What Homeschoolers Are Missing Out On Lately

I ‘unschool’ my two kids. And I can’t lie, sometimes I wonder what they’re missing out on at public school. So I keep my eyes and ears peeled.

Here are just a few things that homeschoolers/unschoolers across the country — like my own kids —  have missed out on recently.

*  In Turner, Oregon, an elementary school perpetrated on the helpless, impressionable young children carelessly left in its custody what can only be described as an act of unmitigated terrorism. To wit:

TURNER, Ore — Some parents and students in the small town of Turner, near Salem, were upset after a lockdown drill sent kids running for their classrooms in terror Wednesday.

“I was on the playground and I see everyone screaming, running into their classrooms,” said fifth-grader Carter Bourassa.  “I turn around and there is this guy climbing over the fence with a stick.”

Carter said the man was dressed in a hoodie.

“I thought someone was going to kidnap us or kill us,” said Carter.  “I was scared and there was a lot of people crying.”

The kids raced inside to their classrooms. Carter said the man then started banging on the windows.

This is unspeakable insanity. Odds dictate that these kids would have gone their entire lives without ever suffering this type of psychological trauma at the hands of an intruder; without ever being terrorized like this. What the school put these children through was entirely unnecessary, completely insane, and moreover, contrary to its very aim. If someone does now attempt something like this — for real — how many kids will respond apprehensively, wondering if it’s just a drill again? I would venture to guess more than if this ‘surprise’ drill hadn’t occurred. Sick, twisted and stupid.

According to the principal of Turner Elementary School, it was all part of a surprise lockdown drill.  He admits things went too far when a student teacher, acting as the intruder, got too aggressive.

That’s when it went too far? It didn’t go too far when you staged a surprise terror attack on your own elementary school children in the first place? Only when the terrorist “got too aggressive” while terrorizing the elementary school children?

Back at the Bourassa house, Carter’s mom was making sure he learned a lesson. “Be prepared for the unexpected if necessary,” she said.

I would think that the lesson is that you’re far more likely to be terrorized by authorities in the name of a threat, than by the threat itself. Guess that’s just me.

The principal sent a letter home to parents after the drill. He said the school has debriefed about the drill and he hopes everyone learned something.

Perhaps in the spirit of “learning” in this manner, residents should stage a “surprise drill” of their own, whereby they simulate the home invasion of the principal’s residence. No worries about getting too agressive. They can debrief afterward, send a letter to the principal’s parents, and hope everyone learns something.


*  In Pennsylvania (my emphasis below):

AMBRIDGE, Pa. (AP) — Now this is a story all about how a high school student’s life got turned upside down. But it was all just a bad rap.

The teen’s voicemail greeting triggered a lockdown at his Pennsylvania school after a receptionist misheard his rendition of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song.

While trying to confirm an appointment with 19-year-old Travis Clawson the receptionist thought the message said “shooting people outside of the school.” The line is actually “shooting some b-ball,” a reference to basketball.

The receptionist called 911 and Economy police arrested Clawson a short time later at Ambridge Area High School, but released him once he explained the message.

So the school was locked down — who knows what the entrapped students in the building were thinking as they sat unarmed, virtually helpless, awaiting their fate — and the kid was arrested over the misinterpretation of his voicemail by a stranger. All of this under the illusory auspices of “concern for welfare”:

Acting police Chief James Mann says police acted “appropriately” out of concern for students’ welfare.

Would that the parents shared this “concern for students’ welfare.” They wouldn’t any longer send their kids to school.

Moving on..

*  Last, but not least, the inimitable Will Grigg details some exciting ongoings over in some Idaho and Arizona schools:

Schools in Meridian, Idaho went into full “prison mode” after a student who brought a folding shovel to Heritage Middle School in Meridian, Idaho prompted the school’s “resource officer” to call for a full lockdown.

Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea told KTVB news that the youngster had been seen “jogging out of the school, then back into the school with what [staff members thought] was an axe.” After the “resource officer” called for a lockdown, police arrived “seconds” later, set up a perimeter, and deployed “search teams” to confront the “suspect” – an innocent teen who had brought the shovel to serve as a prop in a classroom presentation. Meanwhile, students at four nearby schools were put into “shelter in place” mode – that is, they were confined to their classrooms until police at Heritage Middle School gave the all-clear.

All of this occurred, once again, because a junior high school student brought a shovel to school, and none of the purported adults on campus was blessed with the presence of mind to approach the kid and find out what he was doing.  Interestingly, the state stenographers in the local media referred to the farm implement as a “military-style shovel,” a cosmetic designation that might someday be seized on by Commissarina Feinstein when she and her comrades seek to deprive the public of any implement that could possibly be used against their tax-feeding overlords.

The militarization of government schools has reached a point at which a tangible “threat” like a shovel is no longer necessary.  On February 5, three schools in Yuma, Arizona were placed on lockdown as the result of what was later described as a “rumor” of a gun on campus. Officers from two local law enforcement departments and two federal agencies – many of them kitted out in full combat attire – were mobilized for the operation. Following an evacuation each of the school campuses was subjected to a systematic search.  The students were held in custody for more than three hours before being released.

Boy, my kids really are missing out on a lot at public school.

I hope yours are, too.

This ain't your grandfather's freedom.

Public school? Prison? But I repeat myself.


  1. Burke02 says

    I home schooled my daughter in the late 90’s. The biggest problem with home schooling, to the outside world, was your child would not be properly socialized. This was after Paducah, Perl and Columbine. I’m proud that I stuck to my guns and my daughter was not properly socialized. I stand behind home schoolers 100%. Don’t let TPTB get you down, you’re doing the right thing.

    • Jay says

      “The biggest problem with home schooling, to the outside world, was your child would not be properly socialized.”

      I agree. Somehow, crowding a bunch of kids into an environment resembling that of a prison where, for the majority of the day, they’re essentially expected to shut up unless and until called upon… somehow this is generally perceived as a normal social environment.

      It’s pretty absurd.

      Congrats for sticking with the homeschooling. And thanks for reading/sharing.

