Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Opt Out of State Tests Facebook Group Tells “Certain” Parents/Students/Teachers - You’re Not Welcome Round Here

This was supposed to be a post about encouraging you to join the “Opt Out of the State Tests” group on Facebook. Some of you may remember last week when I excitedly shared with thousands of my followers on Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook that there was a new group in town that was created for the purpose of supporting parents, educators, and students interested in opting out of standardized testing. What I didn’t know is that they didn’t have interest in supporting “ALL” parents. You see, the group leaders made it very clear that folks like me weren’t wanted around those parts.


I wish I had known of their bias before I invited thousands of people to the group. I would never knowingly invite members of my personal learning network to a group that discriminates against those who do not share the group leader's approved religious beliefs, political affiliation, or learning methods. Because of their bias, I deeply apologize to those who I unintentionally mislead. Before I was aware that this was a group bound by intolerance, I was thrilled as more and more esteemed peers from my personal learning network joined the group. Parents, students, and educators had a platform to talk, discuss and share ideas. There were rich conversations from people of varied backgrounds. 

In the group, there were stories of parents who shared their frustration about the test results being misused for all sorts of things. In many cases, the tests were being used as a primary determinant in holding their children back a year. In some cases, like that of parent Gretchen Herrera, the test was literally making her son ill and her school handed down the threat that any child who opted out would be kicked out if they choose not to take the test. For parents who felt they had nowhere else to turn because they did not want to subject their children to this abuse, some members shared non-public education options, such as homeschooling or independent schools. It wasn’t long after that group moderators and some of their buddies (the worst coward doing so anonymously) went on the attack. 

Parents and teachers were chastised for their political and religious beliefs. They were called things like religious nutters, and there were many untruths published about those whose views were different than some of those who moderated the group. Next, group members were informed that this group would be censored for anyone sharing non-public options for parents as now this group had a new mission - it was no longer all about the children. Now, first and foremost, it was about saving the public school system. Those whose interests also included exploring learning alternatives were told to "go away" and leave the group.

When I had invited thousands of others to join, I had no idea this group was only for members who had a certain belief system. I first discovered this when one of the group moderators criticized the views of Linda Dobson’s popular blog, which focuses on home education and natural learning. The group moderator, stated that as a “professional educator,” he does not condone homeschooling. 

To really drive the point home, he explained why he believed parents were not qualified to take student learning into their own hands.


“Parents, by the virtue of being parents, are NOT by default "experts" on education, curriculum, pedagogy, and so forth. I happen to respect the fact that I've spent many years honing my craft and reading numerous pages of text that I should know a bit more than someone who has children.”

Then another moderator frustrated with parents who were entertaining the idea of learning alternatives had this to say. 

“We don't want to homeschool or bow out of the public system. I don't care if you're a parent, teacher, teacher educator or school crossing guard, if your end game does not include a thriving public school system situated in neighborhoods that stimulate democratic communities go start your movement somewhere else--no hard feelings. We are just on different missions. It's pretty simple.”

A particular kind of home educator was also singled out by a moderator who said this:

I really do think these unschool folks need to leave.

As a point of clarity, I am not a home educator. I am an educator who supports ALL parents, educators, and children: public, non-public, all religions, races, and political backgrounds. Honoring and respecting ALL parents, educators, and children does not mean we want to bring the public school system down. I advise parents on how to work within the system. However, when parents are at a point where their children are bullied, beaten down, sick, and suicidal, and the parents feel helpless (as many members of that board expressed) some of us share that there are other educational options. The board moderators wanted these alternatives censored and silenced. 

While it would be convenient to take opting out as an issue onto itself, no matter how much these moderators want to stick their fingers into the ears of its members, it is more complex as Teresa McCloskey in Standardized Tests: Merely A Symptom of the Disease points out. It is a shame that the Opt Out of State Testing group wants to sequester the thoughts and ideas shared. It is a shame that parents and educators passionate about helping children were made to feel like outcasts by intolerant group moderators who told them to leave. Many of us were not willing to do that. We believe in tolerance and acceptance and that we can work together. 

