“Really? You were home-schooled? Why aren’t you a freak?”This last bit is interesting. Teenagers are only partially deranged by the hormonal and neurological changes they are experiencing: they are further deranged by public school peer pressure. If prison amounts to a graduate degree in how to commit crime, junior high amounts to a graduate degree in how to disrespect and manipulate your parents. Junior High amounts to a graduate degree in replacing classical virtues with conscienceless narcissism.
In Oklahoma, by some estimates, 33,000 children are facing that kind of question.
Arms raised above her head in a dramatic “V,” the ballerina’s eyebrow curves gently into her nose, one continuous line that abruptly turns 90 degrees just above the mouth. Matisse painted her in the early 1900s. And now these seventh- and eighth-graders, palletes smeared with freshly mixed colors and brushes scattered across their desks, are trying to copy it.
“He was interested in simple, bold shapes,” the teacher explains to everyone. “You can worry about the details later.”
Next door, a teacher is walking eighth-graders through an algebra equation.
Across the hall, the yearbook committee is sorting through class photos.
Around the corner, the debate team is practicing for this weekend’s match.
And downstairs in the gymnasium, middle-school boys are running laps.
It looks like a school. Sounds like a school. Even smells like a school, with a nostalgic blend of Magic Markers and bathroom disinfectant.
“It is a school,” confirms Teresa Poore, the coordinator. “It’s a school where the parents are totally in charge.”
from Part 2:
After that incident in January 1956, Sheppard yanked his children out of school and set up a classroom at home, complete with school desks and a chalk board.
The Tulsa World reported that each day began with the mother ringing a bell at 9 a.m., then leading her children in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing a few patriotic songs – the same way public school teachers started each morning back then.
Less than a month later, however, a Tulsa jury convicted the Sheppards of breaking the state’s compulsory school attendance law, fining each parent $25 and ordering the twins back to third grade.
The appeals process raged through the Oklahoma court system all summer, making front-page headlines across the country. The mother told the World that the family was receiving no public sympathy. “Even the church people have drawn away from us.”
But the battle ended in September 1956 with a landmark decision that recognized a parent’s right to home-school under the Oklahoma constitution, putting the state at the forefront of the home-school movement. And it has stayed there ever since.
“The most important right that parents have,” declares Renee Janzen, who leads the home-school group in south Tulsa where George Washington sat down for his job interview, “is the right to decide what kind of values to teach their children.”
Back in the early 1980s, Janzen met a family that had kept their children out of public schools — the first personal encounter she ever had with what still seemed like a radical lifestyle back then.
“What impressed me,” she remembers, “was the relationship the kids seemed to have with their parents — very close, very respectful, the kind of relationship you would want with your kids.”
Possibly worse: parents are affected by other public school parents. If Sheila's Mom is allowing an activity, and Sheila's Mom seemed a reasonable woman when we knew her during Kindergarten Ballet, then maybe we should allow the activity also.
It's down the slippery slope from there. Sheila's Mom is allowing the activity b/c Sheila's Mom is too overwhelmed to properly keep up with Sheila, plus Sheila misled her Mom about the particulars.
Also, many parents are swayed by friend/acquaintance parents who are watching public disciplinary practices. In public, if Parent A believes other observing parents favor a less involved, more laissez faire parenting style: Parent A will sometimes be reticent to publicly buck her peers. Again, it's down the slippery slope from there. Laissez faire parental peer pressure builds upon itself. Parents who have known each other for years become unconscious conspirators promoting less and less involvement with their own children.
A parent hanging around other home schooling parents might be like a person hanging around skinny people: such a person is less likely to eat in unhealthy fashion; such a parent is less likely to segregate from her own children in unhealthy fashion.
Note: I'm all for healthy segregation. I'm all for teenagers fighting for more and more independence. Such is healthy. I'm merely reporting what I've observed as a public school parent: conspiracy, i.e. unconscious and unhealthy parental conspiracy against one's own self interest, and against the interests of one's children.