New York Times reporter Motoko Rich, a fancypants graduate of Yale University (and England’s Cambridge University — founded in 1209), has stared into the abyss of the homeschooling movement for perhaps a few hours and she now appears deeply shaken.
From the comforts of New York City, where she works and where she endorses a Brooklyn public school PTA on her Facebook page, Rich has found that homeschooling — unlike, say, journalism — is way too unregulated for her taste.
Turns out, in many states, government busybodies can do virtually nothing when the hoi polloi of America remove their children from government schools. What’s more, meddling bureaucrats have little to no power to interfere with the instruction which homeschooling parents provide for their own children.
Across America, states are allowing homeschooling parents the freedom to educate their own children. For example, Rich notes, nearly a dozen states do not force parents to register their homeschooled children with the local school district or with the state education bureaucracy. Fourteen states don’t foist a government-mandated curriculum on parents who homeschool. And in about half the states, homeschooled children are not subjected to some litany of standardized tests (developed by billion-dollar conglomerates such as Pearson).
Rich further notes that the homeschooling movement is growing. In 2012, there were at least 1.8 million children currently homeschooling. That figure was up 300,000 from 2007. The actual number is almost certainly higher, too, because of those states, including Texas and Connecticut, that don’t coerce families to register their own children with the state. (RELATED: Sandy Hook Commission Calls For Government Crackdown On Homeschools)
Rich also observes that homeschooling was once a practice confined mostly to a few religious zealots. Now, though, it includes all kinds of people including parents helping their children make an exodus from the barrage of standardized testing and from the widely unpopular Common Core standards adopted in some 40 states.
Well, this simply will not do.
And so the intrepid Times reporter investigates the calamity of homeschooling. She goes as far as Pennsylvania (fully one state over) to speak to Fara Wiles, a woman who educates her son, Elijah, in “a modest two-bedroom duplex” that probably isn’t nearly as well appointed as the residence in Brooklyn where Rich dwells with her husband, Mark Topping, a New York City official with degrees from Oberlin College and New York University.
Rich decided that the important things to note about her fleeting visit with Wiles were that Wiles bought a workbook for Elijah among the unwashed masses at Sam’s Club and that the mother allowed her son a break from the materials to play the videogame Minecraft.
The journalist spoke with previously-homeschooled student Caitlin Townsend, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. Townsend, whose doctoral specialty is history, complained that her mother didn’t help her enough in math and science. The Ph.D. candidate even once had to take a lower-level math course in college.
Rich also spoke with Robert Kunzman, an education professor at Indiana University, who supports a law coercing homeschooling parents to submit their children to math and literacy tests annually.
Additionally, Rich reached out to Rachel Coleman, executive director of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which has a website that dwells significantly on child abuse and neglect in homeschooling situations.
“Just having some accountability would absolutely make parents who might otherwise drop the ball step it up a bit,” Coleman told Rich — way-too-obviously raising the canard that state governments provide no accountability whatsoever currently.
For the pro-homeschooling argument, Rich gave a few paragraphs to Dewitt T. Black III, an attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association.
“We believe that because parents who make this commitment to teach their children at home are dedicated and self-motivated, there’s just not a real need for the state to be involved in overseeing education,” Black told the Times reporter.
Rich then manages to slip in the fact that the Home School Legal Defense Association has raised $9.6 million from March 2012 to March 2013.
Strangely, she somehow fails to note the financial situation of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, or the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (which she mentions for the proposition that homeschooling students are unfairly credentialed), or teachers unions or, in fact, any groups which want to heavy homeschooling regulation.