In the debate over home schooling and ‘parents’ rights,’ we need to remember children have rights too

Posted on November 04, 2016, 2:02 am
11 mins

PHOTOS: Alberta Education Minister David Eggen. Below: Wildrose Opposition Leader Brian Jean and film director and former American evangelical Frank Schaeffer (Salon photo).

Controversy in Alberta over the provincial government’s decision to withdraw funding and accreditation from a private Christian school association that oversaw about a third of the province’s home-schooled children offers a chance to cast a little light on the home schooling movement and its goals.

For while all sorts of parents home school their children for all sorts of reasons, the majority of the growing number of North American home schoolers are members of the Christian right, and their movement is driven by religious fundamentalist leaders with an agenda for curriculum, philosophy, and, ultimately, societal change that extends beyond their circle of co-religionists.

jeanmainSo it is easy, wrote journalist and author Katherine Stewart in 2013 in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, even for well meaning parents “to get sucked into the vortex of fundamentalist home schooling because extremists have cornered the market.”

In practice, this means many home-schooled children are taught as God’s word what only can be described as bigotry and intolerance. And it means the proselytizers of this worldview want to move us toward a society in which your children must be taught the same things.

Of course, in the case of the latest Alberta Christian-education controversy, we don’t know what was being taught along with the provincial curriculum by home schooling families whose efforts were overseen by the Trinity Christian School Association and the Wisdom Home Schooling Society, which appear to have been run by members of the same families.

But while the specific reasons the province withdrew funding from Trinity and Wisdom are sensational, they are not really as important as understanding what drives the Christian home schooling and private evangelical school movement.

Knowing this, in turn, helps Albertans understand what the Opposition Wildrose Party is actually supporting when it accuses Alberta’s NDP Government of undermining “parental rights” in education.

In a fund-raising letter emailed to Wildrose supporters Wednesday, Leader Brian Jean excoriated the NDP Government for closing the two closely tied organizations, reaffirming his party’s promise to “protect parent’s (sic) right to choose the education their child receives whether it be through public, separate, public charter, private school or homeschooling.”

frank_schaeffer2-620x412This position is a popular and effective wedge issue for conservative parties in both Canada and the United States, uncontroversial even among economic conservatives who are not religious fundamentalists because it meshes nicely with their own quasi-theological belief that markets always do a better job of everything than public services.

Indeed, in Alberta there is little evidence from what Education Minister David Eggen has said that the position of the NDP Government led by Premier Rachel Notley is all that different from the right-wing parties when it comes to “choice” in education.

Notwithstanding the Wildrose position, given the nature of the accusations against Trinity and Wisdom – both operating out of the tiny East Central Alberta hamlet of Derwent – the government did not appear to have many options but to try to stop sending per-student education grants to them.

Last week, the Globe and Mail reported that Alberta Education revoked the Trinity’s registration and accreditation as a private-school operator after receiving a report that indicated money had been directed to a third party, Wisdom, which kept close to a million dollars “that was supposed to go to parents to fund their children’s education over the last three years.”

The 37-page review of Trinity’s operations released by the government also indicated investigators concluded two families associated with Trinity and Wisdom were responsible for the problems, and that funds that should have been spent on education were improperly used for expenses including alcohol, gift cards, theatre tickets, babysitting, funeral costs and groceries.

The government has vowed to try to get the money back, and says it has reported its concerns to the RCMP and the Canadian Revenue Agency.

Representatives of Trinity and Wisdom are expected in court today in Grande Prairie to seek an injunction to stop the province from halting the funds until they have more time to argue they have done nothing wrong.

The Wildrose Opposition, meanwhile, would like you to believe the NDP has gone after Trinity and Wisdom for ideological reasons, to limit the right of parents to control what their children are taught.

But in a separate Globe story, the newspaper’s reporter interviewed a former home student of the Trinity-Wisdom program, who said topics like evolution were not taught, she had few textbooks, and she was permitted to graduate without meeting basic standards in English and science.

In her Guardian article, Ms. Stewart quoted a former home-schooling student who said “the Christian home school subculture isn’t a children-first movement. It is, for all intents and purposes, an ideology-first movement.” The consequences, the former student asserted, “include anxiety, depression, distrust of authority, and issues around sexuality.”

A theme that crops up regularly in journalism on home schooling is the drive by Christian home schoolers to keep their children away from what they see as an evil, secular society. “Therein lies the heart of the Tea Party, GOP and religious right’s paranoid view of the rest of us,” wrote film director and former evangelical Frank Schaeffer in Salon last year.

“Evangelical schools and (the) home school movement were, by design, founded to undermine a secular and free vision of America and replace it by stealth with a form of theocracy,” he argued.

“Evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren’t the evil government,” Mr. Schaeffer wrote. They “favoured private ‘facts’ too. They claimed that global warming wasn’t real.”

“The price for the religious right’s wholesale idolatry of private everything was that Christ’s reputation was tied to a cynical political party ‘owned’ by billionaires,” the Salon article concluded. “The logic of their ‘stand’ against government had played into the hands of people who never cared about human lives beyond the fact that people could be sold products.”

While it is likely too late to block the pernicious home schooling trend in Canada, perhaps it is time in the interests of society to bring all home schooling in the country directly under the supervision of a public school board.

Right now, every public school board in Alberta is capable of overseeing the efforts of parents who choose to educate their children at home while ensuring those students graduate qualified to attend university. Not so many years ago, a provincial correspondence branch supervised the instruction of home-schooled students in many provinces.

Because of conservative parties’ ideological rhetoric, all we’ve been talking about is “parents’ rights.” Maybe it’s time to remember children have rights too.

NOTE: Justice E.J. Simpson of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled in Grande Prairie today that Trinity and Wisdom may continue to operate without government funding until a hearing set for Jan. 5, 2017. The judge described this decision as protecting both students and Alberta taxpayers. Education Minister David Eggen said in a short statement that “I have been informed that the court in Grande Prairie has granted what the judge characterized as an interim-interim injunction …. It is important to note that today’s ruling was not a final determination on the merits of the case. We stand behind the actions that we have taken to date based on the evidence made public in the audit. “Our priority, as always, is our students and ensuring that every public dollar is spent to ensure they are getting a high-quality education. We will continue to work with all home education providers in the province to support students and parental choice in education.” Observe Mr. Eggen’s continued support for “parental choice in education,” which suggests again as argued above that the NDP position on this question is not far removed from that of the right-wing parties. This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

84 Comments to: In the debate over home schooling and ‘parents’ rights,’ we need to remember children have rights too

  1. Elaine Horner

    November 4th, 2016

    Right on the mark.

    Reply
  2. jerrymacgp

    November 4th, 2016

    Homeschooling: I also wonder what impact it has on gender equality in our society, since it, by definition, requires one parent, usually the mother, to remain out of the workforce to stay home with the children and deliver an education that would otherwise be delivered in a school?

    On the other hand, was pulling accreditation, which does have a negative impact on the students and their parents (who have already bought into the homeschooling model), the only tool at the Minister’s disposal? Was there no option for some form of trusteeship that would seize governance from the Trinity Christian board and put it in the hands of some overseer from Alberta Education, but would allow programme delivery on the ground to continue, at least in the short term? Just asking …

    Finally, why is Trinity Christian’s application for an injunction being heard in Grande Prairie, of all places? Seems an odd choice for a Cold Lake-based board, especially if you look at a map.

    Reply
    • Christina

      November 4th, 2016

      Modern homescholing is often done by both parents or even fathers alone. Learning happens on the schedule that the family sets and therefore does not need to conform to the Monday to Friday 9-3 type schedule. Some families do classes in the evenings while others do them on the weekend or early morning etc. Some families do have both parents working outside of the home either part time or full time. However, they have decided to home educate their children and with that committment find a way to make it work.

