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    #11879 - 03/18/08 11:54 AM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Cathy A]
    acs Offline

    Registered: 03/05/07
    Posts: 797
    Originally Posted By: Cathy A
    Aren't charter schools public? Can't anyone sign up?

    Yes, but our public charters do not provide lunch and they do not provide buses. Parents also have to travel to the school and fill out a lengthy application (in English). So, effectively, you have to have to have the means to get your child to and from school each day and you don't get free or reduced lunch. So it really is set up to be exclusive and it's not very subtle about it.

    #11882 - 03/18/08 12:06 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: acs]
    Cathy A Offline

    Registered: 05/26/07
    Posts: 1783
    Loc: West coast, USA
    Wow. Hmmmm. I see your point. Definitely some erosion of public education going on there. I wonder how they can use public money and get away with not providing services that would allow public access...seems like something's wrong there.

    #11895 - 03/18/08 12:56 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Dottie]
    Cathy A Offline

    Registered: 05/26/07
    Posts: 1783
    Loc: West coast, USA
    There are only two charter schools in our district. One is a Farsi immersion school. The other is a homeschool charter. They give you the PS curriculum, you teach it to your kid at home and check in with a teacher every so often for testing. This is being utilized by a wide variety of folks. Kids with unusual learning styles, kids who are athletes or musicians, etc.

    All the schools, public and private, in our city are stuffed to the gills with kids.

    #11897 - 03/18/08 01:38 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Cathy A]
    Kriston Offline

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    What you're identifying is a common criticism of HSing, acs, and one that would bother me a lot if it were true in our case. I detest racism and classism. Period.

    But since the school DS6 was attending is more white-bread-and-middle-class than our HSing group, I feel pretty okay about our choice.

    But, frankly, even if this weren't the demographics at our school, I still think each parent must do what s/he feels to be the right thing for his/her own kids. I cannot stay at a school for the good of the school. I just can't. My priority MUST be my child. If the school is bad for my child, then he must not be in it, even if his absence looks like it's part of some wrong-headed "white flight" nonsense.

    If our HSing screws up the schools, then the schools should do a better job of taking care of our child. Ultimately, the schools owe my child an education; OTOH, I do not owe the schools anything but my tax dollars, which they get even when my child is not attending, not even for the "extras" that we would dearly love for him to get at the school, but which he is not allowed to take.

    This is one area in which I feel very defensive, I'm afraid. I know you excused us from the people you're talking about, but you'd be amazed how often I hear that we "owe" the school our son's high test scores or such nonsense. I owe the school nothing they're not already getting, whereas they owed my DS an education which he was never going to get there! The let-down party is us, not the schools.

    I want strong public schools because I want a strong, educated, productive community. But I cannot sacrifice my son to that goal.


    I just cut a bunch out of this post before I put it up because, like I said, I'm defensive about this one. Sorry.

    Mostly what I'm trying to say (sans defensiveness!) is that it is very dangerous to believe that people owe something to a system. Systems are meant to work for people, not the other way around. When systems stop working for people--or are perceived as no longer working for people--people leave the system. The solution is to improve the system (or get better PR), not to blame the people who left it.



    #11905 - 03/18/08 02:03 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Kriston]
    acs Offline

    Registered: 03/05/07
    Posts: 797
    OK, I'll just say what I'm thinking and then I'll be done.

    And please, K, don't feel that this is directed at you. I just want to say these things that I cannot say to my friends at home and still stay friends.

    I just want people to try public schools for themselves and see if they work before they pull their kids out. Because I think if they did, some people would be pleasantly surprised, and our schools would be better off. If it doesn't work, if it's harming your child, then, of course, take him/her out.

    And Kriston, you are right, what's happening in our community is racist and classist. People say it out loud. That is why I get so angry! Yes, the system should change. But the way I see it the ones who are left in the PS system when all the white middle class folks have left are the ones who have the least voice, the ones who are least able to change the system. And that makes me sad.

    #11913 - 03/18/08 02:26 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: acs]
    Kriston Offline

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    I don't blame you. It makes me sad, too.

    But I guess my problem is the racism and classism, not the homeschooling. They're taking a good and useful educational tool and misusing it for evil. That's really a shame.

    I have HUGE problems with racism and classism and prejudice in all forms. Please don't misunderstand me--that's NOT okay with me at all!

    Honestly, it sounds to me like the schools in your area need better PR more than anything.

    FWIW, we have the opposite problem here--our school system has a great--and mostly undeserved--reputation. Yes, nearly all the kids graduate and the test scores are high. But what I realized is that these things are really meaningless to a GT kid. If the teachers coast on what the kids already know, then it's a crappy system for our kids.

    So I'm 100% behind you on the "no racism and classism" thing. I'd tend to speak up about that, actually, and have those people hate me. I hope you talk to them about how good the schools have been for your child at every opportunity!

    But if I were there, and if the school didn't seem to be able to serve my kids as it is well-serving yours, we wouldn't stay because we owed it to the system. (I am glad that it's not an issue for us though. My white liberal guilt would keep me up at night!)