  2. Patriot1 says

    When I worked as a delivery driver in Minneapolis, I used to deliver to some of the inner-city junior high and high schools. Sometimes I made deliveries as the students were going on lunch break. They could not leave the building until they showed their school ID to the adult door and hallway monitors standing near the entrances. Just like a prison. They also had an elaborate surveillance system with cameras everywhere. We didn’t have to deal with any of that crap when I was in high school, we were free to come and go as long as we made it to our classes. We could smoke if we wanted too, as long as it was outside and not in the building. The problem with these schools nowadays is that they’re godless, they teach that man is an animal evolved from slime, then when certain kids DO act like animals they freak out and do things like lockdowns and other violations of the students rights. The public school system is a creation of man, it is not Biblical at all. The Bible says that it is the parents responsibility to educate they’re children, not some government indoctrination center. Public schools are collectivist, they violate the rights of single people such as myself. I don’t have any kids, so why should I have to pay for the indoctrination of other people’s kids? They’re the ones who decided to have kids, not me, it’s not my problem. I feel sympathy for homeschoolers, because they’re getting screwed too, just like me, because they still have to pay for this degenerate cesspool called the public school system, even though they’re smart enough not to send their kids to these maggot infested ratholes. The problem is the parents who Do send their kids to public schools, they force the rest of us to pay through our tax dollars for their kids to be dumbed down with communist government propaganda. And I don’t want to hear any crap about how you can’t afford to pay for a private school or homeschool your own kids. If you can’t afford it then you shouldn’t have had kids to begin with. I’m sick of paying through the nose for the indoctrination of your bratty kids because you’re too damn lazy to educate them yourselves!

    • Teacher says

      Are you kidding me? Very few students would choose to stay at school if they had the opportunity to leave and return as they pleased. Many of my students would rather be sleeping or playing video games. If we want to teach them to be contributing members of society they must learn that they have to be in school during the day, just as I have to be there for a certain number of hours. That’s how jobs work. The school, by law, is responsible for the safety of students during the school day. If they left without us knowing and got hurt, we would be held responsible. As for the smoking comment, it’s only legal for 18 year olds, and certainly not a habit we should condone. If anything, we see our school as a safe haven for our kids (students). A lot of them don’t have a hot meal, an open ear to talk to, or somebody to look up to. They’re not coming to a “prison,” but rather a place where they can feel safe and loved, and gain invaluable life skills that will lead them to be successful and happy. Get a clue before you try making a bunch of unfounded claims.

      • Marge says

        Teacher, here is an enlightenment for you. In the real world, that is the world in which our jobs are not given to us because we signed up for the proper government program, our jobs do not simply require us to show up. “Contributing members of society” actually contribute, not just show up. Our jobs off the government teat require us to produce something that helps the company make money. Just showing up is not enough, unlike what the public schools teach. Private companies, the same companies your grouping demonizes, are the ones that make the money that the government steals to pay YOUR salary, deserved or not. We in the private sector cannot simply take what we want at the point of a gun.

        Having been on both sides of the fence, so to speak, the schools have no interest in education, they only have interest in things that will keep their power base. I am very involved in education. I took 40 kids on an environmental education field trip. This field trip included 13 classes that conform to the state standards, and I even provided to the school the standards that were met and how, and they declined to give the students credit. Why? Because I did not offer to take the ENTIRE school with us. In other words, they declined to give the kids credit not because there was an issue with what they learned or how, but because I WAS NOT SOCIALISTIC ENOUGH ABOUT IT.

        I walked into the school with an excellent STEM program that is widely implemented in other schools, public, private, and homeschool groups. I offered the school mentors and coaches for the kids, I even had complete funding for the program in my hand at the time., yet they declined. Why? Because ONE teacher decided it was too much work. So rather than give the kids something they could use that would give them scholarships, experience, and contacts, they decided it was too much work on the say so of one teacher rather than actually researching themselves. Is this what our students should be “looking up” to? (Oh, and just as a side note, the VAST majority of students do not come from ghettos where nobody cares about them, so please stop using that erroneous and factually incorrect statement just to soothe your own ego.)

        Also, in case you don’t follow the English language closely, both public schools and prisons are called “institutions.” Maybe there is a reason.

        • Teacher says

          I don’t teach in the “ghetto,” as a matter of fact. Nice stereotype. First of all, you are lumping teachers with administration, school board, etc. Teachers don’t have the power to make vast school wide changes, so don’t demonize us. If we complain too much we get fired. There are many things we would change if we were able to. For example, I’ve never met a teacher who thinks it is effective to “teach to the test.” Unfortunately it’s what the government mandates. All we can do is our best with the resources we are given, and if that means helping one child or 100 that’s why we’re there.

          I can’t believe you are naive enough to think that a majority of parents care about their child’s education. We are just babysitters to many of them. The student can curse at us and other students, and call us names, and their parents think their child has done nothing wrong. Sometimes the parent dropped out of school themselves, and therefore do not value education. If public schools were eliminated there would be millions of uneducated kids, because their parents don’t think schooling is important enough.

          I did not say that all I expect of my students is that they have to show up. Nice try. I have actually had numerous parents complain that I make my class too hard, because I have set my standards “too high” for their child when I know there are things they can achieve when they set their mind to it. My point in all this is to tell you that a VAST majority of teachers love and care for their kids and are teaching them not only academic skills but also life skills. We wouldn’t be in this demanding and low-paying profession if we didn’t want to help them succeed and thrive. Unless you are in a school every single day you don’t know what it’s like. It’s all politics.

          Anonymous, I’d like to see an example of the kids showing up for the “good teachers” then leaving in a low-income district. The attitude toward education is completely different from that of an affluent community.

          By the way Marge, the word institution is used to refer to marriage and college too. Do you also have a problem with them?

          • Ellen says

            Teacher, I taught in an what you refer to as an “affluent achool” many years ago. Many of these well-heeled parents were not at all interested in their child’s education. They were too busy to come in for conferences, as their businesses and careers were far too important than to waste time discussing their kids’ educations. Many of the students were bussed in from non-affluent areas.

            Many of our teachers could not even speak correct English, used slang, and some even taught English ! They were too lazy to learn better. Once they’re hired, it it almost impossible to fire a bad teacher, as you know, since you are protected by your union. Tenure guarantees you a job. I knew two teachers who actually hit two kids right in the classrooms, were dismissed and then rehired for the next term at other schools.

