Hans Zeiger: A Defense of Home Schooling

Originally published on October 20, 2003 on The Intellectual Conservative website. The article was removed in July 2010 and no longer exists in the Google Cache. The following is the missing article in its entirety.

Next on CBS Evening News - "How children nationwide have been put in danger, even killed, while homeschooling." Last Monday, CBS featured a special report called "A Dark Side to Homeschooling," suggesting that home schooled children are abused and that government must seriously regulate home schooling.

CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather and correspondent Vince Gonzales portrayed the home-schooling movement as a grisly, abusive, underground network of human rights violators. "Unlike teachers," Gonzales asseverated, "parents need virtually no qualifications to home school. Not one state requires criminal background checks to see if parents have abuse convictions."

Only in a morally confused nation would a news reporter hint at criminal background checks for parents in order to raise their children. In the America most of us want to live in, the state has no business questioning the authority of parents to nurture and educate their own sons and daughters.

Dan Rather and Vince Gonzales would have America believe that the millions of American children being home schooled are at grave risk of murder, suicide, and abuse. One "child advocate" who was interviewed on CBS said that home schooling allows "persons who maltreat children to maintain social isolation in order for the abuse and neglect to remain undetected."

The CBS special report focuses exclusively on a few bad home school families, some of whose names are recognizable - like Andrea Yates who drowned her young children in the bathtub. Rather calls the examples like Yates "a dark side to this largely unregulated system of education."

Any human institution, home schooling included, is corrupted and prone to evil because man is fallen and imperfect. But a combination of healthy families and liberal education is the original, proven recipe for a successful society. As the institutions of both home and school have yielded their authority to an increasingly socialist government education system over the past century, the need to revive the social authority of the family has become more pressing.

I spent most of my K-12 education at my local government indoctrination center. I was also home schooled during the seventh and eighth grades. The corridors and classrooms of the modern public school are so polluted with the filth of moral relativism that the typical public high school graduate moves into the world devoid of character, conscience, or courage. And while he may have self-esteem, tolerance, and a grasp of diversity, the public school graduate is incompetent in academic comparison to the rest of the free world.

According to a new Manhattan Institute for Public Policy report, only 32 percent of public school graduates are prepared for college. American students are consistently falling behind other industrialized democratic nations in academic excellence, and the cause of that failure is a decline in character and the work ethic. Knowledge without character is absolutely worthless to a free people.

The public schools have demonstrated their general abhorrence of traditional American values. The abuse of ordered liberty that occurs on a daily basis in America's public schools is of such greater proportion than the few home-schooling disasters highlighted on CBS that I would go so far as to recommend that parents not place their children in a public school at all.

The home schooling community, as a general rule, is built on moral absolutes, not moral confusion; on self-responsibility, not self-esteem; on excellence, not excuses. And excuses abound in the realm of public schools. We are told that the problem with public education is a lack of money. Yet according to the Ethan Allen Institute of Vermont, a typical Vermont public school student costs taxpayers $10,000 per year, while a typical home schooled student might cost only around $2000, including subscription to a curriculum base and a home computer.

And despite the dramatically lower costs of learning at home, home school students have secured their reputation as a brighter bunch than their peers in public schools. Of course, home school students have won many of the recent national Geography, Spelling, and History Bees. Home school students consistently score higher on the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. And home school students are involved in far more extracurricular activities than their peers - from internships to community college courses to hobby clubs to regular volunteerism.

Home schooling doesn't work every time. But the public schools - when federally engineered to produce pawns of socialist control - never work. If it is murder and abuse that CBS News is concerned about, consider the high level of violence that our nation's public schools have dealt with over the last decade.

Dan Rather, Vince Gonzales, and CBS News owe an apology to America's growing home schooling movement. They misrepresented the facts, and the continuing success of home schoolers will be ample repudiation of CBS's radical agenda.