      Reply
    • Trisha

      November 11th, 2016

      Gender equality isn’t about requiring men and women to be the same. It’s about both genders having the same choices and opportunities. In my experience as a homeschooler it usually IS the woman who chooses to do the lion’s share of homeschooling – so what? As long as it’s a matter of CHOICE, why should it matter? I CHOOSE to homeschool my children (for reasons that are unrelated to religion). And in a year or two I will likely CHOOSE to return to work part-time, while still homeschooling my children. Some fathers choose to homeschool too, and some parents choose to share homeschooling responsibilities. And by the way, I am not “delivering an education that would otherwise be delivered in a school”. For example, my 7 year old loves to read, and since she reads at about a 6th grade level I don’t require her to plod through “See Spot run” type of material. Instead, she chooses books such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Secret Garden. She was interested in learning to write cursive so we made time for that. She is interested in learning French, so we are working on that. She is less interested in math, but I require her to learn it anyway. I put more emphasis on memorizing math facts than what it seems the public schools do, and I also take her to the grocery store where she adds up the total price of her purchases and calculates her change. This is NOT the same education that would be delivered in a public school. If it was, there wouldn’t be any real choice in education, would there? Perhaps in the future I will choose to put my children in a public school. Either way, it is my right to choose how my children’s education is delivered, and it has no bearing on gender equality.

      Reply
  3. K. Larsen

    November 4th, 2016

    Actually we homeschooled both our children using a secular curricula supplied by the Edmonton Public School Board’s excellent Argyll Center.

    The reasons were fairly simple. In our rural community the Klein filth had so cut back on public funding that parents were even fund raising to provide chemicals for Chemistry classes in the larger rural schools.

    Public school classes were overcrowded and of limited value to an academically oriented child. The culture of the rural schools in our area was much like that of any ghetto with a heavy emphasis on sports and popular music culture (but usually without the band instruments). Teachers were forced to take on classes outside their expertise and too often beyond their capabilities.

    With Argyll our children were usually finished their daily classes by 1 PM or so and then had the day for play and other things. Feedback on the extensive written assignments and lessons was almost immediate because the whole program was delivered via the internet as were discussion groups and supervised chat rooms. Both our children have completed bachelor and higher level degrees at various universities.

    In contrast, the ACE (Advanced Christian Education) course which Edmonton Public also offered contained text books which I can only describe as fostering ignorance of basic science.

    Home schooling used to be associated with highly motivated self-directed learning and in our experience Argyll was an exemplar of that.

    Reply
    • Delynne

      November 4th, 2016

      There are many reasons people homeschool, and even in “religious” families, religion is only a small part of that. I homeschool because my son does not get what he needs from public school. I really don’t think the public education system is that much better than when you were homeschooling – schools are still maxed out on resources, and the people on the fringes are left behind. In my son’s case, at the top of the class, so largely ignored (and bored) because “he’s doing fine”.

      When you say “homeschooling used to be”…. it sounds like you think it’s not the same currently, and that’s simply inaccurate. Homeschooling kids are the brightest and most confident kids I’ve ever met. (And I have kids in both systems).

      Reply
      • K. Larsen

        November 5th, 2016

        Delynne: I used the term “used to be” because our last child graduated from Argyll 11 years ago, so I’m no longer current. Having said that, both our children refrain from putting ‘home-schooled’ on their CVs because of the not entirely unfair generalization that homeschooling is dominated by the religious and that would mark them as backward at best. It is guilt by association, but there it is.

        The best way to fix this is for the Education Minister to come down very hard on the oversight and operation of the religiously based home schooling organizations. As we see from some comments here, some feel their religious beliefs give them licence for simple bigotry and that cripples their children in many ways. Of course, not all religious people are bigots, but the ones who are certainly shout the loudest which smears all of us, religious and otherwise.

        In my view all educational funding should go through the public system and for those with the skills and commitment to home school, the Edmonton Public School Board has provided an excellent system.

        Reply
        • Delynne

          November 5th, 2016

          I find it unfortunate that your children would feel the need to disguise their education and upbringing… homeschooling rocks! There are many colleges in the States that actually recruit h’schoolers, such is the general quality of their education and ability, coming out of homeschooling, to think critically and be self-motivated…

          Reply
    • Alvin Finkel

      November 5th, 2016

      I agree that the Argyll materials are excellent. Indeed they are the materials that are prepared by the Alberta Distance Learning Centre, which is operated by the provincial Department of Education, and they are in use in many public schools as well. I do think distance learning works well for some kids for whom being in a classroom poses difficulties, for example kids dealing with physical or mental health issues. In the latter case, there are kids for whom it is simply too difficult emotionally to be in a school classroom, particularly since many schools are very rigid on the issue of attendance. For others, the focus on severely normal kids, which is most kids of course, means that those are too smart or too slow or too different in their learning styles may get short shrift; teachers are well trained but they are not miracle workers. But the Department of Education does have a duty to ensure that kids are exposed to a rigorous education. The notion that someone’s religious objections to the theory of evolution can lead to them forbidding their children to learn about evolution strikes me as a form of child abuse. Every child does need to be exposed to the full range of issues in modern society. Parents have a right to let kids know what they think, but not to prevent kids from being exposed to a variety of issues and points of view. A few years back, while I was teaching at Athabasca University, a mother of an advanced homeschooled high school student indicated that she would like to have her daughter take my introductory history course. The mom wanted to know a bit about the course. When I mentioned that, along with basic political history, the course traced changes in the lives of women, Indigenous people, working people, people of colour, and LGBTQ people in different periods, the mom said that she was “ultraconservative” and did not want her daughter to be studying anything about LGBTQ people. Well, perhaps the level of the course I was teaching was too high for her daughter. But nothing about LGBTQ? High school kids in public schools these days do learn about sexual orientation. And do parents also have the right to decide that perhaps their kids will only learn about white folks? Only about men? The Argyll materials are rigorous and provide varied viewpoints. They were too conservative to my liking, but they did encourage critical thinking, which is the main thing that schooling should do. Standardizing the materials used in home education, along the Argyll model, would go a long way in allowing home schooling to continue but without allowing parents to simply brainwash their kids with one point of view.

      Reply
      • Shaking my head.

        November 10th, 2016

        “Standardizing the materials used in home education, along the Argyll model, would go a long way in allowing home schooling to continue but without allowing parents to simply brainwash their kids with one point of view.”

        Who decides which point of view is the correct one?!? If you are so ready to take away others freedom of choice to raise and educate their children how they see fit then you should have some of your rights taken away as well fair is fair.

        Reply
  4. 9 sided

    November 4th, 2016

    I recall a great opinion piece in the Calgary Herald (many years ago before it went to crap) and the premise was that home schooling for ideological reasons is the ultimate in selfishness. The parent is forcing the child to be a mirror image of the parent. No opportunity to experience things that don’t square with Daddy Patriarch’s warped world view. No chance to develop your own values and beliefs. How do the Right reconcile this with their supposed value of the individual?

    Reply
    • Delynne

      November 4th, 2016

      I’m surprised that you aren’t willing to apply this argument to public schools. Would you rather your child mirror you and your values, or those of schools/other kids/etc that perhaps are vastly different than your own? Obviously, children will “experience” things outside of their parents’ views and will have to make their own decisions and develop values that are their own. But, kids are exposed to “someone’s” value system from an early age, why do you think it should be a random person’s rather than the parent’s?

      Reply
      • Linda Marshall

        November 5th, 2016

        They’re going to get the parents’ point of view, by virtue of living with them – it’s not a question of either/or.

        Reply
    • Maria

      November 4th, 2016

      Well said, homeschooling is often done for reasons that have nothing to do with giving a child the best education and preparing him/her for life in Society. Although home schooling as described by K. Larsen can be great. In my opinion, if parents want to home school and not adhere to the government established curriculum, they should not expect government funding.

      Reply
      • Delynne

        November 4th, 2016

        Well, Maria, lest you forget, that “government money” that I’m laying claim to (all whoppin’ $800) is MY money… A very small fraction of the school taxes I pay from owning two homes. And if I choose to stray from the govt curriculum, which bored my kids and took a fraction of the year to cover, that’s my prerogative, no? I really don’t think holding my kids back is good for them… Just to align with the masses.

        Reply
    • 10 sided

      November 4th, 2016

      An opinion piece is all it was. It must have been published during the so called “crap” time. My child is exposed to so much more homeschooling than he would if he was sitting behind a desk all day.

      Reply
  5. Leslie

    November 4th, 2016

    And this article represents the other completely left view of this situation. I home school all of my children with academics being top priority, a task I feel is not possible in the public school system. Very few homeschoolers actually homeschool with the closed minded religious view you describe. We are in fact a minority, and as such the larger population of said minority teaches our children to have compassion and to not judge others for their choices, but that they need to know their own truth and stand strong in that. I can guarantee you that if a woman is at home education her children, 99 % of the time it’s because it was her choice. Where’s the equality speech for women who CHOOSE to put their family first. Before you utter such one sided, lie filled filth, check your facts and meet people who actually live this life.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      November 5th, 2016

      Given the history of the Fraser Institute’s other ‘research’ I suspect the link that you have posted would be such a cherry picked selection of facts that it wouldn’t be worth reading.

      Reply
    • anon

      November 5th, 2016

      the Fraser institute is to impartial studies what masturbation is to sex: a very poor substitute.

      Reply
      • tom in ontario

        November 5th, 2016

        “…what masturbation is to sex: a very poor substitute.”

        Oh yeah? Woody Allen: “I’m the best I ever had.”

        Reply
      • Athabascan

        November 5th, 2016

        No way! You give them way too much credit in that comparison. They are more like what denial is to masturbation. At least one of those has a happy ending. The other is quite unsatisfactory, just like the Fraser “Institute.”

        Reply
  6. Delynne

    November 4th, 2016

    I take issue with the way this article perpetuates the stereotype of homeschooling families as members of the “religious right”. There are many, many varied reasons that people choose to homeschool, not the least of which is that public school simply cannot “fit all” needs. Sure, there are ideological reasons for some; are you saying there is no “ideology” in public school systems? In fact, the ideology (which I was glad to see you mention) of the NDP is largely at play here, in a situation that was greatly exaggerated (ie the “financial mismanagement) in order to achieve a specific agenda. I would thank you kindly to do some research on the many, many positive aspects of homeschooling, and the “results”, which speak loudly for themselves, should the public have a willingness to listen (which, sadly, they don’t seem to).

    Reply
  7. Jennifer

    November 4th, 2016

    Does anyone else see the flaw in ‘let’s take away these peoples rights so that these people over here can have their rights’?

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      November 4th, 2016

      Just to clarify, as I know words are easily twisted, I am not referring to the rights of children. I am referring to the stance you take in generalizing all homeschoolers under the stereotype you so clearly laid out. We are not all like that. So to say that we should all be under the direct supervision of the school boards we have left, for our own reasons, is absurd.

      Reply
  8. Christina

    November 4th, 2016

    After having children attend public school for 4 years we decided to educate our children at home instead. Religion was a small part of the reason (not from leaders or top down recommendation though). The bigger reasons were the lack of academic focus, the cost and the inflexability for my children to work at skill appropropriate levels. For example kindergarteners frequently watching full length Pixar movies, paying over $250 for each child to eat lunch at school (no food, just to physically sit on school property) and the school not offering any books at my childs reading level becasue it was ‘above grade’. I believe that the surge in home educating is based more upon the growing gaps and frustration in the public system more than anything else.

    Reply
  9. Sassy

    November 4th, 2016

    You are right to emphasize this is about the children. Along these lines, two months ago a woman described the fundamentalist indoctrination she received in an Alberta Christian home schooling setting and how damaging it was to her being: https://www.supportourstudents.ca/2016/08/31/open-letter-why-one-alberta-mom-thinks-funding-private-christian-schools-isnt-just-wrong-its-dangerous/ I wish every mainstream Christian would hear her plea.
    Excerpt: “I’m writing this for people who have misinterpreted the language of the fundagelicals. They are defrauding you and they are doing it by appealing to your basic instincts as parents. But they don’t mean what you think they mean when they say things like: “Love! Freedom! Parents’ Choice!”. They mean something different.”

    I, too wondered about the Grande Prairie location for today’s court hearing. Today, November 4 is also the day the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) “Enron clause” was scheduled to be heard, I assume here in Edmonton.

    Reply
    • Delynne

      November 5th, 2016

      Oh please. We all have our stories of woe, things that have damaged us… but to lay all the blame on “Homeschooling” is rather silly. How many, many stories do we hear of public school bullying, teachers abusing students, academic failure, drugs and violence, etc. Perhaps we should do away with public schools…

      Reply
    • Marcie

      November 6th, 2016

      This is one woman’s issue with her parents, not homeschooling. And for every child who received an inadequate home education there is at least one who received an inadequate public school education. There are children out there who were pushed all the way through to graduating in public school who can barely read. And children who are sexually molested by teachers or bullied by peers to the point that they take their own lives.

      Stereotyping all homeschooling education based on one failure is unfair.

      Reply
  10. Dale

    November 4th, 2016

    This has got to be the most biased article I have ever read.

    “In practice, this means many home-schooled children are taught as God’s word what only can be described as bigotry and intolerance.” This statement is categorically untrue, and an example of the author’s ignorance of what is actually in the Bible. Christian’s are taught to love and respect, while at the same time, not turning a blind eye to sin.

    “…their movement is driven by religious fundamentalist leaders with an agenda for curriculum, philosophy, and, ultimately, societal change that extends beyond their circle of co-religionists.”
    Religious fundamentalism. That is a scary buzzword that alludes to terrorism and extremism. Are Homeschooling Christians going to start blowing up schools? I doubt it. Do you know what a real extremist Christian would look like? Look at Jesus and you’ll have your answer. If every practicing Christian were to actually be a fundamentalist, an extremist, they would give away all of their earthly possessions in order to serve the poor and needy. Do you know what Jesus “fundamentally” told his followers to do? Love. Love everyone, including your enemies. While the NDP government and the portions of the LGBTQ community that don’t understand the true message of Jesus are throwing their attacks, these “fundamentalists” are praying for these very same people.

    Let’s call a spade a spade here. What this comes down to is homosexuality. Plain and simple. Christians say it is a sin, so do a lot of other faiths. What’s on trial here is not Wisdom Homeschooling, or homeschooling in general. It is the parent’s right to teach what you might call bigotry. That homosexuality is a sin. I believe it is. I believe it is because the bible says it is, and I’ll teach my children that it is whether I home school them or not. I’ll also teach them tolerance and love. I’ll teach them to love gay and straight people equally, and to treat them equally, but to know the difference between right and wrong as it is laid out in biblical truth. If that offends you, fine, but the last time I checked, we still had freedom of religion in this country, as much as we have freedom to choose our sexual partner.

    Does all of that mean that Wisdom is innocent of financial wrongdoing? No, but the NDP and their supporters could at least be honest about what they are after here.

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      November 5th, 2016

      Sir: Of course this article is biased. This is a blog, not a news article. Anybody who has followed our blogger for more than a minute or two would know that he writes from a progressive, left-of-centre perspective, and as far as I know has made no apologies for that. Nevertheless, his pieces are well-researched and thoroughly sourced, as befits his former career as a professional journalist, and entertainingly written, which is why so many people keep returning to read him.

      As for “homosexuality” being a sin, as a secular humanist & atheist I can’t really comment on the accuracy of that assertion. However, science has clearly demonstrated a neuro-biological basis for emotional and sexual attraction to one’s own sex; it is no more a choice one can make than “deciding” one needs to eat to live. Indeed, given the centuries of oppression against gays, why would anyone voluntarily choose that lifestyle, unless it was truly hard-wired into their biology?

      Reply
  11. Louise

    November 4th, 2016

    Interesting.

    “Right now, every public school board in Alberta is capable of overseeing the efforts of parents who choose to educate their children at home while ensuring those students graduate qualified to attend university.”