            My child was sent to school to learn. He was not sent to school for love, as he received enough of that from me, his father, other family members, and his friends.

      • Anonymous says

        Sounds like you aren’t a good teacher then. There are example after example of schools where students will show up to class for the good teachers and then leave right afterwards. Don’t blame the students when it’s the teachers and system that are failing.

  3. Tara says

    Please note that my comments are a direct result or Patriot 1’s comments. He/She paints all parents that send their children to school with the same brush and that is not fair. I am not dumb or lazy (he insinuated that I was dumb because I choose to send my children to a public school.) He also insulted my children by calling them bratty. While my children aren’t perfect, they are not brats. My children go to a charter school…. it is a cross between private and public because the public school board has very little control over them, they have higher expectations both academically and behaviorally, and they can and do kick out children that do not meet those expectations. At the same time, I do not have to pay for my child to attend there.

    While I do not homeschool, I DO support people’s CHOICE to do so. No, I can’t afford private school at 7,000 PLUS per year for one child, not that I would pay it anyway. It is a ridiculous amount of money. Not only that but don’t be fooled to think that bullying and other unpleasant things don’t happen at private schools, because they do. I know a mother who is having a bullying problem at her children’s Catholic school that the administration doesn’t want to take care of. In that case it is boys….. I know of another case where it is girls involved. I currently choose NOT to homeschool, not because I am dumb or lazy, but because my children learn from and respond better to other people….. I know this because of my experience with homework. I went to school to be a teacher, so it isn’t like I don’t have the skills necessary to teach them. Also a form of schooling has taken place at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. They just were not in the form they are now. They didn’t start as young, for example…. My neighbor is a single parent because her jerk of a husband decided he wasn’t meant to be a parent. She’s left with full responsibility of her two kids which means working full time to put food on the table…. she will not be able to homeschool. Unless that is, you want to pay more taxes and take care of her healthcare, food stamps, shelter, etc….. She’s doing the RIGHT thing by working instead of asking for a handout.

    I do not like what schools have become, but it is a societal problem. People have failed to teach responsibility for actions. We have taken God and morality out of the schools in a broad sense. Yes, children that are believers are allowed to pray, contrary to popular belief, but I’m talking about teaching children right from wrong. Some parents are not making education a priority, which makes a teacher’s job tougher.

    • LMS says

      You can’t judge whether your children will respond to homeschooling by experiences with homework. My children are homeschooled and don’t have homework. I wouldn’t make them work MORE after already putting in 6-8 hours! No wonder they balk. And you have no control over the homework they bring from school. With homeschooling, YOU determine what work they need to do, what is busy work or unnecessary drill. Homework and homeschooling are not in the same ballpark.

    • Kim says

      I agree with LMS. You cannot judge how your children would respond to homeschooling from homework experiences.
      My son is someone that I also believe I would feel “would respond better to people other than me” because he throws a HUGE fit about doing ANYthing other than what HE wants to do. (He has ADHD.)
      However, it is MY responsibility to teach him to grow beyond this behavior. It is hard & will take time. We have our good days & our bad days.
      I think you & your child may surprise each other (in a good way) if you were to give this a real go for one school year (or even a summer if you’re scared to miss out on the school year on your first try). Don’t sell yourself short. You’re probably capable of more than you think you are. ;-)

      And just a general comment to nobody in particular – this article was written in poor taste. It is overly & uneccessarily harsh to those who choose to send their child to public school. Hardworking single parents are often already burnt out – how can we expect them all to find the time or energy left to homeschool as well?!?! When would they sleep, eat, clean & cook?!?!

      I do not think public schools are necessarily good places for education (and certainly are horrible for socialization) nor do I feel they are truly safe (and I’m talking from drugs, sexual abuse, violence, etc) – but we shouldn’t degrade & ridicule those who are either unable to homeschool or who honestly have no business homeschooling (as I feel there are some who homeschool & are probably doing more damage than good – not everyone is meant to homeschool).

  4. Mendoza says

    I wouldn’t even raise my children in the USSA, let alone allow the pubic schools to sink their claws into them.

  5. Kim says

    I was a public school teacher for several years teaching first grade and I can attest to the “drills” they put the kids and staff through. They are very unsettling, making the teacher close the blinds and corral every child into a corner with the lights off, away from the view of the classroom door. The principal will walk the halls and jiggle the door knob making sure e door is locked. Imagine trying to keep 20+ six year olds quiet during this whole process and explaining its just a drill. Obviously this is t even close to what you wrote about. I am not surprised by these other situations. My son is a junior in high school at the public school by our house and they recently had death threats being made to the point that 75% of the kids missed school on the day of the supposed incident was to occur. They also found a shot gun in a students truck which was from his hunting trip over the weekend. Of course the kid got in trouble and everyone assumed the worse. Now that we have our daughter, who just turned five, we decided it would be in her best interest to home school her. We will be starting in the fall. I just can’t put her into the public school system. I saw what went in every day being in a classroom and there are certain things you cannot control. It thank you for writing this article because it just confirms my feelings. My son can’t graduate fast enough.

    • Jay says


      Thanks for sharing. It’s all Orwellian. Most disturbing is that the very institutions entrusted to care for the children are the ones instilling the fear and inflicting the kind of harm that the kids are unlikely to ever experience in their lives otherwise.

      As for your decision to homeschool your daughter: congratulations, and I wish you the best of luck! You won’t regret it.

      But as a former schoolteacher with the experience you have, you already know that. :-)

  6. Ernie Bridge says

    As far back as the ’60’s whn I was in college the Ed Major were the acknowledged lazy and dumbest undergrads and many of them have aged into becoming Principals and Supertendents and they are still lazy and stupid and cowards who bend over backwards to avoid being seen to be to blame for anything. That’s why they overreact and call for the police so often when a somple question could have cleared up an absurd misunderstanding.

    • Jay says

      For sure, Jessica.

      I feel vindicated in my decision to unschool my kids with each story I come across in the same vein as those cited in my post here. That is to say, I feel vindicated on a daily basis.

