If you want to certify the 3r's for homeschoolers, I'm with you. If your goal is to get Creationism listed in DSM-IV, good luck.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

COD

There are very few certainties in life, but one of them is that if you give power to government, it will eventually be abused. Power used in your favor today can be turned on you after the next election.

What is so hard about that to grasp?

The part that's made of straw, which is the entirety of your pathetic argument. According to your "logic" (which is little more than the usual libertarian diaper wetting), we should get rid of government entirely. After all, according to you it's like some sort of cancer that will necessarily attack our freedums until they are all gone.

Give us a break, please.

The idea that children are the sole property of one or two individuals to fuck with at their leisure is an old one, but it's also a fucked up one. Time to discard that idea.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

criminalizing the failure to teach the glory of Darwin

Who suggested that the failure to teach the glory of Darwin be criminalized? Cite please.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

COD -- Now it seems you have landed in the same camp as Caledonian, asserting absolute rightness while arguing that others cannot be right themselves. In other words, those who disagree with you in matters of opinion are "simply wrong", whereas you are not. To insist that I am unable to be correct, while you are, betrays your agenda and shows the ultimate nonrationality of your perspective.

At least you didn't make the further gaffe of accusing me of being egotistical.

This is unfortunate because both you and Caledonian are articulate, but until you're capable of seeing the irony of the response you just posted in attempting to defend others' rights to hold opinions ("You are simply wrong."), you won't be approachable in rational discussion.

We're not all fundie yahoos. And, even if we were and were teaching our kids that Adam rode a dinosaur to work each day, that would be our right as parents.

What about the right to teach your kids that "black people are animals who should be enslaved by threatening them with death if they don't obey?"

Is that your "right" as a parent? Seriously. You think that the Constitution provides you with the inalienable right to indoctrinate children with such "facts" because they are related to you?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Somehow I missed this:

PZ said, "if a district doesn't have the resources to monitor the competence of homeschool teachers, they ought to simply refuse to allow the kids to be pulled out of school."

Natch, the fundies can instruct their kids in how to get themselves expelled.

I'm still having a hard time understanding how teaching a belief in Creationism is abusive. If there is evidence of actual physical abuse, why not just charge the parents with assault? But beyond that, I'd have to see actual empirical data showing that raising in creationist households leads to pathology, similar to secondhand smoke, to think the "abuse" charge is anything but hyperbole.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

[99 Bottles]

Let me be more explicit, then. You, PZ, and a few others seem to be saying that Creationism should be listed in the DSM-IV along side pedophilia, on the grounds that it's warped and ignorant and harmful to children.

[Me]

A fair critique. I was drawing a comparison to highlight a fundamental problem that I see with the idea of indoctrination.

I can't speak for anyone else, but it's not simply creationism that I object to. It's the entire wingnut worldview, of which creationism is only a sliver.

But not even the worldview -- it's the aspect of the extreme radical right that I think can be argued to be abusive. The aspect that engenders toxic shame, that systematically undermines the capacity for reasoned and logical discourse, and that insists on the complete righthood of a given perspective at any cost to anyone who disagrees.

I think such outlooks are pathological and probably contrasurvival in a deeply-interconnected multicultural world such as this one. They were probably selected for (or at least not explicitly selected against) at some point in our primate history, but they are outmoded today and should probably be treated as the life-threatening memes they appear to be in many cases.

Hope that clarifies my POV, at least. I don't think we need a DSM inclusion, but I do think that if we can solidly argue that at least some ultra-religious wingnuttery is effectively a form of child abuse, we might be able to wake others up to the dangers of complacency in the face of zealotry.

Is that your "right" as a parent? Seriously. You think that the Constitution provides you with the inalienable right to indoctrinate children with such "facts" because they are related to you?

Actually, it doesn't define the right as inalienable, but it does grant to the people all rights not explicitly reserved to the states.

And yes, that is one of parents' rights. People have the right to bring their children up in systems of indoctrination that you don't agree with and that aren't even true.

Just let me know when you get this legal principle changed. I'll be by to take custody of your children ASAP.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

COD -- Now it seems you have landed in the same camp as Caledonian, asserting absolute rightness while arguing that others cannot be right themselves. In other words, those who disagree with you in matters of opinion are "simply wrong", whereas you are not.

There is it - the representation of matters of fact as matters of opinion.

Are you sure you're not a Creationist? You have the patter down. You also advocate that children should be taught something that is grossly untrue - and you favor using the power of the State to enforce that teaching.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

2 cents (and yes,I'm biased for public education):

I'm a secondary teacher at a public school and every year I get a couple of kids who were homeschooled and this is their first year in public school. Without exception, they are always behind the rest of the students in most subject areas. I think its fine when the students are younger but it'd be almost impossible for a parent to understand ALL of the subjects at a high enough level to teach it. I'm sure there is the occasional polymath parent who can teach high school physics, biology, chemistry, calculus, history, art, and English, but for the most part the parents know one subject well and then just go by a textbook in the rest.

If you really don't think your child's education is adequate then you should supplement it, not replace it.

Is that your "right" as a parent? Seriously. You think that the Constitution provides you with the inalienable right to indoctrinate children with such "facts" because they are related to you?

Unfortunately, GWW, I think that's exactly what the Constitution does.

Fortunately, society offers a variety of corrective mechanisms: one being that no one, even the most insular homeschooled kid, exists in a bubble. Sooner or later, everyone's beliefs bump smack up against reality, and are tested in the collision therewith.

For most people (probably quite a few posters here among them, I'd bet), this collision results in a reevaluation and revision of one's own worldview. For some, it leads to a sort of kiln-firing of pre-existing beliefs, hardening them and proofing them against outside influence.

Happily, though, hard-fired porcelain is rather delicate and needs to be kept on a shelf all by itself... if it gets thrown into the dishwasher with everything else, it tends to shatter. For this reason, most people choose to fill their cabinets with plain ol' none-too-pure stoneware.

(Apologies for the admittedly strained metaphor!)

Warren - your ego speaks for itself, I don't need to point out ;)

At no time have I challenged your right to your opinion, I challenged the use of government force to impose your opinion on creationist homeschoolers. Your opinion only becomes a problem when you seek to use the police power of government to force it on others.

Great White - please find something I said in this thread that indicates I believe government should be abolished? Power corrupts people, and governments are made up of people. I've got about 10,0000 years of history that backs up my claim that government power is always abused. The founders of this country understood that quite well, thus the checks and balances written into the Constitution, in an effort to limit the damage. This weeks election is a pretty good example of that system working as designed.

And yes, for most kids, one or two parents with both a biological and emotional connection to them works out as the best environment for raising them to productive adults. For those failed by the standard set up, we have government to step in and help.

I have to insist that people at least look at the title of this article. It is not "Shut down homeschools!"

Mentioning the word "homeschool" does seem to bring out the loud and devoted. I still don't understand why the homeschool fans aren't complaining about the fact that evangelical creeps have lowered the standards for homeschooling to near nonexistence. If you're so confident that homeschooling is great, that you can outperform those public school kids, etc., why is there always this freakout at the idea that we should regulate some minimal standards for homeschools?

"if a district doesn't have the resources to monitor the competence of homeschool teachers, they ought to simply refuse to allow the kids to be pulled out of school."

If they don't have those resources, are they likely to be doing a good job with the students they have?

It's easy to say "we should do something, we should set standards". I'd like to see some actual proposals. A state test to get a GED at age 18? Fine. Annual testing? What happens if the kid fails? What happens if the kid fails, but does better than the average at the local public school? What if the public school has 35 students in a class, or is openly hostile to gay or atheist kids? Or the math teacher tells girls they can be good at math?

Caledonian

"Actually, it doesn't define the right as inalienable, but it does grant to the people all rights not explicitly reserved to the states."

Are children people? Do children have a right to tell their parents to fuck off, the neighbor parents are better, buh-bye?

The point is this Caledonian and Molly: the shit ain't in the Constitution. It's read into the Constitution by the Supremes who read stuff in and out of the Constitution at their leisure, pretty much.

Just as is the case with gay marriage, the existence of the right waxes and wanes with the fervency of the belief.

Of course parents believe they have the right to teach their children whatever the fuck they want. In fact, if a parent teaches their kid that "black people are animals who should be enslaved under threat of death" and their kid decides to kill a black kid at school for not obeying his orders, then I think you'll learn something about the "rights" of parents to indoctrinate their children with bullcrap.

Kid's rights. It's next in the queue, after the rights of gay people and animals (yeah, animals -- that should tell you something about the way we treat human children in this country).

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Caledonian -- sorry, can't follow your comment. Were you trying to make a point?

COD -- I'll ask you to show where I suggested using, as you say, "government force to impose [my] opinion on creationist homeschoolers".

Evolution's a fact. Creationism is not. These are not matters of opinion.

Teaching creationism as fact doesn't make it so; all it does is damage the rationality of the mind that is infected with the lies.

My name is Mimi Rothschild. I am a homeschooling mother of eight.

I would like to say that there are government regulations on homeschooling. Students are required to submit portfolios to the state each year, detailing their work. Also, if they hope to get into college, they'll still be taking standardized tests (and doing quite well I might add).

To the commenters above: No one deliberately tells their children untruths. Abuse shouldn't even enter into this equation. If you take the abuse argument to its logical conclusion, you will basically declare that no one should teach any ideas outside of what the government mandates. Could it be that public school students are the ones being brainwashed? Could it be that they are taught a rigid set of mass-produced "fun facts" rather than learning and exploring the world around them?

Homeschool students are allowed to get the big picture. They don't just memorize dates and famous people. Learning becomes an entertaining exercise when children are freed from the strictures of "big box" learning. Every idea is fair game. Children learn at their own pace and let their curiosity run wild.

Public school supporters seem to think that public school students are free to come up with their own opinions about issues. Nothing could be further from the truth! There is just as much indoctrination going on in the public school as there is in the home.

I encourage my children to explore opposing views of popular scientific, historical, and current events. The idea that homeschooled students grow up in this insular "hothouse of ignorance" is largely a myth. My children are very well-adjusted and quite forward-thinking in their beliefs.

Homeschooling works because I teach my children what I think they should believe, you teach yours what you think they should believe. To say that I'm forcing my beliefs down their throat is only assigning the same behaviors to yourself by having your kids attend public school.

Feel free to check out my full thoughts at my blog.

"Great White - please find something I said in this thread that indicates I believe government should be abolished? "

Oh, don't pretend to be an idiot, Caledonian. I was very clear in my objection to your lame argument about all the baddy bad stuff that happens if you give government power. Are you denying you made such an argument? If so, you're a liar.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Oops, got Caledonian mixed up with COD. Gosh, how'd that happen.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

JYB, on the other hand, I'm a homeschool advocate. I consult with many, many families who are withdrawing their kids from school. They are behind their homeschooled peers in most areas. In fact, being behind in school and not getting an education in school is the #1 reason I am given as to why parents begin homeschooling when they call me. They are thrilled to see improvements thru homeschooling, and most often never consider re-enrolling in public schools.

Additionally, a number of homeschooled families I know have sent their kids to school for high school. They note that teachers are TOTALLY UNAWARE that the kids were ever homeschooled, because they have no problems excelling. A friend of mine, whose kid was not only homeschooled but "radically unschooled" recently entered 10th grade and did really well on the PSAT and is making straight A's. His having been homeschooled has not been brought up with any of his teachers. They assume he's just another transfer-in.

I have come to understand that kids who do well when transitioning to school "pass" as having always been school attenders even tho' they may have been homeschooled. Teachers don't have any reason to even ask the question, so they don't, and they don't realize that these kids have this "homeschool handicap." Because it's not one. Kids who DON'T do well when transitioning to school have homeschooling blamed for their failures. Which always makes me wonder whom we should blame for kids who have BEEN in school for their failure in school. A recent issue of TIME magazine pointed out that 30% of American students fail to graduate. THIRTY PERCENT. Yes, we homeschoolers should really be wanting to emulate THAT success rate. In fact, the inside joke among homeschoolers about accountability is that public school kids who don't pass public school accountability measures should be required to homeschool (a takeoff on the common "threat" that homeschoolers who don't meet some arbitrary requirements should be required to attend school).

Having said all this about achievement, I think that's really not what should encourage us to homeschool. After all, average kids deserve the opportunity to be homeschooled if their parents want to do it, and kids who are behind benefit from it to an even greater extent. I don't promote homeschooling because it produces prodigies. I promote it because it an education that helps kids reach their potential, whether that is in art, science, math, animal husbandry, or welding. Maximizing individual potential is a real benefit to society. School methodologies assume and promote "sameness" (by budgetary necessity, among other things). I'm not looking for my kids' corners to be rounded off to fit that sameness, and so far, that's seemed to work really well.

Unless you can prove me wrong, then there is a possibility that it exists.

Victoria, no, No, NO! This is called the ad ignorantium logical fallacy - the appeal to ignorance. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here - I think you're quite bright, but your critical thinking skills need some work. I recommend Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World and Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things as good starting points. Both are available in public libraries. You might also want to Google Hume's Maxim when you get a chance.

But what would be the fun if you could prove that these things exist or don't exist, it would take the mystery out of life.

Solving the mysteries of life is actually fun! Knowledge is its own reward for the intellectually curious.

By Jen in Texas (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

You're replying to COD, GWW. I'm Caledonian.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"To the commenters above: No one deliberately tells their children untruths."

BWHAAHHAHAAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!

Next.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

If you're so confident that homeschooling is great, that you can outperform those public school kids, etc., why is there always this freakout at the idea that we should regulate some minimal standards for homeschools?

Because, as detailed above, I have serious problems with the content and nature of those proposed standards. I don't think any governmental body should have the right to dictate what, when, how or where children learn. I fully support public education as the right choice for many--probably most--families. At the same time, the idea of my children being forced to spend six to eight hours a day in an environment that I don't feel is best for them, as individuals, is utterly repulsive. (Also, my experience helping to grade senior projects for alma mater has reinforced the notion that "public school standards" have no real bearing on educational quality. You haven't really lived until you've read a seventeen-year-old's twelve-page paper on "Why I Want to Be a Youth Minister.")

And I'm not looking for my kids to "outperform" anybody. I think the idea of matching kids up against each other in some kind of Education Death Match is utterly daft. Honestly, I don't care whether the seven-year-old down the street can read more words or compute more math facts per minute than my son. What I care about is my children having the freedom and encouragement to learn in a personal, supportive setting without all the conformist baggage that necessarily accompanies a classroom education.

(Sorry if I'm being "loud," PZ. I just feel that I have enough to contend with fending off the fundies who think that because I homeschool, I support their revolting political/religious agenda. Not really into having to defend my family's educational choices against people whose opinions I generally respect and agree with.)

Why bash home schooling when public schooling is so screwed up?

If your kid is fricking bored day in and day out, in school, I'd say that's child abuse as well.

That's an excellent and fundamental point Damien. Home schooling doesn't work well for some kids. We don't know what proportion. My guess is, though, since it takes a lot of extra energy on the part of the parents, home schooled kids benefit from someone close at hand being interested in and committed to their learning. And the kids are going to learn a lot about taking responsibility for their learning.

Public schooling doesn't work well for many kids. I went to what were considered good public schools and was, aside from music classes and one English class, generally bored to tears. I wasn't the only one, but I was fortunate since I later earned an MS from a major university. Lot's of kids are being left behind and I have no reason to believe NCLB is any solution to that (to the contrary in fact).

As a first step, let's get rid of all teaching degrees and certification. What a complete waste. College professors don't need them. Why should they be required in grades 1 through 12?

Caledonian

It becomes harder and harder for people who want to do things differently from the government-imposed norm to do so.

Boo hoo hoo hoo!!!!! You're doing it again, Caledonian. According to your "logic", every law is "bad" because it makes it "harder" for people to do what they want.

Boo hoo hoo hoo!!!!! Libertarian diapers. I think there's some serious money to be made there.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

COD -- I'll ask you to show where I suggested using, as you say, "government force to impose [my] opinion on creationist homeschoolers".

Warren, you said:

I'm not trying to say parents can't indoctrinate their children into their beliefs. What I'm suggesting is that they should not be allowed to do so and claim (at the same time) that they are teaching them hard, incontrovertible facts.

How else do you propose to "not allow it" other than by the force of law?

As a first step, let's get rid of all teaching degrees and certification. What a complete waste. College professors don't need them. Why should they be required in grades 1 through 12?

I can't make an argument as to why they should. As to why they are, it's quite simple: some method is needed to make some people stand out from others, to distinguish one candidate from another. When there are no objective qualifications, or people don't want to work to discover them, arbitrary symbols are used to substitute for them.

If anyone can teach, no teacher is in a privledged position. So we define something that's tedious and expensive to acquire as being necessary to teach. Now "professional" teachers can be distinguished from competent "non-professionals". It's a guild system, complete with hazing.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Honestly, I don't care whether the seven-year-old down the street can read more words or compute more math facts per minute than my son.

Either do I. But I do care if the seven year old down the street is learning that it is a scientific FACT that faggot kids are going to hell because they CHOOSE to be gay. Or that science has proven that black kids are sub-human animals. Or that scientists know that the earth was created in 6 days six thousand years ago.

I care very much about that and I think my reasons for caring are powerful and rational enough to trump whatever imaginary "right" you believe you have to brainwash the young people that live in your house.

And I believe that someday it will be illegal to brainwash kids in that way and you will be entitled to move to Afghanistan if you don't like it.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Caledonian -- This isn't a valid objection:

Setting minimial standards means that the government is now determining which things all children are required to learn.

But this is:

By requiring tests at certain times, it also determines when those things will be taught. The homeschoolers who have perfectly reasonable positions on what facts should be taught still have a variety of opinions of when and how. If students must pass a test on obscure state historical facts (as many in fact are required to do), that time cannot be used to teach other things - and that's presuming that they and their teachers feel learning those facts is worthwhile in the first place.

The first objection above isn't valid because it's reasonable to expect certain minimums to be taught in order for a functional social member to be created. Language skills, for instance; basic arithmetic; and -- yes -- history, though not in terms of memorizing obscure facts, but rather in awareness of context.

The second objection is well stated and I think a very strong argument in favor of homeschooling, as well as other nontraditional or explorational forms of group education.

My objection was, and is, that absolute twaddle such as creationism cannot be permitted to be taught as fact, because it simply isn't. The nonreality of creationism is indisputable. Therefore, attempting to argue that it should be taught as fact is siding with insanity -- even if your argument is based in the principle of maximal freedom.

The premise (freedom = good; more freedom = more good) is probably sound; the conclusion (therefore freedom to teach twaddle as truth = good) is not.

How else do you propose to "not allow it" other than by the force of law?

I love the "force of law" rhetoric. Oooh, so scary!!!! It's the same force that makes me quake in fear every time I drive five miles over the speed limit. Which is every freaking time I get in my care.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

COD -- you very selectively argue only with "What I'm suggesting is that they should not be allowed to do so", and totally overlook what follows: "...and claim (at the same time) that they are teaching them hard, incontrovertible facts."

You can't argue with half a sentence.

How else do you propose to "not allow it" other than by the force of law?

For starters, public shaming by pointing out the foolishness of the system, just as PZ did with this post.

The premise (freedom = good; more freedom = more good) is probably sound; the conclusion (therefore freedom to teach twaddle as truth = good) is not.

Our government is really bad at doing anything. Deciding what is and isn't true isn't something it should be involved with - particularly when it would gain the ability to mandate indoctrination by making the decision.

What is and isn't twaddle is not something that should be mandated. Period. Most especially not by any collection of citizens that wields political power en masse.

Basic standards for government-sponsored schools, when there are other options available? Good idea. Basic standards for all teaching, making those other options more like the government option? Bad idea.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Warren, again:

My objection was, and is, that absolute twaddle such as creationism cannot be permitted to be taught as fact, because it simply isn't.

Who is doing the permitting? If it's simply semantics and you have no intention of ever suggesting that there be rules or laws regarding what creationists can teach their kids, then I misinterpreted what you wrote several times and I apologize. However I can't thing of any other way you are going to be able to "not permit something" without passing a law against it.

Some topics are pure flamebait.
The standard memes, perceiving themselves as having been attacked, fire up their automatic retaliation systems, and roboticly assault all real and perceived enemies within reach.
The RAT-TAT-TAT of heavy artillery drowns out reasoned discussion, and observers are left stunned and deafened.

I apologize to those who are still trying to have a reasoned discussion, but that is what has happened here. Unfortunately I do not know what to do about it.

But I do care if the seven year old down the street is learning that it is a scientific FACT that faggot kids are going to hell because they CHOOSE to be gay. Or that science has proven that black kids are sub-human animals. Or that scientists know that the earth was created in 6 days six thousand years ago.

I understand and share your concern--but am a bit puzzled as to how this argument can conflate with an anti-homeschool argument. Do you honestly believe that parents are not teaching their kids anything if the kids are enrolled in public school?

Most of the ignorant notions of this kind of which I've had to disabuse my kids have come from their public-schooled peers. When my son was in public kindergarten during the 2004 election, he came home wide-eyed one day and asked, "Mama, is it true that if John Kerry gets elected, women will have to kill their babies?"

(This was the same year that he got in trouble for announcing to the girl trying to proselytize him at lunch, "You know there's no such thing as God. Everybody knows that.")

PZ Myers wrote, "Mentioning the word "homeschool" does seem to bring out the loud and devoted."

Heh. My thought exactly. This is what, the second or third homeschool thread I've seen on this site. The comment threads on every one of them has been long on anecdotes and strong personal opinions.

It's like those people who are doing well by homeschooling or were homeschooled and did well are very nervous about losing the right to homeschool. As soon as the topic crops up, plenty of "I was homeschooled and I'm just fine" stories appear as well as the "I'm homeschooling and my children are geniuses" reports materialize.

I'm beginning to think that there may be an uneven representation of homeschoolers/homeschooled reading Pharyngula. Those homeschoolers and homeschooled who have had a homeschooling experiance giving them a better education read this site, and those who were homeschooled by zealots don't. ;) (With a nod to drwhore abvove who might be an exception.)

And of course the side question always seems to crop up. Where does regulation turn into control? The only group which has the ability to regulate across the ethnic, religious, economic, and social landscape is the government. But according to some people commenting here, allowing the government to regulate ultimately means giving them complete control.

The only problem with that belief is that we still have a constitutional right to petition the state through the independant judiciary if legislation or executive decisions assume too much control. Mind you, some people believe the courts are not as independant as they should be.

Stating the question is easy.

How much regulation should government establish to promote a minimal educational goal for all the citizens?

Answering it is difficult.

Cheers,

-Flex

Hhhmm. Before we began homeschooling, my oldest child came home from school asking about the "N Word" and why the white kids hated the black kids. I don't know about all public schools, but when we sent our kids to public school in North Carolina, that's where they LEARNED about racism.

Here in Virginia, homophobia seems to be much more prevalent within the rest of society than in our own home.

I'm glad homeschooling has given us an opportunity to counter prejudices, even those about homeschooling, so that our kids can grow up without internalizing stereotypes that are so often learned in school.

To paraphrase an earlier poster:
"I care very much about that and I think my reasons for caring are powerful and rational enough to trump whatever imaginary "right" you believe (the government has to facilitate the) brainwash(ing of) the young people that attend public schools."

Not sure where folks got the idea that homeschoolers are homophobic racist child molesters. That would be like my googling "Teacher arrested" and assuming that those results represent all teachers.

Homeschoolers are a diverse lot. Some of us are politically liberal or centrist, socially tolerant, and scientifically forward-thinking. You force us to ally ourselves with our homeschooling brethren who are politically ultra-conservative, religiously fundamentalist, and scientifically off-base, when you presume that government should regulate our educational choices for our own children.

My freedom to teach evolution may be dependent on their freedom not to. And I think we'll have reached "1984" when the government can come into my home and decide that for my family.

My teaching racial and gender tolerance makes me the odd one among many parents in the communities in which I've lived. (North Carolina, Virginia, Missisippi, etc.) I've been grateful for the opportunity to provide the world with some kids that haven't been schooled in the ways of prejudice.

In an otherwise excellent post, Flex posted the following:

Where does regulation turn into control?

C'mon, Flex! Regulation is control - not necessarily absolute control, but control nevertheless. It is by defintion. To make things regular, irregular things must be eliminated or changed. Regulation necessarily implies an ability to control.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Yes. Nervous about the potential to lose the right to homeschool? You betcha. Freedom is dear. When I hear how easily you all would give up my freedom, it does induce a bit of unease.

But I do care if the seven year old down the street is learning that it is a scientific FACT that faggot kids are going to hell because they CHOOSE to be gay. Or that science has proven that black kids are sub-human animals. Or that scientists know that the earth was created in 6 days six thousand years ago.

Who cares what Christians think of gays, so long as they don't act on those thoughts in a way that infringes on a somebody's civil rights? I don't think there is any evidence that evangelical Christians are more likely to commit violence against a gay. The occasional story in the news is usually a drunk frat boy, not a kid walking home from church. Same thing with blacks, adam and eve, or anything else. We are all free to believe whatever we want, so long as we don't act on those beliefs in such a way that we infringe on somebody's rights. Enforcing that line, and punishing those who cross it, is why we have a government.

As a movement, homeschooling started in the 1960's by political leftists, "liberals", who didn't want their children's thinking to be influenced by what they perceived as harmful societal influences that dominated mainstream thought.

I find it remarkable how much confidence people at this blog invest in the idea of central authority and control. History demonstrates that societies that form around such ideas tend to become dominated by powerful interest groups which suppress all dissent and mandate specific ideologies, yet people still cling to the delusion that they can give more and more power to governmental authorities and still somehow ensure that the government obeys their personal desires and preferences.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

PZ said, "Mentioning the word "homeschool" does seem to bring out the loud and devoted. I still don't understand why the homeschool fans aren't complaining about the fact that evangelical creeps have lowered the standards for homeschooling to near nonexistence."

Well, few here have argued against setting standards per se. We have argued that setting standards beyond the 3r's is nontrivial, and even then enforcement is not simple. If the concern is over actual abuse per se, perhaps the money you envision being spent on policing homeschoolers could benefit more kids by funding, say, anti-bully programs at public schools. I would argue that in terms of cost effectiveness it would be a better expenditure of public money.

Alternatively, if you really want to help kids at the low end of the distribution, spend it on special ed and remedial learning in the public schools, where the area under the low end is larger than the miniscule number of kids in evangelist households.

"If you're so confident that homeschooling is great, that you can outperform those public school kids, etc., why is there always this freakout at the idea that we should regulate some minimal standards for homeschools?"

If you're so confident that you're not a terrorist, why is there always a freakout when the government goes poking it's nose into your e-mail? It's not like we have a presumption of liberty, or need to demonstrate a compelling state interest, or anything.....

More seriously, the present school system is uneven, unfair, and capricious. If you expect anyone to take seriously the notion that we should see wider application and enforcement of this model, you're not merely studying neurodegeneration. There have been numerous reports of large proportions of students finishing high school without basic literacy ski11z. Hell, if its critical thinking you're after, not even the public schools have consistently delivered the goods.

Homeschoolers need not demonstrate superiority, nor even parity, on standardized tests if their students are happier, healthier, and as successful. More to the point, I think that in aggregate with the present system, homeschoolers demonstrate parity, making the call for "more regulations" a bit bizarre.

As I said, my state has much more than the minimal standards you're calling for, and they do nothing to curtail what you're bemoaning. They are jiggered and rigged and skipped, and the bureaucracy is utterly powerless, for structural and social reasons, to do anything about it. Honestly, you sound like the "reformers" who want to see public schools dominated by the "back to basics" curriculum. How that curriculum actually molds students or teaches skills is irrelevant, we need reform!!!!

So pardon us if we think "more testing" and "more oversight" are just too pat.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Caledonian:

Our government is really bad at doing anything.

Taxes?

Deciding what is and isn't true isn't something it should be involved with - particularly when it would gain the ability to mandate indoctrination by making the decision.

Deciding what's true? What on earth are you thinking of? Evolution is a fact, creationism is not. That is no more up to "deciding" than 2 + 2 = 4.

Basic standards for government-sponsored schools, when there are other options available? Good idea. Basic standards for all teaching, making those other options more like the government option? Bad idea.

But there are not alternate realities from which to select. You can't be educated a given way for two decades, then get out into the real, unprotected world and see everything you were ever taught was wrong, and then expect (1) a do-over; or (2) the world to change to accommodate your dearly-held, utterly false belief system.

