Monday, October 10, 2011

I'm Outraged!

A friend put a major damper on my day when she sent me a link to a poll in my local newspaper on Saturday morning.  I just get so riled up by stuff like this.  Here's the poll:

The recent death of 14-year-old Matthew Degner from Berwyn in a house of squalor has raised questions over how government officials can help children living in social isolation. Should families who are home-schooling their children be required to register with the state?

First.  None of the possible responses accurately express my desired response.  Second.  There is no provision for responding publicly to the poll.  That's very irritating.  So I wrote to the editors and shared my thoughts.  I started by asking a few questions...
  1. Should the fact that this one child died in a "house of squalor" be the catalyst for regulation of an entire movement which is statistically more successful (socially and academically) than the public school system in America?  
  2. Isn't it likely that there are public school children living in squalor, neglect, and abuse?  How has "knowing who these children are" helped them?  
  3. And what about the kids that are "living in social isolation" in public schools.  There's no isolation worse than being in the middle of a group of people who ostracize you, ridicule you, and bully you.  How did being "registered by the state" help the children who have taken their own lives as a result of living in this kind of isolation day after day? 
  4. Your poll intimates that the entire homeschooling movement should share the burden of guilt in the death of this child.  The next time a child commits suicide as a direct result of being bullied by his school peers, will you publish a poll that places the burden of guilt at the feet of the institution of public education and call for greater regulation of that entire institution?
  5. And what about the next time a public school child dies as a result of parental neglect/abuse, are you prepared to publish a poll that implies the child's school was complicit in the tragedy and should be more heavily regulated? 
Because this poll was published with no facts or information of any kind, it leads its uninformed readers to draw the conclusion that greater regulation will save the lives of hundreds of thousands of abused and neglected homeschool children.  What caring person wouldn't click the button next to "Yes, the state needs to know where these children are?"  The reality is that most of "these children" are already registered by the state.  The vast majority of abused, neglected children in the United States are not homeschooled children.  They are children who attend public schools.  The state of Illinois, where this tragedy took place, has huge problems with their public schools.  The Illinois schools do NOT have the time, the manpower, or the money to address their own problems, let alone solve the perceived problem of the "danger" facing the children of the homeschool movement.

I am outraged when I read "news" that contains blatant (or thinly veiled) suggestions that tragedies like the death of Matthew Degner are a.) the result of homeschooling, and b.) preventable by the creation of more government regulation.  It is nothing more than a fallacious attempt to sway public opinion for the sake of encouraging higher levels of government intrusion into our lives. Sadly, our world is full of abusive, neglectful parents.  That is indeed a tragedy.  And as sad as it is, the school system is not a social services agency.  It's teachers are not sociologists.  They are paid to teach children.  Giving the schools the responsibility and the power to protect children from their parents is a very troubling trend. This poll takes advantage of the death of a child and uses it as a rallying cry to call for even greater levels of control. 

They should be ashamed.


  1. Wow - and after all the kids who die of abuse or neglect in foster care? Who are these government agencies kidding?

  2. You said it so well! I agree with every point you brought up. Recently in my community a nine-year old child died from neglect and the body wasn't found until four days later when the police came to the house for a different reason! Never once did the question of this awful act being the burden of the local school enter into any media reporting. Instead of blaming one educational choice, let's figure out what we need to do as a whole society to heal and prevent this kind of thing from happening in any situation.

  3. Once again, there is an assumption that homeschooling equals social isolation. We will be fighting to correct that misconception for a long, long time.

  4. My letters to the editors (there are two listed) came back as undeliverable. I took the addresses right from their contact page. Grrr....

  5. I blogged about this subject over the summer. It REALLY aggravates me.