Letters to the Editor

Parents of homeschool students protest coverage, call it biased

The Mirror welcomes readers’ comments on its news coverage and editorial opinions and policies.

From Jean Ward of Bonney Lake:

I’d like to respond to the one-sided article (Oct. 30, “Home Alone”) and shed light on homeschooling under state law RCW 28A.225.

Public school districts, in calling their alternative education programs (AEPs) “homeschool,” or otherwise such as Federal Way’s Internet Academy, are disingenuous in luring parents who likely aren’t aware of “independent” home instruction under state law.

While AEP students remain in and are regulated by public schools, including mandatory participation in state tests/assessments (ITBS, DRP, WASL, etc.), homeschoolers are tested annually by a standardized test such as the Stanford 9 (rarely the WASL) or evaluated by a certificated teacher. Homeschooled students consistently score in the upper percentiles on these tests. Consider the low child-to-educator ratio homeschoolers enjoy compared to considerably higher ratios in AEPs and mainstream public schools, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why these children outperform their public school peers.

Homeschoolers are consistently high performers in spelling and geography bees, and employers love teen homeschool students because of the work ethic, maturity and reliability they bring with them to their jobs.

Many disgusted parents are pulling their children out of public schools due to a lack of emphasis on academic subjects. Public education is loaded with dumbed-down, touchy-feely, revisionist curricula and social programs that pry into the private lives of students and their families, attempting to impose values, attitudes and belief systems contrary to their own and, in fact, out of step with mainstream America.

When you do adequate research into homeschooling parents, you will find them to be deeply involved in their children’s education and accountable for it. The real bottom line is that schools are desperate to retain the approximate $4,700 per student in education funds that they lose for each child who homeschools under state law. Follow the money!

From Kathy Hall of Everett:

The article “Home Alone” seems to take a perspective that homeschooling parents intend to harm their children. It implies that homeschooling parents wish to deceive the public and keep their children uneducated. Hopefully, and logically, parents are seeking to give their children far more than any unrelated individual (including teachers) ever would or could.

Perhaps you should write a few additional articles before making such false statements. She could write an article on the so-called outstanding job the public school is doing on educating and socializing children, and about the test scores publicly educated children receive and homeschooled children receive. Perhaps she could research the state and federal rights of homeschoolers and compare them to the violations the school districts are committing.

We are in the eighth year of homeschooling our daughter. Our reasons are simple: God said to raise your child up in the way he/she should go. That is difficult if she spends more than half of her waking day with other people.

Her test scores show her at or above her grade level. If you check the statistics of the graduating seniors, you will find that most graduate with no more than a ninth-grade reading level. My daughter’s reading level is 10th grade, and she is in seventh grade.

Many homeschool parents fault the public school as their reasons for homeschooling: violence, poorly educated teachers, a frustrating school system, and curriculum that abhors even the non-Christian. Some pull their children out to prevent violation of their principles, values or religious practices, such as teen Arabic boys and girls interacting closely is not prevented.

I hope that homeschool parents have their children’s best interest at heart and seek help if they find homeschooling getting too difficult for them to handle. You must realize that the best teachers in the public school system learn right along with the children. Only after teaching for many years do they have a mastery of any subject. College teaches you how to teach, not the subjects in detail. College gives suggestions and resources to utilize. The teachers must study the course they are teaching. In homeschooling, the parent must learn with the children, studying the subject as they teach it.

The biggest difference between public and home schooling is the amount of time the teacher has with each student. The public school teacher has numerous students and gives as much attention as is possible; the parent-teacher has one to 10 students (an average of three), and they are different ages so she/he starts with one at a time. The parent-teacher, in theory, should be the most effective due to more time and attention given to each student.

One other aspect that is constantly on the chopping block for homeschoolers is socialization. I currently have more activities for my daughter than I can keep up with. She could literally be involved with 20 different activities at the same time. The great thing about the socialization that my daughter gets is that if things get hairy (dangerous, inappropriate, etc.), I can move her to another activity within her social abilities and speed.

I realize it is easy to find someone against homeschooling. Anything that is different from what is considered the norm is a potential hazard, in the mind only. I just want you to realize that as much as you can find against homeschooling, you can find for homeschooling.

Please don’t focus on the negative. You and your sources are not experts in the area.

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