    Are you certain this is true? Because as far as I’m aware, every school board (public, separate or private) is *not* capable of ensuring all of their in-school students graduate qualified to attend university. Are you suggesting that homeschooled students be held to a higher standard than students in brick-and-mortar schools?

    Reply
    • Marcie

      November 6th, 2016

      This is an EXCELLENT point. I know people who went through public school with a diploma and actually can barely read because they were pushed through. And many people are not qualified to attend university even after graduating from public school. I would think that if parents and child together determine that the child would like to do something after graduating that requires post secondary they would be MORE likely to follow a path that ensures they are qualified to attend that secondary education after graduating.

      Reply
  12. Katie

    November 4th, 2016

    Last I checked… We have freedom of religion in Canada. Not to mention that woman who wasn’t taught and didn’t have books etc. Had someone teaching her that didn’t out the time and effort in. Not the systems fault but the adult teaching. I was home schooled through wisdom and I had excellent resoursea, support, direction and help. Not to mention my Alberta high school diploma. This article was horribly written.

    Reply
  13. Carol

    November 4th, 2016

    I am a home educator. My children are taught to think critically, not absorb what the teacher/parent believes. We present information from both sides of the creation/evolution debate and other current issues. Schools do not do this. Universities do not do this. It is interesting that while this article presents homeschooling and Christianity as a dangerous ideological view, it becomes most obvious what the author’s ideological stance is, and that he has value only for his ‘correct’ stance. That is intolerant.That is bigotry.

    Reply
    • political ranger

      November 7th, 2016

      There are no “both sides” to evolution. There is ignorance, which is where ‘creation’ resides and there is knowledge (or education, if you prefer) where understanding evolution is possible.
      Intolerance of knowledge is also bigotry.

      Reply
  14. Amanda

    November 4th, 2016

    I can not help but wonder what the writer of this article based their facts on. Clearly you have not properly researched your topic. I home school my son, we are one of the families you are looking down upon in your article. Well I have news for you, we are with Wisdom. We are not Christian. We do not teach my son Christian beliefs or schooling. We have never been told by Wisdom or Trinity that we must teach our son creationism. We teach our son science and have our program arranged much like a public school program, but from home and parent driven. Wisdom has always been supportive of our choice and has never been anything but kind to us. So I highly encourage you to not speak as if you know what all the Wisdom and home schooling families do. Do your research.

    Reply
  15. Debbie zepick

    November 4th, 2016

    The writer of the article knows less than nothing about homeschooling or the homeschool movement. People choose to homeschool for many reasons and while some definitely choose homeschooling for religious reasons ( and why not..) others choose for academic reasons, health reasons, lifestyle etc. The “fundamental” question here is parental rights in raising children. Should parents have the right to choose.? If so, then let them. In my 25 years of working in education and within the homeschool community I have worked with tremendously creative and committed parents. They have produced intelligent, articulate and thoughtful adults who care deeply about others and the world. They respect their parents, value family and friendships, show commitment to employers and are really decent citizens. This is by no means an homogenous group but the results are. As for becoming ” mirror image” of their parents, that is hilarious in its ignorance as anyone who has raised a teenager will know. Unfortunately one disgruntled young person has become the “poster child” for all homeschololed students and has misrepresented the whole community thanks to shoddy reporting that doesn’t want the real facts. More and more families are choosing this option as they look at what is happening in schools.

    Reply
  16. Nancy

    November 4th, 2016

    Badly in need of fact checking. The first article by the Globe and Mail was erroneous, and those conclusions have been wrongly trotted out by every author opposed to another ideology. I suggest that people read more extensively into the issue.
    It’s obvious to me that the author neither k ows any home educating families, nor understands how funding and oversight is set up.
    I’m thankful for freedom to agree to disagree re this piece, because I’m sure you realize that for every student Ms. Stewart dredged up who had a negative home education experience (and I’d venture to guess there were other things going on in their home than just education problems…), there are hundreds more who tell a very different story. So sad this is all you could find to prop up your argument that home education is full of small people teaching their small worldview, producing small-minded replicas…or do you not hope to pass on your values to your children like most parents? It would indeed be a small world were to be only your viewpoint. Too bad you’d discriminate against my worldview in order to exclusively promote yours, which, going by what you’ve said, is equally as narrow as mine supposedly is.
    If you take away nothing else from what I’ve said, just remember: your piece demonstrates that you clearly don’t know what home education is, and you don’t understand it. I realize you’re presenting a polemic argument here, but your exclusivity is disturbing, to say the least.

    Reply
    • 9 sided

      November 5th, 2016

      A lot of criticism of the author but no one offering any more than opinions. No statistical counterpoints. Well if anecdotal evidence is the order of the day then here is mine: I’ve known ten homeschool families. Two of them fit all the noble intentions described above, and did a fine job I might add. The other eight were fringe people. The dad’s were paranoid they were convinced the only goal of the teachers was to indoctrinate the kids with liberal ideas. So blinded by their ideology that they believed someone in a union would lure their kids into some sort of union cult. It was less about religion than politics.

      Reply
      • Marcie

        November 6th, 2016

        But the fact is that those famloes exist no matter what and those kids were likey screwed from the start based on the chance that they were born to weird parents. There are weird parents who publicly educate their children and still manage to mess them all up.

        Reply
      • Nancy

        November 9th, 2016

        People responding have offered opinions because this was an opinion piece! And the author offered opinions of others’ opinions. Crazy, huh?
        I’m sorry, but your eight families are definitely not the norm, and are not representative of the 3500 home education families with Wisdom. If you want statistics, you might try HSLDA’s web site. They do stellar work.

        Reply
  17. Denise

    November 5th, 2016

    Such an outdated idea – that homeschoolers are all religious, seeking to ‘protect’ their child from the world of public school. When our homeschool community meets, we have people from Christian to Wicca. Muslim to atheist And all our children happily play together and learn how to respect each others’ needs and beliefs. Many times when a new family joins homeschooling, the reasons given are that the public system couldn’t accommodate their child – either because the child was gifted or had special needs. Because the teachers were not able to teach or care for that child adequately as they didn’t fit the status quo. Some children have extreme anxiety – often due to the bullying by teachers or other students. Some were repeatedly asked to be medicated because they supposed the active child to have ADD or ADHD – yet the parent is happily able to teach the child at home. Do your research before writing such biased and one-sided, not to mention un-researched opinions. And for pity’s sake – let’s stop all quoting the exact same one person who seems to have been given a terrible education out of the thousands who have been home educating under this school board. If her story is true, it is sad – but not the problem of homeschooling.

    Then again, I can assume that, since there are mostly home educators commenting on this piece that not very many people of the general public that read your articles. Thank goodness they have better sense.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      November 5th, 2016

      As regular readers of this blog know, I try hard to restrain myself from responding to comments by readers who disagree with my arguments. I will make an exception with Denise’s remarks however, a because they provide an opportunity for me to toot my own horn.

      Readership of this blog is of course up and down – according to the day, the season and the political season – but it has remained consistently pretty respectable for the past several years.

      According to analytics from the website platform I use, over the past two years I have averaged about 50,000 page views per month. In the past 30 days, as of about 3 p.m. today, there had been slightly over 46,000. That is an average of more than 1,500 views per day.

      My best single day in the past three years saw just over 17,000 page views. Moreover, according to this particular yardstick, this blog has had 1.34 million views since I adopted the current platform at the end of January 2014. This, if I may say so myself, ain’t a bad number.

      According to Google Analytics, about 20,000 unique users have had more than 90,000 page views in the past 30 days. It is beyond my technical abilities to explain why Google gives me this more generous estimate, and I don’t need to know from readers because, in my experience, such explanations are invariably disappointing. So leave me with my delusions, please!

      Of course, many of these views are the same people coming back to read new posts. And a substantial number are just me, returning to fix typos.

