When I suggested that Johngalt666 was looking to replace public schools with private school vouchers, he wrote:
Here is where I get really confused. You list two issues that I am bringing up and yet I did not bring up either of the issues you name. I never said homeschooling was a superior alternative for most students. I also never said anything about vouchers. So though it LOOKS like you are responding to me, I find myself looking around for the person you are actually talking too.
I apologize for making this unwarranted assumption. I have spoken to several advocates of abolishing public schools, and most at least claim to want to put in temporary measures to fill in the gap, in the form of vouchers. Perhaps most of them do, ultimately, want to eliminate the public funding of schools entirely, but most couch the discussion in terms of private vouchers in order to mask that intention.
Johngalt666 then wrote:
But right now, where I live, there are no better alternatives to homeschooling. There are no excellent public schools near me. There are no excellent private schools near me. I know at least one school that would be an excellent choice for my children but I can not move several states over to enroll them.
Further, the facts remain that: (a) most parents are effectively compelled to send their children to public schools, since they are taxed to support these schools and cannot afford to pay the additional fees required to send their children to private schools; (b) the STANDARDS of education, controlling ALL schools, are prescribed by the government; (c) the growing trend in American education is for the government to exert wider and wider control over every aspect of education. Well, by now the government basically does control every aspect of education.
So now, taking all of the above into account, let me try to make sure I understand you correctly.
You don't like public schools, that much is clear. You seemed downright offended that when I presumed that you would support vouchers, which is the commonly suggested alternative. You also acknowledge that homeschooling is not the right choice for everyone. You wish that there were more and better private school options in your area, but there are not.
Essentially, your solution to the issue of public schools is to eliminate them altogether. And then you propose to replace them with...
Nothing. Nothing at all.
Your position is that "government" should be out of schools entirely: no funding, no standards, no support whatsoever. Parents who can afford private schools will send their kids to private schools. Parents who have the time, inclination, and ability to homeschool will do so. All other kids are left to fend for themselves.
Really? I want to make totally sure I'm not misstating your position, but I can't wait around for the conversation to synchronize, so let me just work with the assumption that this is what you mean.
Clearly this goes way beyond your issue with how public schools are performing. If the problem were simply the fact that kids aren't getting a good enough education, then your solution might have involved doing something to improve it. But instead, you are apparently advocating a system that eliminates many existing schools entirely, thereby ensuring that large swaths of the country have access to no education whatsoever.
By your own statement, there are no quality private schools in your area, and therefore you are forced to homeschool. So under your plan, you wish to essentially nuke funding for the public schools so that other parents who already send their kids there will now have no recourse apart from choosing from the private schools -- which by your own claims are evidently just as bad in your area -- or devoting the same amount of time that your family does to homeschooling. I suppose we'll have to assume that those people don't all have jobs or anything.
I'm just stumped about how you think this will improve the overall state of education in your area. Surely there are quite a few parents who will wind up opting not to bother with education at all -- I mean, if the oppressive government isn't to be involved in education, then there are no longer any educational standards or requirements. That doesn't worry you? Having a new generation of kids growing up who, instead of receiving below standard education, will now be completely lacking in any education whatsoever?
When you talk of public schools you seem to want to throw out studies of the nation as a whole and when you talk of homeschoolers you only seem to want studies that include the whole nation. If national studies of public schools leave you unsatisfied, why would national studies of homeschoolers be more satisfying?
I didn't throw out the studies; I accept and agree with your claim that public schools are not doing as well as they ought to be doing (and, based on the examples provided by other countries, could be doing). This is a point where you seem to think we disagree, when in fact I'm letting you know that we don't.
The problem I have is that you seem to have jumped from a premise: ("public schools are not doing well") to some kind of conclusion. Either that conclusion is: "Homeschooling and private schools are an adequate replacement for what they actually do" or: "Maybe there is no adequate universal replacement for public schools, but I'm willing to eliminate the benefit that those schools do provide so that I don't have to pay any taxes towards them." Neither of these conclusions seems to follow naturally from the premise, nor from the sparse and sketchy studies that you've provided (about which I'll say more shortly).
Look back again, Kazim. I do not state or imply that all these students would be better served by homeschooling. Later I even list four options for parents (not intending it to be an exhaustive list) and then state that ANY CHOICE can be correct.
As I read it, your four choices were:
- Public school.
- Private school.
- Move somewhere where there are better public and/or private schools (how is this a different option from the first two?)
- Home schooling.
