I did something foolish and mildly selfish: I went on the hunt. I was challenged by the homeschooling guide, Kathy Ceceri, called a "critic" of homeschooling as if that were a major interest of mine and then misquoted or misconstrued. She put a link to a blog "What About Me?" that I wrote in response to a "homeschooling graduation" where I ruminated over the meaning of a graduation ceremony for families who withdrew their chidlren from public education, an important public institution with strong democratic roots. I used the word entitled. Evil, evil me.
It's been a while since I've been in a dust-up online. They generate some traffic and they get the adrenaline going. I started back in 1971 when I was the Education Columnist for the Pitt News at the University of Pittsburgh, where I was also the Chair of the Undergraduate Council in the School of Education.
I think what really got under my skin was the fact that Kathy claims to debunk homeschooling myths with anecdotal and unsubstantiated research claims. So, I went to the University of Nevada Las Vegas Library (Lied) and went into ERIC to review the literature and wrote an article with my findings . I was surprised at how little and how old (much of it from the 90's, the hey day of Home Schooling.) Perhaps because of the right's more intense interest in breaking teachers' unions, replacing us with unemployable marketing graduates (Teach for America . . . I'll get hate mail for that) and wholesale for-profit charter schools (ever been the victim of an Edison program?) homeschooling has seemed like a romantic backwater for hippies and the Christian religious fringe. Before you start sending hate mail about making fun of Hippies and Christians, you need to know that in 1972 I had shoulder length hair and in 1985 I had a Master of Divinity from Luther Northwestern Seminary (now Luther Seminary) in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was accused of being sure of myself. It must be all the education (MEd, Westchester University of PA, Post baccalaureate Certificate in Autism, Pennsylvania State University; Reading Specialist, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota.)
But, back to the hunt. It culminated in a group of Academic Research Librarians at UNLV searching data bases with unalloyed glee: I was hunting down the credentials of Dr. Brian D. Ray, PhD, the founder and executive director of the National Homeschooling Research Institute in Salem, Oregon: the state capital and home of the University of Oregon. Dr. Ray's PhD is from Oregon State University in Corvallis. Ranked as 139th as a national university, they are a "selective" University with an acceptance rate of 77.7 percent. Doesn't seem all that picky, though, does it?
Dr. Ray makes a number of claims "based on research" but then charges $50 to get his bibliography. This same "research" is claimed as the basis for several of Kathy's claims. There is no other research to support them. Otherwise, most of her claims are based on anecdotal information, some of it completely in contradition to other research I found: i.e. Diversity: Dr. Ray claims 15% of homeschooled children are from "minorities." The 2010 cencus puts the "minority" (Nonwhite, hispanic) population under one year at 50.4%. Until homeschooled children reach 40 percent or so, it is specious to claim diversity. Homeschoolers presently are mostly white and a large proportion (42%) report that religion and morality are their reasons for homeschooling.
So, Kathy, if experience and anecdote are sufficient to support an argument in this debate then I say, what you site as myths are not myths. They are true! In my experience, homeschooling parents believe themselves to be entitled, they are religious (Ironically, like Dr. Ray, they gravitate to the PCA, the refuge of disgruntled reactionary white people) and would not be qualified to teach in public schools. Their children are as likely to be indulged and rude as they are to be polite. I have known some lovely people who homeschooled their children (my son did 8 years of Suzuki) and some obnoxious, socially maladroit people who homeschooled their children. Oh, and my personal experience also confirms something that didn't make your list: homeschoolers' homes are filthy and chaotic.
I understand that nothing I say or do will change the minds of those who homeschool. I know for About.com it is a valuable audience, since homeschooling parents spend a lot of time online and About.com is paid by advertisers by the page view. But it is evident that homeschoolers are much like Tea Party right wingers: they live in a self reinforcing loop of like minded people who reinforce their own prejudices. They have little regard for hard evidence. But the UNLV research librarians and I had a lovely time sussing out Dr. Ray's self-aggrandizing hype. But the only place where believing in something makes it true is in Peter Pan. So clap, clap, clap for the homeschooling fairies!