A better education at home

Most parents who choose home schooling aren’t motivated by religious reasons, points out Diana West in Opinion Journal. They think they can do a better job of teaching their children. West explains why she rejected the “excellently rated, wealthy and very white public elementary school” her daughters attended in Montgomery County, Md.

Thanksgiving, as described in a holiday assignment to read “multicultural stories of family and immigration,” became “a time when families get together to celebrate their traditions and their heritage.” It was the “their-ness” of the formulation — as opposed to the “our-ness” of the holiday — that could make any happy thanks-giver choke on the stuffing. Defining the holiday as an occasion for families to celebrate “their” separate traditions and “their” separate heritage gives the day of national thanksgiving an unmistakable international-night-at-the-community-center flavor.

Which was typical of the way the school framed all subjects, cropping anything universal for a clear shot at the ethnic label. Book reports for young readers, only just delving into decent chapter-books, were pegged to race or gender –never writerly merit or imagination — in such assignments as “Hispanic book month.” (This fourth-grade assignment, not incidentally, revealed the slimness of identifiably “Hispanic” pickings. Most were insipid books from Mattel’s American Girl doll company about Josefina, a child in 19th-century New Mexico.)

One daughter’s big fourth-grade history project was to portray Tiger Woods in a “living wax museum” that the class created to mark Black History Month. (A handout went home prohibiting face paint and wigs in the children’s costumes.)

In a 1999 Education Department survey, nearly half of home-schooling parents cited “a better education” as their primary motivation; 38.4 percent cited religious reasons.

About Joanne


  1. Simply pathetic. (Public schools, I mean.)

    Zum beispiel, is Tiger really Black? Does he consider himself black? Does the US Govt consider him black or Asian or other in the US Census?

    His father is black, his mother is Asian and his wife is white. Will these same educators call Tiger’s children black or will they have some “other” category for them. Hey, why not just call them Americans or humans?

    Just pathetic.

    Home schooling is the only way to avoid such idiocy.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    Montgomery schools are not overwhelming white or elite:

    Montgomery county schools are:
    African American: 22.1%
    American Indian: 0.3%
    Asian American: 14.3%
    Hispanic: 18.7%
    White: 44.6%

    The school systems has been sliding for years. The elite whites in montgomery county send their kids to private schools just like the Gore’s and Clinton’s did with their kids while living in DC.

  3. A 1999 study on the motivations of homeschool parents might be very outdated. Plus, those motivations may be combined (to some religious parents, a good education has to have religion in it–I’m an atheist, and I think my children need to know about religion to be well educated).

    And Tiger Woods called himself “Cablinasian” or something. I think it was Caribbean, Black, Asian, and maybe some others mixed in there. But he doesn’t mind being the first Black guy to win the Masters even if Veejay Singh is darker.

  4. John from OK says:

    How is Tiger Woods part of Black “history”? Is his dominance really over?

  5. Tiger Woods calls himself “Cablinasian” because he’s a mix of Caucasian, black, (American) Indian and Asian.

  6. superdestroyer says:

    Tiger is more Thai than anything (is there anything dumber than lumping groups like the Japanese, Chinese, and Korean into a single “ethnic” group when they think of themselves separately and generally have not historically gotten along) and if in Hawaii, Tiger would be called Hopa which means mixed.

  7. Superdestroyer:
    Montgomery county is mixed, but several individual elementary schools in Bethesda and Poolesville are overwhelmingly white, and the middle and high schools they feed are pretty ok, by public standards. Most cities have a few decent public schools in rich neighborhoods.

    Having attended both elite private and low-level state universities, I can state with confidence that the primary difference was the intellectual quality and ambition of the students, not the pedagogical ability of the faculty. I suspect it is similar with “good” and “bad” public schools. It feeds back on itself – everyone wants to teach at the “good” schools, so the “good” teachers end up there, but if we put all the good teachers in bad schools and bad teachers in good schools, it wouldn’t make much difference.

    The distinction in public schools, in my view, is by class. Rich folks got rich by valuing education and accomplishment, so they value the education and accomplishment of their kids. Poor folks, not so much.

  8. rvman said: “Rich folks got rich by valuing education and accomplishment, so they value the education and accomplishment of their kids. Poor folks, not so much.”

    That is a truth that many people do not want to hear. They’d rather believe that it is some ‘outside, evil’ influence that keeps the majority of poor people poor.

    I grew up in the lower-middle class. Neither of my parents went to college; my dad dropped out of high school 2 weeks before graduation and never got his diploma. The difference between me and all of my friends and cousins with the same economic situation is simple: my parents valued education and knowledge, and expected my brother and I to do the same. Although they were not college grads, they were both extremely well-read; in addition, they were also always INTERESTED in learning new things. They shared that love of learning with us, and it had a lifelong effect. In addition, we knew they believed in us, and believed that we could achieve whatever we wanted, provided we were willing to work at it. It might take us longer or be significantly harder than for others, but we could do it. That attitude has served me well throughout my life.

    My friends mostly didn’t have those kinds of parents. They generally had no ambition, and no interest in bettering themselves. They saw learning as something frightening or threatening, especially where it made them somehow ‘stand out’ from their peers. Most of my cousins were raised with the same attitudes.

    The same differences have carried through to our lives now, 40+ years later. They’re nearly all still in the same economic situation, facing the same problems as their parents. My brother and I have achieved both material success and intellectual/emotional/spiritual satisfaction that seems to be missing from the lives of former friends and family, at least to listen to them talk. There is also a great deal of resentment and jealousy against us, purely for our success. They all seem to take great pleasure in finding ways to disparage or belittle us, to the point that we generally have nothing to do with them any more.

    Unlike a large portion of blacks and hispanics, who seem to value family and friends at the expense of education and intellectual development, we have gone the other way. In retrospect, it is a price I would willingly pay again and again, for the richness of my life is worth far more to me than the relationship with supposed friends and family who seem to resent anyone who is successful. True friendsa and caring family would rejoince for your happiness and success, rather than attempt to tear you down because they’re not willing to work to acomplish the same.


  1. exvigilare says:

    Joanne Jacobs

    is having the same type of Google madness that I’m having. She’s next on the Google search mentioned earlier. Out of curiousity, I went for a visit and found this post about university graduation rates. Very interesting. (In all fairness,…