      Nevertheless, I am sorry that I have to disappoint Denise because, as these numbers indicate, lots of people who are not home schoolers will have had read the post in question and plenty are likely to read others I choose to write on the same topic.

      DJC

      Reply
      • Val Jobson

        November 6th, 2016

        As a member of the general public, I haven’t commented because I don’t know much about this issue and have nothing useful to contribute. It is interesting to see how many commenters there are on this post.

        Reply
      • Denise

        November 6th, 2016

        Many of the comments had not been moderated at the time I posted my comment, but likely the large number of views on this article are because your opinion piece is circulating through homeschool fb groups. But that being said, if you have this many followers and viewers on your blog, your might want to consider writing an article that has at least some facts and originality to it. You didn’t do your homework at all. I can’t even begin to tell you how tired I am of combating these same, tired, old arguments against homeschooling to the general public. And I’m especially tired of reading about that 1 same person who seems to have had a terrible homeschool education (which I am not denying she might have – but so far I haven’t heard of a fail-proof education system). If your platform is this large – how about doing something really inventive and actually meeting and talking to some homeschool families from all walks of life. The largest group of new homeschoolers are not religious at all. They teach their children about evolution and start clubs for the LGBT children and their families. We aren’t in the 80’s anymore and home education has evolved just like the rest of society.

        Reply
  18. Cindy Mailer

    November 5th, 2016

    I challenge the author of this article to contact any of the above people and interview them so he can get a better understanding of homeschooling. Myself included. We also home schooled through Wisdom and not for ‘religious’ reasons. Both kids are attending postsecondary(university and college) and are productive and caring members of society.

    Reply
  19. acmc

    November 5th, 2016

    This is one of the most bizarre opinion pieces I have ever read. I don’t understand why people feel the need to post such garbage after doing ZERO research…

    Reply
  20. Athabascan

    November 5th, 2016

    There’s an old saying in legal circles, “A defendant who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer.”
    Well, in the case of home schooling, a student who is home schooled has a fool for a teacher, unless the parent doing the schooling is a certified teacher. All others should leave that work to professionals.

    Reply
    • Amanda

      November 5th, 2016

      I haven’t commented but feel this is important to address. I graduated with my B.Ed with top honors and was a classroom teacher for years. My husband was too. We have chosen to homeschool our children – the perfect world of education does not exist, in the class or home, but both worlds are filled with people who want to do their best for the kids. My high level education degree taught me classroom management, lesson planning to address dozens of special needs at once, and how to address the problems that don’t exist in a home setting. It did not give me any special knowledge beyond that – both of us were placed by schools in subject areas that were all over the place. What did we do? Pick up the textbook, learn the material, and teach it. At home, we do the same. My degree may help me manage large groups, but it doesn’t make me better in any other way. It’s arrogant to think otherwise. I am the best teaching my own kids because I care more about them than any other kid in any class. My degree is a $40,000 piece of paper. I see parents teaching their kids with more care than I saw in many schools – not because the teachers didn’t care, but because no one cares more than a parent. There are bad homeschoolers, there are bad teachers, but an expensive piece of paper (which I am very proud to have) doesn’t make the difference. The good teachers, in the home or the school, are the ones who learn, who better their practices, who give 150% everyday. I see them all around me in the homeschool world.

      Reply
    • Nancy

      November 6th, 2016

      Your logic is faulty. Your exchange would mean we should not try to teach ourselves… Did you never read to your children? Or cook with them? Or count, or tell time, or help them with homework?

      Reply
      • Nancy

        November 6th, 2016

        Excellent answer, Amanda!

        Reply
      • Athabascan

        November 6th, 2016

        Oh, OK, so by your logic everyone is teacher? It takes a village, blah, blah. So why don’t we just do away with education faculties in universities that teach and train professionals. Your answer is disrespectful of a time honoured profession.

        Reply
        • Nancy

          November 9th, 2016

          We will always need public schools, and university-trained teachers. My remark wasn’t directed at them at all, so stick with the topic. Your remark shows flawed logic.

          Reply
          • Nancy

            November 9th, 2016

            What I was getting at was: do you not yourself continue to learn?
            I was making two points a) your logic is flawed, and b) we can all teach. You will not get me to back down on that one. Or perhaps we should give our children to the system as soon as they’re born? See Helena’s excellent comments below for more info. You clearly don’t know what’s involved with home education.

    • Helena

      November 6th, 2016

      Seriously? I have a masters degree, as does my husband, as does my daughter’s father, who, incidentally, is a certified teacher. Between the three of us, I think we can do just fine. Of the homeschool families I know, the vast majority of them are university educated. If we can get through university, I think we can figure out how to educate our own children. Could I teach a classroom full of children who are mine? No. Should I? Likely not. But we know our own children better than anyone else and are thus very well equipped to meet their educational needs.

      I would also like to note that I have done an incredible amount of research about learning styles, curriculum choices, and other educational choices. The curriculum I have chosen is tailored to my child’s individual needs, which is more than I can say for what she got in public school. In a classroom setting, it is impossible to tailor to individual needs. As far as grade level in concerned, my child’s abilities cover a span of about 7 grades. How on earth can a public school meet her needs?

      Further, I wonder if you have any knowledge of homeschool curriculum. It is possible to buy a boxed curriculum that gives you everything you need for a given grade level, along with detailed instructions on how to teach it. Some programs have instructions so explicit that there is no way you could mess up, as long as the parent can read. It is also possible to buy curriculum that is specific to each subject, which allows parents to individualize curriculum for their own children. Some people also create their own curriculum for certain subjects, which I have done on at least one occasion when I was simply unable to find something that fit my child’s needs. This all gets approved by a certified teacher. And I must say, I am confident that what I came up with on my own is very good and is well above the level of what my child would be getting in public school.

      It is worth noting that some universities in the U.S. (Harvard, for one) have stated that they prefer homeschoolers.

      So, I disagree with you. I think my child is getting a phenomenal education — and I think she is not the only one.

      Reply
      • Athabascan

        November 7th, 2016

        Were you home schooled?

        Unless you have an undergraduate degree or a Master’s degree in Education, it would be best to let a real teacher deal with your kid(s).

        If I have an electrical problem at home, I call an electrician, and not a plumber, no matter how many degrees he/she has. Having a Master’s degree doesn’t make you an expert in all things, such as teaching.

        Reply
        • Helena

          November 7th, 2016

          I wonder if you have ever met a homeschooling family. The quality of education that my child was getting in the public system was abysmal — I could have taught her in two weeks everything that she learned in two years. I can guarantee that what she is learning at home is far more advanced than what she was learning in public school. There are a lot of excellent homeschooling materials available — look into it some time and you might find yourself surprised. Not everything, of course, is excellent, but some things truly are.

          That’s not to say I think public school is horrible, because I don’t. For some people, it works great and meets their needs well. For us, it was a disaster.

          I’m not suggesting, by any stretch, that I am qualified to teach in a school. I can guarantee that I would do poorly with a classroom full of kids. I am completely confident, however, in my abilities to provide an excellent education for my own child. If you’ve never done it yourself, it might be hard to understand why it is so different, but it really is.

          And no, I was not homeschooled. I graduated from the public system with what I felt was a good education.

          Reply
        • Helena

          November 9th, 2016

          I don’t mean to drag on the conversation, but I wanted to offer a few final thoughts.

          You say that having degree does not make me an expert in all things. That is certainly true, as I would be poorly qualified to teach, say, nuclear physics or architecture. Grade 5 math or spelling, however, is another story, as is grade 12 grammar (and yes, what I have written here is colloquial so I am not aiming for perfection, in case anyone is looking to pick apart my writing in an effort to prove me wrong). I can pretty well say that I have mastered the subjects. Knowledge of the material is not a problem. I would venture to say that anyone who has graduated from high school with decent marks could manage to teach most of the homeschooling material up to a high school level. Most homeschooling curriculum is so well done that parents are provided with a great deal of information and instruction.