Choice in schooling, as in anything else, is fine, as long as the choices offered do not attempt to subvert or contravene reality.

(Whatever that may be, some are thinking, I'm sure. Might be a valid point too, but that is soooo not the topic under discussion, so I'll leave it for now.)

COD:

However I can't thing of any other way you are going to be able to "not permit something" without passing a law against it.

Making illegal the teaching of lies as fact isn't anywhere near as terrible as you'd like to make it sound.

Another homeschooler for science here.

I would suggest that before you look to homeschoolers as the problem in the lack of scientific understanding in this country, you should work on a part of the education system that affects far more of our population. Elementary education professionals.

My time as an education major was, frankly, the tipping point toward homeschooling. In the two universities I attended with large education departments, I did not meet a single elementary education major who was taking any science beyond the bare minimum required for their degree.The same was true for mathematics. There may have been some hiding in the woodwork -- I can't say I met all of them.

I did meet a number who could not grasp the difference between astronomy and astrology. A fellow middle school science major and I ended up getting permission to form our own group for a content area reading project after spending 45 minutes trying to convince to the rest of our group that astrology was not a subject for a science unit. They were unshakable in their conviction that astrology was a science and doing horoscopes would make a good science unit.

The majority of the people I met who were the future of elementary education were at some intersection on a scale of incurious, fearful and disdainful of science. For them, science was something to be done cookbook style out of a book, hoping no one asks any questions beyond the book.

Want to do something about the state of science education in this country? Don't worry so much about the status of that very small minority who are restrictively religiously home educated. Get in there and help teach other kids about the joys of science. In the schools, in libraries, at scout meetings or anywhere else you can think of. Include their parents if you can.

I've heard more than one homeschooling parent say something along the lines of that grateful to be teaching their kids science because they've learned to enjoy it themselves, learning more as they go along then they ever did in school. They also talk of learning to see the connections in the various sciences through their continued learning with their kids. Reach out and make a difference in the general population's perceptions of science. Changing how the majority perceives science will make more difference in society than legislating what homeschoolers should be teaching and when.

The Great White Wonder said, "But I do care if the seven year old down the street is learning that it is a scientific FACT that faggot kids are going to hell because they CHOOSE to be gay. Or that science has proven that black kids are sub-human animals. Or that scientists know that the earth was created in 6 days six thousand years ago."

Right, these beliefs are utterly ridiculous. And naturally, if we force these kids into public schools it will TOTALLY end racism and creationism and homophobia. Because 6h a day, 250 days a year is enough to undo the rest of the damage. Just by being there, even.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"Making illegal the teaching of lies as fact isn't anywhere near as terrible as you'd like to make it sound."

And THIS would be what scares homeschoolers and other open-minders. Oh MY!

Who gets to decide which are the lies?

Who gets to decide what is the truth?

Who gets to be the Inquisitor?

Who gets to decide the penalties?

Who gets to be the Enforcer?

I think it is MORE terrible than it sounds. My truth is poetry; someone else's truth is rocketry. Send me away, for I may indoctrinate my children in Frost -- worse yet -- Thoreau? Anyone hear READ any Thoreau or Emerson or Twain lately?

Good golly. We are in need of some education if many of us here believe that "making illegal the teaching of lies as fact" should ever be, could ever be, on the table.

I recommend the Thoreau...

(going off to read with my kid, grumblingly-mumblingly amazed. Not even outraged. Just amazed).

Oh, and I forgot to mention:

PZ said, "I still don't understand why the homeschool fans aren't complaining about the fact that evangelical creeps have lowered the standards for homeschooling to near nonexistence."

In addition to what I said above about homeschoolers being, on average, at parity, there is the question of paperwork. None of the homeschooling parents want to have endless meetings with school officials, fill out stupid pointless paperwork, and so forth. They are too busy educating their children.

Why should they argue for higher standards? They're not the problem. And they all know that they're one law away from being illegal, anyway. So it makes sense to keep the bar low. Honestly, PZ. These people all told the system to fuck off. Why in hell would they willingly cooperate with it, let alone expand its jurisdiction and power?

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Jeanne -- your argument in favor of teaching that 2 + 2 = 5 doesn't carry any weight. There isn't any inquisition required to establish quite a number of things as being incontrovertible.

Your truth may be poetry; that's fine. I'm talking about facts, though, which are a very different thing.

Making illegal the teaching of lies as fact isn't anywhere near as terrible as you'd like to make it sound.

I'm sure Galileo would agree with you. After all, the Catholic Church was 100% sure of the facts, right?

If somebody in power is arbitrating which facts can and can't be taught, them somebody is making judgement calls that are by definition going to occasionally turn out wrong. Those mistakes would have the potential to affect many more people negatively than individual parents making individual judgments for their individual kids.

I'm going to err on the side of the parents. You obviously aren't.

This is getting nowhere; it's just random crap-tossing at this point. The most recent thing I've written of value was probably posted two or three comments ago. Since then it's been slowly degrading into "nuh-uh!" and "uh-huh!".

I think some interesting points were made, particularly pro-homeschooling; I think equally valid points were made regarding unspoken social contracts with individuals.

I'm dropping it, though. Thanks for the lively discussion.

Who can spot the crucial difference between Warren's ideal system and the one set up by Stalin?

Anyone? Anyone?

Well, damn. Neither can I. I was hoping one of you could point it out.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

@ COD:

Galileo didn't run afoul of the Church, he ran afoul of the academics vested in Aristotelian physics, who ran to the church to topple their rivals. This was back when science and religion were on more friendly terms.

That said, it seems that PZ and his cohort are primarily arguing that the biggest failure of homeschooling is the fact that parents can teach lies to their children, not that it is so far producing graduates of inadequate caliber.

The idea that the teaching of creationism ("lies") leads to later pathology has not been substantiated with reference to empirical data, but it should be clear to even the most ardent proponents of public education that merely enforcing some kind of science curriculum, or indeed forcing evangelicals to send their kids to school, is no remedy at all.

Indeed, it was in public school that I first encountered evangelism, where I was first called "heathen" and "fornicator." This from nominally "gifted" students. If 12 years of public education in a blue ribbon district didn't diminish their ardor for Jesus, more rigorous homeschooling standards, or indeed the outright ban on homeschooling, won't work.

It is, to put it succintly, a kind of magical thinking that placing kids in a public school can make them unlearn what they learn at home. All the hooraws about social context and situatedness, yadda yadda.

Perhaps in their districts the curriculum addresses sectarian arguments. If so, bully for them. In my district, they can barely afford to teach the 3rs.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

PZ said (in response to 99bottles:)

Those of you rationalizing homeschooling by arguing that the public schools perform poorly really need to read the blueberry story. Average public school test scores don't explain the situation because public schools are obligated to accept every student and do the best they can with them. They have the job of trying to raise the incompetent to the mediocre as well as encouraging the brilliant students who excell.

I think something that a lot of people seem to miss as well is the question of relative resources and class size. Home schooling almost always has a MUCH higher teacher to student ratio than public schooling. It also requires that the family be well enough off that only one parent works, so that the other parent can dedicate a FTE to teaching the children.

If we were to spend the money to make sure that there was a teacher for, say, every 4 elementary school students, I wonder how much better public school test scores would be. I also wonder why *nobody* ever seems to make this point. It's almost as if work at home isn't really considered work, even if it's the exact same work that we pay people to do outside of the home. Huh.

Caledonian wrote, "C'mon, Flex! Regulation is control - not necessarily absolute control, but control nevertheless."

Well, you got me there....

As a matter of fact, in the first draft of my post I did use those terms even more interchangably than I did in my final posting. Heh.

But I really think you got my point. 'Regulation' typically implies (although not by definition) a low level of control, more like guidence or recommendations. 'Control' is a red-button word which often mentally triggers the jack-booted goon alarm.

Caledonian, regulation occurs throughout our society. Regulation is not only defined by law. Nor is regulation necessarily invasive or greatly limiting your activities. As an extreme example, there is a regulation which prohibits us from killing each other. I've never found that regulation particularly intrusive, and I doubt you have either.

As an example of a non-government regulation, your wages regulate your buying power. Unless you are making minimum wage, in which case the government is involved to your benefit, this regulation is due to market forces. It is still regulation, and some socialist thinkers have considered this regulation to be invasive control.

Social regulations, commonly called politeness or professionalism, are regulations observed by a greater or lesser extent by individuals. I rarely use blue language because of these social regulations. I've worked with people who think of even this as a form of external control and respond with a "F**k you!" when it's politely pointed out. Please note, I'm not suggesting that society needs all the social regulations it has, I'm just pointing out that they are there.

There is no such thing as complete freedom, the question is the level and source of regulation (or if you prefer, control).

Cheers,

-Flex

Who cares what Christians think of gays, so long as they don't act on those thoughts in a way that infringes on a somebody's civil rights?

Or brainwash another very susceptible person over whom they wield nearly absolute power to think in the same exact way that they do.

Try to focus on the subject at hand, mkay?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Who can spot the crucial difference between Warren's ideal system and the one set up by Stalin?

Anyone? Anyone?

Well, damn. Neither can I. I was hoping one of you could point it out.

You make Fonzie jealous, Caledonian.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Right, these beliefs are utterly ridiculous. And naturally, if we force these kids into public schools it will TOTALLY end racism and creationism and homophobia.

Is that what you believe, 99? THat's pretty fucking stupid.

But maybe you're just flailing at a strawman.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Actually Paperwight, I made that point about the 1-1 teaching several times throughout the comments. It is the primary benefit of home education.

We already spend about $8000 per kid on average for the public schools. I don't think anybody wants to contemplate what it would cost to reduce the teacher - student ratio to 1-4. I'm sure it would produce results. However, giving every parent in the country a $15,000 check per kid each year and letting the free market fill the need would probably work just as well, and be a lot cheaper.

Warren-Traction aside, I don't think it's unreasonable to insist on minimal educational standards. That is, after all, the putative rationale behind "No child left behind".

The rational behind NCLB is to be that we need to have public accountability of publicly funded education. THAT seems reasonable. To hold non publically funded educational options accountable to the taxpayer does not seem reasonable.

As it is, schools can, on some level opt out of NCLB if they also opt out of funding that is tied to it. The level at which this can happen depends on the local laws and funding regulations. Few are willing to give up their federal money, so few have done so.

FYI from the text of NCLB
SEC. 9506. PRIVATE, RELIGIOUS, AND HOME SCHOOLS.
''(a) APPLICABILITY TO NONRECIPIENT PRIVATE SCHOOLS.--
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect any private school that does not receive funds or services under this Act, nor shall any student who attends a private school that does not receive funds or services under this Act be required to participate in any assessment referenced in this Act.
''(b) APPLICABILITY TO HOME SCHOOLS.--Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect a home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a home school or a private school under State law, nor shall any student schooled at home be required to participate in any assessment referenced in this Act.
''(c) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON PROHIBITION OF FEDERAL CONTROL
OVER NONPUBLIC SCHOOLS.--Nothing in this Act shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any Federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school under State law. This section shall not be construed to bar private, religious, or home schools from participation in programs or services under this Act.
(d) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON STATE AND LOCAL EDUCATIONAL
AGENCY MANDATES.--Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require any State educational agency or local educational agency that receives funds under this Act to mandate, direct, or control the curriculum of a private or home school, regardless
or whether or not a home school is treated as a private school under state law, nor shall any funds under this Act be used for this purpose.

Also, in my home state, CT, the first responsibility is on the parent as educator:

Sec. 10-184. Duties of parents. School attendance age requirements.

All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments...

there's more detailing the requirements of those "causing their children to be instructed" but that's the meat of it in a very old education law.

Do you honestly believe that parents are not teaching their kids anything if the kids are enrolled in public school?

Of course not (and I never said anything of the sort so it's hardly proper to ask me if my alleged belief is "honest").

Look, states have laws that require kids to attend school. Right?

If they are not going to school, they are to be home-schooled. Just as I recognize that I can do nothing about a high school science teacher sitting in McDonald's talking about how great Jesus was, I recognize I can do nothing about what some parent tells his kid about "fags" or "niggers" at the dinner table.

But if homeschooling is the state-sanctioned legal alternative to mandatory school attendance, then yes the state should have a fucking say what teachers in homeschools teach those fucking kids. And I could care less if the teachers are parents or anybody else. Get it?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

paperweight said, "...Home schooling almost always has a MUCH higher teacher to student ratio than public schooling. It also requires that the family be well enough off that only one parent works, so that the other parent can dedicate a FTE to teaching the children."

This is true, though some homeschoolers pool resources and expertise into classrooms the size of many smaller schools.

"If we were to spend the money to make sure that there was a teacher for, say, every 4 elementary school students, I wonder how much better public school test scores would be. I also wonder why *nobody* ever seems to make this point."

Heh, lots of people make exactly this argument. I haven't read the literature in a while, but when I last looked at this issue the variance in per pupil spending was enormous: some schools spend $50k/year per student in rich districts. They don't do a lot better than those that spend $10k/year; what they get is computers and naturally the social network effects of their wealthy parents. So there are advantages to more money, but it's asymptotic.

The one thing that has emerged reliably in the literature (at leas, up to about 2001), is that parental attitudes towards education dominate over income per se (assuming some minimal level of funding).

My own bias is that elementary and secondary teachers should have their salaries increased substantially, entering wage around $60k, to attract better talent, and administrators (but not teachers) should have their salaries tied to test scores. I also think that standardized testing is a load of crap, whether done in public or home schools.

But there are two quite unrelated ideas in this thread. The first is that homeschool students are underperforming due to "low standards". As I said, there are good reasons why a 2nd grader taking Singapore math might test poorly at roman numerals and fractions relative to her peers in school. She will catch up and perhaps surpass her peers later, so "higher standards" simply don't apply. Similarly, there is little hope for a student testing at 35% of grade level at home who is "rescued" from that environment and sent to the racist/homophobic/crime ridden hell hole where she'll be "improved" to test at 45% of grade level. Assuming she doesn't drop out.

The second idea mixed into this thread is that, through some completely unarticulated and magical process, public schools instill diversity and tolerance into students. I think the advocates of this position are projecting their own current views backwards into their schooling, or else they attended some mighty rich schools.

More money might get the teachers and administrators on board with tolerance (assuming there is time left after math class, and you eliminate the drugs and bullying). But I think this view is fundamentally doomed: the kid spends more than 3/4 of her time at home. Public school might slightly reduce the prevalence of prejudices (though I doubt it), but I think forcing these standards will only further entrench the opposition. Jesus freaks go to public schools, too. Just observe them and count the number wearing a crucifix. Did we forget school prayer?

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Sec. 10-184. Duties of parents. School attendance age requirements.

All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments...

Someone call Caledonian! It's government mind control!!!! Stalin has arrived!!!!!!

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The second idea mixed into this thread is that, through some completely unarticulated and magical process, public schools instill diversity and tolerance into students.

What a load of bullshit, 99. Here, I'll articulate it for you: public schools actually do teach kids why racism and bigotry is bad and bogus, in American history, World history, and English class for starters.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Interrobang says:

(Caveat: I'm Canadian, and curricular standards work a little differently here; further, I'm a product of an excellent public education system, and several of my teachers were considered such leaders in their field they helped to author provincial and federal curriculum standards. YM, as always, MV.)

According to today's Ottawa Citizen:

Teach sex and evolution or close, Quebec evangelical schools told

The Quebec ministry of education has told unlicensed Christian evangelical schools that they must teach Darwin's theory of evolution and sex education or close their doors after an Outaouais school board complained the provincial curriculum wasn't being followed....

Canada has always struck me as a real class act. Sometimes I think I'd move there if it weren't for the winters. But getting chilled and not getting enough sunlight aggravate my chronic depression something fierce.

By anomalous4 (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Nor is regulation necessarily invasive or greatly limiting your activities. As an extreme example, there is a regulation which prohibits us from killing each other. I've never found that regulation particularly intrusive, and I doubt you have either.

Damn straight, Flex. But one of the traditional cornerstones of American political thought which I always agreed with was that governmental regulation/intrusion should be minimized to the minimum required to maintain certain basic rights - no going around killing other people willy-nilly, and so on.

The regulation we are talking about goes much farther than that, and it aims to control something very important. It's not just encouraging the outcomes that specific people desire, it's outright outlawing the things they don't like. Setting up that kind of power structure is dangerous for many reasons, not least because once it's in place, its target can be switched relatively easily.

Let people have their alternatives. If those alternatives are inferior, they will suffer for their choice. If those alternatives are superior, they will benefit. And if some are inferior and some superior, those who can best distinguish between the two will prosper. Leave the socialistic fascism to the Harrison Bergeron nightmare, I say.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The Great White Wonder complained, "I recognize I can do nothing about what some parent tells his kid about "fags" or "niggers" at the dinner table."

QED

"But if homeschooling is the state-sanctioned legal alternative to mandatory school attendance, then yes the state should have a fucking say what teachers in homeschools teach those fucking kids."

Um, I'm not sure where you live, but there are laws regulating home schooling in all 50 states. To my knowledge, there is no state that permits parents to ignore the teaching of the 3rs. And as I said, I agree that the state has a compelling interest in certifying the 3rs are taught.

You and Warren keep saying that teaching a kid "faggots go to hell" is abusive or somehow within the purview of the people who oversee homeschools. Really, you need to 1) demonstrate with empirical data that this is actually abusive, and 2) make the argument that the state has a compelling interest in enforcing a curriculum beyond the 3rs.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The Quebec ministry of education has told unlicensed Christian evangelical schools that they must teach Darwin's theory of evolution and sex education or close their doors after an Outaouais school board complained the provincial curriculum wasn't being followed....

OMIGOD, the Stalinists are right next door!!!!!

Actually, we know how bad Canada's laws are because our professional sports leagues are the envy of the world. You can't stuff like NASCAR and Monday Night Football in an Orwellian nightmare world like Canada.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The Great White Wonder shouted, "Here, I'll articulate it for you: public schools actually do teach kids why racism and bigotry is bad and bogus, in American history, World history, and English class for starters."

Ha, you amuse me, whitey. Maybe in your rich school district they actually teach this. I doubt it, the textbooks are sanitized. Try on _Lies My Teacher Told Me_, by James Loewen. You'll find out exactly what the difference is between contemporary texts and the history lessons you're projecting backwards into your own past.

Oh, you get the usual, "tolerance is good" lectures, but, as you conceded, none of the lessons can compete with what the kids get told at the dinner table. Only if the teachers had magical powers could they undo what kids hear for 75% of their time. And this is setting aside the racism, homophobia, violence, and emotional abuse that predominate in schools that aren't as lucky as yours. The baseline environment teaches kids about racism, and often to be racists.

Messing with homeschooling by regulation, or forcing them to teach the truth about Woodrow Wilson (as opposed to what history teachers say), won't change anything. Unless you do have magic powers?

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

If the parents are teaching the kids that faggots go to hell, they are almost certainly hearing the same thing from their preacher at church.

Is it the position of Great White that the state should also march into church and cuff the preacher? If you are going to make it illegal in the home, you can't very well allow it in church can you?

http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/hb.html

The people who believe they can use the government to compell others to have taught to them what those people want to be taught are enthusiastic - but what controls and limits are they placing in the system to prevent that power structure from being turned against them, hm? Would they be so eager to make sure people had to learn specific things if those things were suddenly determined by someone other than themselves? I wonder...

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

You and Warren keep saying that teaching a kid "faggots go to hell" is abusive or somehow within the purview of the people who oversee homeschools.

Of course it's "within the purview." It's a SCIENTIFIC FACT to some people. Or haven't you been paying attention to this blog for the past several years?

Really, you need to 1) demonstrate with empirical data that this is actually abusive,

What do you mean "actually abusive"? Why do I have to prove "actually abusive"? Why isn't it enough to prove that such viewpoints are scientifically FALSE and lead to ANTISOCIAL behavior in our society? Or do you think that kids who are taught from a very young age that niggers are subhuman animals or fags are filthy perverts are just as likely to believe the truth about blacks and gays as other kids? Where is YOUR empirical evidence because, uh, it seems like the public school system has sort of figured out what the answer is to your question.

and 2) make the argument that the state has a compelling interest in enforcing a curriculum beyond the 3rs.

You think that a state can't make a compelling argument that it has an interest in enforcing a curriculum beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The nonreality of creationism is indisputable. Therefore, attempting to argue that it should be taught as fact is siding with insanity -- even if your argument is based in the principle of maximal freedom.

I call bullshit! Isn't this a site of, by, and for scientists? Warren, this statement is every bit as doctrinaire as any uttered by the fundies you seek to disparage. We believe that the modern synthesis is probably correct based on the evidence we've accumulated to date. We don't know that it is. And we don't know that tomorrow some scientist somewhere will not come up with some data that monkey-wrenches the whole thing. There's even a non-zero chance that the data will show the fundies correct.

I don't recall learning that scientists should ever be so sure of their positions.

By Daryl Cobranchi (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Under what law, Mr. LaBonne?

The stuff you described clearly is child abuse under the law. As I said, only in the most benighted fundamentalist areas, mainly in the South, can I imagine that child protection agencies and prosecutors would choose (illegitimately) to overlook that kind of abuse if it came to their attention.

Invasive "therapies" need to be administered by properly licensed therapists, not by fundie ministers and deprogrammers, to even have a presumption of being legal. Plenty of "tough-love" programs that even fall short of the extremes of what you described have found themselves shut down and their operators prosecuted in various parts of the country. I have to say that your ignorance really amazes me.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Is it the position of Great White that the state should also march into church and cuff the preacher?

Here again we go with the strawman. Try to focus on the topic at hand. Thanks.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Daryl, you're full of shit, as I've told you in the past on your own site. That statement is the simple truth, not "doctrinaire". As a chemist, you're unqualified to tell biologists what's "doctrinaire" and what isn't.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

So here's the Great White Wonder.

1)"...public schools actually do teach kids why racism and bigotry is bad and bogus, in American history, World history, and English class for starters."

AND

2) "I recognize I can do nothing about what some parent tells his kid about "fags" or "niggers" at the dinner table."

So which is it, does the school have magical powers to get students to accept that racism is wrong? Or are they powerless against parents?

And really, I'm still waiting for some empirical data to support the claim that teaching "lies" is abusive. The association of secondhand smoke with pathology is small but detectable. Surely the rabid pro-public education people can reach that bar with their claims.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I'm a homeschooler, and an evangelical Christian, and while I'm not at all comfortable with the meta-message of Myers' post here (Homeschooling should be regulated, less free), I do identify a widespread problem in the homeschooling community when it comes to science. Young earth creationism is much more popular and entrenched in the homeschooling community than I'd thought, and more deeply-seated than even in the wider evangelical/fundamentalist community.

I don't think regulation is the answer. As a free-market conservative, though, I lament at this trend -- so many homeschoolers so ill-equipped to function and succeed in the sciences. As Myers' says above, they will be and are being selected against at good schools, not out of bigorty, but simply because their homeschooling parents didn't bother to provide even nominal education in science.

More comments from an Evangelical Christian + Evolutionist perspective at my blog post on this subject:

http://evangelutionist.com/blog1/2006/11/09/pz_on_homeschoolers/

-Touchstone

Would they be so eager to make sure people had to learn specific things if those things were suddenly determined by someone other than themselves?

No, Caledonian, we wouldn't. But here you again with the bogeyman and strawmen. I'm talking about basic fucking shit here. I'm not talking about teaching the virtues of capitalism or communism or even religion. I'm talking about the brainwashing of children with FALSE FUCKED UP ASS BACKWARDS BULLSHIT in the guise of real science.

Get it? God, I fucking hope so because i've explained it to you like fifty times now.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

How much regulation should government establish to promote a minimal educational goal for all the citizens?

Answering it is difficult.

The SCOTUS answered this in Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925: "As often heretofore pointed out, rights guaranteed by the Constitution may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the State. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."

Pierce was almost a perfect parallel to the discussion here. The case hinged on an Oregon law that forbade private (i.e., religious) schools and forced all kids to attend (and be indoctrinated by) the public schools.

By Daryl Cobranchi (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

OMIGOD, the Stalinists are right next door!!!!!

In Canada, any member of a protected group may complain to a special court that you've said something prejudicial. You are not permitted to know that person's identify or confront them in court. If in the court's judgment what you've said has a tendency to promote hatred toward that group, even if it is objectively verifiable as truth, and regardless of whether it was intended to promote hatred, you can be convicted.

Yes. The Stalinists are next door.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

99 bottles

"So which is it, does the school have magical powers to get students to accept that racism is wrong? Or are they powerless against parents?"

So which is it? Is 99 Bottles a clueless retard who continues to refer to education as "magic" after it's been explained to him that it's not magic? Or is he just trolling like a jerkoff?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

As a chemist, you're unqualified to tell biologists what's "doctrinaire" and what isn't.

But you don't seem to consider yourself unqualified to tell parents what's acceptable teaching material and what isn't. Hmmmm... And you seem to consider "the government" to be even more qualified to do so. Hmmmm...

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Some people seem confused about a basic fact. Homeschooling (which, again, I fully support as long as there is adequate oversight), pace libertarian fantasies, is not a Constitutional, or common-law, right in any way, shape or form. It is a privilege conferred by statute as an exception to compulsory schooling (which itself has been established by statute). The state has every legal right to exercise such regulation as is provided for by statute in any given jurisdiction. How much oversight is wise or necessary is something to be dcided by the democratic process.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The Great White Wonder, running out of places to hide, said, "Why isn't it enough to prove that such viewpoints are scientifically FALSE and lead to ANTISOCIAL behavior in our society?"

Well, there you go. It should be easy to demonstrate, with statistics and demography and so forth, that creationists have higher rates of sociopathy, alcoholism, serial killing, brain cancer, car accidents, or something to substantiate the claim that teaching creationism is abusive. What I'm looking for is bruises and cuts, or cigarette burns on their psyches. You know, actual data.

As far as I can tell, and I admit this is anecdotal, they seem to be happy, grow up, have kids, and generally do quite well. They are ignorant and have silly ideas, but then so do lots of atheists about other things.

It is true that kids in these households are more likely to believe what they are told. You need to present data that sending them to public schools, or enforcing such a curriculum on homeschoolers, would in fact diminish the "damage" that you haven't yet demonstrated.

"You think that a state can't make a compelling argument that it has an interest in enforcing a curriculum beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic?"

Well, I wonder what, exactly, it would be. And I wonder how it would be enforced, given that you've admitted the schools have no power over the dinner table. Education nominally aims for a literate public; I don't think "tolerance" ranks high on most schools lists, except in rich districts where they have the time and money for it.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

A far as biology teaching materials go I am very definitely thus qualified, and I have a bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. (from Harvard and Northwestern, respectively) and years of additional professional training and experience to back up that claim. Your point?

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Some people seem confused about a basic fact.

They're not confused. They are ignoring the fact because it runs contrary to their hysterical Stalin-Is-Coming script.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Have you noticed every time Whitey gets challenged on something he cries strawman and refuses to answer the question? I think I counted at least 4 or 5 times in the comments thread.

As Warren noted an hour ago - this has stopped being productive. I'm outta here.

Several of you are much more like the fundies than you would ever care to admit. The only difference is you have a different set of facts that you want to impose on the rest of us. The "fact" that your facts are way more supported by science today than theirs, does not make you right.

Warren -- talk about chilling intellectual vitality.

Let's see, what if we had decided on it being PARTICLES of light? No, make that WAVES. Now, anyone teaching the opposite is doing something illegal. Wait. Opposite of WHICH? What, there's duality? Sorry, no room for duality. It's binary; binary only. Choose your truth. Particle. Wave.

My mom the science teacher was taught (and passed it on to hundreds of students) that atoms were indivisible. What if we'd made teaching anything other than THAT FACT illegal? Einstein might have had even more trouble than he did have. But, maybe it would have been a good thing for the world in some way. At least we would have none of that messy line blurring - you know, where some people were teaching LIES!

I do have to say, one root of this argument for me, is indeed, academic freedom. If a college faculty member (as I once was) has it, then I should have no less as my child's parent.

Will some parents get it wrong? No doubt. Same as some teachers, some schools, some government authorities. The freedom for them to be wrong offers me the freedom to possibly get it right. And really that provides even the freedom for THEM to change their own views, to be less entrenched, to be open to learning new models.