This was not an option. The moderators spread lies and untruths about home education and learning alternatives. Then they made sure there was no more talk or input from non-public parents and educators by banning those who had publicly expressed they were open to such options. Without conversation or notification many group members who were supportive of all parents were removed. In an instant this opt out group badly burned a bridge and sent a loud and clear message to non-public parents and educators, “You are not wanted here.“

The word spread like wild fire around the civilized education communities, disappointed that a public education group was formed that decided authority and control should dominate over freedom and expression of ideas. They demanded compliance, and made it crystal clear to remaining members that this was not a place for the questioning and sharing of ideas outside their own.
As a result, several parents and educators wrote privately to those who openly shared independent education options. They asked how they could find out more. Christeil Figueroa Gota, who was one of the concerned parents that was forced to discuss alternatives behind the scenes, created this group to help these parents: OPT OUT! Parent/Student Support Group: You've Decided to Opt Out. NOW WHAT?. This is a safe, non-discriminatory place for ALL parents and students interested in exploring alternative options for their children. There are also two other non-discriminatory opt out Facebook pages. One is Kids are More than Test Scores and another Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing which also has a newly created corresponding Facebook group named Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing. If you don’t believe in discrimination and want to be able to share new ideas, we invite you to join us on these pages and groups.

31 comments:

  1. As a non-educator and a worker from the private sector, I know quite a few people who have selected homeschooling. It seems quite "mainstream" and no one much blinks an eye. The forces driving federal and state mandates that affect all parents, irrespective of their educational choices for their children, religious or ideological affiliations, count on this type of discord. They win.

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  2. The views expressed by the teacher regarding homeschooling parents are not uncommon. But his comments might be more about him and his need to be validated in what he does as a teacher and the time he has spent on his teaching credentials and working in the classroom. When learning is what matters and not education, parents are the experts. They know their children best. But many teachers are offended by the concept of homeschooling and the possibility that there might be other ways to learn that are not school or teacher related. Thankfully, there are also teachers that are open to many alternative learning opportunities and willing to speak up in support of them.

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  3. I'm sorry, but how does being a parent help you understand education of other people's children, and not just yours? Since you but band aids on your own children, do you also opt out of going to professional physicians? You must also know about their teeth, which would render dentists obsolete? Educators are educators because they've earned the expertise, so we need to treat them as such. What you're implying has been done to educators over many decades, which lowers their status, their salary, and overall diminishes the importance of education as a career that requires skill, knowledge, and practice.

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  4. I don't think home schooling diminishes public school teachers. However the fear that attrition from the public school system is indeed a threat to their salaries, and in some rare cases, their status as well. While homeschoolers don't necessarily make assumptions about the education of other people's children, their actions and example can and does make a statement about the education of other people's children.

    I had a pretty horrible experience with public school when I tried to opt my kids out a few years ago. Parents - especially homeschool parents did not draw first blood. Public school did.

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  5. @Anonymous,
    First, What do you mean by putting bandaids on one's own children?

    Regarding your physician example, a parent has a number of choices when their child is sick. Sometimes they feel they are best to tend to a sick child, sometimes they seek out mainstream specialists, other times those who practice alternative methods. Some physicians are making virtual, online house calls. Additionally, more and more people are finding out about important missed information by professional physicians through the power of social media.

    This is similar to what home educators do. When a parent chooses to home educate this does not mean that they providing all the teaching. It means they allow their children to connect to those who can provide such opportunities. Home educating parents are able to provide their children with a rich array of options that are aligned to their passions, talents, interests and abilities and allow their children to connect with and do work of the real world. In school work children do is usually standardized and disconnected from the world of the 21st century.

