The practice of homeschooling has essentially been around since the dawn of time. Parents and guardians have always took it upon themselves to teach the younger generation the knowledge that they have received through their many years of experience. But we live in a different world now, governments have recognized the massive need for an educated youth and have provided public school systems to insure that vital knowledge gets passed on. This debate is about answering the question of whether or not in a world where everyone is awarded an education by their government, is the practice of homeschooling still needed or has the benign intentions of the past transformed into something harmful towards society? Our plan is simple, as in most states some years of education is compulsory, we will use the same methods to enforce a ban on homeschooling, punishment being fining the parents/legal guardians.
All the Yes points:
- Why Home Schooling Harms Society
- The Uniqueness of School
- Loss of Opportunity
- Breeds Separatism
- Improves Education
- Summary: Proposition
All the No points:
- Proposition plan is unfeasible
- Homeschooling Increases Quality of Education
- Home schooling increases civic involvement
- Home schooling can be the only alternative
- Individual Rights Take Precedence Over Government’s Monopoly on Education
- Homeschooling Is Economically Beneficial
- Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children’s education is carried out well.
- We trust parents to know what is best for their child
- Parents are entitled to make judgements about the quality of state provided teaching.
- It’s ridiculous to say that home schooling necessarily will be of poor quality.
- Homes beat schools on two significant fronts – facilities and an atmosphere that encourages learning.
- Family bonding
- Classroom education often fails the bright and the slow
- Try as it might, the state constantly fails those with greatest faith needs in its schools.
- Czech Summary
Why Home Schooling Harms Society
Schools are communities that not only emphasize collective learning but also encourage sports and creativity in the form of extra curricular activities; such activities serve as a utility to instill societal values into the next generation. These values include public health – required immunizations not only have concrete benefits but also teach children that their actions have consequences on the greater whole. We believe that parents that teach their own children have less of incentive to immunize children and statistically do not[[http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-10-21-home-school-vaccinate_N.htm ]].
Public schooling gives a voice to the government that speaks of the societal values that have been agreed on by the general public. We believe that both society and the government have a right to influence the child’s development, not only because the government plays a part in protecting the child, but because of the important role the future adult will play as a citizen of society. We believe that public schooling is the mouthpiece for the interests of both the government and society as a whole. Naturally, parents will have the right to influence the development of the child, but homeschooling allows parents to become sole dictators of the child’s progress, which is harmful. While some parents’ ‘curriculum’ may be aligned with that of the public, there are no safeguards against parents that may indoctrinate their kids with beliefs that will raise them to become harmful citizens. These beliefs can include gross intolerance for particular minority groups supported by false information. These ideas can still reach the child outside of school, but the government has a duty to protect children from a regressive upbringing by at least offering a more constructive perspective.
The cost of not ensuring that the next generation has the foundation of accepted principals and values of the society in them outweighs the potential benefits of homeschooling.
This odd mixture of arguments fails on three levels.
Firstly, Proposition asserts that homeschooling deprives children of extra-curricular activities, when the opposite is true.Prof. Linda Montgomery in Home Schooling: From Extreme to Mainstream
Homeschooled students are as involved in out-of-school and extracurricular activities that predict leadership in adulthood as are those in the comparison private school (who are more involved than those in public schools).
The entire logic of extracurriculars – say, basketball – somehow passing on universal societal values is also quite unclear; Opposition would say thorough upbringing does that much better.
Secondly, Proposition gets its values messed up. Team USA stresses public health. (That, by the way, is not helped by US proposal anyhow, unless it institutes obligatory vaccination – and they need not ban homeschooling to do that.) However, if there really are universal societal values, freedoms of choice and religion are surely among them, and rank far above the utilitarian “public health”. In effect, Proposition fails to provide for its minor spin-off benefit, while attacking basic social tenets without substantiation.
Thirdly, Proposition claims that there are no safeguards against harmful upbringing. One, ban won’t change this: several hours in school will not suddenly reverse pre-school education and out-of-school familial lessons. Two, if parents are bent on indoctrination, they can still send their kid to a private school which shares their views. Three, safeguards can be implemented, as they are in France[[http://www.freetohomeschool.org/hs/international/France/200211250.asp]] and most of Europe: that does not mean we need to ban the entire system.
Overall, we believe that the Proposition argues for a general ban on the grounds of few far-fetched cases while failing to provide evidence even for them. As evident in our case, majority of homeschooled kids benefit the society.
The Uniqueness of School
When answering the question of whether or not something should be banned, we must look at the what is being lost in the world of the stakeholders while that action or thing is still being permitted. In the context of this debate, we believe that there are unique benefits to receiving an education outside of the home that are so conclusive and so vital that they make school an absolute necessity that every child should partake in.
A crucial part of an education outside of the home is the interaction amongst the students that is used to prepare them to have constructive engagements with fellow citizens when their schooling is over. Interacting with other children who may be taught different belief systems and come from different social-economic statuses and religious or ethnic backgrounds prepare students for their future, where the potential of having to deal with someone who is different is almost inevitable. While there may be attempts by parents to socialize their children through other means (such as joining sports teams or youth clubs), these organizations are centered around similarity – all the kids that enjoy the same thing or believe in the same values congregate. School is a mixture that does not filter out students, and there is an inherent social value to such a mix.
We believe that governments have a duty to ensure, or at the very at least, provide children the potential to interact with other children of different backgrounds at such a crucial time of their development as active and productive citizens. The only way to do this is to eliminate systems such as homeschooling that promote exclusivity under the guise of protection. The only way to truly hold the child’s interests as a priority is to to prepare them for the society that they will soon inherit; homeschooling attempts to construct a world for the child that often does not match reality.
Proposition basically says that school is necessary because it (1) makes communication with diverse people necessary, as parents do not choose where their children go, (2) homeschooling and extra-curricular activities connected to it cannot bring that diversity, for the attending group is self-selecting rather than “unfiltered mixture”. We believe that none of the two assumptions is warranted nor true.
