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jrdown: First off let me apologize for overlooking your first post. Here you are helping us by sharing comments and we don't even respond. Shame on us.

Anyway, I am so glad that you are here. Do you live in Virginia?

Imagine the nerve of us home schoolers thinking we should have total control over our children's education! LOL!!!

Tell us how you got interested enough to share the info here? Do you know some other folks that homeschool? Did you like what you saw?

Thanks for the warm welcome. :-) But no need to apologize, I'm glad that this board exists and I will probably lurk, as my first child approaches school age. But, since I never miss an opening to share my opinion on something (if degenerateelite is still lurking here, he'll back me up on that...), here goes:

Yes, I live in northern Virginia. For those who don't know, it is an area awash in advanced education degrees and two-income families. This is relevant here for a couple of reasons. First, because the large family income leads to extraordinary and ridiculous housing prices even for old homes like mine, which ultimately cycles back to pressure for both spouses to work outside the home (hence, homeschooling is difficult). Second, in an affluent area with an emphasis on education, the public schools are very well funded, constantly updated with the latest technology, and are widely regarded as among the best public school systems in the country.

I don't homeschool, and was never really interested in doing so. But my brother-in-law and his wife homeschool their kids, so I have had some personal contact with it. And he is the one who sent me that e-mail update. And I should note that when I say we don't homeschool, I mean that my oldest child is only a little over 2, so there is no official school material, but his brain, like that of any 2-year old, is a sponge in search of information to soak up, so we (especially my wife during the weekdays) are of course teaching him all sorts of things, and he is eager to learn.

I believe that a high school education is a public good. That means I support the government paying for schools to ensure that every child can achieve a high school education. That also means that I support tax money (including my own of course) going to pay for these schools, even though I do not have children of school age. It is a public good, and the country is far, far better off for having kids with at a minimum high school education.

At this point, if you are still reading, you are probably wondering why I am posting this to a homeschooling board, and wishing that I had not... I've just praised the relative quality of public schools in my area, admitted that it is a two-income neighborhood where I live, never thought much about homeschooling, and (gasp) endorse the government funding of public schools at the expense of all taxpayers. If that doesn't get me in a few p-boxes here, nothing will. But stay with me, because there is more to the story.

As for public schools, I support the government funding them and requiring them to meet certain standards. But I believe, based on the behavior of the union and their lobbyists, that they are instead trying to leverage this into a government-sanctioned monopoly, rather than a minimum standard of education, which is what I think it should be. The public good is a minimum level of education for everyone, however it is achieved. If that is in a private school or a homeschool, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, as one who generally believes in a lightly regulated "free" market (is that an oxymoron?), I suspect the existence and, very importantly, accessibility, of alternatives to public schools will raise the level of the education product across the spectrum. When a monopoly exists, the monopoly determines the product attributes and level of output. When a free market exists, the consumers ultimately dictate these things. A free market leads to innovative solutions, and eventually, everyone raising their quality of output. A monopoly situation leads to the monopoly protecting its turf and crowding out competitive alternatives. This impedes progress and improvement. It is also unresponsive to consumer demand. A monopoly provides whatever it wants, and the consumer has nothing it can do about it. I am entirely opposed to this in consumer products and services, and even moreso in something as critical as education. The government has taken something that should be good (ensuring a minimum level of achievement), and abused it into something bad (crowding out alternatives to superior achievement).

This infuriates me. So whether or not I homeschool my children, I actively support those who choose to do so. I do not believe that public schools should be the default option. They are one option out of many, and every family should consider what is best for them. Public schools, for many, will be the best choice. But the government wields a big stick, and they can (and presently do) abuse it, to the detriment of the populace.

I also believe schools waste useful time on useless things. I do not want my child indoctrinated with someone else's "values". That is NOT the purpose of a public education. Advocates for public schools teaching "values" will say that parents want and need them to do this for them. Even if that is the case, TOO BAD. Parents cannot abdicate this responsibility to the government. Not only does it waste valuable time teaching objectively important things like the basics of math, science, history, language and critical thinking, but it undermines part of the purpose and value of the family, which is to teach and support their shared values. This is emphatically NOT the role of the government, and no matter what party or ideology were at the head of determining what would be taught, they are not good at it. By allowing parents an outlet for abdicating these responsibilities, the government is weakening families. This serves no public good.

So to sum up, I believe that the responsibility for a child's education rests with the PARENTS. The government can and should provide an option, which acts at a minimum as a safety net for families with no other option or inclination. But they need to remember, and we all do, that it is still the FAMILY'S responsibility and prerogative to see to their children's education. Onerous regulations and restrictions and other sources of intimidation speak to a government system that has forgotten its charter and role in the process. The government should help families and children, and facilitate their achievement of the best education they would like, not act as the gatekeepers of education, forcing everyone to walk through their gates, pay their tolls, and receive only what they think you should get.
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