Part II addresses the question “is homeschooling a good option?” with three yea voices and one nay.
The first pro voice comes from Kate McReynolds, formerly associate editor of Encounter magazine (McReynolds passed away in September 2008), where this article appeared originally. McReynolds begins by noting how deadening the increasingly narrow school curriculum can be and tells several stories of interesting and socially mature homeschooled teens.
Next, Rachel Gathercole, whose book The Well-Adjusted Child I reviewed here, summarizes, in an article appearing originally in Mothering in July 2005, the homeschool movement, stressing the movement’s diversity and academic and social benefits.
The last pro voice is that of Andrea Neal, a teacher in Indiana and occasional columnist for the Saturday Evening Post, where this article first appeared in 2006. It begins with several examples of award winning homeschoolers and attributes their success to homeschooling’s flexibilityand teacher/pupil ratio.
Finally comes the nay voice, that of Carole Moore, a freelance writer based in Jacksonville, NC. Her article is available here in its original form from Scholastic Parents. Moore acknowledges that public schools can be nasty places, but she argues that exposure to peers who abuse substances, engage in sexual promiscuity, and so on serves as a good innoculant against such practices. Sheltered homeschooled students, on the other hand, might fall prey to such temptations when they leave the home because they haven’t yet seen the damage they can do.
Part III of the book addresses the question, “Should homeschooling be regulated?”
First comes Louis A. Greenfield, a New Jersey-based attorney. His entry consists of excerpts from a 2007 article he wrote for the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion originally titled, “Religious Home-Schools: That’s Not a Monkey On Your Back, It’s a Compelling State Interest.” [Original article available free here] This is the first real scholarly article to appear in this anthology, and it is not reproduced well here. The elisions are enormous, making it very difficult to follow the argument. The conclusion Greenfield reaches, however, is presented clearly. He wants all homeschoolers to take an annual standardized test, all homeschooling parents to pass a basic competence exam, and all homeschooling families to maintain portfolios proving they are teaching basic subjects mandated by the State.
Next, Meg Jalsevac, whose father-in-law was co-founder of lifesitenews.com, a pro-life Canadian web-based news daily, offers a report published originally on the website in 2007, that describes the “temper tantrum” of a New Jersey judge who was frustrated by New Jersey’s lenient laws in his desire to regulate a homeschooling mother of seven whose estranged husband had sued for her to cease homeschooling and put the kids in a parochial school.
Next comes Larry and Susan Kaseman, longtime contributors to Home Education Magazine, where their entry originally appeared in 2005 [read it here]. They offer here a summary of themes they’ve written about many times, urging homeschoolers to know the law, avoid legislative initiatives and court cases (the Kasemans have long been opposed much of HSLDA’s work) if at all possible, and network with other homeschoolers to maintain homeschool freedoms.
This section concludes with an essay by Connecticut attorney Deborah Stevenson, whose National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD) has tried since 2003 to serve as a sort of political counterweight to HSLDA. I describe her efforts more in my book. In this article, originally published in Home Educator’s Family Times in 2006 [read it here], Stevenson argues forcefully that homeschooling has never been illegal, but that both the public school establishment and HSLDA (whom she does not name here, but it’s obvious who she’s talking about) want us to believe that it was, either because this lie legitimates goverment regulation of homeschoolers today or because the lie scares parents into paying money to join HSLDA and allows HSLDA to falsely claim that they have made homeschooling legal.
In my next post I’ll summarize part IV and make some concluding remarks about this anthology.