October 28, 2003

Letter to Barbara Pierce - producer of CBS Homeschooling stories

Ms. Pierce,

I would like to take a moment of your time to make the following observations. I live in East Tennessee and I am currently homeschooling 2 of my 3 children. I have a degree in Education and my husband has a degree in Engineering. We made the decision to home educate our children because we felt that the public school system would be unable to provide them with the kind of education that we could implement ourselves, at home. Making the decision to home educate was not a spur of the moment concept. It was a route we agreed to take after much debate.

Where does education begin and parenting end? When you are a home educator / parent, there is no line. Both are intertwined. From the moment your child is placed within your arms you begin to teach your child. Most pre-schoolers enter Kindergarten already knowing how to write their names, count, and recite their abc's. The majority of these children are potty-trained, can tie their own shoes, wipe their own noses, and offer respect for their peers and teachers. In most instances, these are factors that were taught at home, by their parents. Countless thousands of children return home at the end of a busy school day, and sit down at their kitchen tables and complete countless hours of take home assignments that are overseen by the parents.

My mother did not consider herself to be a home educator. She sent us to school, yet I credit her and my father with having taught me to tell time, learn my multiplication tables, develop a love of reading and science, and foster within me a love of learning and a goal to strive for a higher level of education.

Much of my education was self-taught via reading extensively. In fact, I spent so much time in high school studying late into the evening to excel at Algebra, Chemistry, Physics, and Geometry, that I missed out on the opportunity to learn many things that I needed to know about running a home. What my public school education failed to teach me, was that I needed to know how to change the oil in my car, fix a flat tire, repair a busted zipper, hem my children's pants so they would fit, program a VCR, and prepare well balanced meals for my family. It would also be nice to know how to cut my children's hair, and build a picnic table for my kids to play on. You don't learn that absorbed in a Physics book.

In our home environment, not only do we teach academics; we also nurture the whole child. My children are taught to love learning for knowledge's sake. My children are taught that the family unit is more important than friendship. My sons are friends and not just brothers, because they have not been schooled into thinking that they need someone "their own age" to play with. A local public school librarian recently won the RIF teacher excellence award because she implemented the following program into her school. The program promotes snuggle time with a reading buddy and pairs 3rd and 4th grade children with Kindergartners. The program is considered successful because the admiration and respect that the Kindergartner gives to the 4th graders, promotes high self esteem among the older children and encourages them to read aloud without being critiqued by their peers. I admit it is a great program. It is also a daily event that happens in my home and transpired long before I read about the program in the newspaper.

All parents are home educators. Some teach their children what they must know to be self-sufficient, and leave the task of academics to a "professional". Other parents strive to raise their children to a higher level of thinking, while nurturing the whole child. Some parents do neither.

Child abuse is ugly, tragic, and ignorant. Abusers do not care for the welfare of their children, let alone their progress in education. These are not qualities of homeschoolers, most of whom are professionals that are active in their homes and leaders in their communities. These are qualities of neglectful, abusive people who get by with the abuse, not because they hide behind homeschool, but because their is no system to regulate parenting. My best friend is a teacher in a public school system. She tells me often about children that are suspected of being abused, but with no proof, their is little they can do. One can only make allegations, and the DHS is simply underfunded and overworked. To devote so much time to a story about homeschooling that does not reflect anything to do with home education and all it encompasses, is unmerited. I am saddened by the story and feel disgusted that the children in the report were not able to be "saved" by the system. However, I feel the need to point out that this situation is not reflective of homeschool, but of abusive parents.

Angela Roberts
Home Educator in East Tennessee

 Other Resources

The Dark Side of CBS Oct-23-2003