Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blame the Innocent

In response to the proposal to register and annually test Idaho homeschoolers, a friend sent the following email to Rep. Boe of Idaho:

I am a small town family doctor, and I would like to know what empirical evidence the legislature has that current home school students in any given Idaho county are, on the average, less well educated, less civically engaged, or are falling behind their public school peers in any measurable denominator of achievement or well being. If they fare as well, then leave the system alone; it isn't broke and it needs no fixing. If homeschoolers are doing better overall, then focus on your attention changing the problematic public schools, not on harassing an alternative that is working better. If you don't have the data to answer the question, then look elsewhere for a new way to expand state power and leave us and our kids alone.

He also sent this to our local state representative, Mary Lou Shephard, and received the following reply:

Thank you for your message. I have been told by the bill's sponsor that it is not a bill yet, and may not become one. However I believe I know some of the factors that cause this to be discussed. I have district two of which you are aware. There are places throughout this district where parents say they are homeschooling, and indeed are letting the children just run wild, or use as a baby sitter. They are just not interested in education at all. Most homeschoolers do a magnificent job, however. You may wish to write Rep. Donna Boes with your concerns as she is the one who will introduce this if it is done at all. Thank you, and the best of luck. --Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd

Okay, so here's the deal: Idaho has thousands of homeschoolers (I'm trying to get the exact number). You get a few bad eggs, may twenty or thirty families in the entire state. So you will punish the thousands of excellent homeschoolers because of the few rotten ones.

Good going. I'd like to try that logic in the public schools, where you have a fifty percent failure rate in some places.


  1. You've just got to pull the good down to the level of the mediocre. That's the only way you can achieve equality...right? (tongue FIRMLY in cheek)

  2. So why isn't Rep Shepherd doing something about her own District 2, where the problem is being observed. Doesn't sound like she is serving her district very well.

  3. Everyone "knows of" some family that "claims" to be homeschooling but "just lets their kids go wild." I hear it all the time (we home school our children).

    But, when asked to identify the specific family, nine times out of ten, the speaker cannot. It's, "my cousin's barber's next door neighbors," or something like it.

    I often wonder if those stories are invented by pro-institutional education and circulated to unknowing pansies, like the urban legends that periodically appear in my in box.