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  6. Anonymous is misinformed. There is no evidence connecting a homeschool choice with the systematic diminishing of a career in education. That particular fact is best placed at the feet of educrats of all political stripes. Mr. Bill Gates is part of a growing effort making schools of education a target, citing the lack of evidence that those schools produce teachers who impact achievement scores. So, the blame for lowered status, salary, and importance of the career as a whole belongs to the powerful corporate and political forces.

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  7. I am not the anonymous person who posted above. My name is Leslie Hammer.

    Everyone is an educator. Everyone. If "Anonymous" hasn't opened his eyes to see the thousands of talented people who teach without earning dubious credentials, that's his - and his students' - load to bear.

    My name is Leslie Hammer.

    My child has been taught by credentialed and non-credentialed teachers, by physicists and mathematicians, by artists and doctors, by the very young and those nearing death, by writers and college students, with the help of family and entirely on her own. That's what homeschooling is. Anyone who doesn't like it is free to make another choice for their kids.

    My child has been taught by credentialed and non- credentialed teachers, by scientists and writer, by mathematicians and engineers, by friends, by librarians, by small children, the elderly, by an emergency room physician,

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  8. @ Anonymous,

    I wasn't implying that home educators understand the education of other people's children better than classroom educators do, just their own children. When expertise is needed there are many places parents can turn for help and resources.

    I wasn't implying that educators don't deserve respect and trust. I was a public school teacher. When I was teaching I felt unappreciated at times, not by students and their parents but by the system and the public at large. I am well aware of the teacher bashing that goes on out there. I loved teaching, worked extremely hard and spent as much time out of the classroom as I did in the classroom practicing and polishing my craft. I loved teaching. What I didn't love was the direction in which education was heading. I left teaching after 7 years, just about the time NCLB first came to pass. My main reason for leaving was the birth of my first child, but NCLB and other mandates left me with no desire to return in the future.

    Now I have two children and we have chosen an open source form of learning. Our choice is not meant to insult those who work in the field of education or families that send their children to school. But some people see it that way. There is not much I can do about that. But in writing this (if you are still reading) I hope to explain at least how I feel regarding choice in education.

    Please don't think that all home educators are looking down upon teachers. I was a teacher and I know the challenges they face everyday. I started reading this blog a while back because it really was a breath of fresh air to read about someone in the field of education open to all different kinds of learning environments, both in and out of the classroom.

    Well done Lisa. Thanks for continuing the dialogue.

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  9. Look, I don't question the knowledge you've all gained being home educators. But there is an impression that by the act of having children, you are somehow automatically qualified to educate. It is highly probable that you know what's best for your own children, but it is unlikely that you know what's best for other children.

    Now, why on earth does that matter? Well, from the impression I get here, many of you would claw the eyes out of others if "their" education affected "your" children, without even a second thought. Ultimately, you're all a bunch of islands floating alone, despite the trade of ideas you may engage in from time to time.

    A public school system in some marginal way guarantees that the will of powerful individuals does not impede upon the greater good of the whole. Now, by powerful individuals, I mean folks who would do whatever it took to defend their own child, even if it meant dismantling an institution that in some important ways protects certain children from a family that does not care for them.

    Whether you like it or not, you have found yourselves in a very privileged position, that you can afford in both time and financial resources to educate your own children. In examining the Twitter roll to the right, for example, I see very few persons of color and I'm sure many of you are from a particular social class. That is, one that can "afford" not to work so that you can stay home and teach your children.

    Homeschooling per se does not diminish the status of teachers. But, the assumption that every mother can teach, that every parent knows best, is indeed a destructive tone towards a profession that requires years of training, patience, and practice. And given that the vast majority of teachers are women, there is the implication that teaching skills are "natural," that all you need is to be a woman and you can do it. That's why we don't see a lot of men in the profession.