I find it ironic that those who believe homeschooling should be more regulated in order to produce a more "right" way of thinking in children are the same people who criticize homeschooling parents as teaching solely what the parents believe to be a "right" way of thinking. Huh? Who gets to be right?

To me, both are exhibiting a type of fundamentalism, a faulty reliance on binary thinking. Scary for a shades-of-gray person like me. I'm not sure that enforcing 2 + 2 = 4 is worth the loss of imagining the universe where that equation might equal something very different. My kids are allowed to live there, while they understand that society expects them to answer "4."

It seems to me that real intelligence-sparks fly best and most when a good left brainer allows or has the intuitive "aha" moments -- the right brain's picture of some connection that binary thinking alone fails to produce. Yep, we can get good number crunchers, who always know the answer is 4, but can we get Relativity? Can we get Art? Can we get explorations of the Religions of the World? Can we get multiple perspectives on history, culture or politics?

But that's not a big deal. We shall just arbitrate the facts, and since they are a minority and definitely out of step, we shall Make Sure Homeschoolers Are Teaching These Facts.

I defend evolution. But in order to be sure I can continue to teach it in my home, I must defend other homeschoolers' right not to.

And yes, these things keep me up at night.

Steve:

Here in CT it's not a privilege. It's our duty to either educate our kids or otherwise see that they receive an education. Thanks for thinking that you know the law everywhere.

Retard 99 says

substantiate the claim that teaching creationism is abusive.

Why do I need to do that to regulate what parents teach their kids? Are we talking about homeschooling here or something else?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The Great White Wonder, caught in his own contradictory logic, says, "So which is it? Is 99 Bottles a clueless retard who continues to refer to education as "magic" after it's been explained to him that it's not magic? Or is he just trolling like a jerkoff?"

You claim teaching creationism abusive and promotes antisocial behavior. You have neither linked nor cited any actual data to support this claim.

You claim that kids told that "faggots go to hell" over the dinner table are likely to believe it.

Then you claim that schools can undo this FALSE and ANTISOCIAL belief in history and English class, again without any data, and in direct contradiction to your earlier claims about what happens at the dinner table.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The only difference is you have a different set of facts that you want to impose on the rest of us.

What a hopelessly fatuous statement. When it comes to science and math, there is only one fact of the matter about any given state of affairs. We may not be sure we've discovered it yet in any given case, but pulling stuff out of your ass (or, just as bad, out of ancient mythology) most definitely won't get you there.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"Here in CT it's not a privilege. It's our duty to either educate our kids or otherwise see that they receive an education. Thanks for thinking that you know the law everywhere."

Steve's point is that if you don't "see to it" the State will, whether you like it or not. You have the opportunity to take up the State's task but that opportunity could be taken away if, e.g., you're a fucking idiot.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

99 Retards

"You claim teaching creationism abusive and promotes antisocial behavior."

Show me where I claimed that creationism promotes antisocial behavior.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

KS: your state can and does have the power to regulate homeschooling. The requirements happen to be pretty lax right now, but there is no question that the legislature has the authority to make them more restrictive than they are now should it so choose. I don't know what point you think you're making but it does not conflict with what I said.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

It is a privilege conferred by statute as an exception to compulsory schooling (which itself has been established by statute).

..and which is a relatively recent innovation, as it was mandated as a way of forcing children off the streets and out of idleness, which was seen as socially inappropriate. The children were on the streets because of laws prohibiting them from working. Laws prohibited them from working because the available manufacturing work was terrible. The available manufacturing work was terrible because the shift from agrarian farming to urban manufacturing took power from the common person and gave it to the factory owner, who was then free to impose whatever conditions he wished.

When children could provide valuable assistance on farms, they were afforded respect. When they would no longer be permitted to engage themselves in profitable work because the nature of the work had become horrible, they were confined to containment facilities, otherwise known as "schools".

The Constitution did not guarantee the right to educate one's children as one wished because its authors would never have dreamed that compulsory teaching would be permitted.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

@ Steve LaBonne:

I agree with you about statute and the democratic process, and the need for oversight. I think that getting oversight into things beyond the 3rs is problematic, particularly with the constituency of homeschoolers being more religious than others. I also think that, even if you could require some kind of scientific or tolerance training in the curriculum, it would be undermined by the parents.

And, contra Great White Wonder, I don't see any evidence that tolerance and science curriculum in actual public schools has reduced the teaching of so called FALSE and ANTISOCIAL behaviors.

My beef with PZ and others wanting more regulation is simply that it won't change the behavior they seek to change in any meaningful way, while it will inconvenience everyone and cost lots of money. Whereas I do think that focusing monies and efforts on public outreach and science education efforts (PBS, libraries, public debates, etc) does stand a chance.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The Constitution did not guarantee the right to educate one's children as one wished because its authors would never have dreamed that compulsory teaching would be permitted.

Oh, look, it's Baby Scalia! Awww, so cute.

The authors were too busy fucking their slaves to worry about writing a right to education into the constitution. Fuck them.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I defend evolution. But in order to be sure I can continue to teach it in my home, I must defend other homeschoolers' right not to.

Quoted for Truth.

Also, a pre-emptive rebuking of GWW: you're not qualified to discuss the history of societal perceptions of childhood in any way. I, on the other hand, have sat through enough lectures on the subject to have an educated layman's knowledge of the matter. Shut your noise hole.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

You can spin it however you like, Caledonian, but as you admit, I'm correct. Whether you like it or not is entirely beside the point.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Doctrinaire-- Of, relating to, or characteristic of a person inflexibly attached to a practice or theory.

I'd say that stating that anything is indisputable fits the definition. And the "siding with insanity" bit is just icing.

By Daryl Cobranchi (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

99

"And, contra Great White Wonder, I don't see any evidence that tolerance and science curriculum in actual public schools has reduced the teaching of so called FALSE and ANTISOCIAL behaviors."

Once again, I never claimed that "science curriculum in public schools reduced the teaching of false and antisocial behavior."

It's called "reading comprehension," 99 Bottles. Get some. For godzukes, get some.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Great White Wonder, at 04:05pm:

"Why do I have to prove "actually abusive"? Why isn't it enough to prove that such viewpoints are scientifically FALSE and lead to ANTISOCIAL behavior in our society?"

Show me the data. What antisocial behavior? What kind of pathology? Or did you not mean "antisocial" in the DSM-IV sense? Or is it just that they are big meanies who hurt your feewings when they say so and so is going to hell?

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Caledonian

GWW: you're not qualified to discuss the history of societal perceptions of childhood in any way. I, on the other hand

Omigod, you are a silly prick. Take your "credentials" and shove them up your ass.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Perhaps that pre-emptive rebuke should have been directed at Mr. LaBonne, whose severe case of not-knowing-what-the-hell-he's-talking-about doesn't seem to prevent him from holding forth on all kinds of matters.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

'd say that stating that anything is indisputable fits the definition.

Feel free to jump out of a 55th floor window in order to demonstrate the disputability of gravity.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

GWW nitpicked, "Once again, I never claimed that "science curriculum in public schools reduced the teaching of false and antisocial behavior.".

Oh, my bad. Sorry.

"American history, World history, and English class for starters."

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

99 Bottles wants me to "show him the data" that teaching kids that "niggers are animals" or "faggots are filthy perverts" leads to antisocial behavior.

Buy a plane ticket to Germany, 99 Bottles, and be sure to stop by Auschwitz. Your data is waiting for you there.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

oh, COD, you and I just reached the same conclusion re fundamentalists on different ends of the spectrum.

And Steve, a great many people disagree with your version of the derivation of the right to homeschool. There's some good reading on that topic, but I don't have time to dig it out with dinner needing tending. Yours is merely one of many viewpoints -- but not one that everyone agrees upon as a "basic fact."

Gee there we go again on which facts are the correct ones.

Oh, my bad. Sorry.

You should be sorry. How hard is it to re-check a comment before you put words in someone else's mouth?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

@ Caledonian:

There are lots of different interepretations of constitutional interpretation, but Steve is essentially correct both de facto and de jure. Some might hope that alternative interpretations gain credence in the future, but I think it's unlikely.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

@ GWW:

And how hard is it to find actual data supporting the assertion that teaching this crap leads to actual antisocial and abusive repercussions?

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Jeanne

Gee there we go again on which facts are the correct ones.

Of course, noboby is claiming that reasonable disputes exist as to the nature of certain realities.

But this thread is not about those disputes, as much as some diaper-wetters would like it to be.

It's about teaching 100% pure horseshit instead of universally recognized facts. To little kids. In "school."

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

GWW just can't wait to use the collective power of government to force things to be taught the correct way - his way. No more need to persuade, no more need to demonstrate, no more need to let the merits of his case prove his position superior, no more need to risk being shown to be wrong or suboptimal.

Why give people the option to choose differently and thus risk their choosing wrongly? GWW knows what's right, and he's perfectly capable of choosing for them. He's the Decider!

Are you sure your last initial isn't a 'B', GWW? 'GWB' seems like a collection of letters associated with that sort of position in my mind for some reason...

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Jeanne, there's a lot of liberatarian bullshit going around that claims all sorts of bizarre "rights". A glance at the acutal law is sufficient to show that it is bullshit. Every state has laws respecting the welfare and education of children, and the courts have been uphoding thsoe lwas for a very long time.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Agree with Caledonian.

As much as I would like to have kids taught sound, emperical science, and avoid fundamentalist indoctrination at the hands of homeschoolers, people who speak for public schools, must remember the words of Patrick Henry (IIRC?) -

"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm".

Remember Kansas.

GWW just can't wait to use the collective power of government to force things to be taught the correct way - his way.

Caledonian just can't wait to attack strawmen. In fact, he does it in every comment. Why? Because he's mildly retarded or merely a gaping asshole.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

@ GWW:

So, when someone cites Stalin their logic is silly, but when you cite Aushwitz it's right on target. Funny, that.

So tell me, GWW, how does what happened in Germany 60 years ago demonstrate that the net effect of contemporary Evangelical Homeschooling is abusive or antisocial in outcome?

There have been numerous studies of demographics and outcomes for homeschoolers, I imagine that someone, somewhere, has looked at this. So unless you come up with at least a few, I'm going to assume that either: 1) you concede there are no data showing DSM-IV relevant criteria, or 2) you mean "abuse" and "antisocial" as hyperbole for legal behaviors of which you disapprove.

If 2, welcome to the world, where your prejudices are not laws of nature.

By 99 bottles (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

There are lots of different interepretations of constitutional interpretation, but Steve is essentially correct both de facto and de jure.

Except that he's not correct de facto, which is exactly why people are complaining about the low standards imposed on homeschoolers.

I've read of arguments over slavery dating right back to the very writing of the Constitution. I don't ever recall the FFs discussing the necessity of imposing school on people. How remarkable that the nation existed for so long before those laws were passed without anyone noticing the Constitution required children to receive specific educations - especially given that apprenticeship was the dominant means of learning a trade at the time the document was written.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Remember Kansas.

Uh, yeah. I do. Kansas sucked. Hopefully now some laws will be passed in Kansas to keep Kansas from happening again.

Because Kansas sucked. Objectively. Science-education-wise. It sucked.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

This is evident in the success of Christian home-schooled children

Yes, some of those home-schooled Christians can be very successful at growing up to be psychopathic killers - eg of those non-parasitic Amish who might conceivably have been better educated in their community school-house.

I think that public schooling is a wonderful and necessary resource for many children. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's better than what a lot of kids would get at home with parents who aren't enthusiastic about homeschooling or who aren't able to homeschool for various reasons.

That said, I fully intend to homeschool (even better, unschool) my child. I think that my husband and I can do a lot better for her than the schools can. I want our daughter to learn in a fun, stimulating environment - I don't know of very many public schools that provide that. I want her to learn at a pace that is natural for her - I don't want her to feel stupid because she is unable to learn a subject at the "average" rate and I don't want her to be bored by being forced to study material she already knows. I want my daughter to make good use of her time, not waste it in classroom management time sinks. I want her to learn about subjects that interest her and that her interests will drive her to excel in. I don't want her natural love of learning tamped down by schools that make learning a "means" rather than an "end." I want to expose her to a much more varied social situation than she would find in school. I want her to find pleasure and joy in learning and in life - I can't say that too many schoolkids seem particularly joyful in the 7 or so hours that their lives are being regimented in school.

Forcing my daughter to follow a scheduled set of learning and testing would interfere with the attainment of these goals and curtail her ability to live up to her fullest potential. That would be a shame - some might even say a crime.

So, when someone cites Stalin their logic is silly, but when you cite Aushwitz it's right on target. Funny, that.

Nah, dipshit, it's not funny. Aushwitz really *is* where your data is. It's there. Right now. In 2006. You can go there and SEE the evidence which SHOWS what happens when people are indoctrinated to believe exactly that "niggers are animals" and "fags are dirty perverts". Need I mention what was said about the Jews and what happened to them? Even you can't be that fucking stupid.

Caledonian's Stalin bullshit, by contrast, is a bogeyman. Laws regulating what can be taught to children do not lead to fascism, whether those laws regulate public schools or "home schools." They just don't. So go fuck yourself.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

How remarkable that the nation existed for so long before those laws were passed without anyone noticing the Constitution required children to receive specific educations

How remarkable that you're erecting yet another strawman. As I clearly said, compulsory education is a product of statute law. What the Constitution ALSO does not do is give parents any inherent right to be free from compulsory education laws. This is obvious from the fact that, indeed, compulsory education laws exist and have not been overturned by the courts. Again, your point?

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

For quite a while, schooling children has been mandatory in this country. Whether this is a good or bad thing, or both, isn't relevant to this discussion. Public schooling, however, was never mandatory, and parents could always send their kids to private schools if they wished, and the requirements for those schools didn't go much further than teaching the 3Rs.

The more requirements, and mandatory topics, and mandatory testing patterns, that are placed on forms of schooling that aren't the government-instituted public schools, the closer those schools come to being those public schools. The public schools are failing for a variety of reasons, some of which have been discussed on this thread. People are trying to escape them, many of them with very good reason, and trying to trap them in a sinking ship is a very bad idea.

The people who started the modern homeschooling movement were liberal hippies and academics, after all.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

wm- more power to you. I greatly admire parents who do a good job of homeschooling. In the past, as I've said, I myself considered trying to do it for many of the same reasons.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I want her to learn at a pace that is natural for her - I don't want her to feel stupid because she is unable to learn a subject at the "average" rate and I don't want her to be bored by being forced to study material she already knows. I want my daughter to make good use of her time, not waste it in classroom management time sinks. I want her to learn about subjects that interest her and that her interests will drive her to excel in. I don't want her natural love of learning tamped down by schools that make learning a "means" rather than an "end." I want to expose her to a much more varied social situation than she would find in school. I want her to find pleasure and joy in learning and in life

So what are you going to do prepare her for the real world?

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

What the Constitution ALSO does not do is give parents any inherent right to be free from compulsory education laws.

Strawman. What those laws don't do is establish proscriptions for what must be taught. The proscriptions that have existed have historically not gone beyond basic reading and mathematics skills. That's why some people here are now calling for increased standards.

Duh.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

RE: So what are you going to do prepare her for the real world?

Do you mean a life of boredom, intellectual constraint, wasted time, and limited possibility? Not a whole lot.

Actually, GWB, Stalinist communism was always very big on public education, and everyone had a right to it. (Not that public education is inherently Stalinistic, but never mind.)

Of course, as excellent as that education was in some respects, it tended to be somewhat... selective... on the subject of history, politics, economics, and the history of the USSR in particular. And people teaching things contrary to those glorious free public educations tended to end up in the gulags, if they were lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it).

Shall we send you to Siberia so that you can see the evidence of what happens when absolute power is given to any government? The evidence is there - much of it in pits and shallow graves dug into permafrost.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wow. I just want so say, this topic has turned a whole bunch of people into jackasses (here's the stink eye right back at you, Caledonian).

Warren:

"It's valid, actually. What you're suggesting is that members of a society have the right to openly flout that society's standards in any way they choose, based on any other standard they might wish to align with."

So, Warren, should people in islamic countries live up to "societys standards" and teach that Jews are pigs, USA is the Great Devil, gays are sinners to be stones, and women that don't cover themselves up are unclean?

What those laws don't do is establish proscriptions for what must be taught.

That's also wrong. The education laws of most if not all states, as well as most homeschooling statutes, prescribe in at least general terms (and sometimes in more detail) the subjects in which instruction is required. There are usually also regulations (with the force of law and promulgated by authorities duly constituted by law to issue such regulations) that go into further detail on curricular requirements. Five minutes of online research would tell you this. Where on earth do you get your "facts"?

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wow. I just want so say, this topic has turned a whole bunch of people into jackasses (here's the stink eye right back at you, Caledonian).

I tend not to tolerate idiocy well, I'm afraid. Although whether that's a vice or virtue is a very tricky question...

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The education laws of most if not all states, as well as most homeschooling statutes, prescribe in at least general terms (and sometimes in more detail) the subjects in which instruction is required.

And those laws are incredibly lax, filled with loopholes and exceptions, and are generally poorly enforced.

Which is why you've been arguing that they have to be tightened up, remember? How interesting that you seem to have forgotten what your own position was.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

And those laws are incredibly lax, filled with loopholes and exceptions, and are generally poorly enforced.

So what even if they are? I'm addressing your fallacious claims about rights, and the mere existence of those laws shows that your claims were false. You only make yourself look like an even bigger idiot by continuing with this irrelevant qubbling.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

You only make yourself look like an even bigger idiot by continuing with this irrelevant qubbling.

Word.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Post at http://www.vereloqui.blogspot.com

Some bloggers need a license

Over at the Pharyngula blog, atheist P. Z. Meyers is in a dogmatic mood. In fact, we are not aware he is ever in any other kind of mood. Lately he has been on a tirade about raising standards for home schools. His most recent post advocates that parents without a teaching license be barred from homeschooling their children.

Has he checked to see what happens to children who are taught by people WITH teachers licenses recently?

He is apparently unaware of the large and growing disparity between how home schooled students perform on standardized tests and how public school students perform on the same tests. This is inexcusable.

Maybe blogs should only be operated by people with a license.

Nice job, Martin- you didn't even manage to spell correctly the last name of this blog's proprietor. Guess you stand to lose your license.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

This is obvious from the fact that, indeed, compulsory education laws exist and have not been overturned by the courts.

Wrong. Read the quote from Pierce again. Compulsory attendance laws have been overturned. All states are required under that decision to provide some means for parents to opt out of public schools. Private schools are one way to do that. Homeschooling another.

The decision is grounded in the 9th Amendment.

By Daryl Cobranchi (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Again, Daryl, so what? Where did I claim that the state's right to require compulsory schooling is not subject to any restrictions? My, the strawmen are marching thick and fast in this discussion.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

You've gotta send your kids to some school, but it doesn't have to be the government-run ones.

Except, of course, that the government also controls all the schools it doesn't run, in addition to the ones it does.

Does that seem right to you?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"It is a privilege conferred by statute as an exception to compulsory schooling (which itself has been established by statute)."

"KS: your state can and does have the power to regulate homeschooling. The requirements happen to be pretty lax right now, but there is no question that the legislature has the authority to make them more restrictive than they are now should it so choose. I don't know what point you think you're making but it does not conflict with what I said."

It's those pesky words. I didn't say the state didn't have the power to change the statute. You however presented as a fact that homeschooling is a privilege and an exception to compulsory schooling. I'm not sure if you meant compulsory education or compulsory attendance or both.

Connecticut has a compulsory education law for everyone, but parent directed instruction is not granted as an exception. It is written into the law as the first option for compulsory instruction. Compulsory attendance here is for those who are not otherwise being educated. We have the duty to educate and if we choose not to take on that duty ourselves, we have the option of choosing a private school or to utilize the public schools made available to us under other state statute.

I hope you can understand the difference between something that is required by law and something that is allowed by law. It may not be important to you, but is is different than your presentation as to the facts of homeschooling.

These distinctions make a bit of difference when dealing with government officials who do not take the time to actually learn the laws under which they operate. Sometimes they try to intimidate people based on their idea of what the law should be. It behooves us to learn about the law as it exisits to be an informed citizenry.

Understanding the distinctions can also make a difference when faced with potential changes in the law.

The original crafters of our law did not feel that it was the state's place manage the details of the education provided by the parents beyone requiring that certain subjects be presented.

Except, of course, that the government also controls all the schools it doesn't run, in addition to the ones it does.

Does that seem right to you?

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo!!!! Big bad government thinks it's a good idea to attempt to ensure that its citizens are educated. That harms my freedums!!!! Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo!!!!!!!!

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The original crafters of our law did not feel that it was the state's place manage the details of the education provided by the parents beyone requiring that certain subjects be presented.

Oh, look, it's Baby Scalia again with his little theory. Did the original crafters of "our law" explain in the Constitution what legal theory was to be used to interpret "our law"? No?

Oops. Baby Scalia just pooped his pants.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Sorry you don't understand the disctinction between the Constitution of the US and a state statute in an area that doesn't fall under the powers given to the federal government. Maybe you should go study some more.

My two cents on this looooooooooong thread...

What bothers me about homeschooling is the same thing that bothers me about laws in certain Middle Eastern countries that give the husband control over his wife -- whether or not she can travel, whether or not she can use birth control, what her rights are when it comes to divorce. Under a system like that, if the husband is a decent, reasonable guy, he'll choose to grant her equal rights in the family and not take advantage of his cultural and legal superiority, and the law then becomes irrelevant to her. But if the guy's an a**hole, her life will be absolutely miserable, and the law is behind him.

Same thing with homeschooling. If the parents are committed to science and real education, and actually know something about the subjects they're teaching, this can be a real boon to the kids. If however they're shoving nonsense in the kids' heads and rendering them unprepared for life outside the hermetically sealed bubble of the home, then who's going to stop them?

Of course the state doesn't always educate properly, and teachers are often woefully underqualified (elementary education teachers can be totally science-ignorant, as a previous poster said). But at least state education is transparent...a lot of people work together to contribute to setting the standards, and what's being taught is visible to the population as a whole (if they're interested in finding out). If parents don't like what's being taught, they can gripe. It's not ideal, but at least there's some accountability. This isn't the case with homeschooling, where it's all pretty much sealed inside the home.

Also, how on earth can you teach laboratory science in the home?? Playing with Drano and baking soda in the kitchen sink just doesn't cut it. Clearly one can't run a proper, safe chemistry laboratory in the house or backyard (meth labs aside, haha)...homeschoolers tend to get around this issue by either skipping lab science altogether, which is doing the kid a great disservice, or sending the kid to a nearby school to take a lab course...but of course then it's no longer really homeschooling.

As a PhD physical chemist, I would feel comfortable teaching a kid chemistry, physics or introductory biology...but how the hell could I teach Spanish, for example, when I don't *know* it?? In fact, how could any one person think they are competent to teach *every* subject to kids, often at various grade levels?

Most homeschooling parents don't hold postgraduate degrees, and some (especially the religious ones) only have high-school diplomas. The prospect of a parent with no postsecondary education trying to teach a kid high-school level physics, chemistry or biology (let alone calculus!!) is much worse, imho, than a science-phobic public elementary school teacher skirting the issues with 8-year-olds.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Sorry you don't understand the disctinction between the Constitution of the US and a state statute.

I just forgot to read your mind. My bad. In the future I'll remember that you prefer to use indefinite pronouns whenever possible.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

The prospect of a parent with no postsecondary education trying to teach a kid high-school level physics, chemistry or biology (let alone calculus!!) is much worse, imho, than a science-phobic public elementary school teacher skirting the issues with 8-year-olds.

The Family Research Council Education Package will make all your worries disappear! Only $2999.99, or thirty easy installment payments of $100/month!!!!!! Act fast -- this offer expires when Jim Dobson is caught with a penis in his mouth!!!!!

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

@ 99bottles:

Heh, lots of people make exactly this argument. I haven't read the literature in a while, but when I last looked at this issue the variance in per pupil spending was enormous: some schools spend $50k/year per student in rich districts. They don't do a lot better than those that spend $10k/year; what they get is computers and naturally the social network effects of their wealthy parents. So there are advantages to more money, but it's asymptotic.

Huh. So, what is being said here is that there's a strong correlation between how much money parents have, how much they spend in their school districts, and how well the students do... Funny that.

I'd sure like to see the numbers on $50K/student school districts (have NEVER heard a number that high) vs. lower spending school districts, especially w/r/t the portion that goes to instructional spending including parent volunteer time (again, one-parent incomes sure makes that easier). It seem's awfully easy to say "well, it's just about the parents' attitudes" and pretend that somehow kids in poor school districts should really be doing better, cuz it's really the kids' fault for picking bad parents. That sounds suspiciously like a caste argument -- we shouldn't bother to do anything about the losers, since they were destined for failure.

Holy crap, I missed this gem from COD:

The "fact" that your facts are way more supported by science today than theirs, does not make you right.

Post-modernism is alive and well.

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

GWW:

You may be well schooled in science, but one thing your parents seem to have failed badly at was teaching you some elementary manners and civility.

Grow the fuck up if you want a civilized debate, or take a hike over to the christian ultra-conservative forums where you have something in common with the fundies that are just as damn arrogant as yourself. I hope you're proud that you have something in common with them.

Does that seem right to you?

Not only right but essential, for the reasons that Madam Pomfrey has just done such a good job of outlining. Again, children are not their parents' chattel; society has a real stake in their welfare and a legitimate role in insuring it. I really couldn't care less whether libertarians like that.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Connecticut has a compulsory education law for everyone, but parent directed instruction is not granted as an exception. It is written into the law as the first option for compulsory instruction.

And that law could be changed tomorrow. More straw men.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Why is it that so many people here think state standards are the answer? Current state standards have led to the dismal test scores in math and science and the perception that the US is falling behind.

This is the only one I plan to cover, since it is at the heart of the whole bloody mess. What are state standards, really? On a basic level, they amount to, "If I ask this kid what 2+2 is and what water is made up of, are the answers going to be 4 and Silly Putty, or the right answer?" Yeah, real bloody useful. Anyone with the a photographic memory or **lots** of rote practice can come up with that answer. What is a whole hell of a lot harder, and isn't done, is questions like:

"You have a box that is X by Y by Z, cut it into pieces to form something that is instead A by B by C, with D left over." or "Given some theoretical substances, A, B and C, with this number of electrons, using the laws of chemistry defining how elements combine, what are the 'only' configurations possible using them." See, standardized tests can only determine if you can "identify" something well enough to give a rote answer, which is why even Fundie homeschooling can get by with "seeming" to be better. But, if they had to prove that they could "think"... And, more to the point, the tests "must" be conducted outside the hands of the parents, because some parents are going to pull something like that fallicited communication BS for severe autistics out of their asses, do all the students tests for them, then claim that they where never in the room when the child took them. Net result, you end up testing the "parents" knowledge, not the childs and in ***no*** case do you ever test "understanding", just raw, and meaningless without the skills needed to use it, facts.

And frankly.. The few, If train A is going at blah, and B is blah, blah, are the level of "skill" I would expect from someone that needs to figure out that you put the soup into the dish washer "before" turning it on, not the kind of skill needed to actually invent the next car, commercial aircraft or cancer cure. For that, you would need several more levels of complexity, at minimum. At most, it only proves they can diregard some really obvious red herring that is thrown in to trip them up, after which the math itself is generally rediculously trivial.

And that law could be changed tomorrow. More straw men.

Didn't you use that very argument some ways up the page? Nice consistency, there.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

It happens to be correct, so why exactly shouldn't I? I would think anyone who quotes a statute would have the intellgence to realize that legislatures have the power to replace them with diffferent statutes.

Do you actually, after all this blather, have a point?

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Hmm. Actually, my comment isn't quite complete without saying that what distinguishes the "average" person from the geniuses is that the genius "wants" to deal with complex issues, while the average people are never expected to do anything more complicated than change a light bulb. If we want to improve everything across the board, we should at least expect the "average" people to do mental jigsaw puzzles, if not the equivalent of solving rubix cubes in their classes, and the "geniuses" to be doing vector mathmatics in grade school. What we have gotten is a reduction of "average" to, "here is how to stop your clock from flashing 12:00" and "genius" is anyone that knew how to do that without having to take the class before hand.

It happens to be correct, so why exactly shouldn't I?

I was just wondering whether the original argument or the counterargument that you put up against someone else's use of the argument was correct.

