Friday, June 12, 2020

The Idiocy that Wouldn't Die, or, Harvard's Continuing Crusade Against Homeschooling

More information has come out about how our would be Dictator of K12 Education would have us plebians submit to her pedagogical wisdom.

Bartholet's new discussion of her "preferred regime" appears here.

Below are the comments I left on that article, and on the one Harvard article that somehow failed to close, delete, or disallow comments, so as to prevent the very diversity of opinion that supposedly justifies their onslaught on educational choice.

First comment:

The opposition to homeschooling decries stereotyping and then jumps into it with both feet, utterly failing or refusing to see the amazing diversity that is homeschooling. We do not judge all of public schooling by the failing schools at the bottom, but they would have every homeschool tarred and feathered with the broad brush of insular and ideological/fundamentalist fervor that in no way typifies the entire homeschooling community.

Just as there will be tremendous variance in the educational quality and social experience of public school students hailing from diverse urban settings versus extremely rural ones, and even between students in different neighborhoods and schools within a given city ( cf. NYC specialized science high schools with some of the poorer performing neighborhood schools, for example), there is as much variability in homeschooling.

Why are Bartholet, et al, willing to sacrifice the vast number of homeschools that provide a superior individualized education that embraces diversity for the very few aberrant cases of abuse or ignorance?

Public education woefully fails a very large number of students. Look at the drop out rates and the sad statistics on proficiency in various subject areas. It is patently ridiculous to give institutional schools a free pass to fail, while turning the presumption of innocence on its head and requiring homeschoolers to prove they deserve to be limited exceptions from a presumptive ban. The educational insiders who benefit financially from forcing up attendance numbers in public education are far from the disinterested advocates they would have us all think them.

Homeschooling is about individualizing education for the particular student. Public schools give lip service to differentiation, and then bash those who actually provide it. We have a faculty to student ratio that institutional schools can only dream of.

Stop stereotyping and generalizing on the basis of outdated statistics or the rare anecdote. Religion is no longer the driving motivation of most homeschoolers. Current statistics show that academic quality and safety of the educational environment are the predominant reason people now choose to homeschool.

I am an ivy league educated retired professional who homeschools a highly gifted kid who would be completely underserved in a traditional school setting. I chose to take on the responsibility of catering to his needs. We are part of the NYC homeschool community, which is diverse in every possible meaning of the word, including viewpoints and opinions.

Choice is the key to providing every student with an appropriate academic experience. Homeschooling may not be perfect for every child, but neither is institutional school. Families are free to choose what works best for them, and it will be a sad day if authoritarian busybodies with delusions of superiority take that away.

Second comment:

The fact that Bartholet has made comments also attacking private schools is a big red flag to me that it isn't about mandatory reporters getting a look at kids to prevent hypothetical abuse. Private school teachers serve that function.

It's all about promoting group think and indoctrination. Even those who meet her ridiculous standards for exemption from her proposed presumptive ban are supposed to follow an "approved" curriculum and submit to a certain number of hours in institutional schools.

That ensures exposure to the ideology Bartholet wishes to instill.
It also completely destroys the value of homeschooling in individualizing education to the particular student's interests, achievement level, and learning style, and ignores the fact that many choose to homeschool to escape substandard curricula and implementation, which result in pathetic proficiency outcomes.

Her totalitarianism is showing despite her faux concern mask.

If you value educational liberty, please make your voice heard.  Bartholet gains far too much instant credibility from her association with Harvard.  We must show how wrongheaded her thinking is to prevent the gullible from falling for her fearmongering and false stereotypes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In Defense of Homeschooling

Dear Harvard University and Harvard Magazine,

Contrary to your woeful stereotyping of homeschoolers in the biased, speculative and wholly unsubstantiated portrait painted in Harvard Magazine currently, here is photographic proof that my homeschooled 10th grader is not chained to the kitchen table by horrible authoritarian parents who isolate and indocrinate him. 

There he is at the *Harvard Museum of Natural History* taking in the *gasp* evolution and zoology exhibits.  He wants to be an evolutionary biologist and a paleontologist.

Here he is at Columbia and Yale and MIT participating in enrichment programs for high school students, rather than languishing in a bookish prison as your article depicted. 

He has recently walked the Freedom Trail in Boston and visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, Yale Art Gallery, and too many others to list here.

I will stack his DIY interest tailored education against any public school in the nation and feel confident it is at least equivalent, if not far superior. 

In some of the photos, he has on a ballcap that reads "Assume nothing." I would like to suggest that you adopt that as your mantra in attempting to understand the diverse and wonderful practice of homeschooling.  If Veritas is your motto, you need to seriously reexamine what you have published and your call for a presumptive ban on an educational modality that is effective, creative, and stimulates a lifelong love of learning.

Sincerely, an Ivy League educated libertarian retired lawyer who finds your latest foray into journalism laughable.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Hey, Harvard Magazine!

