I Am a Homeschool Alumna. I Care.

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on September 8, 2014.

You know what I’m growing really tired of? Comments like this:

There are vastly more kids in public school than are homeschooled, and abuse and educational failure are widespread in those institutions. More kids are affected by the incompetence of the public schools, yet you have devoted quite a bit of time and space here to homeschooling failures. Your interest in homeschoolers seems disproportionate to the problem.

I’m sorry, what? It reminds me of Heidi St. John’s comment:

 

HARO-and-HA

The relevant excerpt being:

Kids are being beheaded in Iraq and Syria right now because their parents profess Christ. That might be something you could “move on” to . . . . frankly, we’ve got bigger problems in this world right now.

What I’m hearing in these comments from homeschool parents is that the only possible reason homeschool alumni could possibly want to protect homeschooled children from abuse and neglect is to “get back at” their parents.

That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Of course, these homeschool parents claim—with absolutely zero evidence—that homeschool alumni like myself are not interested in protecting homeschooled children but rather in taking down homeschooling. I’m having troubles finding words for how angry this complete unwillingness to actually listen makes me.

What I also see, though, is a lack of interest in the needs of current homeschooled children, which is odd given that most of this is coming from homeschool parents. Those who say that it is illegitimate to worry about homeschooled children until the problems in public schools are fixed are suggesting that the interests and safety of homeschooled children are secondary to those of public schooled children. As a homeschool alumna, this is really insulting. Yes, public school children matter. And so do homeschooled children. All children (and all people) matter. All children have an interest in a safe upbringing and a basic education—including homeschooled children.

I am asked why I should care so much about the wellbeing if homeschooled children, as opposed to some other cause. The answer to that is very simple. I was homeschooled. Aren’t alumni expected to care about their alma mater? For me, that’s what homeschooling is. I have sympathy for homeschooled children because I was one. I am a homeschool alumna.

Homeschool alumni have created a variety of organizations in the past year and a half. There is Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA), where homeschooled alumni who had negative experiences share their stories. There is Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), which focuses on awareness raising and support for alumni. There is Homeschooling’s Invisible Children (HIC), a database of documented cases of child abuse or fatality in homeschooling settings. There is the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), which focuses on research, resources, and policy.

Homeschool parents can say what they want, but they can’t make us go away.

7 thoughts on “I Am a Homeschool Alumna. I Care.

  1. LP September 19, 2014 / 12:18 am

    Exactly. talking about the failures of homeschooling is not “spewing hate”, it’s speaking the truth. I feel that H.A.’s format of publishing honest personal stories of homeschooling alumni is a valuable service to the homeschooling community. It’s like a “Hey, this is really happening, and it’s not okay. We would do well to fix this.” It’s a call to action, but some people take it as a personal judgement. It’s just like any teamwork environment at a job; you have to bring up the negatives and address them honestly while promoting accountability, or the failings go un-checked and it all falls apart. America’s homeschooling laws are astoundingly lax. “Parents need to take responsibility for how they raise their children” — but who is making them accountable? These children are people, and they deserve an honest education.

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  2. lookmom September 19, 2014 / 5:39 am

    Please keep lighting up the dark places. I don’t agree with all the views shared through HA, but I really appreciate your site as a resource for me to learn what is happening outside my relatively perfect little world. My eyes have been opened to my naivete and I can’t unsee it. I’ve passed on many articles from your site. They have helped release the grip of patriarchy and courtship in my very conservative church. People of sense are not threatened by any information. Thanks for churning out so much of it.

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  3. Skye Matthews-Savage September 19, 2014 / 6:44 am

    Thank you for doing what you do! As a (secular) homeschooling mother, I applaud what you are doing to highlight children in terrible situations. I am happy that you are bringing to light the terrible things that can happen when children are segregated from the rest of society under the guise of “protecting” them from it. And to those that hide their children away from the world, I would ask them to remember John 3:20: “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

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  4. heidi0523 September 19, 2014 / 7:04 am

    I agree with LP and Lookmom. Keep doing what you are doing. Stay the course. I would say consider what people say, consider if there are some truths in it. Take the truth and leave the anger. That is who the HA contributors and members need to take the criticism of letters like these.

    That is how your readers need to take your articles too. Many of us sometime say “They are a bunch of anger home school grads” say it for many different reasons. The upper teens to upper 20 years all people, not just home schoolers, go through a period of evaluating how they were brought up. Many people have a lot of anger towards their parents. In homes with just a few things wrong maybe the stage is very short and not very angry. But in messed up homes it takes years to work through all the crude of childhood. Maybe now in my 40’s I look back at things differently. So when people in there 40’s look at the writings of people in their 20’s we may have the the temptation to dismiss your very real concerns. You cannot know this if you are not in your forty’s. That is why I am telling you.

    I love most the articles. You need to keep sharing so the current group of homeschooling parents can do things better. And so children are protected.

    Many, many things that abused home schoolers share are very similar to what abused public school adults would say. I went to school and was grilled by teachers, but I knew what to say and what not to say to keep my parents and family out of trouble.

    It is important to not believe your own headline. The good ones are generally too good and the bad one just lie.

    Keep up the good work!

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  5. pennypinchingpeach September 19, 2014 / 8:04 am

    I am a homeschool alumna. I am not anti-homeschooling. In fact, I am homeschooling my own children for the time being, since I really don’t think the local public school would do a better job starting out my little girl than I would. When they’re a bit older, if we are in a better school district, I’ll re-address my decision. My oldest is only in preschool. A gift I was given as a homeschool student is an ability to stand on my own unique decisions, and I don’t see the benefit in sending her off to the cruddy public schools here when I’m already at home with a toddler, regardless of pressure in our area to do so at such a young age.

    Another gift given to me by being homeschooled myself is to have open eyes to the very real pitfalls in that particular educational choice, especially when mixed with extreme religion of any kind. Your site is a great resource for those who are homeschooling, considering homeschooling or curious about homeschooling to understand more about the less than wonderful side of homeschool that many people never here about.

    Anyway, my point is that I am far from a homeschool hating, Christian bashing homeschool graduate, but I am very supportive of the perspective your site brings. Keep it up.

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  6. pennypinchingpeach September 19, 2014 / 8:05 am

    Never HEAR about….grrrr….pet peeve of my own I just stepped on. LOL

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  7. Amber September 19, 2014 / 11:55 am

    I also am a homeschool alumna (and who now has small children who attend private school) and I think you gotta keep doing what you’re doing. Healing will only come through really doing battle with the wrong that was done you, and speaking about against abuse is good for everyone. Forgiving only when you are able and ready, and never out of guilt or to please others or because it is the “right” thing to do!! I know there are many good things about homeschooling, I can attest to that from my own experience, but the bad MUST be faced squarely, not hushed up! HA and HARO, keep it up!!!

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