Very possibly both are correct, at least in the highly advanced math you share with Karl Rove.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

If you think something I said is incorrect, go ahead and demonstrate that. In that effort you're batting .000 so far.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"Also, how on earth can you teach laboratory science in the home?? ...or sending the kid to a nearby school to take a lab course...but of course then it's no longer really homeschooling."

"As a PhD physical chemist, I would feel comfortable teaching a kid chemistry, physics or introductory biology...but how the hell could I teach Spanish, for example, when I don't *know* it?? In fact, how could any one person think they are competent to teach *every* subject to kids, often at various grade levels?"

There seems to be a common fallacy that if you homeschool you have to be doing it only in the home and only within your own family. Homeschoolers on the whole tend to be good at networking and finding community resources. Homeschool cooperatives that take advantage of skills within the homeschooling community are common. Other times parents will join together to hire someone proficient in a subject they are uncomfortable with. Finding mentors for kids with particular interests works too.

For lab science classes that would be better in a more professional lab setting (esp. chemistry and physics) there are plenty of colleges and universities which will enroll high school aged students. Some even offer reduced or free tution. I can't really see any reason to put a student through both a college track science course in highschool and repeat it with an introductory level college course. Been there done that--found it to be a waste of time.

Some of our community colleges are actively welcoming homeschoolers. I know of a group of homeschoolers that got together with a community college for language classes. They had enough students for the school to offer a section at a time convenient for them. The section open to any student at the college, but it was the homeschool group that met the initial enrollment requirement for the class to be held. Most of those kids are in also now enrolled in other courses. They may not be "home" schooling for all of their education, but they and their parents are directing it.

What you need more than competency at everything K-12 across the board is the motivation to find the resources you need to make it work for your family. As the kids get older, they get involved with this process too.

Someone mentioned earlier that income levels need to be high enough for one parent to stay home. It makes it easier certainly. But there are families that make the choice to have a lower standard of living (much as they might do to send kids to a private school). There are also single parents who homeschool. As with other choices in our lives, we have to decide on our priorities. Some people can't imagine changing their lifestyle to homeschool, other people can't imagine not doing it.

As a PhD physical chemist, I would feel comfortable teaching a kid chemistry, physics or introductory biology...but how the hell could I teach Spanish, for example, when I don't *know* it?? In fact, how could any one person think they are competent to teach *every* subject to kids, often at various grade levels?

As you said, in my experience, some public school teachers aren't particularly qualified to teach the subjects they teach ... I recall with a wince a particularly painful class in American History with one of the P.E. teachers who I guess was being forced to broaden her teaching horizons. I did improve my ability to regurgitate memorized facts in that class, but I can't say I really learned anything about American history. And then there was the Spanish teacher with the painful gringo accent; he at least was passionate about the subject, if somewhat incompetent in speaking the language. I would have been better off with books on tape. And this was in what was locally considered to be a really good school. The education in some of these classes was transparent, but a waste of time.

My view of this is that when our child is being unschooled, we will not be personally teaching her everything she learns. For many subjects, an interest in the subject, good books, the internet, and field trips will go a long way - at least this has been my experience in post-college learning. For subjects requiring special learning materials, we should be able to buy most of those materials or borrow them or sign her up for a class in which they are provided (sometimes homeschoolers will group together and hire a teacher for such a class). There is no reason that kids who primarily homeschool cannot attend available classes if they are of interest. And for subjects that we are truly incompetent to help our daughter pursue through the high-school level (I can't think of many, my husband and I combined have a pretty well-rounded education), then we should be able to find people who can act as a mentor to her. I honestly don't see any reason that any parent with half a brain can't help their child learn at least up to the high school level if they have the desire to do so. Even many of the high school teachers that I know are hardly experts in their field - it seems that they usually know almost enough to keep ahead of most of the kids who are learning just what they have to because they are being forced to learn.

I have been sitting here ruminating over my high school chemistry class and trying to remember any interesting experiments that we did in them. Nothing is coming to mind. I certainly remember the chemistry lab class that I took in college (though most of the actual experiments have faded from memory, I guess because I didn't go into that field), but whatever experiments we did in high school didn't seem to make much of an impression. I mostly recall the class being a lecture class. This is kind of off-topic, but I would be interested in hearing about which parts of a high-school level chemistry class cannot be reproduced in the home. Just a quick google on chemistry kits yields a huge variety of lab sets. Which part of making the learning environment safe or proper cannot be replicated (assuming that a parent is right there supervising the learning and ensuring proper safety procedures)?

KS, I want to say that I agree there are parents without fancy credentials who, using the materials and assistance that are pretty readily available (the popular Singapore Math, for example, is a much better curriculum than the stuff most US public schools are using) are doing a fine job. That's why I believe oversight should ideally focus on a manageable amount of testing (once or twice a year, not NCLB-like insanity) to make sure that kids are learning what they should, rather than on the paper qualifications of the parents. Parents should also know their limitations, and many are in fact pretty wise about this, for example sending their kids to high school after homeschooling them in the earlier years which as I understand it is a fairly common pattern.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

That's why I believe oversight should ideally focus on a manageable amount of testing (once or twice a year, not NCLB-like insanity) to make sure that kids are learning what they should

But that's precisely the point. What should kids be learning? is not a trivial question.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Not, it's not. Which is why genuine subject-matter experts need to be involved in it.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Madam Pomfrey - The problem with that analysis is that we rely on parents acting as effective agents of their children in a variety of contexts - food, medical care, etc. Sometimes parents do a sufficiently poor job as agents that the government steps in, but given that the a government employee isn't guaranteed to be an effective agent either, doesn't have the same psychological attachment to the child's well being that most parents have, and will be less familiar with the characteristics of the child in question, it makes sense to have the parent be the default agent. The analogy with countries where the husband is given legal authority over his wife breaks down since the wife is perfectly capable of representing her own interests, while children is not, and consequently will always be dependent on some other party to act on their behalf.

A lot of homeschoolers pool resources for areas of expertise, particularly for more advanced subject matter, and make use of schools for areas that can't effectively be taught at home. I think this is much more common among homeschoolers than pure at-home instruction, even among those doing it so they can include religious indoctrination. Students who are self-starters can even teach themselves effectively - I make a living using the programming skills I more or less taught myself during high school.

paperwight - The per-student spending vs performance in within a state at the local school system level that I've seen (not necessarily representative of all states) indicates that funding is positively correlated with performance for districts in the upper part of the performance distribution and weakly or not correlated at all for the lower part. The lowest performing districts tend to be urban and in the middle of the funding range, have classroom sizes that aren't as small as the best districts but are comparable to others and don't show much response to funding increases. Underlying it is probably a mix of exogenous factors (crime, poverty, lack of good parental guidance, etc) and corruption and incompetence in the city gov't.

GWW - It was clear that KS was talking about state law and you probably owe him/her an apology for your snide remarks since your lack of attention was at fault.

That's why I believe oversight should ideally focus on a manageable amount of testing (once or twice a year, not NCLB-like insanity) to make sure that kids are learning what they should

I'm curious how you would define "learning what they should." What do you think would be the bare minimum for each child to learn and when? Do you think that it would be necessary for a child who not good at math to learn algebra/geometry in time for a particular check-point? Should a child with no interest in physics be forced to study it? What should happen if a homeschooled child can't read by the time she's 10? Particularly considering that some of her public school-educated peers also can't read by that age? Would it be such a tragedy if she learned to read by 12 or 13 instead?

My biggest concern with testing is that children aren't all the same. Some have an aptitude for math, others don't. Some are artistically gifted, others aren't. There seems to be a large distribution of ages at which kids learn to read, no matter the environment in which they learn. As an electrical engineer, I think that math and physics are great. But I also think that that it's possible to live a happy, productive life without learning much about them. I think that by trying to force all children into the same, round hole, many of them will have their edges smashed off in a way that isn't conducive to anything of benefit to them or the public.

"That's why I believe oversight should ideally focus on a manageable amount of testing"

Manageable for whom, Steve? For you, the philosopher king? Because if my kids are going to be tested, they are going to have to be taught to the test. That means a curriculum has just been instigated, which means I've just lost my ability to customize for my kids' educational needs, a prime motivator for homeschooling in the first place. If I wanted my kids to be standard, as in reflected by standardized tests, I'd just send them to school to be standardized.

For instance, I happen to use an approach, as a number of homeschoolers do, known as "delayed academics." It is completely counter to the way things are done in public schools. If you are interested, you could do some reading (School Can Wait, Better Late Than Early, etc.). Anyway, my 8 year old, by school standards, would have been woefully behind when he didn't read at that age. He would have been the academic version of "failure to thrive." However, I and anyone involved with him could tell he was bright, learning, and doing what he needed to do to continue to prepare himself to read. Behold - just a few weeks after age 8, he began to read and was fluent within weeks. Above grade level within several months. Out-reading his schooled peers who had been struggling to de-code reading for several YEARS (several of whom now seem to have already given up and tell me they are "bad readers"), since long before they were cognitively mature enough. This is extremely common among homeschooled kids, boys especially, who often leap pretty quickly from Cat in the Hat at age 8 or 9 straight to much more complex material.

So, had I been forced to have him "perform" on some "manageable amount of testing" that required reading at age 5, 6, or 7, I would have been forced to go against my carefully researched approach. He may have read enough to pass tests, but, like some others force-fed reading before they are ready, he may not have made the strides he made later, and most importantly, he might have begun to dislike reading due to the pressure. One of my other sons did not recover from the traditional school approach to reading for many years.

So, I did what was right for my kid. Testing and accountability would have screwed up what I was doing. (Having lived thru this with some of my other kids, I know whereof I speak).

I think we should just come to your house and just do a little bit of manageable testing. You know, just minimal standards. Sounds outrageous, right? That's how it sounds to me. If I were you, I wouldn't stand for it.

It's that old "modest proposal" thing.

Resources, folks. Y'all really do think we live in caves or something? As to how we learned Spanish: attended Spanish story time at the library, hosted a Spanish-speaking exchange student from South America for a year, made friends with Spanish-speakers on the soccer field who traded conversations with us, attended University of Virginia continuing education classes, used Rosetta Stone computer language program, read books in Spanish, watched movies with the Spanish subtitles on, attended Spanish worship services, traded Spanish lessons with a Spanish-speaking neighbor, attended conversational Spanish classes at a library in Mississippi, accosted Spanish speakers in the grocery store and arranged to take turns helping each other with language. To top if off, as I mentioned earlier, this year, our 18 year old is living in Ecuador, where he is teaching English to primary school students (and it has turned out to be quite an experience because he was supposed to be the assistant but the actual teacher seems to have dropped out of sight, so he now seems to have been promoted to THE English teacher position for grades 1 - 6 -- and he, an unschooler!) and learning more Spanish by immersion. (By the way, this might also address those concerns of "when are you getting him ready for the real world?")

Homeschoolers are resourceful. We're not thinking that we can all be experts in all things. When my kids got interested in engineering, we bartered with a homeschool dad who put together an engineering class for them and some other kids. When one of my sons wanted to build a computer from scratch, I helped him secure a mentor at a nearby computer store. When one of them wanted to pursue figure skating seriously, we made it work. My Salchows are not so hot, considering I grew up training horses and not spending a lot of time on the ice. But that doesn't mean I couldn't arrange for Salchows.

And now we know what Ricky Riccardo is saying in all the I Love Lucy re-runs. And you haven't lived until you've seen the donkey speak Spanish in Shrek.

Really, it's okay. We figure out how to meet our kids' needs. It's just not all in one box, but we like opening a lot of different boxes and finding the ones that contain "good fit" for each kid. It's actually really efficient. It's sort of like putting together a puzzle or figuring out how to arrange a good buffet.

GWW - It was clear that KS was talking about state law and you probably owe him/her an apology for your snide remarks since your lack of attention was at fault.

Yeah, you're right.

I apologize, KS. I fucked that one up. I read too fast.

Or maybe your comment was too long. Yeah ... that's it ... ;)

By Great White Wonder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Because if my kids are going to be tested, they are going to have to be taught to the test.

I'm well aware of that, and of the pitfalls of poorly designed tests. Decently-designed tests, however, are enormously useful for making sure kids are becoming numerate and literate and acquiring the basic knowledge needed to function successfully in a modern technological society. And when the test is simply checking whether a reasonable minimum curriculum is being successfully imparted, "teaching to the test" is a GOOD thing and the use of that phrase as a bogeyman is silly. As is arguing from the slippery-slope fallacy.

If I were home-schooling my daughter I would be administering standardized tests of some kind to her myself, since Ohio doesn't mandate them. As a responsible parent, I would want some objective check on how I was doing.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Do you think that it would be necessary for a child who not good at math to learn algebra/geometry in time for a particular check-point?

Yes I do, quite emphatically. And I'm no more willing to accept cop-outs on that from schools than I am from homeschooling parents. Educational standards in this country are watered-down enough as it is.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

KS & wm -- your thoughtful comments are most appreciated!

A few observations. The incompetence of certain public school teachers (we all have some personal anecdotes to share, I'm sure, and I could tell you a doozy about my 7th-grade science teacher who was also the football coach) isn't in itself a sufficient reason to abandon the system for the capricious alternative of homeschooling. I hear this line of reasoning from a lot of homeschooling advocates -- X, Y or Z is wrong with the public school system, therefore the only alternative is to teach the kids at home. They seem to know exactly what's wrong with the system but have little interest in working to improve the schools -- a tough job, to be sure.

Since participation in "homeschooling cooperatives" and other resources is voluntary, once again it's up to the whim of the parents. A mom without a college diploma could realize she can't teach biology, and choose to find a tutor or a community-college class -- or she could try to stumble through it herself, or just skip it altogether. No transparency or accountability, unless the parent chooses to do so. And who evaluates the knowledge/capabilities of those "resources"? How does one know that they are reliable? Can you justify setting the bar high for public school teachers while tacitly approving no "bar" at all for those who homeschool?

I have serious reservations about so-called "dual enrollment" and homeschooled kids taking community college classes without having earned a high-school diploma. They may be able to handle remedial or "learning-assistance" courses, but usually have serious difficulty with the community college courses that are crosslisted with university classes (for example in the California and Florida state college systems) and which by state law must be the same courses taught at the universities. Such courses, especially in the sciences, require secondary-school courses that those kids usually haven't taken, and (personal anecdote time) my colleagues at one of our local community colleges have seen many of these homeschooled kids flounder and flunk out of first-year college physics and calculus because they have absolutely no clue what's going on. The mission of our community colleges isn't to fill gaps in homeschooled kids' education; the colleges and the kids both lose out.

About running a chemistry lab at home -- it just isn't possible. No Bunsen burners, vacuum lines, fume hoods; very few emergency supplies and no state-mandated safety equipment such as high-volume showers and eye washes. Who would want an untrained parent fiddling with chemicals over an open flame, or mixing compounds that give off irritating or poisonous fumes? Would they even know where to start with proper waste disposal? There might not be physical harm in teaching a kid a kooky interpretation of Shakespeare -- but people can get hurt doing chemistry, which is why those safety rules exist in teaching and research labs. Of course a homeschooler probably couldn't get access to many of the substances used in a regular chemistry lab, the end result being (once again) an insufficient education.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Why can't some of these kids go to regular schools and have the religious stuff taught to them one day a week, say on Sunday or something? Just a crazy thought...
No child left behind after all.

llewelly--Astral Projection is no crackpot idea. It has been scientifically proven, that you can make your mind leave your body. Also known as Astral Travel. I actually know someone who use to have the ability to put the themselves into a self induced hypnotic trance. Unfortunately, due to smoking which caused her to develop bronchitis, heart disease and other such lung problems. She is no longer able to Astral project because she cannot control her breathing, she constantly starts coughing when she trys to lie flat on her back. Which keeps her from going into the self induced trance.

On the other hand, I can put myself into a self induced hypnotic trance. It allows my body to sleep and be fully rested. While my body is asleep my brain is awake, I can hear everything going on around me, I just can't move my body. I've not yet achieved my goal of leaving my body to walk among those who are still in their physical form.

I can achieve Lucid dreaming on my own. For those of you who do not know what lucid dreaming is, it is when your completely asleep and dreaming but you are aware that you are dreaming and you hae the power to control it, you are free to do as you please in your dreams. My conciousness can awaken in my dreams, which are being controlled by my subconcious, I can take full control of my dreams. I can also communicate with my subconcious.

I don't blame any of you if you do not beleive me. It is quite hard for your mind to comprehend it, unless you've experienced it on your own.

By the way, for those of you who have had that dream where your flying, if you ever realize that you are dreaming, and you get scared and start to fall. Try and calm yourself, and pull yourself out of the dive.

People have been known to die in their dreams, by literally scaring themselves to death and causing themselves to have a heart attack.

People can always give themselves a good scare and raise their heart rate so high that their actually shaking and you can see their skin moving. I've actually done that to myself several times and caused my nose to start bleeding, because I was so scared. Beleive me it's not very fun.

PS: The person I referred to as being a former Astral Traveler. She is my mother.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

MattXIV -- ah, but that's exactly the rationale in those societies for not allowing the wife greater control over her life: that she is *not* capable of representing her own interests and therefore must be dependent on another party to make intelligent decisions for her. In Iran, for example, the state considers a husband to act (using your phrase) as an effective agent for his wife in a variety of contexts. So the analogy stands. When the husband makes a constructive decision and doesn't abuse this authority, the wife has no problem in that regard. If he's a bully or repeatedly screws up, she's in big trouble and doesn't have much recourse.

Again, pooling resources doesn't mean much without oversight and accountability.

wm, I would disagree with you that kids with no interest in physics "shouldn't be forced to study it." College students of course choose their majors, and not all are interested in science or engineering. But K-12 kids aren't qualified to design curricula for themselves, nor should they decide what's worth studying or what isn't. I expect I don't need to outline on this blog, of all places, why it's critical for kids to learn science and math early on and throughout secondary ed.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve, if you are homeschooling your child and can't tell what they know without a test, that would make you very unusual among the homeschooling parents I know. That's a little secret there.

Madame Pomfrey, I resent the assumption that homeschoolers are not interested in improving the quality of public schools. I was very intimately involved with my community's public schools. I tried EVERYthing to improve them. It was a head-banging exercise in futility. I came to homeschooling reluctantly after years of trying to make public schooling something we could live with. Again, I get the calls from new homeschoolers who describe intense, intense involvement and interest in the schools - who have been discouraged after years of trying to make things better. The system is the system. It does not want parents mucking up the system. It's an institution.

My son is getting ready to take dual enrollment at the community collge. Today he took the practice test and tested out of college algebra and freshman English. Our community college told me last week that homeschoolers tend to place into more advanced classes than their schooled peers. Even Stanford admits homeschoolers at a higher rate than non-homeschooled students. Here's an article about that:
http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2000/novdec/articles/homesc…

I'll let Mr. Cobranchi, one of homeschooling's PhD chemists, address the chemistry question more fully if he chooses -- but I can tell you that my son's plan is to take it at the community college, and so far, they're saying it's a good plan. On the other hand, my sister's son, a recent high school graduate who was required to take chemistry, said they did "a couple" of labs all year. He said his chemistry teacher said the reason he needed to learn chemistry was so that he could properly fertilize his yard some day. I am not so worried about what my son might miss. (And, we HAVE managed to cover a lot of chemistry at home and also within a science co-op run by a museum. Again, there ARE resources. You would probably be interested in the really cool science catalogues that cater to homeschoolers -- they EVEN have (gasp!) Bunsen burners).

I will say this - if I were a chemist or scientist looking for a side gig, I'd consider pairing with some unschooling/homeschooling parents and writing some good science books aimed at homeschoolers who do NOT want a Creationist angle. There are terrific books that aren't aimed at homeschoolers persay (what we use), and there are books that are well-aimed but are from the evangelical world view. There is that tiny remaining niche that someone could capitalize on. We do fine without it because there are so many great books, but if someone could do for, say, chemistry, what Hakim has done for, say, physics and U.S. History, then I think it would be a well-received resource.

As a PhD physical chemist, I would feel comfortable teaching a kid chemistry, physics or introductory biology...but how the hell could I teach Spanish, for example, when I don't *know* it?? In fact, how could any one person think they are competent to teach *every* subject to kids, often at various grade levels?

EXCELLENT question. And one that many homeschoolers have asked themselves.

One response has been the formation of learning centers or co-ops; an excellent secular example is the Village Home Education Resource Center in Portland. They offer classes in everything from Latin and mythology to Lego robotics and molecular/cellular biology.

Homeschooling doesn't mean, in most cases, that we want to isolate our children from every aspect of modern society. (And the homeschoolers who want to do so are *scary.*) When I encounter a subject I know I'm not qualified to teach, I am perfectly happy to look for other community resources to help. (At the high school level, this help often takes the form of enrolling in a community college class--an excellent way of getting real lab science experience under one's belt. Looking back on my own high school career, I can't remember a single lab class that wasn't an utter joke.) And another cool thing about homeschooling is that the "teacher" often gets to learn as much as the "student"... I know I have learned more about black holes in the two weeks since my kids started asking questions about them than I did in the previous thirty-one years.

Steve, if you are homeschooling your child and can't tell what they know without a test, that would make you very unusual among the homeschooling parents I know. That's a little secret there.

In my considered opinion that's a foolhardy attitude, akin to serving as your own doctor (or worse, your kids') without medical training. You don't always know just what it is that you don't know.

I work in a highly regulated profession (forensic science). I don't always enjoy, or agree with, the way the rules are applied to my lab. But I emphatically recognize and support the need for oversight. Kids' futures are as important as the freedom of an accused person, don't you think?

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"Again, pooling resources doesn't mean much without oversight and accountability"

Again with the accountability! I just don't get why YOU get to suggest accountability over ME! I don't use any of your tax dollars, I don't attempt to come in and demand oversight over, say, what you feed your kids or what you read to them or whether you are giving them good citizenship ideals.

Accountability, as seen in use in the public schools, has not been demonstrated to have created an optimum situation. Nearly one third of public school kids don't graduate. If accountability is such a terrific thing, why hasn't it cured the public school problems?

Furthermore, there is no evidence that states where homeschoolers are under more oversight have produced homeschoolers that are a bit more competent than loosely regulated states.

This all just starts to seem like "it sounds like a good idea" or "this MUST make sense."

Homeschoolers, on the other hand, live daily with the impact of other people's idea of accountability.

Gotta say, accountability is something I don't limit myself with. It's an outdated model. I use a potential-based model of education and don't bother with the negative self-fulfilling prophecies of an accountability scheme.

...and Victoria has just given us an example of why homeschooling can be a problem. Thanks!

My son is getting ready to take dual enrollment at the community collge. Today he took the practice test and tested out of college algebra and freshman English. Our community college told me last week that homeschoolers tend to place into more advanced classes than their schooled peers. Even Stanford admits homeschoolers at a higher rate than non-homeschooled students.

As I've been at pains to make clear, I am neither a reflexive opponent of homeschooling nor, for damn sure, a reflexive defender of the existing public school system. I fully recognize the existence of many very successful home-schooling parents and I applaud them from the bottom of my heart.

The kinds of tests that public school students are being asked to take these days are mostly at a pretty laughably low level of sophistication. The homeschooled kids you describe could pass those tests in their sleep. So I really don't see the cause for paranoia. If you're doing your job well, you'll be producing achievement that's way above the minimum level that will get tested.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Jeanne -- you say your community college told you homeschoolers place into more advanced classes than schooled students. That is not what I have heard from community college teachers here in my city, or from a relative of mine who has been teaching community-college English for over 20 years. But that's just devolving into a useless "she said-she said" argument.

I repeat that flaws in the public-school system, or stupid statements by high-school chemistry teachers, do not constitute evidence that homeschooling is automatically the preferable alternative. My safety concerns about untrained parents fooling around with chemicals stand.

The problem, if it hasn't become obvious by now, is that homeschooling can be done well, or very poorly, and there are insufficient objective standards to ensure the former.

I agree with Steve that a responsible parent would *want* an objective evaluation of how he or she is educating the kids. Of course, you'll say that responsible parents such as yourself seek this out. But that's because you choose to. The homeschooling system (if it can be referred to as such) equally supports, and even champions, those who don't.

I've noticed that homeschooling parents tend to be quite sensitive about the issue, and develop an emotional attachment to the idea of homeschooling (and the politics thereof), to the point where they are unlikely to acknowledge any potential negatives.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Carlie--I'm just curious what example did I contribute to your dogfight over homeschooling. If your implying that you don't beleive I meet your standards of intellegience then you can kiss my A$$.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve, homeschoolers aren't arrogant about their abilities. But let's face it, knowing whether your kid GETS fractions or doesn't get them is not that tough. I don't need a test. I can watch him work with fractions. Daily. Thirty times if I want. Furthermore, I can tell if he understands an allusion to Medusa, if he's grasped the concepts of Newton's laws, if he knows that Pluto is or is not a planet today, if he can write a paragraph or an essay, if he can conjugate a verb. I'm. With. Him. Every. Day.

Now, if I have a kid who has a problem, I'm not recommending a head-in-sand approach. You seem to assume that I somehow need RULES to make decisions about my children's welfare. I don't run a lab. If a kid of mine needs help that is outside my realm, I'm more than ready to get him the help he needs. There is no presumption otherwise, and I don't see that I or any other homeschoole here has suggested such.

But really, truly, I've never needed a formal "objective" test to figure out what my kid knows, and that's including all the high school subjects. In FACT, get this -- my kids have the ANSWER books even on texts they decide to use. That's because their goal is NOT to earn a grade from an "objective" tester; their goal is to learn the material. They will work several ways to work thru a problem. If that doesn't do it, they'll sometimes use the solutions manual/answer book to work backward, as an extra resource. They never pass themselves forward until they've MASTERED the material. This is a pretty high standard. So I've not had any need for an outside test. Education is, hhmm, just not set up as adversarial in our home.

So, don't put "attitudes" in my mouth. I've not said I'm willing to risk my kids' future by not taking one to the eye doctor or, if they needed it, to get special help with reading or language or a processing problem.

I AM saying, Steve, that it's not too terribly hard for an interested parent to figure out if he's balancing the equations correctly or not.

Ironically, the only testing I ever did that I was not required to do by law was when my kid was enrolled in school. The schools said he did not qualify for school-provided testing because his performance was above their "level of concern." At that time, since I was NOT as intimately involved with his academic progress, I opted to pay out of my pocket for an extensive educational psychologist's assessment.

Basically, she told me he was a really bright, right brain hands-on learner whose needs were unlikely to be met in a traditional school environment.

Since then, my foolhardy attitude has led to his incredible progress. Which I keep detecting without tests.

It's not really about you, Jeanne, nor do you have anything to fear from the kind of fairly minimalist oversight I envision. I'm aiming at the parents who really are in over their heads or aren't even interested in doing a good job, and you and I both know they exist. Just as do schools that aren't doing their jobs. In both cases, I'm not prepared to sit back and do nothing while kids are damaged.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

...and Victoria has just given us an example of why homeschooling can be a problem. Thanks!

That's not fair, Carlie. An average public school education doesn't dissuade other people from believing in such things - neither would an exemplary P.S. ed. Nor would homeschooling or private schooling be likely to have any effect.

If public schooling was expected to have a prophylactic effect, why does woo receive such an enthusiastic welcome from so much of the American public?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Jeanne--I fully agree with you. You damn straight, I sure hell wouldn't want anyone telling me how to raise or educate my kids.

By the way I like to know what everybody here thinks. How many of you think I'm just some stupid kid that doesn't know what their talking about. How many of you beleive I actually know what I'm talking about. Do you think I'm just blowin smoke or what?

I beleive I know what I'm doing, and what I'm talking about. I'm entitled to my opinions and my freedom of speech. Sur I could use some brushing up on my grammar, and I really shouldn't make snippy little comments to or about people, until I've actually heard and fully understood everything they have to say.

Yes I have to admit, I don't know everything. I appreciate the advice people give me, and the criticism as well. I learn from it. It helps to add to my knowledge and I learn not act as if I know more than the person I'm talking to.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I'm aiming at the parents who really are in over their heads or aren't even interested in doing a good job, and you and I both know they exist. Just as do schools that aren't doing their jobs. In both cases, I'm not prepared to sit back and do nothing while kids are damaged.

