The Miracle That Happens Every Day in My Small Town

October 6th, 2009

I drove to Newton on Saturday for my eldest son’s cross country meet. When his race was over, I left for a long winding drive through the Flint Hills to get home.  I took lots of pictures along the way including several photos of one room school houses. 

I don’t know the story behind this particular school, but from my understanding of American history, whenever a new piece of America got settled by a group of pioneers, one of the first things they did was to build and staff a school. Someone would donate a patch of land for the school and then everyone got together for a school raising. A teacher was found and the school bell was rung to announce that class was in session. I imagine it was a huge relief to the care-worn pioneer parents that their children would learn to read, write and do some figurin’ with perhaps a bit of history and geography thrown in. Schools survived based on the cooperation of a community of people coming together and agreeing that in spite of any personal differences they might have, the education of their youngsters was for the greater good. It was a noble and beautiful example of people – all different kinds of people - working together to improve the lives of their children.

Fast forward to the present. We still have community schools. It’s all a bit more complicated than the one room school house of the past, but local people still elect a board to represent them and many decisions are still made on the local level. Community public schools still ring bells to call class to order and schools continue to only be as good as the local community demands.

I live in a small town and our entire community rotates around our local schools. Everything from ball games to the science fair to carnival to homecoming to band concerts to the state cross country meet to debate tournaments to FFA to the Spring musical – just about everything that happens around here – happens at our local schools. Even people that don’t have any kids, volunteer to help or show up to watch these events because it is fun and because there’s just not much else to do.

I suppose that is the beauty of life in a small town, but all schools create community. The interesting thing about the community that springs up around a public school is that the members of the community are not all the same. This is where public school trumps homeschooling every single time.  Because any community that springs up around homeschoolers is going to be comprised of the same kind of people… the same religion, the same beliefs, the same paranoia and unfounded fears, the same martyrdom complexes, and the same deep seeded control issues – they are all the same. HOWEVER – the community around a public school and especially a public school in a small town where there is no nearby private school is going to be comprised of people that are vastly different from each other. Poor kids, rich kids, smart kids, kids that struggle academically, gifted athletes, punks, funny kids, goofy kids, wild kids, lost kids, kids with sunny home lives and kids whose parents are alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers, or not around at all. You have kids from all races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. If ever there was a ticking time bomb for disaster – your typical public school would have to be it.

Except it’s not!  

Because a miracle happens.

Every single day!

Because there are teachers – the front line in this little cauldron of chaos – the people that have to bring order to all of these factors and create a positive environment where all the kids can learn, grow and excel.  So when the teachers and the administrators and the lunch ladies, librarians and janitors can make this happen – it is a miracle.  A true, true, truly true miracle.

There is a miracle happening in my small town every single day. All kinds of kids show up to go to school and dedicated, enthusiastic, energetic, passionate, smart, highly trained teachers teach them and help them to all get along with each other. If only the real world could operate as well as our local public schools.

Of course, the homeschoolers will never stop sending puffs of smoking disdain towards the local public school and it’s humble inhabitants. Along with the fruits of the Holy Spirit and all the Jesus parables, the homeschoolers love to preach the inadequacy and the failings of public education.  It seems like the main subjects of homeschooling curriculum must include math, English, and public school hate. Whenever the homeschooling mom passes the local elementary school in the middle of the day, it is her God given duty to point out to her children, how those wretched kids behind the fence on the playground are in a prison… a federally funded prison… a federally funded, atheistic prison.  A federally funded, atheistic, prison that mommy and daddy are forced to pay for because the evil government makes them!  

Even with these dire warnings, the occasional homeschooled child might find himself strangely stirred by the sight of all those kids bouncing around on the playground.  He might even screw up the courage to ask his mom if he could go to that school someday and play with all those kids.  At this point, it is the homeschooling mom’s duty to reminds her child of the influences… the evil influences from all those ‘public’ kids and how he would learn bad things and evil habits from those kids and that there are demons that live inside the teachers that would strangle him in his sleep and that he won’t be able to read his bible and pray for an hour before cracking open his History according to God lessons and your Jesus and the Twelve Disciples math book.  They don’t even have Jesus and the Twelve Disciples math books at that public school!  

Besides – those poor kids aren’t able to go grocery shopping with their moms in the middle of the day! They can’t take a week off of school when they get restless or when it is a nice day outside!  And those kids will never be able to finish all their lessons by noon so that they can play video games and watch endless re-runs of Little House on the Prairie while their mother bakes whole wheat bread and works on her log cabin quilt!

Every once in a while the public school mom might find herself hypnotized by the messages of absurd paranoia, and smug self righteousness that come roiling off the blogs of the homeschooling moms, but then… right before she pushes the send button to purchase her first order of ‘Sonlight’ curriculum with a free matching set of choreganizers… her own children burst through the door with a thousand permission slips to sign and math homework that has to be done, and a science project that requires her to keep rotting meat on her kitchen counter and a ball game to go to to see all of her child’s classmates work together as a team and there would be a band concert and a spelling bee and a robotics tournament and there would be a play and a parade and a square dance on the tennis courts and she would say to herself… where?  Where is the evil?  Where is the horror?  Where are the demon possessed teachers?  Where is the federally funded atheistic prison?  

And then she would remember the miracle…

The miracle that occurred without any theology, commandments, or showy public prayer and fasting on the street corner…

The miracle of all sorts of different people getting along and working towards a common goal for the sake of their children…

All their children.

Even the ones who believe in a different God or who come from a different country or whose parents are on disability or who are disabled themselves or who can’t pay attention in class or who are off the charts smart, or who can read six grade levels above their class, or who has a mom who just packed her bags and left.  

All their children

The very best of America happens every day at your local public school and the very best people in America work at your local public school.  If your school is not what it should be, then get involved and work to make it better. This is a far braver choice with a much greater impact on the world than homeschooling will ever have. 

While the homeschoolers are just taking care of their own kids, the public schools are taking care of everybody’s kids.

Hmmmmmmmmm…

I wonder which scenario really gets you closer to God.

Comments

  • Spinoff:

    You are the bravest woman I know. I’m proud of you.

  • Whoah! Glad I’m not going to be sitting in on your next family get together with April! Yikes.

    And, honestly, none of my friends who homeschool act that righteous about it. They all consider it a calling, and have never doubted my calling to have my children learn to be “in the world but not of it.”

    Maybe we know radically different homeschoolers…

  • Ouch! This homeschooling mom sure didn’t enjoy your ugly portrayal of homeschooling VS. public education. Isn’t there room for both, and don’t BOTH bless childrens’ lives. Thank heaven for wonderful teachers… whether they be in the public schools or in the home! I would never generalize ALL public education into a huge lump… nor would I homeschools. This blog entry would have been so sweet without the venom.

  • Nancy:

    You hit the nail right on the head! I’ve never heard it put better.
    Thank you!

  • Corrine:

    Let me preface this by saying that I know that some families homeschool because they may live very far from a school (ie. Pioneer Woman), but let me tell you how relieved I was to read this about those kind of people that have such attitudes about public schools. I used to be a public school teacher and now stay home with my two kids. My oldest will be entering Kindergarten next year, and I am on the fence about private vs. public. Homeschooling has never been a serious consideration for us because I, too, have seen many people have the attitude you described here about public schools…when I taught and especially now that I stay home and run into many of the homeschooled families. I am fortunate to live in an area to comfortably send my children to our local public school and know that they really will receive a wonderful education. However, I have also taught in many public schools that have a huge difference in socioeconomic statuses. Either way, it really is what you make it, whether you are a school employee, parent, or community volunteer. I’m also comfortable knowing that my children will be growing up in a snippet of what our society really is like under my supervision. Remember, they will be going to college one day and actually getting out in the real world without their parents’ supervision. I have no doubt that they will be able to handle all kinds of people, as well as all different kinds of situations just fine as adults. I’m also very confident that my children will not grow up listening to their parents complain about this and that when it comes to public schools and being judgmental towards others.Thank you for posting this; it’s made me feel like I really am doing the right thing without complaining and doing nothing about it.

  • I gotta say I’m not fond of the portrayal of homeschooling here, either. I’m a secular homeschooler with a daughter who is NOT homeschooled. Both in one household – imagine that! We follow my daughter’s school calendar, so we do NOT get to take days off whenever we want, and my son is in Cub Scouts through – you guessed it – a school. I’d happily put him back INTO a school if he wasn’t failing there, but he was, and why should I watch him fail? I have several teachers who agree that he would just be shuttled to the bottom of the system no matter how much I helped at home. I was raised in a public school and had always planned to send my kids to one. I’ve got no issues with them and think that being a teacher is one of the best callings that anyone can have. My daughter wants to BE a teacher, and I’m encouraging that. But apparently because I homeschool, that doesn’t make me part of my community. Hm. Guess I need to rethink reading this site.

  • Yuck.

  • So it’s your blog and you can rant if you want to. That’s blogging law imho. Choose your subject and go for it.

