Homeschooling mom, Crystal Ashby, spotted a highly unfavorable article in her local newspaper, The Osceola Sentinel-Tribune. It called for some fairly drastic measures, including legislation mandating home inspection visits for all homeschooling families.
What did this homeschooling mom do?
She sat down, typed up a letter of response, and sent it to the newspaper.
Below, you'll find the complete version, although she had to cut it down significantly before the newspaper would consider printing it.
In response to the February 21 homeschool article, I would like to present some actual facts about homeschooling.
To begin with, homeschooling is not a risk factor in child abuse.
In 2013, the U.S. Congress established the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF). This commission was charged with the task of analyzing child abuse on a national scale and developing effective responses.
After 2 years of intense research, a 168-page final report document was created.
Homeschooling is not listed as a risk factor for child abuse anywhere in this exhaustive report.
At the time of the deaths of the children mentioned in the Sentinel's article, wasn't it widely reported that the girls had been in public school and that concerns for their safety had been reported to the Department of Human Services? Why does this keep getting turned into a homeschool issue, when, in fact, it was a failure to act on the part of DHS?
Please let me share my heart and the hearts of fellow homeschoolers I know.
We school at home because we enjoy being with our kids. I am not a public school opponent. I don't fault anyone for using the public school system.
I choose to school my kids at home because I genuinely enjoy being with them. I love the conversation, the interaction, and the impromptu dance parties when a great song comes on the radio. I love that family interaction is prioritized over sitting at a desk.
Why am I being lumped in with child abusers and criminalized because of this?
Some of the bills introduced in this legislative session targeting homeschoolers actually call for home visits to families who choose to homeschool.
You may be saying to yourself that this makes sense because, after all, how do we even know a homeschooled child exists? My response is to ask how we know that any child under mandatory attendance age (6 years) exists – or children above mandatory attendance age (16 years).
Does every parent of every child of every age think it would be okay for a government official to enter their house, examine every room, and interrogate their children without them present?
Is this really the world we want to live in?
How many news articles have we all read detailing abuse by public school coaches, teachers, and various administrators and staff members? Should every public school employee be punished or intensely monitored because of these few?
Perhaps every citizen of our state should be subjected to home visits by state officials.
If you think these suggestions are outrageous, then let me tell you that, as a homeschooling mother, I am outraged at being criminalized simply because I enjoy being with my children.
When I was in public school myself, I was taught that the job of a journalist was to report facts without bias.
Shame on the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune for not being unbiased!
You publish a newspaper in a small community with a rather large homeschooling population. In that article, you cited opinions of selected sources outside our community which 'applauded’ the attack on homeschoolers.
Why did you not seek out those of us who could give you an actual picture of our school days and home life?
You don't see the planning, the time, the money, the worry, and the love that we put into our days, and you didn't bother to seek it out before attacking us.
This is exactly the sort of reporting that is causing many people to distrust the media.
I urge anyone reading this, if you have questions, please seek out a homeschooler.
We are not hiding in our homes abusing our children, nor are we hiding in our homes attempting to 'protect' our children from the outside world.
We are at the same local sporting events, grocery stores, doctor offices, libraries, churches, playgrounds, and, oftentimes, the same school buildings where you are.
Ask us your questions, and we will be frank with our answers.
If you are a parent reading this, ask yourself if you believe there is anyone who loves your child more than you do. Do you think we homeschoolers are different? No, we are not. We want the best for our children, just the same as you do.
For general information about homeschooling in Iowa you can visit the Homeschool Iowa website. And many of you probably already know Krista, our Homeschool Iowa Regional Representative. You can find her at the library in Osceola.
Please, before you judge us,
learn more about who we really are.
Printed with permission of the author, Crystal Ashby.