Heidi Harlow’s Outstanding Letter To The Editor
Homeschooling: The kids are alright
by Heidi Harlow
In her Feb. 8 commentary on homeschooling Margaret Boyce [urged] people to contact their representatives and "see if better protection for children can be passed." Ms. Boyce further [asserted] that "most states do monitor these families and also supervise the curriculum and test students periodically."
An honest review of the facts, however, leads to the conclusion that government regulation of homeschool educators would be a waste of taxpayer money.
Fact: Currently, there are only 16 states that supervise homeschool curriculum, make home visits, and periodically test homeschool students.
Fact: Homeschool students outscore public school students by 30 to 37 percentile points on standard achievement test scores.
Fact: Many homeschool educators regularly test their students at their own expense.
Fact: Studies reveal no difference in test scores regardless of the varying amounts of state regulation.
Fact: Research from individual state education departments (Tennessee, Alaska, Oregon, North Carolina, Arkansas, Arizona, Nebraska) show similar findings (see www.hslda.org).
Fact: Michigan legislators are already burdened with state budget woes and public school needs and demands.
Ms. Boyce considers it a shame that homeschooled students are not able to participate in drama, debate, athletics and more. She is evidently unaware that opportunities abound for homeschoolers in music, debate, performing arts, athletics, science classes, chess tournaments, dance, geography, spelling bees and more. Because of the nature of homeschooling, children growing up in this type of setting have incredible opportunities for personal as well as academic achievements.
Finally, the link that Ms. Boyce alleges between homeschooling and child abuse is highly offensive. Child abuse is horrible. Having worked with a California county's sexual abuse team as a young adult, I am all too familiar with the horrific nature of these crimes. But to single out one homeschooled child who has been abused, while glossing over the thousands of children in the public school system who are in the same situation is completely unbalanced logic. Generally, homeschooled children have doctors and teachers (Sunday school, music, etc.) who care about them and would notice if something were terribly wrong.
She ends her commentary stating that "all children deserve an opportunity in a safe environment with their own peers," insinuating that this is typical of public schools. Ms. Boyce, who are you kidding?
Homeschooling is not the best choice for every family, as it takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and self-sacrifice. For the benefit of those who choose public education, Ms. Boyce should spend her time, energy and taxpayer money making the public system an institution of excellence.
reprinted from Holland Sentinel, Saturday, March 5, 2005
(Mrs. Harlow is a mother of six who homeschools five of her children with Covenant Home Curriculum. They have been with Covenant Home since 1995.)