absurd anti-homeschooling piece - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For those of you who may not have seen this, there is an article that was published in a scholarly journal out of University of Maryland called "The Harms of Homeschooling" by a Georgetown Law professor named Robin West.

I responded to her article and am now exchanging emails with her about the "harm" her article and the larger research project it is part of could needlessly do to home educators. Her account of the history of American home education is woefully inaccurate and she uses blatantly nasty, outdated stereotypes to attempt to justify heavy regulation.

I've posted the link to the article (or you can just Google it yourself) and my continuing dialog with her on my blog, if anyone would like to read the original piece and our ongoing conversation. My blog is 100% non-commmercial and ad free. I'm only attempting to open the door for other home educators to contact Ms. West and inform her that this sort of vitriolic garbage will not go unnoticed by those she is supposedly studying, writing about and passing judgement on.

Crunchy Mama to the Triad of Chaos-- DD1 (9/03) & the Twinadoes- DS and DD2 (6/06)
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#2 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 08:47 PM
 
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Tammy Takahashi forwarded your post to a list I'm on, and I loved it. Thank you for taking the time to be so thorough.

I didn't make it through much of the original article-- her offensive protrayal of who homeschoolers are, and why we homeschool was ruining my Christmas spirit, and so I'm putting off reading it until after Christmas. I skimmed it quickly, though. I wish she provided sources for each of her assertions about the homeschool community (as opposed to merely listing sources at the end). I don't know how she can ethically make so many assertions about a community that generally won't participate in social research studies.

I'm not terribly religious, but I find it offensive that she uses "homeschoolers don't share my values" as a reason to treat us as likely child abusers. Whatever happened to the liberal idea of accepting all religions as legitimate?

Thanks again for doing such a great job debunking this article. Have you considered writing a letter to the journal in which her article was published? Given that she based her article on poor research, they ought to publish information that sheds new light on the topic. At least I think they ought to, I'm not sure how these things actually work.
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#3 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 08:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
Thanks again for doing such a great job debunking this article. Have you considered writing a letter to the journal in which her article was published? Given that she based her article on poor research, they ought to publish information that sheds new light on the topic. At least I think they ought to, I'm not sure how these things actually work.
I agree. Your blog reply is, by itself, a much better written, informative and "academic" discussion of the issues raised by the article. You could easily turn this into a rebuttal article.

Thanks so much for posting this!!
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#4 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 10:08 PM
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So, are citations not considered necessary in law? I'm used to seeing claims like the ones she makes followed by citations in academic literature, but she only had a short bibliography at the end. Some of the things she says are outright false, and others conflate two groups (such as homeschooling parents and authoritarian parents) with no evidence that there's any kind of significant overlap.

In my academic field, a piece like this would be blasted.... nice rebuttal!

 
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#5 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know! Can you believe she is a law PROFESSOR???? It's absurd, to say the least. I have friends who are attorneys and they always have to cite the cases they are pulling precident from when making an argument or writing a brief. There's really no excuse for this article. The cases she does cite are woefully irrelevant to her argument.

In my dialog with her, she makes a retraction for the specific claims I refute her over, but then continues to hold fast to whatever else she claims until I directly address it with her.

I am planning on consolidating my dialog with her for publication. I have sent a letter to the editor of the UMD journal, but I'm not holding my breath for a response there for two reasons. One-- she use to teach there, so no wonder they gave her space in the journal. Two-- they are in the middle of a change in editors and I have no doubt things will get lost in the shuffle.

Thanks for all your lovely words about my writing. I appreciate all of it!

Crunchy Mama to the Triad of Chaos-- DD1 (9/03) & the Twinadoes- DS and DD2 (6/06)
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#6 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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I didn't read the article, but I found your debunking article to be very engaging.

Our children make a study of us in a way no one else ever will.  If we don't act according to our values, they will know.~Starhawk Rainbow.gif  New  User Agreement! http://www.mothering.com/community/wiki/user-agreement

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#7 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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I was completely bewildered when I saw Ms. West's credentials. Apparently it's just fine to throw whatever out there and let the chips fall where they may. I just get angry when I know that there are uninformed people out there that will believe what Ms. West says only because it's a published article of this journal.