          The beauty of homeschooling is that for subjects you do not feel qualified to teach — and, at a high school level, there are probably some for all of us — there are numerous viable options. In some communities, parents form a co-op, in which people who have expertise in a given area offer a class in a certain subject. Various online course options are available as well. Blended programs are another option, where students would do a portion of their courses at home and a portion at a public school. Some private schools will allow students to sign up for just one class. Taking a class or two at a community college or a university is also possible. Then there are options like Coursera, which offers classes in a variety of subjects that are taught by university professors. Various universities themselves have online free offerings. If all that fails, you can always hire a tutor. As you can see, homeschooled students have a variety of options available to them.

          Interestingly, I have not come across a university that requires its professors to be trained teachers. In fact, the only department in which you would find trained teachers is the education department. Professors just have to know their material — they aren’t trained to teach. If that requirement is good enough for a university, surely its good enough for a homeschool.

          Further, in my conversations with gifted professional educators, more than one has noted that if you are a good teacher, you can teach anything — within reason, of course, so you don’t get someone teaching PhD level nuclear physics who has a degree in literature. They say you just learn the material and teach it. I’ve witnessed the results of that process first hand, and I must say, I think they are right. If you are a gifted teacher, you can figure it out.

          That’s not to say that there is no value to an education degree. I’m sure that teachers learn a great deal of valuable information in university, but that information is also available to any one of us who seeks it out. We can equip ourselves to teach our own children quite well through furthering our own learning.

          Reply
  21. Maria

    November 6th, 2016

    Excellent response Amanda. I have a B.Sc. in Biology and thought about becoming a teacher, but could not imagine effectively encouraging the love of knowledge to a class of 25-30 kids. Each child is so unique in their learning and interests are so diverse, it is impossible. Some are going to fall through the cracks in public school, some will fall through the cracks when homeschooled. But on the whole, I agree the parents who choose to do this are incredibly invested in their children and most do an amazing job educating them.

    Reply
  22. Lisa

    November 6th, 2016

    I agree with your concerns about home schooled children receiving an inferior and ideologically biased education. Another concern I have with home schooling is that it provides the setting for parents with severe mental illness (such as paranoia) to seclude their children at home, away from public scrutiny. When kids go to school, they have a measure of protection. Home schooled kids lack this safety factor in situations where they are being abused or neglected.

    Reply
  23. Michel Buitencdyk

    November 6th, 2016

    It’s too bad that many people still do not get home education. In this blog the discussion is between parent’s rights and children’s rights. If you keep the home education out of this blogger’s arguments it boils down to the right of the child to be either indoctrinated by the parents or the “state” government. We are foster parents and I know how difficult it is for the Minister (agent of the Crown (to obtain the Parental right and become a guardian of a child. With other words the right of a child to be safe guarded, trained, raised, fed etc by the parent is inherent in our country and it is not the “right of the parent” to chose what is best for the child, it is the right of the child to receive the best of the parent. The school act does recognize this and in the regulations it provides means for the parents to give the best to their children. Originally the Department was so confident that the parents would do such a good job that it determined that $800 would be sufficient to get an equal education compared to roughly $8,000 that is gives to public schools. BTW the rest of the $1,700 ($900) is used for administration and facilitator wages.

    Reply
    • Delynne

      November 7th, 2016

      I’m glad to see someone raise this point, as one of the main aggravations for non-supporters of homeschooling is that homeschoolers are taking taxpayer money. Of course, if they did their research, they would discover that homeschooling saves them, the taxpayer, millions of dollars. I pay far more in school taxes than I receive, and $800 doesn’t actually go that far if you consider what schools supply (ie computers, etc). The government keeps reciting the rhetoric “We just want these homeschooled families to get the money they deserve”; when in actuality, this government has made it VERY difficult to actually claim any of the funding. They’ve levied new restrictions as to what can be claimed (ie no music lessons, no shipping costs on books).

      Another point, specific to the Wisdom fiasco – if people understood how expenses are claimed (parents send in receipts for reimbursement) they would not be so aghast at the 900,000 of unclaimed expenses – which, over the course of the time mentioned, amounts to about $100 per family. I’m sure in my years of homeschooling, I left some money in the pot just because I didn’t have anything else to claim. And, under AB ED’s explicit instructions, that money remained in the general fund of the school board I was with.

      Reply
        • Delynne

          November 7th, 2016

          I’m not with Wisdom. I have no idea what they get or how they manage that, although I imagine many boards operate under the same general guidelines. What I do know – and what the Minister of Education said himself in last week’s “Question/Answer Period” is that homeschooling boards get approx. $1600 per registered child. Perhaps you should “get informed” yourself?

          Reply
          • Helena

            November 9th, 2016

            Wisdom offers the same funding as virtually every homeschooling board. Half of it cover administration expenses and stays with the homeschool board and the other half goes to families to cover educational expenses. 50/50 is what is required by AB education, and 50/50 is what Wisdom offers.

            There is a deadline to submit funding reimbursement requests, I would imagine, because it makes sense to keep their books in order. The deadline is May of each school year, which does not strike me as unreasonable. If you don’t use your funding, you can request to have it carried over to the next year, provided you request that before June. That really doesn’t strike me as unreasonable. I mean, how do you keep anything organized if people are submitting requests 4 years later? I don’t really think such deadlines are the business of AB education.

        • Michel Buitencdyk

          November 7th, 2016

          I rounded the $800 down… The total cost is 1700 and 1800 dollars so we are entitled to receive 850 – 900 minimum. My point is about the rights issue. My point is that the parents do not have the “right” but the “Duty” to choose what is best for the child. We have educated at home for about 25 years now and our home produced Albertan citizens. If you are aware 23 of those years were under PC ruling. I do not discriminated between the political parties but are rather saddened by many people criticizing home educators while they condone a hired employee (ie teacher) to watch over the things the parents teach the children at home. School is not meant in origin to catch abuse or to undermine parental care. I know that some teachers think they raise children to become citizens, however that is the parents’ task. I could go into specifics with you, but only if you and I are willing to read each other’s point of view…
          As the lawyer pointed out to Judge Simpson, while gesturing at all the parents in the court room: It’s NOT about the money, it’s about the choice to educate the child in a way that is best for them. BTW when I discussed our last child with the special ed teacher she told us that we would do a better job as they (the classmates) would likely bully him/her in school because of their behaviour. Just wondering what has that to do about money. Actually a lot… the school did not have money for monitoring the child. Since we started later in the home education program we were not eligible for any refunds. just to say…
          Some interesting Homeschooling Facts from the US (They have been longer around) https://www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html
          Blessings!

          Reply
  24. Sassy

    November 7th, 2016

    Those on here defending Trinity/Wisdom please, please, please read the investigators’ report. I guarantee you will be flabbergasted. The media didn’t cover a fraction of the problems. Your organization’s leaders are lying to you and have been lying to you for years. Here is the link to the review: https://education.alberta.ca/media/3273210/trinity-christian-school-association-review.pdf

    If you want a summary of the review, the most damaging findings can be found on this blog: http://minedgems.ca/thats-quite-the-parking-lot-a-review-of-the-review-of-trinity-christian-school-associations-financial-management-and-administration/

    Reply
    • Cindy

      November 8th, 2016

      I’m sure that every Wisdom homeschool family has read this document. Do you believe everything that the government tells you???

      Reply
      • Sassy

        November 8th, 2016

        Cindy, this was an audit done by professionals. They looked at financial statements, bank statements, auditor reports, board meeting minutes, job descriptions, travel vouchers, expense claims, leases, employment contracts, remuneration, and many other documents. They visited the operations several times: toured the farm school board office, the Derwent special programs facility, and the Edmonton office. They interviewed management, staff, and spoke with the Trinity/Wisdom auditors, etc. etc.

        Yes, I believe the investigators accurately recorded the financial and operational mismanagement happening at this school association. No, I do not believe every Wisdom homeschool family has read the damning report because if they had, they would be rushing to homeschool under the oversight of another board.