    But, seriously, Rechelle, whenever you do one of your homeschooling rants I try to figure out how much is your attempt at satire and how much is some kinda deep-seated …hate to use the word “hate”…how about “disgust.” And where the heck is it coming from? And since you are well aware of how very many of your readers are homeschoolers are you deliberately trying to make them disgusted so that they don’t return and you can safely preach to the choir? Because you seem to be succeeding. Most days you are so welcoming…other times, not.

    Just wondering…

  • Laura Stultz:

    Yikes is all I can say. I am not sure this post goes along with the other stuff I’ve read on your blog. I am a homeschooler, but to each his own. I do feel like we support our schools, we pay for them without using them.

  • RJM:

    Are you serious? You seem to have very limited ‘knowledge’ of the wide spectrum of homeschooler characteristics.

  • Laurie:

    Duck Rechelle, duck!!!

  • Martha B:

    Wow about your homeschooling thoughts.

    I would love to know more about what why homeschooling weighs so heavily on you. Part of me says…..God has told you to homeschool and you are kicking and fighting His call. But that might not be the case.

    I went to the same school as your sons from Kindergarten behind the yellow door to walking across the stage in the gym with my diploma in 12th grade. They will get a good education there. If your schedule allows it, volunteer in their classes and be involved in everyway you can. They will not be corrupted if you and your husband continue to be involved parents.

    Some kids don’t thrive in a classroom of 26 other kids. They learn in their own way and their own time frame, but not in the blocks of time around preparing for the state tests in April and May. And homeschooling isnt’ just for Christians. There are Pagan homeschool groups as well.

    And by the way….what’s the crack about making log cabin quilts :) nowadays we young mothers quilt while the kids are in public school.

  • Nichole:

    Wow! When I went to teacher’s college for a while, myself (a private school alumnus) and the home schooled people in my classes were treated abominably by the professors. I wish I could remember their names – I would definitely put you in touch with them. You would get along great. You know what’s going to happen don’t you? Each of your lovely boys is going to bring home a bride someday who either didn’t go to public school or is determined not to send your grandchildren to public school. And I hope by then you will have learned to swallow your bile.

  • CilleyGirl:

    Well, I was going to comment but some people are obviously touchy about religion (isn’t it, only God will judge? I lean towards the pagan myself, but I think that’s how it goes) so I’ll just say this: I enjoyed your post, Rechelle. Your thoughts and opinions are worth hearing :)

  • jdw:

    I LOVE what you have written. I’ve been a neighbor too many times to families that homeschool. The righteous attitude that I always felt coming from them is what made me lump all homeschoolers into one group. I also don’t understand why it is that just being a parent makes some believe that they can also be a teacher. Example- my neighbor that choose homeschooling once asked me where my ancestors came from, wanting to know about my coloring, I replied that we came from Austria. She asked me if that was like “being from Australia?” yeah, nice teacher there. While homeschooling is much more common than when I was in school- I will be very interested to see how many children that have been homeschooled will chose to homeschool their own children.

    Thank you for not being afraid to express beliefs that many of us have.

  • Wow. That was tough and mean. It’s your blog, though, and you can rant and bash if you want. None of us have to click in. I’m kind of thinkin’ that if we homeschool, you’d rather us not click in….

  • You said what I think. I went to public school and wouldn’t change a thing. The wonders of diversity are what makes this world go round.

  • Whoa. I don’t have any kids or anyone whose schooling for which I’m responsible. However even I, the non-parental solely-an-auntie person that I am, could hear the sneer whenever you wrote the word homeschool. I honestly don’t have an opinion one way or the other which method is better as far as educating a child but it seems to me an individual decision. Public education might be great for one kid but then homeschooling is better for another. I love your blog and have been reading for awhile but this appears intolerant of all homeschoolers, no matter what they’re like. Maybe it’s naive of me, but I can’t imagine that every single homeschooler in the world acts as sanctimoniously as you portray them here. Maybe there was satire in this post but based on stuff I’ve read from you on this subject in the past, it seems doubtful. Not that my opinion on this really matters because after all it’s your blog to write whatever you want and plus I have zero knowledge on the matter but the hateful tone in this entry just bothered me a bit.

  • Patti:

    It’s a free country. You are entitled to your opinion, and to send your kids wherever you like to school.

    So am I.

    Lighten up!!!!

  • Peggy:

    You go Girl!

  • Hallie:

    Public schools are the core of democracy in America. It’s in public schools where we learn to understand and respect others, where we compete with other students and learn our strengths and weaknesses, and where we enjoy the company of our peers.

    What home-schoolers don’t learn is troubling. Those I’ve known have been lonely victims of their parents’ fanaticism.

    Thanks for your support of public schools.

  • 3kidmama:

    Wow – why so nasty?

    You are coming across just a holier-than-thou about your family’s educational choices as you claim all homeschoolers are about theirs.

    Shouldn’t we all just be thankful we live in a country where parents still get to decide what is best for their own family and leave it at that?

    I truly don’t understand your anger when you choose to address this topic. Isn’t it possible to write about your special local public school and it’s benefit to your community without bashing those who may have chosen differently?

    Your blog, and of course you can write whatever you wish. Why choose to go so far out of your way to deliberately offend your homeschooling readers?

    • Oh my goodness – do you realize 3 kid mama – how much homeschooling diatribe I have read over the past years around the blogosphere? How many times I have heard homeschoolers saying that they are making this choice to ‘protect their kids from the bad influences of the other kids at school’. How many times I have read on homeschooling blogs that ‘public education is a a terrible choice to make for your kids?’ How many times I have heard homeschoolers talk about ‘conformity’ and ‘public school clones’ and even using the term’ ‘public schooler’ to mean an ‘out of control kid’. Every third blog is a homeschooling blog dedicated to showing everyone just how superior this choice is and I do not agree. I think homeschooling is fraught with problems and I think homeschoolers are dishonest about themselves and what they are really trying to accomplish (at least in public forums that everyone can access). I’m tired of pretending to accept it. I don’t think homeschooling is a valid choice for anyone. But it sure is a good way for a mom to feel smug and superior and holier than her public schooling neighbor. And it sure is a good way for women to empower themselves by controlling their children’s every move. If homeschooling is such a great thing, why doesn’t it happen throughout the world? Why has it only risen to prominence in the past thirty years? What is really going on here? Why the sudden surge in radical right Christian paranoia? Why can’t the far right get along with the general public anymore? There is a lot more to this issue than just educating your kids at home. I think that the more that public schools accept and support kids who struggle, kids with disabilities, kids who come from difficult home lives, – the more that the far right Christians leave the public schools in gigantic droves. Why should their precious babies have to share the teacher’s time with the poor kids and the kids that are behind and the kids that need a full time para. Which is just so odd if you look at what Christianity is really all about. I struggle far less with folks who are not motivated by religion to homeschool than I do with Christian homeschoolers because it just doesn’t make any sense.

  • Anoria:

    Heehee. Thank you as always for another post taking a legitimate complaint a little bit farther towards its logical conclusion than most people appreciate. I understand all the hurt feelings in the comments – it’s sometimes hard to have a sense of humor about something that’s close to your heart – but I do feel they’re not seeing the true spirit of this blog entry.
    (For those thinking I must be a public schol kid and therefore don’t understand – my two elder brothers were homeschooled for about a third of their k12 years, they attended a private school for a couple until we couldn’t pay for it, and then they suffered through public the rest of the time. I went all 12 years [no my math's not wrong, long story] in the same public school district. I think my parents made the best decision in all three cases. Whether I homeschool my future hypothetica kids depends on the quality and availability of other opportunities.)

    Also, fie on thee, Rechelle, for making me want to be a teacher again. I’m never going to be able to decide what to do with my life :(

  • Melissa:

    Wow, Rechelle. You made me cry. I’m having such a hard time in my first year of teaching and even though I don’t have any of your children in my classroom I feel appreciated for what I do every day. Thanks, I really needed that today.

  • Debra Cripps:

    I enjoyed your essay very much although I do wonder why you blog about homeschooling so often. I never ever considered homeschooling although some family members have. My children had friends who were homeshcooled for a few years and then put in the public school system while the mothers went out to work. It was like going from one extreme to the other, having mom around all the time to hardly ever being around. These children all without exception have had problems during their teen years.

  • Kathy:

    Thank you for your support of public school!

    Public schools do not have the luxury of choosing our students. Just as you say…we get them all. The one whose mother just died. The one whose mother just dragged him to the ex’s house when he threatened suicide. The one who is severely learning disabled. The one who is extraordinarily intelligent. The nice one. The mean one. All of them. And we do our best to love them all and teach them to the best of our abilities.

    I’d say we do a damned fine job!

    And I also catch a hint of “holier than thou” from some homeschooling friends.

    From a teacher.

  • MichelleG:

    She loves us….she loves us not?

  • Kelsie:

    I am not a devout Christian, a mother, a Bible beater, or a homeschooled kid. I went to a public school, followed by a private school. I now teach English at a community college.