  7. Michelle says

    I went through public school for my entire academic career before college (that is to say, elementary school, middle school, and high school). I longed to be homeschooled at several different points, most notably during middle school when I was bullied. My parents were divorced, however, and my mother had to work full time to keep us in our house with food on the table; it just wasn’t possible. Now that I have been through the experience, I am glad that I never was homeschooled. It would not have been the right choice for me; had I been homeschooled, I would not have had the same academic opportunities, I would not have met many of my wonderful friends, and I might not have learned to stand up for myself. That being said, I realize that it’s a personal choice for each family and that each child is different. Homeschooling is wonderful for those it works for… As is public school. The author of this post and many of those who commented recognize this about homeschool but not about public school. Yes- it is certainly your prerogative to school your children the way you see fit. Yes- it is your right to have an opinion on the method that is most effective for your children. Unfortunately, that is where I draw the line. I do not see where you have the right to hate on other forms of schooling. The examples cited in the original post are extreme, it’s true. If you’ve ever taken statistics, however, you’ve learned that in most cases, you evaluate a set of data without the outliers because outliers skew the data. That’s just the thing about the examples in the original post: they’re outliers. They’re extreme because they don’t fit the norm. Even after recognizing that they’re extreme, however, I see where they are coming from. With events like Columbine and more recently the Sandy Hook shooting, it is entirely reasonable for a school to want its staff and students prepared in the event of an emergency. Do you not teach your children how to get out of the house in case of fire? It’s the same principle, but with more children, it must be executed on a larger scale. Again, I agree that the examples in the original post were extreme and the schools went too far. It seems to me, though, that we’d rather our children be a little frightened and safe than unprepared and dead. Honestly, I see no problem with homeschooling… But it’s attitudes like those in the comments above that in some aspects give homeschooling a bad name. I’m sorry and I don’t mean to offend anyone; but the holier-than-thou attitude is not helping your case.

    Patriot1: You are just ignorant. In case you have failed to notice, we live in a country with mandated schooling. As there will always be different socioeconomic levels, there will always be those who cannot afford private school tuition or to take off of work and homeschool their children. This means that government-run public schools will never cease to be necessary. As an American citizen, you are given rights, privileges, and responsibilities in return for your tax dollars. One of these rights is the right to give your child free public education. Notice that I said right; once again, it is your prerogative whether you wish to use this right or use your own method. The government does not mandate how to school your children. They simply say that you must school your child. They leave the option of tuition-free schooling for those who wish to take it. As such, they continue using tax dollars to fund this schooling. If you do not want your tax dollars sent to schooling for someone else’s child, then by all means, find a new country to live in. Finally, I am not a violent person- but your comment about “crap” when people cannot afford to send their children to private school makes me want to punch you in the face. My parents are both college-educated, hardworking members of society. My mother holds several degrees, including a JD (which, in case you were not aware, is the degree that a practicing lawyer must hold, in addition to passing the Bar Exam.) My father’s situation is much the same: multiple degrees, including a doctorate. By all means, they both have the skills and qualifications necessary to make a large sum of money each year, but does this mean that they do? Of course not. In the present economy, there is no guarantee. My parents (even if they were not divorced) could not have afforded to send myself and my two siblings to private school. Does this make us a drain on society? Of course not. It is unjust, false, and rude of you to say so.

    Ernie Bridge: Once again, your comment is ignorant. There is an incredible number of education majors (I would go so far as to say the vast majority of them) who are brilliant people, not “lazy and stupid and cowards.” They are education majors because they wish to make a difference in the lives of children, and they have a passion for teaching.

    Tara: I agree entirely with your post. Like you, I think it is a parent’s right to teach his or her child how he or she’s sees fit, but that does not mean that I would school my children the same way as the next person might.

    Mendoza: Do you mean USA? If so, that’s more than fine. There are many other excellent nations in which to raise children. But there is no point in hating on the USA.

    Jay: After reading everything and writing this comment, I just realized something. I am not very familiar with the term unschooling. Is there a difference between unschooling and homeschooling? I’m curious now. And once again, I am in no way insulting your method of schooling your children. I am merely frustrated with the holier-than-thou attitude that you displayed in the post.

    • Jay says


      Thanks for reading, and thanks your reply.

      I understand and I’m sympathetic to the plight of those who can’t homeschool primarily for economic reasons. But that is no defense of the public school system. Neither is it a defense of the public school system to merely say that you are glad to have “been through the experience.” Indeed, to me, it is quite telling that your only description of the way you spent a whopping 12 years of your life is as something that you’ve “been through.” In the absence of any discernible enthusiasm about public school anywhere in your response, that particular phrasing reads to me as an underhanded condemnation of it. At the very least, it is certainly a far cry from a ringing endorsement.

      Furthermore, you assume too much. You write: “I am glad that I never was homeschooled. It would not have been the right choice for me; had I been homeschooled, I would not have had the same academic opportunities, I would not have met many of my wonderful friends, and I might not have learned to stand up for myself.”

      Are you suggesting that homeschoolers have less academic opportunities; do not meet wonderful friends; and do not learn to stand up for themselves? If you are, you’re very wrong. If you’re not, then you cannot assume that homeschooling wouldn’t have been the right choice for you. In either case, it’s worth noting that once again, your words here offer nothing in the way of an endorsement of public school. They are merely a description of where you are as a result of having “been through” it. In fact, the phrasing is once again very telling, and to me reinforces that you’re not really keen on public school. To wit, you don’t say you are very happy that you went to public school (positive association); instead, you say you were glad you didn’t homeschool (negative association).

      You go on to say that the examples I cite in the original post are extreme, that they are not the norm. And yet the evidence continues to mount that this IS indeed the norm now. Your defense of the need to prepare for such events, and the fact that the majority of schools do, is an implicit admission that this is true. I’ve only highlighted but a few of the events that have “gone too far,” and those examples are piling up. One must also bear in mind, too, that because this type of preparation is now considered normal, and this type of preparation is expected, events like these are likely underreported. After all, “normal” events don’t warrant attention, let alone concern.

      Then you offer this whopper:

      “It seems to me, though, that we’d rather our children be a little frightened and safe than unprepared and dead.”