    And really, acs, you don't have to be done here. smile I think this is a good, productive, thought-provoking conversation. I hope you do, too. I appreciate what you're saying!

    #11916 - 03/18/08 02:41 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Kriston]
    acs Offline

    Registered: 03/05/07
    Posts: 797
    Oh, Kriston, I was only going to shut up because I really should be having this conversation with my neighbors, writing letters, and running for the school board. But I'm too chicken. I had to vent somewhere and you guys got the brunt of it, even though it really has nothing to do with you!

    Really, there is enough liberal white guilt around already. I don't mean to contribute. Guilt doesn't do nearly as much good in the world as gratitude joy and a desire to give back for all we have been lucky enough to receive.

    #11919 - 03/18/08 03:26 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Kriston]
    AmyEJ Offline

    Registered: 03/10/08
    Posts: 79
    Loc: Texas
    Great thread, Kriston! And acs, great observation about the defensiveness of choosing public school.

    I first have to say that I love reading everyone's posts, no matter what the thread. Usually I sit and read without posting because I get so far behind. I think I might actually be able to jump in here, though, because it's currently only two pages. Of course if I digress too much it will be up to 4, I have no doubt. LOL

    I admit that I have questioned many HSers I know, but their reasons are primarily about bad influences in our public schools. We have a very large number of HSers who attend our church, and depending on the group I'm with at a particular function, they can outnumber us PSers. I definitely feel defensive then, just as I feel defensive when I'm discussing public v. private schools with private school parents. I think I'll always feel defensive about our educational choices, at least somewhat, because parenting is such a personal thing (duh!) and a source of insecurity, and especially so for women, I believe.

    Not to throw this into a topic of gender issues, but I do think that my husband is much better able to make a decision about the kids and move on, without regret, embarrassment, or defensiveness. I, on the other hand, will continue to question decisions even if I know they were right. This observation really only applies in the area of parenting; it was not true when I worked in my profession. But as a mom I'm way too defensive about my parenting, and it's something I can't seem to shake. My husband does not have that same problem. If we were to decide to HS, I doubt he would ever feel insecure about it or defensive about it. I would though, especially if I felt like Kriston does and couldn't state the REAL reason why we had chosen that option.

    So I just want to offer support to all of you defensive HSers, PSers, ___ers out there: you are doing what's best for your child(ren). And as we all know from reading these fabulous posts each day, every child is different. In my week of lurking I have loved reading about the personalities of your children, finding my DD5 in someone's DD and my DD3 in someone else's DS. I'm so thankful that you are here and are sharing, and am sorry that you ever feel defensive about anything.

    As I say many times each day, parenting is HARD!

    #11920 - 03/18/08 03:39 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: acs]
    Texas Summer Offline

    Registered: 05/01/06
    Posts: 216
    Loc: Texas
    Originally Posted By: acs
    I do see a real problem in our district. My very personal issue in my district is that everyone who can (middle class families) seems to be pulling their kids out of PS to put them in charter schools (which have clearly, in our district, been set up to only work for white middle class kids), private school (white middle class) or homeschool (white Christian conservatives). These are the parents who would be on the PTA or volunteering in the classroom if they were in PS. Meanwhile the public school no longer looks like our district in general. Poor single parent families, people just scraping by, and non-English speakers are typical in PS, but not seen at all in the private, charter and homeschool. Basically, it's segregation and I don't think it's fair. This is putting a huge financial strain in the district and hurting the quality of the public school system.

    And this is my problem: most of the parents pulled their kids out, not because they were having problems, but because they were afraid that they might have problems or they didn't want their kids associating with the "people who live in trailers" (and yes I have heard people say this). I am not mad at any of you, but I am mad at my local friends, because I have seen our PS go down hill because the white middle class are proactively removing their children.

    My husband grew up in Baton Rouge where the very thing you described happened. The devastating effects are still seen in that town. We currently live in a very middle class suburban school district with pockets of poverty. My daughter attends the poorest school in the district because we chose to enroll her in a Spanish immersion program. Our district has less than 20% free and reduced lunch students and my dd's school has 70% free and reduced lunch students.

    As the Spanish immersion program has developed, it has brought many active, educated, middle-class parents back into the school. This parent participation has made a tremendous difference in the school. My dd was in the first year of the program so I have witnessed the change over time. I also believe that having the children of parents who value education in the school has had a positive impact on the student body as a whole. This exposes children who come from poverty to the possibilities and opportunities that come from education. I grew up in poverty and know how important that is.

    This program has worked better than other types of magnet programs that bring middle-class students into poor schools for a number of reasons. First, students of diverse backgrounds and languages are actually educated together in the same classroom rather than having separate classes or programs for the transfer students. Secondly, each group of students is the expert in their native language and the novice in the other language. They each share in being the teacher and being the student. They learn to work together and depend on each other. This helps to eliminate the us vs. them mentality that is often evident between different social, economic, racial or religious groups. I have a friend who teaches at a middle school in a neighboring district that consists of mostly low-income hispanic students. She often hears them express their belief that white, middle-class society is "out to get them." The immersion program teaches students to accept and value differences in other people. Finally, this program works because it is not forcing integration as programs like desegregation busing did. It offers something of value to all parties.

