I understand the concept of ‘balanced’ reporting because there are (a minimum of) two sides to every story.Â But reporters often approachÂ writing about homeschooling from both the human interest angle and the objective reporting angle.Â This combination makes reading many of the articles a mildly unsettling experience — you don’t know which way to cant your head while reading.Â
In many articles from newspapers and magazines from around the country,Â we’ve got the Happy Families angleÂ mixed in withÂ Scary Experiment That Needs Close Watching angle.Â The writer of the followingÂ article from North Carolina definitely seems to favor the Scary Experiment view of homeschooling, with aÂ half-hearted attempt to portray a Happy Family.
Up and Coming Magazine, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 16 August 2006, Home Sweet School:Â Teaching is often looked at as a thankless and difficult job, yet many Fayetteville families are beginning home schooling programs.
Many parents can be intimidated by the idea of being put solely responsible for their child’s education. How can anything be learned without a trained teacher standing feet away? Are there desks? Do the kids even bother getting out of their pajamas?
“I enjoy spending so much time with my children,” said Wiggs, who has three children who’ve been home schooled. “One thing I’d discovered is that I didn’t know my children the way I thought I did. When they came home we really got to know each other and became much closer.”
Later come three paragraphs from the “Advocates” viewpoint, ‘balanced’ by eight paragraphs from theÂ “Critics” viewpoint.
On the (questionably) plus side:
“Some people home school their kids because there are things they want them to learn which schools aren’t teaching them, and some do it because there are things in school that they don’t want them to learn,” said Hill. “It is generally a mix of those two elements.”
And then from the unimpressed side:
Home schooling is not without its critics. Some believe it is irresponsible to teach a child in an unstructured environment; that without structure, parents can teach their children anything. For example, some religiously-motivated parents may choose to ignore Darwin’s Theory of Evolution all together.
Home schooling can also be used as a tool of abuse, as without a child being regularly introduced to adults outside of their family, their ability to report what is happening to them in their home life becomes limited.
“We, as a public school, have to meet the same criteria as other schools, we are accountable for what we do,” said Slocum. “We can’t just hide test results, we have standards to meet in order to help kids learn.”
So, if, in the interest of balanced reporting,Â we’re going to include public school viewpoints in an article about homeschooling, it should only be fair, and balanced, to include homeschooling viewpoints in articles about the public schools.
Up and Coming Magazine, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 6 September 2006, Going Back To School
School is back in session and Spring Lake is celebrating the beginning of the semester with a few events. The Greater Spring Lake Optimist Club “Bringing Out the Best in Kids” Golf Tournament, the new Community and Family Fun Day, the Opening Day of Fall Sports, the Fall Clean-up Campaign, and the opening of the Spring Lake Multi-purpose Community Center are just a couple of the happenings this fall.
Nope, no homeschool opinion there.
Up and Coming Magazine, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 28 August 2006, Back To School
Every year there are basically two console football games that the sports video game crowd look forward to: Madden and NCAA. While Madden has been the hotter product of the two, NCAA has slowly but surely made a name for itself. This year the franchise takes a nice leap forward into the end zone for a huge score, and the guys over at Madden may want to pay attention.
These two ‘back to school’Â articles at the same site that skewered homeschooling don’t even mention the schools that the local kids are going back to, much less the education the kids will be getting, so it isn’t a surprise that homeschooling opinionsÂ about ‘back to school’ weren’t included. Â The tenor ofÂ Up and Coming MagazineÂ is moreÂ from the ‘county life’ viewpoint, so why theÂ ‘investigative reporter’Â postureÂ about homeschooling?
Homeschoolers are not foreigners invading communities.Â They’re the same people who’ve been there all along, and paying taxes to support those local schools, too.Â
If any opinions about the other guy’s way of schooling should be sought out for ‘fair balance,’Â they should be the opinions of taxpayers about public facilities, and not bureaucrat’s opinions about the people funding them.