Paul Wilson: The Evolution of Homeschooling

imagesSay the word “homeschool” and it conjures images of right wing fundamentalists clinging to their guns and Bibles while teaching their kids in a bunker, surrounded by end-times rations of dried foods and ammunition….

I’ve accidentally gotten close to this topic as my wife Chelle decided to homeschool after her youngest daughter continued to express an interest in doing so for over two years. She’d previously homeschooled her oldest daughter through 3rd grade then transitioned her to public school. And as soon as the decision was announced to the kids, her two sons decided they wanted to homeschool as well.

Me? I was immediately opposed to the idea.

My thinking being that this is going to take way too much time from a full time artist’s schedule, turning my wife into a full time teacher and part time artist. And I was concerned about the kids as well. Bear in mind these are 4.0 students, advanced well beyond their ages in music, drama, sciences and math.

In a casual bromance conversation with my editor about the topic he suggested it would make a great story, kind of a homeschooling then and now since the new school year is upon us. Not being a subject matter expert myself, I began to dig into the history of our school system. Not only is it interesting, but the genesis of public school and homeschool are the polar opposites of what I originally thought.

homeSchoolI may not be alone in that misconception, so here’s a brief primer.

Public school was started in the 1800’s by religious groups as a loosely knit, semi-organized process and remained so well into the 19th century. Groups that were primarily Puritans, Calvinists and Reformers who wanted their kids taught math and reading, mostly so they could read the Bible. Vocational training was on the fringes, but mainly relating to housework or following Dad’s footsteps into a trade.

That’s roughly how public school started.

Homeschooling started to gain traction in the early 1970’s led by secular education reformers John Holt and Raymond Moore, not religious nut jobs. They decided public schools were not conducive to their children’s learning any longer and wanted to take control of it, thinking public schools were damaging their kids.

This decline, in the mind of the secularists, goes all the way back to the inclusion of kindergarten, age segregation in the classroom and compulsory attendance.

It wasn’t until the late 1970’s and 80’s that evangelical Christians became discontent with what they saw as the over secularization of the public school system and started to infiltrate the previously secular homeschool movement.

Homeschooling wasn’t even legal is all 50 States until the 90’s, if it was taught by a parent with no teaching certificate.

tumblr_ly051bZyb41r143cio1_400Who knew?

So, religious groups started public schooling as we know it. It became too confining for the secularists, who bailed and started homeschooling. And the non-secular religious groups who started public school found it getting too secular and abandoned it like rats from a ship in the 80’s and invaded the secular homeschool world for the same reason the secularists left public schools; perceived damage to their kids.

Confused yet? I was.

Today, roughly 85% of homeschool kids come from evangelical Christian families but that number is starting to decline as more secular parents think, once again, it’s a better choice for their kids as well. However this time around, they are leaving public school systems for reasons of quality and wanting to more finely tailor the curriculum.

There are traditional, religious homeschool curriculums still available from hundreds of sources, on the Internet or locally at stores like Mardells, a division of Hobby Lobby. You can buy curriculum new or used on eBay as well and local support groups are plentiful.

Big on the secular homeschool scene is GVS, Global Village School, stating they understand that families are interested in teaching their children lessons about ethics and responsibility without basing it all on religious doctrine.

Screen shot 2013-08-30 at 9.56.30 AMTheir mission statement declares an interest in peace, compassion, justice, sustainability, community, integrity, and appreciation of diversity, caring for the Earth and our fellow beings, creativity, living an authentic and meaningful life and offering religious studies in a non-dogmatic way.

Sounds like a decent set of values to me, with or without the religious component.

Maybe these secularists guys are secretly Methodists?

Which brings me to today; homeschooling is all grown up.

My wife’s kids are actually enrolled in the Lawrence Public School system, but living in Olathe.  It’s a form of charter school, but they take all their classes online, using lap tops provided by the school district. They have two teachers available for each subject, by chat or phone. My wife’s role is that of “learning coach,” more or less to simply monitor what they do and keep them on track. She’s not the teacher anymore like she had been before.

The laptop, desktop and classes are first rate.

They have scheduled class times, live running conversation online and automated ways to “raise your hand” and ask a question, wearing headsets and boom mics, or in the chat panel to the side of the screen. If you don’t want to ask something open in the class, you can call your teacher aside and chat in private.

Can’t make class time? No problem, it’s all recorded; you can pick it up later.

And it’s all way high tech and way cool.

Socialization issues? Coming alongside from the community are a myriad of programs designed for the homeschool student. Top of the line, professional drama and music programs are provided by places ranging from The Culture House, Greenleaf to Church of the Resurrection’s Music Academy. Sports teams are also out there for the same purpose, to provide additional community for the students. Homeschool interest groups cover every possible topic you could imagine and have regular meet up dates in the community.


The Washington Times looked at five areas of academic pursuit. “In reading, the average home-schooler scored at the 89th percentile; language, 84th percentile; math, 84th percentile; science, 86th percentile; and social studies, 84th percentile. In the core studies (reading, language and math), the average home-schooler scored at the 88th percentile.

“The average public school student taking these standardized tests scored at the 50th percentile in each subject area.”

Typical homeschoolers remain 15-35 percentage points ahead of the public school student across the board.

It’s not a “soldier of fortune,” end of days, homeschool world anymore.

I can’t remember when I was so off base on a single topic just going from what culture and word of mouth has said a situation was rather than what the facts dictated.

It’s not the total religious nut jobs, hedonistic secularists, Bible thumpers or atheists.

