The following posts appears courtesy our friends, Kyle and Karen Kilpatrick, who write for our sister blog, LeftWingRising. In this particular post, they explain why they have opted to home school their children. For the record, we too have made the same decision, and for many of the same reasons that Kyle and Karen have noted below. Contrary to popular belief, home schooling is no longer for the far right. As the Public School system becomes the play ground for fundamentalist Christians and a wide range of political correctness warriors from both sides of the political spectrum, we too have become increasingly disgusted with the system, and have opted to educate our children ourselves. Of course, the fact that we know Kyle and Karen well, and the fact that they only live a five minute drive away from us makes the whole matter a lot easier. Meaning, we fully intend to help when and where we can. So, with that in mind, please sit back and enoy what they have to offer.
Trevor and Rachel MacKenzie
WHY WE INTEND TO HOME SCHOOL OUR CHILDREN
by Kyle and Karen Kilpatrick
It is now official. We are going to home school our children. We don’t know about you, but we have finally reached the point where we no longer trust the public school system. Our children are only four, one,, and newly born, but with our oldest looking at junior kindergarten, we have come to the conclusion that we do not want to contaminate our children in the public school system. And if you knew the liberal qualifications of the parents making this statement you would not be inclined to suggest that we are a couple of right wing kooks.
Why have we decided to home school?
It might be easier to ask "why not?" We ourselves have degrees, and we are surrounded by "degreed" people of various ages who will be able-- perhaps even more than able--to provide our children with a proper education, minus the extra expenses and the "dumbed down" lunacy which has become the American Public School system under George W. Bush, Ted Kennedy, and the increasingly vocal but ever ignorant Christian Right. In other words, we want our children to be prepared for the Twenty-first Century, not 1692 Salem.
Our reasons are as follows:
1. The American Public School system is no longer designed to produce intelligent, thinking citizens. Nor is it even interested in critical thought and open debate. Never mind the issue of political correctness from all bands of the political spectrum. The American Public School system is now more interested in churning out gullible consumers who will buy whatever needless piece of garbage that the commercial medium tells them that they are subhuman without. Moreover, the American Public School System has now been rigged to produce obedient soldiers for the military, not free thinking, rational minded individuals who will actually question the policies of their government. Sorry, but as parents we see it as our duty to produce good citizens, and the last we knew good citizens ask questions. To don't blindly follow the dictates of big government, big business, and big religion. Representtative government is a participatory activity and that's what we want our children to do--participate.
2. We refuse to send our children to indoctrination centers where the pseudo scientific delusion of intelligent design is passed off as viable scientific theory. This is little more than a back door attempt to set the stage for Creationism, which is nothing more than a means by which the Radical Christian Right can stick its foot in the door. Contrary to the imbecilic State Board of Education in Kansas, we do not want our children raised in a bona fide superstition factory where the great scientific axioms are replaced by congenital idiocy, ignorance and superstition. Better we educate our own children than to trust that education to crackpots who may well decide that we need to embrace the theories of a flat earth or demonic possession as the basic causes of all diseases.
3. We do not want our children to be subjected to the No Child Goes Un-harassed in the No Child Gets Left Behind Military Recruitment Act. If ever there were a provision that should be written on indigestible canvas and physically shoved down the throats of the pseudo family values people who voted for it, it is this provision. We don’t know abut you, but we do not want personal information being shared with the United States Military without our permission, and yet the No Child Goes Un-Recruited provision mandates that personal information on High School Juniors and Seniors be shared with the United States Military to help in the task of military recruitment. Well, this may come as a shock to the individuals who wrote and approved this provision—which by the way has NOTHING to do with education—but we, as the parents will decide what information we want to share and with whom we want to share that information. Nor are we especially happy about the fact that the same clowns who so hypocritically talk about family values are the same people who are undermining parental authority by distrubuting information on our children to recruitment officers. This may come as a shock to the Democrats and Republicans who supported this anti-family provision, but WE will be the guiding force in our children’s lives. Not George W. Bush, not Ted Kennedy, nor the Military Industrial Complex. In other words, we tend to think that we know our children a lot better from individuals who bilk the United States government for $500 hammers and toilet seats
4. We do not want our children exposed to rote learning and testing for the sake of testing. That isn’t to say that memorization and testing aren’t important, but from our point of view the proverbial “Three Rs” (reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmateic) are important, but so are science, technology, computers, art, music, drama, theater, and psychological health—aspects of education which are almost invariably cut when school budgets come under attack or when too much time is spent teaching to the damned tests. At the same time we want to produce children, who will question authority; who will back up their arguments and opinions with empirical evidence. We genuinely believe that this will not be achieved if they are merely taught to regurgitate unrelated facts and never taught how to put those facts into a given context.—or for that matter, into any context at all. There’s a lot more to education than memorization and the repetition of facts on standardized tests. Yes, we could teach to the tests as is now being done in so many public schools, and we might well turn out young adults who will be good at taking tests, but we believe that it is more important to install in them a life time love of learning and a curiosity about everything.