Firstly, parents still select schools for their children on the basis of common values, cultures and achievements – and even go as far as to move closer to the school they want in order to fall into its catchment area [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/oct/25/chicken-run-city-schools]]. As such, public schools then offer blatant misrepresentations of the society, as exemplified by DC public schools, where less than 5 % of children are white, although whites account for 40.6 % of DC population [[http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/11000.html]]. Proposition policy bars no parent from sending their child to a religious or a predominantly white school; if anything, it strengthens incentives for doing so. This phenomenon of “rational racism” is well-accounted for in modern research, most recently by Tim Harford’s Logic of Life: no Proposition mechanism changes this.
What stems therefrom is that a child’s environment is often only as diverse as parents allow it to be – and there is no change to that with homeschooling ban.
Secondly, we think it rubbish that homeschooling should somehow eliminate diversity from socialization in sports teams or other clubs. What members of a basketball team or, indeed, a debate club share is not race, religion, nor income bracket: it is the desire to participate. We think that this volitional common goal is much more likely to bring tolerance and integration than forcing parents and children alike into one classroom; the latter is more likely to produce resentment to society in general and minorities in particular
Loss of Opportunity
Children can perhaps be best described as beings of potential – during their school years, each child is in the process of discovering their talents and having them be nurtured in an attempt to best reach self-actualization. We believe a self-actualized individual is aware of their own limitations because their talents have been nurtured from a young age, with their mentors providing for their development.
Under the homeschooling system parents become much more exclusive mentors to a child, and this can be problematic. Although parents are generally aware of what their child is capable of, their assessments are not always accurate. This could be for a number of reasons – perhaps it may be due to the fact that their children are predominately seen in the home environment, limiting their chances to show off their potential in other situations. It could also be because parents sometimes assume that their children will share the same talents that they had. Simply stated, it would be unreasonable to assume parents could see the whole picture.
This is why nearly everyone has someone in their life that helped to form their identity or helped them discover a talent – a mentor that is someone other than their parents; very often even a schoolteacher or a coach who gave them an opportunity to excel that may not have been available in the home. It is this sort of mentoring that can lead a person from simply having potential to becoming self-actualized, and banning homeschooling best provides an avenue towards that goal. Governments have a duty to protect these non-consenting individuals from a severe loss in psychological advancement due to their parents decision. Governments require parents to feed their child’s body, why not require them to feed their minds as well by partly liberating them from the shackles of their parents’ world view?
Firstly, Proposition operates under the assumption that a kid needs an extraordinary non-parent “mentor” to fully develop its potential. No evidence is provided in support of this statement; for all Team Opposition knows, full development is especially based on familial support rather than random encounters in school. That may be why Venus Williams has been coached by her father since 1995[[http://tinyurl.com/68bj24]].
Secondly, Team Opposition finds it hard to believe that schools can provide better mentoring to children than parents. This assumption is obviously incorrect: we know that the average number of kids in class is 23 or 24 [[http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/5]] and even the simple pupil/teacher ratio (currently 15.2 in public schools[[http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372]]) is much higher than the number of kids per parent. The underpaid public-school teacher has many more students to deal with than just a few offsprings; he simply cannot be the good mentor for all of them, if any of them. However, it is definitely easier to reveal the kid’s talent for the parents who knows it deeply, than for the teacher who only needs perfunctory awareness of it. The Proposition claims that “parents couldn’t see the whole picture”: in light of these facts, we can say that teachers in public schools cannot even look for it.
All that this ban means is that children will spend more time with overworked teachers instead of loving parents: we have already proven that home-schooled kids attend more extra-curricular activities than public-school kids, thereby meeting more “mentors” to be “guided by” than public-school students. “Mentoring potential” is thus maximized in a homeschooling environment. Having pointed that out, Team Opposition must insist that the entire theory of necessary “mentorship” lacks substantiation and cannot be regarded as significant.
A good question to consider in this debate is why parents choose to home school their children in the first place. The overwhelming motive is to provide religious or moral instruction. From 2003 to 2007, the percentage of students in the United States whose parents reported religion or morality as the reason they chose to home school increased from 72 percent to 83 percent [[http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009030.pdf]]. This usually means that these children are taught with only a single world view in mind that has the potential to go completely unchallenged throughout the child’s development. We have already explained how the probability that this will create a citizen that has not been taught the sufficient ability to become an active and actualized member of society is far too great to be ignored. Beyond that, just the practice of home schooling alone shapes the child in a negative fashion.
We believe that homeschooling a child dramatically and adversely alters the way in which the child relates to the rest of his/her fellow citizens. To home school is not only to physically separate children from the public but to also mentally separate them as well. We believe the ability of a home schooled child to empathize with others in society is severely retarded by homeschooling because the child has been raised to believe that there is something that is so dramatically worse about the rest of society that it necessitated removal from whatever was going on on the other side. If citizens do not have any sort of investment in their fellow citizens, how can decisions come about that benefit the majority and the community?
Firstly, ban on homeschooling will not diminish parents’ influence on children’s morals & religion. If religiosity truly is the top factor, parents will enroll their children in a religious school, thus impose a single world view as well. Demonstrably, though, it is not: “religious or moral instruction is a relevant reason for only 1.3% of parents” and, even if it were, “no association was found between parents’ most important
reasons for homeschooling and the pedagogical methods they utilized” [[http://sorrel.humboldt.edu/~soc/downloads/senior_projects/2008_Higgins.pdf]].
Even in the 2007 study provided, more parents cite “a concern about the school environment” and “dissatisfaction with academic instruction at other schools” rather than religious reasons. We think that parents want to educate a child, not indoctrinate it.
Secondly, home schooling is not separation, but rather direct integration into the local community. Instead of being integrated into an arbitrary system of school hierarchy, children get to know their own community much better, as they do not spend hours locked up at school, but rather keep everyday contact with their family and neighbors. Removing children from classrooms doesn’t mean confining them to the house. A lot of life lessons can be learned in extended community service (i. e. church) or simply by being involved in the community substantially.
Additionally, home schooling offers protection to vulnerable children from the wrong kind of socialization (youth gangs, bullying…). Regarding the bland assertion concerning lack of empathy, we feel obliged to point out thatBrian D. Ray, 2009, “Research Facts on Homeschooling The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development [including] peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.