        I believe most of the parents have not, and will not, read the report so they can continue to believe their leaders’ stories instead. It’s part of an authoritarian follower’s mindset. I suspect these homeschool families don’t want to move to another private Christian board because, unlike Trinity/Wisdom, most or all charge tuition. Some of the homeschoolers seem to be afraid of public school boards so don’t want to use their homeschool facilitators.

        I think we can all agree none of us wants to see our tax money misused by any board, public or private, religious or not. Trinity/Wisdom took advantage of the different rules and less transparency operating as a private school board but now they’ve been caught.

        Reply
        • Nancy

          November 9th, 2016

          You may find it helpful to occasionally head over to the WISDOM web site, where they’ve posted a response to a few of the allegations. It wouldn’t hurt to check out their side of the story. As a home schooling family, I know that there have been assumptions made by our own gov’t education ministry (who should know better) re the interpretation of the “facts”. The main hubbub over the almost 1 million dollars is erroneous. That money was never meant for home schooling children. That’s unclaimed funding, plus the administrative fees (teachers, facilitators, office staff, etc.). Surely our education minister should have recognized that??
          This home educating parent did read through the report, and we are not rushing anywhere. That’s because it was too full of nonsense for us to jump ship like the gov’t kept urging us to do. They might as well have driven around in trucks with a megaphone, “You must report to an accredited school board. Do it now…” They didn’t try to help us, because they can’t. The type of home education we through WISDOM provide is not offered through any other board; not to mention that we must make program plans for each student that are specific to this type of home education, and these program plans may not be accepted by other boards. Yet books have been purchased, classes have been arranged… Do you begin at all to see the scope of the government’s ignorance in saying, “Just go register with another board!”
          Blea…. I’m done. You sound like a reasonable person. Do a little digging.

          Reply
    • Cindy

      November 8th, 2016

      Sassy, you need to read the School Act not this so called review. Home Education Regulation section 7 discussed funding.

      Reply
  25. Pogo

    November 7th, 2016

    So, I read all the sister wives’ posts on this thread and can state the following:

    1. Home schooling maybe can be good
    2. Home schooling is more likely to be shoddy
    3. Home schooling is more likely to ignore or deny science
    4. Home schooling is resource poor (no labs, shops, organized art and music programs)

    So, if home schooling can’t mount band and organized sport programs and its only claim to legitimacy is the fact that it allows parents to isolate and indoctrinate cjildren, is it a form of child abuse? inquiring minds want to know? https://youtu.be/cFkIJBVZ4_w

    Reply
    • Delynne

      November 7th, 2016

      It’s obviously a moot point to respond to opinionated, misinformed, and misogynistic commenters – especially given the ASTOUNDING leap in “logic” above – but:

      H’schooling resources are not (obviously) limited to what parents can be reimbursed for. The money isn’t why anyone does or doesn’t homeschool. If you actually wanted to have an “open mind” (hahah novel concept, I’m sure!) you might discover that the reasons are very different than you assume. My kids are more involved in “extracurricular” activities than most kids; part of the very reason we homeschool, so that they can be.

      Reply
  26. Cindy

    November 7th, 2016

    Oh my you are uninformed!
    1. Homeschooling for us was excellent!
    2. Educate yourself on homeschooling!
    3.My children took AB Biology 30, Chemistry 30 and Physics 30.( with labs.
    4.Homeschooling is anything but resource poor. We have books in our home….way more than most. Homeschool families make use of libraries and my kids were in art, dance , soccer, piano and Junior Forest Wardens.
    There is a Homeschool band in central Alberta as well as many other activities too numerous to list. As homeschooling families we would wear ourselves out if we availed ourselves of all the excellent Homeschooling programs available.
    You really need to speak to some homeschooling families before you make these kind of posts.
    I am quite astounded as to how ignorant people are about home schooling.

    Reply
  27. Alvin Fell

    November 8th, 2016

    <>

    I assume the bigotry and intolerance referenced here is that home schoolers are intolerant because most home schoolers are Christian. I am not sure how one connects the dots here. Is it because Christians are inherently intolerant? To my knowledge Christianity does not teach intolerance or condone intolerance. Is it perhaps because Christians possess certain beliefs that go counter to what a brick and mortar school believes and those differing beliefs makes Christians intolerant? So, if I understand this correctly, because home schoolers believe certain things and teach those things to their students that makes home schoolers intolerant? No, that just means that Christian home schoolers teach their children certain beliefs about Christianity that others outside of Christianity disagree with. Do not brick and mortar schools do the same? Do not brick and mortar schools teach what the department of education believes? Teaching a belief to a student entails NOT teaching a differing belief. You may disagree with what beliefs are true beliefs; but, that is another issue. Teaching a differing belief is not intolerance.
     
    <>

    Do not bricks and mortar schools do the same? To paraphrase along the same lines: And it means the proselytizers of secular schools want to move us toward a society in which your children must be taught the same things.

    <>

    If you believe this statement then you’ve been watching too much TV. TV and movies love to portray Christians as bigoted unthinking neanderthals. Please jettison that unfounded prejudice from your portrayal of home schoolers.

    <>

    That’s the rub. Home schoolers want their own school board to handle home schoolers. Home schoolers do not want public school boards to provide service to home schoolers. Public school boards do not possess adequate knowledge on how home directed education goes about its business. Public school boards are good at running public schools – that’s their business. Why should we consider that a public school board would have the expertise to run home directed education?

    For the most part I have no axe to grind against public schools. However, I have little faith that a public school board would have as much to offer home school families when compared to the superior home school expertise that a school board like Wisdom provides. Home schooling – that’s the Wisdom boards expertise. Wisdom is the cadillac school board for home schoolers – not the public school boards.

    Alvin Fell, Vegreville

    Reply
  28. Alvin Fell

    November 8th, 2016

    ” In practice, this means many home-schooled children are taught as God’s word what only can be described as bigotry and intolerance.”

    I assume the bigotry and intolerance referenced here is that home schoolers are intolerant because most home schoolers are Christian. I am not sure how one connects the dots here. Is it because Christians are inherently intolerant? To my knowledge Christianity does not teach intolerance or condone intolerance. Is it perhaps because Christians possess certain beliefs that go counter to what a brick and mortar school believes and those differing beliefs makes Christians intolerant? So, if I understand this correctly, because home schoolers believe certain things and teach those things to their students that makes home schoolers intolerant? No, that just means that Christian home schoolers teach their children certain beliefs about Christianity that others outside of Christianity disagree with. Do not brick and mortar schools do the same? Do not brick and mortar schools teach what the department of education believes? Teaching a belief to a student entails NOT teaching a differing belief. You may disagree with what beliefs are true beliefs; but, that is another issue. Teaching a differing belief is not intolerance.
     
    And it means the proselytizers of this worldview want to move us toward a society in which your children must be taught the same things.”

    Do not bricks and mortar schools do the same? To paraphrase along the same lines: And it means the proselytizers of secular schools want to move us toward a society in which your children must be taught the same things.

    “A theme that crops up regularly in journalism on home schooling is the drive by Christian home schoolers to keep their children away from what they see as an evil, secular society. “Therein lies the heart of the Tea Party, GOP and religious right’s paranoid view of the rest of us,” wrote film director and former evangelical Frank Schaeffer in Salon last year.”

    If you believe this statement then you’ve been watching too much TV. TV and movies love to portray Christians as bigoted unthinking neanderthals. Please jettison that unfounded prejudice from your portrayal of home schoolers.

    “Right now, every public school board in Alberta is capable of overseeing the efforts of parents who choose to educate their children at home while ensuring those students graduate qualified to attend university. Not so many years ago, a provincial correspondence branch supervised the instruction of home-schooled students in many provinces.”

    That’s the rub. Home schoolers want their own school board to handle home schoolers. Home schoolers do not want public school boards to provide service to home schoolers. Public school boards do not possess adequate knowledge on how home directed education goes about its business. Public school boards are good at running public schools – that’s their business. Why should we consider that a public school board would have the expertise to run home directed education?

