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  • It's amazing to me how popular homeschooling seems to be in the geek population. The common thread of abusive schoolmates seems to be a big contributor. For me that's not the reason for homeschooling, but it does make my list of "things that made it easier for me to choose homeschooling once I decided it was a good idea."

    I'm a rare breed of (future) homeschooler, I guess. I read Graham's essay awhile back and was unimpressed. I recognize that a lot of (American) schools are apparently quite crummy ... but mine were great. Overall I loved school and learned a lot from it and would be quite happy if my kids attended school in the same district I did, provided it does not change too much. High school was, until I met Sarah, the highlight of my life (specifically high school band).

    For me it comes down to what I believe is or should be the fundamental mantra of homeschooling:

    Every parent is best qualified to make the decisions for their children.

    It's libertarianism and decentralization in a nutshell, actually. We have the legal right to opt out of the school system, and believe we can do far better if we do, because the decisions about our children will be made far closer to them. Like you, we're not saying public or private schooling isn't for anyone, just that we don't need it and don't want it. We very much believe in exercising our right to raise our children as we see fit, without having to ask permission from the government or subject our children to the public's conception of what experiences every child should have.

    It's a little bit like second amendment advocates and gun ownership. (No, I do not own a gun.) We have the right and I believe we should exercise it. If the law did not acknowledge that right, I believe we should work to have it acknowledged. Not everyone needs to avail themselves of that right, and people who do not make use of it are no less of a person than people who do not exercise their rights to freedom of speech, religion, or gun ownership. But we have it and want it and feel very strongly we should not have to answer to anybody about it.

    And here's where I get mad at a lot of the states' homeschooling laws (Texas is thankfully much more lenient). We shouldn't have to ask permission or have our kids evaluated or follow an approved curriculum or have our curriculum evaluated or anything. Our kids. Period. Unless someone has reason to suspect we're abusing them, the public can take its alleged "compelling interest" in seeing that our children are educated and take a flying leap. It's nice that you're all interested in how we're going to raise our children, but our windows still have blinds, and we still call that being a busybody.

    As near as I can see, there should plain and simply be a repeal of compulsive schooling laws. Schooling isn't for everybody, and it doesn't equal "education." A different set of experiences may be just what a particular person needs, and we sure don't need to centralize the decisions about what experiences will be fed to all children in the country.

    Something that makes me sad is that even many homeschoolers don't seem to accept that mantra. Sarah and I were reamed out by homeschoolers on a mailing list a few months ago because I dared to say we planned to have our children reading by around age 3. (Oh, and Andy Lester, if you're reading this: congratulations on having Quinn reading in the car, even before 3! That's a fine little person you are raising, there!) Apparently many folks feel that reading at age 3 damages a child or something. They should apparently go play in the dirt instead (seriously, a parent told us playing in the dirt was a much more important experience to the child, as if we had somehow indicated our children would never be allowed outside since we would have them strapped to a chair and force-fed phonics 14 hours a day). These people are living out the principle that parents know what's best for their children but are unwilling to allow us to do the same.

    Seems noone can accept this. That's why I think it's so important to keep it codified in law that noone has a right to dictate these decisions to us.

    Okay, off of soapbox. :)

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers