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Schoolmarms, schooldads, unite!

March 17, 2008 |  7:53 pm

Can you shoot spitballs in home school? If so, Walter P. Coombs and Ralph E. Shaffer had better watch out, because home schoolers are fuming about their recent Blowback "Regulating home schoolers."  Commenters are all over the story — you can add your own two cents in the message board — and several readers were motivated to break out the old stone table and send an old-fashioned letter to the editor. Some samples:

Homeschooling Works Well Without State Oversight

As a homeschooling mom I am so encouraged by the many who choose to show their support for homeschooling and  those of us who choose to do so. However, I am surprised by how many of those who think that a proven method of teaching would be "improved" by state oversight.

If one does not wish to to consider the successful people both in history as well as those who are walking among us in workplaces and colleges that were homeschooled, perhaps you might want to consider your pocketbook. 

Regulating Homeschools would cost you big money in taxes that this state cannot afford right now. Do we really need a new section in the department of education to fund?

Wouldn't it make more sense to use all available money on the children currently in public schools?

In January, Education Week's comprehensive report card gave California a grade of "D+" when it comes to funding our schools, a "C-" on the teaching profession, and a "D" on K-12 achievement. Taken along with the California high school drop-out rate I find it odd that so many are calling for homeschoolers to be regulated now.

Do your research! Homeschooling works best without heavy regulation!

Angie Weaver


What a shame authors Walter P. Coombs and Ralph E. Shaffer hadn't yet shared their self-professed insights into the motives and intentions of home schoolers some 20 years ago when I began homeschooling for a number of years.  Maybe if they had my homeschooled kid would have been able to know some academic success in her life instead of graduating from UCLA.

Dana Strunk
U.H.S.P. (Uncredentialed Home Schooling Parent) Redlands

Dear Editor,

In reference to “Regulating Homeschoolers,” Op-Ed page, 3/13/08: To borrow a phrase, “there has always been something decidedly…anti-democratic in” traditional schooling. What could possibly be less democratic than top-down curriculum aimed almost wholly at raising test scores to keep the funds coming in? Ask any public school teacher who has a principal or district curriculum heavy breathing down her neck to make sure that she is on the right page in the language arts text book or is reading from the script in her teacher’s manual. In terms of the students, public school classrooms are at best benevolent dictatorships. With state standards and benchmarks to keep time with how could you possibly let students choose their own course of study? I imagine that the authors would also say that the bullying and teasing that goes on in traditional schools is character building and homeschooled children are missing out on that important part of growing up in a democracy. The fact is, state regulations have put a stranglehold on the public schools. The result is a disaffected populace. I think that Coombs and Shaffer would do well to check with their colleagues, college professors who look forward to having homeschooled students in their classes because those students have not had their passion bulldozed out of them, still can think for themselves, and are self-directed learners. Those, in my opinion, are the kinds of citizens we want in a democracy.

-Susie Stonefield Miller

It seems to me that Coombs and Shaffer protest too much. Although our older child was public schooled, we chose to educate our younger child at home. We have been able to teach him at the rate and level that fits him. He is ahead of his peers in all subjects, but one, where he we are taking extra time with him.

When my older child with similar abilities was in second grade the teacher told us that she was sorry he was bored; we should provide advanced work for him ourselves at home. We provide a secular education, sans TV, and are both scientists. There are many like us. Just as credentialed public school teachers regularly make the news for various abuses, there are abuses that occur and make the news among all groups of people. This cannot be defended, but neither can it be regulated away.

Our tax dollars pay do not support the schooling of our younger child - they go to the public schools. These same California public schools provide a popular program, abbreviated CAVA, which provides school at home. The children learn from a computer program and their parents.

Please do not promote misunderstanding through stereotypes, professors. There are many, many secular home schoolers who provide top-notch educations to their children. Studies conclude that home schooled children are better educated than their public schooled peers. Public schools admit they are having trouble teaching the children they already have. What would they do with over 166,000 more?

Lisa Whelan

As a secular homeschooler I strongly resent Professors Coombs & Shafffer's attempt to pigeonhole all homeschoolers as some kind of religious nut cases who leave the education of their children to television. My six year-old daughter is studying American history, geography, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, cursive handwriting, literature, mathematics, and science. In addition she takes ballet and art lessons and has more friends than I am able to keep track of. A child's education, like a child's upbringing ought to be a parent's responsibility and prerogative. In the absence of specific evidence of abuse or neglect the state has no right to interfere.

Gideon Reich
Aliso Viejo

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