Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Is it just me, or is it drafty in here?

In the Monday, May 31st edition of the Star Tribune, our own midwestern scirocco Katherine Kersten delivered another blast, this time in favor of home schooling. (In case any of you have to look it up, Spottie will tell you that a scirocco is a hot dry wind of Saharan origin that blows accross the Mediterranean.)

Kersten's apologia makes several interesting statements; let's examine some of them.
Studies show that home-schoolers, as a group, score well above average on standardized achievement tests.
Okay, but what if we control for parents who aren't interested in their kids' education. Do home-schoolers still do better than kids who are in a school and who have involved parents? Maybe, but Spottie would like to see it proved. Statistically, not anecdotally. And what about controlling for special education kids? Both private schools and home schools can "cherry pick" students; the public schools can't and don't.
[there is a] stereotype of home-schoolers starved for social contact.
No, the actual stereotype is not of the students, but rather their parents. Home-school parents, and Spottie offers Katherine Kersten as Exhibit A, are control freaks. Has there ever been a study on the correlation of home-school parents and people who are afraid to fly? Spottie bets it's pretty high. HSPs are scared to death of losing absolute control over their childrens' every movement and thought. They are fundamentally antisocial people, wanting to have as little to do with the general society as possible. This is why they are poison to any community endeavor they encounter, including building and maintaining strong public schools.
Home-schooling parents can emphasize literary classics over contemporary children's fiction, which generally features a simplistic style and a narrow, asolescent mind-set.
Boy, Katherine, you got us there. Spottie still remembers being in junior high and reading that great English clunker Silas Marner, by George Elliot, who was a woman with sort of a reverse-drag nom de plume. Just a helluva lot better than To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Lord Grizzly and Scarlet Plume by Minnesota author Frederick Manfred, the latter being about the 1862 Dakota Conflict, and A Green Journey by John Hassler, just some of the trash that Spottie's pups read. And finally:
[A] 1997 study determined that, on average, they watch far less TV than other children.
Spottie says this has a lot more to with having bug-eyed control freak parents than being home schooled.

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