What will you do about oversight institutions that aren't doing their job?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

That "argument" can be used to "argue" for the very hardest of hard-core anarcho-libertarianism. And even if that's where you were coming from, it'd still be a bad argument.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"Again with the accountability! I just don't get why YOU get to suggest accountability over ME! I don't use any of your tax dollars, I don't attempt to come in and demand oversight over, say, what you feed your kids or what you read to them or whether you are giving them good citizenship ideals."

(??) What a peculiar statement. I have no interest in forcing anything on your kids or barging into your house and telling you what to do...how odd that you should think so. In fact I believe I've made it clear that I wouldn't risk putting myself in a dictatorial position of authority over all aspects of my own kids' education, given that I am not expert in all those areas -- let alone over someone else's kids. I do believe you need to crank the sensitivity meter down a notch.

That being said, I do care about other people's kids in addition to my own, so I don't advocate any educational system without standards and transparency. Just incase you didn't get it, I am not talking about accountability to me personally (duh). I wouldn't trust myself to teach my kids everything, nor would I necessarily take the word of a "cooperative" or other resource before I carefully vetted *its* standards.

We all know the public school system has serious flaws. That does not constitute evidence that homeschooling is automatically preferable, nor does it suffice as an excuse to avoid standards of any kind.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

How many of you think I'm just some stupid kid that doesn't know what their talking about.

I just raised my hand.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I suspect our Victoria is a ringer.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

We all know the public school system has serious flaws. That does not constitute evidence that homeschooling is automatically preferable, nor does it suffice as an excuse to avoid standards of any kind.

It doesn't just have serious flaws, it's failing. You're right in that it doesn't mean that everyone ought to be homeschooled. But given that the public schools are collapsing despite having government oversight and being subject to all the standards that people like Mr. LaBonne presumably want to put in place, why would we desire to extend that oversight further into homeschooling? If it was capable of accomplishing anything positive of note, wouldn't the public schools be working?

Quite frankly, I attribute the American disdain for education to our public school system, which although it cannot successfully teach children how to read, is incredibly successful at teaching them to consider learning boring. Doing anything to hamper the people willing to invest the time and effort for their children to escape such a system strikes me as extremely counterproductive, Madam.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

We all know the public school system has serious flaws. That does not constitute evidence that homeschooling is automatically preferable, nor does it suffice as an excuse to avoid standards of any kind.

It doesn't just have serious flaws, it's failing. You're right in that it doesn't mean that everyone ought to be homeschooled. But given that the public schools are collapsing despite having government oversight and being subject to all the standards that people like Mr. LaBonne presumably want to put in place, why would we desire to extend that oversight further into homeschooling? If it was capable of accomplishing anything positive of note, wouldn't the public schools be working?

Quite frankly, I attribute the American disdain for education to our public school system, which although it cannot successfully teach children how to read, is incredibly successful at teaching them to consider learning boring. Doing anything to hamper the people willing to invest the time and effort for their children to escape such a system strikes me as extremely counterproductive, Madam.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Curse this double-posting website!

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Astral Projection is no crackpot idea.

Yes, it is. It's complete woo.

It has been scientifically proven, that you can make your mind leave your body.
No it hasn't.

No-one has even suggested a mechanism by which the "mind" can be considered separate from the physical brain, which is itself a part of the body, let alone how the mind could actually "leave" the brain, or even what that sentence might mean in a scientific context.

There has never been a single study that shows any kind of effect for astral projection, and the scientific consensus is that it's in the same league as being able to read the mind of a teddy bear.

Prove me wrong by citing a single scientific paper that supports your position, and hasn't been thoroughly discredited by the scientific community. If you're right that the consensus is that astral projection is a real phenomena, it shouldn't be too tricky.

For the record, I've had lucid dreams, and undergone self-hypnosis, though with some difficulty - apparently, I'm not easy to hypnotise. I've successfully undergone professional hypnotherapy, though it was a few sessions before I was put under; and I've utterly failed to be hypnotised by a moderately famous stage hypnotist. There's a strong correlation between ease of being hypnotised and having a fantasy-prone personality. I suspect that this describes you at least moderately well.

Well Madame Pomfrey, I'd say the community college experience may be community-related. A teacher's experience with homeschoolers-compared-to-public schoolers would likely be dependent on the nature of the community - the quality of schools in that particular area, the reasons for homeschooling that dominate a particular area. So our "findings" may be different, as reflected in our anecdotes.

Sorry you don't trust us with the chemical stands. I personally don't trust myself either; that's why my son is doing community college chem. Still, if another parent wants to learn about how to do this and take it on, I am certainly not going to regulate him or her out of it. There are resources for those folks, and they can choose that if they wish. I mean, I also don't use a blow torch and there are plenty of people who probably shouldn't, but people learn. You learned.

As to emotional attachment to homeschooling - yes, that's true. For one thing -- I have experienced few negatives as compared to our continuing drama in dealing with schools when we spent our years dealing with that. The energy that took was incredible.

Here is a negative for you -- my husband and I were committed to my homeschooling, and in our case, I decided to forego my university career. As I mentioned earlier, I was formerly a (lowly) assistant professor at a small university. Anyway, my opting out of full-time work has meant a lack of financial flexibility, which has led to our moving house more frequently than either of us would have liked, to follow his career. So, while many other homeschoolers work this out differently (there are actually a LOT of two-parents working families, some dads-at-home/moms-working, and single parents working/homeschooling), we chose for us to follow a pretty "traditional" model of the dad being the breadwinner - and in today's economy, it's a bit dicey to put all of a family's earning eggs in one basket.

Other than that, I really haven't found any negatives. That's the honest truth.

So are you saying I can't see the negatives that YOU see? Or that other nonhomeschoolers see? I can't speak for all homeschooling situations. I tend to think that homeschoolers are like everybody else -- there will be some people that we'll be glad to have represent "homeschoooling" and some people we'll cringe about. That's the same if you are a cop or a chemistry teacher, y'know?

But I tend to find that those folks are not dysfunctional or unsuccessful (whatever THAT means in today's world) not because of homeschooing but DESPITE it. Homeschooling is no panacea and no cure-all. If you are crazy before you homeschool you will be crazy after. If you never paid your bills before, homeschooling isn't going to start you paying your bills. The #1 thing it takes is commitment. That's one reason, that despite my exposure to hundreds and hundreds of homeschooling families, I rarely see (tho' I have seen) families that I have concern about. That's because most families who are not up to the commitment simply find it easier to send their kids to school.

Further, having been IN the homeschooling community going into my second decade now, I have seen so many families with happy, well-adjusted kids who complete their goals. It is like, where is this "you might ruin your kids" attitude coming from in the general population? I speak at conferences and see these young adults, these teenagers, and I see their competence and the many things that they enjoy and excel in, and I think -- these people who come at me with the "homeschoolers are scary" anecdotes are seeing the scary ones BECAUSE they are scary. Just like it is easy to see some scary kids in school, who just aren't going to be prepared to make it in the world. But these homeschooled kids I see are great kids, kids who are at West Point, kids who are at Harvard (the Harvard folks among us might be interested in the book Hard Times in Paradise, about the homeschooled Colfax kids; I think at least three of them graduated from Harvard), kids who are running their own businesses, kids who are missionaries, kids who are international travelers, kids who are skilled craftspersons, kids who become wonderful nurturing parents themselves, kids who are politically involved and environmentally conscious -- how is it that so many people can seem to be so worried about homeschooling in the face of the independent, educated, warm, relationship-oriented young adults I've enjoyed meeting? Where does this concern about such a small sliver of our population come from, given the overwhelming numbers of children who fail within our taxpayer supported system? It just seems wildly out of proportion to me. I ask myself, is this somehow threatening? Is my reading aloud to my three little boys somehow so progressive and anti-status-quo that I raise the ire of a whole education community? Wow. That's strange stuff.

And I tell you what, Madame P., I am passionate about it. I can't really explain this well enough, I fear. But this is MY life. People here casually talk about accountability and objective measures as if it weren't my life. But we're talking about my front porch here. We're talking about my blanket under the pecan tree. We're talking about my children's emotional well-being, and people with a desire to regulate this ARE threatening the very ways I spend my small number of days on this earth with my sons. Truly, to me, it would be no less than if I came into your house and suggested whether it is clean enough, whether you are ingesting the correct foods (how do you KNOW? Don't you need some objective measures? No, of course you don't. But if there is something wrong that you can't get over, some digestion problem, some problem acquiring the food you need, the fact that you didn't need objective measures to know about normal food ingestion doesn't preclude you from using outside resources to resolve that. I understand that. Why is this so hard for people to believe about homeschoolers?)

Madame P., I am passionate because I so often feel the heat of arrogance. I really, really don't need People Who Know What's Good for Me explaining to me whether it is more important that my children learn long division this year or next year, whether I should study Egypt now or in the future. Because Egypt is in the heart of my children. They have learned to learn. They have learned They Can. There is no objective measure for this. There is a mother in the kitchen doing Mad Libs over the spaghetti sauce. There is a brother in the bath tub testing alliteration. And most of all, there is in my heart a fundamental disagreement about what is important about why I homeschool. I homeschool my children ultimately because of their EMOTIONAL HEALTH. Therefore, when people come swirling around wanting to test them academically, it is as irrelevant to me as wanting to weigh an apple when the goal is to eat it. Every tangy, juicy spraying slice of it. My children's emotional health is served by the warmth of our family. It is served by the assurance my husband and I provide that they will be prepared to be whatever they wish to be in the world. So yeah, when people want to jeopardize this, I feel my color rise. You betcha I'm sensitive.

When accountability proves to solve the problems in our schools and in our government, I'll consider its potential positives on homeschooling. When I can feel and see the negatives of homeschooling that I saw and felt every day in schools, I'll talk about the negatives of homeschooling.

Until then, I will continue to espouse how keeping my kids out of school has worked well for my family and many others I know.

The incompetence of certain public school teachers (we all have some personal anecdotes to share, I'm sure, and I could tell you a doozy about my 7th-grade science teacher who was also the football coach) isn't in itself a sufficient reason to abandon the system for the capricious alternative of homeschooling

While for me, the incompetence of some public educators is only a very small part of my decision to homeschool my child, I would argue that in some cases incompetent educators are in themselves a sufficient reason to homeschool children. It would depend on the competent/incompetent teacher ratio. If a large number of my child's teachers were incompetent, the chances that this could be fixed immediately (in time for my child's benefit) are slim to none (as you say, school reform is a tough job), and I would hate to have my child waste precious developmental time on them. In my particular case, if I felt that my child was not receiving a good education in school and I thought that school in general was a healthy place for her, I would probably put her in a private school. But a lot of parents don't have that option.

Since participation in "homeschooling cooperatives" and other resources is voluntary, once again it's up to the whim of the parents

Most of child-rearing is up to the parents, and some do a better job than others, that's for sure. I can think of a lot of child-raising practices that I find absolutely abominable. But in most cases I don't think that handing the child over to the benevolent hands of the government is always the answer. Attendance at school is no guarantee that a child is going to learn what any particular group of people wants him to learn - whether the subject be biology or history - kids fail classes and drop out of school all the time, and a lot of what is learned trickles out of the brain if it is not used. A child learns and retains what interests her - the other stuff, no matter how painfully crammed in, if not valued often falls by the wayside.

A mom without a college diploma could realize she can't teach biology, and choose to find a tutor or a community-college class -- or she could try to stumble through it herself, or just skip it altogether.

This is true, and if kids aren't being given the opportunity to learn about biology, I think it's a shame. I think that kids who have a real interest in biology, however, will find a way to learn about it eventually as long as they are not being sequestered in their attic or actively discouraged from learning. This may be when they reach a college age and they may have a bit of catching up to do, but I think that an interest in the subject matter can make up for that. As I recall, in my high school we didn't take biology until our sophomore year anyway - I doubt taking it a few years later would make much of a difference. Whether a child attends public school, private school, or home school, I think that the parents' attitudes towards learning make a big difference to the child's motivation to learn and her quality of education. Unfortunately, unsupportive and unmotivated parents can do a lot of damage, regardless of the teaching venue.

No transparency or accountability, unless the parent chooses to do so. And who evaluates the knowledge/capabilities of those "resources"? How does one know that they are reliable? Can you justify setting the bar high for public school teachers while tacitly approving no "bar" at all for those who homeschool?

I don't think that the bar is set particularly high for public school teachers, but I could be wrong - my view's just based on anecdotal evidence. Here we're coming back to the question of who chooses what each child needs to know at what time. My personal opinion is that a parent is in a better place to know their child's learning situation than teachers - a child receives a lot more individual attention from a parent then from teachers in a public school. I can understand why no "bar" at all would make a lot of people uncomfortable - everyone wants kids to have access to quality education. The problem is that reasonable people can have different opinions as to what constitutes a quality education. That being the case, I don't think that the government should have the power to impose its particular brand of "quality" education on every child. I think that giving our government too much control over what our children are exposed to and think is asking for trouble. Sure, some parents will do better than others - I think that's a price that has to be paid for diversity in education and holding on to the liberties we hold dear. Thankfully, children grow up and have the opportunity to steer a different course for themselves than their parents/schools/community set them - I can only hope poorly-educated children are able to remedy the deficiencies in their home and school education as adults. I have seen frequent examples of this occurring around me (among public school educated people).

I can understand that as an educator you would find it frustrating when unprepared children enter your classroom. Are you sure that the percentage of homeschoolers who do poorly in these classes is so much greater than people who were publicly schooled? Or is it possibly that the homeschoolers' failures are more noticable because more attention is being paid to them? A lot of kids who are homeschooled do so through courses of various kinds - maybe input to the course designers on improving educational areas that need the improvement would help change this. In the case of unschooling, I think that normally a person motivated enough to take a chemistry class in college would be prepared to seriously apply herself to the course material and would do well.

The mission of our community colleges isn't to fill gaps in homeschooled kids' education; the colleges and the kids both lose out.

I think that a lot of kids have had gaps in their education, whether they are homeschooled or publicly schooled. I'll offer up my dear husband in the personal anecdote arena (thankfully he doesn't read this blog) - his spelling and use of grammar is absolutely abysmal. Yet he made it through California public schools with good grades and obtained a "B" grade in his required college English course - ouch! His talents just lie elsewhere. Does that mean that he shouldn't take an English class in college? I don't think so. I think that English courses should be structured for students of various levels of knowledge and that students should be thoughtfully directed to the appropriate class.

The chemistry lab that you are referring to sounds a lot more involved than anything we had in our high school! I wonder if most public school have these facilities available for their students. That is good to know, though - thank you for the info. I guess if my daughter wants to learn chemistry, we'll have to find a more creative alternative than the home lab!

Thank you for your thoughts, Madam Pomfrey. I'm sorry that this entry is so long, everyone. There's a lot more I could write but I need to go tend to my toddler and this entry is way too long already.

Well, Cal, you have a point...but I believe anti-intellectualism in America is too complicated a phenomenon to be laid squarely at the feet of the public school system. It's at least partly cultural, as there's a disdain for learning in private schools as well, where dumb-as-a-stump athletes are elevated to school heroes as often as they are in public schools.

That being said, a totally standardless system isn't the answer. It's like saying that there shouldn't be speed limits on suburban roads because you and I are careful and skillful enough not to drive recklessly...while we ignore the pileups of wrecked cars on the side of the road driven by idiots who *don't* know better. Homeschooling, especially the fundie type, produces too many train wrecks to be ignored.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

I know it was low, but I'm with Madam Pomfrey - I smell a troll. However, even if Vic's legit, I'm trying to make a distinct point. Yes, people who go to public schools certainly can believe in stupid shit, but at least they have the opportunity to be exposed to other people who don't believe the same way they do. That gives them a cracked open door to see things from a different angle if they so choose. Often the first step in disentangling oneself from stupid beliefs is to notice how many other people don't believe them; really now, how many of us learned the truth about the tooth fairy and the easter bunny and santa from other kids at school, when our parents would have been happy for us to go right along for a few more years? Exposure to different frames of reference is a good thing. That insulation is one of the biggest drawbacks (and dangers) to homeschooling, if not done properly. Sure, there's the internet, but the parents we're already worried about are also blocking their kids' access to most sites and directing them straight to their online crackpot network instead. At the minimum, public school gives kids the chance to notice the world around them.
Victoria - if you are indeed legitimate, and honestly believe in astral projection, and are as sure of your abilities to learn on your own as you say you are, try checking out James Randi's site (www.randi.org). If you or your mother can astral project, there's a million dollars with your name on it!

Oh, and ignorance and intelligence are not the same thing. I'm not claiming that homeschooled kids are less intelligent, just that they have a much stronger possibility of being ignorant depending on the parents doing the schooling.

Nice chatting with you too, wm. You make a very good and thoughtful case for parental involvement at all levels of education, which I support as well. You're one of the careful/skillful drivers (see my post above) :-)

Jeanne, you seem to think this is all about who occupies the throne. Believe it or not, there are issues here that transcend the question of who's in power. I'm not a shrink, but being so reactively defensive about a choice you've made is usually an indication that something is off kilter.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"Homeschooling, especially the fundie type, produces too many train wrecks to be ignored."

(Last comment, and I'm going to bed.)

The prevalence of this thought is amazing to me. Homeschoolers, best guess, represent less than 2% of our nation's kids. Of the other 98% who attend taxpayer funded schools, approximately one third fail to graduate. That is one third of some 70 million students.

And homeschooling produces too many train wrecks to be ignored?

Frankly, I think homeschooling serves as a visible "Something We Can Focus On" that involves a marginalized set of "Other People" that "Regular People" have a hard time identifying with -- but they can feel like they can identify specific problems and propose solutions for.

Gee, thanks.

All I can say is, c'mon under my pecan trees. We have several subsepcies, and my kids can identify which pecans fall from which trees by the shape of the nuts.

But that's not important. Or maybe it is. I tell you what; we'll put that on your biology accountability test.

If we're not too busy reading.

It doesn't just have serious flaws, it's failing.

That's a hysterical overstatement which indicates that you are entirely unfit to make any serious comment about education. The schools in affluent areas like mine, with some but not very many exceptions, definitely are not perfect but most certainly are not failing (and as both a parent and a well-educated professional I am well-equipped to make that judgment). The problem is severe inequality among districts.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

"being so reactively defensive about a choice you've made is usually an indication that something is off kilter."

Indeed.

Yes, people who go to public schools certainly can believe in stupid shit, but at least they have the opportunity to be exposed to other people who don't believe the same way they do. That gives them a cracked open door to see things from a different angle if they so choose.

People who never come across individuals who believe differently than they do also have the ability to see things from a different angle if they so choose.

They're not likely to want to, of course, but that is an almost universal human failing. I've attended more than my share of public schools over the years, and they never struck me as fostering a sophisticated and nuanced worldview - not that that would be a justification for them if they were.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

Madame Pomfrey: "I have serious reservations about so-called "dual enrollment" and homeschooled kids taking community college classes without having earned a high-school diploma. They may be able to handle remedial or "learning-assistance" courses, but usually have serious difficulty with the community college courses that are crosslisted with university classes (for example in the California and Florida state college systems) and which by state law must be the same courses taught at the universities. "

I'm not sure why the diploma is necessary. The homeschooled kids taking the classes here need to meet the prerequisites the same as any other student. They take the placement tests for math and English like the rest of the enrolling students. If they don't have appropriate scores, they need to take the classes they need.

I'll agree that a full blown chem lab class is beyond the scope of most homes. As are advanced labs in most subjects. I can certainly teach through the chemistry I had in junior high chem lab at home as well as doing a pretty good chunk of my highschool chem lab. More of it was about techniques than anything else, and a lot of than can be done with home safe chemicals.

I could pretty easily replicate my high school and underclass physics labs at home if I visit the surplus sales for a bit of equipment. Likewise, my college first year level general bio, botany, zoology and geology labs would be reproducible in a home setting.

The lecture portion of many college level classes is well within the scope of self directed learning for the motivated learner. The labs in my classes were rarely tied to the lecture in any way, so while the material and methods that the labs teach are important, getting them later does not interfere with beginning to learn the subject. Organic chem in particular comes to mind here. While I was taking it, the lab was considered its own class. Ideally you took it during one of your semesters of organic, but there were non-traditional students who took it in a separate year or over summer session. Even the universities don't tie in lower division labs to science courses in ways that make it mandatory to have the lab at the same time that the lecture/book learning is happening, so I'm not convinced that homeschoolers having difficulty in doing so is that big a problem.

"Do you think that it would be necessary for a child who not good at math to learn algebra/geometry in time for a particular check-point?"
Yes I do, quite emphatically. And I'm no more willing to accept cop-outs on that from schools than I am from homeschooling parents. Educational standards in this country are watered-down enough as it is.

Thanks for the response, Steve. I'm wondering why you think that algebra is necessary knowledge for all adults. I know many people who aren't mathematically-inclined who either didn't take algebra or don't use algebra who have useful, satisfying lives. To be honest, I doubt that any of my siblings (two schoolteachers and one English prof) could solve a quadratic equation if their lives depended on it. But I don't think that they are suffering any for it. On a humorous note, I just asked my husband (who has several associates degrees in engineering and a B.A. in art) to solve a generic quadratic equation, and he's been sitting around scratching his head for quite some time now, saying "I'm going to get it, just give me a little more time ...."

Not everyone is cut out to be a scientist or an engineer. Likewise, not everyone is cut out to be an artist or a musician. Art classes are a waste of time for me, as has been demonstrated in the past. I don't see why I should be forced to take high school level art classes; likewise, I can't see why a child should be forced to learn algebra.

But I am open to persuasion (I happen to enjoy algebra, and look forward to teaching it to my daughter). My husband thinks that everyone should learn algebra, but he has not yet been able to give me a reason other than "well, it's just something everyone should know." A lot of good it did him!

I'd ask you to document that statement, but since I know the documentation doesn't exist, I won't bother.

Meanwhile snipping all the documentation that was in the original post. Or did you hope the rest of us wouldn't notice that?

Homeschooling, no matter who's doing it or why, is basically a rejection of a standardized product--public education, in this case--for something homemade, and it can be better or worse than the public schooling it replaces.

The thing is, as far as I know, there's no objective data about how HSers do once they're out of the nest. Everyone in this rather fascinating thread has opinions and anecdotes but I'm guessing that if anyone else here had heard of some studies, they'd have said so. (There are some from homeschooling organizatons, but they have a little objectivity problem.)

And even anecdotally, while you hear stories about the brilliant HSed kids who got into the Ivies, nobody talks about people who end up working at WalMart, homeschooled or not. There are some HSers in this thread whose opinions I trust more than others, but even there, what are they going to say? "Gee, my kids are really ignorant"?

By the same token, the anti-homeschooling voices are making blanket statements about something that varies like crazy from household to houshold.

Instead of guessing about all this, it would be great to have some real data from real HSed adults about how well they were served by their education, and about what factors made it work, or made it suck.

Now, how would you set that up?

(My guess: The main difference would be between kids who were HS'd because public education wasn't big enough for them, and the ones for whom their parents felt public schools were too big--eg, taught evolution or had too many blacks or some such.)

(BTW, Patrick Henry Colllege isn't for just any HSed kids; it seems to be specifically to counteract that problem religious parents have with their highly sheltered kids: They go to college, get exposed to other beliefs and realize that their parents are full of crap. PHC allows parents to continue the sheltering process.)

By Molly, NYC (not verified) on 10 Nov 2006 #permalink

wm, I would disagree with you that kids with no interest in physics "shouldn't be forced to study it." College students of course choose their majors, and not all are interested in science or engineering. But K-12 kids aren't qualified to design curricula for themselves, nor should they decide what's worth studying or what isn't. I expect I don't need to outline on this blog, of all places, why it's critical for kids to learn science and math early on and throughout secondary ed.

At my high school, not everyone who graduated and anticipated going to college took physics, chem 2, advanced biology, college-prep English, college-prep history, calculus, and many other classes. We actually were expected to design curricula for ourselves at that level based on our interest and our plans for the future. And there weren't enough periods in the day to take all of these subjects. I chose to take physics, calculus, and the other college-prep courses because that's where my interests were centered. (I'm sure that will make me a pariah here at Pharyngula!) I had a full schedule with no room to fit in other subjects of interest. Other kids took classes that weren't oriented towards attending college. At some point, one has to make tradeoffs as to what one wants to learn - I don't know anyone with infinite time on her hands!

What about kids that aren't particularly scientifically- inclined - kids who are interested in construction, acting, writing ... do all of them need to be well-versed in science? Everyone here thinks that science is wonderful and is biased towards it. I would appreciate being enlightened as to why science and math (outside that required for life skills) are truly necessary and subjects like music, art, and business are not.

I don't think that I can expect anything positive to come from my trying to "make" a child learn something. The only way to "make" a child learn something is through threats or manipulation (bad grades, loss of privileges, mind games, etc) and I don't think that these strategies lead to good learning, creativity, or a love of knowledge and learning. Which doesn't mean that I don't want my child to learn. I see one of my primary roles as an unschooling mom as one of inspiration - I plan to expose my child to as many subjects and learning resources as possible and encourage her enthusiastically in the learning process. I think that she will be a mentally, emotionally, and physically healthier person for it.

What I'm trying to get at is that, no matter how lacking some people's homeschooling curricula may seem to us, many homeschoolers may have good reasons that their children don't learn exactly what they would learn in their local public schools. Some atypical curricula are due to the parents' philosophies of how children can best learn and thrive. Some atypical curricula are due to parents adjusting for children's abilities, temperaments, and interests. Unfortunately, some atypical curricula are due to parents having close-minded religious views (which would be foisted on the poor kids anyway).

Just because a particular community doesn't like what kids are being taught, it doesn't necessarily mean that the kids are not deriving benefit from their special education situation. I think that this is even the case in the case of Christian fundamentalist homeschoolers - can any of us say for certain that the time lovingly devoted to these kids by their parents is less important to the kids long-term well-being than the lack of learning about evolution? Most people have the ability to learn about evolution at any stage in life (I'm just coming to an interest in it and learning about it now) - but a parent's ability to spend time with their children while they are children is limited and precious.

wm- The rudiments of high-school algebra and geometry are really quite simple and can readily be grasped by anyone of normal intelligence provided they're well-taught. Math cripples are produced by bad teaching, not by the victim being "not good at math". And math a little above elementary arithmetic is needed every day in all sorts of non-white-collar occupations (think of carpentry, for example), and also algebra is part of the basic numeracy that any citizen needs in order to make sense of the economic and scientific news all around her in a society like ours, and even of her personal finances if those involve anything more complicated than balancing a checkbook. (I might even be willing to compromise on Algebra II, but Algebra I and geometry are basic fare.)

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

P.S. And by the same token, in a modern democracy how can a citizen devoid of a basic grasp of scientific concepts and results possibly be an informed and responsible voter? As the extent of humans' impact on the global environment becomes clear this is now more critical than ever.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Carlie---Madam Pomfrey---Steve--and anyone else who beleives I'm not legite in what I say.....

For the past year I've taken exam after exam to prove to people I can do just as well or even better than a public school kid. I've done every placement test from the 1st grade to the 12th grade. I've aced them with no problem. I've read To Kill A Mockingbird, Grays Anatomy(the long version). I've read everything from Shakespeer to Edgar Alan Poe. I've read Newtons Complete Law of physics.

I've had to take 4 different IQ tests, witgh people hanging over my shoulder to make sure i'm not cheating. I got the result on all of them, I was scored as Semi-Genius.

As for Biology Class, I've worked with Cattle, Horses, Parrots, and 58 Pekinese. For five years I've done this. I've had to help make sure the dogs breed the right dogs. I've given them shots, administered medicine through the mouth and nose. I've helped them give birth, I've had to tear open the sac filled with bodily that surrounds the pup. I've cut the ambilical cord. I know how to do embryo transplants with cattle. I learned all of this on my uncle's farm. I've been taught to rewire lamps. I've been taught how to grow crops, how to plow the field bring in more dirt and plant the seeds and harvest the crops. Let me tell you it's walk in the park, especially when you have to up at 3:00a.m. and work until 8:00p.m.

I've also had to go out and chop would in the winter, let me tell you after choping, loading and then unloading the first load your hands are as white as paper and it hurts like hell. Especially whent its 15 degrees below 0. I've planted cane and made homemade mollasses. Where do you people think you get your syrup and your sugar. I make it, it doesn't just magically appear on the stor shelf. It's a hell of a lot of work.