Check it out; it may surprise you as much as it did me.




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61 Responses to Paul Wilson: The Evolution of Homeschooling

  1. Trisha McReynolds says:

    Very informative…sounds as if your students are set for a good year and an excellent education, although as a product of Lawrence Public School System I may be a bit partial.
    My niece adopted three siblings from Swaziland. They had never been schooled nor did they speak English. She home schooled them with their three younger siblings for two years and now all six just started public school. The eight year old summed up the experience by declaring “Big school sure is easy.”
    Your article clearly pointed out how one size does not fit all.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      I figured the mere mention of The Peoples Republic of Lawrence would draw you out of the woodwork! Thanks for being one of my favorite people.

  2. Lindsey Weathers says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this and good for Chelle and the kids! We homeschooled for two years and the amount of activity to get the kids involved in is unlimited. Also, we traveled extensively for my work while they were homeschooled. That led the kids to see so many parts of our country…swim in the Virgin Islands while learning their culture and eating their mangoes, follow a mock Benjamin Franklin around Philadelphia, and see Broadway show after show (with a little lesson on haggling in Chinatown from yours truly). Thanks for helping to break the stigma…that’s the last compliment you get this month…

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Lindsey, the last comppliment this month? I was happy to get one from you this YEAR! I know, in your world its all about Chelle now, not me any more. Thats fine…… I get it.

  3. Paul says:

    Hi Paul, I’m a retired school superintendent, and a huge supporter of home schooling and charter schools. Over the years I learned that homeschooling is only as good as the parents who are doing it. Most who choose to homeschool their kids do a fantastic job, far beyond anything we could do for those children in even the best public schools. The one-on-one attention and the fact that no one cares more about your kids than you were key to their successes.

    On the other side of the coin were the parents who didn’t have what it took to be homeschoolers. There weren’t a lot of them, but they were out there. They did it because their friends did or because it seemed trendy. Some were too lazy or busy to do a good job. I remember kids who were being enrolled in high school after several years of homeschooling who were grades behind their peers. Sometimes it was an ability thing, but more often it was a lack of commitment by the parents.

    In short, parents who are considering homeschooling need to think long and hard about whether they are ready to take on the commitment. If they are, good for them!

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Thanks, Paul, for your comment. And I’m sure you’re totally correct on your observation; to take it a step further, there are parents that have no business being parents, forget if homeschooling is involved!
      I think thats the same reason we see the breakdown in the KCMO school district. Teachers can’t do it all, if the parents are checked out so’s the kid except in the most rare of cases. Too many parents today want to blame the school, the teachers, for everything that befalls their kid when in most cases its a cockpit error right there in the living room at Current Resident.
      I’d like to talk to you off line sometime as I’d like to dig deeper into the KCMO issue. I’m going to meet with Airick West soon and would like your thoughts as well.
      Thanks again for your comment.

  4. david says:

    Nice article Paul, but your stats are a little misleading. Comparing home-school test scores to ‘average public school’ test scores is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    Homeschoolers, by definition, have engaged parents involved in their child’s education. So, their test results should be compared to a group of public school students who also have engaged parents.

    A brief google search found this link to Olathe School district test results..

    OSD students scored 94.3 percentile in reading and 93.7 percentile in math.

    I’m not bashing homeschoolers, I just find it interesting how so many JoCo parents choose not to use some of the best public school districts in the country.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Thanks for the comment, David. While you are correct in your summation of OSD being among the best in class, it’s also one of the leading reasons the two boys wanted to move back to homeschooling. So while it’s not apples and oranges, maybe it’s apples and applesauce.

      While the academics in OSD are stronger than the average school districts across the country, there are also a lot of other issues where it is the same, ranging from bullying to lack of control in the classroom. Sometimes zero tolerance is a long way from zero tolerance. We actually had an instance that made it to the District Attorney’s desk that was pretty horrifying, coming from an 11 year old GIRL, no less.

      Then add, at the elementary level, 2 years of classes where the teachers themselves admitted were the worst they had experienced. The entire class was held back by the lack of self-control of the few. These are teachers we came to know well and, believe me, it was out of control and one of the kids suffered greatly from it.

      My kids all went through the OSD and I think got superior educations. It’s always been among the best. I was sick when we lost Karl Krawitz. I served on committees with him and it simply didn’t get any better than him! Un-orthodoxed , controversial, but loved what he did and loved the his kids.

      My daughter graduated from KU School of Art and Design; she’s an art teacher in DeSoto and is the best of the best, bar none. So while I would never “bash” OSD, or public school in general, there’s more to the story than just GPA.

      But you are correct, if its not done with an engaged parent, its going to do more harm than good.

      • Mlyn says:

        I’m not a parent and don’t live in KC, but seems to me the promise of homeschooling will be limited by personal investments of time/engagement from parents and ultimately the majority of parents may not have the time/skills to be up to the specialized needs that a good education requires. The article does present some surprises and, also, has an unspoken implication that homeschooling could be a solution to problems in public school. Seems to me this could further separate people, going so far as to create an “elite” of well-educated homeschoolees. Or, with potentially an absence of consensus on curriculum, a generation without common tools with which to communicate and address problems. Also, seems to me that socialization is more complex than providing enriching activities; it is learning to negotiate relationships with a lot of different people in real time. While we “live” some of our lives online, there’s still the need to learn to work it out in the offline world. Homeschooling seems appealing for some, and a challenge for public schools to do better, but it saddens me to think of children not growing up together in school. Here’s to the Class of 2025!

