I like Ann Doss Helms, the education reporter at the Charlotte Observer. She interviewed my home schooled boys twice many years ago and wrote excellent articles. However, I must take exception with her latest front page article with the headline: Home schools Booming, Face Little Scrutiny, and then the inflammatory subheading: 3 NC cases show how scant oversight can conceal abuse, disappearance.
Markedly absent in the article is any research, statistics, or documentation to indicate that Home schools have a higher rate of child abuse than any other setting. What is quite incredible is that based on 3 anecdotal cases, the implication is that greater oversight and government regulation is needed. I understand Doss Helms’ problem in citing research to support this solution. There is little out there. However, one site I found compiled research on the incidence of sexual abuse by educators in the public school setting. In 2002, a whopping 9.6% of public school students reported sexual abuse from public school educators.
Why do we not see condemning headlines and cries for greater regulation of public schools, or even calls to shut them down in the face of this alarming statistic?
The home school population has been studied in several long term studies. Perhaps counter-intuitively, students from states with high oversight and regulation perform no differently than those with none in social, academic, community involvement, and self satisfaction. The obvious conclusion is why waste taxpayer money to increase regulation on a group that by all standards is surpassing every other educational group?
Doss Helms notes that the growing numbers of home school students can disappear from scrutiny with little outside oversight. This is of course possible, but in the vast majority of cases, not true of homeschoolers. The implicit assumption is without government oversight, societal evils cannot possibly be eradicated. The overwhelming majority of home school students are involved in multiple church, community, and academic activities outside the home. The myth that they cocoon in their living room bubble is completely wrong, and based on ignorance. My own high school Junior homeschooler attends Key Club, youth group, church outreach, nursing home volunteer, riding lessons, snowboard lessons, and dual enrollment at the community college. And we cut back on outside activities this year!
Infringing further on freedoms with the unassailable goal of “protecting the children” is not the answer. If statistics are to rule such decisions, it is the public schools that need to be shut down and more highly regulated.
By Vicky Kaseorg
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