Stump the Chump: Get’m, Emerod!

Prologue
Another loser tries to demonstrate the dangers of defecting from the US public school system, in this opinion piece by uncertified journalist Kelley Coures:

Many education professionals believe that if the home educator is not well qualified or fails to include a child in group activities outside the home, it can produce young adults who have insufficient social skills and, in the extreme, borderline xenophobia. Lack of socialization and life experiences can stifle a child’s maturation and his ability to mentally process disappointments and life changes. (Home schooling should be board election topic)

On the other hand, many parents believe that if a public school system is not qualified to educate their children or fails to teach them a minimum amount of academic skill, it can produce young adults who have extensive social experience and yet read at an third-grade level. In the extreme, they may develop borderline schizophrenia, as expressed by delusions about the need for the government to microscopically direct every aspect of the lives of its citizens. Lack of socialization outside of stifling institutions with lime-green concrete walls, or lack of life experiences with people who expect you to think for yourself instead of getting a gold star for parroting the guy in the suit, can stifle a child’s maturation and his ability to mentally process disappointments and life changes, like when he finds out that The Real World is not like public high school in any sense, socially, intellectually, or vocationally. In The Real World you even have to pick out your own food, and it isn’t always covered by brown sauce, white sauce, or red sauce.

Coures used the typical research strategy of a public schooled 16-year-old: an Internet search and interviews with a few biased people who agree with his prejudices. He picked four criminal cases from other states and claimed that these states have now cracked down on homeschoolers, so Indiana should follow their examples. Coures went on to list four things that local school board candidates should discuss about how the state law should be changed to regulate homeschoolers more closely, with regard to progress evaluations, remediation, curriculum standards, and physical health screenings.

Conflict
When a lot of homeschoolers responded to his negative examples, he got rather contrite and started saying that what he really wanted to do was start a dialogue to help the school board learn from the community, including homeschoolers.

I keep telling you the same thing repeatedly- our school board candidates need to address the missing pieces in our system that are causing parents of our kids to pull out of the system. I believe they can learn something from a discussion of this topic, and need to tell the voters how they will work to improve our school system.

However, he didn’t feel the need to write an article addressing the concerns of local people who have actually abandoned the local school system.

Instead, he wrote a stinkbait article, where he couched a moderate proposal in inflammatory language in order to get his ideological opposition to reject it, so they could be labeled irrational extremists, “the ‘Home school militia’ that marshalls itself anytime there is even the slightest hint at improving rules for home education”:

as the #1 emailed story from the Courier today, it is being shipped via the internet to a variety of homeschooling defense sites which marshall forces around any attempt to discuss changing the laws relating to home schooling. Many of the posts you see here are from far away

That’s right! The evil Internet seems to be encroaching on their little southern Indiana Shangri-La, trying to destroy their peaceful little tight-knit community. Well, maybe not. After all, instead of putting it in the print edition or just bringing it up at a local event, he put his opinion online and opened up comments to any anonymous person in the world.

Coures posted an article on the World Wide Web highlighting the reasons why local people need to be more suspicious of local homeschoolers by focusing on out-of-state criminals, in order to implement out-of-state regulatory models on a statewide basis.

Then, when he started to get overwhelmed by the response, he tried to appease them by throwing them a bone: “You can join the discussion too!” When that didn’t work, he started crying and curling up in a fetal position, hoping they would go away. When they didn’t, he straightened up and acted defiant, claiming that the national attention was part of his master plan all along:

Of course I anticipated the response. It helps me to bring the issue forward. The Courier will undoubtedly mention the overwhleming electronic response from the nation wide network. My suggestions for moving Indiana towards a more regulated, accountable system make perfect sense and the overwhelming email response makes it even more so.

Denouement
Sorry, Mr. Coures. The rational school board candidates are going to look at you and say that your discussion topics have absolutely nothing to do with them and are an ideologically driven distraction from the school board doing their job properly and efficiently. But then, you knew that too, since you describe homeschooling accurately by saying that

the drastic measure of withrawl from all organized school-even parochial or private, should be seen as a challenge to our accepted philosophy and the school system in general

Well, you got that right, anyway: The drastic measure of withdrawal from all organized school should be seen as a challenge to your accepted philosophy and the school system in general. And you can’t address that challenge by presuming the Divine Right of School Boards to exert sovereignty over everyone who tries to escape, dragging them back for an inquisition and a sound flogging.

Lamentation
Oh, how desperate we homeschoolers are now for worthy criticism, without the sunny optimism of Carrie Luce or the down-to-earth wisdom of Dave the Janitor. What we wouldn’t give to bring back those halcyon days when their prose lit up our lives! Ah, well…life moves on. Maybe Carrie or Dave will see our plight and grace us with a new message of hope for the Brave New World, one that will help us forget this banal attempt at yellow journalism.

Epilogue
Yes, I will admit that the regulatory proposals are actually quite modest, in that they would pose no personal threat to any conscientious structured-curriculum homeschooler. This discussion made it obvious to me that, despite my disdain for political coalitions, sometimes they do make sense. In this case, the more structured, outgoing, politically active homeschoolers are basically standing up to protect the more insular or unstructured homeschoolers, some of whom would probably not pass inspection as far as the academic progress or physical health of their children. These folks might be considered the most vulnerable population, since the public school corporations would see them as the lowest common denominator, socially and intellectually.

Not coincidentally, they are the same types who have homeschooled throughout the short history of US public education, before the religious homeschoolers started pushing to legalize it and the soccer moms started pushing to normalize it and make it trendy. I don’t agree with a lot of them, but I’m willing to defend their educational choices. Let them be prosecuted on other grounds from existing criminal law, if appropriate; but leave the parents to determine the educational path of their children. School boards and state officials have proven that they are not competent to evaluate all children, much less remediate their problems.

Public schools cannot handle the “problem kids” they have now from parents who love and trust the school system, not to mention the ones who don’t care at all and just want to offload their kids onto someone else. There are many more neglectful, abusive, ignorant parents who send their kids to public school than those who don’t. The poor standardized test scores, the dropout rates, the adult illiteracy rates, the college remedial course enrollments, the child protective services statistics all testify to the failure of the public schools to make up for the defects of public schooling parents who are apathetic morons. Why not go on a crusade to get them?

Update
The long national nightmare is finally over. Coures has been exposed as a common political hack trying to drum up support for a state senator from another district. Everyone can go home and leave Vanderburgh County to hash out their problems with their public schools as best they can despite the ignorant pseudo-journalist in their midst. Voters in Vigo County, however, may want to give State Senator Tim Skinner a little heads-up.

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