Dear WND readers,
I’m not sure how many letters total I received in response to my first and second columns, but I can tell you there were hundreds. Now for the big surprise – almost no negatives! You heard right: The response to my charging American families to immediately remove their kids from the government school system in order to homeschool was met with nearly universal approbation!
WorldNetDaily readers, once again, pleasantly surprised me with their thoughtful, open-minded and kind remarks. You’ll get to read some of them below. I am going to publish your responses along with my comments every Saturday. While I will not be able to always respond to every e-mail personally, I will be reading all letters. The letters I publish will be in part, rather than whole. I hope you find this “debate” aspect of my column rewarding. Let me know.
P.S. Because of the overwhelming response to the first two articles, I was unprepared to publish all the letters. I will attempt to do so in the next week. I want you to know how much I value your contribution to this debate. Keep those letters coming!
Don’t focus on religion
… That praise having been said, I must take exception with the direction you are taking this argument against government schools. I appreciate the fact that you are a deeply religious person, and clearly the lack of religious teaching in the classroom is a major strike against the government schools, but focusing on religious or moral teaching will likely turn off more readers than you may want. Among your readers there are atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians of all sects, etc., and for the most part they are addressing the issue of moral education at home or at their place of worship with little concern that the government schools are not doing it for them. In fact, for many the fact that the schools don’t attempt to is a plus. Even for those to whom religious education is critically important, the argument that government can’t teach because government can’t teach about immorality will no doubt do little to convince them that the kind of sacrifice they must make is important.
This is too important a subject to offend people on. You are already rubbing them the wrong way in suggesting that the choice they are making for their kids is the wrong one. Don’t cloud the issue by making religion the focus of your argument. I personally have never left religion out of the argument, but as I am sure that my religious beliefs are not widely shared, I prefer instead to emphasize the fact that home-education can be personalized to meet the needs and wishes of the family (whatever those be).
Overcoming the inherent financial issues, overcoming the fear of being an inadequate teacher, overcoming the fear of having to be with your kids for that long, overcoming the fear that your kids already don’t listen to you, overcoming the fear of what the neighbors will think, overcoming the fear of your child’s loss of friends, and all those related issues are what parents need to hear about in your discussions. These are pragmatic issues. They require pragmatic solutions and suggestions. Arguments about the immorality of government schools don’t get the bills paid, and they are only likely to further alienate the folks who need the help the most.
Thanks for reading my suggestions. I look forward to reading more in your series.
Dear Mr. Sarosi – I agree that there are many reasons – perhaps hundreds of reasons to outlaw government-controlled education. I will be addressing them all over the coming weeks (months, years?). However, I begin with the immorality of government-controlled education because that is the foundation of all “things.”
All human endeavor is religious at its foundation. Education is not exempt.
I believe you miss my point. I don’t care if the schools offer a religion class. I don’t care if they “allow” prayer. Math, science, history, music, art, grammar are all influenced profoundly by the worldview of the “teacher.” The state’s worldview should not be taught to anyone but government employees – certainly not children.
Regarding “the issue of moral education.” You say parents address that “at home or at their place of worship with little concern that the government schools are not doing it for them.” Moral education cannot be taught in an hour on Saturday or Sunday. The evidence is all around us! Parents who do not understand this contribute to the degradation of our society.
I do agree that customized teaching is far better than homogenized institutionalized education. And yes, we will address the practical aspects of homeschooling as you suggest.
By the way, regarding your comment, “This is too important a subject to offend people on. You are already rubbing them the wrong way…” I believe this is such an important issue that I refuse to pussy foot around any aspect of the problem. I wish I was rubbing more people the wrong way! Over 99 percent of the letters I received were totally supportive – I don’t want to preach to the choir. Oops – there I go with the religion stuff again!
Time Magazine approves homeschooling!
I have been told by a senior producer at Time that homeschooling will be their next cover story. She told me they will launch it online Sunday night (August 19th).
Also, Time has an online interactive feature they call “Ask the Expert,” and they plan to use me as their expert to answer the questions that readers submit.
Brian D. Ray, Ph.D., President
National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI)
Home School Researcher (Academic Refereed Journal)
Time magazine! And it is a positive piece! Did we win this war without noticing?
Effects of government school, Full Time Kindergarten! Family sacrifices
What an important issue you address! Thank you for doing this. I just wanted to briefly share our story. My husband, Jeff, and I have four beautiful children. Up until January of 2001, our oldest was enrolled in public school in the fifth grade and our next was enrolled in Kindergarten. (I might add, this year our school district decided to go to full-time Kindergarten – yes, that means five-year-olds in school from 7:55 a.m. until 3:35 p.m. five days a week).