        • paulwilsonkc says:

          Mlyn, thanks for the comments. I would wager your socialization was made complete by sitting next to me in 1st grade, if I’m correct.
          Always good to hear from you.

    • You guys are living in an affluent area. I wouldn’t expect it any less. Now low income, Title 1 districts? Much different story.

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        StillAtMoms, thats a partial factor. Olathe is zoned really odd. It started when they built NorthWest so Cedar Creek could have their own school and not have to send their million dollar babies to Olathe North, God forbid, as the demographics have shifted pretty severly there. Many woke up finding they’d bought a home to allow them one school, ended up attending another.
        That being the case, the kids elementary ended up a formely high end school that went Title 1.
        Like I said, its usually always more than one reason, this case was no different. With in a block and her kids would have gone where mine did, one of the most outstanding elementary schools in the nation!

        • the dude says:

          God forbid you would have to send your wonderful, darling, smartest, upper middle class kids to have to comingle with the poor and downtrodden plebes that attend north, right? I mean, you paid a pretty decent chunk of money for your McMansion with barnboard siding on a postage stamp lot, right? You demand not to have to learn alongside the poor, ugly, downtrodden North plebes!!

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            Dude, it went further than that. I understand, purely on rumor, that NorthWest ended up “classed” lower than what they wanted for sports, based on census, so not only did they fight to get the school, the next battle was to get the school ranked where they wanted it. I dont know the total facts, but that was the rumor around town.
            Im within a mile of Olathe South, but the proper district after the new bounderies would put my kids in North as well, across the Interstate and way out of the way.
            Admitedly, I went to bat to keep her in South, where my daughter went before and liked it. Not because of the “plebes” but because of some violence issues they’ve had there.

          • the dude says:

            I keed Wilsun, I keed.

          • paulwilsonkc says:

            Dude, I know, but there was still a story behind it. Dont get me wrong, there are only a handfull of you who making it worth putting up with Hearne, you’re on the top of that list. At the same time, I’m sure you know who’s lowest. How low? Check the bottom of the ocean, under the whale poo.
            Thanks for always bringin it! Glad youre back at it.

  5. Orphan of the Road says:

    “The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”
    ― H.L. Mencken

    I have known several families who home schooled. If you look at the total picture, it would probably vary in quality and success as do the various school districts.

    Some parents were crazier than owl scat. Others had professionals assisting with their efforts.

    We adopted a family last Christmas in Northeast. Poor as church mice but their home schooled children were eager to learn and had obviously been well served. Their oldest daughter was going to public high school this year. It was working well for their children.

    In a rural area where I once lived, the family across the street home schooled. The child spent the day driving a golf cart around the area. Trying to shoot my chickens with a high-powered air rifle, busting window in vehicles.

    I would see the father kicking their dog around and cursing it.

    If parents realize their own limitations and can seek and find qualified people to assist, it can be a wonderful thing.

    A wise man once said, I never let schoolin’ get in the way of my education.

    Public schools have become a battleground for ideologies. The majority of students, whether from KC public schools or Shawnee Mission, are ill-prepared for the real world. They have been taught to take tests and learn a lot of revisionist history which is more pop culture than what really occured.

    Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, Paul Revere’s ride warned Boston of the British coming and George Washington was the first President of the United States.

    All false but that is what is taught.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Orphan, you said;
      “Public schools have become a battleground for ideologies. The majority of students, whether from KC public schools or Shawnee Mission, are ill-prepared for the real world. They have been taught to take tests and learn a lot of revisionist history which is more pop culture than what really occured.”

      Thats what ran the secularists out of public school in the 70’s. Its also what pushed evangelicals out in the 80’s. Almost oppostie reasons in the two camps, but identical just the same.

      That is what I was attempting to explain to David; its not just about GPA, its a multiplicty of reasons, some of which you tagged dead on.

    • Fuckin’ A quote, Orphan. I have to admit from previously being a teacher right after college that teaching is merely glorified babysitting. I don’t even know where to begin to be quite honest.

      First and foremost, public education is structured around the unfunded mandate known as the state assessment, more specifically “No Child Left Behind”. It basically leveled the playing field and gave educators the disadvantage, and extra workload, to teach the same rigorous standards regardless of the students’ comprehension levels and abilities.

      District curriculum’s are constrictive enough for the teacher, but are based around to this test administered at the end of the year in order for the district to vie for precious federal funding. So, again, as always, about money.

      I was so naive walking into the classroom for the first time, thinking I would have some liberty in teaching my lessons the way I wanted to teach. Hell no, you have a bulky binder dictating what lesson you should be teaching on an exact day and week. You really don’t want to teach the standardized stuff, as the kids don’t want to learn it, either.

      The bureaucracy in public education surmounts the actual bureaucracy in government. (And as a former civics instructor, no where does it mention education in the actual Constitution.) Education is veiled in commerce. It is truly there to keep kids off the streets while mom (or dad, hardly both in the same house nowadays) slave away at their remedial job.

      They don’t need to be there a full seven hours. Most of the lessons can be done within four to five hours. The rest is filler with busy work, and not to mention issuing homework to keep them occupied at home, too. The actual vocation of being a teacher is considered a stepping stone, too. Many don’t see it as a lifelong career, but rather a phase in order to move up to better money-making positions such as an administrator or cushion position at central office. Keep in mind, teaching and administrating are two very different positions.