Homeschooling can be a guise for unschooling. For ideological, economic, health issues, etc., some parents will pull their children from school under homeschooling statutes and refuse or be unable to carry on the education. It is estimated that in the US alone, there are 100,000 unschooled children in the 1.5 million homeschooled population [[http://dailywd.womansday.com/blog/2010/04/daily-buzz-goodbye-homeschooling-hello-unschooling.html]] At least 100,000 adults will enter society without any formal education. This will severely affect their chances of unemployment and hopes of financial and fiscal success. Regardless of how important it is tolearn to dance, sing, and play, employment standards are based upon public education standards. It is important to be formally educated for this reason.
USA falsely equates “unschooling” with “refusal or inability to carry on the education”. Using their own source, we see that “unschooling” is actually “unorthodox approach to homeschooling that does not focus on formal classes, set curriculum or tests”, which is basically equal to the widely accepted[[http://tinyurl.com/3admh7u]] Montessori educational program. Regarding impact on children’s future after unschooling, suffice it to say that Montessori achieves better results than standard classroom[[http://tinyurl.com/38ufkrv]] – and that founders of Google and Amazon cite it as source of their success[[http://tinyurl.com/3xcbx2a]].
Even if unschooling harmed, this would call for regulation rather than ban. Perpetually, Proposition picks extreme cases like “homeschooling as religious indoctrination”, or minority methods like unschooling, and argues that we need to ban homeschooling to ban these extremes. Our consistent answer: one, ban will make parents enroll the child in a school which supports their views on education, Montessori in this case; two, regular progress checks are a better way to protect the children’s right to education.
Additionally, the Proposition is contradicting itself. Here, they argue homeschooling will “severely affect chances of unemployment and hopes of financial success”, but in refutation of our third argument, they concede that “average homeschooled child performs better on standardised tests and is more involved in civic society”. This does not go together: if a child is able to pass a standardised test with flying colors, then it can easily fulfill public education standards (substandard by Proposition’s own admission). In the face of evidence that 96 % colleges enroll homeschooled students[[http://tinyurl.com/323dqwn]], it is hard not to say that formal education plays little to no role in social achievement; on the contrary, Opposition has shown that homeschooling has better results than a formulaic, one-size-fits-all policy.
When parents are (often rightly) concerned about the state of public education, their concern is likely to revolve mostly around their own child or children. Given the option of homeschooling, those who have sufficient leisure time (i.e., time not devoted to work and life functions) to actively participate in the civic life will be able to homeschool their child. This is clearly not a long-term solution, though, as many children live in households where both parents work or even if one parent has the time to educate them has not themselves been well-educated enough to qualify as a home-teacher. If homeschooling was banned, those concerned parents could use their political clout to improve the public school system through democratic reform, producing a better system that is more equitable even for those who do not have time to take upon large civic reform.
Firstly, we need to point out a huge concession on part of Proposition: they concede that the state of public education is bleak and in need of reform. This kills their point of educational quality for all homeschooled children transferred to public schools – which we showed is not going to happen.
Strangely, Proposition advocates a position that homeschoolers like John Holt[[http://tinyurl.com/yk3kry]] used to stand for in the 1960s: that the system can be changed by thorough discussion of its flaws. However, past evidence suggests that educational reform movements accomplish nothing[[http://tinyurl.com/cfl5c4]]; current public schools are results thereof. Opposition says that public schools are on the government agenda enough[[http://tinyurl.com/cpp9hq]], without need for extra voices; moreover, we think that homeschoolers would rather lobby for reinstatement of homeschooling than engage in a Sisyphean task of reforming a system they hate.
Several ideas in this argument merit refutation simply by virtue of being bland assertions. Firstly, the idea about parents’ inability to actually homeschool once they opt for homeschooling is clearly frivolous: even if they didn’t have the time – an absurdity – they could still provide for a qualified tutor [[http://tinyurl.com/38b4qtl]]. Secondly, the notion that parents’ lack of education makes them ineffective teachers is demonstrably false: 2009 research shows that homeschooled children are more successful than publicly schooled children, regardless of parents’ qualifications to teach, thanks to individual approach[[http://tinyurl.com/6r22hm]]. Lastly, the idea that non-long-term or non-mainstream methods need be banned is clearly ridiculous on its own, akin to banning emergency shelters after hurricanes to promote building new houses.
If public schools can be reformed (which we doubt), the reform can be simultaneous with homeschooling. Banning it wouldn’t get any lobbying support; even if it did, it wouldn’t help.
We do not object to home education, and we do not claim that public education is perfect. We seek to ensure that these two essential practices do not become competitive. All the benefits of homeschooling can be maintained without pulling students out of public school. Parents influence their children and can direct them to other intellectual pursuits that the school does not offer, or can tell children why they object to something they might hear or learn in school rather than pretending that the subject they dislike does not exist. But, if they wish to keep child abuse secret, to radicalize or unschool their children, to create their own education system with other parents or guardians, or to avoid more strenuous oversight through homeschool, we object to this. We therefore find it justifiable to ban homeschooling as a practice: not because it is an evil, but because it takes away the good of social education and because it can endanger some children.
School is still invaluable, and there are benefits that are mutually exclusive from homeschool: teachers who are experienced professionals, and a diversity of thought regardless of the type or common ethnicity of a school. If a a student had the same teacher for 12 years, it would be cause for alarm. Homeschooling is a legalized version of this limiting and unnecessary practice. It necessarily limits the scope of a child’s learning by placing it on the expertise (or lack thereof) of a single individual. For the same reason we don’t allow children to study only math if it is their favorite subject, we don’t allow the parents to educate their children fully simply because they object to the curriculum and its diversity.
All the opposition’s points about better academic performance and civic involvement are explained by the fact that the majority of the homeschooled belong to a high socioeconomic class, which has a significant effect on school achievement and child development [[http://tinyurl.com/329qzko]]. This achievement would be boosted in traditional school settings because of the uniqueness in schools we have already described. Research has also shown that mixed-ability classes, in which higher and lower performing students are taught together, produces better academic results in students[[http://tinyurl.com/23glrmb]]. Specialized schools are also options.