But of those four, you've expressed a desire to sandbag one of them, so that leaves three, or perhaps two since option 3 is really just another angle on 1 and 2. Not only that, the one that you'd get rid of is the choice that most parents choose. My parents both worked, and they chose the place to live where they could get the best jobs. Roughly 3/4 of my education took place in public schools, as did the vast majority of other professional adults I have met. Why so eager to eliminate this system entirely?
Now, let me turn to your studies on homeschooling.
While I am starting to doubt seriously that any study by any source will satisfy you if it doesn’t agree with you, I will point you to some more info you may not have seen here. Though it seems you didn’t follow the link to the national studies of public schools above (based on your writing), I hope you will follow this one and read it. Google the articles sources and that sort of thing. I won’t spoon-feed it to you, as I don’t really think it matters too much. See below.
I did follow your studies on public school performance earlier, and my comment about them still stands. As I said, I simply don't disagree with you that public schools underperform their stated goals, but that it doesn't make the case for the argument you're trying to make -- i.e., it is worse than no public school at all.
I've now gone through the article you linked. At first glance, it appeared to contain a whole lot of references to independent studies. On further examination, it seems to me that it contains just two original studies, followed by numerous other articles that merely cite those studies. The first one was performed by the president of the "National Home Education Research Institute." The second one was published and underwritten by the "Home School Legal Defense Association," which is also the source of the original post you submitted gathering all these different studies in one place. Those are a useful place to start, but difficult to take seriously as an unbiased source.
Looking further into these articles was even more troubling. For instance I found that Lawrence Rudner's study was in fact published in the peer-reviewed educational journal, Education Policy Analysis Archives, which is a good sign. But it was shortly followed by a related article that neatly underlines the overall issue surrounding the way these studies are conducted.
This article, entitled "Contextualizing Homeschooling Data: A Response to Rudner", looks at article published by Lawrence Rudner and points out some serious flaws in his methodology. What they agree on is the premise of the article: among students who took a test administered by Bob Jones University, the homeschooled kids who were picked for the study performed better than the private and public schooled kids who were picked for the study. However, they then go on to highlight a number of reasons why this is not nearly as relevant as it sounds:
- Participation in the testing is voluntary. That means that the only homeschooled students who worked on the tests were those whose parents emphasized tests, while students who are "unschooled" or otherwise opposed to testing are excluded from the sample. In other words, this is a very specific and unrepresentative cross-section of all home schoolers. This point can't be understated: The author of the article admits that it wasn't a scientific sample. The response to the article highlights just how much that lack of objectivity undercuts the main point.
- The testing was performed by Bob Jones University. I mean, come on, those guys weren't even accredited until last year, and before that point they were well known as a weird racist fundamentalist outlier. As an atheist (I think you said?), I'd be surprised if you took anything seriously that comes out of Bob Jones University.
- As I noted before, Rudner's being paid by something called the Home School Legal Defense Association, which is a homeschooling advocacy group. That fact in itself does not make their study wrong, but it does call into question their status as a group conducting an objective, impartial study.
Interestingly enough, I tried to find out more information about HSLDA, and found to my somewhat distaste that they are themselves an explicitly fundamentalist group. HSLDA supports Christian Dominionist causes such as, for example, working to outlaw gay marriage, and they also advise parents on how to get away with beating their kids without getting in trouble. Again, this in no way invalidates the study, such as it is, but it still seems to me a poor choice to use as an authority on the efficacy of homeschooling.
Later, you write:
Personally, I don’t really care if homeschoolers outperform public schools or not. There are many indicators that they do but that is irrelevant to why I don’t want public schools.
Ultimately, this is exactly my point. You want to demonstrate that homeschooling is more effective than public schooling, but that is a side issue for you, because the bottom line is that you don't really care whether the end result is kids being better educated. That's the difference here: I do care about what is the most effective strategy for getting kids educated. That's my bottom line. It so happens that I also disagree with your political viewpoint that government involvement is nearly universally evil, but that's beside the original point that I was making.
My previous post was about the remarkable lack of serious, comprehensive, and unbiased data on how well homeschoolers perform as a whole. There is almost nothing in the way of regulation or standards when it comes to homeschooling. Some parents do a great job, absolutely, but there isn't any rigorous analysis on the success rates. Mostly, support for homeschooling just seems to take the form of public school bashing.
Please understand that I am not meddling in your business and telling you that you need to stop homeschooling your own kids. I have no reason to doubt that you are one of those families that teaches your kids well and holds them accountable for learning some amount of necessary material, and provides them with an enriching environment. But as for your belief that we should therefore apply your experience across the board and pull support away from those kids who do partake of the public school system -- which will include my son, beginning in about two weeks -- I'm afraid I must respectfully disagree.