My thoughts and feelings about homeschooling are mixed. For example, when I was 6 years old, my heart would have given anything to have my mother teach me assorted academic disciplines at home for 13 years. She had the time because her lifelong occupation was housewife. Little did I know, as a mere cut of veal, my mother had a 6th grade education from a two-room rural school house. In addition, she had rather severe problems with mental illness that went essentially untreated for her entire life. Homeschooling would have been a disaster for me—no doubt about it. On the other hand, some children who live under far better circumstances do benefit from homeschooling, and I am not opposed to allowing those few children and parents to do it for special reasons—like thriving in a one-on-one educational setting or special education problems.
Michelle Goldberg, one of my favorite writers, says 1.5 million American children were being homeschooled in 2007. A whopping 83 percent of their parents were doing it specifically “to provide religious and moral instruction,” and most of these parents were Christian fundamentalists. Personally, just me, I have a real problem with that for several reasons:
(1) Homeschooling parents should not be allowed to teach academic inaccuracies (often lies and outright falsehoods) to their children just because their Christian fundamentalist faith disputes a whole raft of academic facts. “Ignorance in the name of religion may feel like bliss,” but it is not a sound basis for educating children, and I personally consider it to be a serious form of child abuse.
(2) It prevents our public schools from getting the full amount of funding that would otherwise be available to them if more kids were in school.
(3) Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical parents like homeschooling because they see it as their public protest against what they view as a Godless American society and culture. “Screw you—see me—I am homeschooling.” Some part of me revolts at seeing a child and her education used as a pawn in that kind of game.
(4) I have a real problem with homeschooling parents who jerk their kids out of public schools because they see the schools as Satan-run indoctrination centers, and then they turn right around and say, “I want my Tommy to play on your high school football team.” Give—me—a—break!!! Unlike you, I love my local public schools. You do not get to accuse and abuse my local public schools with such nonsense, stomp on them right and left in public, and then come around asking for special recreation privileges just because your kid wants to play football with some real people instead of alone in the side yard at your home. Your fundie belief system demands separation from your Godless neighbors (all 279,000,000 of them). So what are you complaining about? You wanted out of the public school system. You denounced the public school system publicly as a center of evil. You declared your intentions to get out. You did it all. The school system graciously allowed you to do it. Now, live with it 100 percent and quit bothering the rest of us about YOUR DECISION.
(5) But the reasons I am most opposed to allowing Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals to homeschool are those set forth on the Homeschoolers Anonymous website, where homeschooling parents and homeschooled children regularly come to confess the horror stories they were trapped in by the so-called Christian homeschooling movement. Take a really close look at this—eyes open wide: