Another Homeschooler Hits The News For Being Pro-Life

This time, it’s a 19-year-old Canadian politician

All things considered, this is nothing short of astounding.

A 19-year-old homeschool graduate and pro-life advocate won a provincial by-election by a landslide Thursday night, becoming the youngest Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario history. – Life Site News

It is sad to say this, but generally, when I see “homeschool” or “homeschooler” in a headline, I assume it isn’t a good thing. I have mixed feelings about this one.

There is no doubt that Sam Oosterhoff is furthering the stereotype that all homeschoolers are conservative Christians. Of course, as a secular homeschooler, I don’t like this. I would prefer for people not to judge me on my homeschooling because every media hit with homeschooling revolves around conservative Christians.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy seeing ‘proof’ that homeschoolers are successful and competent people. I will respect his beliefs although I strongly disagree with some of them.

As far as Canadian politics? Well… I am thoroughly uneducated and won’t even comment. But, it seems like the campaign was… a normal political campaign :D.

osterhoff-twitter-2

Exposing Our Children to the 2016 Presidential Election

I’m not happy about the number of inappropriate election scandals this year. Elections are a great time for educational experience. Instead, this year the presidential candidates are dead set on insulting each other.

I think a 10-year-old with autism said it best, “ALL politicians lie!”

I think the election is an important issue and I’ve gathered some opinions about how other homeschoolers are approaching the election.

The best way to make the 2016 election a learning experience

I have a older teen, so we’re not hiding the coverage from him. We are talking about realities of life in this time, when everything is potentially recorded, how we expect him to interact with women and fact checking ads.

We have a 10-year-old also. We are grateful he’s not really interested in the news yet. But in 2020, he’ll get the same. We will probably start with the congressional election 2 years earlier.

I love this idea! Put the kids in charge of fact checking! This is a great way for them to learn and hopefully uncover the right information. However, they might begin to learn that even the fact check websites are sometimes biased.

Use Game of Thrones

This is one way to encourage political education!

First, we watched Game of Thrones and discussed political intrigue. Then, I set him loose on internet news sites and let him make his own decision about a presidential pick. Maybe not conventional, but he now has a better grasp of politics than most adults and he has become very interested in politics all the way down to our recent school board elections. (I know, why would a homeschool kid care about the school board, but he did.) I don’t censor what he watches, but I am available for questions and to discuss how what he watches compares to reality and our family morality. This was not my original plan on how to teach politics. He had me at my wits’ end and his is what happened.

Be completely open about it

This is another solution, simply be 100% transparent.

I am completely open about it with my 12 year old daughter. We talk about rape culture, dismissing women, how women are sexualized in advertising and the media. We even read some of the tweet storm of women discussing what happened to them. We then discussed how to handle it when someone tries something like that with her. Don’t be uncomfortable, don’t shrink yourself and smile, loudly say what needs to be said, “get off me! Don’t touch me!” And strike out where you can hurt them. We discuss how no one has the right to touch her…ever.

Starting early on is never a bad idea. My best friend started talking to her boys about the proper way to respect women at an early age.

I discuss it with my 12 yr old granddaughter. I have to be careful, because her parents are on the other political spectrum from me 🙂 I hear their “talking points” when she makes a statement. So, I tell her MY position, explain why I believe what I believe, show her how to research and make informed decisions. And, I try not to throw up at some of her “canned” comments she heard from her parents LOL But, I tell her, it’s MY opinion, and others disagree. I tell her she needs to study, watch, listen, learn for herself. Anything I say, she needs to verify it for herself. I explain about moral values vs religious values – that a religion may have unique values that should be allowed to be practiced personally, but have no place in our laws. That we don’t want to live in a Theocracy and why. We ralk about women’s issues, about why we need to stay true to ourselves, how our culture still demeans women, and that we CAN make a difference if we continue to speak out against misogyny. Anyway, we have good discussions, and hopefully, she will make up her own mind based on truth, not media talking points, or just because someone shouts it louder. She’s smart, inquisitive, and wants to learn and understand. It’s scary thinking that she may decide differently! But, I don’t want a robot, I want her to grow up into a thinking, informed woman. Since I am her teacher, but her parents are her PARENTS, I walk a fine line when I teach her about our government, political process, and political climate!

Nasty ads are hidden everywhere

My youngest is 5 and can read extremely well. So she has picked up a few things here and there. Ads on her favorite YouTube channels can be the worst. At this age, I want to keep her as sheltered as possible. When she does ask questions, I’ll answer them and look up the answers.

I wanted to add.. it’s been a good conversation starter with my teen about certain issues.

What happens when you don’t have cable?

We don’t have cable but the kids hear a little here or there. Thanks to my MIL, my 10 and 13 year olds got an earful about Trump v Clinton. Good opportunity talk. It goes something like this:

People have different opinions on different things. People will try to make it seem like their guy/gal is a savior, and the other guy is a devil. In reality they all have shortcomings. Why? (they answer with jokes and reasonable answers.) The candidates are humans, and we know the only perfect person was Jesus, and he was smart enough to not want to get into politics! (That’s our point of view.)

Some people think X or Y about Z. You can see why they think that, because blah, blah, blah. But on the other hand, blah, blah, blah. People’s experiences and who they listen to influence what the believe. People don’t even agree on what the government should be in charge of. (We sidetrack for a minute here on the Constitution.)

Then they ask what I believe on a couple of things, I tell them in basic terms and then tell them why. We should always know WHY we believe something so that we can better state why our opinion is valid. Sometimes talking to people who you disagree with will teach you something you didn’t know. (Rare with adults but possible!) Sometimes we need to learn more about a topic to have a better opinion.

I always make sure to say that not everyone agrees, but that’s OK as long as we can be kind to one another. God loves everyone so we should too. (Derailment of conversation when 10 year old parrots some of Nana’s lovely opinions.) I then ban them from stating political opinions, but encourage them to either ask questions of why to people they think this or that (for the sake of not actually banning political conversations, which I wish I could do a little.)

 

Why We Chose Homeschool Over Public School Parent Involvement

When we lived in Utah, we attended a Unitarian Universalist church. UUs as a group tend to support governmental programs like public schools, and so we homeschoolers got a lot of push-back about “deserting ship”. The reasoning was that if we had time to homeschool, it would be better if we had our kids in public school and spent that time volunteering at public school to make our school system better. Homeschooling was seen by quite a few people as the selfish, non-community minded option. Most of these people had their kids in private school (and didn’t volunteer at public school either), but they viewed that as a superior choice to homeschooling because you can volunteer at the private school and they feel that helps build community as well.

My Kids vs. The Common Good

munkegaard_school_-_school_desk
Sorry folks, but I’m not going to sacrifice my kids’ education for some theoretical common good. Whatever education my children would have received in our local public school district would have been substandard and not appropriate for kids of their ability. As a volunteer parent, my ability to affect my own son’s and daughter’s education would have been minimal. The UU would be school activists’ response to this was that I could always “afterschool” my kids to make up any lack. Ironically, some of these were same parents who would also moan to me that they couldn’t understand how I could bear to homeschool when just doing a couple of hours of homework per night with their kids was pure torture.

What About Afterschooling?

Afterschooling is an option that I only suggest to parents when they absolutely have no other option. For most people, afterschooling is frankly wretched. Assuming you have time after the pile of busywork from school is completed, you’re now going to try to jam serious learning into the precious few moments left before bedtime? On kids who are probably so jaded and burned out after their day at the mind-numbing substandard public school? No thank you.

Read this before you jump into the comments to attack me: If your public school is excellent and stimulating and challenging and your kids come home in a good mood, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and ready to have extra Latin and Calculus lessons, great! Please understand that for most people working in average school in the U.S., this is not even in the neighborhood of the usual school experience. If your kid is bored and mind-numb at school, trying to afterschool them when they come home (likely angry, restless, and burned-out) is a really rough task.

If your kid is bored, struggling, and getting more and more resistant to learning, don’t mess around with afterschooling. Find a way to homeschool or find a way to get them into a better school. Robbing them of their few hours of decompression time is not going to make them love learning or improve their grades.

What Do Volunteer Parents Do, Anyway?

Having been a parent volunteer in a local school, I could see that they really needed me and other parents to help do support work– for teachers and administrators. Even after you pass the background screening, in my experience, most of your tasks for public school bring you into only minimal contact with kids. Most of the kids I worked with were really suspicious of adults anyhow, having been taught by popular media to view adults as stupid and out of touch, and taught by the system to view every adult as a potential child molester.

Don’t get me wrong. Teachers really do need someone to make 500 copies of worksheets for them. I just don’t deceive myself that by helping with that, that I am “making our schools better” or “helping make a positive change in the system”.

PTSA

My UU friends would say the problem is that I didn’t get involved deeply enough with the PTSA, which is where the “real” change happens. This could be so, but in my two PTSA experiences in two different PTSA organizations in two states, the only thing PTSA wanted from me was money, forms, and baked goods. Oh, and to buy school tee-shirts! Again, your mileage may vary, but I’ve spoken to many parents for whom this experience is true.

Broken System is Broken

As a parent with a kid in the public school system, your ability to affect the things that actually matter, that improve your child’s chance at academic success, and provide safe and enjoyable learning environment is very small. I think our public school system can and should be fixed, but it’s not going to be fixed by me throwing my kids in, and me volunteering alongside them in the trenches. I can best help by raising well-educated, civic-minded people who can challenge and affect the system at the levels where real change can happen. For us, that means homeschool. Alas, things are not going to get better at public school because I baked cookies for a fundraiser.

This Post Partially Inspired by:

The Center Cannot Hold (Archdruid Report)


4 Comments

  1.  Gabriela

    Great post.
    Wonderful reading you again.

