The Last Radicals...an article about homeschoolers

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Shawn Mathis

Puritan Board Sophomore
Aside from typically unsubstantiated mis-characterizations of homeschooling scores, overall, the thrust of the article was well-stated and true: many liberals dismiss homeschooling as an obstacle at best and immoral at worse.

Williamson rightly lists three important reasons that people like West "bristle with hostility" in spite of any academic concerns. His point is not to defend homeschooling per se as much as to use homeschooling as a foil to highlight the irrational and foreign worldview of these liberals.

Two interesting points about the article:

1. The caricature offered by West (and rejected by Williamson) actually has some truth in it: "The husbands and wives in these families feel themselves to be under a religious compulsion to have large families, a homebound and submissive wife and mother who is responsible for the schooling of the children, and only one breadwinner." Is this not true with some homeschoolers?

Perhaps Williamson rejects the second half of West's description: "These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000-square-foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots." This is true in some cases, if any of the quiver-full books and sites are even partially true.

2. In response to the above "caricature," Williamson offers an unreferenced quote by Dr. Ray of the NHRI. Googling part of the quote turns nothing up but repeated republications of Williamson's own article.

Part of Dr. Ray's counter-argument is factual: there are no studies backing up West's wide-sweeping caricature. In fact, there is little actual hard-core data to back up any specific picture of homeschooling demographics.

The other part of Dr. Ray's counter-argument is misleading at best: "repeated studies by many researchers and data provided by United States state departments of education show that home-educated students consistently score, on average, well above the public school average on standardized academic achievement tests. To date, no research has found homeschool students to be doing worse, on average, than their counterparts in state-run schools."

It is misleading because it is poorly written as I understand the research. As the average laymen reads his answer, there are full-fledged tests that show a correlation between homeschooling and academic success in contrast to other educational methods.

Not true.

In an article by the very same Dr. Ray, he stated: ""The design of most research to date does not allow for the conclusion that homeschooling necessarily causes higher academic achievement or better social and emotional development than does public (or private) institutional schooling." He stated this fact because the research to date is not a true representative sample (no random sampling, for instance). ("The Evidence Is So Positive", The Old Schoolhouse, accessed 2009)

In other words, Williamson's understanding of liberal bias against homeschooling is spot on even as his understanding of homeschooling research is not.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Aside from typically unsubstantiated mis-characterizations of homeschooling scores, overall, the thrust of the article was well-stated and true: many liberals dismiss homeschooling as an obstacle at best and immoral at worse.

Williamson rightly lists three important reasons that people like West "bristle with hostility" in spite of any academic concerns. His point is not to defend homeschooling per se as much as to use homeschooling as a foil to highlight the irrational and foreign worldview of these liberals.

Two interesting points about the article:

1. The caricature offered by West (and rejected by Williamson) actually has some truth in it: "The husbands and wives in these families feel themselves to be under a religious compulsion to have large families, a homebound and submissive wife and mother who is responsible for the schooling of the children, and only one breadwinner." Is this not true with some homeschoolers?

Perhaps Williamson rejects the second half of West's description: "These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000-square-foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots." This is true in some cases, if any of the quiver-full books and sites are even partially true.

2. In response to the above "caricature," Williamson offers an unreferenced quote by Dr. Ray of the NHRI. Googling part of the quote turns nothing up but repeated republications of Williamson's own article.

Part of Dr. Ray's counter-argument is factual: there are no studies backing up West's wide-sweeping caricature. In fact, there is little actual hard-core data to back up any specific picture of homeschooling demographics.

The other part of Dr. Ray's counter-argument is misleading at best: "repeated studies by many researchers and data provided by United States state departments of education show that home-educated students consistently score, on average, well above the public school average on standardized academic achievement tests. To date, no research has found homeschool students to be doing worse, on average, than their counterparts in state-run schools."

It is misleading because it is poorly written as I understand the research. As the average laymen reads his answer, there are full-fledged tests that show a correlation between homeschooling and academic success in contrast to other educational methods.

Not true.

In an article by the very same Dr. Ray, he stated: ""The design of most research to date does not allow for the conclusion that homeschooling necessarily causes higher academic achievement or better social and emotional development than does public (or private) institutional schooling." He stated this fact because the research to date is not a true representative sample (no random sampling, for instance). ("The Evidence Is So Positive", The Old Schoolhouse, accessed 2009)

In other words, Williamson's understanding of liberal bias against homeschooling is spot on even as his understanding of homeschooling research is not.
It's kind of a sticky wicket then for determining home schooling success. I oppose coercive state education period let alone the testing of home schooled children. The only answer is for there to independent privately funded studies. Okay. How would they avoid a selection bias? What floundering home schooling family is going to want to participate?
 

Shawn Mathis

Puritan Board Sophomore
Zack,

I don't think homeschoolers need anymore tests. The past efforts at least gave enough of an impression to the media, etc. that homeschoolers were OK to leave them alone. Homeschooling is still legal.

But, on the other hand, the common presentation among many homeschooling leaders and conferences to this day still perpetuate this error--to the hurt of many homeschoolers. I've seen the pressure on these families put upon them by some self-made "leaders" of this movement and it's not a pretty picture.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
One "test" that may "work" with homeschoolers is college admission and "success" there.

How many apply to college? How many are accepted? How do they do when they get there? How many successfully graduate? How many get a good job? How are the suicide rates, drug abuse rates, unemployment rates, incarceration rates as opposed to other college students?
 
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