    I love reading your blog, but this post made my heart hurt with its vitriol. I teach English/literature to a home schooled girl who is probably one of the most liberal-minded, diverse, intelligent children I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. My home school student’s grasp of writing, literature, and the English language in general is miles ahead of 90% of my college students. Most days, I end up teaching my college students what a complete sentence is or how to tell an adverb from an adjective. Perhaps you have the great fortune of being in a fantastic school district, but here in Kentucky, most of the teachers are of the variety who ascribe to the adage, “Those who can’t, teach.” If I ever have children, they will be home schooled. However, I will continue to teach in the public school system–a commitment solidified by the fact that each semester, several students will inevitably approach and tell me that in all their years of schooling, I’m the only teacher who has ever taught them anything and/or inspired them to become not just “okay” at something, but really good at it.

  • Another Mom:

    JDW – “She asked me if that was like “being from Australia?” And the answer was “yeah, nice teacher there.” Yep sounds pretty righteous there! Way to go on making your point! You know by saying this (or was it thinking) you make it sound like all public educators are God when it comes to knowledge and not human, therefore incapable of making mistakes in this arena.

    Rechelle, I understand your take on homeschool and it’s ok with me that you have your own opinion. We all have a right to come to our own conclusions. However when we, public-schoolers, private-schoolers, and home-schoolers (a form of private education), fail to keep an open mind we do much more damage to the system as a whole. That in itself is a great tragedy and a horrible injustice to all of us as a community.

    My children are home-schooled. I didn’t come to this decision lightly. Like you, I saw good in the public education system and in many ways still do. I didn’t come to my decision based on religious reasons either. For 5 years my oldest two children attended public-school, the great pre-K as well. What made me choose home-school was the attitude and blatant actions of the tax payer paid public-school staff towards myself and others. Their message is that we as parents are the problem, are stupid beyond measure, and are a continual threat to our own children and all children as a whole. Apparently there are many in my community who agree with them and will continue supporting their agenda. If I could opt out of paying anything towards this system, the one in my community, I would. Unfortunately I can’t and it disgusts me. I happen to have discussed this with other moms on both sides of the educating coin and they have been witness to these actions and attitudes as well. So I know for a fact that our school district isn’t the only one. Think just for a minute. These teachers were our teachers. And now we are viewed as stupid parents, who don’t know a hill of beans even if we saw one, and we are a threat to the advancing of our coming global society. Well I for one don’t want to my children to view me or other parents as some dumb monsters. What a horrible message to be sending.

    If your school isn’t sending that message, you are truly blessed. I wouldn’t mind sending my children back to a school like yours. Until then we will continue to home educate!

  • Kelsie:

    P.S.–As for the supposed miracle of the public schools bringing everyone together, let’s talk just a bit about how yesterday afternoon, a teenage girl from down the street came into my next door neighbor’s backyard and attempted to blow up their van (and their house…and our house…) by stuffing a gasoline soaked rag into the gas tank and igniting it. The reason? The teenage girls next door go to school each day and threaten to beat the crap out of the girl who set the fire. Kudos to the public schools for helping to resolve differences and teach everyone the importance of tolerance!

    Obviously, the parents of these girls should be involved in their teaching and/or discipline when it comes to non-violent resolution and/or arson, but they figure it’s the public school’s job to do that work for them.

  • Wow – We chose to home school this year. Not because we are fanatics Hallie, not because we are uneducated jdw – even if my spelling is bad. We chose to homeschool because I enjoy being with my children. I want to be more involved with how and what they learn and not so dependant on the hope that someone else will teach them what is truly important, not just their version of what is important. Your lucky Rechelle to have a great public school – even though I was as involved as possible with our sons class’s, things were STILL less than acceptable. Diversity is a wonderful thing when it includes everyone – and from my experience, in our school district, you can be as diverse as you want as long as you don’t profess Christian ethics. You can be Baha’i, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Wicca, Zoroastrianism, and Druidism. Let us not forget agnostic and atheist…. But when someone speaks what they believe as a Christian, they are labeled as non diverse nor accepting. Simply because they don’t agree? I would totally agree that I have myself seen the people that you are describing, but the way you wrote this Rechelle – would be what they are afraid of. I, in honesty – don’t think you intended to be as rude and insulting as this sounded. I can also say that it hurt my feelings to read that you would consider me one of those people. Diversity is the celebration of differences. Isn’t home schooling and public schooling just another one of those differences that make us unique? As for no longer reading your blog because of this… pa-shaw! I love you and your writing so there. I am not leaving just cuz you think I am a total looser!!! LOL

    Kelsie and another mom … could not agree more. Another mom do you live next to me?

  • Jeanie:

    I am a retired public school teacher and educational diagnostician. Thank you so much for the vote of confidence that you have given to a very underappreciated and overworked segment of dedicated public school employees. I can not tell you the vast number of 12 hour days that I spent in past years on a job that many think is 8:00-4:00 nine months a year. Our thanks comes mainly from knowing that we have made a real difference in the lives of some deserving and needy kids. Whenever I doubted that, I remember a call from a young girl that had moved away from my home school district with her dysfunctional single mother and siblings to a new location several states away. Think no car, no father figure for any of her many siblings with different fathers, and little food on the table on a day to day basis. Imagine how helpless we teachers feel when we get a call from such a student looking for a kind word in their otherwise dismal existance several years after seeing her last. What impact we teachers can have for such students! Knowing her situation, I had shared my telephone # with her during her time in my class in case she ever needed my help. I could not imagine that she had held onto my phone number following such an extended time period. Just because I am the mom to a beautiful daughter did not mean I could not share concern and compassion toward the students I served. I do not mean to pigeon hole home schooling families; however, I do have a neighbor that homeschools her 4 boys and avoids contact with anyone except fellow home schooling familes. She may be a wonderful mother that does an exceptional job of teaching (no idea really regarding her teaching ability), but she exudes an air of superiority in the neighborhood and is extremely selective regarding the individuals that she allows her children to interact with thus promoting the elitist home schooling attitude.
    Is public school perfect-far from it. Do I have ideas of how to improve the quality of public education-way too many ideas to throw out in this limited forum. Given the variety of challenges that face public educators on a daily basis, they do an amazing job. I would ask public school critics to spend a day in the shoes of these unsung heros.

  • Swing away homeschoolers. Swing away. My homeschooling views are all based on personal experiences – I am related to a homeschooler and I have spent more time in the company of homeschoolers than I can really understand since I have never homeschooled myself. As to God telling me to homeschool – I was going to mention that little bit of weirdness in the post too – but I thought it was just TOO ludicrous. Guess not! Gosh it feels good to get this off my chest. I have been kowtowing to a population that read this blog for FAR TOO LONG!

  • Laura:

    So, homeschoolers paint all public educated folks with one big condescending brush, which you condescendingly assert by painting all homeschoolers with one big unpleasant brush. But they are wrong and you are right to do so, because…because…why exactly are they wrong and you right to do so again?

  • Terra:

    Wow – I’ve loved reading this blog because it’s so funny, this post, not so funny. I was home-schooled, in Kentucky, for the exact reasons Kelsie points out. I was home-schooled at a time when Kentucky was rated the 3rd worst in education in the country and my county had the highest rate of teen pregnancies. I home-school my daughter because we live in a crime ridden city, in a bad part of town, in yet another school district that rates so low that around half of the kids are graduating HS without being literate and we aren’t Christian and I’m sure as hell not quilting log cabin quilts. I’m fighting for my child to get the education she deserves – which she won’t get in our public school. I guess those of us who aren’t white and upper middle class living in a nice area with good schools just don’t deserve to have our kids educated properly at home or in public school.

    • Terra – Why could not your parents have worked to make Kentucky schools better for all the kids in your town instead of just making school better for their own kids? Or did Jesus tell them to do that? If public education is rotten in your town – guess what? You can make it better!

  • Jean:

    What’s up with all the hate Rechelle? I get the feeling there is some deep seeded guilt on your part about not homeschooling. All the homeschoolers I know would tell you to do what’s right for your family. If that’s public school, great do that.
    I used to enjoy your blog, but I think I’m done here. I don’t need your hate spew. Yuck!

  • Lori Anne:

    Kuddos to you for your honest opinion my friend. I was raised in public, my kids go to public, and I work in a public school. That right there provides three different perspectives on the same subject. (Especially in a big city). I also have friends who are dear to my heart that homeschool and would have it no other way.

    This isn’t a coin with one answer being all or nothing. It’s more complex – like a cube – depending on which angle you are looking from you can only see to certain sides.

    I had to chuckle a bit when I got to the end of your post and saw that comments were an option. I knew you were in for it, but then so did you. :)

    Your words were strong, to say the least, but words should be written to convey emotion and make the reader feel something. Our job as readers is not to respond with “fight” but to be stirred and become more passionate about what is important to us.

    No need to “argue” about it either. This should lead to where your readers use their own blog to share with their readers why the do what means the most to them. Without a grudge. Your blog, your opinion. That applies to all. Jeepers.

    • Thanks Lori Anne – I knew I was in for it – but I feel good. I feel like I have been dishonest about this for a long time. I don’t have any appreciation for homeschooling. Why should I? How does it make the world better? It only makes the world more fragmented, judgemental, and paranoid.

