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May 30, 2005
In Defense Of Home Schooling -- In The Strib?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently hired Katherine Kersten as a featured columnist, a major step for the far-left Twin Cities daily. Long reviled for its outrageous bias and intellectually bankrupt editorials, the Strib has recently attempted to balance itself as more critics discover their shortcomings -- critics with voices of their own, such as Power Line, Shot In The Dark, Fraters Libertas, and other Twin Cities bloggers who regularly point out their inconsistencies. They hired D. J. Tice as an editor a few months back in order to demonstrate fairness in their news reporting, and Kersten now joins the Strib to give better balance to local columnists.

Kersten is no middle-of-the-road commentator, either. She provides some of the driving force behind the Center for the American Experiment, a local conservative, free-market think tank that has grown in stature and influence tremendously since its founding 15 years ago. Kersten lends the Strib real diversity in thought, and her column today on home schooling is a great example. While the media has always treated home schooling as a danger to children, a process that has the potential to churn out undereducated and maladjusted children, Kersten shows that the process works better than public education:

In 1990, the state had about 10,000 home-schoolers; today, there are more than 17,000.

Most of these kids do well academically. Studies show that home-schoolers, as a group, score well above average on standardized achievement tests.

It's not hard to see why home-schooling succeeds. Home-schooling parents, unlike classroom teachers, can focus on exactly what their children need.

They're also free to ignore the shifting and time-consuming educational fashions of the day. (Remember the recently deceased Profile of Learning, with its fuzzy-minded "performance packages"?)

Home-schooling parents can emphasize literary classics over contemporary children's fiction, which generally features a simplistic style and a narrow, adolescent mind-set. They can nurture their children's minds and hearts free from the alienated, heavily conformist youth culture.

Is home-schooling a luxury available only to the well-to-do? Not at all. A study released by the National Center for Educational Statistics in 2001 found that home-schooling families' average income is similar to that of other families. The study also found that 25 percent of home-schoolers are minorities.

Of course, these numbers threaten the public-school monopoly that the state and its unions in which they have such vested interests, and not just for money. The failed programs that Kersten mentions also involve social engineering, some of it less subtle than others. A proposal in front of the legislature at the moment would require three-year-olds that enter the public education system to get psychiatric evaluations to determine what "socioemotional issues" need attention.

Home schooling avoids all of these intrusive, objectionable treatments and processes that turn normal children into lab rats and Ritalin-induced zombies. Kersten homeschooled her own child and discusses others who have done the same, and the support groups and resources available to those who choose this route for their children's education. The cost for this education is around $400 per year -- probably less than one would pay for supplies, fees, and transportation with public schools in a typical year.

Congratulations to Kersten on an auspicious start in her new position -- and at least two cheers for the Strib for listening to their audience and hiring Kersten.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 30, 2005 10:08 AM

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Captain Ed found a positive article on homeschooling in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (registration required). A nice change of pace to hear something positive, especially after I spent the weekend with an anti-homeschooling relative. Oh, and watched ... [Read More]

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From the Katherine Kersten at the Minnesota Star Tribune: When Jessica Nelson of Ham Lake arrived at the University of... [Read More]

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