So don't tell me I've never had an education until you've walked in my shoes.

Steve your just a smartass, so don't expect your comments to actually have any effect on my self confidence.

As for Astral Projection I don't even care if you don't beleive me, it's hard for people to understand or comprehend it. I also said my mother used to be able to astral project. She can no longer do it due to health and lung problems she can no longer control her breathing long enough to Astral Project.

Here a while back a special report was done by NBC, they went around and asked public school kids some questions to see how smart they were. They asked Highschool and College students this question, and not one of them got it right.
The question was:(What State is the Kentucky Derby held in every year?) Their answers were, Texas, Montana, ummm...Arkansas, and my favorite "What does Kentucky mean?)

So for those of you who like to try and put me down with your low blows and comments made out of pure stupidity can take the followings 17 question test that I personnally made up of actual facts. I hope you don't cheat and look up the answers, because I know all of the answers from past reading that I've done and from experience. Good Luck.

1: What is scours?

2: What does Yowntu mean? I want a full definition, and you hae to use it in a sentence.

3: What battle did Bonaparte die in?

4: What is King George the VII, first name?

5: How long did the 100yr war last?

6: Where do we get catgut?

7: What is the function of a chicken gizard? (It a part of the anatomy of a chicken)

8: What animal now today is the most closely related to the now extinct Tyrannosaurus Rex?

9: Who made the Midnight ride from Concord through Lexington, yelling "THE BRITISH ARE COMING!"

10: What was the name of the first black woman to run for president?

11: Who invented the scissors?

12: What can be substituted as blood plasma, that you get from a plant?

13: How many toes did Marylin Monroe have?

14: What is a Camel Hair Brush made of?

15: What was the first product to have a barcode?

16: Where did the sign of flipping someone the bird originate from?

17: What was the first halloween pumpkin made of?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

P.S. And by the same token, in a modern democracy how can a citizen devoid of a basic grasp of scientific concepts and results possibly be an informed and responsible voter? As the extent of humans' impact on the global environment becomes clear this is now more critical than ever.

Which is precisely why we need to start moving away from inescapable government standards, because they've produced a citizenry where most people are ignorant of even the most rudimentary aspects of science and a significant fraction believes the Sun to orbit the Earth.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve - thanks for your response; you make good points about how algebra/geometry/etc can be useful. I happen to agree that they can be useful for the average Joe. I just don't agree that they are absolutely necessary for absolutely every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Here is an article in the Washington Post decrying a high school algebra requirement for an additional perspective: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2006/02/15/BL2006021501989.html. Unfortunately, there are kids out there who have a great deal of trouble with algebra and geometry, and I'm not convinced that the problem is always the teaching. Just as there are kids out there who have trouble with spelling, like my husband: if most of the rest of the kids in his class were reasonable spellers and my husband went on to excel in other areas of engineering and artistic endeavor (i.e., isn't dumb), can we be so sure that the teaching was the problem?

As far as teaching our kids to be responsible citizens goes, I think that learning critical thinking skills and basic statistical analysis would serve most people more than learning science would - neither of which are required (or even encouraged) learning in public schools. Intelligent political discourse requires the ability to think and reason and an awareness of what knowledge one has and what knowledge one lacks. Unfortunately, there are a lot of college-educated people out there - people who were taught basic math and science - that have some terribly misinformed views on all kinds of scientific issues - from global warming to stem cell research to evolution. I would assert that a lot of these people never learned proper critical thinking skills when they are kids. Even worse, I think that a lot of these people had their intellectual curiosity stomped out of them at an early age by ineffective schooling methods - curiosity which would have led them to become more informed citizens in areas of public debate and decision. By encouraging a child to follow her interests through the process of unschooling, I think that her intellectual curiosity will blossom. But the catch is that this style of teaching requires not "teaching to the test."

Victoria--Forgive the kibbitzing, but have a look at The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White. It's really short; you can read it in one sitting. (White, incidentally, is the same E. B. White who wrote Charlotte's Web.)

By Molly, NYC (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria - it sounds like you have received a wonderful, well-rounded education! I am sure it will serve you well.

I just mentioned my husband and his spelling issues ... unfortunately, if someone can't spell well, a lot of people will assume that he's not so bright - particularly if they don't know him and aren't acquainted with his many outstanding abilities. Your writing might be more effective if you were to write your posts in Word and spell-check them and then copy them into the text box. My husband refuses to write anything without spell-checking it - either by computer or by wife! :-)

Just as there are kids out there who have trouble with spelling, like my husband: if most of the rest of the kids in his class were reasonable spellers and my husband went on to excel in other areas of engineering and artistic endeavor (i.e., isn't dumb), can we be so sure that the teaching was the problem?

Ah, but I think the strain of egalitarianism that I'm detecting in Steve's posts causes him to value highly the idea that all people are equal and that it's our experiences (read: what we're taught) that make us different.

This probably explains the strong desire for standardization of education, as well. He recognizes that human beings really aren't created equal, and so feels that it is the government's job to create such equality.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

So for those of you who like to try and put me down with your low blows and comments made out of pure stupidity ...

Half the people in this thread have gone mad; they've been behaving as if someone replaced their anti-psychotic meds with methamphetamine and blowtorches. It's difficult to avoid being upset by this, but it's nonetheless very important to either not get upset, or stop reading and responding to the thread. Many of the comments in this thread are reflexive acts of textual violence; people send out their remarks with no consideration, and later, feeling they must justify their previous comments, engage in all sorts of weird contortions to defend their previous errors. Everyone engages in this behavior to some degree, but some topics trigger it more often. (Non-)regulation of homeschooling is an inflammatory topic for many. Nothing in this thread can be assumed to be a useful judgment of any individual.

(Although I have quoted Victoria, this comment is directed at the thread in general - not any one person.)

Victoria:

I can't say that I'm surprised that you ducked the issue of scientific proof for astral projection. "I don't care if you believe" is certainly an easier bar to meet.

As for your questions, off the top of my head:

1: What is scours?
A disease of cattle

2: What does Yowntu mean? I want a full definition, and you hae to use it in a sentence.
Don't know.

3: What battle did Bonaparte die in?
Napoleon I: Died in captivity on the Island of Elba
Napoleon II: Died of TB in Austria
Napoleon III: Died in exile in Chiselhurst, England
Maybe you meant one of the less famous Bonapartes, but I can't think of any that died in battle.

4: What is King George the VII, first name?
Britain has never had a King George VII, and I'm not sure that any other country has, either. If you mean King George VI, his full name was Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor.

5: How long did the 100yr war last?
116 years

6: Where do we get catgut?
From the gut of a sheep.

7: What is the function of a chicken gizard? (It a part of the anatomy of a chicken)
It holds stones that crush food, performing the same function as molar teeth in mammals.

8: What animal now today is the most closely related to the now extinct Tyrannosaurus Rex?
Birds.

9: Who made the Midnight ride from Concord through Lexington, yelling "THE BRITISH ARE COMING!"
No-one. Dawes, Revere and Prescott made the Midnight Ride from Concorde to Lexington, yelling "The regulars are out!".
10: What was the name of the first black woman to run for president?

11: Who invented the scissors?
I don't know. But I do know they were used in Ancient Egypt, by at least 1500BC.

12: What can be substituted as blood plasma, that you get from a plant?
According to Jackie, Chan, coconut milk.

13: How many toes did Marylin Monroe have?
Despite rumours to the contrary, 10.

14: What is a Camel Hair Brush made of?
Horse hair, normally.

15: What was the first product to have a barcode?
Wrigley's spearmint gum

16: Where did the sign of flipping someone the bird originate from?
It's a symbolic representation of a phallus.

17: What was the first halloween pumpkin made of?
Pumpkins are always made of pumpkin. Early Jack-O-Lanterns were made from turnips, and they frequently still are, in countries where pumpkins don't grow. I don't think anyone can reasonably say what the very first one was made from, though.

Either there were some trick questions in there, or you don't know quite as much as you thought. Maybe you should do some more research before telling everyone how much smarter than them you are.

In other words, the thread is dense with arguments that contradict Mr. llewelly's view, so the entire thread is obviously useless and must be discarded.

Mr. llewelly then thoughtfully informs everyone who has found the thread to be useful and interesting that their participation has no meaning and is invalid. If he didn't tell us, how else would we know?

Thank you, Mr. llewelly, for your considerate correction.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Ooops, I missed one, sorry.

10: What was the name of the first black woman to run for president?
Charlene Mitchell, Communist, 1968. Assuming you mean "President of the USA".

llewelly is right to point out that some people in this thread are oversensitive to the point of near-hysteria. That's often the case with homeschooling advocates, even the nonfundie ones: once they've chosen to do it, they throw themselves into it with mad abandon, with a near-religious devotion to "the cause" and wild overreaction to anyone who criticizes them or their methods. I suspect part of it has to do with the good old control issue: the parent (usually but not always the wife) gives up her day job to homeschool, and then *that* becomes her vocation and her power trip...and woe to anyone who dares to suggest that there might be problems. Loss of influence in other areas of life can lead to hyper-control over what one *can* manage. Now before the flaming starts, I don't mean to imply that all homeschoolers have control issues...just the ones who blow up like H-bombs as soon as you hold up a finger and say, "Wait a minute..."

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Now before the flaming starts, I don't mean to imply that all homeschoolers have control issues...just the ones who blow up like H-bombs as soon as you hold up a finger and say, "Wait a minute..."

I don't dispute that your argument has merit, but let's turn that mirror onto the other side as well. Who has the greater control issues: the people who want the ability to use teaching methods and schedules that don't match those in public schools, or the people who want authorities to control the instruction of children?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Caledonian: Differences in teaching methods and schedules isn't being debated, it's content that I'm worried about. I don't care when a kid learns algebra, but it had better happen sometime and it had better not be that if 2x=8, then x=5.

Victoria: I know several people who are brilliant and can't spell or punctuate worth a darn. However, when your sole contribution to the discussion is a statement that you're a genius and are homeschooled and it's working out so well for you, and you're making that statement via text, then it behooves you to make sure that you're using correct spelling, grammar, and syntax. Also, spouting off random memorized factoids (often incorrectly, as wintermute pointed out), not to mention espousing a completely discredited pseudoscientific belief, isn't going to get you far in this crowd. In fact, one of the problems I have with public education is the often seen emphasis on rote memorization without regard to critical thinking and application of knowledge. I've always thought that homeschoolers did better in those particular areas, but you're making me rethink that position.

Cal -- not all laws are bad, you know. The wisdom lies in walking the fine line between laws that unfairly restrict/control and ones that are beneficial because they keep us from harm wrought by malicious people and/or idiots. I certainly wouldn't want a central authority totally managing my life, but I also don't want a society in which any fool could harm me or others without restraint or punishment. Consider my analogy about speed limits on suburban roads. Certainly they impinge on people's freedom to drive as they choose, and the two of us could smugly chat about how *we* never drive recklessly or endanger anyone, so why does that mean central authority want to control how we drive?

The unfortunate truth is that there are a lot of crazies, idiots, criminals and fools out there who still manage to cause trouble even when laws exist to restrain them. Imagine the chaos if there were no restraints.

We've all most likely been to business meetings where the person running the meeting loses or abdicates control...more often than not, the most obnoxious blowhard in the room takes over and things get stupid fast.

Like it or not, we need laws and restraints to maintain our democracy and to keep order in society. Having such laws doesn't mean that we'll automatically slippery-slope into fascism. In fact a quicker road to dictatorial governments is having no control at all, at which point the wealthiest, nastiest strongman finds a clear path to power.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Like it or not, we need laws and restraints to maintain our democracy and to keep order in society. Having such laws doesn't mean that we'll automatically slippery-slope into fascism.

We already *have* slippery-sloped into fascism, thank you very much. The suspension of habeas corpus, remember?

We do indeed need laws to maintain order. However, these laws should be as limited and specific as possible, should not touch certain areas entirely, and should not be used to attempt to impose some individual's ideals of order onto others.

In the case of education, our system is failing. Preventing the development of new systems that take a different tack than the mainstream is not going to solve anything. Trying to eliminate failure by fiat is pointless, and in the process it usually cripples success.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

"Preventing the development of new systems that take a different tack than the mainstream is not going to solve anything. "

The whole problem is that homeschooling isn't a "new system." It just means pulling your kids out of a private or public school and attempting to teach them at home, which could range from beneficial to totally crackpot and damaging. "Less regulated with fewer external standards" doesn't automatically translate to "new and innovative."

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Homeschooling is bad for science education (and, to a lesser extent, art, technology and a few other things) because of the lack of infrastructure. Can children learn to use a fume hood at home? I would be most worried about social development, though. I know many homeschooling parents put their kids into other activities with children, but ...

Daryl Cobranchi: As scientists, how do you deal with my criticism above?

Rick @ shrimp and grits: How do you accumulate a "bookcase of shame" without giving much money to dubious organizations?

wm: See above - I list an example of what cannot be done at home in chemistry. Other examples probably include dealing with strong acids or bases, and other things that in many places require the proper authority to purchase. (I assume that "under the table" is out.)

I realize my question is now redundant ... but it does allow me to make a comment ...
learning collectives? Gee, now it is starting to sound like schools after all ...

It just means pulling your kids out of a private or public school and attempting to teach them at home, which could range from beneficial to totally crackpot and damaging.

Trying to impose more external standards on homeschooling, or pushing for homeschooled children to enter public schools, can have results ranging from beneficial to totally crackpot and damaging.

So what's the problem?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Cal, for a while I was thinking we were having a reasonable discussion, but now I'm not so sure.

You seem to think that standards established by many people (including experts) coming together with oversight have an equal probability of being crackpot as one person's decision as to how to educate their kids without oversight. The plain fact is that when there is no oversight, that one person could be shoving blithering nonsense at the kids with no consequences. Groups of people can of course make stupid decisions, but the odds of pushing baloney as facts are lower when they are called to account.

btw, this is why we have experts in certain fields, and why we see doctors when we're ill. Not everyone has the medical knowledge to be able to treat themselves, so we see an expert to diagnose the condition and prescribe medication. Sure, doctors are sometimes wrong. But the probability of the National Academy of Sciences, or the AMA, of peddling nonsense about disease is much lower than a single untrained person (especially one with a political or religious agenda) peddling nonsense about disease.

You also seem to believe that anything the state does is inherently destructive, even when the state acts to prevent bozos from systematically indoctrinating nonsense.

Somehow I don't think a totally powerless state would be the answer to your dreams, Cal. It would be a nightmare.

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Rick @ shrimp and grits: How do you accumulate a "bookcase of shame" without giving much money to dubious organizations?

Used bookstores / thrift shops often suffice for things like that - especially if you live in the Deep South as I do. Used fundie books are EVERYWHERE. Failing that, Ebay.

But what an amusing thread! Why does any criticism of homeschooling always bring 'em crawling out of the woodwork?

In fact, one of the problems I have with public education is the often seen emphasis on rote memorization without regard to critical thinking and application of knowledge. I've always thought that homeschoolers did better in those particular areas, but you're making me rethink that position.

I'm 99.44% sure that V.F. is a troll, but I would point out that fundie homeschool materials like the ACE curriculum stress rote memorization.

You seem to think that standards established by many people (including experts) coming together with oversight have an equal probability of being crackpot as one person's decision as to how to educate their kids without oversight.

No, I think that standards established by committee by self-proclaimed "experts" in the field of education and applied by underpaid professionals in a rote manner so that the results on standardized tests are maximized are likely to be worse than what the average person can come up with by themselves. Furthermore, I think that such standards are likely to be far inferior to what the above-average person can develop and customize.

The problem with states is that they remain honest only so long as individuals keep them so - and it's far too easy for specific individuals to start slacking off and trusting that the state will take care of things. Sooner or later, not enough people maintain the power of the state, so that people in general begin to lose the power to keep it in check, and it begins to turn against them.

History shows that neither total unregulation nor total regulation lead to the best available outcomes, but if you have to choose between them, choose unregulation. If you get a chance, the happy medium is far closer to that extreme than to the other.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Yes, well, that's why we have checks and balances: the people check the power of the state, and the state (to some extent) must check the power of the individual.

If faced with the one-zero choice, I'd rather put up with some fuzzy thinkers ruminating in eduspeak about "holistic grading" and "student learning outcomes" than enable a bunch of loonies to brainwash their unsuspecting brood into thinking the earth is flat, because the potential for damage is much greater. Philosophical objections to the power of the state are all well and fine, but the unpleasant reality is that extremely weak states enable strongmen and kooks.

And on that note, I'm proceeding outside to enjoy some of the unseasonably excellent weather on this Saturday. Good day to all...mp

By Madam Pomfrey (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

I'd rather put up with some fuzzy thinkers ruminating in eduspeak about "holistic grading" and "student learning outcomes" than enable a bunch of loonies to brainwash their unsuspecting brood into thinking the earth is flat, because the potential for damage is much greater.

That's insane. The lunatics will only ruin their own children, as people recognize their nature and reject them. But put those fuzzy thinkers into power, and they'll ruin everyone's children. Which they are in fact doing. The potential for damage from the bureaucrats is far, far greater - there will be fewer cases of total failure, but far more cases of partial.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

"learning collectives? Gee, now it is starting to sound like schools after all ..."

Yes, schools chosen and designed by the parents and students, which serve a specific purpose and can be easily abandoned if they don't work, vs. the one size fits all take it or leave it style of typical schools (public or private.)

"Why does any criticism of homeschooling always bring 'em crawling out of the woodwork?"

At least some of us aren't crawling out of the woodwork, but have been posting for quite a while. Some other names might be lurkers, who start in posting in response to a new subject, on which they know something.

"llewelly is right to point out that some people in this thread are oversensitive to the point of near-hysteria... control issue... Loss of influence in other areas of life can lead to hyper-control over what one *can* manage"

Ah, psychoanalyzing the Other... Maybe the 'hysteria' of pro-choice advocates is a "control issue"? Well, actually it is: the right to control an intimate aspect of one's life, a right recently acquired and under ongoing threat. AIUI that matches homeschooling pretty well, with the legal right to homeschool having been only recently established, still opposed by various school districts, and as we see here by a large number of liberals.

So yes, they can be sensitive and 'paranoid', just like pro-choicers, or civil rights advocates suspicious even of requiring ID cards to vote, because of how that could impact the disadvantaged.

Paul Graham noted that if you get caught up in labelling an idea as racist or sexist or un-American or socialist or due to some psychological reason, then you're ducking real debate. The real issue is whether the idea is right or wrong, or has empirically good or bad consequences.

normally, your ravings are little more than mindless blather that I dismiss as meaningless. But this sort of horsefeathers is dangerously stupid.

Let the STATE take full responsibility for raising/educating kids?

You're an idiot if you think this is a worthwhile idea.

Damien makes an excellent point that I wish I'd thought to mention.

Who is best qualified to decide matters concerning a woman's body: the frightened and nervous woman, or groups of experts who can dispassionately make laws that apply to all women, without regard to circumstance or any individual's desires? Are you going to sit there while some women make poor choices? Clearly something must be done!

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

I was trying to stay mostly out of it, but give me a fucking break, Caledonian. To make the analogy more appropriate, since it's clear that you're talking about abortion: should we restrict the legal ability to provide abortions to people who have been trained and certified in the medical procedures required, or should we allow any hack on the street to perform them with no oversight at all?

Wintermute----You surprised me, I really didn't expect anyone to actually take the quiz, and it was just to make a point. You only missed three questions; Camel Hair Brushes are normally made from squirrel fur. The word Yowntu is from Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Dictionary. It means you want to; I'm goin ta the mall yowntu? ï The scissors used now today were invented by Da Vinci, a man that I greatly admire among many others.

Anyways I was unable to get your paper at 3:00 a.m. in the morning when I posted that quiz, because I was getting ready to go to Nellis Air Force Base. So no I've not gotten around to it. But I will try and get it as soon as possible.

PS: I don't believe I'm smarter than all of you, nor am I smarter than any of you. I believe knowledge comes from life experience. You've all had more experience than I've ever had. I just hope that one day I'll have the pleasure of being as great as I ever can be. I hope to one day explore the Amazonian jungles, and perhaps climb Mt. Everest.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wintermute----I forgot one that you missed on my quiz. Where did flipping someone the bird originate from? I love this one; I didn't expect anyone to know this. But it is certainly true.

GIVING THE FINGER
Well, now......here's something I never knew before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to send it on my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified. Isn't history more fun when you know something about it?

Giving the Finger

before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous weapon was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew").

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! "PLUCK YEW!" Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually hanged to a labiodentals fricative 'F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute!

It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as "giving the bird." IT IS STILL AN APPROPRIATE SALUTE TO THE FRENCH TODAY!

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

To make the analogy more appropriate, since it's clear that you're talking about abortion: should we restrict the legal ability to provide abortions to people who have been trained and certified in the medical procedures required, or should we allow any hack on the street to perform them with no oversight at all?

If there are people who are trained and certified in the relevant medical procedures, and a woman doesn't want to utilize their services, why should she be prohibited from going to someone else? Misrepresenting one's qualifications strikes me as something that governments would be good at preventing, so a person who lies about being trained and certified could have steps taken against them, but why should the government have the ability to decide what people can do to their bodies and what people they go to in order to do those things?

You've taken the metaphor farther than I did, and possibly beyond its usefulness, so consider a different example. Should the government force women who discover that they're pregnant to receive medical care from a list of approved doctors and accepting specific forms of prenatal care?

After all, quality prenatal care can prevent all kinds of problems later on. Doesn't the government have the right to ensure that its future citizens are healthy? So shouldn't it be able to induce people to accept "proper" medical care?

By Caledonian (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

I can't believe someone has now cited Richard Cohen to defend ignorance. Or rather, maybe it is appropriate that someone defending ignorance would cite Cohen.

I am not advocating "ignorance"; what I am putting forward is the possibility that there may be valid reasons for various people not to learn exactly what is specified in a state-mandated curriculum. I could just as easily say that you are advocating ignorance if you don't think that all people should learn drama, watercolor, and musical theory.

I happen to think that algebra is a wonderful subject and would be of benefit to many people to learn. I intend to motivate my daughter to learn algebra and teach her as much algebra as interests her and that she finds relevant to her life - not stopping at high school level algebra if her interest carries her further. The same with other math and science subjects.

It's pretty obvious that scientists and engineers need algebra. Not all people want to or are capable of becoming scientists and engineers (FSM help us, I know a lot of engineers who really shouldn't be engineers). Would you really want to live in a world composed entirely of professional scientists and engineers? I'm an engineer, yet I wouldn't!

"Less regulated with fewer external standards" doesn't automatically translate to "new and innovative."

That's true, but it does make room for new and innovative teaching methods that would be compromised by state-mandated testing.

Homeschooling is bad for science education (and, to a lesser extent, art, technology and a few other things) because of the lack of infrastructure. Can children learn to use a fume hood at home?

Keith - I appreciate your comments. It does seem possible that some subjects such as chemistry may require a non-home setting to explore fully. But workarounds have already been mentioned. I would think that the ability for expanded learning experiences that homeschooling affords would provide the opportunity to inspire more children to be interested in science. Most schools just aren't able to take kids on a lot of fields trips. I used to assist in bringing a hands-on-science workshop to grade school kids at schools all around the city I lived in which exposed the kids to a lot of fun, interesting experiments with scientific relevance. The kids seemed very enthusiastic about science after a single hour of participating in this workshop - a learning experience that they did not get as part of their "public" education. Did it stick? Who knows. But I think that repeated hands-on exposure to science - particularly when it can be made obviously relevant to children's lives and interests - can do nothing but benefit children.

As an aside, neither my husband nor I learned chemistry in a high school lab of the type you are describing. We have both been successful professional engineers for many years now.

I would be most worried about social development, though. I know many homeschooling parents put their kids into other activities with children, but ...

This is a common concern and something that is certainly deserving of thought. A lot of school social environments I have come across seem either mildly toxic or toxic to the extreme - at the best consisting of similar kids grouping together with other kids as similar as possible to themselves and lacking the benefit of the companionship of older kids and adults who can bring experience, diversity, and the benefit of more advanced age to the group interactions. And we all know what can happen at worst ... I would be interested in seeing studies that compare the social adjustment of homeschooled kids to publicly-schooled kids (with appropriate controls for the social adjustment of the children at the time they started homeschooling).

I remember how relieved I was when I went into college and later into the workforce and discovered how dissimilar the "real world" was from public school. (And, as I mentioned, I attended what was locally considered a "great" school). I think that through homeschooling it is easier to expose a child to "real-world" social interactions from the start - arranging for them to spend time with friends of various ages and from diverse backgrounds.

You're completely wrong about the single-finger salute. First of all, that symbol has never been in common use in Britain, which should be a clue. The fact that the Romans were using the single finger salute 1700 years before Agincourt might be another clue.

And while that history is sometimes given for the British equivalent (The "V-sign" - like a two-fingered peace sign, but with the back of the hand outwards), there's no evidence that it was used before the 19th Century.

There are no reports of captured archers having their fingers cut off, which is hardly surprising, given that they weren't important enough to be taken prisoner for ransom, and would simply be killed on the field.

And, finally, the idea that a "PL" would morph into an "F" is simply ridiculous. After all, there are plenty of other "PL"s in modern English that date back to at least that period, and not a single instance of the change you suggest.

To repeat what I said before: The extended middle finger represents a phallus.

As to your other points:
"Yowntu" is not a word. Just because someone makes a silly sound on TV, and claims it has a meaning, it doesn't automatically make it a word.

I don't know about in America, but in Britain, horse hair is the most common source of camelhair brushes. Wikipedia lists horse first, followed by squirrel, goat, sheep, bear and "other". It doesn't imply that that's the proportional order, but I think it's fair to say that a blanket answer of "squirrel" is false.

By "the scissors we use today", I assume you mean cross-bladed pivot scissors, in which case, I have to ask if Da Vinci also invented a time machine, so that he could give the idea to the Romans in around 100AD? Or is there some minor improvement that he made that you're referring to?

Once again, you really should do some actual research before thinking that you know what you're talking about. Sorry.

And I'm really excited to hear about that paper on astral projection. Please let me know when (if) you find it, but I don't plan to hold my breath. Actually, something occurred to me about that, today: the brain is, from a biochemical point of view, the most complex organ in the body. If you were to separate the function of a given organ from your body, why not start with something simpler, like kidney functions? Why does everyone always start with the most difficult possible organ? Can anyone answer that one for me?

"Creationists do the same thing. They are happy to take the flu shots and antibiotics designed by the evolutionists they hate."

So do atheists and evolutionists steer clear of St. Whoever hospitals?

Actually, I believe that immunology was more or less founded by Pasteur, who would not qualify as an evolutionist. He was also the first to notice chirality. Has anyone figured out why the selection fairy conserved that yet?

By Phil Corn (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

I was surprised VF accepted your answer about the first black woman to run for the presidency, since I was almost sure that she was actually thinking of Shirley Chisholm when she wrote the question (since it is a common prejudice that nothing in electoral politics matters when it happens outside of the dominant two parties).

"can children learn to use a fume hood at home?"

Well, as a matter of fact, we have a home-made fume hood in our basement. However, I don't recall seeing much fume hood work in highschool science classes, either when I was in school (30+ yrs ago) or in the ones I have seen these days. (I did have a highschool microbiology class complete with autoclaves and incubators, but that was unusual at the time, and probably even more so now.) I'm not convinced that using a fume hood, or working with strong acids and bases, is necessary for learning the scientific method and related critical thinking skills.

I also don't see why parents should need teaching qualifications to homeschool their own children. They dont need to do "classroom management", they don't need to figure out how to simultaneously work with kids at different levels with different learning styles, they mostly need to nurture their child's curiosity and facilitate the child's innate desire for learning (unless they are raving fundamentalists in which case they want to stifle the child's natural curiosity and instill an isolationist blind obedience to authority, but in any case, having teaching qualifications would not make a difference).

By Theo Bromine (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Actually, I believe that immunology was more or less founded by Pasteur, who would not qualify as an evolutionist.

Would this be the same Pasteur who said

Virulence appears in a new light which cannot but be alarming to humanity; unless nature, in her evolution down the ages (an evolution which, as we now know, has been going on for millions, nay, hundreds of millions of years), has finally exhausted all the possibilities of producing virulent or contagious diseases -- which does not seem very likely.