Opting out of society is something one can only choose as an individual. We do not believe that the choice is valid when you decide it for someone else, particularly a child, who has not had the benefit of seeing what society is. Even the Amish who religiously object to most of modern society’s practices allow all the individual members to experience society as long as they see fit so that if they choose to join the community, it is by their own volition and not by the force of ignorance. To fight ignorance and ensure cooperation is what we wish to achieve by this measure.
We wish to keep parents and children involved in society.
Proposition plan is unfeasible
No matter the alleged “benefits” of Proposition policy, it must first show that the mechanism for putting them forward is effective. We don’t believe it is: as the only punishment put forward by Prop is “fining the parents/legal guardians”, we say that many parents will be more than happy to pay a fine for the privilege of educating their own child. After all, many non-homeschooling parents are quite content with paying exorbitant tuition at private schools; as Prop failed to set an exact fine, we daresay any fine will scarcely outburden that.
Additionally, it is important to recognize that this plan will inevitably have many loopholes. For instance, it is extremely difficult to draw the line between homeschooling and small private schools. If a parent, for instance, teaches his children and children of his neighbor could he technically be eligible for a ‘private school’ status? We don’t know – but apparently, neither does the Proposition, as it completely failed in its responsibility to provide specific definitions for anything it prohibits, or how it will prohibit it.
While we think that failing to provide for the ban of homeschooling is a very good thing, it also means that none of the alleged benefits of the ban can stand.
First, just because some citizens will choose to violate a law is definitely not sufficient reason to decide not to pass it altogether. We recognize that there will be parents who will break the law, just as there are still those who commit murder, theft, and fraud despite the harshest of punishments. It is still important for a government to uphold the principles it believes are beneficial to society – in this case, the importance of a complete, wholesome education that will create a better citizen in the long run. Take the smoking ban. Are there those who smoke despite the ban and pay the fine when caught? Yes. Is the law still supported? Definitely – because when it comes to a matter of public good, the government passes the necessary laws that will deter most people from acting in an undesirable manner. Most citizens would rather be law abiding.
In addition, institutions of higher education, as well as job-offering companies and organisations, will probably not be willing to accept students who have not passed through a legal, state recognized curriculum. This serves as a powerful disincentive to parents who choose to home school – these parents take their children’s education so seriously that they teach children themselves; they will weigh pros and cons very carefully.
As for the supposed ‘loophole’, there is a substantial difference between a state recognized private school and Aunty Jane teaching the neighborhood kids. A private school is a registered institution under state or federal law, often financially independent . In Texas, for instance, the Commissioner of Education recognizes the accreditation of non-public schools in a Letter of Understanding before operations can begin[[http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/RegPrivSchl/texas.html]]. And if parents start creating mini-private schools instead of home schooling…well, we can cross that bridge when we get there. More stringent teacher and curriculum certification requirements are among the available options.
Homeschooling Increases Quality of Education
Public schools face a crisis of confidence worldwide, especially in the US[[http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=1500338]]. Underpaid teachers teach huge classes of unmotivated students, which include everyone: exceptionally bright children, ADHD-suffering kids and mentally deficient teenagers. This detracts from quality quite clearly: one size simply cannot fit all, and teachers struggling to maintain at least a modicum of order in their class know that all too well. At the same time, lack of educational quality is a massive detriment.Mankiw, N. Gregory, David Romer, and David Weil. 1992. “A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 107 (2): 407–37.
[E]ducation is primary predictor of economic and social success of an individual and of the society.
If Proposition policy does anything, it is only to exacerbate the problem: it seems to want to channel all homeschooled students to public schools, where they can hear from “the mouthpiece of the government”. Homeschooling, however, is beneficial to all stakeholders, both homeschooled students and public school students.
Firstly, home-schooled students receive concentrated attention of an adult who understands them. Their course of study can be individualized with understanding of their unique strengths and weaknesses. As a result, home-schooled children can achieve significantly better academic results than kids schooled otherwise, and they statistically do (Basham, Merrifield, Hepburn: “Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream”).
Secondly, homeschooling reduces the strain on public education. Fewer students in a classroom enable teachers to select a more individual approach. Moreover, homeschooling is more likely to remove extreme cases of students – both the fast and the slow – which will make that education more effective.
The Opposition seems to be contradicting itself here – in an earlier rebuttal, they mentioned that the average American public high school class size is at 23 or 24 (not much higher than the OECD average, which is between 21 and 23)[[http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/class-size-around-the-world/]] – these numbers do not indicate the ‘huge classes of unmotivated students’ implied that are causing a ‘crisis of faith’ in public schooling. In addition, there is more and more evidence that says that class size has little to do with performance in schools; countries like Japan and Korea have some of the world’s highest achieving student bodies, yet they also have the biggest class sizes. This goes to show that classrooms teach students skills that they will not be able to pick up while learning on their own – discussion, collaboration, debate, and interactive learning.
The ‘concentrated attention of an adult who understands them’ is a moot point in this debate. We are not shutting the child in school without access to his/her parents – parents will still encourage the child, motivate the child, recognize strengths and weaknesses, help with work, and even introduce college level literature if they think their child is capable of it. We just do not consider this a replacement for school, with its ethnic and socioeconomic diversity as well as taught life skills. Parents nurture children, but school is an altogether different educational experience that no child should miss out on.
Home schooling increases civic involvement
While children in public schools already fall into the arbitrary hierarchical structure of the school, homeschooled children are left in the relaxed setting of the family, free to seek a different social ladder to climb on. This often tends to be the real one: when students don’t attend school, they often get involved in their communities[[http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/Civic.asp]]. In fact, homeschooled students are almost twice as likely to be involved in an ongoing community service activity, be a member of a community group or simply be able to get involved, as the average US citizen[[http://www.hslda.org/research/ray2003/Tab2.gif]]. We believe that is intrinsically beneficial: early integration into community makes for a more prepared adult citizen, which is what the entire schooling system strives for.