  • Oh my.
    Well, Rechelle, if you were looking for lots of comments and some debate you nailed it, as always with the homeschooling rants.

    May I point out the reason your post was offensive? It is one thing to passionately support the public schools if you feel the drive to do that – go for it! The problem comes when you talk about the “benefits” of public schools as a system and then conversely talk about “homeschoolers.” You weren’t comparing one SYSTEM with the other, “homeschoolING” but you were targeting the individual parents who homeschool and the students who are homeschooled. You repeatedly said “homeschoolERs.” There lies the offense to the individuals reading your blog. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us what you think is wrong with homeschoolING as a system.

    Maybe you thought you were doing what the homeschoolers do when they disparage the public school system on their blogs or wherever. But I would say NOT. Homeschoolers usually have a beef with the government run system, the government dictated curriculum and the institutionalized learning NOT the individual “public schoolers” that is- the teachers and the students and the parents who choose to use this system. Of course there are radicals who are outside of this description but they do not represent the homeschooling movement as a whole, as I hope you as an individual do not represent a public schooler as a whole.

    And btw, how can any of us perceive how anyone else is going to take everything we say. I mean, if someone does or says something that makes you feel “less holy” than they, whose problem is that really?

  • I too thought I was reading a satirical article, that would ultimately conclude with some point about how all parents do the best they can to raise their children, or that we all need to get along because that’s what we want our children to learn, or some similar (apparently unicorn-bedecked) point.

    I was disappointed when it turned out to be an attack on one of many ways to raise and educate our children. Yes, I am a homeschooler. No, I’m not a Christian, and I belong to a Universalist Unitarian group because I want my children to learn the message of tolerance, unity, and justice that our non-dogmatic church presents.

    I’d like to share an exchange that took place in our front yard last week:

    Public School Boy (PSB): And we can pretend that Zeus strikes me with his power and (blah blah blah, he’s very long-winded though highly creative) and I fall over.

    Catholic School Boy (CSB): You know that Zeus and the other gods aren’t real, PSB. Why do you keep talking about them?

    PSB: They could be real – we don’t for sure if they were or weren’t – there’s no way to be sure.

    CSP: Look, PSB, they’re not real. Get over it! (tone gets nasty)

    My Wonderful Homeschool Boy (MWHB) steps in : Hey, CSB, I don’t believe in God the way you do, and I don’t give you a hard time about it. We choose for ourselves what we believe, we don’t get to choose for others. So back off of PSB. Hey, you guys want to go play Bionicles instead?

    Isn’t that what we hope our children learn – to be just, to be compassionate, to help one party without hurting the other?

    The important lessons in life can be learned in almost any circumstance as long as one adult somewhere shows a child they care. Public school provides that adult for many of our children (our being the collective children of our world) who don’t have someone else in their lives. My husband and I just spoke about this the other day as we grumbled over our steep car taxes, and we agreed it was very important to support the public schools because the education those children receive affects all of us.

    And I bought a butt load of fund-raising Sally Foster wrapping paper from my neighbor, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

  • MaryAnne:

    It’s her blog-if you don’t like it go away. I got here by mistake one day and I am glad that I did.
    Public school teacher with children in private school-now that is a quandry.

  • Hallie:

    I think we’ve established a new plural noun—a hornet’s nest of homeschoolers.

  • Oh Rechelle. First of all, you know I just like to tease you about being a closet homeschooler, right? Secondly, I agree with the main point of this post which is the “miracle” happening in our public schools each day. Yes, there are bad things, but I believe the positive things that happen in public schools outnumber the negative. There is good and bad in just about anything, because…You take the good, you take the bad, you take it all, and there you have…ahem. Anyway.

    The problem with this post is that you’ve assumed that all homeschoolers are the same. Now I have to admit that during my 14 years homeschooling my kids I met many homeschoolers like you describe. I learned to stay away from the narrow minded, judgmental people. I have plenty of bad experiences and horror stories to tell about them and sometimes I like to laugh at the homeschool stereotype so often portrayed by Hollywood and discussed in the media and online. However, I also met plenty of homeschoolers who didn’t fit the stereotype. One homeschool group I belonged to had families that were non-denominational Christians, Seventh Day Adventists, Bahai, atheist, and Wiccan. Several of the homeschool groups we belonged to had families with children who had developmental disabilities and would not have thrived in most public school settings. Admittedly, there were few families who were not caucasian. Most of the homeschoolers in our area were Christian. But even among WASPs the differences in beliefs, opinions, family background and circumstances, and even reasons for homeschooling were so vast that one stereotype doesn’t come close.

    The homeschooling message board where Ree and I met was another wonderful example of the diversity in homeschoolers. I loved discussing differences in beliefs with Muslims and Jews and Catholics. I learned a lot reading posts from people who believed in evolution or from watching the political debates that unfolded there. (Not all homeschoolers are Republican or Libertarian either.) Most people on that board were of the opinion that each family should choose the type of school that is right for their child. Most people were not against public school at all. When those who were anti public school popped up with a criticism or a news item, there were quite a few people besides me to let them know they were out of line and remind them of the way homeschoolers were criticized because of people like Susan Smith. (Crazy is everywhere and no one has a corner on that market.)

    You may not know this, but many homeschoolers are not concerned with just their own families. While I was homeschooling my kids, I was also a Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader, Boy Scout merit badge counselor, helped with Young Marines meetings and activities, taught homeschool co-op classes for free, and did many other things to help other people’s children. Danny was a Scout leader and a 4-H woodworking project leader. There are many homeschoolers we know who are just as involved as we were or more. Some of these activities were specifically for homeschoolers, but others were open to anyone. I made myself available to anyone as a merit badge counselor, we had several public school children in our Scout group, and the majority of the Young Marines were in public school. If homeschoolers tend to help more with homeschool activities, it is equally true that public school parents help more with public school activities.

    Rechelle, I hope you know how much I think of you. I fully respect your right to express your opinion, even if it is different from my own, and I don’t think any less of you for it. But please consider that in judging all homeschoolers and the entire concept of homeschooling based on the very worst examples you are doing exactly what those same people do when they look at public schoolers. We are each individuals, no matter our race or religion, no matter what our political leanings, no matter what schooling option we choose for our children.

  • You’ve been kowtowing to us? LOL No more Mrs. Nice Guy? And how have you been kowtowing, exactly? You’ve always let it be known that you have a problem with homeschoolers.

    For what it’s worth, I think you have a really cool family and I couldn’t care less how you and your husband choose to educate your kids. I come here because I think you have something interesting to offer. I wish you didn’t feel the need to attack, but…eh. Whatever. You’re entertaining enough that I’ll still read here.

    Sue, a homeschooling mom

  • Debra:

    Wowser Rechelle!!

    Glad you got that off your chest!! We sent our kiddos to public schools, and in a weird twist, I am now a 6th grade teacher ( and LOVE my job!!!) Everyone does the things they do for different reasons, but most of us are just trying to do the best we can raising our kiddos!!

  • mwh:

    Wow, first you publicly shred your husband, and now you rip up homeschoolers. You must have big shoulders to support the big chips that you carry around.

  • Kim M:

    You seem so angry, I’ve been really praying for you after your European vacation. You seem so “judgemental”, hope things clear up for you really soon.

  • I’m curious why you have spent so much time reading blogs from vitriolic hardcore homeschoolers when it clearly offends you, and has nothing to do with your current lifestyle choices.

    Do you also seek out blogs on other even more controversial topics so that you can one day startle us with another diatribe, when we were hoping for your delightful literary musings, or word on your stepchildren tomatoes?

    • Lee -It is not hard to find them. I follow comments back to the blogs both from mine and from a few other blogs I read. Sometimes I follow a comment that is funny or interesting or just makes me curious about who the person is. One time I followed a comment back to a message board where the subject of the day and maybe of forever seemed to be the stupidity of people who put their kids in public schools. That was a real fun read! I discovered that one around Christmas last year. Other subjects I have discovered… How public schools push kids to read too soon. Really? Horrors! How public schools force kids to conform. How public schools are wastelands of immorality. I am sorry if my post wasn’t a cheery spot of utter inanity for you today. Sometimes I have to say something that I actually mean.

  • You knew when you posted this you’d be lambasted (as I see you have). So I’ll just say…I’m sure this is coming from some where. Good for you for standing up for your community. Good public schools are a wonderful thing.

  • Mary:

    This public school teacher would like to thank you for your support. I teach in an “urban” district where at least 75% of the students live in poverty. It can be unpleasant and difficult some days. but every day — Every Day — there is a moment of grace, a blessing, a miracle, if you will. I came to teaching later than many, and I chose the district I am in, knowing full well the difficulties I would face. I don’t regret my decision for a moment, and your words in support of the miracle that is a public school add to this day’s blessings.
    Thank you.

  • Lisa:

    Daaaaang, girl…now you’ve done it!

    Seriously, I agree with about 95% of what you said. The only thing I disagree with is that homeschooling is NEVER appropriate. I do think there some, very rare, instances where it’s the best option, and God bless those mothers for stepping up.

