KEEP HOMESCHOOLING CHOICE FREE
KEEP HOMESCHOOLING CHOICE FREE
A PETITION TO:
KEEP HOMESCHOOLING as a FREE and VITAL SCHOOL CHOICE
We, the undersigned, are a varied and vast group of American families and individuals who are standing up in response to misconceptions about homeschooling in the US, specifically those circulated in academic circles and in the hands of "expert" policy-advisors and decision-makers, as evidenced by Harvard University's recently postponed "The Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform," the accompanying article entitled "The Risks of Homeschooling," published in Harvard Magazine, the more detailed Arizona Law Review paper entitled "Homeschooling: Parent Rights Absolutism vs. Child Rights to Education & Protection," a Harvard Gazette publication entitled "A Warning on Homeschooling," and a Boston Globe Op-Ed piece entitled "At-Risk Children Need More than Virtual Visits During the Coronavirus Pandemic." (1)
In summary, it appears that the aforementioned conference, articles, and Law Review paper all have strived to demonstrate that homeschooling should be banned or at very least regulated, restricted, and reinvented with enforced government-school mandates and invasive oversight to such a high degree that it may as well be banned.
We the undersigned feel that no matter when the proposed conference will take place, opening up minds and both physical and virtual doors to allow for more "seats" at the decision-making, policy-creating table, both literally and conceptually, will elucidate and enlighten those who genuinely lack the understanding and awareness of what homeschooling in America really "is" and "can be" (a far more kaleidoscopic and multi-faceted framework than most outside this world may envision).
Who are we? We are a varied and vast group. Far from identifying ourselves as fitting into any singular and narrow paradigm of thought and belief (religious and otherwise), we are individuals who homeschool, who support family and friends who homeschool, who come from all walks of life, all ends and variants of the political spectrum; we constitute a cornucopia of faiths (including atheists and agnostics) and we are a proverbial quilt of many colors, genders, and cultures who refused to be defined in narrow and limiting terms.
Our offering herewith a small selection of alternate and refreshing individual viewpoints in the context of this petition letter, made available as links to the essays or statements written by our proposed speakers, expresses our hope to give voice to the greater community of the homeschooling world that is not typically outspoken nor very visible to the wider public via advocacy or media presence. For us, the undersigned, this is a call to positive action!
And indeed, we would like to see our speakers and contributors (and other positive voices from within the world of homeschooling) offered "seats" at the Harvard Conference table when the planned symposium is rescheduled.
The writers and speakers whose voices are presented herewith are all parents who have homeschooled children to and through college and who have also contributed a great deal to their local homeschooling communities and far beyond (2). We ask you to please take time to read and consider the refreshing views offered by these three speakers of distinction who have generously shared herewith some of their wisdom regarding homeschooling
We thus share the following links on our Document Repository (click on title to view):
- Laurie Block Spigel is an educator, lecturer, consultant and former homeschooling parent writing on the positive and creative gifts of having EDUCATIONAL FREEDOM.
- Jen Seron is a NYC-based educator and educational advocate who details a working plan for positive change with EDUCATIONAL PARADIGM SHIFT: Empowerment, Self-Actualization, and Talent Development in Supportive Communities, Including Homeschooling.
- Melle Randall, founder of The ROC Network for Learning, is both a NYC homeschool community leader and an education innovator who embraces a multi-level approach to problem-solving in LEARNING + COMMUNITY: Creative Learning while Making Genuine Community Connections.
Finally, we are also sharing a small selection of links to family-submitted contributions to further broaden definitions and perceptions of what homeschooling can be.
Our speakers represent just a small sampling of voices in the homeschooling world and are presented here to serve as a small window into the far larger and far more interesting community that exists in American Homeschooling.
The point we make is that homeschoolers make up a larger body of creative, social, community-minded and talented youth who remain lifelong positive contributors to our society, to learning, and to the world in which we live. Each individual story represents a unique aspect of educational choice and the options having this vital choice affords. Rather than being considered an anomaly or threat to conventional government-school education which so often underserves many young minds and budding talents, homeschooling, given its flexible heterogeneity, may inform the greater community of educators including school-based instructors, as a wonderful paradigm that might impart insight on how children learn and thrive and grow as individuals.
Respectfully submitted by a varied and vast group of American families and individuals who feel that oft-circulated antiquated and limiting stereotypes and misconceptions regarding homeschooling do not describe us, our children, our grandchildren, our relatives, our friends, and our rich and varied viewpoints on homeschooling.
HEAR US as we stand up, united in this positive and propitious response, to rally for the continuation of the free educational choice to homeschool here in the United States.
END OF LETTER
ADDITIONAL NOTES for all interested (Footnotes below these Notes):
The purpose of this petition is to shine a very different light on homeschooling because we do perceive that the current campaign(s) against homeschooling may put homeschooling in America in jeopardy. However, rather than pick apart and systematically disprove each of Ms. Bartholet's and other naysayers' assertions (which are antiquated, biased, cherry picked, and certainly not backed up by empirical evidence), thankfully many voices of reason have already and recently done just that (including writers from respected academic journals and mainstream publications such as Forbes Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Review)(3) so we may gratefully put such efforts aside here to make an alternate and equally valid case for homeschooling to continue as a choice in the United States.
While many have spoken up to correct mis-stated assertions, very few voices have come together to show that homeschooling is many things to many people.
We ask all those who have harshly critiqued and in some cases attacked homeschooling in America to kindly listen to and read, carefully and respectfully, the thoughtful contributions made by this handful of individuals before you recommend policy change, intrusive oversight, standardized one-size-fits-all materials, approved curriculum, or draconian home inspections all based on ill-placed and uninformed bias that should have no place in a free America graced with a broad-minded, non-discriminatory and democratic educational system.
(1) In this Op-Ed writer-professor Elizabeth Bartholet cites her own poorly referenced Arizona Law Review article as "proof" that homeschooled children are frequently abused. That article most improbably (but actually and quite embarrassingly) frequently uses as resources one sensational tell-all autobiography (**) and numerous assertion-based / personal-invective websites such as like Gawker's regrettably and scatologically titled Quiverfull of Shit describing a bizarre outlier family with nineteen children who are no more common or typical examples of homeschooling than, say, Snail Racing is an example of a typical and popular American sport.
- **It should be added, not without irony, that this autobiography, a written-tirade against homeschooling, comes from a self-directed un-schooled learner who, in her own words, at age 17, despite having a highly atypical cult-like upbringing, completely SELF-educated herself to the point of being able to enter a respectable university (Brigham Young University) and subsequently enter Harvard itself to obtain her Doctorate and write a best-selling book. All this without having attended any government school at any time during her upbringing. Her brother, we understand, homeschooled his own children with great success and no ill effects.
(2) Biographical information on each of our proposed speakers and some of their accomplishments can be found at the end of each speaker's statement or essay ( per links above) at this "Document Repository" link.
(3) Forbes Magazine: "Harvard's Lazy Attack on Homeschooling," The Wall Street Journal: "A Harvard Professor Shows Her Prejudice Against Homeschoolers," The Washington Examiner: "Harvard's war on homeschooling continues," The National Review: "Harvard Law Takes Aim at Homeschooling," and "Education Next" (an article co-written by professors from Johns Hopkins and University of Arkansas).
Some of the cited studies showing very positive outcomes for homeschoolers include (but are not limited to): "Predicting College Performance of Homeschooled Versus Traditional Students" (via Educational Measurement Journal), "Homeschool Child Fatalities Fewer Than the National Average," and The Institute for Family Studies' research article entitled "The Social Realities of Homeschooling."