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franklin county times

Making a strong case for homeschooling

By By Dennis Marks / guest columnist
October 18, 2004
There have been a couple of interesting articles in The Meridian Star recently concerning homeschooling. Overall, the reporting was very favorable toward homeschooling as an alternative to public or private schools.
As a homeschool parent with six children in my household, I believe I am somewhat qualified to speak about this issue, especially in the light of some interesting comments by public officials about homeschool parents.
It is quoted that Peggy Peterson, director of compulsory school attendance enforcement for the Mississippi Department of Education, said, "But I am concerned about the ones (parents) who are not qualified to teach their children." If this is a correct quote then Ms. Peterson must believe the government must set the standards for what successful education must be.
A parent without a predetermined level of education or abilities is not qualified to teach their own children. The community then should demand that the parents relinquish this responsibility of educating their own child in favor of allowing the state or private institutions to do it for them.
This mindset if very troubling to me. I believe it is a God-given responsibility for parents to educate their own children in the way in which they believe is best for them. Along this same line of thinking, let me propose a comparison to another area of parental care for children preparing meals.
There may come a time when the state is "concerned that parents are not qualified" to prepare good nutritious meals for their children. The state should then demand that the parents show they have met state-approved standards concerning the preparation of good nutritious meals using the various foods groups and be a certified dietitian or they must enroll their children in state-controlled restaurants that will insure their children are getting the required diet. This of course will be paid for by taxpayers.
Unfortunately this is not as farfetched in some people's thinking. Many believe the state must do for people even if they can do it themselves.
Sarah Nicholas, spokesperson for the state College Board, says, "I don't know why they (homeschoolers) score so high, but historically, students who are homeschooled usually have exceptionally high scores on those tests (SAT and ACT)."
I know why they do. Every person in education worth their salt knows what makes for good education.
1. Parental involvement in their child's education;
2. Low student to teacher ratio;
3. Positive reinforcement and continual feedback to the student on their educational progress.
This is what homeschooling is accomplishing every day. This is done without additional cost to the taxpayers.
In fact if every homeschooled child in Lauderdale County was to show up at their respective public school, it would make a huge logistic and financial impact on this community. Where we lived in Tennessee the school board admitted that they were not prepared for handling an influx of all the homeschooled students in that county. It was a blessing to them that they did not have to deal with all those children.
Homeschoolers continue to excel in the National Spelling Bees and other important competitions. Some very well-known people in history were homeschooled: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Cyrus McCormick, Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, James Madison, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Washington Carver, Albert Einstein, Booker T. Washington, Charles Chaplin, Andrew Carnegie, Albert Schweitzer and many others.
People should not look at homeschooling as a threat but as a blessing to any community. The homeschool families I know are doing a great job of educating their children and are producing exceptional students that will eventually be placed in our community fully prepared to benefit our society.
Then Ms. Peterson is quoted as saying, "Sometimes I don't think they (parents) put a lot of thought into it (homeschooling their children). It's a lot of responsibility." Agreed that homeschooling is not for the faint-hearted.
But how many public school parents put a lot of thought into their decision to send their child to public school? There is a cost involved to being fully committed to your choice of schooling.
Many times the homeschooled family must live on one income. But whatever you decide it will cost you something. You must decide what you value and be willing to live with the consequences of your decision. I personally am happy with the dividends that come with homeschooling for our family. I recommend it to anyone in spite of what some people may say about it.
Dennis Marks is chaplain of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministries in Meridian.

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