    Other than that, yeah, I think it’s mostly a bunch of unqualified women doing it just so they can feel smug and superior, and keep their children firmly under their thumb, at least until the kid leaves home and goes hog wild and pig crazy because he/she has never learned how to deal with real life temptations and difficulties.

  • This may very well be your best post ever.

  • Really interesting post! I enjoyed it!

  • OK, I’ve read all the comments.

    I’ve seen both sides of homeschooling.

    I know of one family that homeschooled who had four of their five kids go on to college and excel. That was good homeschooling.

    I have neighbors next door who got angry because the school tried to get their kids under control, so they pulled them out to “home-school” them.

    Those two boys are 18 years old now, and are pretty much illiterate. They aren’t working; every time they get a job, somebody makes them mad and they leave… because that’s how it was in school.

    I personally have no problem with homeschooling when the parents are actually TEACHING those kids.

    You are one brave woman. I fretted over my post about killing an opossum, and I only got one negative comment about that.

    Stand your ground. It’s your blog, and they don’t have to read it if they don’t like what you’re saying.

  • Sarah S. in NM:

    *Deep Breaths*

    I think it is fair, valid, and appropriate for you to post whatever you want to on your personal blog. You are an excellent writer and I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

    I teach. I love what I do. Sometimes going to work in the morning feels like a drag, and I come home exhausted every night, but in the moment, in my classroom, with my kids, I’m surrounded by such love, trust, and enthusiasm that I can’t help but smile throughout my day. I pity the child who misses out on that. And isn’t it supposed to be about them (the kiddos) anyway? My personal opinion is that everyone should leave the house to go to school – at least give it a try. I also believe that in addition to this, every parent should supplement their child’s education in whatever way they can. This is not just one person’s job. You decided to bring a little person into the world, you better make darn sure she/he grows up having more than just the basic academic skills.

    I love reading this blog. I will continue to read it on a daily basis. A little internet ranting don’t scare me none! (Yep, I was an English Major – from the public schools!)

  • You’ve got cajones, girl!
    While I know there are wonderful examples of home-schooling out there, I have never seen the product of such.
    The children who have re-entered my public school are behind in every subject. This is just what I have seen, in my experience.
    I have recently really been trying to be more tolerant, so while I’d like to say “whatever floats your boat”, I also must say I admire your candor!

  • Carol:

    I appreciate your viewpoint, Rechelle. It is nice to read a blog post singing the praises of the public schools. Thank you.

    I, too, have stumbled upon much homeschooling diatribe as I’ve flitted about the blogosphere, following various links. Most of the time, homeschooling seems to me to be about control, often limiting a child’s access to information and ideas different from their parents’ thoughts or beliefs.

    I will not always agree with every idea introduced to my children from the schools, society, the media or their friends. I feel it is my job to explain what I disagree with and why and to raise my kids to grow up to form their own beliefs, whether or not they agree with mine.

  • Angela:

    Just another view-
    Some of us homeschool because we feel we have no other choice.
    We are military, have two special needs (autistic spectrum) children and move every 18 months to a few years. Sometimes we move to the next state, sometimes to another country. My point is we move a lot to support our great nation.
    My children were not getting a consistent education.
    Mostly due to different state standards. This is not the schools fault- every state has different objectives to meet. I understand and support this. We found that tnrough homeschooling our kids didn’t have gaps in their education.
    We had superb teachers that wanted to help and truly cared for our children. I want that to be clear. My beef is not with the teachers.
    If we had a national standard where every state taught the same things we would have stayed in public school.
    I can tell you, it is not an easy walk that I do ever day with my children. I enjoy it- but it is not easy!
    I would hope that you might see that we cannot and should not be all lumped together.
    Thank you for posting this entry that stirred so many emotions and undoubtably got many of us thinking.
    Angela
    homeschooling mom to 3

    • Thanks for your comment Angela. I can see the value in homeschooling under those circumstances. I really can. I do think that there are other valid reasons to make this choice too – I just cannot abide the people who do it because they feel it is the ‘Christian’ thing to do or because of some of the other things I mentioned – which are all true whether or not people want to admit it. I have known only one family that was not homeschooling due to a religious belief that made them feel the public schools were intrinsically corrupt. They were die hard environmentalists. It would seem that most homeschoolers have some huge bone to pick with the world. Almost as if they just can’t get along with other people very well.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    I was educated in somewhat large public schools in Seattle and vicinity. My 3 kiddos are now in public school, in a town that has a smaller population than my high school.
    I’ve heard the stories from large city teachers, and have heard how some small town teachers talk.
    And you know what? There’s good and bad everywhere. None of it is perfect. But you work to make it better. You get involved to help your school. You teach your children to care and respect and try, and you hope for and encourage the school staff to do the same. And you celebrate those who do, and you try to set an example for those who don’t.
    I’ve heard both sides to homeschooling, and I’m sure it has it’s good and bad too, depending on personal circumstances, just as the comments have pointed out.

    The post itself – Guess what?!? It’s Rechelle’s blog! It’s not tax- or customer-supported…it’s her platform! We all have strong feelings that we withhold to be polite or avoid being judged or whatever. Authors write books with strong opinions, TV and radio personalities get paid to voice their strong opinions. Rechelle uses her blog to say what’s on her mind, regardless of what it is, no matter how strong those feelings are at the time. Rechelle has GUTS.
    And I admire that and like you even more, Rechelle. (I have GOT to come buy some plants and hug you! I’m the one with housepaint in my hair for a week and compost under my fingernails – DirtyKSmama)

  • theresa:

    Please back this post up with some sound advice. Since we can’t all pack up and move to your town, what do you suggest those who live in a town/community with a crappy school system do? To make it better for our kids NOW. Today. The problem with this logic is, if I begin to work on my kids’ school system when they start school, it may take years for me to “fix” the problem. I can run for school board, I can have a bake sale, I can get a degree and teach, I can teach all the kids in the English class to quote Shakespear and have a movie made about my fabulously inspiring life….but how will this solve the problems today? Tomorrow? What if a parent has a kid who sits in her classroom for hours, doing busy work because there are kids so disruptive and the teacher is at her wits end and she brings her work home for her parents to teach her and tomorrow the same thing happens and then she finally learns something….be quiet or you get beat up after school. What should that parent do? Can you please advise? What if a parent has a child who is quiet and unmotivated and the teachers really like him, and he’s not a problem so it doesn’t matter if he slides through school getting B’s, C’s, D’s but he could do so much better if he were pushed but the system is so busy pushing the troubled, the disruptive, the underprivileged…what to do? I don’t homeschool. I don’t care one way or the other what you think about your sister…er…I mean homeschoolers. But if you’re going to make it sound so snapping simple, please tell us what we can all do, as communities working for the greater good. What have you personally done to take a school district from bad to good? Would you feel the same way if one or more of your kids had to suffer through a bad year or two (or more) while you fought to make your school a better place? Or would you homeschool them while fighting that good fight? Just askin’…

    • Did I make it sound simple? Sorry about that. No – it is not simple. Like anything worth while – it is hard. Life is hard. But running away and just taking care of your own – that is cowardly. And the folks who do it in the name of Jesus – that is just plain messed up.

    • My kids have had a few rough years. Sometimes I talked to the teachers and we found solutions and sometimes I told my child to suck it up. Life is not always easy. My child did. They got through. We focused on the positive. We ignored some of the negative. We worked on the other negative. Isn’t that how the real world works? Are our parents always going to be around to rescue us from every difficult situation? My kids have learned to deal with some crap -which is a very good thing! GOOD LORD! This running in to rescue your kid at the slightest sign of a problem does not help anyone. Parents need to be a BIG part of the pushing kids to do their best. Why would you expect the school to do this for you? Does the school spoon feed your son if he doesn’t feed himself?

      Volunteer in the classroom! Make demands! Walk your kid home from school! Good grief! None of these problems seem insurmountable. In fact – think what you could do if you got involved and made a positive difference in your community. Think of all the kids that would benefit. Maybe someone would make a movie about you.

      What I do in my community is BE INVOLVED. IN LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS OF WAYS! Get to know the kids. Appreciate them. Volunteer for stuff. Volunteer for more stuff. Be a part of the solution. Be a mentor to a young person.

      If my local schools were bad – at this point in my life – I would jump in to change things with both barrels blazing. I have participated in a good public school. I would love for my boys to see their parents working to make change in a school to make it better for every kid. The lessons my boys would learn from that would far outweigh anything they might miss in a school that is struggling.

      If I were still a young mom and my kids were young – I would probably homeschool – except the CD would not let me because that just goes against everything that he is about – so it would be hard – we would not be at peace. I am not sure who would win. I hope that he would.

  • Jaki:

    “I have been kowtowing to a population that read this blog for FAR TOO LONG!”

    Wow! Talk about pulling the welcome mat out from under homeschooling mothers’ feet!