      Teachers aren’t respected. Nowadays in Missouri we are held accountable if students perform poorly on the state assessment. We have the possibility of not getting our contract renewed as a result. Plus they are trying to go away with tenure as well. This is just to ensure you are in compliance with the system. And I forgot to mention the meetings, grading, lesson planning, parent conference, professional development (that is basically unofficial college coursework to keep your spot in the district), and studying for your Master’s in order to move up on the pay scale.

      Mark Twain said it best about education.

      Make these schools clamor why little Bobby and Suzy are suddenly at home learning. In fact, there should be an evolution of sorts where instead of the kids being isolated at home with just their parents teaching, why not start an initiative where neighborhoods can host their own school of sorts with parents rotating their teaching schedules so they won’t get burned out? Pure fantasy, my bad. Our liability frame of mind wouldn’t even allow the mere thought of it.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        President Eisenhower’s administration developed an educational program for children in South America. They used the smarter kids in classes help the teachers with the slower students.

        It worked so well teachers in American made sure the program would never be attempted in the US.

        Some of the teachers I disliked when I was in school I now see as remarkable educators.

        Mr Redford would give you a hall pass so you and a friend could go to the pool hall and work on geometry. Was everyone’s favorite.

        But the only thing you learned in his typing/business classes were when he rinsed his mouth with Scope, he always swallowed it.

      • Judy Arnold says:

        “instead of kids being isolated at home with just their parents teaching…..”


        I appreciate that you are at least trying to understand the secular homeschool movement! Please understand that the ‘isolated at home’ part of your reply caused peals of hysterical laughter among my homeschooled children. Isolated at home? We are rarely at home! Our day begins with the kids watching CNN Student News on the free wifi at the local YMCA after a workout and maybe a little pick-up basketball during ‘open gym’ time. Then we might move to the side yard at the local public library or the park in front of the county courthouse, unless the weather is bad which means you might find us at a local coffee shop discussing topics of mutual interest with the college students who wander in and out, in between learning new material. We do spend some days at home. Just not most days.

        The “with just their parents teaching” part made me smile. I know that’s what the popular media would have you believe, but honestly have you ever really thought about that? Here is my favorite example:
        “If your child wanted to learn ballet and you yourself were not familiar with ballet, what would you do? Would you pick up a book on ballet and try to teach her yourself? Most likely, you would seek out a qualified instructor. This will likely come as a shock to the popular media, but that happens to be exactly what the average home educating parent does.”
        We see ourselves as educational facilitators most of the time. Now, believe me, as a college graduate myself I feel pretty darn comfortable teaching elementary school content, so I don’t think it is at all necessary to hire a tutor for, say, third grade arithmetic or fifth grade history, but I have in the past hired tutors and paid for online classes for my older kids during high school. I prefer being able to select the instructor and the class content myself rather than having to rely on ‘potluck’ at the local high school.

    • the dude says:

      Orphan, you rock man.

  6. david says:

    “Public schools have become a battleground for ideologies. The majority of students, whether from KC public schools or Shawnee Mission, are ill-prepared for the real world. They have been taught to take tests and learn a lot of revisionist history which is more pop culture than what really occured.”

    …and home schooled or private schooled are more prepared for the real world?

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      David, in all candor, I don’t know whats going to prepare kids for the “real world” as they may very well know and live it.

      • david says:

        agreed, I thought is was an odd statement and thus brought it to light.

        • paulwilsonkc says:

          I get that. At the same time, I do think schools have been too involved in “values” issues as we fail in the 4r’s kind of stuff. I can see that point.

    • Orphan of the Road says:

      David, I don’t have a solid answer for you.

      I do see school districts as being a cash cow for distributing the spoils of victory for the politicians. Probably the most important vote a person can cast is in school board elections. Rich or poor.

      And I do know that throwing money at a problem will not solve it, in and of itself.

      I worked at the world headquarters of a multinational company. I saw many college grads who had gone to private schools for all their education and come out as dumb as a box of rocks when it came to reality. They had MBAs, ChemEs and such but had never had to work a day in their lives until they came to the company.

      There was a man who never finished hs. He was in charge of hazardous waste disposal. He developed a plan to incinerate some of the material at a fraction of the cost of disposal in a landfill or such. He was a mentor to the President & CEO of the company.

      His first job was carrying water buckets to the mules who hauled barrels of crude oil off ships in the Delaware River.

      Not scientific but an illustration of how people get their education.


      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Orphan, we spend from $6-19,000 per student in the US, depending on the State they are in. Im sure you can make a argument for the more you spend the more you get, but I can’t seem to make that prove true. And why, in our country, would there be a $13,000 swing?

        • Orphan of the Road says:

          Politics, Paul. Simple politics.

          Take the number of people on welfare and multiply by $50,000. Then compare that to what is spent on “welfare”.

          Education and poverty, IMHO, equate to what happened on the Indian Reservations.

          The loving nature of Americans saw the horrible conditions for those living on the reservations. They put their money where their hearts were to help people in need.

          Those in the administration of President Grant and his political cronies sold bug infested flour and rancid meat to the BIA. As an aside, those in power put a Quaker in charge. His faith in the human spirit would not allow him to think human being would profit from the suffering of others.

          You can add private schools which have been set up to exploit the inability (or refusal) of public schools to handle special education students.

          Set up a school, take the kids and charge the district $40,000-a-year to warehouse these kids.

          The median income for my kids’ school district was $65,000-a-year. The private school teachers earned around $20,000-a-year. This was the 80s/90s.

          I had experience with three of the private schools. Two were warehouses and one was a true blessing. My son remains good friends with a teacher had there to this day.