      It’s really ironic: earlier you said public school taught you to stand up for yourself, yet here you are, explaining away the need for schools to instill not confidence but fear in children. Moreover, your premise is entirely illusory in the first place. It is not simply a choice between frightened children who live, versus un-frightened children who die, as you present it. That is absolutely absurd. It is even more absurd when you consider what “preparation” actually entails for these drills. Mostly, it means students huddle in a corner and hope that the intruder doesn’t come into their classroom (see the comment from Kim above, as but one piece of evidence to this effect). If that’s your idea of safe, you’re a long way off the mark.

      There is so much more to say, but I’m limited on time. In the end, you’re right to infer that I am against public school. However, to some extent, I am also a product of public school (until 6th grade, then also for 9th grade; private school all other grades). And I’m not certainly not arguing that people can’t been productive who have “been through” it.

      But I AM saying that other options are far preferable.

      As a starting point, I recommend reading some John Taylor Gatto. Here is an aptly titled piece he wrote, “Against School” : http://www.wesjones.com/gatto1.htm

      Thanks for reading, and for commenting here. I wish you the best.

      • Michelle says

        Hi, Jay! Thanks for responding to my (admittedly long winded) comment. While I have nothing truly negative to say about the public school system (at least where I grew up), you’re right in that I have no “ringing endorsements” of it, either. I do not think this is an “underhanded condemnation” so much as a general statement… I’m not too keen on school in general. (I’m in college now, so that’s not just a public school thing… Though I guess you could make that argument, because I go to a public university!)

        My comment about homeschooling being the wrong choice for me is an assumption, yes, but I do not think it is very far off base. The academic opportunities I mentioned included activities such as mock trial and debate team, both of which I participated in while in school. I do not know where you live, but where I come from, it would have been difficult to participate in these academic-type clubs outside of the local high school. Also, is it possible for homeschool students to take Advanced Placement courses and exams to earn college credit? Forgive me for my lack of knowledge on the subject. Again, my statement was not meant to impune the quality of a homeschool education, just to touch on the opportunities I was given.

        My comments on gaining friends and learning to stand up for myself were similar. I did not mean to imply that I would not have made friends had I not gone to public school, merely to share that I doubt I would have met the friends that I do have had I not attended the schools that I did. I’m sure I could have made similarly great friends anywhere else through many other avenues, but I’m rather partial to the ones I have now! (:

        My addition on standing up for myself ties a little bit into the true meat of your original post. When I was in middle school, I was harassed and bullied (as I previously mentioned.) I was quiet and vaguely withdrawn, being an introvert by nature, and some nasty classmates did their best to exploit that. Up until this time, my defensive mechanism of choice would have been to withdraw further, but I got to my breaking point and decided that enough was enough. I approached my teacher, demanded under no uncertain terms to be switched out of her class, and told the folks in my class to leave me alone or I was going to the principal. (My teacher was incredibly taken aback… I went from a mousy, timid 12-year-old to my attorney mother’s daughter in about 10 seconds flat!) I share this anecdote as a hard lesson learned. You might disagree, but I found the experience to be fairly exhilarating and freeing. I needed to learn not to allow others to push me around, and I believe it was better to learn this lesson in a safe environment. This then becomes both a pro and a con of public school; in a homeschool situation, I’m sure I would not be exposed to the same level of bullying, which I agree is definitely a negative aspect of public school. On the other hand, this experience taught me a lesson that I certainly needed to learn.

        Of course, this ties into the idea of threats in public school and the ways schools choose to prepare for those threats. If you recall, I agreed with you that the schools you mentioned took their “preparation” too far. I do not remember much about the drills we practiced in elementary school or middle school, so I can’t rightly speak on those. In high school, however, they were certainly more organized than to “huddle in a corner and hope.” Someone would announce over the intercom that we were experiencing a code red (which just meant an unauthorized, potentially threatening being was on campus). Students in their classrooms were expected to fall silent and listen for further instructions (which teachers would receive by text and email). If a student was in the hall or bathroom, he or she was expected to enter the nearest classroom, all of which were then closed and locked. Then, the campus officers and principals/assistant principals/administrators would patrol the hallways, assessing the possibility of a threat and addressing it as necessary. We never experienced a true code red so I cannot say for sure that things would proceed as smoothly in the event of an actual intruder, but as a general rule, students followed instructions and behaved well in the drills. Unlike fire drills, these code red drills tended to be unannounced and the school would alter the drill slightly depending on what the administration felt we ought to practice… For example, when there was a “shooter” in the hallways, the teachers were instructed to have us get as far ass possible from the doors and windows of the classroom. Is this where you got the “huddle and hope” idea? At the end of the drill, the principal would announce over the intercom that this had been a drill and that it was over.

        I stand by what I said in that I’d rather children be frightened than dead. In running these drills, however, I cannot remember a single instance during which I actually felt fear. Instead, the drills did give me confidence- confidence that those in authority had a plan in place in case of emergency. The “afraid rather than dead” sentiment was, of course, just that: a sentiment. I realize that there is no chance of that ever becoming a choice. I was merely expressing a view on unnecessarily harsh preparation… That is, I don’t like it, either, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. The way I see it is this: I’d rather a school over prepare and overstep than under prepare, which could prove to be a fatal misstep. I apologize if that is not how I came across.

        Ok, I just read Kim’s comment, which I think I missed before. I can see where this method would be less effective in an elementary school. Again, I do not remember what my elementary school did as far as drills and plans… That would be interesting to look into!

        I agree that it has become the norm to prepare for such disasters as a shooter… And while it saddens me to say it, I think it is vital for schools to have such preparations in place. After all, there ARE crazy people out there who would shoot a classroom of children. (I honestly cannot think of a tragedy in more dire need of attention from the government than how to prevent this in the future.) It is the schools who “take it too far” that I disagree with. (I think you misunderstand me because it seems to me that we are in agreement here.) I am not denying that there are many examples of schools going too far, but I still believe that this is not the norm. You said it yourself: if “normal events” do not warrant attention, than I do not think the events you mentioned could possibly be the norm- after all, did these events not get press?

