blah blah, blahblahblahblahblahblah*

I wonder how many homeschooling parents decide to embark their children on the homeschooling voyage/ piratey ship's plank (depending on how one feels about homeschooling) because of the following:

- public schools in their zone are not good enough (not adequately funded, is overcrowded, teachers there are not good teachers, public school officials are not good officials [Exhibit A], "bad kids" go there, provides a "cookie-cutter education" despite the academic inconsistencies from one classroom to the next, not religious enough), or,

- private schools in their area are not good enough (too religious, not religious enough, too expensive, teachers there are not good teachers, "bad kids" go there, or "bad entitled kids" go there), or,

- parents themselves have an agenda (religious, political, cultural, ideological) they wish to pursue with their children and can only do that via homeschooling, or,

- parents feel their children are "lost" in the classroom, or,

- parents want their children to learn faster/more than their children otherwise could in a class of 25-30 other kids.

I am of the persuasion of the last two. However, I am wondering what, for example, is the thought process employed by, say, Ms. Pendergraft of the KKK in deciding to homeschool her kids. Actually, I have a good idea what it is: "Those kids are niggers" and therefore should not mix with her children. And she decides to homeschool.

Can homeschooling be the new secret handshake of the intolerant?

I recently spoke to a young professional couple in Manhattan, and they revealed to me that, with the husband working his medical residency at NYU (residents make ca-ca income dollars) they chose to live in the Bronx, and have their daughters attend a very exclusive private girls school (which I will call "Baggley"), on scholarship. "We would not let our girls attend the local school. Are you kidding?" the young mother told me. No, I would not either. The Bronx area they live in is not Riverdale (where three uber-exclusive private schools are located). Not-so-great town, not-so-great local public school. They had, for a while, considered homeschooling before being awarded the scholarship at Baggley.

Intolerants, in this example - I don't believe they truly are.

We don't want our kids to suffer; we want them to learn. But what? And under what conditions?

I argue that if Ms. Pendergraft's children were in a public school, a moral and societal education could be learned that would challenge that of the schooling they acquire at home.

There are, however, private schools that commit equal damage to a child's moral and societal compass. Intolerant religious schools abound everywhere. I had a friend who attended such a school in the South where "no dancing" and "no race-mixing" were allowed, and where the doctrine that "all Jews go to hell" was taught. There are Catholic schools in the United States that justify the Crusades. There are Islamic schools in the United States where teachers justify terrorism. There are Jewish schools that justify the building of the wall along Gaza.

I am also thinking of the Lincoln-Marti schools in Miami. Remember Elian? He attended such a school for a brief time. Founded by pro-Batista exiled Cubans, Anti-Castro and anti-communist rhetoric is waaaay high on the Lincoln-Marti agenda. I wonder the psychological damage to have to return to a communist homeland, and shake the hand of Castro himself, soon after the young boy began his studies at Lincoln-Marti?

I further do not agree that homeschoolers need to show credentials to a government body in order to teach (the above schooling examples, as they currently exist, should challenge any argument in favor of homeschool teaching standards).

Still somehow, it seems too easy. I loathe to receive e-mails in my inbox from the various homeschool groups to which I belong - full of disappointingly-written messages. One such example that I received recently:

"I'm leavening Molly's** post attached to this one because she really is correct. I lived in Greece for three years. Many of the Greek myth's are tied to the islands. The islands are really only worth seeing if you spending a lot of time in Greece. The best stuff to see is around Athens. Delphi is also worth seeing. The one thing she did not mention is spending time in the Plaka. Some of the best ruins around the Parthenon are in the Plaka. http://www.athensguide.com/plaka.html

I would also recommend going to Athens in the spring or fall, not summer. Athens smells very bad in the summer. All of the cities raw sewage runs down a centralized canal that runs through the middle of the city. You can smell it ten miles away. The automobile pollution in the summer makes the air in the city almost un-breathable. You really can get overwhelmed by the air pollution in the city. I have never observed anything like it here in the US. I am certain that Athens has some of the worst air quality in the world, particularly in the summer. Have a great trip. Athens is great to visit, just not in the summer

Ugh. My mantra: We are as teachers, as we are on e-mail.

Despite the questions I raise to myself about homeschooling, I am happy that I have time with A...for however long it will last...to sit and study the Classics, to discuss biological phenomena, to work the Stanford University software on the computer and later tell the relatives that A is in a Stanford gifted program "so his math standard should be OK," to do "Cinema Club," to run out in the middle of the day into Chinatown to find the absolute best pork buns and learn some Cantonese from the waitress, hang out with Catherine and discuss French politics in French, and to learn music from my friends who can discuss Iggy Pop with A (yes, folks, I hope you spotted the run-on).

What does homeschooling make homeschoolers? Individual? Yes. Inconsistent? Yes. Better than standardized-or public/private school kids? No. Whatever my mission, intolerance is not on our agenda. We like the real world, and don't wish to shut it out. Not want to gyrate to Outkast or Iggy Pop? We'll find a place for "bad kids," bad spelling/punctuation/grammar teachers, dancing, and all.

*credit to Kelly Osbourne.
**Not actual name as originally included in e-mail text.

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