There have been a number of articles and letters about homeschooling flying back and forth in Catoosa County, Georgia. The originator, school social worker Sue Mason and her letter to the editor defender, say this isn’t about homeschooling. (Homeschooling was referenced in the title and throughout.) The inference seems to be that the double columns were about truants trying to beat ‘the system’ and homeschoolers should be grateful for Mason’s “positive comments about parents who make the sacrifice to home school their children“.
Her first editorial was: Mason: My thoughts on home schooling Mar 26, 2009 Catoosa County News
Now I understand the term means to prepare for battle. I prefer to avoid any situations that have anything to do with battles or fights or cross words or girding. Often I accidentally say the wrong thing and find myself in a situation where someone is upset. Even when I am trying to say something nice it may come out wrong. Then there are those times I know someone will misunderstand and want to do bodily harm to me but I just can’t help myself. Now is one of those times…
Home school, there it is, all out in the open. And if you are reading this column and home school your children chances are this in no way affects you. Because even though I work for the public school system I see examples of parents doing an incredible job with their kids. But there is another side, a side I work with that is not what was intended. Many home schooled children are bright, well-rounded, well-educated and more than prepared for college and for a productive life. But some parents take advantage of the system for their own benefit leaving their children behind in the dust. So fully girded, here goes.
Off she went indeed. Her job as a school social worker has a big punch, which could culminate in court action. She says: “some parents make the following threat: “If you and that school don’t leave me alone I’ll jerk them kids out and home school them.” And unfortunately they sometimes make good on this “threat.”
On the other side, which I like to refer to as the side of freedom, homeschool advocates take phone calls and emails from desperate public school parents who see no light in their dark basement tunnel located in the public schools. They’ve been pegged as worthless. Little school administrative thought seems to apply to the often unfortunate, multi-generational public school experiences these families had.
I’ve also seen public schools use “home schooling” to get rid of kids who are not positive No Child Left Behind data points. (Dropout and truancy rate deductions are key, as the schools lose funding otherwise.) I wonder if Ms. Mason might be part of the pot calling the kettle black.
Part 2 Mason: Home schooling: The dark side 04/16/09 Catoosa County News
Some folks live their lives bounded by the philosophy of digging, or rather when you’re in a hole you should stop said activity. Again my observations on some parent’s manner of home schooling was not an indictment on the entire concept but just on what my co-workers and I witness from some parents. So now might be a good place to stop before I go any deeper; but I just can’t help myself.
I’d say she’s in the hole, but she couldn’t help herself, so the column continues at the site.
One Marietta homeschooler had a thought after reading Mason’s second column:
Letters about homeschooling articles 04/29/09 Catoosa County News
Why not write a series of companion articles on “Public Schooling: The Dark Side?” You’d probably have a higher percentage of negative stories as compared to the student population.
I don’t think anybody seriously thinks that homeschooling is a perfect world, or that every parent who claims to home educate their children is doing a good job. But given the success rate of homeschooling, why don’t we see more positive stories? [continued at site]
Another troubling thought now is that governmental definitions of “abuse” are not particularly objective. Illinois has Social/Emotional Learning Standards (school readiness). There are some who believe homeschoolers are abusive for not letting their children socialize ala school socialization. Some of those folks, like Sue Mason, also have the power to intimidate and destroy a loving family because of their interpretations. (Ms. Mason’s descriptions of the families and their living abode are insulting and troubling.)
I’m with Debbie Sap, one of the family defenders responding to Sue Mason’s editorial. What she’s seen has been my experience too. Maybe some day Sue Mason will understand that and learn the benefit of the doubt.
Readers criticize column on home schooling 04/07/09 Catoosa County News
“When the responsibility is on them, they often rise above what others thought they could do. This is not always, but it happens often enough that I think the parents should be given the benefit of the doubt. I think of the parent whose children were languishing in the low teens of the standardized tests. Whose children just couldn’t get motivated to go to school and mom couldn’t make them. She took them out and though she had what many would call a minimal education herself, she worked within the interests of those children and brought them up to the high teens on the next test. At which point, the school district wanted to say her kids were doing poorly in home school and needed government school. What did she use to interest her kids? Television. After they watched their favorite show, they had to write what they saw and how they would’ve written the screen play differently. Not the way I would’ve chosen to teach, but as their parent, she knew how to reach them. I also think of the family who hated mornings and stayed up until 2 or 3 a.m. They did their prime home schooling after 9 p.m. No interruptions and they could sleep in. Really bothered the neighbors, though, that the kids slept and played all day, because they didn’t see the schooling that happened. Oh, most of the kids who graduated from their home school have gone on to college. (Can anyone say, “late nights studying”?) Then, there’s my friend who dropped out in 9th grade and her husband had dropped out in 8th grade. When they decided to home school, they did so quietly since neither had their GED. While the kids were in grade school, Dad got his GED – nothing like your kids counting on you to push a parent. At this point, they “registered.” Then, mom got her GED. She stayed one year ahead of the kids through high school. When child No. 1 graduated, he was so smart in computers, there were only two colleges on the continent that could teach him anything in his subject. When child No. 2 graduated, he tested out of the first two years of college.
More commentary from Georgian, Jeannie Babb Taylor: On the Other Hand 04/21/09
Homeschoolers play in the dirt — Addressing the school social worker’s rant
This weekend my grandson came over to the house to play. Almost two years old, little Isaiah has a firmly set mission in life: To find whatever trouble he can, and thoroughly get into it. In our yard, he made a bee-line for the leaky water hose.
“You see what he’s doing?” I asked my daughter.
Moriah shrugged. “It’s just water . . . and mud. He’ll come clean.” Isaiah picked up the hose and leaned over for a better look, inadvertently squirting himself in the face. He looked up at us, streams of water pouring from his fine blond hair. We were smiling, so he smiled back. He stared at the stream for a moment, and then started lapping at it like a puppy. We laughed while he drenched himself, eventually muddy up to his knees. [continued at site]