    Nevertheless, you are free to homeschool as much as you please. but I will be remiss if I do not highlight your dangerous rhetoric, one that won't align you with the public educators you find yourselves railing against on some other Facebook page. You may hold the answers for your own children, but you do not have the answers for mine, and of the thousands of children I've worked with in public education.

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  10. I understand Anonymous's sentiments and the example that was given. Many of the parents that I talk to that do want to home school feel inadequate and ill prepared to lead the home schooling. And of course there is the whole 'being there' issue (parents can't always be at home).

    However, what I find as I network with my fellow home school families, I find that they are feel that they have the freedom to do what they need to do for their kids. In other words, they are thriving in their freedom.

    I was shocked to learn from the http://nheri.org , which is a home school research organization, that the children of parents that have only a high school diploma perform as well as the children of parents that have advanced degrees. So parental education doesn't necessarily matter.

    Anecdotal experiences actually demonstrates the diverse thinking between the home school families and the public school teachers. Many home school families actually were former teachers. { I guess they were the teachers that- 'opted out'. } Anyway, these are the home school parents that have the hardest time adjusting to the freedom and variability of the home education methods. Its not that they are not capable, its just they are not used to thinking that way.

    Good luck everyone and thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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  11. "Anonymous" is absolutely correct! Teaching skills are NOT natural. Anyone who thinks they are a bonafide educator by virtue of any natural distinction can be easily proven wrong or at least short-sighted.

    However.... Learning IS natural. No one needs a teacher to be able to learn anything. An environment that encourages learning - in whatever form necessary for each individual - is what is needed in the wide field of education. Now, that is not so easy to come by.

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  12. Oh, my misguided anonymous friend. You have so many misconceptions that just make the home ed / alternative ed community shake their heads. I can see you are new to this whole idea that customized, passion-driven learning is more powerful than one teacher in front of the room delivering standardized, one-size-fits-all content for students grouped randomly by geography and date of manufacture.

    Fortunately most home educating parents have seen both sides since they were schooled. Many are quite familiar with the school system stuck in the industrial age designed to produce compliant workers. In many cases these parents watched the school system hurt their children as John Taylor Gatto explains so eloquently. These parents want something better for their children.

    If you want to learn more please do take Laurette Lynn's class that helps folks to learn about home education and will set you straight on some misconceptions. You can find it at http://www.unpluggedmom.com/unplugged-education-seminar . While you're at it, consider listening to her podcast where you will learn that home educators come from a variety of backgrounds and income levels. You'll also learn a lot from her interview with John Taylor Gatto and while you're there you can listen to my interview with her as well which you can find at http://www.unpluggedmom.com/unplugged-mom-radio-podcasts/the-innovative-educator/

    I'm glad you're here learning. It's a great first step in a journey that will certainly help you in the long run.

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  13. @Christeil, Bravo for those smart words. I need to write a post called something like "Get Out of the Way and Let Children Learn!" So many students complain to me about how their teachers are holding them back from rich and powerful passion-driven learning and not allowing them to use the 21st century tools they need for success.

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  14. Lisa, just use Laurie's words, "LET GO AND LET KID"

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  15. There is a quote from Anonymous that I would like to comment on: "A public school system in some marginal way guarantees that the will of powerful individuals does not impede upon the greater good of the whole. Now, by powerful individuals, I mean folks who would do whatever it took to defend their own child, even if it meant dismantling an institution that in some important ways protects certain children from a family that does not care for them."

    I strongly disagree with this statement, not in an ugly way, but from looking on at that comment from the other side of the coin.

    The public schools are exactly the opposite of what anonymous is claiming that they are. Public schools are the manifestation of one group's will over another's will. That is why we are fighting for the right to opt out. A group has determined that HST is the best way to educate all of the children. They are then using the force of government, a far more dangerous and far more influential weapon that just someone operating from a privileged position that doesn't share their resources. THIS IS NOT DEMOCRATIC.

    If public schools truly were democratic, which, I would be happy for them to be, then they would look much more different. I imagine that they would be much more individualized leaning paths.

