Representative Patricia Schroeder [D-CO] often claims that you can get a bigger tax break for breeding racehorses than raising children, and several groups are riding hard on Capitol Hill to change that reality. The result of the many proposals which are being offered to solve the tax problem for families is the usual political “football game.” Liberals, who view children as a costly investment which demands excessive sacrifice on the part of parents if all is to go well in society, suggest that the only solution is a massive government assistance program to lessen the burden.
Conservatives answer correctly that even a $1,000 payout per child would demand a massive tax increase across the board. That is why Congressman Frank Wolf's [R-VA] proposed H.R.1277 and Senator Dan Coates' [R-IN] S.701 are such powerful pieces of legislation. The focus of these bills is to leave the money with parents in the first place rather than collecting it and returning it in the form of government aid with all the attached bureaucracy that a major dole would demand.
Please review the list of 239 co-sponsors who have signed H.R.1277 as of July 15, 1991. If your Congressman is not listed, make a phone call today to encourage his/her co-sponsorship of this important legislation. The Capitol Hill switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. A few moments of your time really will make a huge difference!
The following letter appeared in the Ann Landers' column Wednesday, June 12, 1991 in the Washington Post. The “fed-up mom” who wrote the letter was so frustrated with her child's overwhelming homework load that she was considering other options—including home schooling.
Ann Landers answered this letter with the classic response of a person who does not understand home schooling:
“Teach your child at home if you want to, but he will miss an important part of his education—learning to get along with other children.”
Kids now need homework so they can learn what was at one time taught during school hours. We are unable to afford a private school, but I'm considering teaching our son at home because I seem to be doing it anyway. I'm with you, Oxnard.
Another Fed-Up Mom in Orangevale, California
I am not close enough to the California public school system to respond intelligently, but you can be sure I will receive a ton of mail from many who are. Meanwhile, teach your child at home if you want to, but he will miss an important part of his education—learning to get along with other children.
Michael Farris lost no time in communicating with the syndicated columnist (copy printed below), and we would like to encourage all of you to repeat our “Barbara Bush campaign” of letters directed this time to Ann Landers.
Letters should be addressed to Ann Landers, c/o Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. Let's get these letters out right away to concentrate the impact of them! Of course, children should be encouraged to proofread their work carefully and write neatly to make the best impression possible.
Again, we feel it would be advantageous to allow the columnist to hear from the children themselves, sharing the joys of their experiences in home schooling and emphasizing activities they do with people of all ages.
Dear Ann Landers:
You are right. You're going to get a ton of mail in response to “Another Fed-Up Mom in Orangevale, Calif.”, but not just from public school advocates. You are going to get a ton of mail from home schoolers.
You are dead wrong in your assumption that home schooling children miss a chance to learn to get along with other children. Socialization opportunities abound for home schoolers. Our sixteen-year-old daughter has been home schooled for nine years. She is active in our church youth group, played on a girls softball team, has a full-time summer job, and just returned from a two-week camp in Colorado. Our thirteen-year-old daughter is active in dance. She had the lead in the local ballet company's production of The Nutcracker and won a choreography competition this spring. She also is active in church and has a number of friends. Our third daughter is a sports enthusiast. She plays soccer, softball, and basketball. She gets multiple opportunities to get along with other children. My children are typical—most home schooling children have similar involvements.
Socialization need not take place in the classroom. In fact, some socialization that occurs in the classroom is a clear distraction to academic learning. Home schoolers miss some negative socialization opportunities provided by peer pressure to use drugs and engage in premarital sex. And anyone who has attended school will not argue with the proposition that children are incredibly cruel to each other at times. No one needs these kinds of negative exposure in order to live a fruitful life.
Home schooling socialization is different from typical institutional school socialization. While public school kids are learning to get along with other kids, home school kids are learning to get along with people of all ages. Home-schooled children can (and will) carry on conversations with adults, older children and younger children. Most public school kids have difficulty relating to people who are not in their specific age group.
Home schooling more closely patterns the real world. There is no place other than school where people live in age segregated herds. The social skill our society desperately needs is the ability to get along with people of all ages—and especially those in their own family.
It is a recognized psychological principle that a person with a healthy self-image has a higher ability to get along with others. A national study of home schoolers demonstrates that home schooled children have the highest scores in self-image on a recognized psychological test. Children taught at home by their parents are given the clear message that their parents care a great deal about them by virtue of the time invested in their lives in teaching them every day. That message produces positive results in a child's self-image which enables the child to have the internal strengths to get along with others.
When I first heard about home schooling, I was also concerned about the issue of socialization. After nine years with my own children, and after seeing thousands of home schooled children through my work, I am now convinced that socialization is actually one of the greatest advantages offered a home-schooled child.
Michael P. Farris
An HSLDA member from Wisconsin and a home-schooled child from Canada also noticed the June 12 Landers’ column. Their well-written responses are printed below and capture the spirit and inspiration of home schoolers everywhere.
Dear Ann Landers,
I appreciate the wonderful job you do, encouraging, educating and serving as a sounding board. Your efforts to contact knowledgeable people in areas outside your personal sphere of experience have dispelled much ignorance and helped thousands. In your recent answer to Fed Up Mom In Orangevale, CA, you wisely avoided commenting on the status of California's public school system due to lack of first hand information, yet in the same answer you unfairly judged homeschooling through ignorance or misinformation.
Your response perpetuates the myth that homeschooled children have little or no contact with other children and are thus unprepared for the social situations of life. Necessary social skills are continuously acquired through contacts not only with other children, singly or in groups, but with adults as well, and in all of life's variety, not just the classroom. The classroom has been structured for the convenience of the instructor in imparting knowledge to large numbers of children simultaneously, not for any inherent advantage to social development. Indeed studies have shown that homeschooling produce students who excel in self image and interpersonal skills as well as academically.
Homeschooling Without Apologies
Dear Ann Landers:
I am 10 years old. My mother teaches me at home. I have time to play with friends. I am in a choir and take violin and ballet lessons. I learn about the real world firsthand, and I am very good in math, language and visual arts. I am tutored in French by a university student. I am now in the sixth-grade French book while my friends at public school are still in the grade five book.
Northrop Frye, the famous scholar, did not go to school until the age of 8. After that he regarded it as “one of the milder forms of penal servitude.” And he is right. Home schooling allows me to be the way every child should be. Free.
A Kid in Canada
If you are a 10-year-old and wrote that letter without help, you are a great ad for home schooling. Congratulations.