    • It’s true. The homeschoolers paralyze me. They have since the very beginning. Early on I did a post on Phillip Pullman and immediately got negative comments from a few homeschooling readers. I was new to blogging and felt very bad – like I had done something evil – when all I had done was write about a book. I felt like I was in some club and had to follow the rules of the club but yet I didn’t want to belong to the club… but I wanted to make people happy so I conformed! Yes! I conformed to the homeschoolers! How is that for backwards thinking. It was weird. But I can’t go on pretending that this is okay for me. This is not a homeschooling blog. This is just a plain old normal person blog. I am not against much of anything except for smug self righteousness and unfounded paranoia and sadly the homeschoolers tend to corner that market. You can do penance by working to make your local schools better for all the kids in your town. I dare you!

  • Denise:

    I homeschool, and I have to admit I’m embarrassed by some of the comments made here by my fellow homeschoolers. Specifically the ones that imply you’re secretly guilty that you don’t homeschool, or that you’re ignoring God’s call. Those are ridiculous statements. But I also feel that many of your statements are equally ridiculous, biased, and flat out rude. Yeah, yeah, it’s your blog, and if I don’t like it I can leave (which I will, since I have a feeling I’m not welcome anyway!), but you’re smart enough to know you write for an audience. Many of whom are homeschoolers who have supported and encouraged you during their visits here and don’t deserve to be treated so unfairly. Honestly, your opinion came off as totally hypocritical, since you heaped on us what you say we heap on the world at large. Self-righteousness, judgement, inaccurate generalizations. Whatever. I’m over it. I don’t need to try to defend myself to you. I’m disappointed that someone whom I admired and considered to be a good and loving mother, could accuse me of being worthy of scorn and hurting my kids. If you knew my kids maybe you’d feel differently, but since that’s never going to happen enjoy your community school and I will continue to enjoy homeschooling my kids while supporting those who decide to do otherwise.

  • Nancy in AK:

    I enjoyed this post. My son just started the public kindergarten and it is great for him. Many of my relatives are teachers, professors, and principals. Our family truly believes in public education. Here in Alaska, there are lots of homeschoolers! There are basically no homeschool rules here and I think some families are doing it for the money – each child get approx. $2500 to buy supplies and participate in activities. there was a very recent article in the Anchorage Daily news about homeschooling in AK.

  • Laura Stultz:

    But how can we change a bad school system? I live in a district where 50% of public school teachers send their kids to private schools. When I talk to my teacher friends about the problems, it always comes back to money. I just don’t get it. We’re spending all this money to educate these kids and the scores keep going down, the class sizes keep going up, and we keep gaining more administration. It

    • Hmmmmm – why are the private school so much better? What are they doing right that the public schools aren’t? In my experience – private schools don’t have any money either. Can the two school systems work together? Fixing a public school is not impossible. It has been done many times – someone just has to care enough to make it happen. Sometimes all it takes is one solitary person.

  • theresa:

    Yes, it is hard! Speaking from experience! Still waiting for that advice…and I do NOT homeschool. I have not run away to take care of my own, nor do I live in a quaint hometown where diversity means I do NOT have a dried floral wreath on my door. But I would NEVER say the the overgeneralized things you have said about this subject. Not about homeschoolers, homeschooling, private schoolers or “if you don’t like it, fix it” public schools. Yikes! I’m starting to sound as defensive as you!!!

    • I feel so sterotyped! I do not have a dried floral wreath on my door and I never have!

  • Laura Stultz:

    Hey, I have three kids with special needs, I sent my first to the public early childhood special ed program. I tried so hard to volunteer, I said I’d cut stuff out, I clean toys, I’d do whatever they needed. They told me to not worry about his education, I should just be his mom. I told them to go to hell and have been homeschooling and sending my kids to a decent little Lutheran preschool ever since. I was told that if I want to see my kid during the school day, I needed to give written notice two days in advance. I have two four year olds and and six year old. I can’t fight this broken system. I homeschool because I have to. I don’t live in the middle of farmland where they still have nice little country schools.

  • Mary:

    I live in a large midwestern city, my son went to a wonderful small public school in the inter-city, very diverse, parents who didn’t speak english, a lot of poor families etc. Let me tell you that school wanted all of the parents involved and boy did a lot of us show up, rich, poor, english speaking, non-english speaking, immigrant, some illegal. Because of the school district we had to move to another school building, so 2 schools in one building. Did the district keep or expand our school that worked? NO! But enough of us fought to keep some of the great things we had. My son stayed on, but then the battle of which middle school to choose. We went to a private catholic school, best choice for us. Was it for religious reasons, nope. Boy did we get snide comments for going private, example ” I sure don’t see much color on the playground” of course this person never set foot in the school. At first that comment bugged me but my son has friends and family and neighbors of all colors. So i decided she was the one with the narrow mind. Anyone can go to his school and it is diverse. I talked to people I trusted and didn’t listen to the crap. There are problems in the inter-city schools and they always want more money, but tossing money at the problem isn’t the answer, if it was Washington D.C. would have wonderful schools. I don’t think you can lump all homeschoolers together, but I do agree with a lot of the things Rechelle says and its her blog and do you ever agree with everyone all the time? This is my 1st comment on any blog, I sure enjoy yours.

  • Cindy in GA:

    Wow, thanks a lot. Edifying. I’m a homeschooling mom with lots of public school friends (yes, believe it or not, my kids have mostly ps friends, too). I thought we were doing this homeschooling thing all of these years b/c we love it and b/c it’s such a great fit for our family. I thought it was b/c I love being with my kids most of our days, after losing my mom early in life and knowing how short these years can be. I thought it was about my husband and I deciding what’s best for our own family. Good to know what you’d be thinking of me if you knew us, though.

    • I was trying to do that whole edifying the homeschoolers blog thing – but it just wasn’t working very well for me. Sorry!

  • Sounds like you’re really angry at the homeschooled. It’s not for everybody, but it works for us.

    Kari
    Great way to get people to comment though!

  • Rechelle,

    I’ve always been (and always will be) a fan of your writing. Although I strongly disagree with much of what you said about homeschooling, I admire you for being true to your convictions.

    I’m homeschooling my 8th grade daughter this year because of some cancer-related learning disabilities she’s dealing with; she needs a lot of extra time to master some concepts she didn’t grasp the first time around. For our family, homeschooling is a good choice. For our family, we are not “summed up” up by the words you used to describe homeschoolers.

    But that’s okay. It’s a free country and everyone is entitled to say and write what they think.

    I will continue to read and love your blog; thanks for sharing your life and your thoughts and your opinions with us.

    Becky

    • Becky – Your daughter is lucky to have you for a mom.

  • Rock on, Rechelle!! What a great read along with the comments. I don’t agree or disagree; just enjoy coming here and will continue to do so. :)

  • First, your lighter posts are not “inane”, they are a bright spot in the blogosphere. Life is not all sunshine and flowers, but they sure do make it sweeter!

    It’s just that we have high expectations of you, Rechelle, and this post wasn’t fully developed. I thought your post “I Wish I Had a Wife” was brilliant, and what made it so good was how you tightly controlled the emotions and stayed just this side of a screed. Perhaps you will tackle homeschooling again, and bring your best game to the table this time – no pressure of course!

    I too have stumbled on some of the “scary” hs blogs, but I hit back as quickly as I do when I accidently land on a flashing titties site.

  • Sarah H.:

    Amen, and amen.

  • Charlene:

    Rechelle, are you sure you really want to come across this way? Apparently, you know some homeschoolers typical of what you describe in this post, but even I can’t believe they are all like this. My sons are grown and they went to public school. Enough said, but are you really up to the backlash this post has/will generate?

  • priscilla:

    Sing it sister. Homeschoolers are all about excluding the real world. Here on Long Island, some parents who live in areas with “minorities” send their kids to private (mostly catholic) school. This is not done for religious reasons.This is to keep their children from mixing with “undesirables”.

  • Gena:

    (cue crickets)

  • Wonderful post on homeschooling. Very very few in my experience are not Bible-thumping and arrogant – (Pioneer Woman is the exception to this).

    You are gutsy to give your opinion…but then we knew this!! 8-)

    I love your photo of the stone school…does it have a township and county and name? I would love to find out more about it (being the Schoolhouse person that I am!). The limestone was no doubt quarried nearby..

  • E-Jayjo:

    I just don’t understand the feelings of hate in your homeschooling posts. I don’t homeschool or public school…have a 7 month old….so I’m not writing from one side of the fence or the other. It just comes across so hateful. I can’t think of another word for it.

  • Thirkellgirl:

    I read your post, then clicked out. Then reread it, then read the comments, then clicked out again. I was just dumbfounded. You’ve got a serious boatload of anger about a lot of different things, don’t you? I guess it’s good that you aren’t sublimating it, but you must be a blast to live with these days. I feel like I was beaten up just by reading your post, and the comments just added to it. Hope you get what you wanted from dumping that.

  • For those of you who are “dumbfounded” and “shocked” at Rechelle’s post, may I venture to say you have not deeply thought about most people’s rationale for homeschooling. I mean truly thought about it: not just “I want to be with my kids 24/7″ or “God is telling me to do this”… Seriously folks, our country’s history and original goals plays a big part in our public school system, as it does in our public library system, etc.

    And personally I am a very strong Christian, but manage to maintain distance between church and state!

