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A blog about my life, universe, etc. At any given time you might find something endlessly interesting or just me ruminating on something else, which no one (not even myself) finds interesting. That's the way blogs go, I suppose. Anyway, I was eleventh in line, and you weren't. Hah!

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Columbus, OH
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Temp @ JPMorgan Chase
Ohio State University
Political Science, International Studies
High School: Home Educated
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My mom is a
lawyer in Pickerington; my stepdad and dad are computer guys, and my stepmom (who works with my dad) is an engineer. My sisters are, in order of age, a photographer, an artist, and a person too young to have her own website. My brothers are, in order of age, living up north, and again, a person too young to have a website. At some point soon I'll be collecting links for my aunts, uncle, and cousins. ^_^

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My Novel: Cipere Lumen

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Home Education and Screedish Reporting  
I sent the following to the editors of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Hat tip: Homeschool and Other Education Stuff.

I was homeschooled for 11th and 12th grade in the Bucyrus City Schools district, which is right by Galion's. We were in the Naugatuck (CT) schools area for two years before that, and the Auborn Hills (MI) area for the year before that. What utter rubbish, is what I have to say about claims that less than 13% of Galion's homeschoolers are educating their children in this manner for "the right reasons." It is even more apparent as to what class of rubbish that this is (namely, self-serving, finger-pointing, "please please don't look at how utterly disastrous public education in Crawford County is" rubbish) when you actually go and see what homeschooling and public education are like in these actual districts. That kind of rubbish which your anti-homeschooling screed of an article series is, alas, defies the possibliity of a civilized name, but I'm working on it, and will keep you posted if necessary.

To you, the newspaper reporters, and the academic researchers you talked with: Spend a week going to all the homeschool activity meetings at the Bucyrus library. Visit with the girl scout troops where a third of the girls homeschool. Walk down our old street -- our next-door neighbors homeschooled their boys at the same time my sisters and I were there, and were doing a fabulous job. Meanwhile, Bucyrus high school had exactly ONE AP course (English) during my senior year, and when I was asked to go take the 9th grade proficiency test (they were going to see if I could get a diploma from Bucyrus High), most of the kids in the high school auditorium who took it with me, were taking one or more sections for the third, fourth, or fifth time. They were seniors, like me, only they'd been taking that test every six months since the end of ninth grade. Honestly. Visit the high schools and the middle schools and the elementary schools, and go to a PTA meeting or three. Talk to me then about how misguided and undersupervised the homeschoolers are.

I received a 1380 on the SAT, and 29 on the ACT, and was accepted as a direct enrollment student in Ohio State's Engineering Honors program (I was the only female Computer Engineering student so admitted that term). I doubt very much that I am all that unusual, especially seeing as how my sisters are also performing at above-average levels, and so are the majority of the actual homeschooling students I know. How many actual homeschoolers do you know? How many have the reporters who wrote this entire series actually met, and spoken to? How many of the children have you seen, and had an intelligent conversation with? Moreover, seriously, how much scrutiny have you given to the parents and teachers and students associated with the public schools in Ohio and elsewhere? Have you made a serious effort to determine how well they're really doing, and whether they get their textbooks and standardized exams (which, incidentally, are the only sort of exams that Bob Jones provides -- SAT 9 and the like, the good old-fashioned normed tests you're probably very familiar with) from a source you feel you'd be able to hang out with and have something to say to? Dare I say that you are uncomfortable with the idea that people would want to get their educational materials from an overtly religious institution, and rather than say that, you're relying on an entirely irrelevant but far more scandalous-sounding point: some people have accused them of racism!!!

Speaking of racism, I find it interesting that National Merit Scholars and honors students and spelling bee winners are hardly indicative of any kind of a trend, but one racist child is a clear indication that homeschoolers are dangerously sheltered and without proper perspective. Actual students admitted to specific universities are a nifty anomaly, but unsubstantiated claims by schools -- many of which have extremely prejudicial admissions policies for homeschoolers (Notre Dame wanted five $100 SAT-II subject exams with my application, in addition to my SAT-I score and the application fee, and all the other things they require of everyone -- I chose not to apply) -- that homeschoolers are "underrepresented" (what does that mean, precisely; do they mean that the total proportion of their class that claims to have been homeschooled has gone down, and have they accounted for students whose parents did things like form "private schools" for just their own children?), is a sign that homeschoolers aren't very accompished.

I won't go into statistical validity, and I won't go into basic principles of liberty, and I won't even mention (beyond this one time, and only in passing) the rather sordid history of public schooling in this country. I will take a moment to remind you, the Akron Beacon-Journal, that for most of its first 100 years, this country was run by homeschooled kids. We didn't call it back then -- we said that Lincoln was only able to go to school for a year, and that he had to read out of law books to become a lawyer. We noted that John Adams went to Harvard at 12, and never mind what his parents taught him before that (or what he and Abigail Adams taught their sons and daughters, in their home). We obsess about accountability now in large part because there is such abundant and plentiful failure. Show me the homeschooled children who are neglected and maltreated and given over to minimally academic pursuits, and I will say "give them a standardized test, and allow them to prove that things aren't what they seem -- or counsel them to change their methods." Show me the public schools, and I'll say the same thing. Show me Eton, Polytechnic in California, the Columbus School for Girls, and close to a million highly successful homeschoolers, and I will say "great! more power to them, let's give everyone a tax cut because the government isn't having to do more recovery work thanks to these people who've taken the initiative."

To the superintendents and board of education members, especially those who gave quotes to these articles: Worry about your public school students. That's where the limited stewardship of our government school supervisors actually is: the government schools. If the parents in your area have decided they're not doing a good job, you should look to your own methods and your own standards and your own policies and your own employees, rather than trying to find fault with those parents. Or in other words, don't shoot the messenger.

I said they could quote me and warned them not to mangle my name (it's SARAH PARKER-ALLEN, already -- there's an "h" and a hyphen and both have been sorely neglected by the news media in recent years) or my words. I doubt they'll mangle anything because I doubt they'll quote anything, but at least I got that off my chest.


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