He was also the first to notice chirality. Has anyone figured out why the selection fairy conserved that yet?

Evolutionary biology doesn't encompass a "selection fairy", nor does it encompass the origin of life.

Are you trying to give a demonstration of the sort of misinformation which can be perpetuated without amelioration or correction by homeschooling?

Kansas Anarchist:

I'm entirely certain that she thought Chisholm was the answer to that question, but then saw that I gave an earlier year, and decided not to correct me. Ditto for her believe that "Bonaparte" died in the Battle of Waterloo, that Marilyn Monroe had 12 toes, that there was a George VII of England, and that the Midnight Riders really did shout "The British are coming". She's just too much of a coward to admit she was wrong.

It's quite sad, really.

You know, I never met this fundementalist that everyone keeps talking about...and I've homeschooled for 2 years and been associated with both Christian and Secular groups. I think some people have built up in their mind a character that they are quite troubled about.
When my kids were in school they were surrounded by 99% white, educated, upper income types educated in public schools and university...most without a specific religion or moral that they follow seriously.

I never expected to meet such intolerant people. Weren't these the "ultra tolerant" new world order folks that my conservative backround warned me about? The ones who have been educated and indoctinated into the world community? Yes, well they were...guess it didn't work.

When I joined the homeschooling community I found it to be very open and loving of other human beings, even if they believed that some of their actions were misguided or sinful. They would NEVER advocate trying to punish, harm or even be unkind to them as friends and neighbors. In fact, they are really strict with their own selves, but are quite forgiving and non-judgemental toward others, though they may disagree with their views. Most of them would fight for the right that you have to completely disagree with their views.
I'm involved with at least 50 or 60 homeschool families over the course of 4 counties in my state. I think I have a pretty good sample of the "average homeschooler" Christian or not...and you all are worried about some homeschooler that may be out there somewhere. Logically, I'd be more worried about my neighbor next door who sends his kids to the public school because he doesn't really care so much one way or the other as long as the kid is out of his sight for 8 hours.

It's not that there isn't some validity ...but that you're kind of going off about something...to the point of extremism regarding this...for someone I've never even come close to meeting in the home schooling world! If I've never met this person...being around home schoolers all of the time...is there really reason to worry that this group is going to take over the world and make zombies out of the rest of us??? LOL

By easytherebessie (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria, my young friend:

You may know a lot of things, but spelling doesn't seem to be one of them. Your grammar is a little shaky in spots, too, and several of your "facts" are wrong.

None of that puts your homeschooling in a good light. (Sad to say, because of homeschooling's public image as a big Religious-Right thing, you almost have to come across as far better-educated than the average student at your level to make up for it.)

"Beleives" you're not "legite"? (No one beleives you're not legite. However, apparently a few of us believe you may not be legit. Personally, I'm reserving judgment.)

"Grays" Anatomy without an apostrophe? (Ditto "Newtons," unless you're talking about the fig kind, or the unit of force, which is more apropos to physics.)

"Shakespeer"? (They did spell things strangely back in his lifetime, but the spelling of Shakespeare's name has been pretty consistent since his first publication in the early 1600s. Your English Lit prof will have a bird over this one.)

Edgar "Alan" Poe? (Nevermore. Make that two birds.)

"Ambilical" cord? (If U claim to be so animal-savvy in addition to being well-educated, why can't U spell it? And I assume the "bodily" you mentioned is amniotic fluid.)

"Choping"? (He was a composer. No, wait. That was "Chopin.")

"Your" a smartass? (My smart ass can beat up your smart ass.)

You "personnally" made up that quiz? (Obviously you've fallen under an evil "spell.")

As for the answers:

2: What does Yowntu mean?

Younto go back and check that spelling? I couldn't find it anywhere the way you spelled it. It does appear with "my" spelling in the Urban Dictionary, but because it's slang - and brand-new slang at that - your question itself isn't "legite." (As for Jeff Foxworthy, I've known far too many real rednecks in my life to think he's even remotely amusing.)

3: What battle did Bonaparte die in?

Is this a trick question? He didn't. He died in exile on a crummy little Atlantic island called St. Helena, 1500 miles from nowhere. Sorry, wintermute; Elba was his first exile. OTOH, I hadn't thought of the other two Napoleons, but you're absolutely right - no battles. Ignominious deaths all the way.

4: What is King George the VII, first name?

Now that's definitely a trick question. The reigns of the first two Charleses were so disastrous that the current Prince of Wales is said to be considering becoming "King George VII" if and when he takes the throne, which he may not. Her Majesty doesn't seem to have ruled out (ouch! no pun intended) the possibility of passing him over in favor of Prince William.

7: What is the function of a chicken gizard? (It a part of the anatomy of a chicken)

A chicken "gizard"? No, it not, but a gizzard is. (I can't stomach bad spelling. It really sticks in my craw and grinds my grits.)

11: Who invented the scissors?

Not Leonardo DaVinci. The Romans had "modern" scissors almost 2000 years ago. One-piece shears, like those still used in some parts of the world for shearing sheep, are at least 1500 years older than that, and probably much older. (One of Leonardo's notebooks does include a description of a grinding wheel for sharpening scissors, though.)

13: How many toes did Marylin Monroe have?

("Marylin"?) Ten, like most of the rest of us. The myth of an extra toe on her left foot was based on a single, not very well-lit, out-of-focus photo from a 1946 test shoot. The photographer said he didn't notice an extra toe during the shoot or when he first developed the pictures. (If she had an extra toe, he would certainly have noticed, since professional photographers notice everything. It's part of what makes them pros.) The extra-toe story seems to have come out 40 years later, when he published a book of early Monroe photos. Some people think he started the rumor as a publicity stunt.

17: What was the first halloween pumpkin made of?

A pumpkin, of course! Now, if you asked me about a jack-o'-lantern, I'd have to look that up. BTW, "Halloween" is a proper name and should always be capitalized.

I'm willing to bet you got at least two or three of those questions (#11 and #13, and #3 if it wasn't intended as a trick question) wrong. People who "personnally" make up quizzes are generally expected to "personnally" know the right answers. (Pardon my split infinitive.)

Recommended reading:

[1] A good unabridged dictionary. Nothing screams "IGNORANCE!!!!!" at first glance like abominable spelling. (You don't have to be crazy like me and sit for hours until you're cross-eyed, reading the OED just for fun.)

[2] A decent grammar book. Bad grammar is as ignorant-looking as bad spelling. The Harbrace College Handbook (which I had to buy in high school!) is probably overkill; for starters, you can get away with Strunk and White's concise The Elements of Grammar.

[3] An encyclopedia, preferably Britannica or something similar.

Beware of Wikipedia! In spite of the community's best efforts, a certain amount of BS still manages to creep in, and the BS changes from day to day just like everything else there.

Never quote Wikipedia without checking at least one outside source, and preferably two (other than the references listed at the end of the article) for verification. If you must quote it, make a note of the date and save a copy of the page you cited.

Better yet, don't quote it at all. No one will take your work seriously if you do.

[4] At least a dozen world and US history books (including several that incorporate a non-Eurocentric POV).

School textbooks don't count. They don't teach history; they regurgitate factoids in an effort to lull students into a warm-fuzzy "patriotic spirit."

At least one should be a history of science. I recommend one I read recently: A People's History of Science by Clifford D. Conner, which gets away from the "Great Man" myth and shows how science developed naturally out of ordinary people's everyday curiosity and ingenuity.

For US history, make sure you include James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. You'll see just how lame the textbook version of "history" really is. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn is another goodie.

[5] snopes.com. Just about everyone's favorite online crap-buster. Say no more.

Stick with us, kid. We'll get you good and educated.
---grin, duck, and run---

I suppose that's way too many brass farthings' worth from a pathological spelling- and fact-checker...........

By anomalous4 (not verified) on 11 Nov 2006 #permalink

"should we restrict the legal ability to provide abortions to people who have been trained and certified in the medical procedures required, or should we allow any hack on the street to perform them with no oversight at all?"

Frankly I'm inclined to say no, ditto for drugs as well. I can support government certification ("this drug/person is safe and effective") than licensing ("you may only purchase/hire drugs/people we have approved"). Let government support the public good of accurate information and crack down on fraud, let government specify some safe defaults, but also let people opt out and take some risks, at least when the risk falls mostly on the individual.

I support universal health insurance and suspect people can't be allowed to opt out of that without financially eroding it... or rather they could, if we were cold enough to then let them pay for care directly or die when they needed it. But we're not, so we can't, and then that leads to whether access to doctors and drugs should be regulated somewhat because we'd be picking up the pieces when things go wrong, and we may get into empirical territory settleable only by data, not by argument.

But in principle, yeah: make sure people know the hack is a hack, then let them do what they want.

Britain has never had a King George VII, and I'm not sure that any other country has, either.

This took me a day of sitting around, trying to remember where I had read it, but finally my university library came up trumps:

There is a George VII in history, from late 14th century Georgia, son of Bagrat V and Helena of Trebizond, who successfully fought off an incursion by Timur i Leng (the historical source for Marlowe's Tamburlaine) and got his father released after Timur took him prisoner in battle some years before.

After which, out of gratitude, Bagrat made Giorgi co-regent in 1363 and he assumed full royal powers after his father died in either 1393 or 1395. After several more battles with Timur, he eventually settled, recognizing Timur as the suzerain and paying him a tribute. He died either in 1405 or 1407 in battle fought against a tribe of nomadic Turkmen.

So the answer to VF's question is the first name of George VII is George (or Giorgi in Georgian).

anomalous4:

Sorry, wintermute; Elba was his first exile.

Mia culpa. You are, of course, correct.

OTOH, I hadn't thought of the other two Napoleons, but you're absolutely right - no battles. Ignominious deaths all the way.

I've since gone back and looked through the family tree, and the closest I can find anywhere to a Bonaparte dying in battle is Joachim Murat, who married Caroline Bonaparte (sister of Napoleon I), and was executed by firing squad. I'm pretty sure that doesn't count, though.

Kansas Anarchist:

There is a George VII in history, from late 14th century Georgia, son of Bagrat V and Helena of Trebizond

I have to say I'm impressed by your library-fu. Well done, sir.

*bows*

However, I was lucky enough to call this memory up from the misty depths of the time I was a director and dramaturg for the play Tamburlaine. Had I not done that, there wouldn't have been this vague memory to stimulate all that library research.

So shouldn't it be able to induce people to accept "proper" medical care?

But in principle, yeah: make sure people know the hack is a hack, then let them do what they want.

Those are absolutely valid points, and I concede that what I was saying would leave out the option to choose hack care if they desire, and I agree that people should have that option after getting the information needed to make that decision.

However, we are talking about kids who don't have the ability to weigh their options and choose. Parents aren't allowed to reject normal medical care for their children; it's considered abuse. There are some cases that then arise where the parents have valid reasons to reject care pushed by doctors, and those do usually end up in court, but judges usually end up on the side of the parents (I'm thinking of a case awhile back where it was chemo v. surgery for a child, and the parents wanted one, and the oncologist wanted the other). The point is that there are extremes that go beyond normal variance in how people want to do things that can be harmful to children, and it's in the best interests of everyone in society to limit the tail ends of those extremes. That's obvious for health care, and I think should be important for mental care (including what a child learns), too.

HTML tags are evil, and not previewing is idiotic. That second sentence should have also been italicized, as it was pulled from Damien.

However, we are talking about kids who don't have the ability to weigh their options and choose. Parents aren't allowed to reject normal medical care for their children; it's considered abuse

The laws are inconsistent and tend to be applied inconsistently. That's a shame, but it's reality.

Parents are considered to be the decisionmakers on medical matters, as they are on educational matters.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 12 Nov 2006 #permalink

VF: As far as your belief in astral travel is concerned, here are some information on the physiological basis for such experiences. The NY Times article about Out of Body Experiences provides a pretty layman's explanation of what's going on, while this article from the journal Brain is a much more rigorous look at the subject.
Basically, OBE's appear to be the result of some kind of brain anomaly that messes up your kinesthetic sense. You don't actually travel astrally, but you feel like you do.

BTW, Richard Feynman described feelings like that when he played with a sensory deprivation tank, but he never assumed that it was anything more than some kind of illusion.

By Heather Kuhn (not verified) on 12 Nov 2006 #permalink

easytherebessie:

I was indulging in a bit of hyperbole when I talked about "raving fundamentalists [who] want to stifle the child's natural curiosity and instill an isolationist blind obedience to authority". My 2 sons were homeschooled (for academic & social reasons) for part of highschool (they are both now in college/university), and while I will agree that most homeschoolers are reasonable people, I have run across some on the 'net who do tend towards those attitudes, particularly with respect to biology (evolution and sex being the typical hot-button topics).

And while I am here, I'll mention one of my favourite responses to the recurring "What about socialization" question: One father said, "I make sure my homeschooled son doesn't miss out on the socialization that he would be gettting from public school: A few times a week, I lock him in the bathroom, and steal his lunch."

By Theo Bromine (not verified) on 12 Nov 2006 #permalink

All right, my last comment didn't have much to do with homeschooling other than addressing a particular nonsensical belief held by a specific homeshooler. Dragging the thread back on topic...

As far as I am aware, I know exactly one homeschooled student. Based one meeting and some knowledge of his career path, I think I can safely say that the student's father is a religious whackjob. The father runs a church with a mission of converting the Jews. The student worked at my store which, it should be noted, is a New Age/Pagan outfit.

Anyway, a hopeful sign and two not-so-good signs. First, the hopeful sign: the kid did not buy into her father's worldview at all, and desperately wanted to get out of the house. So, I think we can safely say that she wasn't completely brainwashed.

Next the not so hopeful signs: 1) the kid had a bad case of magical thinking. She was trying to crystals to heal a potentially major medical problem. I have since heard, but only second hand, that the problem didn't exist. 2) I have a couple of emails from the kid demonstrating a serious lack of command of written English.

I'm hoping that emails are symptomatic of some other things that were going on at the time, like just having returned from a Christian reeducation camp, ah, reform school where AFAICT she really was being brainwashed. I think she's now recovering from the place, but I've only seen her a couple of times since she got back. Fortunately, she didn't get the full treatment.

By Heather Kuhn (not verified) on 12 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wintermute----Anomalous4---Kansas Anarchist

I really have to admit, that I love you people. You are all quite hilarious and such smartasses. That's the best part about you. I'm no coward. Yes I was wrong on several things, which I am not afraid to admit. As I said the quiz was just a joke, I did not mean to rile anyone up over it. Yes I do admit that you have all corrected me on several mistakes that I made, and I do appreciate it. It still does not mean that I am not educated. I will not apologize for my grammar, nor do I apologize for my spelling. I've told you all that I'm trying to improve it.

I'd hoped we could be friends, but to me it seems none of you really seem to like me that much. Maybe I'm wrong but that's just the way it seems. May I ask your genders? To me you seem to be male. Because the females I've met are a bit more catty when it comes to trying to make someone feel bad about themselves. Then again I may be wrong.

Oh, yeah about that paper you wanted to actually prove astral projection is real. I've not yet found one, but someday I will prove to you it is real, even if it takes a life time.

PS: I'm a bit smarter than what you may think wintermute. I knew very well the answers to my quiz, for only a fool would write such a thing and not know the answer. They were mostly trick questions, to see if you could use your common since to answer them correctly. Now here is a really stupid quiz for everyone including Steve. Wintermute, I have no doubt that you will pass. You've already proved to me you will, and for that I do admit that I admire and greatly respect your advice. I know that probably doesn't mean anything to you, seeing how you really don't seem to like me that much. But please try not to make me a liar, for believing in you.

Are You Qualified To Be A Professional?
The following small quiz consists of 4 questions; it tells whether you are qualified to be a professional. According to statistics of Andersen worldwide, around 90% of the professionals failed the exam. The questions are not that difficult. You just need to be a bit of common sense to answer them, they really aren't that hard.
1: How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

2: How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

3: The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?

4: There is a river, which is lived in by crocodiles. How do you manage to cross it?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 12 Nov 2006 #permalink

May I ask your genders? To me you seem to be male. Because the females I've met are a bit more catty when it comes to trying to make someone feel bad about themselves. Then again I may be wrong.

In my case, at least, you were right. I am male.

Oh, yeah about that paper you wanted to actually prove astral projection is real. I've not yet found one, but someday I will prove to you it is real, even if it takes a life time.

You mean you didn't have one in mind when you originally announced that SCIENCE had PROVED that astral projection was TRUE? I'm amazed. But I can assure you it *will* take a lifetime; we know less about how the brain works than any other organ, admittedly, but still enough to know that the odds of astral projection being valid are about on a par with the odds that the Sun is pushed around the Earth by a giant dung beetle.

I'm a bit smarter than what you may think wintermute. I knew very well the answers to my quiz, for only a fool would write such a thing and not know the answer. They were mostly trick questions, to see if you could use your common since to answer them correctly.

Oh, I agree that only a fool would write such a quiz. The kind of fool, maybe, who believes that Da Vinci invented scissors, or that "flipping the bird" has something to do with captured archers. Or that a random sound counts as a word, because someone said it on TV, once.

The following small quiz consists of 4 questions; it tells whether you are qualified to be a professional.

A professional what? Waitress? Electrical engineer? Photographer? Accountant? Are you seriously suggesting that someone who can't answer those questions is unqualified to earn money in any field whatsoever?

I'm glad you accept that I'd be able to answer these, because I can assure you that I would not be able to, had I not previously encountered them. They're completely meaningless, and impossible to answer - or rather, so little information is given that any numbers of answers can be constructed, but the respondent has no chance of guessing which answer the questioner wants. For example:
1: Chop it up very small.
2: As no-one builds fridges large enough to fit an elephant, build a time machine, and take it back to the ice age when the whole planet was a giant fridge.
3: The angler fish, because it'll explosively decompress when it gets anywhere near the surface.
4: By boat.

Now, explain how those answers are wrong, in any sense other than not being the ones you want to hear.

What the questions are supposed to "test" are ridiculous. How much additional complication is required in finding a fridge large enough to hold an elephant? And the fourth question clearly implies (the last time I saw this, it was explicitly stated) that the crocodiles are in the river, which turns out to be a lie. I cannot for a moment imagine that not being able to come up with the arbitrary answers called for by that quiz would make it difficult for someone to gain employment in any profession whatsoever, which is probably why they've never been featured in an interview...

These riddles serve absolutely no purpose, except maybe to amuse 5-year-olds.

Well, if anyone ever needed proof that liberals are just as dogmatic and authoritarian as right-wing conservatives, I'll just point them to this thread. Different dogma, same desire to control other people. It saddens me to admit it, but it's true.

It doesn't matter if you have the facts on your side -- the point is that this is America, and parents have the right to raise their children with whatever belief system they choose. Once you start dealing with religion, you can't compel parents to teach their children something that goes against it. If the parents opt out of the public schools for religious reasons, that's perfectly valid and isn't a loophole.

Besides, you're not really going to change anything. You want to mandate the teaching of evolution as fact? Go right ahead. And then watch the evangelical families teach those facts the same way they do now, as completely contrary to "the truth" found in the Bible. Their kids will be able to answer every standardized test question about the Big Bang and evolution (better than public school kids, btw), but they will still believe it's fiction. Their parents are with them all day, every day. You really think you can undo their influence by making the kids memorize some information? Think again.

You all seem afraid of other people's beliefs, and fear is a common but poor reason to give the government more regulatory powers, especially when those powers cross the thresholds into people's homes. I don't homeschool my kids, but I certainly don't think the state has any right to tell homeschoolers they have to teach something that goes against their religion. The First Amendment takes care of that.

I don't homeschool my kids, but I certainly don't think the state has any right to tell homeschoolers they have to teach something that goes against their religion. The First Amendment takes care of that.

Again, anyone who believes that this kind of statement is reality rather than rhetoric is simply ill-informed. One can easily see this with a simple thought experiment: imagine a set of such parental religious beliefs that the overwhelming majority of people would regard as abusive when applied to the education of children. Not to make up any more inflammatory example, let us imagine a sect which taught that literacy is evil, so that parents were strictly adjured not to allow their kids to learn to read and write. I absolutely, positively guarantee that no court in the US would uphold a "right" of parents to prevent their kids from becoming literate.

The ONLY reason why peddling creationism is (for now) treated differently is that there is neither anything like universal understanding of its asininity nor any social consensus that scientific literacy is of the same order of importance as literacy tout court. That can change, and many people are working to change it, though in the US at this time it's a steep uphill struggle and I don't expect much progress in my lifetime.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wintermute-- My 4 question quiz, as I stated in my previous post is referred to as a stupid quiz. As for the single finger salute, I did not know my answer for it was wrong. I was not the person who looked it up. A friend of mine who runs a website where people submit true stories and facts from different events gave it to me.

Oh and my quiz that you so bluntly called me a fool for writng, I did not write it. A dear friend of mine, who is currently a retired professor from the University of Oxford wrote it. You're probably snorting and saying yeah right, when pigs fly.

Well it's true, how do I know him you ask? He happend to be in front of me at the gas station one day and his credit card was rejected, so I gave him some money and he gave me his quiz. If you don't beleive me who cares, you can bend over and kiss your ass.

I noticed that you ducked my question on whether or not you really don't like me. Frankly I dn't give a damn. I've known many people like you. People like you seem to think your better than people like me. The truth is your not. You can have a degree in every thing, hell you could work for NASA. I think I'll have dinner with Hitler, Castro and Vlad Dracul, before I ever give you a chance to knock me down with stpuid and idiotic comments.

You probably think you can stomp out my spirit and confidence with your comments, but you can't. Do your damndest kid, you'll never make me feel bad. You know why, because this is the internet, you don't know me, you've never met me. You've met Victoria Fox. My real name is nothing like my internet name.

I'm really curious to know what's your day job? Are you a historian? Maybe an evolutionist or a physicist? How old are you anyways? I'd have to say your between the ages of 36 and 52.

I have to admit you are a bright kid, but there really isn't any hope for you, if you don't show others the respect they deserve. Go ahead make a snotty comment at what I said. But it is true, no matter how old you are or how much knowledge you hold., it still does not make you an adult, if you do not know how to treat your fellow man, or how to weild the knowledge that you've been given.

Well I have work to do, when I get a break I'll argue you with you some more. Here are the answer to my 4 question quiz.

1.How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

The correct answer is: open the refrigerator doors put the giraffe in and close it. This question tests whether you are doing simple things in a complicated way.

2.How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Wrong Answer: open the refrigerators put in the elephant and close the door.

Correct Answer: open the refrigerator, take out of the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your prudence.

3.The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct Answer: The Elephant! ...Still in the refrigerator! This Tests whether you have a comprehensive thinking.

4. There is a river, which is lived in by crocodiles. How do you manage to cross it?

Correct Answer: Simply swim through it. All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting!

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

The point is that there are extremes that go beyond normal variance in how people want to do things that can be harmful to children, and it's in the best interests of everyone in society to limit the tail ends of those extremes. That's obvious for health care, and I think should be important for mental care (including what a child learns), too.

True, it's a nice goal; the question is whether there's a way to do that which is worth the cost of regimentation or intrusive monitoring, or a way to do it without intrusive monitoring. Homeschoolers put high value on the freedoms which would be abridged and are skeptical that the public school alternatives are all that good across the board. And how do you measure things like "the parents aren't quite as good at teaching math or science but are less likely to cause their freaky kid to commit suicide than the school environment?" Or less traumatizing in general.

Which leads me to say that 'mental care' would be a more plausible concern if we were monitoring public schools for it and trying to fix problems. We have had crackdowns on hazing but I think a school has a good chance has a good chance of causing problems, sometimes in its efforts to prevent other problems. "The child's art is full of zombies! Quick, to the psychiatrist!"

By the way, John Holt's books might be good things to read to see where some liberal homeschoolers and unschoolers are coming from. In a later book, _Escape from Childhood_,he also suggests some radical child liberation ideas, which if they could work might alleviate problems from both abusive parents and abusive schools. Right to own their own property, right to choose a new guardian...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_From_Childhood (Table of contents)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_rights

I'd hoped we could be friends, but to me it seems none of you really seem to like me that much. Maybe I'm wrong but that's just the way it seems.

...

I noticed that you ducked my question on whether or not you really don't like me.

If you're going to accuse me of ducking a question, you might want to actually ask the question in the first place.

As it happens, I don't dislike you; I don't believe I know you well enough to like or dislike you. I'm sure you're a very nice person who just happens to be ignorant about certain things (which is most definitely not the same as being stupid). I would have no objection to getting to know you better, but I can fairly say that about almost anyone. I'd certainly rather spend time with you than with Hitler and Vladimir Tepes (not least because corpses make very dull dinner guests). I don't know as much about Castro as I probably should, so I don't know if he deserves to be categorised with the other two.

I'm really curious to know what's your day job? Are you a historian? Maybe an evolutionist or a physicist? How old are you anyways? I'd have to say your between the ages of 36 and 52.

First of all, no-one on Earth is an "evolutionist" - the word you're looking for is "biologist". But while I have a layman's interest in all three fields, professionally I'm a computer programmer.

As for my age, I'm 31, so slightly outside your range. I'm curious as to how you picked the range you did - why not 35 to 50? Why such precise boundaries?

And why were my answers wrong, other than "well, that's not what I have written down here"?

Wintermute---Ok I'll admit I'm not as educated as I should be in some areas. But only if you will try not to treat me as if I'm stupid.

Now that we are off to a better start, lets try and get to know each other before we judge, the other persons capabilties.

The reason for picking the age range that I did, was because I was surprised at how much knowledge you have. As for the proffesions I picked, it just seemed logical that someone with your knowledge would have been in such a field. I also apologize for the rude comments I made towards you as a person. I'd actually prefer to have dinner with you than with any of the people I listed. :)

I also forgot to mention one person who should be categorized with the people I listed, George W. Bush Jr.

Your answers to my quiz were right, they just weren't the answer I was looking for. So your a computer programmar, my brother plans to go into computer repair and programming when he starts ITT at the end of January. He'll be 16.

As for me I'll be starting at the community college this fall, to become a Registered Nurse specialized in Anesthesiology. (I hope I spelled that right) I'll still be 14yrs old. I won't be 15 until May 26th.

Anyway that's enough jawjacking about myself, I'm a Gemini, what are you?

Do you know anything about Da Vinci? anything you could recommend reading? You should really read The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown. If you love history, then it is a must read. Unless of course you're a religous fanatic. May I ask if you live in the U.S.A, if not then where are you?

I'm also highly interested in history, evolution and genetic engineering. May I ask if you have any children? I konw it is a personal question and I really shouldn't be diving into it without permisson. But I had to ask.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve, you're right that the government would probably intervene if a family decided it was against their religion to provide their children basic literacy skills. But once those kids can read, write, and do basic math, they can read all the books on evolution they want (although they may have to hide them under their beds).

So I concede your point about my blanket First Amendment statement. But I also stand by my point, which is that the state doesn't have the right to dictate that parents teach certain knowledge or facts as facts if those things contradict their religon. That is the essence of religious freedom. And it's as imperative that we maintain that freedom as it is we maintain separation of church and state.

I'm a Gemini, what are you?

Not a believer in astrology. But if you really think it'll let you find anything out about me, I was born under the following signs: Wood Rabbit, Leo, Simha, Pop, and White Raven.

You should really read The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown. If you love history, then it is a must read.

No, it's really atrocious, where history is concerned. I don't think there's a single checkable fact in that book which is remotely close to being right (how many panes of glass are there in the Main Pyramid at the Louvre?), which isn't too surprising, given that it's a work of fiction (though a remarkably poorly researched one). But it continually amazes me that people will consider it to be factual, in any part.

I don't have any books on Da Vinci in my library, and can't make any specific recommendation's, but you could do worse than start with his notebooks.

May I ask if you live in the U.S.A, if not then where are you?

Yes, I do. But only for the last couple of years. I was born and bred in Britain.

May I ask if you have any children?

You may, and I don't. At least no for the next month or so...

Wintermute--No I don't beleive your astrological signs will help me find anything out about you, I was just curious as to what your sign was.

As for the Da Vinci Code, I can't say that I beleive, nor do I not beleive what the man wrote. Because no author writes a book without puting in their own views of what they beleive is true. But I do thank you for your recommendation of notebooks.

So I have to ask, as to what you meant when you said you have no children at least not for the next month or so?