Our younger children are now ages 2 and 1. I made the mistake of going right back to work after our youngest was born, thinking there would be no way to afford my staying at home. I was a full-time writer for a newspaper. I loved my job but was told that I couldn’t do it from home and e-mail my stories to them. I decided to quit my job and trust in the Lord. Shortly after doing this, my husband and I discussed homeschooling one evening. We had talked about it many, many times but kept coming up with excuses. That particular evening, though, we prayed about it together and decided that public school was not where we wanted our children. Having a daughter in middle school was a real eye-opener for us. Her grades were very good, and she seemed to have nice friends but we started noticing a trend both in her education and curriculum as well as peer pressures. She was exhausted at the end of the day and began to shut us out of her life.
So, despite the criticism of friends, neighbors and family, we decided to take the plunge and pull them both out of public school. We have never regretted this decision and plan to homeschool all of our children through school. We belong to the area Christian Home Educators network and remain active in that wonderful organization. I really think that homeschooling is the way to go.
So, while I continue to search the internet for opportunities to do some writing from home to boost our income, my husband works two jobs to make homeschooling possible. It can be done on a shoestring budget with some creativity and the use of the internet and the local library!
Thank you for this opportunity to share our story. Keep up the good work and God bless you.
Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Dear Mrs. Hendrickson – I’ll comment on two things you said:
1)”Her grades were very good, and she seemed to have nice friends but we started noticing a trend both in her education and curriculum as well as peer pressures. She was exhausted at the end of the day and began to shut us out of her life.”
That sends chills down my spine! Think of this parents: you are told that you are the person responsible for the behavior, education, and character of your child. But you have less control than just about anyone. Their friends, their teachers and the state determine their very personalities! – that’s chilling. The very best parent transfers their guiding influence to the peers and state when they consign their children to government schools. We usually wake up too late. Starla’s daughter was shutting her parents out of her life because they were less relevant than her friends and the government teachers. Regarding the issue of “exhaustion, that requires at least a whole column!
2)”So, despite the criticism of friends, neighbors and family, we decided to take the plunge and pull them both out of public school.”
Isn’t it weird that our friends and family do not jump for joy when we decide to devote our lives to our children.
More lack of support from family and friends
My wife and I, under tremendous pressure from family and friends to not do so, have decided to keep our child from the Government school system …
Your article couldn’t have been more timely, in that my wife and I are receiving much criticism from my family regarding our decision to homeschool our three children. What’s worse, is they refuse any attempt at intelligent debate. I send them articles from WND and LewRockwell.com on homeschooling, and they reject them out of turn …
My mom-in-law has finally calmed down about homeschooling (now that some of her rich relatives are doing it), but she still thinks I can’t care for a home, kids, and all the other duties of a wife/mom … even though I do it everyday. It is that pride thing you speak of … for if we are correct then it follows that they were incorrect. You just go on with what you know is right for your family and in God’s eyes. After all, in the end we must answer to Him not others.
My husband and I are on a few discussion boards and “discuss” this topic with many … one of my favorites is the “socialization” boogie man. Oh, and the “you can’t teach science without lab stuff.” Folks are so confused as to what true “education” is in this government-run country that you have to “unteach” them just to get your point across. It is worth it and though it is hard at times I’m glad we have chosen to school our kids instead of leaving them to the government and “praying” God will fix it after we have ignored it for so long.
Congratulations on the baby … just when you had things in order too I bet! I know the feeling, but isn’t it great?
God bless you both.
Dear Becky – Socialization! I wonder if people ever stop to think about the definition of “socialization.” I’m sure you know that our founding fathers (and mothers) spoke and wrote of “republican virtues” and “republican character.” This is a republic. We don’t want our children “socialized.” Leaving the political and philosophical implications aside, does anyone think the best person to socialize a child is another child? That’s another column!
“Separation of school and state!”
I was recently struck with a thought I would like to share with you and idea which may help your cause. Every major battle in American history has been able to be reduced to a simple slogan which captures the essence of the struggle. “No taxation without representation” … “54-40 or fight” … “Remember the Alamo” … and countless others. Why not adopt one for your cause? “Separation of school and state.” The reasons for desiring freedom from government schools is really no different at its core than the reasons for desiring freedom from government religion. I think that “Separation of school and state” resonates with the core idea of what is truly wrong with the public education system in this country …
Richard W. Bates
Dear Mr. Bates – I couldn’t agree more! Without a doubt that is the slogan I love more than any other. Did you know there is an organization by that name? Everyone should go to the Alliance for the Separation of School and State and sign their proclamation. Their goal – one million signatures.
