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An interesting debate took place in the cyber world yesterday between anti and pro home school proponents. A home school mom was ridiculed for her choice in curriculum material for her children, which led her to defend herself of course. (R rated due to the “F” bomb* -- It is always amazing to me when people resort to the “F” bomb because they can’t defend their viewpoint or to disguise the fact that they have no view point)

The conversation meandered from home schoolers are over protective and making their children incapable of functioning in society to WE are being selfish. That by keeping our children out of school, we are somehow eroding the quality of public education.

He says and I quote

“Undoubtedly, socialization is a big part of public education. People talk about peer effects a lot, i.e. kids pick up a great deal of habits, values and outlooks from their classmates. Put a child in a class of kids coming from dysfunctional families – sons and daughters of crack addicts, alcoholics and unemployed wife-beaters – and you’re putting him at serious risk of contracting some pretty negative traits. Put the same child in a different environment, surrounded by peers coming from engaged and enlightened families such as yours, and you’re likely to have very different results. When the better folks pull out their kids to be home-schooled, they worsen the pool and diminish the life prospects of all those left behind. Your own kids get a better education in the process, but have you ever asked yourself: at whose cost?

The effect I describe above works through other channels too. School quality depends among other things on parental involvement. Had you people (clearly among the parents most concerned about your kids’ education) not disassociated yourself with your local school system, it probably would have been blessed with curricular and pedagogic improvements thanks to the pressure you would have brought to bear. As it stands now, your neighborhood schools languish under the supervision of apathetic teachers and aloof parents. You have started a movement which, if it became widespread, would create gated communities of nurturing amidst a sea of educational collapse. This is what worries me.

It is of course not my place to lecture you about compromising your own child’s learning for the sake of a greater common good, to put country and community before family. But I am tempted to paraphrase the words of a great President whose inspirational words once stirred the soul of a nation:

Ask not what your school district can do for you; ask what you can do for your school district.”

We are responsible for the erosion of the public school system? I think not. Once the powers that be decided to take God out of the schools, then that is when the erosion began. As always, the conversation ended with an agreement to disagree. No one changed their mind about the issue. Hopefully, though, a few were enlightened.

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