Is there anything I can call you besides wintermute? I truly apologize for all the questions, but I'm a very curious person and I can't help myself. Your a very interesting and complex person. If you do not like the questions then I will stop asking them if you wish.

May I ask as to what state you moved to and why? I suppose you don't really enjoy speaking to me, because you've not yet asked me any questions.

Oh and you said your British, thats why you speak such good english. Brit's speak the Queens english and Americans speak bastardized english. :)

If I had known you were a Brit I would have asked who made the Midnight ride through Lexington. Som people are offended when someone speaks about their country. I do apologize if I've offended you in any way whatsoever.

May ask if you have any recomendations on books of Genetic Engineering or perhaps Evolution?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wintermute---well I now see that crap about Lexington did not make any sense. What I meant to say was. If I'd known you were a Brit, I would not have asked about the Midnight Ride, because some people get offended when someone speaks of their own countries men giving such information away and ruin the surprise attack of the other persons country. Especially when they were at war. So I do apologize if I've offended you in any way.

It probably still doesn't make much sense, but I hope you understand the point I was trying to get across.

Shit it still doesn't look like I'm making sense. Never mind. I'm just sorry for whatever offense I may have caused.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

So I have to ask, as to what you meant when you said you have no children at least not for the next month or so?

I thought it was self-explanatory, sorry. What I mean is that my wife is about 8 months pregnant.

Is there anything I can call you besides wintermute?

"wintermute" is fine. If you really want to call me something else, it shouldn't take too much research to find my real name.

May I ask as to what state you moved to and why?

Ohio; I moved because my wife-to-be (of the time) lived there. As to why I moved rather than her, that's a long story.

I suppose you don't really enjoy speaking to me, because you've not yet asked me any questions.

No, I'm enjoying this. I just don't have much I want to ask, at the moment.

Oh and you said your British, thats why you speak such good english. Brit's speak the Queens english and Americans speak bastardized english. :)

While I agree to a point, if you've ever listened to someone from Newcastle or Shropsire, I think you'd find it very difficult to understand their use of English. Or even some of the thicker Birmingham accents (cf Ozzy Osbourne). Many Americans speak better English than many Britons, and I can't hold their inability to spell "aluminium" against them.

If I had known you were a Brit I would have asked who made the Midnight ride through Lexington. Some people are offended when someone speaks about their country. I do apologize if I've offended you in any way whatsoever.

Facts are never offensive. The common understanding of the Midnight Ride may owe more to Longfellow's poetic licence than to any actual history, but the fact that people warned their neighbours that the British were beginning a counter-offensive against the insurgents is hardly controversial.

And, besides, I'm very hard to offend. You'd really have to try hard ;)

Wintermute---Well Congratulations on being a father. How do you like Ohio? As for not being able to understand some Brits when they talk because of their accent. Go to Missouri way back in the hills your going to find a lot of rednecks, that don't even sound like their speaking a language, it's more like hearing a couple of dogs howling and squaling at each other. :) Honest to god its the truth.

How do I know this? I'm actually from Missouri. But I'm currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada. I've been in Nevada almost 6 months now. I actually prefer Missouri, although I'm from a 5 building town. Population is roughly 1,000 to 2,000 people. I think there is more cattle in my town than there is people. :)

So are you at work or home?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wintermute--I forgot to ask you. Is your wife having a boy or girl?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

There is a Pharyngula chat room, VF...!

By Steviepinhead (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Thanks Steviepinhead-- I can't use chat rooms. I'm sort of banned from them right now. I wish I could tell you why. But I'm bound by the state Texas not to discuss it. All I can say is that it isn't because I'm trouble; it is because of someone else.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wintermute--So I guess your probably busy. Try and get back to me when you can.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve_C----Thanks a lot, I think I'll check out the links you gave me. I appreciate the help.

So why are there so many people on here called Steve? I've met three Steve's.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

I suspect we were all born in the late 60's. It was a popular name back then.

I hear Jack is making a come back now.

I'm sure PZ would be happy to give you a reading list too, if you're interested.

I've only read about a third of Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. I was reading it while on the subway and it was a bit too complex to take in with all the distractions. I've set it aside for when I have more time to read it at home.

Wintermute---I really have to know. Did you really know all the answers to my quiz or did you look them up? I don't see how the hell you could know all that off the top of your head. In all honesty did you know them all without looking anything up?

What is Hank Snow's real name? Can anybody answer it? I know the answer. :)

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve_C--Ok you were born in the 60's. :) Ho old are you?

I tried the links you put on here. The page comes up, but when I click on one of the books. It says it cannot find server and flips me to something called Emachines.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steve_C----I got it to come up. It was just my computer.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Are you in the U.S? If not what country?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

I got "Steve"'d in 1950.

Hmmm. Maybe I was a trend-starter.

That would be a first.

By Steviepinhead (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

SteviePinhead--Why would you call yourself SteviePinhead?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

It's actually Stephen. In NYC.

I'm in Las Vegas, but I'm from Missouri. I've been to 48 states, just not Alaska or Hawaii. New York is pretty nice.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria! You obviously haven't read very many of my comments. I'm doing well just to be able to "pinhead" my way along in competition with all these budding (and budded) biologists...

Beyond that, we traipse into "private joke," "you had to be there" territory.

I've found, though, that it does give me a quick comeback when the "typical" anti-evolutionary troll calls me "intellectual," "arrogant," "elitist," etc. (or, more amusing still, when they imagine they are scoring some intensely original point with the ultimately not-so-clever "Have you noticed you really ARE a pinhead?" riposte)...

By Steviepinhead (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Steviepinhead----obviously I don't get your joke. So tell me exactly why are you calling me a pinhead. What are you if your not a biologist?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria, I certainly haven't called you a pinhead (review the recent portion of this thread--but if you'd really like me to, then make enough silly ID/Creationist/psuedoscience claims and I may be forced into it!). I call myself a pinhead. A group of climbing/mountaineering students I am in goes by the name of Pinheads, again for reasons that aren't worth going into here.

I'm not a biologist; I'm a trial lawyer in the NW-most of the lower 48 states (but ah lived as a li'l kid in Joe-ja)...

By Steviepinhead (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria: I was at work when I was posting earlier, and now I'm at home. I can sometimes spend hours reloading my blogroll to kill time, but then I get busy and need to do actual work. The perils of being an adult ;)

We're having a daughter.

The only question I did any research on was the first black woman to run for president, which I had no idea about. But the reason I missed it the first time around was that I honestly missed it when I was answering the questions. I was looking to see if I could find a reference to the first black female president of any nation (I couldn't), but I did notice that it took some digging to find an authority that didn't cite Chisholm as the first American black woman to run for president.

For the record, I am not a Steve. Have you managed to figure out what my name is yet?

I have never heard of Hank Snow, but Wikipedia tells me he's a country singer (which explains my ignorance) born Clarence Eugene Snow.

A few random book recommendations:
Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer
The Map That Changed The World by Simon Winchester
Bones, Rocks and Stars by Chris Turney
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen

Wintermute-----I've still not figured out your name. I've flipped through your online journal and I've not found your real name. I don't usually tell men this but every now and then you meet a man who deserves to be told.I saw your picture, I know you have a wife and a kid on the way, but I have to admit, your damned sexy! I knew there was a reason I've always loved Brit's. It's just not fair all the good lookin guys are taken. I hope I marry a Brit someday. I especially love the British accent, it's great.

I probably sound like a fool right now, but who gives a damn. If people don't like it then they shouldn't read it.

Anyway now that I've stopped telling you how damn sexy you are :) How about you tell me your name.

PS: My name isn't really Victoria Fox, I made that name up several years ago and used it ever since. Not that you asked but my real name is Alyssa Grace Bryant. You probably think it's a corny name but hey it's my real name. Although the name I made up is completely different.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

Oh by the way Wintermute, I was in the middle of health exams, while I was posting today. So yeah I slacked off on my schooling a little bit. But hey I aced my exams.

I can't wait to get out into the working world and out of class. Right now I have the full time job of holding the house together. I do all the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning. Well hell I do all the cookin.

It is currently 8:00p.m., I'm getting ready to go to my room and crash out on my bed with my cat and dog. I'll probably read a couple chapters in my book Charles Darwin, On The Origin Of Species. But then I need to get some sleep. I have to be up at 3:00a.m. to start cook a turkey and make my home made kilvasa or however it is you spell it. Kilvasa if thats the way you spell it I make by cutting up sausage, potatoes, dicing onions, garlic and peppers. Then I have to fry it.

My father gets off work at 5:30a.m. and I need to have the eggs and french toast done by then.

After that, Ive got to clean the house and by 8:00a.m. I should be starting medical classes. So my day is pretty much medical classes, spanish and french classes. So my day will probably end at about 6:00a.m. tommorrow night.

So I get room and board. I get fed, but I have to say the pay sucks. :) I can't really complain I live here to. It's not as if their making me do the work, I'm just the kind of person who really enjoys to work. So no I can't wait to get my job up at the hospital, it's going to be fantastic.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 13 Nov 2006 #permalink

5:09a.m.

I shouldn't have wrote all of that last night. I apologize to everyone for the ranting I did last night. I didn't mean to mess up your blog. I just tend to do that when I'm bored.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 14 Nov 2006 #permalink

I have to admit, your damned sexy!

Well, it's not the first time I've been told this. But thanks.

How about you tell me your name.

Oh, if you insist. It's Ross Thompson. And it really shouldn't have been too tricky to find, with a little research.

Not that you asked but my real name is Alyssa Grace Bryant. You probably think it's a corny name but hey it's my real name.

Not at all. It's quite a nice name, and Grace is going to be my daughter's middle name, too.

I don't know how to connect my Live journal with my name on here like wintermute did

Just type it into the URL box.

Wintermute---So are you currently at work? Thanks for telling me how to attach my live journal, I appreciate it.
Check out my Body Art photo gallery in my live journal.

What's with the interest in body painting?

Might I ask, how old you?

Steve_C---I've always loved the art of the human body. So I started collecting pictures. Do you like them? I'm almost 15yrs old.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 14 Nov 2006 #permalink

wow. I mangled that completely.

I think I liked the cocktail waitresses the best. The most stylized.

There's an artist who used to do and may still do body painting as camouflage
in the outdoors. The photographs were pretty amazing. She would blend into
a tree or rock or various other surroundings completely.

I've know the artist your talking about. I've got pictures like that. Their somewhere around here I just need to find all of my hard drives that they are stored on.

So how old are you?

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 14 Nov 2006 #permalink

Wintermute---May I call you Ross? I guess your working. Well I should really get back to my medical exams and get some real work done. :) I'll check back in a while.

I have a question for you that no library, information database or historical event can answer. You have to answer this one on your own. No one person has the same answer.

There is no wrong answer to this question. I have my own answer, but I'd like to hear yours. If you don't want to answer it then you don't have to. If you do decide to answer it and don't want to post it on here then you can post it as a reply on my live journal. Here is your question: What does it mean to truly love someone with all your heart? :)

I bet you hate it that I keep playing 20 questions with you. I always think I'm done with the questions and then I come up with another one. Seriously Ross if you don't want me to keep asking questions, let me know and I'll stop with the questions.

I know it's not a question that you just ask somene, especially when you don't know them. I don't blame you if you chose not to answer.

Anyone else who may want to answer the question are welcome to do so.

What does it mean to truly love someone with all your heart?

Short answer: That you put their needs and desires ahead of your own.

Long answer: I don't know.

Wintermute----So that is your answer. I've heard that answer many times. But I've heard people say they don't know even more.

I couldn't give you a short answer. I could write forever and I still wouldn't be able to finish describing what it means to truly love someone with all your heart. I've loved and lost love. It would take an even greater amount of time to tell you how it feels to lose someone you love.

So have you checked out the pictures in my gallery on my live journal? If you decide to take a look then let me know what you think.

Are you at work? How is your day going? How is your wife and your soon to be baby girl Isabella? Your going to be a great father. I hope you teach her everything you know.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 14 Nov 2006 #permalink

Well I guess this is don't reply to Victoria day. I've got 68 different blogs and I've only gotten a response on one of them. The one I got the response on was my Does Telekinesis Exist Blog.

Oh hey, I just got a response on my Scifi Slackers blog.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 14 Nov 2006 #permalink

Whoa. I missed checking this thread for a couple of days. I've been reading this blog for awhile now, and I have to say that this is the weirdest direction I've ever seen a discussion thread take.

Gee, Carlie, why should something like a 15-year old med student into body art and sci fi who likes to chat up older married guys on an evo-devo blog (but not really old guys, more's the pity) weird you out?

By Steviepinhead (not verified) on 14 Nov 2006 #permalink

Aaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!

Steviepinhead---what's that supposed to mean?

Everybody my age are so freakin weird and stupid. They're into that gothic and rap thing. All the boys my age just want to have sex and 90% of the girls now days are so pathetic and acting like little whores that they actually fall for the boys stupid pick up lines.

The kid next door to me is a little gothic boy who is 14yrs old. I try to avoid him as much as possible. He told me he has 18 piercings at least 5 of them below the belt (If you know what I mean). He has so many chains hanging off of him he looks like he belongs in a meat locker. He has this one chain thats hooked to a spiked colar around his neck, and the other end of the chain goes through the fly on his pants (I don't even want to imagine what it's hooked to).

Wintermute----When I met you I didn't know you were married or that you had a child on the way. I had fun argueing with you over historical events and my grammar. Yeah sure I think your good looking, but all I wanted was to perhaps become your friend and nothing more. I'm happy for you, your married you've got a kid on the way, your going to be a great father.

I'm sorry for all the questions especially the personal ones. It's just in my nature to ask, because I happen to love to listen to people and hear about their life.

I really just wanted to be your friend, mostly because your a very intelligent person and you have a great personality. Your a very smart man, and I find it to be important to know people who hold a great deal of knowledge. You learn a lot from people like you. I really do enjoy talking to you. I do admit some of my questions were a bit over the line, especially because of our age difference and the fact that you don't know me.

I know that I said I have 68 blogs, but the truth is, those blogs have been running for almost 7 years now. I don't even remember the last time I ever posted on them. Yes I set them up but I let the people who like the subjects keep them going.

A lot of people tell me that I talk to much. I do apologize for it. Currently the most talking that I do that isn't with my brother and my folks is with you and my friends Keith, that I met on a Telekinesis blog and my friend Nikki that I know from an online book club. A lot of people find me to be a bit twisted because I speak to adults and I've lost several good friends over what other people think. I do understand if you do not wish to speak to me any longer. I will understand if you wish to speak to someone that is a bit more intelligent than me and is closer to your age.

As I said before I really do enjoy speaking with you. Again congratlaions on your new baby girl.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 14 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria -

In the future, you might want to be careful giving out your full name to strange men on the internet, especially on a public blog. You never know what kinds of creeps could be out there.

Aside from that, good luck with the nurse thing! (I'm not going to give you a hard time about the astral projection thing - when I was your age I was a creationist, so I'd hardly have room to talk. ;))

Kayla-

Thank you for the advice. I also thank you for not making any rude comments about me or the things I like to read.

I happen to be careful about letting anyone find out who I am. Just in case anybody really ants to know. I don't use chat rooms, unlike message boards and blogs a chat room conversation can lead to kidnapping, murder, rape and much more.

Why you ask? You don't even have to tell the man your real name, you can lie your ass off telling him you live in a different country and give him a fake name and past. I know this from experience. There this thing called an IP Address. It's sort of your computers address, that pin points your exact location.

When I was 12yrs old, I had just started using chat rooms. I was in a kids chat room for people ages 10 to 17. One day this guy started talking to me. He asked me how old I was, of course me being a child lied and told him I was 13. He told me he as 32 and lived in Texas. Over the next several months I got to knoow this man. I didn't think anything abouthim talking to me. I'd never used a chat room, so I thought it was normal. The only thing this guy knew about me as that I lived in Missouri and my name was Alyssa. We engaged in inappropriate conversations, thats one source that I got some sexual education from. One day he told me he loved me and I told him I did not love him. So the next day this man told me that because I didn't love him he was going to kill himself. I told my mom about this guy and how he said he was going to kill himself. To cut this story short, I lost the trust that people had in me for 2 years and that man was sentenced to 7 years in a texas prison and was to be deported back to his country after his sentence was over.

Ever since that incident I've been not to let anyone know wwho I am. It really doesn't matter that I gave my name to wintermute, because I'm not exactly a traceable person. My family isn't listed in the phone book. I've got a block on my IP address that lets me know if someone is searching me.

The worst part about the incident was that when they searched his computer, in his email he was talking to three other girls. One of them was 8yrs old and lived 25 miles away from him. He was planned to meet her at the mall in two days.

As for how people can find you through a chat room. There is this little electronic box no bigger than a ciggarette pack. It plugs into your computer and when your speaking to someone in live time it traces them through their IP Address. It pinpoints your exact location, tells them your full name, what school you go to.

So now everyone knows the worst mistake I've ever made. Go ahead Steviepinhead, make fun of how stpuid I used to be.

I'm not like that anymore. Ever since that happend I've been a different person. I don't use chat rooms. A blog or message board is different. Your not speaking to someone in live time so there no way to trace them.

Well I have to get to class I'll check back later.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 15 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria says:

I'd hoped we could be friends, but to me it seems none of you really seem to like me that much.

It really has nothing to do with "liking" or "disliking." Scientists in general tend to be a rather rough-and-tumble bunch when it comes to questioning and challenging everything; it's an important part of "the scientific personality," if there be such a thing.

We also tend to have off-the-wall senses of humor that can take the conversation to some completely unexpected places. OTOH, we do have manners; I doubt seriously that anyone here will even consider flaming you.

Try not to take it personally; it's not meant that way. No one here doubts your intelligence - how can we, if you're heading for college at 15?

May I ask your genders?

Female. 50-something years young (old enough to know better but young enough to do it anyway). Divorced, still reeling from a breakup with a guy I lived with for 15 years after that. Mother of one very fine young man who turns 24 in a few days.

Baptist preacher's kid, now a Zen Baptist Existentialist Christian Agnostic Heretic and part-time Pastafarian. Capable of bouncing from completely serious mainline-but-unusually-liberal Baptist to outrageously-irreverent-bordering-on-blasphemous and back three or four times a minute. (What else would you expect from a bipolar? My online avatar of choice is the Two-Headed Monster from Sesame Street.)

Scientist (chemist and chemical engineer) by training, although I only spent a couple of years working in that field until life got in the way and I went in another direction entirely.

[T]he females I've met are a bit more catty when it comes to trying to make someone feel bad about themselves.

I tend to agree with your assessment for the most part. I've always been "one of the guys." I generally don't understand women; to me, most of them might as well be from the moon. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of close women friends I've had in my life and still have a couple of fingers left over.

Again, try not to take anything you read personally. Keep your head up and your sense of humor in gear, and you'll do just fine.

By anomalous4 (not verified) on 15 Nov 2006 #permalink

Hey, Victoria/Alyssa. I never made fun of you for being "stupid." And I don't "not like" you. I like you fine, to the extent that anyone can form a "relationship," however superficial, over the internet.

The only mild fun I was making had to do with the topics generally discussed here, the specific topic that this thread started off with, and where the whole thing went when you showed up.

I think that's the humor--weirdness, whatever--that Karlie and I were sharing. Not meant to be at YOUR expense, so much as you (and where you seemed to be taking the thread, which was, in its own way, refreshingly different, or differently refreshing or something!) served as the occasion for our humor.

If that makes any sense.

In any event, don't sweat it. I'm quite confident that no one dislikes or hates you--certainly not this old pinhead!

By Steviepinhead (not verified) on 15 Nov 2006 #permalink

Victoria -

I guess I'm just worried that even without your IP address, someone could still use your name to find you. But if you feel comfortable giving out your name like that, I guess it's none of my business.

So, since this seems to have turned into a chat thread.... you said you're a sci-fi fan. It's nice to see more female sci-fi fans; so many people seem to assume that only guys are into it. What shows/books are you into? I haven't been reading much sci-fi lately, but my current TV obsession is Doctor Who.

Steviepinhead--thank you for telling me what you meant by your joke. It's just that when I got up this morning, the blog was the first thing I looked at and your joke just hit me the wrong way.

I always have people making fun of me, theres not a day that goes by that somebody doesn't say something about me. I don't usaully take it personally its just when you said it was weird that I was talking to wintermute, it hit me the wrong way. It dragged out some old feelings and bad memories. I do apologize for taking it the wrong way.

I'm also sorry that I messed up your thread (I tend to do that a lot). Last week I found a blog about (Does Telekinesis Exist?) Since I joined in on the conversation, They're fighting about why Captain Kurk always gave Spock the shitty jobs on Star Trek.

Oh and theres a blog of Hippie Tree Huggers that are trying to save the rainforest. Now that I told them about how Sherlock Holmes always tried to make Watson feel stupid. You know how Sherlock always said "It's Elementary My Dear Watson, Elementary." It was actually Watson who solved the crimes not Sherlock. I told those hippies how if I was Watson and the first time Sherlock said "It's Elementary My Dear Watson, Elementary." to me. My reply would be: "No Shit Sherlock." So yeah I have a reputation of taking somebodies thread and twisting it into something way off track. It isn't that I do it on purpose, I just end up asking questions about people and it the thread turns into:

"Jello is made of horse hooves." "I told you Martha the government is trying to turn us into mental vegetables."

"No their not, that's like saying if a cannibal is on death row and at his last meal he asks for chinese, he gets to eat a chinese man."

So yeah I end up messing peoples blogs up. Oh hey, I've got a good one. A couple years back I was talking on a church blog (No I'm not a relgious fanatic, it was for homework) So these church women kept talking about how they loved going to the pot luck dinner every sunday and sewing and aiting on their husbands hand and foot. I got on there and told them come on seriosly, don't you wish that he would get his ass up and make you dinner for once.

To cut that short: (The women loved me and their husbands cussed me out for showing their wives the light) :)

Just let me know if you don't want me to keep taking your blog off the original subject.

So may I ask how everybodies day was? (Besides listening to me bitch a lot) :)

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 15 Nov 2006 #permalink

Kayla--No seriously I do appreciate your advice. I will be careful not to give out my name from now on.

I love Sci Fi. I watch Eureka, Stargate Atlantis and SG-1. I've seen all the episodes of X-Files and Andromeda. I have to ask you, Do you think Fox Mulder from The X-Files is good looking? I also like Star Trek Voyager. Oh I love Wiliam Shatner, he is currently on that show Boston Legal, I think he is hilarious.

I pretty much watch everything on Sci Fi. I'm not really into that Doctor Who show, I think its kind of stupid, (No offense though, a lot of people tell me its funny)

So has anybody hear seen that movie Hard Candy? I just saw it yesterday it was a good movie.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 15 Nov 2006 #permalink

Does anybody here watch Lost? It's a great show. Unfortunately it doesn't return until February 7th.

By Victoria Fox (not verified) on 15 Nov 2006 #permalink

I love Sci Fi. I watch Eureka, Stargate Atlantis and SG-1. I've seen all the episodes of X-Files and Andromeda. I have to ask you, Do you think Fox Mulder from The X-Files is good looking? I also like Star Trek Voyager. Oh I love Wiliam Shatner, he is currently on that show Boston Legal, I think he is hilarious.

I haven't actually watched Eureka or Andromeda, though I've heard good things. I like SG-1, but really only up to season 5. Daniel's my favorite character, and then he left, and even after he came back I think he got kind of screwed over and became a much less important character. I miss when he always had the answer and figured out what to do with his Mad Anthropologist Skillz ;). I liked the X-Files, too, especially the first few seasons (before all the alien conspiracy theory stuff became the main plot). Though I'm really more into Scully than Mulder, ahaha... And Voyager's a good show, too. I used to watch Next Gen every week as kid! That was a good show.

'm not really into that Doctor Who show, I think its kind of stupid, (No offense though, a lot of people tell me its funny)

No offense taken, everybody has different tastes. To be honest, I'm much more into the old show (1963-1989) than the new one. The new one gets too soap opera-ish for me sometimes, and I find Rose a bit annoying. I don't know why the Doctor would want to travel with her.

Victoria, this post is getting harder and harder to find on PZ's site, so good luck and catch us on some more recent thread if you'd like!

By Steviepinhead (not verified) on 16 Nov 2006 #permalink

I have a hard time believing that anyone homeschooled is going much of anywhere without significant intervention of some sort, later in life.

If you meant fundie homeschooled, than sure. But people like Erik Demaine was homeschooled by his dad (for non-religious reasons) and managed to get his doctorate at 20 and is a tenured professor in computer science at MIT as of age 24. Oh, and he also managed to pick up one of those MacArthur "genius" fellowships at age 23. I think that counts as going "somewhere". I knew both father & son when I was a postdoc at Waterloo (where Erik was doing his doctorate), and have to admit they are far from typical people so the process probably isn't that generalizable to the public as a whole though.

I should think most smart homeschooled kids would be all in favor of higher standards. What we're seeing is a mob of morons who see "homeschooling" as a loophole (they've intentionally made it a loophole) to let them avoid educating their kids altogether -- and that's a rot that taints everyone involved in it.

I've known some homeschooled kids at UMM, and they're smart...but they have to be to get in here. There is selection going on. Unfortunately, it means lots of poorly informed kids are being selected against.

"It's not trivial getting licensed to teach; but any idiot can declare themselves to be a teacher for purposes of homeschooling, and apparently many idiots do."

____________________________________________________

It may not be trivial. Few bureaucratic requirements are.
But certainly it is of little or no value to the lofty goals of teaching.

It is "requisite" but not actually required---like getting a driver's license to haul one's fat butt around and scare other people when in fact that could have been done by just getting a license from Wal-Mart. And any idiot would know that. Certainly the ones who work for the NEA seem to.

And idiots pitching for more certification and money for public education tend to be professional educators who fail to see beyond the classroom into the individual student's life. Even those who do see beyond the classroom tend to favor further school involvement (more pre-school programs, before and after school activities and child care, etc.). Educators should instead be seeking to encourage the child's parents to take a more active role in their children's lives since it is the parents, not the state,
who should be influencing and encouraging the children's lives.

We run into a danger of viewing the child as a student only, rather than a person with individual strengths and weaknesses and needs. One of the benefits of home education is that the teachers (usually the
parents) get an opportunity to know their children and educate them on the level that meets with their academic capabilities rather than on a standardized, one-size-fits-all instructional plan. To claim that more money or constantly "rightsizing" the certification standards
equals a better education is to overlook the individual strengths and weaknesses of each child. American communities currently spend more tax money on public education than any other single government program.

Hmmm. Interesting site. Be better if backed up with some juice there, partner.

Some amazing claims are made here in what is putatively a "scientific" forum. No basis, fact, notation, or authority other than urban legends, myth, anectdotes,
bland dribblings about "socialization" and other shibboleths of Lefty Land, or just the usual mudpie-as-opinion spouting is given to bolster the claim that homeschooling is inferior to the moronic trash spewed out by the public school monopoly's stranglehold on ideology and "science." Just .......Blueberry Stories (shown long ago to be completely made up, BTW, and now part of Urban Legend Lore). Certainly the claim that "certification" for teaching is the magic teachers need to slog through the day is vastly overblown.

The real studies are out there. As real scientists, doing your own research is paramount to worldly success and prestige, no? Is that not what this secular site has to offer anyhow? And not much more? Good. Or, that is, that will be good enough for the moment.

I will not play nursemaid and don't have the time. It is a tiring task. But,I will refer you to "HOMESCHOOLING: The Right Choice" (Christopher Klicka), for the studies that strongly demonstrate that not only does the issue of "teacher certification" have little to do with imparting information, but that under the auspices of the world's largest union, the NEA, the correlation is actually NEGATIVE regarding getting info about any topic, including science, into the kiddies in a meaningful way that best serves society. Then there are the dozens of studies that demonstrate that on average homeschoolers are actually better socialized (bright kids need adults for guidance about morals and information gathering, not the punks in the gym), more active in politics later, involved in numerous activities from team sports to debate clubs and music, better able to adapt to the freer lifestyle of collage due to a more eclectic learning style and enriched environment, better able to get premium jobs right out of the starting gate once the caps come off at graduation, and on and on it goes. (now that the stats on that are finally in when after decades of legal pitches homeschooling finally became legal).

And that no, homeschooling is NOT just a trip to Kroger with mom, but an interactive learning process the whole family can get involved therein. And