  2.  Kenny and Teresa Wolfe

    Bummer you had such an unsupportive church group. We also attend a UU, but it is very different from your experience. Homeschoolers abound and the church is very supportive. Good for you for sticking to your guns and doing what’s best for your kids!🙂

  3.  Michelle

    This post really echoes a lot of my feelings on why we chose to homeschool vs. afterschool. I’ve definitely gotten the same amount of pushback, both from non-parent friends and parents with children in the school system. I happen to live in a really BAD school district and while I acknowledge that jumping ship leaves the ship to sink, I am going to be selfish by saying I don’t feel like sacrificing my daughter and her education for the ‘greater good’.

  4.  Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs

    Excellent post.

Drug Testing Homeschool Parents

An Arkansas state representative, while discussing the possibility of voucher money for homeschooling parents, said that any homeschool parent receiving such voucher money should be required to submit to drug tests on a regular basis. He seems to think that “dopers” will hear of the homeschool tax vouchers, pull their kids from school, not educate or feed them and use the voucher money for drugs. This would be of such concern in the great state of Arkansas that every homeschool parent would need to be monitored continuously to prevent this kind of fraud.

How much surveillance are you willing to submit to as a homeschooler?
How much surveillance are you
willing to submit to
as a homeschooler?

And that, homeschooling friends, is such a stunning example of why I don’t want voucher money. I don’t take street drugs; I never have, not even of the “didn’t inhale” variety. This doesn’t make drug testing any less of an infringement on my privacy. There is no amount of money that can make up for that. There is no amount of money that can make up for the pain and suffering that would be inflicted on a family who got a false positive. Do you get reported to the authorities as well as lose your voucher? Will you be required to pay the voucher back, even if you can prove you spent it on educational expenses and not drugs if they suspect you did some drugs based on a urine test? Will your children be removed from your home or required to attend public school?

What next after the drug testing? It’s just a foot in the door to more and more state supervision. My kids aren’t in public school in part because I have no desire to surrender them to state supervision, even part time. I don’t want the state supervising me either, telling me whether I’m doing it right in the homeschooling realm. How would they know? The proof of homeschool success or failure is whether your kids come out with an education that enables them to be functional adults. Anything else, from test scores to bogus concerns about socialization, is just bloviating to protect the status quo.

Drug testing seems to be a darling of a lot of people these days, what with the number of “drug test all welfare recipients!” posts I see on Facebook and elsewhere these days. I think this “drug test homeschool parents” is a little bit of karma there. If you egregiously invade the rights of one group of people, no matter how marginalized or despised those people are, you’re on the path to having your own rights compromised as well.

I realize this is a fairly political post. Feel free to disagree with me, but please remember to do so civilly.


9 Archived Comments

  1.  Farrar

    WHAT? Just… WHAT? What an absurd piece of legislation.

  2.  Siggi

    Wow. That is some pretty serious disrespect going on there. The fact that someone even thought of this just makes my heart hurt.

  3.  Rayven Holmes

    What the *%^&!! How about instead of hounding homeschoolers they focus their time on the public schools! I’ve got my kids taken care of, they need to worry about the kids they are suppose to be educating.

  4.  Bpbproadrunner

    You know what really pisses me off about this story? This guy is a Democrat. He is only doing it because he has bought the koolaid and assumes that all Homeschoolers are Republicans and this is a way to get their goat.

    Democratic and Secular Homeschoolers need to put this sh*tbird in his place. Drug Testing welfare recipients makes a moral judgement that states that somehow being poor predisposes a person to act in a criminal manner, more so than their white collar counterparts. Yea–tell that to Goldman and Saks. And Requiring Homeschool PARENTS to get a drug test also implies a moral judgement, that parents that homeschool are predisposed to criminal behavior more so than their PS counterparts.

    If he does this, it will be a foot in the door to Drug Test All Parents in the future regardless. And it will also be a foot in the door to force further intrusions into homes that homeschool.

    A dangerous legal precedent all the way around.

  5.  Bpbproadrunner

    Great Post BTW–Everyone has political views. In this country it used to be okay to espouse them.

  6.  Shannon Fangmeyer

    I’m not surprised this is being discussed as a piece of legislation. It seems like both parties of our government feel the need to have a little control of just about everything. I don’t understand why they think homeschoolers want their help with vouchers and tax breaks. If these same politicians would just listen to their constituents they would be much better served.
    As far as welfare recipients being drug tested, well that is a fine line. I actually think our welfare system would work much better if the recipients were required to work, rather than “punish” them for working by reducing their benefits.

  7.  Bpbproadrunner

    Well that is how they set them up for failure. That seems to be the specialty of our government. Set the people up for failure and then use them for props for further political gain.

  8.  homeschoolchris

    This is another example of government officials not understanding why people would home school their children. Do we make the government officials take drug tests? In most states they do not. Good luck

  9.  tlryder

    Yeah, and I like that founding principle of our government that says you’re innocent until proven guilty, and that there should be real evidence before you’re treated with suspicion.