Thank you, 1sttimemommytoLore, for going tete a tete with Ms. West.

Laura - Mom to ds (10) and dd (7) "Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life." Brian Andreas.

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#8 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 11:49 PM
 
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That article is flipping offensive! I'm shocked that it was published. I was so put off that I didn't read every word but a couple parts jumped out at me. One was in the beginning where she says something that boils down to homeschooling for reasons other than religion is for homesteaders, celebrities, and circus performers, my family are none of those but yet we still homeschool. The numerous parts about abuse and vaccines were over the top as well. The vast majority of homeschoolers are not trying to hide anything and just want their kids to have the best education and childhood possible. Those same parents have often researched vaccines enough to not want them for their children. Didn't she research enough to know that school attendance does not equal vaccination since there are exemptions? I'm guessing not since the article was more opinion than anything and the bibliography left much to be desired. I wonder.... if she had been homeschooled maybe she would know about only using facts in academic writing.... oopes, I spaced there for a second. Back to the article. Near the end she says something along the lines of homeschooled kids needing home visits so the home can be inspected and the child can receive college counseling. I went to public school and no one ever inspected my home or offered much college counseling. There were 300 college bound kids in my graduating class and one counseler (sp?) who had other things to do as well. My 'college planning session' was less than 10 minutes and didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. It was my PARENTS who helped me plan for college. Why does she assume that parents are inept and have no way of teaching their children or helping them plan for the future without a professional to guide them?
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#9 of 14 Old 12-22-2009, 11:53 PM
 
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Love your retort! Thanks for pointing this out.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#10 of 14 Old 12-23-2009, 12:07 AM
 
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My law school had several of these law journals, as do most all law schools. These are entirely student-run affairs, and the responsibility for review of the articles falls to the board of that journal. This means checking both HOW the author cited sources and WHAT sources the author cited. At my school, this was no joke, and no article would be accepted for publication that did not have legitimate citations to other sources. That does not appear to be the case here. Law journals run the gamut from well-edited and sourced publications, cited to with respect by lawyers and judges all the way to sensationalist and unprofessional pap that is just meant to fill up the page. Obviously, this is the latter.

For those interested in following up with refuting the article, it might make sense to send some of the criticisms to the board of the law journal.
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#11 of 14 Old 12-23-2009, 12:46 PM
 
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I think the most disturbing part of the article is that a law professor is apparently unfamiliar with the 10th Amendment.
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#12 of 14 Old 12-23-2009, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It wasn't a law journal, but the journal of the Philosophy and Public Policy Institute at University of Maryland. I am in the process of tracking down contact info for the editor and do plan on contacting her.

Some more background info on Ms. West. I believe she taught at UMD which would possibly explain why they agreed to publish her article. Also, she studied with Rob Reich at Stanford (who has, himself, entered the conversation on Milton Gaither's Homeschool Research Notes blog that I linked to in my second post) who is well known for criticizing home education and pushing for heavy regulation. Given her relationship with him, her stance is even less surprising.

I do not like seeing this sort of stuff surface out of a professor from a major university with what is going on in the UK at the same time. She's been a bit dodgy about her "larger project" but the crux of it is that she wants to advocate for increased regulation across the board. I think this is where she is coming from and she's just fishing for reasons to back it up, however far fetched they may be.

Oh-- and she has no understanding of the Fourth Amendment either IMHO.

Crunchy Mama to the Triad of Chaos-- DD1 (9/03) & the Twinadoes- DS and DD2 (6/06)
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#13 of 14 Old 12-23-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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Great links -- thanks for including us!
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#14 of 14 Old 12-23-2009, 07:52 PM
 
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I couldn't help busting a gut laughing after I read the sentence: The main point of my essay is ----. Didn't they tell her in elementary school that you don't start a paper with My story is about ----?

I can't believe she has the degrees that she has and writes so poorly.

I enjoyed reading your blog and Gaither's. You both dealt with her factual errors nicely.
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