You omitted Marshall Fritz from your list, the Alliance for the Separation of School and State …
As a Christian I cannot agree with you about giving part of the tithe toward Home Schooling, or helping those homeschoolers in need by using part of your tithe. God’s tithe belongs in the “Storehouse and only there.” We can not designate where it goes. The command is non-negotiable, and irrevocable …
David L. Morris
My only nit-picky comment would be to ask you to rescind your comment at the end of your article where you said “All people should devote a portion of their tithe or charitable giving to helping the less fortunate achieve this goal.” May I humbly suggest that 100 percent of one’s tithe goes to your church. Certainly one may give above and beyond their tithe, but the tithe is the Lord’s and not for us to willfully choose who should receive it.
Thank you for a wonderful website and excellent reporting.
Dear Messrs. Morris and Simon – I understand your point. Let me see if I can make mine a little clearer – I believe I did a poor job the first time. I said, “All homeschoolers who can should volunteer to help their friends, family and neighbors in meeting this end. All people should devote a portion of their tithe or charitable giving to helping the less fortunate achieve this goal.”
Homeschoolers (also grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.) should help others to first, make the decision and second, implement the decision to homeschool. I believe most homeschoolers already do this. Let’s face it. Americans have been indoctrinated for well over 100 years that educating children is difficult. This, of course, is not true. But most moms and dads don’t know this. Most of us feel inadequate. We don’t want to “mess up our kid’s lives.” I am suggesting that we all reach out in support and offer our “services” to those who have children in government schools but who are thinking about pulling them out. Give them advise. Let them sit in on your homeschooling sometime. Offer to share resources, etc. But, like I said, most homeschoolers are already doing this.
Regarding the tithe. I am more than open to some teaching on this but I will tell you what I believe now. In the old testament God commanded a tithe by the Jews for support of the Levites. They in turn tithed to the priest class of their tribe. In other words, one tenth of the one tenth went to support the priests. What were the other Levites doing? They could be found all over the land – teaching (among other things). I know that God wants faith to be interwoven in everything we do. Knowledge + understanding = wisdom. Knowledge without understanding is worthless. Who better to teach our children than the pastors of the church. It used to be that most professors were theologians. The church in America abandoned its responsibility in education back in the mid 1800’s. We allow the state to indoctrinate our children about 40 hours a week and then take them to religious instruction about one or two hours a week. What is your tithe being used for? You know what? This is a column. I’ll continue this Wednesday!
Free to teach
So far, as far as my wife and I are concerned, there is nothing that you’ve said upon which we would disagree; i.e. there is no debate. I would guess given some of your husband’s writings, however, that we’d fundamentally disagree on the content of what would be taught. I look forward to this part of the discussion.
Regards and Best Wishes to you and your husband,
Thomas Rogers, Faithful Reader
Dear Mr. Rogers, And that is the beauty of parent-controlled education: everyone decides for themselves what they teach their children!
The quality of government-controlled education
The problems with government schools are not new. Let me relate my two favorite stories. Forty-four years ago we went to our son’s school for parents’ night, curious as to why he could manage only one A on his report card. We asked his second grade teacher where his other math papers were as those on display were all marked 99 or 100 percent. I can still hear her response: “Oh, he does excellent work, but I had already given him an A in spelling, and it wouldn’t be fair to the others to give him a second.”
Ten years later, we arrived back from overseas where his sister had just completed the first year under the British system, having mastered the times table up to 14 x 14 and begun cursive writing (honest.) As she had just turned 6, we asked the local school for special placement and were assured accommodation. One evening in her second week we asked her what she did that day. “Today we learned how to print the letter B,” she said.
Within a week of these events our kids were in private schools …
Dear Mr. Orr, Cheers to you for your decisiveness!
Where are the preachers?
It has been said that if the 14 million Southern Baptists (on the rolls) would withdraw their children from the public schools, the system would collapse, regardless of where they sent them from there. Too bad they don’t hear from their pulpits what you are saying in your article. But then, that would require a lot of working mothers to abandon careers and go home, and it’s easier for pastors to step on the toes of the drunkards and abortionists than those of their own congregations (or wives).
