Re: Alan's Comment on Equity

Alan,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I agree that it is a shame when homeschooling families have something to offer the community and public schools but do not or cannot share it because they educate at home. I think it is an admirable thing when homeschoolers do take time to tutor neighborhood children, teach an afterschool class for a local public school, or visit and contribute to classroom learning at local schools.

(As an aside, it is my -- unresearched -- impression that many public schools would reject the kinds of things that homeschoolers would try to share. This may be part of the reason why you don't see much of that kind of exchange. I would be happy to be wrong on this.)

At the same time, we live in a society where a man's personal rights are not denied simply because the community would be somewhat better off if he didn't have those rights. There are countless experts in industry who would be more valuable to the school system than your average homeschool parent, but our government does not compel any of them to change careers and become teachers. Requiring one 5th grader to sit full-time in every 4th grade class would provide a great deal of help to the 4th graders, but we recognize that the 5th grader's right to learn would be denied if the government required this.

The above are scenarios that would deny people freedoms they currently enjoy for a benefit that is probably greater than what one homeschool family could offer to a school system. But the benefit is not enough to justify it.

You stated that you think the benefit to the homeschooler is "slight," so the above analogy may seem a bit warped to you, because surely an industry expert losing his high-level income and 5th grader losing a year of education are pretty severe losses in comparison. I would like to ask you to consider the loss to a homeschooler as severe to them, even if to you it may seem marginal. (I can expand on why I believe this is so if you want, but I am leaving it out right now because this comment is already quite long.)

If you can accept that the loss to the homeschooler is great, then it is just as unreasonable to expect the homeschooled student to attend public school voluntarily as it is to expect the 5th grader to lose a year of school voluntarily. I don't think it's any more selfish for a family to homeschool than for the 5th grader to refuse to sit in on the 4th grade class. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to sacrifice a lot for a little possible benefit to someone else.

-Laura [Comment] [Permalink]