Reading Mike Masterson's editorials in the Arkansas Gazette is about as fun as going to the dentist. His editorials have the same heavy handed tone reminiscent of editorials in my high school's newspaper but are less interesting. To give him some credit - he writing style is no worse than an average letter to the editor - and I read those as well - I guess you can call me a print media masochist. Masterson's editorial from today, Sunday the 15th is particularly bad. He makes a broad attack on public schools and praises home schools.
Between the increasing violence, the lack of discipline, overpaid bureaucrats, questionable methods and curriculum, rampant childhood depression and the promiscuity being encouraged among increasingly younger students, I can see why any concerned parent wants to remain closely involved.
Who is encouraging promiscuity among younger students? What the hell is he talking about?
There are many adults in this nation who, like me, believe that sexual preference is purely a personal matter. But they also stop well short of accepting forced indoctrination of a particular sexual preference upon their children, particularly when it conflicts directly with their religious beliefs.
I wonder if Masterson believes that there is any forced indoctrination going on here in Arkansas? Maybe its happening in the same schools that are encouraging promiscuity. He goes on to write:
I’ll never accept that kids need public schooling for the purported benefits of socialization. That argument has become insupportable in a culture of drugs, violence and sexually transmitted diseases.
Is there a "culture of sexually transmitted disease" ? Maybe in a petri dish - but otherwise its a non sequitur. To me culture is "culture" refers to the universal human capacity to classify, codify and communicate their experiences symbolically. Ok, that's what it means to me and Wikipedia. You wouldn't have a culture of herpes, crabs, chicken pox or any other disease, that just doesn't make any sense.
Then - Masterson cites, from an unnamed study - that is ten years old - that home schooled students did 30 or so percentage points better than did their public school counterparts. I have a feeling there have been more recent studies in the last decade- but why cite something current ? And who needs to name references - that's only for people who think too much right?
In his editorials, Masterson seems to be able to say something nice about any right-wing kooky idea that's out there. Obviously, its not the job of an editorial writer to look at both sides of any particular issue - but not all home school parents are little saints. I've seen many many parents use Arkansas' lenient home school statues to simply withdraw their kids from school in order to avoid a truancy charge - the parents I've seen don't have a high school education - never bought their children books - yet they are teaching them reading, writing, and science. The ones I've seen didn't even have science workbooks ( that's what the bible is for right? ) I don't know what an "average" home school parent is like here in Arkansas but in my limited experience of meeting home school parents they are more like Andrea Yates and Randall Piercy. Home school can be a wonderful refuge for abusive parents.
Andrea Yates is probably the most famous home school mother in the country. She is the mother in Texas who killed all five of her children. Another home school dad is Randall Piercy who was recently arrested for keeping his 9 year old son in a cage for two years.
According to news reports, Piercy was an avid home school advocate. He kept cameras on his son at all time - obviously he was interested in keeping tabs on him Like Masterson, Piercy did not see the value in socialization either, and his son was not allowed to have friends. No bloated bureaucracy there for sure. I'm not saying a majority of home school parents are anything but competent and effective - but there is a dark side as well. where there is no accountability or over site - abuse can go undetected for years.
Should the Randall Piercys and Andrea Yates of this country get a voucher so they can educate their children at home the way they see fit? I would tend to say no. Masterson is right - there is some violence in public schools - but on the other hand, I've never seen where a teacher killed every student in her class like Andrea Yates did either. Who knows where there is more violence - home schools or public schools? At least with public schools we know when our children are being abused.
This should bring of video of Randall Piercy, aka, home school gone wrong
Excerpt From Andrea Yates' Murder Trial
(talk about school violence.....)