  7. The other reason says:

    plus you wouldn’t want to expose them to anybody who isn’t white and god knows that’s important to you.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Other, not that I need to honor that with a response, but let me enlighten you. My kids were raised deep in the Ethiopian community. If you aren’t aware, they are, as we say, black.
      To this day, its my and my kids favorite food.
      At no small financial risk, I sponsored family after family out of the country and away from the army which was a self imposed suicide mission. I was equally involved with the Embassy there who happened to be frauding these people out of anything they had to get a Visa. I busted the operation after I got out all the people I was working with.
      I can provide you any number of Ethiopians from Kansas City to D.C. who would be glad to attest to that.

      Just because I have strong feelings about whats going on in our own inner city, does not a racist make. Just because I’m willing to look at facts and not do so from a white guilt ridden apologist, does not a racist make.

      But as with any commenter, thanks for taking the time to add your two cents.

      • expat says:

        I like the implication by the ‘dat’s raycisss’ squad up above that trying to improve your kid’s life makes you a bad person. The correct response to that sort of thing is to ignore it and keep moving forward.

  8. chuck says:

    Excellent article and comments.


  9. Louise R says:

    Great read! Glad the kids are at home with Chelle but most of all are happy, safe and right where they should….be in charge of their own education! This is a mighty deep subject that will always guarantee varying opinions. I always love the stereotypical ‘lack of socialization’ position! I have to chuckle at that one every time. The reality is the system fails kids on every level and it’s up the parents to take back control of the situation if they so choose; after all, they are our children, right? We are secular and use vitamin N (nature) as our curriculum. Our society needs real thinkers and explores not robots that can recite regurgitated podium lectures. Again, glad you found a system that works for the kids. Wishing the Wilson household much success on the new adventure!!!!!

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Lousie, knowing your kids, I can say this; I’ve never seen more socialized, polite, well adjusted kids anywhere, outside of Chelle’s. They are each amazing in their own right.
      Knowing your kids Mom as well, I find that amazing! How did that EVER happen……..?

  10. Jesse Contreras says:

    Paul Wilson you are a idiot and so am I. I do have a ethipioan woman. most beautiful girl I have ever seen……. seen multiple times. mind of her her own but I will keep trying to crack that nut. and yes paul if you are that smart we can talk not hard to find but I do not like taking to people who think they are smarter than everyone else

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Jesse, take a deep breath; Im not smarter than everyone, just most, so youre safe running me down to talk. I’m easy to find.
      Ask your girl if she knows Martha and Fikru, that’ll tie you back to me in no time!

  11. Cheech Lifting Weights says:

    Every single person I ever met in undergraduate school and graduate school who was homeschooled was socially awkward, stunted in their emotional development and had no athletic ability because they never played or practiced a sport. Smart people but not people that were socially skilled or worldly.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      I have seen the same thing, Cheech, I get that. I guess the difference is these kids, 9-13, have been in public school. They are involved in tons of stuff from being in a band with their oldest sister playing each weekend, to you name it. They are way socialized.
      But, no doubt, there are some sheltered cases like that.
      Same with far right wing fundamentalist kids who went away to college year one and nearly burnt the town down, making all the wrong decisions, testing their wings for the first time!

    • Judy Arnold says:

      I guess you might have met kids from one isolated family and base your statements on that. Okay, but open your mind up a bit and ask yourself the following questions:

      -Why do you assume that all homeschooled kids do not interact socially with anyone outside of the home? I am a homeschooler, and my family socializes with other homeschool families all the time and we have never met any socially awkward homeschooled kids. I guess some exist, the kind that are isolated on the tundra for the better part of their lives, but in reality most secular homeschooled kids hang out with other kids and adults on a daily basis.

      -Why do you assume that homeschoolers don’t play or practice a sport? Because, again, we are homeschoolers and we hang out with other homeschoolers and well, we all play sports. Team sports, individual sports, competitive sports, intramural sports, you name it. Heck, I’m a homeschool mom and I’m on a women’s roller derby team!

      -Why do you assume that homeschoolers are not ‘socially skilled or worldly’? Again, you can base your opinion on your interaction with that one family of what were clearly darn near Amish homeschoolers, but please realize that not all homeschoolers eschew the world, pop culture, electricity, or social interaction. My kids are on Facebook, occasionally sport blue hair, and are familiar with the term ‘twerking’, even though I would rather they were not.

      -I am at a loss about the ‘stunted’ emotional development. Are you referring to the ‘isolated tundra dweller’ type of homeschooler again? Because you might be being a little unfair to those kids, since they probably don’t even have a public school within a hundred miles. Or maybe that family was the ‘darn near Amish’ one, in which case you are thumping on the Amish and they aren’t going to change for anyone, homeschool or no homeschool.

  12. Anita c says:

    Interesting article. I had some very strong opinions about homeschoolers based on those that I had come in contact with in my position working in public school. Which is why I was one of the people’s at surprised when I found myself making the decision to homeschool my own children. There are probably as many reasons for choosing to homeschool as there are people who make that choice. By the same token, there are probably Many different levels of success at doing so. I could give you a long list of reasons why we made the choice and could talk for hours about our successes and failures, but I can sum up the experience by saying that I do not regret one minute of time I spent with my children doing it. It’s axing how walking a mile in someone’s shoes will broaden your perspective. I have to say, while there where your socially awkward people in our homeschool communities, ( have you been involved in a cross section of a typical public school families? Really?). I really have never been involved in a group of more supportive, creative, conscientious, kid focused group of people in my life. I still work in a public school and my youngest daughter has chosen to return to public school. I work with some pretty amazing people as well and for all its faults, the things that we are able to accomplish at school with these children, in spite of what their backgrounds may be is truly amazing. And if anyone outside the school ever had the chance to peek behind the scenes, you would be truly in awe.