        In conclusion, you’re right. I’m not particularly an advocate of public school. I just wanted to present another side to a conclusion that seemed mostly unanimous here. You have given me a lot to think about, and I will go read John Taylor Gatto’s piece as soon as I am done here! I do not want to change your mind at all (in fact, I think diversity of opinion is one of the most beautiful things about this country!) but I hope I have given you some food for thought, as well. I’ve enjoyed this friendly argument and mental stimulation, and I hope that you aren’t too peeved with me to “agree to disagree,” as they say!

        Again, thanks for taking the time to respond. God bless!

        • Marge says

          Just to clear up a few misconceptions:

          1. I personally host several events every year that include a mock trial held by the Bar Association. Personally, if I’m going to educate my children in something, I’d like it to be by the actual professionals in that field.

          2. Homeschool students can and do have dual-enrollment, and several other things for advanced placement. There are also other programs such as the Stanford EPGY Program in which homeschool students participate. In our local area, we have homeschool classes for aquatics hosted by the aquarium, law classes hosted by the Bar Association, zoology courses hosted by the zoo, history classes held by the historic foundation, and robotics classes hosted by engineering firms.

          3. I had the opposite reaction with school. I went in an out-going energetic, and very enthusiastic child. That enthusiasm was quickly dispelled by other students that considered anyone that tried to learn (the reason for attending school) someone they should abuse, and by teachers that did not appreciate having a student that was eager to learn more, rather than rehash the same things over and over again until the rest of the class finally caught up. Combined, these did a lot to destroy any enthusiasm I had or school. On the other hand, my children have learned how to handle disputes as adults, and not like a couple of 3yo.

          4. My kids have much deeper friendships than most of the kids we know at public schools. The kids not only see each other at schools, but also the kids encourage each other and boost each other. Also, they have a much more open attitude towards the people they meet, and a more discerning attitude at the same time.

          5. The fact that the “code red” drills were something you grew up with in school, and that there was texting capabilities when you were in school tells me you are several decades younger than I, and part of the reason you may not see an issue IS because you grew up with this being the norm. For me, it is NOT the norm from when I was in school. Personally, I think a much better route for this would be to arm and train the teachers. If we can trust them with our most precious items, our children, why can’t we trust them with firearms?

          • Michelle says

            Hello, Marge, thanks for your response! I think it is very cool that your children and other children who are homeschooled receive that kind of educational opportunities. When I did mock trial, it was also held by the Bar Association, which my mother is a part of. It was an incredible experience that I believe every child should have the opportunity to participate in, and I applaud you for presenting it to your children! I’m curious about the logistics- are you a part of a community of other homeschooling families who decides on activities like mock trial, or did you find this opportunity and invite other nearby families to find out more and participate themselves? I apologize for my ignorance on how these things work, and again, this is merely curiosity on my part.

            Dual enrollment is available to advanced public school students in my area; I never considered that option for advanced private or homeschooled students as well! (This is not to say that homeschool students in my area don’t participate in dual enrollment… Just that I didn’t realize they did!) As for those other classes… It sounds like your children are given a very diverse education. I have a neighbor who was homeschooled for several years, and he was never given those opportunities. Of course, I am not sure that his homeschool and your homeschool are in exactly the same category. He was at home for most of his education, but once every week or so he would attend a meeting of sorts with the other “homeschool” students in the area. At these meetings, I think there was a series of something like class discussions. I, of course, attended neither his meetings nor his day-to-day activities so I cannot say anything for certain, but I believe he generally studied the same subjects as I did in public school. Perhaps his program was something of a hybrid?

            I find your school experience to be rather sad! Like most students, I had my fair share of unenthusiastic, discouraging, or just plain bad teachers, but for the most part, my teachers taught with great zest and were overjoyed when students showed a true interest in their subjects. I wonder if schooling has changed in this way over the years and if the geographic location of the school plays any part in the quality of the teaching and learning that takes place. I’m sorry that your teachers and classmates treated you like they did. It seems to me, however, that you have turned your negative experience into a positive one because you have a clear idea of how your own children should be taught and encouraged!

            Your fourth point is the only part of your response that really bothers me, as it seems that you are implying a weakness or superficial theme of my friendships with my public school classmates. Like your children and their friends, my friends and I “encourage each other and boost each other.” I find that this has absolutely nothing to do with how we met (school or otherwise) and everything to do with the strength of our character and the dedication to friendship. I think the same thing applies to an open attitude; this has more to do with the beliefs and values instilled in you by your parents than where you attend school. I am sure your children have wonderful friendships and attitudes, but please do not discount mine because of our differences in schooling.

            You might be on to something there with your comments about the time I was raised in as opposed to the time you were raised in… I think you’re right that the era and current events for each successive year alter the way that the students of the time see issues such as school disaster preparation. That being said, our difference of opinions here makes a lot of sense. When you were going through school, were there less disasters and mad men with guns, or did the schools just have a different method of dealing with this issues as they came? I am curious to hear how your school faced these conundrums. If you don’t mind me asking, what year did you graduate from high school? As a final comment, I see no problem with arming teachers and training them in such a manner. In fact, it seems perfectly reasonable! Perhaps in the coming years school systems around the country will look into this as a possible solution.

          • Teacher says

            Not sure when or where you were in school but the teachers in my school and any other district I’ve had experience with (I subbed for a number of years) have never quelled anyone’s interest in learning above and beyond what is required. As a matter of fact, schools countrywide are encouraging the concept of differentiation- analyzing the varying needs and abilities of different students and coming up with different ways to re-teach, reinforce, and extend important skills and concepts. Even my low-income district offers many advanced, AP, and dual-enrollment courses for students. I don’t think many of you on here understand just how many extra hours teachers dedicate to coming up with new, exciting, and hands-on methods of instruction to cater to the different needs and interests of our students. Gone are the days of sitting silently and working out of a textbook. My students discuss and move around and choose assignments that will demonstrate their understanding of a concept based on a skill (art, writing, etc.) that they enjoy and are good at. I’ll say it again- school is not conducted in the manner in which many of you remember it.

  8. says

    This is my 2nd year of homeschooling and I cannot be more pleased with my decision to do so. From all the stupid things the public schools have done lately due to simple things the students have done is really getting ridiculous. From throwing away some kids lunch to arresting a child for nothing….it is insane. Thank you dear Lord for allowing me the opportunity to homeschool my granddaughter and not have her subjected to this crap. I don’t worry about her socialization…she gets plenty of that. After all….I have seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child!!!

