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Do Homeschoolers Hate Public Schools?


TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Do Homeschoolers Hate Public Schools?Do homeschooling parents hate public schools?

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I run across this assumption on the internets here and there. Commenters or bloggers or journalists or politicians will respond to a homeschooling parent based on the assumption that all homeschoolers are anti-school.

Did you know that homeschoolers actually have a variety of opinions on this question?

Truthfully, some homeschoolers are anti-school.

And truthfully, some aren’t.

There are the homeschooling parents who think school as we know it is a universally bad idea. They will never be convinced that having kids learn in the institutional environment of today’s public schools is a good thing.

And then there are homeschooling parents who are educating one or more kids at home while at the same time one or more of their kids is enrolled in school.

And there are homeschooling parents who homeschool their kids K-8, while their teenagers go on to successfully attend public high school — just as they planned all along.

And there are homeschooling parents where one parent is homeschooling their own children while the other works as a public school teacher in a job he or she loves and believes is vital.

And there are homeschooling parents whose children move in and out of school over the years as their personal needs and family needs change.

And these examples are just from among my own homeschooling friends and acquaintances.

Sure, some homeschoolers are ideologically opposed to public school. It might be compulsory attendance that bothers them, since it means the government is actually compelling children to spend most of their waking hours over more than twelve years in a government institution. It sounds much creepier when you put it that way.

Or it might be the results of the schools that creates opposition to public school among some homeschoolers. They aren’t impressed with the level of education achieved among some students at some schools.

Or it might be some aspect of school reform that homeschooling parents are concerned about. Contrary to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s tone deaf assertion that “white suburban moms” are angry that their kids “aren’t as brilliant as they thought they were,” these homeschooling parents are actually like many school children’s parents: opposed to increasing standardization of  public education, as if kids are some kind of identical widgets who can be processed factory-style to become identical end products serving as “human capital” for the U.S.

But many homeschooling parents think that the ideal of school is a fine one, that our system of public education provides important opportunities in our democracy. They may support or oppose specific aspects of public schooling or education reforms, but they actually are quite supportive of the concept of public school.

Where does all this “support” and “opposition” for public education spring from within homeschoolers? In some cases, it’s political or religious or economic in nature, just like among non-homeschoolers. Some people have opposed compulsory attendance since the day it was instituted, on the grounds that it violates parental rights, and some homeschoolers continue that line of thought today.

Some have had personal experiences with schools that have made them glad their mostly-homeschooled children will attend a public high school or have that special kindergarten teacher as part of their educational career.

Others have had experiences with public school — either personally or with their children — which have shaken their faith in the system. Many even worked as school teachers or volunteered extensively in the schools before feeling they could not justify continued support of things as they are.

But monolithically anti-school? Nope.

It’s frankly hard to get homeschoolers to be monolithic about much. You think we are when you view us from outside, but from in here, we can’t even pick a math curriculum that works for more than one child in our own family — how are all of us going to have a single universal opinion about the whole of public school?

We are actually diverse in our reasons for homeschooling and in our opinions about the more predominant player at the education table — public school. Some love it, some hate it, some think it is necessary even if it doesn’t work as well as it might.

And some homeschoolers even think if communities could allow themselves to be influenced by the tenets of independent home education, society would find a truly new and effective type of public education — available to all, not compulsory, but too valuable to pass up, and still in need of many great teachers and mentors to make it work.

I hear it described most commonly by homeschoolers as working “like a library,” where people aren’t told what to read or learn, but are provided with resources and skilled people who guide learning and bring expertise. There are a lot of homeschoolers who would support a public education along those lines, even as many non-homeschoolers are assuming they are all simply selfish or isolationist or not interested in helping children beyond their own doorstep.

True, most homeschoolers recognize the political unlikelihood — okay, near impossibility — of such a model in today’s climate of accountability and testing craziness, which does leave those homeschoolers with difficult questions: Am I anti-school? Or do I just see such a different approach to education that I can no longer support school the way it is today, given what I have learned as a homeschooling parent?