  13. Super Dave says:

    I see the upside and the downside to home schooling. I think kids need to feel equal as with other kids, in this I mean all sharing close to the same learning experiences. But that isn’t always possible. I just hope those parents who do home school teach do so with open minds and expose their children to all aspects of an education and not just to the ones they think they should learn.

  14. rww says:

    I was going to comment on this story then I realized Harley would think I was a loser for being home at 10pm on a friday night.

  15. harley says:

    our mind. Even hearnes site has problems.
    But I think this is an interesting article by paully and he did a really
    good job.
    If he’d keep to writing nice stuff like this and not try to be
    attacking all the time maybe he could get a full ti me job as
    a journalist.
    This story is really interesting and I never knew that home schooling
    was so popular. I think it works. Maybe the 3 wasteful school districts
    in joco should get some lessons from people like pauls wife and
    others. Adapt some of those good things to public education.
    I’ve seen and heard whats happening at blue valley schools
    and its absolutely terrible. Heroin is being used (shot up…bought in
    the inner city)…kids using pain patch remnants get high (3 deaths
    in one year in the district)….thethings that go on there are
    horrid. Maybe those parents with all those resources and money should
    find a way to home school all those kids involved. It may save their
    anyway…I enjoyed this article and comments…keep itv up paul.
    you have some realtalent when it comes to writing some good stories.

  16. harley says:

    paul…a formeremployee of mine home schooled all 5 of his kids. They were
    incredibly smart/sociable/just so sharp. 3 have gone onto the top colleges
    in the nation. This stuff about socialbility I think is b.s…if the parents
    make sure to include that in the kids life.
    but paul…I’ve always wondered …have any of the public figures/nationally
    prominent people/scinetists/the leaders in the country…who was
    home schooled…anyone we’d recognize.
    I get into conversations and the others say that all of them were
    products of public school and that home schooling really doesn’t
    produce the results that they claim
    you have any names/stats/etc on this because I have seen
    some great kids who were home schooled and they are
    really doing well in the world.

    • Rene Price says:

      I am reading “Creating Innovators”. Using the case studies included in that book (if not just common sense by itself) one could argue compellingly that the innovators we look up to are mostly not products of public or private school educated, even if they attended one. They go, but that is not where they learn. In fact, they often become successful despite their ‘formal’ education, not because of it. Fortunate are the young who have parents and mentors who have encouraged them to be self-directed and support them in their pursuits. Success seems to be, very frequiently, the product of micro cultures that are nearly the opposite of our school systems.

      Your comment raises the question – How successful do you have to be to be considered a successful example of home schooling? I wrote recommendation letters to universities this year for a brilliant young woman, entirely home schooled, who is entering a pre-med program at a very well respected school and on scholarship no less. Her goal is to become a doctor and serve in impoverished places around the world. You will probably never know her name. Does someone have to be Bill Gates to be considered a shining example of what home schooling can do for the student and the communities they thrive in as adults?

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Rene, some people measure “success” through their own, off base paradigm. Success comes in many forms, the least of which is net worth, but that the only way some people see it. I know suicidally unhappy mega millionaires and people insanely happy with life while having little.
        Here’s a partial list of home schooled or non public schooled people who we all know their names.

        · Richard Basseti – Governor of DE
        · William Blount – U.S. Senator
        · George Clymer – U.S. Representative
        · William Few – U.S. Senator
        · Benjamin Franklin
        · William Houston – Lawyer
        · William S. Johnson
        · William Livingston – Governor of NJ
        · James Madison – 4th U.S. President
        · George Mason – Justice of VA
        · John Francis Mercer – U.S. Rep.
        · Charles Pickney III – Governor of SC
        · John Rutledge – Chief Justice
        · Richard D. Spaight – Governor of NC
        · George Washington
        · John Witherspoon
        · George Wythe – Justice of VA

        · John Adams

        · John Quincy Adams

        · Grover Cleveland

        · James Garfield

        · William Henry Harrison

        · Andrew Jackson

        · Thomas Jefferson

        · Abraham Lincoln

        · James Madison

        · Franklin Delano Roosevelt

        · Theodore Roosevelt

        · John Tyler

        · George Washington

        · Woodrow Wilson


        · Konrad Adenauer

        · Henry Fountain Ashurst

        · William Jennings Bryan

        · Winston Churchill

        · Henry Clay

        · Pierre du Pont

        · Benjamin Franklin

        · Alexander Hamilton

        · Patrick Henry

        · William Penn

        · Daniel Webster

        Military Leaders

        · Alexander the Great – Greek Ruler

        · John Barry – Senior Navy Officer

        · Stonewall Jackson – Civil War General

        · John Paul Jones – Father of the American Navy

        · Robert E. Lee – Civil War General

        · Douglas MacArthur – U.S. General

        · George Patton – U.S. General

        · Matthew Perry – naval officer who opened up trade with Japan

        · John Pershing – U.S. General

        · David Dixon Porter – Civil War Admiral

        U.S. Supreme Court Judges

        · John Jay

        · John Marshall

        · John Rutledge

        · Sandra Day O’Connor


        · George Washington Carver

        · Pierre Curie

        · Albert Einstein

        · Michael Faraday – electrochemist

        · Oliver Heaviside – physicist and electromagnetism researcher

        · T.H. Huxley

        · Blaise Pascal

        · Booker T. Washington

        · Erik Demaine – Popular Science Mag: One of the Most Brilliant Scientists in America