    Granted, public schools are very slow to respond to the demands of the democracy. The demand probably have include more options (honors, IB, AP, etc) and the inclusion of more remedial things. But they are still limited in their supply of their services to the growing diversity of demands.

    I truly believe that many of the problems that we have with the government schools today are a result of them being government schools. REmember, big business likes big government. It gives them access to markets, and raises the barriers of entry of their competitors. Those that feel that corporate interests control the schools are probably correct. When a state only needs to buy one book, they can save a lot of money. That large company supplier has a huge contract and has a lot of influence because there is a lot less to deal with.

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  16. High stakes testing and public schools are not one and the same. They can be separated, which is what opt out groups purport to do: separate the proliferation of standardized tests from the original mission of free public schools.

    Public schools have done a tremendous service to this country, although their recent goals have become misguided because of undue influence from particular ideologies. We must be careful to maintain a public system of education and here's why: a homeschool or unschool movement will never be sustainable at a national level. And, if it were a national possibility, very successful countries as far as education is concerned would have turned to it by now. They haven't.

    No one here has addressed my concern regarding the position of privilege required by homeschooling. That is, the ability to have a parent in the home who is willing to education. Additionally, families and children are flocking to public schools in third world countries, such as those in Africa, who will trudge miles to get to a public school, who will risk kill or capture to receive an education. There are numerous secret schools in Afghanistan, for instance, that teach young girls. In that context, a home education would be impossible.

    The views propagated here are interesting and important. But I would be careful to advocate that your alternatives are the truth because what you'll end up doing is creating the same kinds of impositions that you claim public school advocates are making. I think it's great that you provide information for folks who might be in the dark, but there are some serious things you should consider when touting homeschool or unschool as a comprehensive reform.

    I might humbly suggest that you utilize research other than Gatto. I would suggest you consider issues of race, class, and gender in the way you examine the benefits of homeschooling. Additionally, there are numerous higher income parents and families that send their children to private schools that are extremely expensive. Take President Obama, who chooses to send his children to Sidwell Friends in DC, which costs roughly $50K per year. You'd think their family would be in a perfect position to home educate. Why don't they do it? Why does Mrs. Obama do it? Why not hire private tutors? Why send them out? Why do families in many areas spend small fortunes on private tuition?

    Although much better than most public schools, they are still buildings with separate grades, classes, rooms, and so forth, schedules and all of that. That kind of stuff I've seen others rail against here, that public schools are like slavery or bondage, or child abuse. Private schools still possess numerous hallmarks of public education, they just have more resources to do it a bit more effectively.

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  17. @Anonymous, I appreciate you (or perhaps more than one of you) is/are interested in learning more. I'm happy to share my thoughts on your comment.

    You say high stakes testing and public schools are not one and the same and they can be separated, which is what opt out groups purport to do. I’m not sure what you’re talking about but the groups I support don't focus on separation. Instead they focus on doing what is best for people (children) before places (schools).

    As far as the service public schools have done...
    When the idea was initially introduced it was opposed. That said, it did a decent job for creating industrial age workers. Since then public schools have harmed many of us. Students are not widgets who must have the same content imparted upon them based on age and geography regardless of passions, talents, interests, or abilities. We are individuals who should be entitled to learning based on our own unique us.

    You say a home ed movement will never be sustainable, however, this is what our nation was built upon before producing industrial workers was a priority. We had several Presidents who learned at home, Einstein, Florence Nightingale, and many more. This was what our genius, creative nation was built upon.

    You say no one has addressed your position regarding privilege and homeschooling. Untrue. Read my replies to you. This is a choice, not a privilege and home educators laugh when they read such uninformed statements. Read my advice and get informed.

    You speak of secret schools where an education is coveted. This is because like slaves, certain folks in such populations can’t learn in public. If they could, most would. Bad comparison.

