I had an interesting conversation last week. I was told how all these statistics prove that homeschoolers underperform Christian school and public school students by a huge margin. I was also told that homeschoolers are statistically proven to drop out of college at high rates, and that local colleges are considering not accepting any more homeschoolers because of how sadly they perform and how frequently they drop out. (Strangely enough, I was not provided the reports, but only told that these statistics exist.)
I was shocked because the only statistics I have ever seen have shown homeschoolers to perform wonderfully in comparison to their private and public-schooled peers. When I produced these results (http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray2009/default.asp), I was told it was like asking the cigarette companies to tell you how good smoking is for your health. I understand the point, but when you’re looking at test data, numbers are numbers. You can interpret them differently, but when you list the averages against the averages, they speak for themselves.
When the decision came for me to homeschool, no one I knew was doing it. Not my parents, siblings, in-laws, aunts, cousins, friends… no one. And in fact, most everyone I knew was against it. Why would I do such a thing when my neighborhood school was such a “good” one? I know for a fact that it was God’s leading on my life, because I am not a strong enough person to go against that kind of pressure. But I knew in my heart it was what He was leading me to, what He desired for the children that He had given me.
I’ve since learned so many things about how the public school runs (more than most parents of public-schooled kids), how it was founded, what principles are behind it (see http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/ or http://indoctrinationmovie.com/), that my decision has been confirmed.
But here is the clincher: when my oldest child became school-aged and I thought and prayed about what to do with her, I looked around at teenagers who I would want my children to emulate and they were all homeschooled. (Because I knew no one who was homeschooling and because I was feeling called to do that, I spent the year that LW was 4 and in preschool at the local homeschool gatherings, trying to get to know some homeschoolers.) Their spiritual acumen, the way they honored their parents and their siblings, their academic knowledge, their accomplishments… that was what I wanted for my children. There were no public or private schooled teenagers that even came close to having what I wanted for my children.
Now, I was naive enough to think that homeschooling was going to give me those kinds of kids, and I have since learned that it’s not a formula but a process. In truth, homeschooling is difficult at times and molding and shaping these children God has brought into my home is hard work. And that is true no matter where our kids are schooled. And so many people view my choice as a judgment on their choice. And I can understand how they would think that, but I have to hold true to my own beliefs about what is best for my kids even when it is not popular.
One other argument made to me yesterday was that we were pulling Christians who were supposed to shine their lights out of public school, and that Christians need to be in public school to witness to non-Christians. I see sending our kids into public school more as sending innocent children into the camp of the enemy. I was told that things are not “good versus evil,” but I really do believe that if things are not filtering through a biblical worldview, they are filtering through a humanist worldview. (You cannot serve 2 masters. Either you’re serving God, or you’re not. I don’t think anyone would argue that the public schools serve God.)
But in an institution that is implicitly non-religious, I can’t for one moment believe that my kids would get any kind of godly teaching there. I don’t think anyone expects public schools to provide religious or godly education to our children. It’s not what they’re about, and it would be foolish to send them to public school to learn about Christ. It’s not that they’re failing, it’s just not in the same circle of the Venn Diagram, you know?
I’ve always been taught that Christ never sent young children out into the world to witness, so I don’t really understand the argument that Christian children should be put into school to witness to their teachers and peers. As much as my children know the Word and belong to Christ and love God, it would be difficult if not impossible for them to stand up to peers, let alone a teacher, who is telling them they are wrong or that Christianity is wrong. Or who is modeling worldly behavior or attitude or sin. Will they eventually have to be released to the lions? Yes. But I pray that it is when they are old enough and strong enough to take Christ’s sword and shield fully, put on their armor, and understand Who defends them and rest in His defense. The Bible says to “train up” our children, not just throw them out and hope they do okay. We don’t send our 5-year-olds (or our 11-year-olds or our 14-year-olds) into physical battlefields, why would we send them into spiritual ones?
Obviously I’m ranting, and I sure hope I am not offending anyone. It is not my intention. In fact, I am just trying to get my mind around all the negatives that were thrown at me. I haven’t had to face personal opposition in quite a while. And it is true that my husband and I have vastly different goals and dreams for our children than some. What we want to see developed in our children dictates our choice in attaining those goals. And we choose to homeschool, regardless of what those phantom statistics show.