        · William Blake

        · John Singleton Copley

        · Claude Monet

        · Grandma Moses

        · Charles Peale

        · Leonardo da Vinci

        · Andrew Wyeth

        · Jamie Wyeth

        Religious Leaders

        · Joan of Arc

        · William Carey

        · Jonathan Edwards

        · Philipp Melancthon

        · Dwight L. Moody

        · John Newton

        · John Owen

        · Hudson Taylor

        · John & Charles Wesley

        · Brigham Young


        · Alexander Graham Bell – invented the telephone

        · John Moses Browning – firearms inventor and designer

        · Peter Cooper – invented skyscraper, built first U.S. commercial locomotive

        · Thomas Edison – invented the stock ticker, mimeograph, phonograph, and perfected the electric light bulb

        · Benjamin Franklin – invented the lightning rod

        · Elias Howe – invented sewing machine

        · William Lear – airplane creator

        · Cyrus McCormick – invented grain reaper

        · Guglielmo Marconi – developed radio

        · Eli Whitney – invented the cotton gin

        · Sir Frank Whittle – invented turbo jet engine

        · Orville and Wilbur Wright – built the first successful airplane


        · Irving Berlin

        · Anton Bruckner

        · Noel Coward

        · Felix Mendelssohn

        · Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

        · Francis Poulenc

        · John Philip Sousa


        · Hans Christian Anderson

        · Margaret Atwood

        · Pearl S. Buck

        · William F. Buckley, Jr.

        · Willa Cather

        · Agatha Christie

        · Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

        · Charles Dickens

        · Robert Frost – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

        · Charlotte Perkins Gilman

        · Alex Haley

        · Brett Harte

        · L. Ron Hubbard

        · C.S. Lewis

        · Amy Lowell

        · Gabriela Mistral

        · Sean O’Casey

        · Christopher Paolini – author of #1 NY Times bestseller, Eragon

        · Isabel Paterson

        · Beatrix Potter – author of the beloved Peter Rabbit Tales

        · Carl Sandburg

        · George Bernard Shaw

        · Mattie J. T. Stepanek – 11-year-old author of Heartsongs

        · Mercy Warren

        · Phillis Wheatley

        · Walt Whitman

        · Laura Ingalls Wilder


        · Amos Bronson Alcott – innovative teacher, father of Louisa May Alcott

        · Catharine Beecher – co-founder of the Hartford Female Seminary

        · Jill Ker Conway – first woman president of Smith College

        · Timothy Dwight – President of Yale University

        · William Samuel Johnson – President of Columbia College

        · Horace Mann – “Father of the American Common School”

        · Charlotte Mason – Founder of Charlotte Mason College of Education

        · Fred Terman – President of Stanford University

        · Frank Vandiver – President of Texas A&M University

        · Booker T. Washington – Founder of Tuskegee Institute

        · John Witherspoon – President of Princeton University

        Performing Artists

        · Louis Armstrong – king of jazz

        · Charlie Chaplin – actor

        · Whoopi Goldberg – actress

        · Hanson – sibling singing group

        · Jennifer Love Hewitt – actress

        · Yehudi Menuhin – child prodigy violinist

        · Moffatts – Canadian version of Hanson

        · Frankie Muniz – child actor

        · LeAnne Rimes – teen-prodigy country music singer

        · Barlow Girl – Alyssa, Rebecca, and Lauren Contemporary Christian Music

        · Jonas Brothers – Kevin, Joe, and Nick Performers

        · Jacob Clemente – Broadway Actor

        Business Entrepreneurs

        · Andrew Carnegie – wealthy steel industrialist

        · Amadeo Giannini – Bank of America’s founder

        · Horace Greeley – New York Tribune founder

        · Soichiro Honda – creator of the Honda automobile company

        · Peter Kindersley – book illustrator and publisher

        · Ray Kroc – founder of McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain

        · Jimmy Lai – newspaper publisher; founder of Giordano International

        · Dr. Orison Swett Marden – founder, Success magazine

        · Adolph Ochs – New York Times founder

        · Joseph Pulitzer – newspaper publisher; established Pulitzer Prize

        · Colonel Harland Sanders – started Kentucky Fried Chicken

        · Dave Thomas – founder of the Wendy’s restaurant chain

        · Mariah Witcher – founder of Mariahs Famous Cookies

        · Daniel Mills – founder of Salem Ridge Press


        · Abigail Adams – Wife of John Adams; mother of John Quincy Adams

        · Ansel Adams – Photographer

        · Susan B. Anthony – reformer and women’s rights leader

        · John James Audubon – ornithologist and artist

        · Clara Barton – Started the Red Cross

        · Elizabeth Blackwell – first woman in the U.S. to receive a medical degree

        · John Burroughs – Naturalist

        · George Rogers Clark – Explorer

        · Davy Crockett – frontiersman

        · Eric Hoffer – social philosopher

        · Sam Houston – lawyer; first president of the Republic of Texas

        · Charles Evans Hughes – jurist; Chief Justice

        · Mary D. Leakey – fossil hunter; wife of Richard Leakey

        · Tamara McKinney – World Cup Skier

        · Harriet Martineau – first woman sociologist

        · Margaret Mead – cultural anthropologist

        · John Stuart Mill – Free-market Economist

        · Charles Louis Montesquieu – Philosopher

        · John Muir – naturalist

        · Florence Nightingale – Nurse

        · Thomas Paine – political writer during the American Revolution

        · Bill Ridell – Newspaperman

        · Will Rogers – Humorist

        · Bertrand Russell – Logician

        · Jim Ryan – World Runner

        · Albert Schweitzer – Physician

        · Sir Ernest Shackleton – Explorer

        · Herbert Spencer – philosopher, sociologist

        · Gloria Steinem – founder and long-time editor of Ms. magazine

        · Jason Taylor – plays in the National Football League

        · Mary Walker – Civil War physician; recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor

