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Committed Parents Outdo State-Run Schools
by Dennis Campbell
20 October 2003HSLDA

Home-schooling is the antivenin to a public education system that has become downright toxic.

What do eighth graders in America have in common with eighth graders in Bulgaria, Latvia and New Zealand? They performed equally well on math and science tests -- and were outperformed by students from Slovenia and Hungary.
American students rank 15th among industrialized nations in the math and science skills so vital in this technological era, even as we spend three times as much money as other nations on public education. Interestingly, these same students are number one in self-esteem.

Those who frequent the pages of such conservative Internet sites as Opinion Editorials, RenewAmerica, Intellectual Conservative and Prudent Politics will have noticed an abundance of articles by David Bass, Hans Zeiger and Pieter Friedrich. Do you know what they have in common?

Other than producing cogent discourse on a variety of subjects, none is older than 18 -- and all have been home-schooled. Home-schooling is the antivenin to a public education system that has become downright toxic.

Yet, if there is one issue that will rouse the ire of the state education establishment as quickly as parental choice in schools (aka vouchers), it is home-schooling. In part, that is because every home-schooled child costs the local public school state money. And, undoubtedly, because the state seems to believe it has an inalienable right to mold young minds -- and considering the leftwing ideology of the National Education Association, that should concern every parent who values our political and religious heritage. 

With home-schooled students approaching two million in number, the issue causes considerable heartburn among public educators, but their efforts to shut down home-schoolers have been largely unsuccessful, since home-educators are well-organized and have legal defense organizations to help fend off irate public officials.

A primary argument against home-schooling is that children will not be "socialized" because they do not spend adequate time with others their age and with those of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds (of course, in spite of being unsocialized, home-schooled children consistently outperform publicly educated children on standardized tests -- and are better-behaved).

Perhaps we should examine the results of this "socialization."

In 1940, the most serious problems in public schools were talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in halls, cutting in line and dress-code infractions.

In 1990, they were drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery and assault. We sure have come far since World War II days. Certainly every parent should want her child exposed to suicide and assault.

A report from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that drug use among students age 12-17 increased by 105% from 1992-1995. Now, what kind of responsible parent would want to deprive her children of that kind of "socialization"?

If you are skeptical of home-schooling, read what our three talented young writers think of it.

Pieter Friedrich says it "taught me to be independent," and "how to get by in real life."

Hans Zeiger experienced both public and home education and concludes that "government-schooling is corrupt, atheistic, and incompatible with the preservation of a free society.

"Home-schooling, on the other hand, is a refreshing alternative to the institutionalization of moral relativism in American life."

And David Bass says that "home-schooling has a strange effect on children, in that its flexible way actually makes learning fun and exciting again. As a consequence of this, it's much easier for a child to find his or her favorite subject.

"In my experience there are very few aimless home-school graduates -- they all have a passion for certain subjects and a plan detailing how they can use that passion in the real world."

Is every family equipped to home school? No, and if conservative, Christian parents unqualified to do so do not want their children lagging behind Europeans and Asians while subjected to leftist ideology, they should do, if possible, what so many public educators do: place their children in good private schools, where they can get a sound education and avoid such side effects of modern "socialization" as robbery, drug abuse and rape.

But if the commitment and ability are there, home-schooling is an effective alternative to a state-run system that seems to diminish in its ability to educate proportionate to the money thrown at it -- in inflation-adjusted dollars, we spend seven times as much per student today as in 1945-1946, only to see our children bested by Slovenians and Hungarians.

Public educators continue to ardently oppose home-schooling because of money, ideology and that mysterious "socialization." Concern for education seems of secondary importance.

Dennis Campbell is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to Internet and print publications

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