1. Yes, it can be unsettling to think of people insisting that children should only be taught certain ideas and viewpoints. Please bear in mind that many of the people who find this idea disquieting are homeschoolers.
2. If you think that most American homeschoolers are religious and that therefore homeschooling is a religious act, you obviously haven’t been paying much attention to the fact that for better or for worse, most Americans are religious.
3. If you think that public schools all teach science in general and the theory of evolution in particular in a rigorously scientific fashion, you haven’t been to school lately. You also haven’t read this report.
4. If you think that public school teachers in America never teach religion in a way that directly contradicts the neutral, secular stance the law requires, you haven’t been to school lately. And you definitely haven’t talked to all the families I know who decided to homeschool because their local public schools were saturated in religious teachings these families didn’t approve of or agree with. Why didn’t these families take it to court? Maybe they were afraid of triggering the kind of response Jessica Ahlquist did. Maybe they wouldn’t have minded that so much on their own behalf, but they hesitated to make their children pariahs and destroy any chance of their having a peaceful, happy social life.
5. And speaking of homeschoolers having social lives… Seriously? We’re still having that argument? There are still people out there who believe that not going to school means not going anywhere? That not making friends at school means not making friends anywhere? That the place famous for the reprimand, “Young lady, you are not here to socialize!” is the only place to make friends? Tell that to all the homeschoolers who have plenty of friends. Then tell it to all the kids in school who don’t have any and feel like failures because the message they get every day is that there’s no excuse for being lonely in a crowd.
6. And speaking of all the hate mail Jessica Ahlquist’s been getting: You know this isn’t from homeschoolers, right? You know it’s from people who apparently don’t understand what you keep claiming about how public schooling teaches tolerance and promotes diversity, right?
7. And speaking of diversity in the public schools: You know that a public school can’t be more diverse than the community it’s in, right? If you claim that people shouldn’t homeschool because their children won’t learn about racial, religious, and/or cultural diversity (a dubious premise), you’re also saying that people who live in Iowa should be legally required to mail their school-aged children to New York City and/or Los Angeles for the duration of their educational careers.
8. From the department of Stale Old Stereotypes: Could you STOP already with the idea that we sit around in our pajamas and/or bathrobes all day? If you’re admitting that’s what you do given half a chance, fine. But we’re too busy for that kind of nonsense. Please stop assuming we’re living down to your standards.
9. And speaking of standards: Some homeschoolers are required to take standardized tests. Some of us aren’t. It depends on where we live. It doesn’t matter much to the people who are already against homeschooling and aren’t going to let a little thing like accurate information get in their way, but it’s time to stop making sweeping pronouncements about us based on anything to do with test scores. There is serious, intelligent debate among serious, intelligent educators regarding the value of standardized testing. There is no debate at all about the fact that “teaching to the test” leads to a narrow, sterile, lifeless education significantly lacking in creativity and critical thinking. Homeschoolers aren’t the ones having their budgets cut on subjects like physical education, music, and Advanced Daydreaming 101.
10. Have you ever noticed that some families have lots of kids and others have just one or two? Maybe you could start noticing that about homeschooling families, too.
11. Please stop telling me the circumstances under which you would deem homeschooling acceptable. That’s creepily close to making rules regarding who can and can’t have children.
12. And speaking of having children: Stop saying that homeschooling could be a cover for child abuse. Do you have any idea how nasty an accusation that is? Again, are you saying that if you were at home with your children on a regular basis, that’s what you’d do with your time? And are you also making this kind of accusation to parents who go on to send their children to school but enjoy a few years at home with them first?
13. Stop already with the stories about all those horrifyingly uneducated, miseducated, bigoted, narrow-minded, or just plain stupid homeschooled kids you’ve met. You know very well that we can counter each one with multiple examples of violent, ignorant, racist, sexist, homophobic kids who went to public school. You also know that no matter how many of those kids we dropped on your front lawn (and please stop tempting us), you wouldn’t accept them as evidence that public schools don’t work and the system should be abolished. And you’re right. The plural of anecdote is not data. Quit only remembering that when it suits you.
14. Back to the man who inspired this list. Have you insisted that Rick Santorum represents Republicans, Christians, conservatives, or people from Pennsylvania? Probably not. Please stop making him your Official Representative Homeschooler. Otherwise, we might start playing that game, too. And you really don’t want to see the election results if the homeschooling community gets to pick an Official Representative Result of Public Schooling.