Here's something that I wrote a long time ago that I would like to serenade Harvard Magazine and a certain ignorant law professor with...  In case it isn't painfully obvious, it's to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic.


Under the Department of Education
We’ve produced some hopeless dolts
But at least they are quite passive
And the bulk of them don’t vote.
“There must be accountability!
Now teach them to the test!”
And stupidity marches on…

Glory, Glory education
Is a joke in this great  nation.
Glory, glory education
While testing marches on.

We have hamstrung all the teachers
With our great assessment tools
We have killed their creativity 
And generated fools
The kids are bored to tears
So that the brightest of them drool
Public education marches on.


If you live in a great district 
Then your kids have got a prayer
If you’re poor or from the city
Well, the rich folks do not share
When there’s 40 children in a room
Then chaos reigns supreme
And testing marches on.


The No Child Left Behind Law
Makes sure no one gets ahead.
They will drill and kill the subjects 
Till the kids wish they were dead.
We give lipservice to improving
But the game is rigged, you see,
And Bureaucracy marches on.


We tell kids that they must study
And that college is the goal
But when graduation comes
They’re in a financial black hole
And the jobs that they have worked for
Have been shipped out overseas
As propaganda marches on.


If you’d have your kids be thinkers
Then you need a better tool.
Pull them out of institutions,
Roll your sleeves up and homeschool.
Though they won’t have a diploma
Stamped and sealed by government
They will think for themselves!

Glory, glory education
Take a permanent vacation
Join the happy homeschool nation
And learning marches on.

Feel free to share with credit...

Friday, July 5, 2019

2019 Not Back to School Interview

Q: What is your favorite subject?
A: Mathematics... NO! Evolutionary biology, paleontology (I am really into the Ediacaran fauna right now), and history.

Q: What are you best at?
A: Making connections between things; generating hypotheses; imagination; procrastinating. (Same answer as last year.)

Q: I need to get better at __________.
A Not procrastinating and meeting deadlines, note taking, the Great Evil (math), handwriting, dealing with time pressure on tests.

Q: What's the best thing about being a homeschooler?
A: I can do whatever I want. Nah. I get to make my own schedule, and I get to choose what I want to learn.

Q: What's the worst thing?
A: No summer break.

Q: What kind of work do you want to do when you grow up?
A: I want to be a paleontologist and a professor. I would love to do vertebrate paleontology (yes, dinosaurs), but it probably makes more sense to do invertebrate...

Q: This year I want to learn about ________.
A: AP Bio, Entomology, review Geology, Paleontology (Permian/Triassic periods, paleoart, scientific reconstruction, preparator skills); anatomy; zoology; medieval history; anthropology; German; Latin; history of Eastern Europe; the ancient Near East; archaeology; paleoanthropology; and maybe forensics. Scientific illustration and cartography. Survival and camping skills; special effects and animation.

Q: I want to do more _________.
A: Biology, classes with Wendy and Crystal, hanging out with my friends. Field trips. The Great Courses, Outschool and Coursera and Ed-X.

Q: I want to do less _________.
A: Math. Handwriting. Duolingo.

Q: Who is your best friend?
A: Koby. And Julian is a really good friend.

Q:I want to go on a field trip to __________.
A: National Museum of Natural History. Newseum. The Bruce Museum.

Q: I want to go on vacation to __________.
A. Washington DC. Philadelphia. Boston.

Q. The most fun or best thing I did last school year was:
A. Yale Splash, and visiting the Yale Peabody Museum and Yale Art Museum. Our trip to Philadelphia, especially talking to the preparator at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University. And Wayfinders (Mom adds- playing with foam swords.)

Q. What is your favorite book that you read last school year?
A. It's either The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte or The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Q. What is your favorite online class that you took last year?
A. I can't pick one. Really, I enjoyed them all. But top of the list? Marine Biology; Mesopotamian Cosmology; Statelessness: The Art of Not Being Governed; Bioinformatics; Feelin' Blue: Genetics and Heredity; Irish History; German; Latin; Dungeons & Dragons: Sleepy Hollow and Dungeons & Dragons for Teens; and I enjoyed Chemistry, too.

Q. Of all the field trips you took last year, which was the best?
A. Yale Peabody Museum (Dinosaurs and the Mesopotamia exhibit). The T. Rex exhibit at AMNH. World Between Empires and Arms & Armor at the Met.

Q. What are you looking forward to doing this year?
A. Classes with Wendy Raver and Crystal Ferreira. A trip to DC. AP Bio. Fencing.

Q. What are some colleges you might want to apply to?
A. Yale, Cornell, University of Alberta, University of Montana, Richard Gilder (AMNH, mom), Columbia, SUNY Stonybrook, Hunter College Macauley Honors, NYU, Columbia, University of Chicago, Fort Hayes State University.

Looking forward to another year of learning together!