The reason the average homeschooled child performs better on standardised tests and is more involved in civic society is because of who they are rather than the process of homeschooling itself. They tend to come from two parent households, where both parents are substantially educated themselves, are thus reasonably financially comfortable, and place a high importance on education[[http://www.educationbug.org/a/homeschool-statistics.html]]. Any compilation of such students will perform better than the average. Such students, who may not have to juggle a job and taking care of younger siblings while their parents juggle jobs, will naturally have more time for civic involvement. These already relatively privileged students will perform even better after partaking in the collaborative learning experience in the diverse learning environment that is school, in addition to becoming more well rounded individuals with superior social skills. We believe that the path to ‘early integration into a community’ lies not in performing community service at an orphanage twice a week, but rather by regularly, actively engaging with peers and mentors on an intellectual as well as a social level.
Home schooling can be the only alternative
There are many cases in which the home schooling is the only possibility to get education. It can be in the cases where the school is too far away and there is no possibility to go there, this is a big problem for example in New Zealand where The Correspondence School had originated in order to help parents educating their children at home.[[http://tinyurl.com/wodc1]] This problem can be even bigger when the children are handicapped in any way, there are numerous cases of deaf children who live too far away from schools for them, so they have to home schooled.[[http://tinyurl.com/wodc2]]
Even greater problems have to tackle the parents of physically or mentally handicapped children who would become victims of bullying in normal schools (according to the reports from British schools 82% of children with learning disabilities are bullied)[[http://tinyurl.com/wodc3]] and the special schools are not always accessible. Hence, home schooling is the only possibility for parents to defend their disabled children, mainly in the earlier school years where is the possibility of bullying highest.
Thus, ban on homeschooling would constitute an unusual and cruel burden on many families, and would actually deprive their children of proper education. That is not something that any society can stand for.
Another group harmed by the standard education system are talented and gifted children. The public schools and teachers there usually don’t have time and opportunities to help them. They spend their time in school uselessly and can’t use their potential because teachers don’t have time to work with them. Homeschooling provides parents the chance to fully use the potential of their children and give them the most effective education because they can work with them on topics in which the children are good. So there is a possibility of 14-year-old children getting place at the Cambridge University.[[http://tinyurl.com/wodc4]]
We don’t have a problem with implementing programs like the TCS in NZ for particular cases in which the student is not able to attend school because of their location. Programs like the TCS are essentially a home deliver service of public education and not characterization of homeschooling that we have seen in this debate. Students are given the same exact curriculum as they would in at a State school and parents actually receive an allowance from the government much like a teacher would receive pay[[http://tiny.cc/gyy5p]]. Since the government still has control over the curriculum, the values of the society can still be reflected through education and a level of quality control is still maintained. These students will not receive all the benefits of an education outside the home, but they will still receive some.
Bullying is all about exerting power over another. The way to stop bullying surely isn’t to say to the bully that your power is so great that you can control the attendance of another student to this school. One way to stop bullying is to train teachers to recognize tell-tale signs and provide ‘teachable moments’ to the class which create an environment where bullying isn’t tolerated by the students. These programs have worked in the US where students who reported being physically bullied over the past year had declined from nearly 22 percent in 2003 to under 15 percent in 2008[[http://tiny.cc/kyy7v]]. While we have seen a focus on mentally handicapped children in this debate, kids get bullied for vast amounts of reasons and the only way to stop the problem is to face it head on with campaigns against bullying.
We don’t think achievement recognition is mutually exclusive to homeschooling. Students can be put in accelerate classes, skip grades and have after school tutors to get the education they deserve. There is a possibility that young people from public schools can also be accepted to top tier universities.[[http://tiny.cc/w03kz]]
Individual Rights Take Precedence Over Government’s Monopoly on Education
Throughout the debate, Team USA has been hinting at “societal values” “we” need to “instill into the next generation”. They made the term mean different things at different times: “public health”, “tolerance of diversity”, or “psychological advancement”. We have dealt with all of these points when needed; the variation thereof, though, shows another thing. When entrusted to the government, education becomes a political means to a political end, rather than a good in itself.
We believe that rights and freedoms of children and their parents, such as freedom of choice and religion, or right to education of one’s choice, are basic tenets of democratic societies for a reason. When individuals disagree with the approach of their local state school – which, say, bans evolution from classrooms[[http://tinyurl.com/3y7jkg4]] – they must have the right to take their child’s education out of state’s hands and into their own, or to use some parts of the state curriculum and disregard others. Regular progress checks, that we alluded to, sufficiently guarantee right to education. No completely correct curriculum exists – but only having a single one almost guarantees it will be a wrong one.
Banning homeschooling would eliminate yet another alternative to state schools, and thus enable the government to further skew the educational process to the direction that is currently beneficial for it. Recent curricular changes in Texas, for example, “ignored historians and teachers, allowing ideological activists to push the culture war further into our classrooms”[[http://tinyurl.com/32meea5]]. The rights of children and parents lie forgotten by the sidelines: politicization of schools takes priority. This grants the government too large a power, misused in both democratic and undemocratic societies. In the former, it can serve to transform them into the latter; in the latter, it perpetuates totalitarianism even further, like it did in Hitler’s Germany[[http://tinyurl.com/32narne]].
Schools do benefit public health. Disturbingly, some parents homeschool children only because they believe the state should not mandate vaccinations for students. In August 2008, the number of children with measles doubled to 131; homeschooled children accounted for 25 of 30 in an outbreak in Chicago in May and for 11 of 19 cases in Grant County, Washington[[http://tinyurl.com/6yp4lk]]. Of the infected, 91% were unvaccinated, for the same “philosophical or religious beliefs” that keep 83% of homeschooled kids away from school. It is a government’s duty to protect its citizens, particularly those who are not old enough to oppose parents. Opposition asks us to institute an obligatory vaccination; we have, in the only place we can enforce it – school.