One thing I’ll say about the act of homeschooling. Once you’ve done it, you realize there are different ways of thinking about even the biggest “givens” you think you know. When basically mainstream folks homeschool, even they begin to look at their own default positions with a bit more skepticism.

Homeschoolers as knee-jerk anti-school zealots? Yes. No. Maybe. Sometimes. Of course not.

Homeschoolers come from all walks of life, all parts of political, economic, and religious spectrums, and their opinions on public education reflect that diversity.

I realize this doesn’t fit into what people know about homeschoolers, but hey, learning to see beyond stereotypes is a big part of. . . becoming educated.

Jeanne Faulconer

A popular speaker at homeschooling conferences, business groups, and parents’ groups, Jeanne Potts Faulconer homeschooled her three sons in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia for twenty years. Jeanne is director of Brave Writer's Homeschool Alliance, which provides homeschool coaching, community, and "grad school for homeschool" for parents. She is the contributing editor for TheHomeSchoolMom newsletter and writes the popular Ask Jeanne column, addressing homeschool parents' questions here at TheHomeSchoolMom. She is a former college faculty member, former editor and book reviewer for Home Education Magazine, a long-time editor for VaHomeschoolers Voice, and a news correspondent for WCVE, an NPR-member station. Holding her Master of Arts degree in Communication, Jeanne has conducted portfolio evaluations for Virginia homeschoolers for evidence of progress for many years.

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  1. homeschoolmom

    I don’t think it’s so much about homeschoolers hating schools or teachers or we would hate ourselves. It would be the ultimate irony. I think the real thing is why do public schools hate us so much? I think it comes down to a lot of things. We can educate at home and get far better results than the public system can and we do it for far less per year per student than they can. We can provide more field trips in a single school year than schools usually do between K-12 comprehensively. We can incorporate interest based learning and individualized education that fits the child where their hands are bound to the test and results of a test for their classrooms. We can do more in 4 1/2 hours a day than most get done in 7-8. We cannot be indoctrinated with the agendas going through the schools making it harder to get their clutches on our kids and their futures. We stand up for parental rights we believe in rather than abdicating them to the system by dropping our kids off at the front door. There is the fact we don’t have to have degrees in every state, test (as in some states testing is not mandatory for homeschoolers) and other restraints that we see in the system. It does bring resent- BIG TIME. Go in with education on your side about the laws, rights and other things if you do have to deal with them and they hate you more because they can’t get their agenda past you. Trust me, while there are plenty of public teachers turning homeschool (myself being one of them), the system is NOT the friend of children or parents. It is a mill, a business, a machine that is breaking more and more and going nowhere. Funding is cut for programs that benefit kids, PE, recess, art are being cut left and right or downsized making quality programs that inspire literature and creativity non-existent. I know from my experience as a teacher and parent that I have seen the proverbial village and do not want it any where near my kids- ever. There is an estimated 2.3 million others who agree with that and more every day pulling their kids out across the nation for better options. That number alone is just homeschooling. Too many people are fed up with big expense, substandard instruction that is forced down our kids throats with minimal results because of what the system does in control from the top down. It’s not right and reform is definitely needed. Common Core, by any name it may go by, is NOT it.

  2. Chloe7

    school is the last bastion where governments truly have my children’s souls in their grubby hands. And you can do nothing. I homeschooled my last born and now he’s doing his starting with his phd in biochemistry. It’s NOT easy, but for me, as a christian, when they started coming home with “life orientation” manuals and every single science project had an evolutionary basis, I grabbed him out of there. School is a man-made institution foisted upon its citizens to bring up pawns for government. I fear governmental influences, just as much as I never got divorced because I couldn’t stand the thought of another woman ever setting influences in my children’s tender minds. I raised them far to difficultly for others to mess with. HEY, but it’s hard. Children want to play and to get them to sit down an do so many hours’ worth of work is a challenge – but it’s MY challenge.

  3. RG

    Thanks for that. You are absolutely right.

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