When Institutional Authorities Fail our Children

When parents pull their children from public schools, in order to homeschool them, they are sending a message to authorities.  The message is this:  “Our family is so unhappy with the job you are doing with our child (our most precious gift from heaven) that we think we can do a better job ourselves.”  In a free market economy this should prompt institutions to ask: why are you unhappy and how can we change to better meet your needs? By asking this, authorities might learn how school institutions block children from learning their faith, block some children from learning at all, corrupt good morals and in a plethora of ways disrupt and undermine family life.  And then schools might take steps to change these things, and thus bring the children back to school.  But public schools are not part of a free market economy.   Most authorities have and want to maintain an academic monopoly , and have no particular interest in changing to please rightfully concerned parents. British authorities are finding a way around having to change to please the parents, by entering the home , and thus seeking to change the children and home itself.  There is every reason for concern that America will follow suit.

Home education is a blessing not only for the child but for the entire family.  Like the institutional school system, homeschooling is not a perfect option.  Unlike the school system, homeschooling provides children time to develop hobbies and talents.  Our children have, for different reasons been in public, Catholic and Christian schools.  But nothing freed our time to live our faith and lives like our five years of homeschooling.  Our homeschooling days started early with daily Mass and breakfast.  The books were open by 8:00 a.m., well before the school buses in town had picked up the local children to get them to their respective schools.

Children in a non-homeschooling environment can spend hours away from home, then return home with still more hours of homework.   Children educated in the home at the elementary school level can usually move through all their subjects in 3-4 hours, leaving plenty of time for reading, ballet, horseback riding, piano and art lessons as well as time for fun and simple uninterrupted play with siblings.  Many homeschoolers meet regularly with a homeschooling group, and play during the week with their friends.

Children educated in the home have time to read.  Children educated in institutional schools may be given prizes; they may be coaxed by the school to read in a multitude of ways.  But the rat race of a busy life has seized hold of many of them.  Days at school are often filled with little time to savor reading for the sheer delight of it.  The homework and school books loaded into their backpacks and onto their young frames at the end of each day is enough to bend some of their young spines and topple some of them over.   Couple this homework with a few after school activities and the time of most children is often monopolized before and after dinner until bedtime arrives.  This can transform reading for fun into a near impossibility.

Some authorities neither recognize nor appreciate the strides homeschooled parents have made with their children.  On an international level, efforts are being made to control and undermine parental authority in the home.  Since the Catholic faith is primarily transmitted to the children through the parents, these efforts undermine our faith.  On a global level, the UN has drafted a treaty (Convention on the Rights of the Child) that allows children the right to “choose” their own religion, undermining the right of the Catholic parent (homeschooled or not) to educate children in the faith.  Branching off from this treaty, the British government has approved a plan, which seeks direct control over homeschoolers, grants authorities access to the home of homeschoolers, and an astounding “right to speak to each child alone.”

The UN treaty grants children a right to “leisure.”  How ironic that governments, who systematically rob school children of much needed rest and family time, would suddenly seek to control whether children are getting the very thing that authorities all along have seemed to care so little about.

As indicated in a Time Magazine article , the amount of time that 9-to11-year-olds spent on homework has increased over the years to more than 3.5 hours a week, stressing out both children and parents.  Can someone explain why an 11-year-old, after 7 hours at school, must come home with still more homework when that same 11-year old can be homeschooled in less than four?  Despite working fewer hours, children who are educated in the home regularly score higher than public schooled children in virtually every academic area.

If homeschooled students spend less time working, but accomplish more, what are children in modern schools doing all day?

In the modern school of today, entertainment videos are sometimes shown when the children get antsy or the teacher has had enough.  There may be some very dedicated teachers in the classroom, but some children have no respect, forcing teachers to use class time to reprimand.

Couple that discipline problem with parties of every imaginable sort.  This may include (dependent on age) celebrating the birthday of every child, (perhaps with cupcakes and cookies, and sometimes with teeth-rotting, blood-sugar crashing soda).  Some schools offer a 100-day school party, a “Halloween” party, a ‘winter party,” a class “tea,” a valentines party, a class cruise, a class barbecue, a class “pool” party, and an end of school party.  The school party possibilities are endless and seem to keep growing.  Parents might not mind the parties so much, if it didn’t mean that the work that was not done in school during the day would now need to be done at home, ensuring that there would be no family time, let alone “parties” once the children arrived home at the end of an already long day.

Then there are immodest afterschool dances and the nonsense classes.  This includes co-ed sex education classes that have gone goofy.  In entering this domain, schools have gone to a place where they had no right to be.  History is showing that conducting co-ed sex education in an academic environment has done little more, over recent decades, than shred the natural defenses between boys and girls, and lead otherwise innocent children away from parental family values and straight into promiscuity and STDs.

Could it be that authorities, rather than looking at children educated in the home and saying “What are we doing wrong and how can we help you?” have begun to see the Christian values instilled in many homeschooled children as a threat to the liberal views that institutional education often imparts?  Studies show that the number one reason for home education is to “provide religious or moral instruction.”  (National Catholic Register Volume 85, No. 26, 2009) Catholic parents have a God-given right to educate their children in the faith.  Could liberal government schools, as they morph ever-further into anti-God institutions, have some vested interest in denying parents this God-given right? Might it be that shaping the opinions of the children is what this is really about?

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  • Christi Derr

    Thank you Mary Anne for such a well written informative article! We have found an excellent Christian School for our children, but as good as it is I still believe that homeschooling is superior. To educate one’s own children is simply more natural and as you pointed out, does not waste time. Most importantly, homeschooling does not put faith and knowledge into separate boxes – they are passed to one’s children as an organic whole.

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