5. We touched on the disappearance of art, music, and drama from our public school curriculum, but the point needs to be repeated. It never ceases to amaze us. The same people who complain because American culture is going down the toilet; the same people who don’t like the music, videos, TV programs, and cinematic releases that young people consume, are the same people who are either cutting the funding for the above mentioned programs or who are cutting out the required time in which they can be taught. In other words, if you create a vacuum that vacuum will almost invariably be filled with crap. So if your children aren’t listening to Beethoven or Shakespeare, and if you're worried about multiple body piercings or split tongues (we kid you not!) you might want to take a look at the programs that might me missing in your local schools.
6. We want our children to be children while they are still young enough to acquire some good memories. We’re sorry, but children need time to play. And by play we mean unstructured time--moments when they aren't’t required to score points or live up to some prewritten standard in an already over-crowded schedule. You might have heard about this shocking new concept. It’s called “having fun.” Those of you who were raised in the 60s and 70s might have heard another word. It was called recess, another little ditty which has been cut in many schools simply because they need to over-test and over-structure our children’s lives.
7. The previous point dovetails into this one. We simply do not appreciate the fact that competition is the only value being taught in many school systems today. These kids are competing for grades, and they’re competing for status, and they’re competing for scholarships. Competition is all well and good, but in recent years it has become an all consuming passion. We want our children to both, compete and cooperate, and to know the appropriate times and places for both.
8. At the risk of returning to the topic of political correctness, we really want the right to introduce our children to a curriculum that contains some intellectual vitamins and minerals—not the anemic drivel which is currently being passed off by the educational community as “adequate.” We’re sorry, but we want our children to read about controversial topics, controversial topics being something that you will seldom find in a contemporary, watered down text or "dumbed down" curriculum
9. Athletics are important, but we don't want them to overshadow adacemics. Do we really need to say more about this?
10. In addition to reducing the chances that our children might be exposed to drugs and alcohol by their peers, we also do not want our children exposed to the daily bastardizations of of Constitutional rights which stem from the current war on the Bill of Rights--otherwise known as The War on Drugs. The intellectual atmosphere in our public schools has become increasingly repressive as school administrators are given more and more power to clamp down on student news papers while police conduct random searches of both students and lockers. We believe that such practices are at best contradictory. One day a public school may tell the youth to stand up and fend for themselves, and then, when they write something embarrassing about a school official, or write something controversial, or question policies, that same school will then tell them to sit down and shut up. We want children who will mature into thinking adults who will question authority, especially the repressive varieties. We do not want mindless robots.
Our decision has nothing to do with control issues, or forcing our children to believe as we do. Just the opposite. When we asked some of the locals about home schooling we quickly discovered that they were more interested in promoting control over independent thought; more interested in promoting their narrow religious views over the views of others. We learned very quickly that many of the home schoolers in our neck of the woods were worried about devils, witches, demonic possession; and paranoid, Satanic conspiracy theories which included anyone who disagreed with their very paranoid interpretations of the Bible and current events.
Far from the delusional view of the far right, we still recognize a certain value in public schools. We know that teachers and administrators have a difficult task to perform. We do not and have never believed that the entire system is the Devil's playground. We recognize the fact that there are indeed very good public schools out there.
But in our opinion, we can do at least as well or better than the public or private alternatives in our immediate area. We looked at the local culture, and have decided that for all the well-meant intentions, the local institutions of learning will never be as dynamic nor as creative, nor as extensive as anything we might have to offer on our own--simplybecause they have to answer to a fundamentalist segment of the population which exerts too much control over the local political structures. (Think Salem circa 1692.)
We do not ask to be taken off the public tax dollars (unlike our conservative counterparts), nor do we ask for special tax breaks (again, unlike our conservative counterparts). All we want is the right to raise children who will appreciate a life time love of learning and a willingness to question everything and everything no matter how sacred nor popular that everything may be. And perhaps more importantly, to use facts and empirical data to support their ideas.
Kyle Alexander James Kilpatrick
Wednesday, 24 August 2005