Parents’ rights are important, but states often intervene for collective benefit. Laws protect children from their parents’ physical abuse. Laws require all children to be educated. We support freedom of choice and religion – we believe, though, that a child, not the parent, has the right to choose these, after s/he has had exposure to other ideas at school. We definitely don’t endorse parents pulling children out of school because they disagree with a taught concept; homeschooling in the US took a jump soon after public schools began teaching evolution. When a parent disagrees, s/he should work towards solving the problem with the school rather than losing hope.
Finally, the idea that a ban on homeschooling would result in the creation of totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany is ludicrous in today’s world. Public discussion occurs whenever school curricula are changed; the democratic processes that exist to vote on such changes(communities elect school boards) ensures that the indoctrination of children that occurred in Nazi Germany won’t occur. For example, opposition’s citation is from MSNBC, a liberal voice in public discourse, and the article is an example of the debate following Texas’ change.
Homeschooling Is Economically Beneficial
The practice of homeschooling positively affects budgets of both the family and the state.
Homeschooling families save money on expenditures which public schools would otherwise demand: large notebooks for every subject, presentation boards, or uniforms. Uniforms are increasingly more required[[http://tinyurl.com/dzwmkt]]; cost $150 – $300 per year[[http://tinyurl.com/yfbx2hk]]; and must be annually renewed. Public schools thus become expensive, especially for the poor stricken by the current financial crisis; for them, homeschooling is much cheaper, because its costs are customized[[http://tinyurl.com/34onh6p]].
State incurs unnecessary costs as well. Firstly, underprivileged families may qualify to have their uniforms paid for by governmental grants [[http://tinyurl.com/2w6fw2d]]. More importantly, state has to foot the bill for tuition. The most basic cost per child in public school is $8,322; in reality, that is almost $25,000[[http://tinyurl.com/5y2f27]]. In contrast, “the average cost per homeschool student is $546”[[http://tinyurl.com/2dchmnd]].
Return of the homeschooled would make the US alone pay $8,000 to $25,000 per each of the 1.5 million homeschooled children[[http://tinyurl.com/2v9mktl]]. Overall, this would make the US pay $37.5 billion: the equivalent of nominal GDP of Lithuania[[http://tinyurl.com/39y82lq]], or 462 education budgets of the District of Columbia[[http://tinyurl.com/5y2f27]]; in any case, fifty times as much as homeschooling. The government will need to raise that extra money, thus restricting our financial freedoms, or to redirect that money from other vital projects, where they already are too scarce.
This is an unnecessary expense. Contrary to Proposition’s unfounded claims, we have proven homeschooled children academically perform, psychologically develop and socially integrate much better than their public-school counterparts. Homeschooling is clearly the efficient option for both families and the state.
First, the idea that homeschooling is cheaper for parents is not logically sound since homeschooling requires a parent to stay at home resulting in a loss of income. If someone finds it difficult to pay for public schools they are unlikely to be able to take the time off to homeschool their children. It is more likely that they will simply take subsidies that the opposition itself concedes the government gives. This is evident in homeschooling already as “Parents who home-school children increasingly are… wealthy” [[http://tinyurl.com/np2qog]] and thus would be able to afford public or private schools if homeschooling were banned. If a parent were to balance a job with homeschooling then we question how effectively they would teach when compared to a trained, committed school teacher.
Secondly, the opposition argues that it would be too expensive for the government to fund public schools if homeschooling was banned. Even if we accepted the opposition’s dubious figure of $37.5 billion, using their logic we can point out that this is only 2% of America’s GDP [[http://tinyurl.com/2l9rcv]] and so a negligible amount. This only shows how misleading statistics are.
Instead we believe that on principle the benefits of banning homeschooling are so great that the government must financially support it. Schools instill skills and values into the next generation. They teach children to be cooperative and productive; give them a myriad of lifelong memories and a diverse group of people to learn from. Ask yourself how many adults you know who would have preferred to study at home with their parents rather than attend a school. The American government already more than doubled the Department of Education’s budget this year [[http://tinyurl.com/d75s6y]] thanks to the Recovery Act, we see no reason why more cannot be used to fund these opportunities.
Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children’s education is carried out well.
Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children’s education is carried out well – there is no logic that necessarily requires them to surrender that responsibility to the state. If they feel that the child would be best educated at home, by them or by another, that is their right. It is of course a crucial check within such a system that those teaching are vetted by the state to some extent to ensure their suitability. Such a system has worked for some of our most able achievers and will continue to do so. Some exceptions might slip through such a system, but that doesn’t mean the system is wrong – and it’s hardly as if state education has never failed. Moreover, this is a debate about whose claim to the right to guide a child is greater, the state’s or parents’. We stand firmly on behalf of the parents. Freedom of choice should exist in this arena, given all the responsibilities a parent assumes in bringing up a child: refusing parents the right to educate their children at home is an affront to a family’s liberty.
The most important thing in this debate is ensuring children receive the decent education which they have a right to – something that, with its resources, experience and expertise, the state is best placed to do. High minded arguments about ‘parental rights’ are all well and good, but if things go wrong, it’s impossible to make up for lost time and bad practice in a child’s education. What if a parent is deficient in providing the educational process, but the state fail to spot it? What if they are satisfactory upon inspection, and then take the year off with the child to watch sports? What if the child does school work the day the state comes knocking, and house chores the rest of the year? A system can try to cater for these problems but it will frequently fail, not least because those it tries to monitor will often wilfully mislead it. This is therefore not about a right, and not about a choice – there is no right to choose to fail your child’s education. This is true not just as a precautionary principle, but as a practical problem the proposition simply can’t answer – there is no feasible mechanism which can ensure that the standards held to be appropriate are carried out in practice.
We trust parents to know what is best for their child
We trust parents to know what is best for their child – parents care more, because it’s their child. To them the child is an individual – to the state, merely one of the many thousands moving through the system. Changes in the curriculum, experiments in teaching practice, can take years to iron out – fine for the system, disastrous for the individual caught up in it at the time.What is the difference in principle between home schooling and private schooling? Both involve taking one’s child out of the state’s prescribed school structure and instead educating them in a private environment that’s been vetted by the state. Given state regulation is present, isn’t this just private schooling on a micro level?