  • Thirkellgirl:

    IowaCowgirl, I’ve thought about it all long and hard. Have you ever read David Guterson’s book on homeschooling? We chose to homeschool our daughter, for one year only, when she was reading very well coming out of (private, Christian) kindergarten, because we had a new school superintendent who was introducing the mainstreaming of special ed students on short notice. We suspected our quiet, well-behaved, high-achieving daughter wouldn’t get a lot of attention that year in public school, so we used curriculum from the Calvert School. After the first year, we decided to homeschool for another. And another, until we approached middle school, when we decided to take on three more years. Deciding between private school, public school or homeschooling was difficult as she approached high school, but it was *her choice to homeschool for high school, and it was right for us. We’ve never told anybody else that homeschooling is the Christian decision, and we’ve certainly known many people who’ve produced fantastic kids using public school. Parental involvement, whatever the school setting, is the key to raising great kids, as much as it’s within parental control. Both of our daughters are exceptional kids by anybody’s standards, high-achieving, productive, personable, lovely, athletic… :)

  • JJ:

    I have seen the good and bad in both homeschooling and public school. I do volunteer and stay involved in my kids’ school and education. But it IS rough out there. As a public school teacher myself, I have worked in good and bad schools and you know what, I have come to this conclusion -it is the luck of the draw. What kind of community you have does depend on you , but it also depends on all of your neighbors, community leaders, teachers, etc. You can have an excellent school in a poor neighborhood and a horrible one in a wealthy one. You can have a community of homeschoolers that works really well for their children AND their community and homeschoolers that focus solely on ignorance. There are many communities in which the school system ignores or shuns parent involvement and some who allow WAY too much parental involvement ( it does exist – parents who want THEIR WAY – ALL the time and schools that kowtow to them at the detriment to the other kids). It is NEVER black and white. But I agree with Rechelle wholeheartedly on this – it is essential to know what is going on out there in the world , to be truly knowledgeable about what is going on your community and to be involved.

  • JoEllen:

    I think it would be so much simpler to live in the days of the one room schoolhouse. I’m tired of contemplating the pros and cons of all the different educational choices:public, private, homeschooling, unschooling, Motessori, this method vs that method.
    I think as parents we have so many options, and we obviously choose what we feel is best for our families. Whether we use love of our country and community, love of our religion and God, or love of having extra money in our wallets we all have reasons for why we choose what we do.
    I agree that our public school system is a wonderful opportunity for all children to get an education, BUT “public school = good and private school or homeschooling = bad” does not jive with me.
    It’s not so black and white.
    For the record I attended public schools and private schools and ended up earning a master’s degree. My husband went to the worst public school district in our state and ended becoming an excellent physician. Our kids have attended public school in the past, but are currently in a wonderful private school. We have never considered homeschooling but know several families who do. Some do a fantastic job, some not so fantastic. The same can be said of the schools we have experience with–some are fantastic, some not so fantastic.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it was interesting to listen to yours.
    PS-God bless the teachers/educators everywhere!

  • Thirkellgirl,
    I will look into the Guterson book.

    I too have major reservations about mainstreaming special ed kids into the school. I do not like it at all….our school does it and it is a major drawback of attention and time – most of the time (and this is my view from my school) the kids will never function in society at all. That said, I STILL would not use this as a reason to pull my kids out of public school.

    I cannot understand why people cannot instill their religious beliefs in their children without controlling every aspect of their education and social existence. This says to me that fear is the guiding factor of their decisions.

  • Kathy:

    I think it is unfair to generalize either side of this school issue. There is no right or wrong, black or white. As parents most of us make decisions based on what we think is best for our children. Rechelle has made her decision for her children and expressed her opinion. Everyone does not have to agree–that’s why we are so lucky to live in the US. I was a product of two different public schools–one that would have passed for an all white private school and another that had every ethnic and economic group possible. The second prepared me much better for the real world. I think sometimes homeschooled parents don’t prepare their children for facing adversity. Just like in the workplace, there are teachers and students you do not always get along with. Learning how to handle difficult situations is part of life. Lessons that you will need once you are dealing with coworkers. Kids can’t always have teachers that are perfect, but how many of us have had to learn to accomodate supervisors who are difficult to work with. I think these type of learning experiences along with the education kids get will help them when they are on their own.

  • Judy:

    My three children (all in their twenties now) spent most of their school years in public school. We also tried private school and home school for a short time. There are drawbacks inherent in each of these options.

    My husband and I spent two decades volunteering, supporting and trying to influence our public schools in a positive direction.

    I realize now that there is little that can be done to improve the quality of public schools and education as long as tenure and the powerful teachers’ unions protect incompetent and unprofessional teachers and administrators. Liberal government control of public education on a state and federal level trump local school boards and parental input.

    Your description of public school as a halcyon of cooperation, dedication and concern for the well being and education of all students is unrealistic and inaccurate.

    Aside from the opportunity to meet and make friends, my children did have a few other positive experiences in public school. My daughter was on the dance and drill team and my younger son played trumpet in the band where they each learned discipline and to perform before an audience. My older son learned to stand up to bullies. He is now a 1st Lt. in the Army and is protecting Afghan civilians from Taliban bullies.

    Rechelle, the biggest problem I have with your post is your attitude of condemnation and intolerance for others. The venom you direct toward any one who doesn’t toe the line as you see fit is really hateful.

    After visiting your blog almost daily for the past 1 1/2 years, I have come to this conclusion: You have a tremendous amount of malice and resentment against 1) Christians, in general 2) Homeschoolers, acutely and 3) your husband.

    Hate and bitterness are not what I come here for. Spew on, Rechelle! Spew on! I’ll go elsewhere.

    • Good grief Judy – How did you hang on for so long?

  • Another Mom:

    IOWA COWGIRL “I too have major reservations about mainstreaming special ed kids into the school. I do not like it at all….our school does it and it is a major drawback of attention and time – most of the time (and this is my view from my school)*** the kids will never function in society at all. ***”

    OUCH!

    First off I agree mainstreaming all special ed kids is not the greatest idea for your reasons stated and others that come to mind. Especially when it’s not in the best interest of the special ed student; I should know. I pushed and pushed for my oldest daughter to be in full time special ed classes. Only to be pushed back repeatedly. And laughed at by the school board even after professional consult had backed me up. But to say she or others like her will never function in society at all. OUCH! Strongly disagree!

  • Phew! I just read/skimmed comments.

    I was just going to say…NEWTON? Seriously? My dad GREW UP in Newton!! Maybe he even went to that school house, because my dad was nearly 50 when I was born so this was some time ago, and he went to a little one-room schoolhouse. He died when I was 15. I have only been to Kansas once, and I was 9 mos old at the time.

    Ok, shall I plunge in? Why not! (Laughs maniacially) Rechelle, it’s your blog. Say what you want. I’ll stick around and if I choose not to at some point, that’s okay too. But the joy of comments is that I get to state my opinion too. Whee! Here we go.
    I don’t homeschool, but I don’t agree with your take on all homeschoolers. While I agree that there are SOME homeschoolers like the ones you’ve had the misfortune to have to deal with, I know plenty who homeschool for a variety of reasons and who are doing an excellent job. I would just encourage you to think about it before lumping them all together. And, honestly, even if they do homeschool for religious reasons? They have the right.
    On the other hand, I do see the glories of a school system. I really do. Homeschoolers who are all “we finished by 10:30 this morning cuz we don’t do busy work” are, IMO, missing the point. Homeschooling often seems to be a pared-down version where only the basics are taught for each subject. School should include discussions, questions, a chance to learn from other children. Not to mention, as has already been said, the value of learning to get along with others, deal with injustices, speak up in appropriate ways, etc.
    My kids are in what is essentially a private school. We’re in a weird situation–we live overseas and they’re in the French international school, free for French kids but everybody else pays. (The French always ask me why my kids aren’t at the American school. Because my govt doesn’t value education enough to guarantee that no matter where I live, my kids get an American education. That is a non-partisan comment not directed at either party; the govt IN GENERAL.) It’s not cheap. But the result is similar to a French public school, except with a higher percentage of Moroccans, Lebanese, etc.
    Has it been easy? Nope. Have all their teachers been fantastic? Far from it. Do I adore the French system? Nope. Is it the best choice for our family, and do the positives outweigh the negatives? A resounding YES.
    WHy do you care? Why have I hijacked your comments to write this diatribe? Uh…I don’t know the answers to these questions. Sorry! Lame, I know.

  • My daughter started out in public school and I never thought about doing anything other than that. We lived in a community with a good school and I was very involved. Her elementary school was wonderful because any physically handicapped student in our area went to that school because there were no stairs. My daughter was friends with children who were in wheelchairs and one who’d had many many surgeries and had tubes and such following an organ transplant but I still have pictures of them doing the YMCA at the school dance. She learned diversity and tolerance and learned to appreciate her physical abilities and learned not to judge people just because they may be physically different.