        · Lester Frank Ward – “Father of American Sociology”

        · Martha Washington – wife of George Washington

        · Frances E. C. Willard – educator, temperance leader, and suffragist

        · Frank Lloyd Wright – Architect

        · Elijah ben Solomon Zalman – Jewish scholar

        · Balaram Stack – Award winning Surfer

        · Lia Del Priore – Award Winning Gymnast

        · Taylor Gladstone – Ballerina

        Famous Homeschool Parents

        Will Smith – singer, actor

        · Michael Card – singer, songwriter

        · Mike Farris – lawyer and co-founder of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

        · Robert Frost – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

        · Christopher Klicka – attorney and Senior Counsel of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

        · Len Munsil – attorney and President of The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP)

        · Paul Overstreet – musician, songwriter

        · Kelly Preston – actress, wife of John Travolta

        · Mike Smith – lawyer and co-founder of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)

        · John Travolta – actor, pilot

        · Lisa Whelchel – former actress, “The Facts of Life”, now a pastor’s wife and author

        · Darrell Waltrip – NASCAR Racer

  17. Snappietom says:

    Would like to point out to all that Paul has almost responded to every comment on this story. In fact, it is almost “chat” like.

  18. Stomper says:

    Paul, Really great topic and I think you did an impressive job of trying to research the issue and present the information without pushing any particular agenda. I’m a relatively new reader and commenter here but what’s amazing is that, as of now you have about 45 posts and they all have stayed at a high level of reasoned input. With about every other posting the level of discourse usually degenerates to insults by 10. That speaks volumes and you have hit a nerve with every committed parent out there.
    Lot of good comments but the truest, most important, and saddest one is yours about how there are lots of parents that have no business being parents. If we could ever correct that problem, well, I’m dreaming.

    I have had two kids go through the SMSD and almost have the second through college. Since my oldest hit kindergarten I have stayed active with PTA, Scouts, Youth Sports, etc. I also served on committees with Karl Kravitz at SM West before we also lost him. You’re correct, he is a gem. I have a lot more questions than answers on the subject but in my mind, there is nothing more important than the development of our young people. As I’ve revealed in other postings, I’m one that believes there are certain areas of our society that are so critical, so basic , that they require the attention of all of us. Just too important to let it sit unattended. I won’t go so far as to say the federal government needs to control our educational system but it causes me great concern that a kid in Utah can graduate high school at a high level while a kid in Mississippi graduates high school, unable to form a sentence. I strongly believe that schools need to be controlled locally by the parents and I agree that home-schooling can be a an answer but there has to be some level that we must demand for every child. It’s a topic that we better put at the top of our list of priorities and our national discourse.

    Anyway, great topic. Impressed that Hearne had the wisdom to hand it off to you to write about.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Hey, Stomper, thanks so much for your comments. With regard to the 45 comments, don’t put a lot of credit in the number. Each time someone comments I get an immediate notification. If its a topic I care about I tend to reply, explore and discus, so the comment numbers are normally exaggerated by my replies.
      With regard to degeneration of comments, that happens way too often and it’s normally attributed to one problem child on KCC. What’s more sad, on the rare occurance he actually is civil, he offsets that by rushing to another local blog and saying vile things about the author and story he just complimented!
      That’s why I’ve just stopped responding to him, positive or negative. You can’t argue where there’s such a large side order of pathology! He’s like that attention starved child, good attention or bad, he just wants the attention and it honestly sucks the life out of a good story and quality comments.

      Congrats on being one of those stellar parents.

      Agree totally on Karl. Great man.

      Don’t be a stranger, we need more intelligent readers and comments, it’s a wheat and chaff thing, you know?

      • Stomper says:

        Thanks Paul.

        With the volume and scope of the comments above, we are all basically same the same thing. Are the parents all in ? I know parents that I would totally trust to educate, socialize, and develop into solid, contributing adults, their own children; I know parents that I might trust to open a jar of peanut butter: and sadly, I know parents that I don’t even trust with their own children.

        On a side note, knowing Hearne since LBJ was in office, I completely understand that any relationship with him is very high maintenance. We all appreciate you taking one for the team !!!

        • paulwilsonkc says:

          Stomper, I’m not sure high maintenance covers it! Chelle will walk in the room when I’m on the phone with him and say, “Honey, are you talking to your boyfriend AGAIN…? Would you like some privacy? I can stay in the other room, if you like….”
          Since LBJ? I’ll say a prayer. Please stay around, help me out.

  19. bubba says:

    Good story. The results of home schooled kids scoring in the 80’s in everything doesn’t surprise me. Most people home school do so because they are engaged in their child’s well being and therefore they are going to be engaged in the education. If one had a child in the KCMO district home schooling would be the only way to go. Trouble is that school in these type of districts has become babysitting for a population that has troubles ranging from drug use to trying to make a living at low paying soul grinding jobs.

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