SONNY SCOTT: Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort


SONNY SCOTT: Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort
6/8/2008 9:39:01 AM
Daily Journal

You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.

It’s a big family by today’s standards – “just like stair steps,” as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.

There’s no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.

You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion. When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools, but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.

Home schooling parents are usually better educated than the norm, and are more likely to attend worship services. Their motives are many and varied. Some fear contagion from the anti-clericalism, coarse speech, suggestive behavior and hedonistic values that characterize secular schools. Others are concerned for their children’s safety. Some want their children to be challenged beyond the minimal competencies of the public schools. Concern for a theistic world view largely permeates the movement.

Indications are that home schooling is working well for the kids, and the parents are pleased with their choice, but the practice is coming under increasing suspicion, and even official attack, as in California.

Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?

Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the home schooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar’s be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return.

Just as the jealous Chaldeans schemed to bring the wrath of the king upon the Hebrew eunuchs, we are happy to sic the state’s bureaucrats on these “trouble makers.” Their implicit rejection of America’s most venerated idol, Materialism, (a.k.a. “Individualism”)

spurs us to heat the furnace and feed the lions.

Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. “A family just can’t make it on one income.” (Our parents did.) “It just costs so much to raise a child nowadays.” (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing, pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of a house on the daughter’s wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made. We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers. We compensate by getting a boat to take them to the river, a van to carry them to Little League, a 2,800-square-foot house, an ATV, a zero-turn Cub Cadet, and a fund to finance a brand-name college education. And most significantly, we claim “our right” to pursue a career for our own

Deep down, however, we know that our generation has eaten its seed corn. We lack the discipline and the vision to deny ourselves in the hope of something enduring and worthy for our posterity. We are tired from working extra jobs, and the looming depression threatens our 401k’s. Credit cards are nearly maxed, and it costs a $100 to fuel the Suburban. Now the kid is raising hell again, demanding the latest Play Station as his price for doing his school work . and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow. Wouldn’t you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?

Is it any wonder we hate her so?

Sonny Scott a community columnist, lives on Sparta Road in Chickasaw County and his e-mail address is
Appeared originally in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 6/8/2008


7 thoughts on “SONNY SCOTT: Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort

  1. LOL, apparently you have not met me and my homeschoolers. My darling homeschooled daughter had a fit in the store the other day because I informed her that we were not buying string cheese. And my sweet homeschooled son has been known to ask very loudly over and over again for candy in the checkout line.

    I will say that we are less stressed out in general than most of the people we encounter, but that low stress level does entail some sacrifice and a lot of patience. Some days it would be blissful to send the kids off for 6 hours so I could bask in the company of other adults in a child-free environment, but I certainly wouldn’t want to do it every day!

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  3. Wow! Although I know some homeschool families that are very similar to the one you described, those aren’t the only ones there are. Our children are well behaved but they do have their faults.

    I do believe that those who object to homeschooling do so because they feel threatened, judged and/or rejected. I’m sorry that they feel this way. Many times the reasons we choose to homeschool have nothing to do with others but only reflect the goals we want for our own children.

    I just wish those who object to homeschooling would see our decision as neither “right or wrong” but simply different…similar to choose public or private school.

  4. Hmmm. I know a lot of homeschool families, and they do not really fit this calm, perfect description. They seem to have as many ups and downs as my own, non-homeschooled, two-parent low income family. More power to them, though- I don’t think I’d have the patience to stay home all day teaching my children. And there are many things you have to give up to choose this life-style: not only the income of the parent who would have to stay home (which, by the way, I believe is absolutely necessary for some, even those who don’t buy designer clothing and high-tech game systems).

  5. I know a lot of homeschool families, and mine used to be one. Many of my classmates at my alma mater were former homeschoolers as well. Generally, though not always, you could tell the difference. While many homeschool families don’t fit this description — which I will point out was obviously whitewashed for the sake of argument, just as the comparison non-homeschool family was similarly painted with a broad brush — the fact is that MOST of the families I know do fit this.

    My best friend is the second-oldest of nine, and his family used to be the most well-behaved homeschool family I’d ever met. They weren’t drones yet they did their chores and watched the young ones and were all scary-smart; the scary part wasn’t the fact that they were smart, but that all of them excelled, which I wasn’t used to in my own family which had to deal with more inappropriate influences. (For instance, my sister’s swim team, which encouraged her to act like a ditz in order to fit in.)

    The family I board with now is also a homeschooling family, and while they are not the picture of well-behaved kids they DO listen and learn very quickly. The youngest children will throw temper-tantrums like “normal” kids and the older ones (the eldest being fourteen) will neglect their chores until someone breathes down their neck; but they could be that family in the supermarket when they go out.

    Now, if a voucher system were in place to support homeschool, even by only partially reimbursing the taxes used for the public school system, I suspect that the whole financial argument would be null and void. Of course, that’s asking the government to part with your well-earned money, which isn’t likely to happen.

  6. I love this article. It’s irrelevant whether all homeschooled families are that well behaved. I am grateful to Sonny Scott for this article. Even the title of this article says a great deal. It puts in words what I knew but did not know how to articulate.

  7. Entertaining site. My co-workers and I were just discussing this the other day. Also your blog looks great on my old palm treo. Now thats uncommon. Nice work.

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