    I'll get off my soapbox now.


    #11921 - 03/18/08 03:57 PM Re: Defensive Homeschoolers? [Re: Kriston]

    Kriston wrote:

    >Human beings don't argue when we know we're right. Then we shrug, say "You're wrong," and let it go. We argue when we feel insecure.

    Speak for yourself, Kriston! Me – I’ll argue about anything, though I prefer the phrase the diplomats use: “an open and frank exchange of views.”

    Seriously, I actually do agree with Socrates and the other ancient philosophers that the best way to clarify your own ideas and find the errors in your own thoughts is often to seek out someone with different ideas and frankly explore the reasons for your differences. That of course does not excuse treating people with whom you disagree with disrespect or contempt; however, it is going to occasionally result in some bruised feelings (how would you like having Socrates prove to everyone that your ideas were confused and muddled?).

    You know, in mathematics, the word “argument” is still used to mean a forthright presentation of your reasons for a conclusion combined with a cogent response to all possible rational objections. I know that, in contemporary English, “argument” often means a shouting match, but it doesn’t have to be.

    Personally, I do find that I am understanding my own views better through these discussions: you know the old saying – I never know what I think until I hear what I have to say.

    You’re of course correct that I do not claim to be speaking for all homeschoolers – I do think that there are many homeschoolers who largely agree with me on the “socialization” issue, but I doubt that any homeschooler agrees with me on everything (I’m not sure I agree with myself on everything).

    And, you’re also absolutely correct that I and many homeschoolers are drawing a distinction between “socialization” and “being social”: my dictionary defines “socialize” as “to adapt or make conform to the common needs of a social group.”


    You remember the scene in “A Wrinkle in Time” where the one little boy is bouncing his ball out of step with everyone else and his mother is terrified? To me, that is the most horrifying scene in literature.

    I’m not just ethically and philosophically opposed to “socialization” (in the sense my dictionary defines the term): I’ve hated it viscerally since I was eight-years-old and I still hate it now.

    Now that I’ve expressed my dispassionate, objective feelings on the subject…

    You wrote:
    >But unlike Dave, I don't want my kids to be blind to social cues. Even peer pressure I want my kids to see and understand for what it is. I want my kids to be well-liked in groups and in one-on-one interactions because I know the value of those interactions.

    Sure. I do want my kids to be sensitive to when they are hurting other people’s feelings, to when they are making others uncomfortable, etc., and I try to be sensitive in those ways myself. Sometimes, there are good reasons why you need to hurt someone’s feelings, but you should never do it blindly.

    I was trying to express something a bit different – not sensitivity to other individuals’ feelings but rather sensitivity to the demands of the group to conform.

    For example, my wife and mom tell me that the current style in female attire is to wear rather tight-fitting clothes. One of the adolescents in my family is following that style, and, according to my wife and mom, she looks horrible in it. (I’m relying on my mom’s and wife’s reporting here; like most guys, I’m quite clueless about fashion in clothes.)

    Now, I’m not complaining about my wife’s and mom’s having noticed this fashion change. I don’t necessarily want my kids to be blind to such things (though I think it is okay if they are). But I would like my kids to be insensitive to such things in the sense that they stand back from them, view them coolly, and decide for themselves whether it works for them, rather than having the emotional feeling that they “have” to follow the trend because “everyone” is doing it.

    It’s in that sense that I would like my kids to be, as I said:
    > a bit blind to all of those little social cues and pressures that cause most people to fall in line with the “group,” whether what the group is doing is good or not.

    I’d like them to have, compared to most people, less well-developed “antennae” that tell you that you must conform to other people’s style and behavior in every silly little detail.

    Note that I did say “a bit blind” not totally. I do understand that it is generally not a good idea to show up at you best friend’s wedding in a tank-top and cutoffs, and I wear a coat and tie to job interviews (and I hate ties).

    You and I may be in agreement here: I’m just trying to clarify my point.

    I know that some people do go through the public schools (my wife and I and probably a number of people on this board) and manage to escape this tendency to blind conformity that I find so abhorrent. But watching most of my classmates when I was in school, and watching most of the young adolescents I know now, I do notice that most adolescents (and the majority of adults) seem to succumb to all this. Put a human being in a large group of humans his or her own age for 30-40 hours a week, and this seems to be the normal result: those of us who do not develop in this way seem to be outliers.

    Aside from my own emotional reaction to “socialization,” I do think, in objective terms, that this is the basis for an awful lot of things that I think have catastrophic and horrifying effects – racism, ethnic chauvinism, nationalism, religious faith, militarism, trust in government, etc.

    Anyway, I hope this clarifies where I am coming from. Of course, I am not opposed to “being social” or to treating other humans beings with kindness and courtesy, but I am opposed to “socialization” in the dictionary sense and in the sense that most adolescents in our society who attend traditional schools are “socialized.” People who share my perspective are likely to find this a good reason for homeschooling – it is not of course a reason to cut your kids off from social interaction in general.

    All the best,


    Edited by PhysicistDave (03/18/08 04:13 PM)
    Edit Reason: correcting typo

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