Dear Mr. Hughes, remember when we spoke of accomplishment and confidence? You can’t buy “self esteem” and you can’t give it away either! It is earned through accomplishment and right living.
I agree that the church is mostly at fault. They turned the children over to the state back in the 1800’s. Just think what our country would be like today if that had not happened!
By-pass the first amendment
I will start with the question no one asks: why should a government that is barred from controlling the flow of information through the press to the general public be allowed to control the flow of information through the schools to children?
This situation presents two dangers. First, since the transmission of knowledge to minors is highly centralized, the education industry naturally attracts a disproportionate number of totalitarians. Second, the State has no incentive to get its facts straight …
Dear Alan, Bravo! The first amendment prohibits state established religion and press. When will the people remember that worldview (religion) is the foundation of education and the press?
Community Values Education
I think local community values need to be presented by established organizations in the community (“What Values Are Making Our Community Better”), represented only by established local citizens of those organizations on a weekly basis to every 7th-12th grader in the county. This would be a social studies class. Full credit. No cost to school system. No government organizations allowed. No religious/political recruiting. Blind lottery of approved organizations held at each school the month prior to the start of the school year. I call this the Community Values Initiative …
Point one: I believe parental and family standards far outweigh in importance the standards held by anyone in the community. Is the right to abort a baby a community standard today? Yes. Is it the standard most parents would teach their children? No.
Point two: Ask yourself this question, “What is this thing called ‘community’?” Answer: everyone who lives within the bounds of a defined region. Doesn’t that include parents?” So then why do children need to go to school to learn community standards if those standards are represented to them at home.
Point three: I believe all government involvement in schools should be abolished. I believe it is immoral and I believe it to be illegal to use taxpayer funds to indoctrinate children by force.
Government-school educators know
I am an educator in the public school and home school my two children. Children should not be in the public schools. I just hope that people actually listen to you.
You’re one of many!
Why do parents have children?
I am so glad you have sparked this debate. Of course, we are homeschoolers. Until recently, we were the only ones in our neighborhood. I have listened to many reactions from mothers when we tell them we homeschool. This is what I’ve heard: “I just don’t think I could do it” , “I would go crazy with my kids home all day” , “What about socialization.” The list goes on.
What I don’t understand is, why do people have children if they don’t want to spend any time with them? They stay at home for six weeks then ship them off to day care. Then comes elementary and high school, and maybe college. The parents wonder where the time has gone and how quickly children grow up.
No, I don’t have a masters degree in anything, but I do have the desire to teach my child my values.
So my question in this debate is: Why do people have children?
Mary – Alabama
Dear Mary – I believe most people don’t consciously make a decision, at least not until very recently. They were raised that way and “everyone” else sends their kids off. Sometimes they don’t realize what they lose until it is too late. This is a topic I will address soon.
Government Funded “private” schools
Just to drop you a note, that down here in New Zealand, they are teaching our children all the “culture”, “art”, politically-correct rubbish that they can get away with. There are children that are age 5 who can not read the basics, or know the simple counting to 10. But they can let you know that they are a maori, and that makes them “special”.
Not to forget the left wing “green nuts” which think humans are “destroying” everything.
We put our children into a private Christian school, then the government started to fund it , then the standards dropped, and they came into line with the mainstream. Now my wife stays home and teaches, we import into the country A.C.E (Accelerated Christian Education). What a difference, both in attitude and work output.
I believe that your country is that last real place of freedom, we have already lost so much, don’t let your country go down the same path as ours …
Dear Mr. Bent – Many good people in America actually believe the government can institute a system whereby private schools are subsidized by the government through vouchers or other means. They are wrong.
Regarding basics: I found a similar phenomena in America. I have found that children here are taught everything about “native-Americans” year after year. They learn how to make acorn soup and corn-husk dolls. They know the names and mode of dress of every tribe. And yet, they cannot explain and defend the origins and principles of the War for Independence, or the Constitution. They do not know who Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, or John Jay are.
Now with the pseudo-conservative Bush administration we can look forward to even more centralized government education with its resultant evils. The time for those who love God and freedom to resist such tyranny is long past. It is indeed time to let the dead bury their dead and let the living rescue their children from the mind numbing idolatry of statism that is, by law, promoted in even the best of government schools.
Dear Mr. Bradley – The Bush administration’s goals in education are no better than Clinton’s. How horrible it is to know that both “establishment” parties are one and the same.