We firmly believe that education provided by the state is by its very nature far less likely to make mistakes than parents or home tutors. Furthermore, the opportunity to keep children at home will be seized upon in large numbers by parents who resent the costs of schooling (e.g. uniform, trips, and transport) who simply can’t be bothered with the hassle of ensuring their child receives schooling. That attitude obviously points to the standard of teaching they would provide in the home.Given that it is the state’s duty in liberal democracies to ensure children receive a decent education, the state is entitled to take positive steps to reach that end – much safer to have children educated by the state or established, tested bodies (such as private schools) large enough to bear corporate responsibility where observation and review can frequently occur, than in the home where review is necessarily infrequent and unrepresentative. Teachers in both state and private schools are within an environment we can subject to quality control, and are employed to do their jobs and therefore have a driving interest in ensuring it’s done properly. No doubt some parents who want to educate at home have good intentions but others do not, and we don’t have the same kind of immediate control over them.
Parents are entitled to make judgements about the quality of state provided teaching.
Parents are entitled to make judgements about the quality of state provided teaching. If that quality is sufficiently low in their eyes, why shouldn’t they be allowed to make the considerable sacrifice that becoming a ‘home teacher’ constitutes? A generation was failed by the British state educational system after the 1970’s philosophy of ‘children learning at their own pace’ permeated the teaching profession: it’s thoroughly reasonable for a parent to reject such methods; if sufficiently able to pass tests the state wishes to impose regarding their capacity to fulfil the teaching role themselves, why should they be denied that chance?
Hundreds of researchers and experts within the educational profession labour to ensure that the best methods are deployed in schools. How presumptuous to think one might know better than that accumulated wisdom how to teach a child – as if that child being the product of an individual suddenly enhanced that individual’s knowledge of their educational needs beyond that of those that have given their lives to building an understanding of these complex matters, and are qualified through years of training to carry out the tasks we set them. State schools may not be perfect – but they will only get worse as those who can afford to opt out in order to educate at home.
It’s ridiculous to say that home schooling necessarily will be of poor quality.
It’s ridiculous to say that home schooling necessarily will be of poor quality. Many parents will be fantastic teachers. Furthermore, it’s not as if the process occurs in a vacuum simply because education occurs in the home. In the USA, the nation that home-schools the largest proportion of its population; a network of home-school support groups and businesses provides expertise on given subjects and teaching methods. The internet makes all this viable in a way it was not before and allows every home to have better research facilities than any school library had ten years ago.
It’s a pretty good bet that parents won’t be as good as a teacher, unless they are one – in which case their home schooling of their own children deprives the state (and a whole class) of their services. The same applies to private tutors. Furthermore, even if a parent or tutor excels in one area, will they cover all the things a school does? The point of the curriculum is that these are things we have decided as a society that children need to learn. Even if strong in one or two fields, it seems tremendously unlikely that home schooling can cover all the required ground.These support groups can’t make a parent into a teacher, any more than a book on engineering makes one an engineer – the vocation of teaching is a much more challenging one than the proposition suggests.
Homes beat schools on two significant fronts – facilities and an atmosphere that encourages learning.
Homes beat schools on two significant fronts – facilities and an atmosphere that encourages learning. The needs of one or a very small number of students are the focus of the entire educative process. Parents willing to invest in their children properly often find the local and woefully ill-equipped state school is unable to match the targeted provision they are able to make.The home also lacks the many distractions of schools – peer pressure, social stigma attached to achievement, bullying, show-offs, general rowdiness.
Schools beat homes on two significant fronts – facilities and an atmosphere that encourages learning. Homes are very unlikely to have extensive science laboratories, sports facilities. By pooling the resources of all to provide common facilities, the state is able to cater for everyone’s needs without needless duplication. In the unlikely circumstance that an extremely wealthy parent were able to provide the plethora of things required for a rounded education, it would be a massively selfish thing to do, and remarkably pointless: why not send their child to a private school, where at least the power of review exists, and the pooling of facilities occurs?It must be terribly confusing for a young child to be asked to ‘switch’ to ‘learning mode’ and then back to ‘play mode’ in the same environment by the same people. For the older child, it represents ample opportunities for abuse – for pushing activities the parent enjoys instead of a lesson, or manipulating the parent into slacking off ‘just this once’. Schools are for learning – that’s their essence, their function. The home is an altogether more complex environment, ill-suited to the purpose of instruction.
Home schooling doesn’t just offer a better education. Family bonding is a massively important element of a child’s development, one that’s constantly undermined in modern society. Positive parental role models are found less and less frequently. If a parent is judged by a state vetting process to be good enough, isn’t it enormously positive to approve of an environment that cements both a positive role model and family bonding? It is absurd to suggest that children only interact with others at school. The concern regarding ‘getting to know other children’ has been solved in the USA, the nation that home-schools the largest proportion of its population; a network of home-schoolers exist to provide companionship, promoting sports events and social functions through the internet and other methods – it fulfils the role admirably (recent steps include the creation of a home-school honour society). Furthermore, the standard social provisions for children in civil society – scout movements, sports clubs – are open to home schoolers like everyone else. Seen in this light, home schooling is not a removal of a child from society – just from the state’s schools. But such interaction happens outside the classroom, where it belongs, instead of acting as distractions to learning. Within this point, some parents have legitimate concerns about the moral tutelage their children receive in state schools – about the kind of moral message some teachers choose to impart, and the kind of classmates they find themselves alongside. Parents are entitled to judge schools on a moral level, and find them lacking. In so many school districts, the only way to avoid drugs in school is not to go.
