I would like to apply the Modifier Mandate to California State University Northbridge’s (CSUN) school newspaper, the Daily Sundial, and their recent online article “Homeschool isn’t the same as school.” The Modifier Mandate is simple: All strong opinions should be qualified in order to protect the feelings of people who might be offended. It was developed from the comments left from a reader of this blog who was insulted by what was perceived as a blanket condemnation of public school teachers in a previous post. For example, it is wrong to state that “schools are places where creativity and independent learning are stifled in exchange for teaching-to-the-test.” Applying the Modifier Mandate to this statement, it is correct to write that some “schools are places where creativity and independent learning are stifled in exchange for teaching-to-the-test.” The Modifier Mandate calls for fairness, and is consistent with modern teaching models where feelings are more important for academic achievement than is accuracy or facts. (1)
It is important to note that the authors of the Daily Sundial essay felt no need to qualify any of their statements concerning homeschooling, homeschoolers, or their parents. Homeschool critics rarely, if ever, acknowledge the successes of or benefits from homeschooling. It is clear from reading the article that homeschooling parents do not have the “credential” to teach their children. Apparently, there is only one. Homeschooling “does not allow a child to learn and practice social behaviors and cope outside of the home with others their age.” The absence of any qualifiers means that all homeschooling parents lack the proper credentials to teach their own children, and there are no homeschools that provide a proper socialization experience for students. Give the authors credit where credit is due, they took a strong stance and argued for it.
Applying the Modifier Mandate to this article, several important changes are needed.
Instead of writing that homeschooling “does not allow a child to learn and practice social behaviors and cope outside of the home with others their age,” the authors should have written that some homeschooling “does not allow a child to learn and practice social behaviors and cope outside of the home with others their age.” To be fair, the reclusive, hermit homeschooling community remains fairly isolated from society. Oh, they make up .0000000001 percent of homeschoolers, given that the vast majority of homeschooled children participate in activities outside of the home where they come into contact with their public schooled brethren, but the hermits should be mentioned.
Instead of writing that “homeschooled students only interact with their parents and/or siblings that they see on a day to day basis,” the authors should have written that some “homeschooled students only interact with their parents and/or siblings that they see on a day to day basis.”
The Modifier Mandate must also be applied to arguments made in favor of public education over home education. The authors should have written that some “public schools provide qualified teachers, suitable learning facilities and proper social interactions between students.” You cannot honestly argue that the Oceanside, California, school district provided a qualified teacher to students when they allowed illiterate teacher John Corcoran to teach for 17 years. (2) You cannot honestly argue that all school districts provide “proper social interactions between students” when the Toronto District School Board of Education and the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reported that “33 per cent [of students] say they've been sexually harassed in the past two years; another 29 admit to having been touched or grabbed inappropriately and seven per cent have actually been victims of a major sexual assault.” (3) The intellectual honesty that one reader believed was lacking from this blog’s last post demands that we cannot even suggest that all schools provide a safe learning environment while ignoring the improper social interactions between students and teachers as documented by the World Net Daily list of the 200+ teachers who have sexually assaulted students. (4)
Homeschooling critics like to argue that no matter how bad public schools can be, with unqualified teachers, teacher on student assaults, student on student assaults, and the all of the other problems that occur in our nation’s schools, public schools are still a better option. They play the odds, believing that these situations are rare. They are the exception to the rule. I say that is like playing Russian Roulette. You can load the gun with one bullet, spin the cylinder, point the gun at your head, and pull the trigger with good odds that you will survive the experience. You can enroll your children in public school with good odds that they will survive the experience without harm. They probably will. But for those parents who do not wish to play Russian Roulette with their children’s lives, homeshooling is the preferred option. There are no qualifiers where the health and safety of my children is concerned.
I will not budge an inch from my defense of home education as long as there are people making unfounded, ignorant, blanket statements such as the ones written in the Daily Sundial editorial without a shred of research, evidence beyond personal anecdote, or the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that homeschooling is successful in the vast majority of circumstances. (5) Give Linda credit in her last blog post, she documented her writing. Her sources are available for anyone to read, support, or refute. It is long past the time for public educators to admit the failures of the public school system and acknowledge that homeschooling works!