The debate over 'Homeschool debate'

Back to School
by Marvin Olasky

Posted on Monday, August 25, 2014, at 1:46 pm

Lots of folks are reacting to WORLD magazine’s story, “Homeschool debate: How to keep a few bad apples from spoiling the bushel,” from our Sept. 6 issue.

A co-founder of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE) initially claimed that WORLD reporter Daniel James Devine misquoted her. A Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) leader said a statement from him was taken out of context. We take seriously concerns about misquotation, so it’s good that Daniel taped the interviews. Here (in boldface) are the comments with what preceded or surrounded them.

First, the statement of Heather Doney of CRHE: “I’m not looking at the average homeschooling family and critiquing what they’re doing. The average homeschooling family is fine. I’m looking at the people who are not the average homeschooling family, who are doing terrible things in the name of homeschooling, hiding behind homeschooling to do it.

Second, the statement of Darren Jones of HSLDA. Let’s start with the question from Daniel that preceded it: “Based on points that you’ve heard, that these groups have brought up, are there any that strike you as being maybe legitimate points?”

And here’s Jones: “Well, the major point that Homeschoolers Anonymous brought up back about a year or so ago, the acknowledgement that there is and has been abuse in the homeschool community, I think, is definitely a valid and legitimate point. There is no question that there have been families who have used homeschooling as a shield. You know we’ve, here in the HSLDA community and the more Christian state organizations have known for years that what we call ‘fake homeschoolers’ exist. There are a very small number of them, but the fact is they exist. And we have always taken the position that the homeschool community should deal with that. In fact, we’ve got a page up on our website that we—we put it together after Homeschoolers Anonymous came out with their website, but it’s advice that we’ve been giving for years. Things like, if you suspect that a child is not being educated, make an opportunity to get involved, see if there’s some way that you can help out with tutoring. If necessary, report them to the school or child protective services. If you know of a child who’s being abused, that should be reported as well.”

It looks to me that Daniel did a good and accurate job. One general comment: At WORLD we support homeschooling and also see the importance of dealing with the bad apples. I hope the homeschool debate will be useful. Longtime readers of WORLD know that one of my favorite quotations from John Milton concerns truth: “Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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