I'm feeling a tetch fractious right now, and you know me -- I feel better once I've let off some steam. Here we go with the steam-letting.
The voucher referendum didn't go through. As a home schooler, that doesn't affect me directly, although I was hoping it would open up the floor to the idea of home schoolers getting a tax break on school supplies, which they don't right now. What's driving me nuts is the way that those opposed to vouchers are now cheering, some of them even vocalizing their glee that this puts more of a pinch on the home schools. Now, home schools weren't involved in this at all -- but I guess they, like me, could see that eventually there would be a connection.
It's not the fact that the vouchers didn't go through that has my knickers in a knot. It's the way these people are talking about home schooling.
Now, I will admit that there are some really bad home schoolers out there. I've even heard tell of families who keep their older children home to tend the younger ones, under the guise of home schooling. Those families are in the minority.
One blog I read today had a really dumb comment. "Referendum 1 didn't pass, just like most home schoolers." I don't know where he got this information. Home schooled children don't have a hard time passing. They get into colleges just like public schooled children. They get masters degrees and head out into the world to become doctors and lawyers and other contributing members of society. Some of them even grow up to be LDS historical fiction authors. Yes, I was home schooled my entire life.
I'm not saying that everyone should home school. I completely understand that there are families and children who do better in a public school environment. I would just appreciate it if others would be more lenient in their opinion of me and my fellow home schoolers. When it's done right, home schooling is a marvelous thing. The children thrive. They develop closer relationships with their parents and other siblings. They are not socially inept, contrary to popular belief, and those that are probably would be in a public school setting, too. I mean, there are nerds and dweebs all over the place -- you can't confine them to just one demographic.
I home school my children because I believe that for us, it's the right thing to do. I enjoy doing it. It's natural to me because of how I received my schooling. I don't run around lambasting people for sending their children to public school, and it frustrates me that there are those who run around lambasting home school, especially when they don't have all their facts straight. Home schoolers do excel academically. They aren't just existing, drifting along in the river of life.
I found some quotes today that I think help prove I'm not totally insane:
In many places it is literally not safe physically for youngsters to go to school. And in many schools-and it's becoming almost generally true-it is spiritually unsafe to attend public schools. Look back over the history of education to the turn of the century and the beginning of the educational philosophies . . . which have led us now into a circumstance where our schools are producing the problems that we face.
President Boyd K. Packer, BYU, Oct. 9, 1996
The duty of the mother is to watch over her children, and give them their early education, for impressions received in infancy are lasting. You know, yourselves, by experience, that the impressions you have received in the dawn of your mortal existence, bear, to this day, with the greatest weight upon your mind. It is the experience of people generally, that what they imbibe from their mothers in infancy, is the most lasting upon the mind through life... Children have all confidence in their mothers; and if mothers would take proper pains, they can instill into the hearts of their children what they please. You will, no doubt, recollect reading, in the Book of Mormon, of two thousand young men, who were brought up to believe that, if they put their whole trust in God, and served Him, no power would overcome them. You also recollect reading of them going out to fight, and so bold were they, and so mighty their faith, that it was impossible for their enemies to slay them. This power and faith they obtained through the teachings of their mothers. Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 1:66-70)
There is a spirit working among the Saints to educate their own offspring. If our children will be all we will have for a foundation of glory in eternity, how needful that they be properly trained... There are wolves among us in sheep's clothing ready to lead astray our little ones... Wolves do not devour old sheep when there are any young ones. I have herded sheep long enough to know that. Look after your children. John Taylor (Collected Discourses 2:138.)
We feel that the time has arrived when the proper education of our children should be taken in hand by us as a people. Religious training is practically excluded from the District Schools. The perusal of books that we value as divine records is forbidden. Our children, if left to the training they receive in these schools, will grow up entirely ignorant of these principles of salvation for which the Latter-day Saints have made so many sacrifices. To permit this condition of things to exist among us would be criminal. The desire is universally expressed by all thinking people in the Church that we should have schools where the Bible, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants can be used as text books, and where the principles of our religion may form a part of the teaching of the schools. Wilford Woodruff (Messages of the First Presidency, 3:168)
We have given our public schools a great trust; and have endowed them with tremendous power. Our children are in their keeping during most of the formative years of life. As the schools teach so will the coming generation think and act. The conditions in our land today, good or bad, may well be laid at the doors of our schools, which nourished us in our immaturity with ideals which in our maturity are being translated into action... If the schools shall be powerful factors in building defenses against evil, and in preparing against the enemy, they must face about from traditional views and give undivided attention on the one hand to moral and spiritual training, and on the other to practical education. Such teaching, for that matter, has been the counsel and advice of the Church from the beginning. Never was it needed more than now. John A. Widstoe (CR, October 1940, p.62-65)
We urge families to protect their children in every way possible. We live in a permissive world, but we must make certain that we do not become part of that permissive world... The home is the teaching situation." Spencer W. Kimball (Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 7)
Since public schools are supported by taxation, parents are compelled to finance them. Even though the law may allow them to send their children to private schools, in order to do so they must support two educational systems at once, and this the vast majority of them feel themselves unable to do. Since the law compels them to go to some school, the net effect of all this is to force nearly all children into the public system. Therefore, those who favor socialized education take the position that the state and not the parents should have the responsibility of training children during a certain period of their lives. Nor should it be imagined that the parent can control the education of his child in the public system. When the state hires the teachers, selects the courses and textbooks, and dictates where the child shall attend, it is impossible for individual preferences to be respected regarding these vital matters. (The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, p. 134) H. Verlan Andersen
The Lord holds parents personally accountable for the teaching of their children and if they fail to discharge this duty properly, the sins of the children rest upon the parents (D&C 68:25, 2 Nephi 4:4-6). If parents are to be held accountable, then they must be given the right to control what is taught to their children and who teaches them. Both of these rights are denied under the typical laws providing for public schools. (The Book of Mormon and the Constitution, p. 185) H. Verlan Andersen
The tenth plank in Karl Marx's Manifesto for destroying our kind of civilization advocated the establishment of "free education for all children in public schools." There were several reasons why Marx wanted government to run the schools. Dr. A. A. Hodge pointed out one of them when he said, "It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists or agnostics may be. It is self-evident that on this scheme, if it is consistently and persistently carried out in all parts of the country, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and widespread instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen." Ezra Taft Benson (in Conference Report, October 1970, p. 25)
I love the idea of religious and secular education going hand in hand, and that's what I try to accomplish with our home school. I firmly believe that a secular education does you no good if you aren't educated spiritually, just as I believe that reading is absolutely essential to everything else you do. Our home school is a religious institution first and foremost. We add math, reading, and everything else on top of the religion. There is no other school organization that will provide that kind of concentration on the religious aspect of the education. I want my children to have the freedom to ask religious questions at any time of the day or night, and not have to save them for when they get home from school. I want to incorporate principles of the creation in to our science lessons so we can express appreciation for God's hand as we examine the rocks He formed and the oceans He gave us. It is entirely possible and appropriate to study science and religion at the same time. God is the author of science.
I'm sorry that those who oppose home school have had such rotten experiences with it. I'm sorry that they feel the need to so vehemently oppose it. I, for one, have had marvelous experiences in my own school career and am enjoying them with my children. I have no doubt that they'll grow up to be well-adjusted, well-read, well-educated adults who will make a positive impact on this world.