    My complaint was that I didn’t get enough information from the school – communication from the teachers for the first 3 years of her education were not what I would have liked but I went with the flow. My daughter was an honor roll student so all was well – or so I thought. When she was promoted from 2nd to 3rd grade, we moved to a large city and she would be transferring schools. I was very concerned about her reading ability and had to make the school district test her (because she had passed the 2nd grade with honors they didn’t want to) but I knew something was wrong and pushed to find out more. Those tests revealed my daughter had a reading disability and was only reading at a 1st grade level but was scheduled to begin 3rd grade in 2 months. I wasn’t going to let that happen. She was a good student who did good work so she was passed despite the teacher being aware, and NEVER working with me, that there was an obvious reading problem. I was able to do something about it because I didn’t rely on the school for her entire education. We were doing things at home and I KNEW there was something amiss. Since she was changing schools anyway, we elected to have her repeat the 2nd grade. In the new school, she was “flagged” as learning disabled and pulled out of “regular” class for English and Reading. She learned nothing in these special ed classes. After about a month I called a meeting with the faculty and said the special classes weren’t doing anything for her. The special ed teacher showed us some exercises to do AT HOME to help her learn how to deal with her disability and she stayed in regular classes. I didn’t allow them to pad her grades or give her special easy work, my child didn’t need that, she just needed some extra time for in-class assignments and especially for tests. I made the teachers design a plan that worked for her, rather than what the normal special ed curriculum would have done. By the 4th grade she was learning to love to read and was once again an honor roll student. She hadn’t “cured” her disability but rather found ways to overcome it – by working with us AT HOME and not relying completely on school to figure it out.

    She stayed in public school until October 31 of her 7th grade year. By that time she was going to a Junior High with a large number of inner city kids whose parents had no involvement in the school or their children’s education. The really involved parents who lived in that community had started pulling their children out and now were homeschooling them. My daughter was almost molested by two male students. A teacher saw them pull her into a closet and opened the door before anything more could occur. I picked my daughter up and told her she was never returning to that school again. She had been homecoming queen, on the cheerleading team and several of the teacher’s favorite student but I wasn’t going to risk her safety. The following week she started at a private Christian school from which she graduated with an amazing education.

    My point was, part of the reason the large city schools are getting worse are:

    * Parents think the school system should provide ALL education – the school shouldn’t be teaching sex ed, religion and English. These are things that should be taught at home so the parents can impart their beliefs. The kids shouldn’t be in public school if they don’t speak English – there’s no way they can succeed.

    * Parents aren’t involved with the schools like they should be – they don’t attend parent teacher conferences, school plays, field days, etc. and shame on them for complaining about it later. I had to volunteer to drive for my nephew’s field day in a week because my sister was the only parent who said she could drive out of a classroom of 15 kids. Where are the other 14 parents???

    * Parents who aren’t happy with what is happening just pull their child out of school which doesn’t help any of the other children (here, here, Rechelle!)

    * Mentally handicapped students are being put in mainstream classes which hurts the teachers and most of the other students because all the teacher’s time is spent catering to the needy students and the rest get left behind. Mental special needs children are the ones who should be home-schooled. The mainstream classroom is not the most appropriate learning setting for most of these students. The parents are more concerned with their children not being treated any differently but they aren’t getting anything from mainstream classroom teachings and they’re hurting the other students by being there because the teacher can’t teach the rest of them. This statement may be controversial but in my area there are students who can’t speak, who can’t go to the bathroom and who have a 50 IQ in regular 3rd grade classes and they can’t possibly be learning anything. The parents are more concerned with them being “included” than the student actually learning in a setting that’s best for them and where they could actually learn something.

    * Parents should take control of their children’s education – whether that means teaching them at home to address special needs, supplementing what the school is doing like we did with my daughter, and especially getting involved with the school to fix the problems.

    * What makes homeschooling parents think they can teach trigonometry, calculus and other such classes? What makes them think THEY know the ways to impart knowledge on someone? Giving birth does now magically make you a teacher. I was a terrible teacher for my daughter. We were working on things at home like I would have learned them – by discussion. It was the special ed teacher who realized my daughter was a “visual learner” – discussing it didn’t teach her anything – she had to see it to learn it. There is a reason teachers are required to go to college for 4 years. It is presumptuous and egotistical to think that just anyone can be a teacher. When my daughter was in high school she would come home and tell us about the “poor home school kids” (her words, not mine) who would come to her school in 11th or 12th grade and were so socially awkward and so far behind academically that most were never going to go to college and would be good to graduate high school.

    * Parents who home school because they “want to spend more time with their children” should be ashamed of themselves and get a life. Making friends and doing things on their own is the natural cycle of life and parents are hurting their children by keeping them in their bubble because they can’t handle their children growing up and apart from them. Parents are NOT supposed to raise good children – they are supposed to raise good ADULTS and you can’t be an adult if you are still attached to mommy’s apron strings.

    * Heidi – it scares me that you’re a home schooler and this is why I think that many people who home school don’t have the ability to be doing it. There are so many grammatical errors in your post that you can’t possibly be teaching your children proper English. I know I don’t have that ability which is why I didn’t home school but parents have to recognize their limitations.

    Sorry this was so long but I really see both sides. There ARE situations where home schooling is the best option and special needs students are the perfect example of that. But, for most mainsteam students, public school would be good for them and we could make the public schools GREAT if all the home school parents put as much effort into the school system instead of just their child. Remember, “it takes a village to raise a child”.

  • Another Mom: the extremely autistic children who cannot function in school even with individual paraeducators at their side at all times, throwing fits in class, being destructive to others’ property and taking away teacher/time/monetary resources are in these mainstream programs. These are not the people that are working in wonderful places such as Goodwill or living in half-way houses. What good is their main-streaming doing for either their welfare or the rest of the school population?

  • Wow. That’s all I’ve got right now, just Wow. For everyone: Wow.

  • Shela:

    I attended public school and I think I turned out okay and had fun while I was ther.

  • Wow, wow, wow!
    I am the Mom of the ADHD child who has said child in a private school. Unfortunately we are in a neighborhood that we can afford but not an area that has the best rated district. As for homeschooling it is ones own right to do and not for me. I think parenting is the hardest job there is and all we can do is try to give the best guidance, love and support.

  • Another Mom:

    IOWA COWGIRL:”What good is their main-streaming doing for either their welfare or the rest of the school population?”

    Go back and read what I put. I agreed with most of what you said. I do happen to believe some inclusion needs to take place during a small part of the school day. If not for the special ed student alone but, for the non special ed student. ‘Normal functioning’ (and I shutter to label it that way) students need some exposure to these other students to learn tolerance for starters but, also to appreciate them as fellow students who happen to be a bit more different than the rest.

    I don’t happen to agree that they will never function in society at all. Strongly disagree! As a mom with 3 students who have varied special needs, it offends me greatly to hear someone voice that they will never function in society at all. Two of these students currently volunteer with the United States Air Force and Homeland Security. One of these students successfully pre-soloed an airplane this past summer, walking away with great praise from his instructor. My husband, also a former special ed public school student who spent most of his time in mainstream education, is a successful, financially providing father and contributor to society. Not trying to sound as if I am bragging, just trying to make a point. Sure I can count a few special ed students who aren’t contributing to society but, I can also count some ‘normal functioning’ ones as well. Perhaps we should take this discussion off the comments if it needs to go further, feel free to email me (anyone for that matter) wildvenz @ y a h o o.com.

    Rechelle, even though we don’t see eye to eye, thank you for allowing these conversations on your blog. It has been very insightful, informative. I have not lost your point in all of this, the miracle that takes place – happened right here. ;-)

  • Lori Anne:

    Iowa Cowgirl & Another Mom – I know this isn’t really the post topic, but I have a point* that I do not believe either of you have mentioned in your discussion.

    I work in a public school that has a fair amount of children with serious special learning and physical needs. Does our district bend over backwards to help these children? I think so. Do I feel that my children are receiving less in their own public schools because of their classmates? Not at all.

    *In many areas, mainstreaming the special needs children has also come about as a necessity because not all parents are able to afford private educational opportunities or environments for their children. Many of these parents are tapped out physically, emotionally, and financially and need their public school and community to step in and help in whatever way they can.*

    Whether or not one person thinks the child will be able to contribute to society doesn’t really matter. (Who gets to measure that anyway?) They are human beings who need human touch and interaction. They are reached by someone and they touch the hearts of others, whether it be teacher or classmate. Perhaps that classmate grows up wanting to help the disabled or research a cure for childhood diseases because of who they knew and cared about in school?

    Is it “even steven” for all of the kids? No. Does that make it wrong? No. Does it show compassion? Absolutely.

    Sorry Rechelle for straying way off topic. :)

    • Lori Anne – I know this particular topic means more to you than you explained. I think my kids are blessed by being around kids with disabilities in their school. It lessens their fear, teaches compassion, gives them tolerance for people who are different. These things are all okay by me… way more than okay. I worked with developmentally disabled adults and severely handicapped adults as a college student – working with them taught me compassion on a level that I would never have learned in any other setting. The contribution these folks make is the lessons they teach us – to serve, to help, to touch, to give, to carry, to wipe, to change, to feed, to care for someone who can’t care for themselves. What greater contribution is there?