Yup. I don't know any folks quite like this, but I won't lie and say they don't exist. Maybe bad homeschooling is like porno, and you just know it when you see it. There is likely a continuum of parenting, with the superachievers on one end of the curve and the parents of severely neglected and abused at the bottom.
All the arguments in the world that most homeschool families consist of the middle and upper ends of the curve don't help the kids who are truly not educated at the lower end. In fact, it bothers me when homeschool organizations trot out statistics or tables as though the scores or achievements justify homeschooling as a whole. They don't. Homeschooling rests upon the idea that barring extreme abuse and neglect, parents are best suited to make decisions for their children, and that ought include "good" decisions as well as "bad" ones.
And while there is no excuse for abuse no matter where it occurs, I fear that well-meaning folks or Satan or the NEA (or maybe they will combine to form the anti-Trinity... why is there no anti-Trinity? a doctrinal question from Mrs. C) will use isolated cases to further regulation of families in their decision-making. Only imagine if states wanted to regulate Mormonism because of what has happened on some ranch in Texas. It would be intolerable even to most non-Mormons. For now. But I'm concerned that the day is coming when religious practices and homeschooling will be more strictly regulated because I read the angry comments at the end of news stories. Hopefully, these folks don't all contact their representatives or worse, contact their representatives after figuring out how to turn off the CAPS LOCK
I know that the logical pro-homeschooler argument would be to talk of the slippery slope. If it's not ok for someone to be 16 and be unable to multiply single digits, is it not ok for someone to be 12? Nine? Six? and not know these things. At what point should the state intervene in the homeschooling of a child? At what point IS it abusive to homeschool or "no-school?"
That's a good question, and one I don't think anyone has answered adequately.
Should other homeschoolers come to the defense of bad homeschoolers? Or should we only help the graduate-school parent nutty professor type whose child is an astrophysicist in her own right at seven... but *doggone it* Mom turned in her paperwork a day late? Yeah, most of us are in the middle but have our moments where we need inform our children of basic facts like, "No, sweetheart. The Great Wall of China is actually made out of stone and isn't 'of china' at all. Sorry."
I know another argument for defending all homeschoolers would be that HELLO, public schools do not ensure an education by any means, and it's a pot calling the kettle black situation. Imagine wasting 15 years of your life (two preschool years, kindergarten, and grades 1-12) at your parents' and neighbours' expense, only to find that your education is inadequate and shoddy. There are whole districts turning out crappily-prepared students. Dropout factories. Drug-and-violence free schools that are anything but. It's abusive to ask kids to even get out of bed on time to go to such places year after year, holding out that American dream and education is "the ticket to success"... talk about dashing hopes... and the state wants to go after homeschoolers??!
Yeah. It does sometimes.
I think "education" is, by its very nature, not compulsory. I *honestly* think that if my neighbours or friends don't feel like sending their children to school, that that should be ok as long as they aren't playing in my yard. Mind you, if they sign up? Those kids had better be there if I'm paying for it. Why can't we have a VOLUNTARY education system? If it's VOLUNTARY, bet you most people would still send their children to school. Much as we hate to admit it, there are a plenty of *great* parents out there who just don't feel up to homeschooling, and the mediocre to bad (or just plain poor and need to work or sleep after night shift!) parents see it as free childcare.
Why does anyone have to compel parents to send their children to school? If you have kids in the public school, you know it isn't just a matter of attendance. The children also must occasionally learn to speak in groupspeak for a grade, or as Patrick puts it, "Say something liberal and crazy." It's good preparation for those diversity workshops your son will need to attend when he works in the "real world" anyway.
It really isn't funny, even though I make light of it. Check out this link from a school district (naturally!) in California. Teaching gay "tolerance" becomes a mandatory teaching... hmm... and with students COMPELLED to go to school, would it not be nothing short of forced government indoctrination? Is it coincidence that the large STOP CHILD ABUSE sign is next to postings about discrimination against gay people?
We come back to the point. We have to balance the child's genuine need to be protected and nurtured against his right to be free from state coersion in the formation of his personal credo. I think the state can make good schools to which parents will WANT to send their child. As it stands right now, I don't see the good of the compulsion. But I also don't see many other people who feel the same way because of the "what if" questions. Questions like, "What if we see millions of children grow up and be unable to find a job? Wouldn't they qualify for welfare, and then we'd be paying a lot of money out for them and their children?" Because of course that's not happening now! :P
And here I have to pop in a disclaimer. JUST because a school is a public school does not necessarily mean that it's going to be an indoctrination factory or do a shoddy job for your child. In fact, it might just do a better job than you can. I think the choice should be up to you as the parent. For my part, as my children age, they get a great deal of input into the decision as well. I think we all have enough on our plates without worrying about the less than obvious abuse cases in this world... there are certainly (unfortunately!) enough of them with which to concern ourselves.