Interaction with other pupils is a crucial element of a child’s development, and mere social interaction isn’t good enough – team building, working towards goals, being forced to confront problems with and live alongside individuals one might not like, or come from different backgrounds, is clearly done best in a school environment. Being able to integrate depends on exposure to other people – obviously there’s more diversity in a class than in the home! The proposition is right to identify wider needs: education is about more than just academic tutoring – it’s about educating the whole person, and that is best achieved by educating them within a school with their peers, in a microcosm of the society they will soon enter.Indeed, parents and children spending day after day at home are sometimes subject to a phenomenon sociologists call the ‘hothouse’ relationship – the closeness between them becomes exclusive, with reaction to outsiders almost aggressive by instinct. Such a relationship makes it even more difficult for the child to adapt to life in the wider community.Those that seek to cocoon their offspring from the outside world merely delay the time when their children have to deal with it – and strengthen the impact of the shock that will be received upon seeing the element of society they find so unpleasant. Furthermore, what is the guarantee that the moral structure parents might be instilling in their children, year after year, away from any kind of effective monitoring, is beneficial?
Classroom education often fails the bright and the slow
Classroom education often fails the bright and the slow, by going too slowly for the former and too fast for the latter. Necessarily, a teacher of many has the interests of the group as a whole in mind in pitching a lesson at a particular level. This leaves some unchallenged and others humiliated. Home education avoids the pitfalls of both. This point is especially true with regard to students with special needs; the state either fails to identify such needs and lets the student lose years of education instead spent unproductively, or drops then into the vastly underfunded and stigmatised bins we call ‘special schools.’There is yet another group that is failed – individuals with identifiable problems that damage their capacity to learn in a normal school environment, but are not severe enough to merit a place at a special school – those with mild to medium severity dyslexia and attention-deficiency suffers fall into this category with many others. Home schooling can help such students, often with the help of tutors specially trained for such needs (and sometimes the state helps parents with funding for these tutors, so the burden does not fall solely onto them). Indeed, parents willing to take on the enormous task of educating their child at home, or paying for them to be educated at home, are relieving the state of the burden of doing so in the state system – but continue to pay their taxes to benefit others.
The benefits of education in a wider context more than counterbalance to this objection. Of course, the state doesn’t just leave high achievers and strugglers to rot! Whilst admittedly, attention for individuals in either group isn’t one on one, it’s not awful – and the experience of growing up alongside less and more able students produces individuals with greater understanding of their society. Furthermore, students with special needs are those that most need the state’s enormous resources to focus on their requirements. Once a student has needs of such a magnitude that demands it, they are educated in special schools specifically intended to help them.
Try as it might, the state constantly fails those with greatest faith needs in its schools.
Try as it might, the state constantly fails those with greatest faith needs in its schools. Numerous examples can be found of the state failing to provide for students of ‘minority’ faiths – of ignorant failure to provide for prayer time, the banning or denigrating of religious dress, of unwitting subjection of students to religious festivals that are manifestly unsuitable.The popular home schooling movement in America sprang out of two real and legitimate concerns parents of Christian students had: that their religion was being denigrated in the state curriculum, and the ritual humiliations they were subjected to for their faith. Of course, schools should reform to ensure such behaviour is minimised – but if parents want to avoid such perils altogether, and teach their child within an environment that caters for their religious needs, that is and should be their right.Nowhere is this more true than in discussing the appropriate place of dogma in schools. Many deeply held beliefs – such as creationism – are undermined, directly and indirectly, by state sector educators. The refusal of many schools to alter text books to highlight the fact that evolution is a theory and not proven truth, and the refusal to teach creationism as a possibility alongside it, serves to prove this point.
Those that wish their children to be educated in a religious environment have the chance to send them to a religious school, the quality of which can be monitored by the state. However, that ‘exclusivity’ of belief is remarkably unhealthy – we believe that the adherents of all religions shouldn’t shut themselves away, but rather engage in society as a whole, and understand other people’s beliefs and points of view. Meanwhile, it is the duty of the state to teach the thinking of all religions, and the dispassionate conclusions of science. It should indeed be pointed out when theories are theories – but that should never stop schools teaching our best understanding of how we came to be, and how we developed. If that jars with theology, that’s a pity – but it shouldn’t stop teachers teaching.
This week, Proposition failed in all points. Negating the importance of socialization among ethnically diverse groups, we proved that public schools don’t give any inter-ethnic socialization, while homeschooling alone gives enough. Countering the importance of school in passing values, we pointed out that it is unclear how public school does that better than home school, that homeschooled kids are generally better prepared for the society as measured by psychologists, and that ban actually harms societal values. Refuting the mentors point, we showed that their importance is largely speculative, but that public schools give fewer opportunities still to meet mentors than homeschooling. In the misguided argument about unschooling, we explained that Proposition misconstrues the concept. Lastly, opposing the lobbying point, we remarked that USA misunderstands what drives lobbying and imagines public school reform quite simplistically.
Generally, we showed USA argues on wrong facts, uses bad logic and ignores majority of cases. Even if ban worked, it won’t yield benefits; rather harm them. We out-evidenced them, forcing them to concoct e. g. “college-bound public schoolers” (see their link which “backs it up”).
The Opposition case stood. We consistently showed that homeschooling enriches students, that it gives them better – in some cases, the only – education for life and thus ensures social integration. We also showed that society benefits from legal homeschooling and that keeping it legal is principally justified. US refutation was fragmented, seized on details rather than whole ideas, and succumbed to our POIs.
More importantly, our arguments forced Team USA to make a number of concessions.
Firstly, the premise that parents who homeschool are carefree, racist, unable-to-teach, religious zealots, prone to sacrifice their children’s education to their God (be it the God of Creationism, Non-Vaccination or White Supremacy), formed the basis of half their argument. As time went, they argued instead that these same parents would be the critical voice to finally reform public schooling; or that they would hone their kids’ education and thus make up for demonstrated drawbacks of public schools. In claiming that parents are responsible, caring, and personally incentivized (which sets them apart from public school teachers and enables them to teach better), they assented to our original argument.
Secondly, USA at first argued that public schools are the perfect solution; then admitted that they badly need reform.
Thirdly, our POIs revealed that their asserted importance of socialization is caved by their espousal of the TCS in NZ, a symptom of wider failure to provide definitions.
Opposition teamline was simple & stable: homeschooling rules over public and even private schooling; flaws coming with it can be fixed by regulation, but mostly need not be. In contrast, Team USA had no teamline; only inconsistent logic and faulty fundamentals.