Friday, March 21, 2008

California Outlaws Home Schooling: Yes, I'm Biased

California is 'saving the children' from parents who care enough about their education to home school their kids.

That's apparently why the Sunshine State now demands that parents who home school their children have official, government-certified, teaching degrees.

I have a teaching degree, and I'm not impressed.

"Teaching Degree" - Good Vibes, Dubious Value

Getting a teaching degree means that you've sat through at least four years' of college classes (not the worst way to spend your time), and gotten official indoctrination in what to call what groups - and how important it is to be politically correct.

That was my experience, and I've read nothing since to make me think that the situation has changed.

Save the Children From Home Schooling Brutes!

Advocates of the California restriction on home schooling parents say that it's to protect the children - according to a broadcast news interview. Sorry, no link available.

Fair enough. I don't doubt that there's a child who's been "hurt" by home schooling.

That doesn't necessarily mean that home schooling as a whole is dangerous. Any more than the public schools are dangerous.
Public Schools: a Good System, Apart From the Occasional Shooting?
That may not be the best comparison. It's been a few months since the last major event, but public schools don't have an exactly perfect record. Anyone remember Columbine? Heritage? Red Lake? (Virginia Tech doesn't count: that was a post-secondary shootathon.)

To stave off criticism that 'it's not the same thing,' I'll agree: people who have been turning public schools into shooting galleries are victims of bullies, victims of racism, victims of something else. (According to the news, public school administrators, and teachers' unions, certainly not victims of public education.)
Many Home Schoolers Walk Erect and Use Tools
I understand the concerns of those who pushed California's 'home schoolers must be college graduates with official teaching degrees' law through.

They 'know' what home schoolers are like:
  • Poor
  • Uneducated
  • Ignorant, superstitious, and religious
    (some people see these as symptoms of a single syndrome)
  • Afraid of science and knowledge
  • Trying to keep their children away from evolution, atheism, and fluoride
  • Gun owners
  • Dangerous
I don't doubt that there are home schoolers like that.

But I don't know any.

Official Numbers, Real Numbers

And, according to official Minnesota statistics from a few years back, my wife and I knew just about every home schooling parent in Minnesota. If you believe the official numbers, that is: which means that all Minnesota home schoolers live within a few miles of Sauk Centre!

I'm inclined to doubt those statistics. Particularly since, when I went to a home schoolers' convention in the Twin Cities, I met many more home schoolers, from all over the state.

Home Schooling and My Family

And yes, my wife and I home school our kids. Starting with the oldest, we've given each the choice of whether to go to seventh grade in the public school, or get home schooled.

They've opted out of the public school system.

Not because we're easy on them. They get assignments, tests, all the rest that public school students get. What's different is that they don't sit at a desk in one room for about fifty minutes, rush to another room to sit for another fifty minutes, and try to focus on what the teacher is saying, while tuning out what their classmates are doing.

I don't think we're abusing our kids, and I seriously doubt that California home schoolers are, either.

California Ban on Home Schooling: What's the Motive?

Besides: doesn't California already have laws against parents starving, beating, burning, shooting, or otherwise assaulting their kids? Minnesota does.

In a way, I don't blame California's state government for passing a law that effectively restricts home schooling to a minority of people who can afford the expense of a college degree (or second degree), and have the leisure to pursue that degree.

My guess is that home schooling has been draining the best and brightest kids out of the public school system, in numbers that threaten funding. Remember: public schools get government funding on the basis of how many warm bodies they collect each school day.
Related posts in other blogs: For further reading:
"Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers" 228 pages, 1991, Rita Kramer (available at
(Kramer found: "... A politicized and homogenized agenda is followed by prospective teachers, whose own educational backgrounds may be sparse. Kramer's tough-minded, much-needed critique is accompanied by constructive suggestions that offer grounds for optimism." - Publisher's Weekly review. That was 1991. Almost 2 decades later, it doesn't seem that much has changed.)


Brigid said...

I'd heard about that. I was kinda hoping it was a sick joke.

Especially since the superintendent of the local school tried to make you present an *in state* teaching license, even though it wasn't required by the state of Minnesota.


Henry Cate said...

"Getting a teaching degree means that you've sat through at least four years' of college classes (not the worst way to spend your time), and gotten official indoctrination in what to call what groups - and how important it is to be politically correct."

Rita Kramer writes about this problem in "Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers"

"That was my experience, and I've read nothing since to make me think that the situation has changed."

If anything I think things have gotten worse.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Henry Cate,

Thanks for the heads-up. I'll look that up.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...


No joke. Happily, this family isn't quite as awed by authority figures as some. And, we know how to find out what's legal, and what's not.

I'm afraid that I've seen posts that say 'they can't really mean that,' 'that decision can't stand,' and related versions of "it can't happen here." Happily, people aren't as limited now, in ways to get facts and make themselves heard. I hope, with some reason, that we're not looking at another "Dred Scott" situation.

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