It’s not a good practice, but I admit it.
Sometimes I read the comments.
The ones that follow online articles about homeschooling.
Among the occasions I have read the comments was when my op ed, “Faulconer: Homeschoolers are In: Reaction to Governor’s Veto of Sports Access Bill” appeared in The Richmond Times Dispatch a few months ago.
Some of the comments are by people knowledgeable about homeschooling.
Some of them are by people who are interested in education and willing to learn about homeschooling.
Some of them are by people who are doubtful about homeschooling.
Some of the comments I enjoy most are by parents who don’t homeschool but who are supportive of all kids, regardless of the approach to education.
And some of them are by parents who send their kids to school — and who are really, really upset with me for homeschooling. To them, I would like to say —Hey, public school parents who are bothered by homeschooling: I’m not homeschooling at you.
I’m just homeschooling.
The fact that I’m homeschooling:
- Doesn’t mean I think you should be homeschooling.
- Doesn’t mean I think my kids are too good for the school your kids attend.
- Doesn’t mean that my kids have never been to school or won’t go to school in the future.
- Doesn’t mean I think my kids are better than your kids.
- Doesn’t mean I am judging your parenting.
- Doesn’t mean I am wealthier than you are.
- Doesn’t mean I am poorer than you are.
- Doesn’t mean I am Republican. Or Democrat. Or Libertarian. Or think you should be one of those.
- Doesn’t mean I am a religious nut. Or a hippie earth mother.
- Doesn’t mean I don’t work for pay like you do. Or like you don’t. Whatever.
- Doesn’t mean I am unscientific or think you’re wrong about science.
- Doesn’t mean I am anti-school.
- Doesn’t mean I am anti-government.
- Doesn’t mean I am racist or patriarchal. Or think you are.
Or maybe I am one or two of those things in addition to being a homeschooling parent.
But really, when you find out I’m homeschooling, you’ve learned only one thing about me. That’s just like if I just know your kids go to school, I know only one thing about you, too.
I don’t know your religion or politics or income or your thoughts on evolution.
Think about it — are there a whole bunch of things you can know are always true about people just because their kids go to school?
The things you think you can know about me, a homeschooling parent — if you stereotype homeschoolers as all having the same demographics, beliefs, and political positions — may lead you to believe I’m homeschooling from a sense of superiority — like my kids are more special than your kids.
Nope. Just doing what works for my family, because I believe children raised in families that function as best they can are better able to take care of themselves and give back to their communities.
Aren’t you doing that too? Doing what you think will work best for your family?
I knew it!
We have a lot in common then — even though our kids are learning through two different — equally legal and credible — approaches to education.
I promise I won’t think you’re sending your kids to school to prove anything to me, if you’ll promise not to think I’m homeschooling at you.
Now — some of you seem particularly upset with me when you perceive homeschoolers are straying from your script for them — for example, when someone points out that in most states in the U.S., school kids and homeschooled kids play sports together on their community’s high school teams, or when someone points out that homeschooled kids and school kids take some classes together through part-time enrollment at many schools, or when someone points out that many homeschooled kids do attend school at some time during their K-12 years. You also don’t really like it when someone points out that some teachers homeschool their own kids, or that some homeschooling families have some of their kids in school while others are learning at home.
You’re more comfortable seeing all homeschoolers as having “turned their backs on schools,” as all separatists from society. You’ve heard this, and you’ve ascribed it to all homeschoolers, and you don’t really want that belief challenged.
Maybe that’s because it’s worrisome to think about sharing resources with kids whose families are approaching education differently. You may not have thought this all the way through: you’re sure that homeschoolers are not well-socialized and have denigrated schools, but you’re the one insisting that homeschoolers be kept out.
Does anything strike you as odd about that?
If this is not how you feel about homeschooling families, then my writing here is not addressed to you. I have the good fortune to meet so many people like you who are respectful about our approach to education. And if you’re a homeschooling parent who is more on the “let’s-be-separate-from-school” spectrum, I get that you are a part of the homeschooling demographic too.
Our choice of how to educate our kids is just one thing parents may have in common or we may differ on.
If we differ on how we educate our children — even if we’re both homeschooling but have different approaches — and if that has upset you in the past, I hope you’ll take a moment to reconsider — because, you know, I’m not homeschooling at you.