While perusing a forum for homeschoolers, I stumbled across a discussion about whether some people aren't qualified to homeschool. The overall opinion seemed to be it didn't matter. As homeschoolers we should support each other no matter what, otherwise those opposed to homeschooling can tear us down and more easily take away our right to educate our own children. Although this opinion probably won't make me popular, I must cry hogwash. What pulls us down is not standing up and disowning those who are irresponsible are “bad” homeschoolers.
Don't believe me? Let's look at Christianity in this country as an example. For many years, all Christians stood in solidarity together, even if their beliefs had core differences. This has resulted in a public relations nightmare. Eventually, us non-Christians began to see all Christians as intolerant, crazy wackos because the wackos were the vocal majority.
It's only in the last few years that the normal, sane Christians have realized the error of forced solidarity and have begun standing up to declare that not all Christians are hate mongering fools of the Westborough ilk. It is going to take many more years of normal Christians loudly proclaiming their normalcy before the damage is undone. Normal vegetarians are also suffering the negative PR because of early solidarity with extremist groups like PETA, and environmentalist groups are suffering from the actions of crazy fringe groups as well.
As a homeschooler, I am loud that not all of us pull our kids to teach them biblical myths about science and history. I am also loud about the fact we I homeschool because I want my children to have a more rigorous education than that found in most public schools. I am loud about being a normal parent, not a denim jumper-wearing baby machine. I scream from the rooftops, when necessary, that not all homeschoolers are fundamental Christians.
Personally, I do believe some people shouldn't homeschool. Those not willing to spend hours every day learning with their kids should send their kids to school. Those trying to shield their children from real facts and raise them in a religious myth la-la land probably shouldn't be doing it. I don't care if you teach your myths as facts as long as you also present the real facts, factually of course, but not all do so. I think those pretending to unschool when really they are just letting their kids do whatever they want should not be allowed to homeschool. (To clarify, true unschooling, which takes a lot of work on the parent's part, is legitimate homeschooling.)
I'm sorry, but I can't and I won't in good conscious stand in solidarity with all homeschoolers. Not just because I don't agree with their educational philosophy, but because I believe that some methods are hurting their children and society as a whole. Self regulating ourselves and agreeing to minor regulation to weed out poor homeschoolers willingly seems like a much better deal to me than a generation of poorly educated homeschoolers causing us to lose all rights to educating our children.
Funnily enough, the ones I see protesting annual testing the most are typically those that fall into the “bad homeschooler” category. I live in a mandatory testing state. Our kids don't have to show they are performing at public school level, only that they are gaining some new knowledge each year. Special needs kids have minimal testing requirements and the tests are even less rigorous. You can still teach your kids some BS, but you can't get away with a fact-free education or skipping education entirely.