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The Right to Go to School

At 16, Josh Powell had never written an essay, didn't know that South Africa was a country, and couldn't do basic algebra.  That's because his fundamentalist parents had 11 children and just let them play video games all day.  Poor Josh begged the local school to let him enroll against his parents' wishes and they said no.

Shouldn't the children have a bit of a right or a say-so in their education?

Powell thinks his parents did a poor job of educating him and his siblings and says that not only should children decide if they wish to enroll in school, but that also there should be some "accountability" for parents who homeschool.  Article.

Not buying it.  At least, I'm not buying it in this case.

Sure, he had to work hard for a few years and study a little before enrolling at Georgetown University.  Georgetown University?  Do you have any idea how many kids had excellent educations, and still don't get in there?  Let's just say that if he can fix up the gaps well enough to enroll within a few years, that they were not that serious.

His sister is gainfully employed and two other siblings are enrolling in community college.  No tales of adults who can't read.  No actual documented evidence of educational neglect.  Hello, any time he wishes, he can make that call to social services.  The fact that he didn't shows he is not really that concerned about their educations personally.

I know for a fact that even in a lax state like Missouri, the social workers do follow up when there's an allegation.  They ask questions.  They check records.  They ask for references.  I have fielded a phone call and it's not a pleasant experience, even when the call is not about you.  I am actually opposed to any sort of compulsory education of any kind, but I will have to say that this social worker appeared to be carrying out her duties in a professional manner.  The matter was definitely looked into. 

It's an interesting premise, though.  What if the children got to decide where and if they went to school?  Interesting that no one gets to opt out of public school against the parent's wishes.  But opt out of homeschool?  You and I both know that if the kids decide, they really won't learn to do essays.  Mom and Dad will always have the "I'll decide to go to public school next year if you don't (whatever)" threat over their heads all year.


  1. I can't imagine keeping your kid home if they didn't want to be. Seriously, few things are worse than a disgruntled teenager, especially on an everyday basis! We've always left it up to the kids. We asked them if they wanted to be transferred to a different school, or try homeschooling. Seven years later, they are given the choice of continuing homeschool or trying another alternative. I think it's good for them to be able to decide what works for them. It makes it easier on everyone.

    1. Elf did not want to leave public school to homeschool, even though he was being abused. He is scared of the unknown. But looking back it was the best decision we made. He has thanked us many times for keeping him home, and he is happy in a new school now even though he didn't want to go. Now he says he is glad to go to school because no one is bullying him there.

      So I don't think children are always the best judges, but wise parents value their input.

  2. Seems to me the kid was smart enough to have educated himself via the local library if he'd really wanted an education. And there are plenty of video games that are educational too. As for never writing an essay...don't you have to write one as part of Uni entrance applications?

    1. Yes, as part of the applications process, usually a university will ask for a short paper on a given topic. Not always. But often.

      From the sound of it, the parents did a great job at first and then started slacking off. You're right, though: once you can read and do basic computations, the rest is pretty much at your library IF you have the drive to pull it off.

  3. If given the chance, I would have opted out a nightmarish two years in public school in North Chicago and opted in a wonderful school for Navy brats in Newfoundland, Canada. I would have rather taught my self junior high than suffer through the chaos of that awful school.

    1. And oh my. Knowing your meticulous personality, you'd have excelled in anything you touched. :)


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