  9. HSMomTN says

    Michelle, I wanted to answer a question you had asked about educational opportunities. Where I live, and probably all over the US, home school students have the opportunity to dual enroll during their junior and senior years of high school, earning around 28 college credits by the time they graduate high school. There are debate teams, tutorial classes of all sorts, community service opportunities, clubs, etc. These may not have been options 20 years ago, but now with the growing number of homeschoolers, the opportunities are great. The zoo here offers a junior zoo keeper program and home school enrichment classes with animal encounters. The science center offers family science labs and special classes for homeschoolers. A homeschool group I’m in meets at the local nature center once a month for a special program. Whatever a student’s interests, there are opportunities everywhere! My children and I participate in a co-op every week where we meet for 3 1/2 hours & the mothers each teach different classes including yoga, Bible, science, math games, active games, music, history, and art, and the children have lunch together. Home schoolers are only required to do 4 hours of lessons each day, which means even parents who work can school their children at home if they’re creative with their scheduling. The lady who teaches music in our co-op plays for the Grand Ole Opry every week, another mother is a FT nurse, another mother is a dental hygienist, and another mother is a farmer, selling milk and other products. Homeschooling can be expensive, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. I personally only spend about $200 per year on curriculum and maybe another $100-$200 a year on memberships and theater trips. We go to the children’s theater, the symphony, the art museum, the library, nature centers, parks, ice skating, the science center, and on other wonderful “field trips” regularly, going some place every week in addition to our co-op. The old idea that homeschooled children don’t really live in the “real world” has been disproved as homeschoolers are now unafraid to venture out during the day and socialize, but not just with people the same exact age as themselves but with people of all ages. I believe my children learn to stand up for themselves without being subjected to the bullying that takes place a lot in schools. I was bullied in school as well, and I don’t feel that it was a necessary part of growing up. Being able to stand up for one’s self comes with maturity and confidence, not just with being pushed to the edge. My children are very confident with who they are. After-all, they spend their days with people who like, love, inspire, challenge, encourage, and motivate them rather people who pick on them or make them feel inadequate. I respect your opinions as you seem to respect the opinions of some of the others on here but I think your homeschool assumptions are perhaps based on old ideas. Homeschooling has certainly come a long way in the last 10-20 years!! :) Also, “unschooling” is an education based on real world experiences rather than sitting at a desk working through text books. Children learn about things that interest and inspire them rather than what someone else deems necessary and appropriate for their grade level. The overall term “homeschooling” can encase all types of learning that takes place outside of a school environment, but some homeschoolers work through text books at home, some unschool, some learn through interesting books and resources but don’t use textbooks, etc. . . :)

    • Michelle says

      Thanks for your input! I definitely appreciate the information. I truly had no idea there were so many opportunities out there for homeschool students! (Also, I discussed this very topic a few comments up with Marge, if you care to read what we each have to say!) I think it is very exciting that you and your child get to participate in such a varied program of study. Do you think that these activities will grow in scope and depth as your child grows intellectually and becomes involved deeper into his or her studies?

      You mentioned a four hour minimum on daily lessons. Is this a federal government mandate, a state-wide rule, etc., etc.? I do not know very much about how homeschooling figures into the laws from a government standpoint. Also, do you find that you stick to the minimum, or do you continue with lessons well past the four hour mark? Is there a time frame attached to this rule, or could a family do their lessons from 3–7 PM, as an example?

      My comments on cost were meant less for the price of actual learning activities and more for the opportunity cost of parents who were otherwise working full time (or more). You mentioned that many of the parents have jobs in addition to their homeschooling responsibilities, but the capability to hold an outside job and a teaching position could vary from family to family. My mother, for example, is an attorney. Throughout my years of high school, she tended to spend a typical day working in court for a few hours, going to her office and meeting with clients for a few hours, then coming home to draft settlements and wills and counter-offers, answer emails and calls, or research prior court decisions. Most days, I believe she worked fairly solidly from 8 or 9 in the morning until 7 or 8 at night. Then, she’d cook dinner, help us with our homework, or spend time with us. I realize that this is not a typical work day for most people, but I just wanted you to know that for some families, it truly will never be possible.

      My story on being bullied was in no way meant to endorse any form of bullying. I believe you misunderstood me; I do not feel that it was a “necessary part of growing up.” I just meant that for me, it provided an important lesson that I had previously had no reason to learn. I look back on middle school now, and I find that I am stronger for what I was put through. I fully believe that bullying is a terrible thing that we should work to eliminate… But I also believe I would not be the person I am today without the experience of having to stand up for myself.

      I have never believed in the stereotype of unsocialized homeschoolers… I had several friends in high school who had been homeschooled for most of their school careers, and without exception, they were wonderful, well-rounded individuals with many friends and cultured beliefs. As I stated in my second comment (I know they’re all very long comments, so I don’t expects you to have read through them all, don’t worry!), I started typing simply to express another viewpoint. I have nothing against homeschooling families, and I think it is a great way to go for certain people. Thank you for listening and responding to my perspective and respecting my opinions! (: Have a wonderful day and God bless.

      PS- Thanks for the definition of unschooling! I think I understand it a little better, now.

  10. bengale says

    The first definition is becoming more and more true for the children in public schools.so·dial·ize (ssh-lz)
    The first definition of socialization is becoming more and more true in the v. so·cial·ized, so·cial·iz·ing, The so·cial·iz·es
    1. To place under government or group ownership or control.
    2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable.
    3. To convert or adapt to the needs of society.
    To take part in social activities.

  11. Sharon says

    As a homeschooling parent (and after having read this post and each of the comments below it), I have to say that I am surprised no one stated the obvious. As there will ALWAYS be a need for public education and there will ALWAYS be children who need to be taught, it will always be in the best interests for everyone – public, private and home schooled citizens (and their families) – to have good public schools. Unless something drastically changes, the vast majority of children will come from our public schools. When I say “good,” I mean sane, truth-teaching, GOOD schools. The fact is that whether you teach your child in your home or you have another set of people teaching him, he will someday live among a people who will -most likely- be the product of public education. If there are problems in our schools, and there certainly are, we should be trying to do all we can to correct them. The idea of public schools is wonderful. What they have become in many aspects is not. These things need to be acknowledged, addressed, brought to the public forum, debated and changed. It is the responsibility of every American to see to that.
    Lastly, there is a motto in our home that we would all do well to live by:
    “You may not complain about a problem unless you are doing something about it.” What are we in the homeschooling community doing about the public schools in our areas? We have just as much (maybe all the more) right and responsibility to see that our public schools are good ones.

