Surprise, Surprise! Homeschooling Parent Blames the School
Aargh!!! That scream you hear coming out of northern Minnesota is from me after reading Thomas Croom's blog, Homeschooling: It's More Than an Education Alternative. Croom is a conservative blogger who's child (actually his wife's nephew) was expelled from his school. He blames his child's school for the lack of discipline and the teachers for a lack of concern that ultimately led to the boy's expulsion, and he is perfectly willing to generalize about it. He says about his reasons for homeschooling the boy that they "are the culmination of what would happen to any child not properly excised from public school at an early age."
Conservatives do not tend to be fans of public education, and neither do parents of kids who have managed to get themselves expelled, so no one should be surprised by Croom's disdain for public schools. Nevertheless, his tying the experiences of "any child" to the experience of what was obviously a very troubled young man is hard to take. Croom doesn't say exactly what the child he was caring for did to get expelled, but the fact he did separates him from the typical public school student. I can't speak for other states, but I do know that in Minnesota it is almost impossible to get expelled. According to Jay Greene--not exactly a public school advocate--less than two percent are expelled nationally. This alone puts the kid in a very "select" group.
In all my years of teaching, I've never seen a situation resembling the one that Croom describes. Teachers and schools are far from perfect, but any students I've seen who have managed to get themselves expelled or suspended have clearly brought it on themselves. Although Croom acknowledges that his wife's nephew had problems in his "private life," and he even concedes at one point that not every teacher compounded his problems, his piece gives the perception that the young man's problems were mostly the fault of the school system. Maybe they were, but I doubt it.
Most parents are reasonable, but all teachers, who have been at it for awhile, are aware that there are parents of troubled kids out there who can't wait to blame any problems on them. Because of that, we have to spend a ridiculous amount of our time doing things to make sure our backsides are covered when those accusations are made. I don't know how many hours I've spent during my career after school and on weekends making and answering phone calls and emails, and filling out deficiency and discipline slips, because I know that if I don't, that parent will probably be the one who says, "Why didn't you tell me there was a problem?" Maybe Croom is correct about some of his criticisms of the school, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there's another side to this story.