    You suggest I consider some serious things when it comes to home ed. I do consider serious things. What thing are you suggesting I’m missing?

    I appreciate your suggestion that I research beyond Gatto. I have. This is one suggestion, in one comment in one post. You suggest I consider issues of race, class, and gender. I live, work, and teach in the melting pot of America. I consider these issues deeply.

    Finally you ask why rich politicians like Obama send their kids to elite private schools. I’m sorry to say this but Gatto is best when it comes to answering this question. Look it up. Check it out. Get informed. Expand your mind.

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  18. I'm so sick of people dismissing the sacrifices my family has made to be able to afford to have a parent home in a high cost of living area and simply blowing it off to "privilege". REALLY?!?!? I've grown up on welfare and as the only white kid in the neighborhood (and been beaten for that more than once, tyvm). So I "get" the difference between poverty and privilege. My husband and I worked our ASSES off to get to this point--so I don't want to hear about how "privileged" we are.

    Anonymous, I'm not about to go into the politics of other nations. I'm focusing on the U.S. Parents have all kinds of reasons for educating their kids the way they do. You seem to feel that private schools are somehow NOT taking away from the public schools in some way and yet, those students are equally removing themselves from the public schools. In fact, in many states, private school teachers are not required to be licensed--so what makes those teachers any different from any homeschooling parent? I actually think they're worse: I have a Master's in Education and I know that it was predominantly training in juggling the various needs of a class of 20+ kids (among other things that have nothing to do with educating your own children)--so to have an uneducated/unlicensed teacher in a private school CLASSROOM is, to me, a fate worse than a homeschooling parent who is not faced with a fraction of the issues faced by a classroom teacher.

    But what really caught me was your following comment:

    "But, the assumption that every mother can teach, that every parent knows best, is indeed a destructive tone towards a profession that requires years of training, patience, and practice."

    This is not a sentiment only held by teachers. Western medical practitioners feel the same about parents using alternative or Eastern medicine; or opt-out of c-sections. Pharmaceutical researchers would feel the same about parents that opt not to vaccinate. Hell, my older, wiser female elders felt this way about my own decision to nurse my child past 1yo when they'd mothered many more infants than I ever had.

    The problem is that your statement (shared by various "specialists") is indicative of a very dangerous, and extremely anti-American sentiment: it assumes that one body of a specific kind of expertise can make decisions in the best interest of the whole and force them to comply regardless of their personal research or preferences. Wow.

    You also have a gross misconception about the diligence, research, community, and goals of every home-educating family I know (having home educated both on the East Coast and in the Midwest--where the cultures are very different).

    @Lee Mikell--I was one of those public school teachers that had to adjust to having freedom. I was fortunate that I had a lot more freedom in my classroom because my subjects were not subjected to the high stakes testing, so I was already teaching a bit more creatively than most are let go to do (and even then, I got a lot of crap). But those of us who decide to stay home and educate our own children have opted-out for a reason, and are very motivated to make the change. And we do. ;)

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  19. Leslie Hammer here. Anonymous needs to either do his research and spend time with homeschoolers, or resign himself to the fact that he is taking a stand based on ignorance. Homeschoolers have multiple teachers. They come from all backgrounds. They are rich and poor. They sacrifice time, income, jobs, they endure the scorn of ignorant fear-mongers, and their numbers are growing. Keep on criticizing us, Anonymous. It's nothing we haven't heard many times before. And it doesn't stop us. It's the price we pay for having the courage to think for ourselves instead of turning educational decisions over to strangers.

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  20. I keep reading this mythical claim of economic wealth granted to homeschoolers, and want to fall over laughing.

    Most homeschoolers that I know scrimp pennies for curriculum every year. And their electric bills, and groceries.

    Putting the KIDS first, isn't the easiest thing to do...or the POPULAR thing to do, and at times, it can make you stand out in the crowd.(GASP! You all don't have I-PHONES!)

    But if it is important to you...you make it work.