    For the most part I have no axe to grind against public schools. However, I have little faith that a public school board would have as much to offer home school families when compared to the superior home school expertise that a school board like Wisdom provides. Home schooling – that’s the Wisdom boards expertise. Wisdom is the cadillac school board for home schoolers – not the public school boards.

    Alvin Fell, Vegreville

    Reply
    • Val Jobson

      November 8th, 2016

      Alvin, your views on what a Christian is may be quite different from mine. Some Christians support women’s choice, others think women should not be allowed control over their own bodies. Some would accept a gay child, others would drive them out.

      Christians don’t all have the same beliefs and they don’t always act in accordance with Christian teachings. For instance, committing fraud and theft are not Christian behaviour, and should not be defended because the perpetrators claim to be Christians..

      As I said, I don’t know much about home schooling, but I would like to see the results. If your child comes out thinking the earth is only 6000 years old, you’re doing it wrong. If your child thinks human-caused climate change is just a government conspiracy, you’re doing it wrong. If your child thinks it’s ok to bully or attack people who are different in sexual identity or skin colour or religious belief, you’re doing it wrong.

      Reply
      • Alvin Fell

        November 10th, 2016

        Yes Christian’s do not share all the same beliefs. More like a family of similar beliefs. So do non-Christians. I have never met anyone who shared the exact 100% of my beliefs. I suspect that may be the case for you as well. I suspect that it is the case for everyone.

        However, the post is about home schooling, not epistemology.

        As for the age of the earth, global warming and intolerance … that is irrelevant regarding the closure of the Wisdom home school board. My concern is the closure of the Wisdom home school board.

        Also, to my knowledge the Wisdom board is not guilty of fraud or theft. If they are, then it is a matter for the courts.

        Reply
  29. Cindy

    November 8th, 2016

    Well said!!

    Reply
  30. Kelsey Mailer

    November 8th, 2016

    Hello Mr. Climenhaga,

    Surprisingly, I agree with your final statement in this article, “maybe it’s time to remember children have rights too.” I believe that the parents’ AND the child’s rights are central to the issue of choice in education, however I wholeheartedly disagree with the premise of your article.

    My first four years of formal education occurred in a small, rural public school. Unfortunately, I was placed in a class with several extremely disruptive students. I quickly became frustrated with my experience in the public education system as did my parents. My mother has a teaching degree and worked as a substitute teacher during my time in public school. Due to the frustration and lack of learning throughout my grade four year, my parents decided to try homeschooling.

    My younger brother and I were both home-schooled. I was home-schooled from grade five through grade twelve and my brother from grade one through grade twelve. For our family, home-schooling was the best option. My brother and I both thrived as we were able to pursue topics of personal interest, become independent students, and grow in our love of learning. Despite our being homeschooled, we remained highly social through engagement in various extra-curricular activities.

    Throughout the majority of our homeschool careers we were registered with Wisdom Homeschool. I can’t speak to everything regarding the current allegations against Wisdom, other than to say that my experience as a student with Wisdom was superb. I took various online great books and classics courses through Wisdom. These courses, among other things, challenged me to read classic works of literature and required me to discuss and debate them with fellow students. Critical thinking was a key component in every Wisdom class that I took, which has allowed me to become an engaged and concerned citizen. When faced with, what I perceive to be problematic situations, I desire to understand all perspectives and engage in discussion about the issue (something that you fail to do in this article).

    After a few years of homeschooling, I decided that I wanted to attend public high school. Excitedly, I prepared for grade nine at the local public high school. After a little over two weeks, I decided that homeschooling was indeed a better fit for me. I returned home, of my own choosing, and finished my high school at home. I am now excelling in my fourth year at the University of Alberta, Augustana Campus and plan on pursuing occupational therapy once I am finished my undergraduate degree.

    To come back to your comment about children’s rights. I do believe that parents, as well as their children should have the majority of say in determining their education. Having said this, ruling out home schooling or even limiting it to being governed by public school boards alone would inhibit choice and infringe on rights. I was a home-schooled child and wouldn’t have wanted my education to be anything other than what it was. As stated above, after attending public school in grade nine, I CHOSE to return home to finish my homeschooling.

    I don’t believe that homeschooling is the best fit for everyone, but it was for me. Home-schooling offered many opportunities that my rural public school would never have afforded (I could ramble on about these benefits…but I won’t). I would be devastated if my rights, as a student, or the rights of my future children, to have a say in their education, were inhibited because of misinformed, single-sided arguments such as the ones presented in this article. Allowing choice of education, whether to parents or children, means just that….offering choices, not limiting them!

    Thank you for reading,
    Kelsey

    Reply
  31. anonymous

    November 11th, 2016

    “Home-schooling offered many opportunities that my rural public school would never have afforded (I could ramble on about these benefits…but I won’t)”

    What do mean you won’t ramble on about the benefits of home schooling? The premise of your argument for support of home schooling is that it’s superior to public schooling. Please ramble on about what those benefits might be.

    Reply
    • Kelsey

      November 21st, 2016

      Thank you for your comment/question. I apologize for my late reply!

      Actually, the premise of my argument was not “that it’s superior to public schooling.” In my response I wrote “I don’t believe that homeschooling is the best fit for everyone, but it was for me.” To expand on this comment, I don’t believe any method/system of education is perfect. Both public schooling and homeschooling have their faults. However, as I stated, I believe that homeschooling was the best fit for myself and for my family. I believe that it should remain an option for students and families.

      I appreciate your invitation to share and explain the benefits that I received from being home schooled! Here is a list and explanation of a few of the most influential benefits that I have experienced:

      1. Homeschooling allowed me to develop a close relationship with my brother since we spent most of our time together, often working side-by-side. Occasionally this close proximity caused tension, however, our decision to remain homeschooled required that we learned to work through these frustrations. The intentionality of our time spent learning together allowed us to develop a strong and deep relationship.

      2. Homeschooling required me to become a self-motivated and independent learner. This was especially the case in my upper middle school and high school career. The freedom and flexibility that homeschooling allowed also required me to become motivated and diligent. Of course, my mother would check-in on my progress, but for the most part I self-regulated my pace and progress. I also gave input into which courses I took and when (especially during high school). If I was struggling with a concept within a specific subject and my parents couldn’t help me, I worked alongside them to understand. Sometimes this meant a lot more work, but it has allowed me to appreciate and identify the resources that I have.

      3. Homeschooling allowed me to focus on topics of personal interest early in my education. My ability to choose to study or focus on certain topics or subjects immensely nurtured my love for learning. During my elementary school days, I distinctly remember visiting a museum and finding a particular exhibit exceptionally interesting. The flexibility of homeschooling allowed me to pursue information about the particular topic through further research. Self-directed learning about topics of personal interest has largely shaped my current passions and the direction I have taken in post-secondary.

      4. Homeschooling allowed for flexibility of pace within my studies. As with many students, I have academic strengths and weaknesses. Homeschooling allowed me to dedicate more time to certain subjects that I found challenging, while moving at a quicker pace through subjects that came easier. Furthermore, within each subject, I was able to work at my own pace. This was a huge asset, especially in high school math, which is not my strongest subject. I was able to spend extra time learning specific mathematical concepts with which I was struggling.

      5. Homeschooling allowed me to have a flexible schedule. Both my brother and I were involved in many extracurricular activities, and since we lived in a rural area, these commitments required a lot of driving. Since, homeschooling allowed us to accomplish most of our schoolwork in the morning, we could easily accommodate extracurricular activities, field trips, “down time”, and family time. Homeschooling also allowed our family to take extended trips during the school year. This was particularly beneficial for our family as my father is a farmer, so leaving home during the summer months was not possible.

      As I mentioned, these are the main benefits that I experienced and continue to experience from being homeschooled. Having said this, I understand that not all of these factors are universal amongst homeschooling families and students. Experiences may differ according to family dynamic, personality, method of homeschooling etc.

      Reply

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