    P.S. We view homeschooling as a calling from God. We are about to finish our 16th year of teaching our children at home. We do not feel we are running away from something so much as we are running toward something. As a product (13 years) of public education myself, I am very, very grateful to have been given the chance to learn all I was taught and to have been given all of that for free. Many, many places in the world cannot afford their children such an opportunity.

    • Jay says


      I disagree that there ever has been, let alone always will be, a need for public education. I’m not opposed to the improvement of public schools — whatever that means — but I actually advocate their abolition altogether. As such, it is obvious that I don’t agree with you that the idea of public schools is wonderful; at least not the idea of them as conceived by those who were the initial advocates for their implementation here in the U.S. See the Gatto link I posted in a comment above. It is, and always has been, an institution of repression, however well-intended those in its employ today.

      On another note: “As a product (13 years) of public education myself, I am very, very grateful to have been given the chance to learn all I was taught and to have been given all of that for free.”

      It wasn’t, and still isn’t, free. Not by a long shot: http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/they-spend-what-real-cost-public-schools

      And then consider that every dollar spent on it is forcefully extracted from someone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGMQZEIXBMs

  12. HSMomTn says

    Michelle, yes I absolutely believe the studies will grow in depth and scope as my children become more involved in their studies. For now, I am doing my best to involve them in a wide range of experiences. As they get older, though, we will begin to put more time and effort into what they’re really interested in and cut back on the other activities about which they are less passionate. Right now, they are just excited about seemingly everything. :) Art, science, music, friends, books, plays, sports, hiking, etc. They’re still really young, though; my oldest child is in 2nd grade this year, and my youngest will begin Kindergarten in the late summer of this year.
    As far as the time requirements go, I believe 4 hours is the standard nation-wide, but I’m not positive on that. And yes, parents may teach their children any time of day they please. It’s hard to put a time on how many hours a day any children are learning, though. It seems children are always learning, whether they’re reading books, digging in the ground with sticks, making potholders on a loom, or building cities and vehicles and robots with random objects around the house. I make lesson plans and set goals for Bible, math, reading, writing, science, geography, grammar, music, art, history, etc. If my daughter wants to explore a specific topic further, we do. If she’s satisfied at the end of doing what I had planned, we move on. I don’t set a timer to see how long it takes us to accomplish the daily lessons, though. We never sit at a table looking at books or writing for more than 4 hours, that’s for sure. Any learning that takes place after the daily lessons is child-led or life-learning in our household, usually in the form of playing games, painting, building, crafting, playing instruments, putting together puzzles, cooking or baking, helping Daddy work with tools, and exploring outside. As they get to high school, we still won’t set a timer, but I’m sure more time will be spent on “desk-work”.
    I certainly understand your mother’s time constraints. My parents did not work the same number of hours but would not homeschool me, because they couldn’t see how they could fit it in. Homeschooled highschoolers tend to do most of their learning independently, but children in earlier grades do need a lot of parental involvement and supervision. The friends I had in high school who were homeschooled read their books and completed their assignments on their own or while at their tutorial classes. Their parents worked full time. They did not sit with them on a daily basis and teach them really. All but one of my friends in highschool who were homeschooled went to a tutorial two days a week, getting instruction and assignments from a professional in each subject and then working on those assignments throughout the week, more like college. The time requirements for parents homeschooling teens in that manner, therefore, are minimal. The one friend I had who did not attend a tutorial received her assignments from her mother and her mother graded her work, but it was mostly independent study, with her mother working full time as well. All parents do not school their children this way. Some may spend a lot more time actually teaching in the highschool years, so I do not want to give the impression that that is how it is for all, though.
    Sorry if I misunderstood your position on bullying. I didn’t necessarily think you condoned it, but I do know that a lot of people seem to think it’s one of those things kids just have to go through to toughen them up. That’s a sad position to take and one you obviously disagree with. However, I understand how each hardship we endure in life does make us who we are, and that seems to be more what you were saying. :) God bless you as well. It’s been nice talking with you.

  13. Marge says

    Teacher said, “Not sure when or where you were in school but the teachers in my school and any other district I’ve had experience with (I subbed for a number of years) have never quelled anyone’s interest in learning above and beyond what is required.”

    You say you and none of the teachers you have had any experience with have ever quelled someone’s enthusiasm. How can you possibly state that? Have you been in that child’s shoes? Have you been a child student for each and every one of those teachers? Have you been a child in each and every class in the district of which you speak?

    Just because you do not THINK you quell enthusiasm does not make it so. I’m quite certain the teachers I had did not think they were quelling my enthusiasm by having me repeat the same things I had just proven I knew simply because the rest of the class failed, but nonetheless, they did indeed quell my enthusiasm. By making a blanket statement that I easily disproved in just a few short sentences, you have shown one of the major failings of public schools, the staff believe the schools have no failings, and therefore are incapable of fixing the issues that exist. If you cannot acknowledge there is a problem, you certainly cannot fix it.

  14. Marge says

    Michelle, my comments were to clear up the obvious misconceptions YOU have about home education. There are many different ways and means of homeschooling a student, ranging from complete unschooling to public education at home (personally, I find it quite hilarious that homeschooling has grown such that the public school system is now trying to get in on it).

    As far as your disapproval of my comment, you insinuated that the only way for children to make friends was at a public school – something that shows your obvious bias against home education, and your complete lack of knowledge about the subject. I have 2 children, one has dozens of friends and is extremely gregarious. The other is more introverted, and one or two good friends is plenty for her. Neither of these personalities is a direct result of homeschooling, but is more of their individual personalities.

    Also, maybe the reason you think the child next door had no friends is because they had no reason to confide in you considering the obvious bias I pointed out earlier. I do not like associating with people that disapprove of me before they even know me, either.


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