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  21. @Anonymous - "impressions" do not lead to meaningful discourse, but rather inaccurate representations. What evidence is there that homeschooling and UNschooling families believe that every mother can teach and is touted as comprehensive reform? It is a simple question.

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  22. @Anonymous (we pretty much know who you are), When you have carried a child and felt it grow inside of you, saw it's first breath, held their hand as they took their first step, and YES placed band-aids on their knees when they fell, and you picked them back up, taught them the difference between right and wrong, and watched them grow into amazing adults, THEN you can tell me YOU know better! My mother was a teacher forever! Even SHE thinks you're nuttier than a fruit cake! Get your facts straight and THEN come tell us how much you know! Children are innate at learning.. or do you spend so much time patting yourself on the back to know this?? If YOU were my child's teacher I would jerk them out of school so fast it would make your head swim! YOU are the reason most parents are fighting harder than ever! YOU are no better than the states stating to us that THEY know better than we do! THIS IS MY CHILD! I know more about him than you should ever dream of! THIS IS MY CHILD and he's learned more and can get farther in life than you could ever, because MY CHILD knows the difference between right and wrong and RESPECTS others! You canNOT say the same! With that said, my son is also a computer GENIUS! He'll be getting offers soon enough for high IT jobs and this was self taught! Where will you be? Oh that's right.. sitting around complaining about how terrible parents are at education while your co-workers are actually CHANGING things to make a better environment! YOU are the reason education is so skewed and teachers are having a hard time erasing bad publicity given from people like YOU!
    -Gretchen Herrera
    (see how easy it is to actually stand for what you believe in???)

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  23. I repeat that the powerful corporate and political forces that fuel the crippling of public education cheer at this type of arguing that ultimately divides and dilutes effective opposition. They win.

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  24. I apologize for my curtness. People like this really upset me because the whole reason behind our passion SHOULD be the same on both fronts. *sigh*

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  25. Homeschooling is for weirdos and momma's boys.

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  26. Well, Anonymous, I will be sure to tell my successful college student (who just earned a promotion at work...to MANAGEMENT...when he isn't teaching at our co-op or being an adult leader at scouts), that you think he is a weirdo and a Momma's boy.

    I am sure he will find it amusing...

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  27. Boy Scouts? That says a lot.

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  28. The false assumption that home educating families belong to the upper eschelons of the economy display an absolute ignorance about the homeschool movement at large. I belong to a homeschool community of roughly 60 families, and perhaps 5 of those families are financially comfortable. Everyone else I know (my own family included) is sacrificing financial security (in the form of two full-time incomes) to put their children's needs first. We are *deliberately* choosing to be in a FAR lower economic category (EIC level here) and to scrimp, clip coupons, dine out less, forego vacations, drive beater vehicles over 10 years old, etc. in order to have one parent at home for the kids. Does this make us foolish? Perhaps by mainstream standards where the almighty dollar is more important than spending time with one's offspring. But we consciously decided to set aside financial security in order to raise the children we chose to bring into this world.

    By the way, there is a VERY large and growing community of African American families in the homeschooling community. The intelligent, loving decision to raise your own children rather than foisting them on an unloving, uncaring government institution is colorblind and filled with people from every walk of life.

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  29. My unschooled child will hire your honor student - Dayna Martin

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  30. Anonymous: Boy Scouts? That says a lot.

    Yes, it does...

    It says he has leadership qualities, and knows how to get things done.

    It says he knows wilderness survival, and in a pinch, there are few people to whom I would entrust my life, or my families lives...an experienced scout is one of them.

    It says he is patriotic, and hard working.

    It says he is actively involved in multiple volunteer projects around his community.

    What constructive pursuits do YOU follow, with YOUR down time? (Trolling education discussion boards doesn't count)

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  31. leslie Hammer here. Insults are the refuge of the uneducated. As I've said before there's no criticism (or childish teasing) we haven't heard before.

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