A Unique Perspective from a Homeschool Dad
Homeschooling a Hot Trend Says the Front Page of USA Today
Give Our Children the Same Choice as Sotomayor
By Wayne Allyn Root, 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee
Friday's USA Today newspaper front page featured a story on a hot trend in education: Homeschooling. As a father of four homeschooled children and the first homeschool dad in
modern political history on a Presidential ticket, I believe I am in a unique position to champion this trend. In 2008 I was the Libertarian Party´s vice presidential nominee. It is my goal to be the Libertarian Presidential candidate in 2012 and a major plank in my platform is the support of school choice, parental freedom and more competition for our failing public schools. In my new book, "The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling & Tax Cuts!" I describe how school choice and homeschooling can turn around America´s failing education system.
The USA Today article reported that Americans who homeschool are predominately white, wealthy and religious. That may be the demographic makeup of most homeschool parents, but that certainly isn't why we choose homeschooling. We do it because it is effective. Plain and simple, it works! Like all homeschool parents, my wife Debra and I want to provide our children with the best. Unlike the current political bureaucracy and liberal education establishment, I believe it is vitally important for government to give that same opportunity to every child.
Education is perhaps the most important economic issue of our time. Our children are the future of America and the U.S. economy. And like virtually every political, economic, or social issue in this country, freedom is the answer to creating a better future. The freedom to live the American Dream is all about getting a good education. And getting a good education is all about parents having the freedom (and tax dollars) to choose the best education for their children. Once again, the Libertarian solution is freedom, choice and competition.
School choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate borrowed that line but sadly, on the campaign trail, only gave it lip service. Even more sadly, like most Democrats who can afford it, President Obama is a total hypocrite on the issue. He sends his two children to the best and most expensive private school that money can buy (the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC), but opposes vouchers and therefore, school choice for those who can´t afford it. Obama condemns minority children in D.C. to an inferior education compared to his precious daughters Sasha and Malia.
The reason, of course is pure politics. The powerful education lobby gives Obama and other politicians millions of dollars in order to convince them to turn their back on America's youth. This acceptance of “Judas Gold” condemns generation after generation of American children
to a failed education. As an example, in Washington D.C. the drop out rate among minority children is 50%, as it is in urban school districts across the country. I wonder what the dropout rate is at Sidwell Friends School? A poor education condemns these minority kids to a lifetime of failure and futility- something Sasha and Malia will never have to worry about.
Regardless of what the politicians and education establishment try to tell you – the solution is not difficult. It is called choice- school choice for all parents! It's funny how liberals don't fight or protest for that kind of choice.
It is not government's job (or right) to limit educational choices or opportunities for our children. It is not the government's right to take our tax monies (primarily property taxes) and then limit our right to use our share for whatever educational choice a parent deems best for their child. That is the very definition of taxation without representation. The choice of the best education for any child belongs solely with that child's parents. To be blunt, the federal
government has no right to be in the education business- education is never mentioned in the Constitution. Education was intended to be funded and run at the state and local level by our Founding Fathers.
Here's the message that politicians need to hear loudly and clearly- it doesn't take a village or a federal government bureaucrat to raise a child- it takes a mother and father who care.
My wife Debra and I have chosen homeschooling as the best choice of education for our children. That doesn't mean that I want to force homeschooling down everyone's throat, nor anyone's throat for that matter. Homeschooling is simply one educational choice that every parent should consider. Choice is an integral part of any free society.
Parents obviously agree. Government does not. A recent poll in my home state of Nevada proves that parents are crying out for education reform. Nevada parents were asked, if they could afford it, where would they choose to send their children to be educated- public, private, parochial, charter or home-school? 89% of Nevada parents choose alternative forms of education other than public school. Yes, I said 89 percent. Liberal government bureaucrats and teachers union leaders must be worried sick about those poll results and, no wonder, home-schooling is appealing and growing across the USA.
To illustrate the remarkable talent, creativity, and intelligence of home-school children, I offer Exhibit A: my 17-year-old daughter Dakota Root. She is beautiful; well mannered; disciplined; articulate and poised way beyond her years; treats adults with respect; maintains a straight A+ average in her studies; scores in the 99th percentile of every national test she takes; devours as many as a dozen books a month (because she wants to, not because she has to); has achieved a black belt in martial arts; and is a world-class fencer who has participated in
Junior Olympics, Fencing Nationals, and World Cup events internationally. And at the ripe old age of 16, she gave my nomination speech for President of the United States in front of a packed convention hall of Libertarian Party delegates from across the country, and broadcast live on national television on C-Span. I invite you to watch her speech. Please keep in mind that you are watching 16 year old give a political speech on national television:
Or for a media photo/feature about Dakota, go to:
I will admit that when my wife, Debra, first suggested home-schooling for Dakota, I was skeptical. Skeptical, but unlike government bureaucrats, I was not willing to limit choice. I kept an open mind and agreed with Debra to give it a try. After all these years, I can now report that it has been the best choice we've ever made. At the age of 17, Dakota can out-talk, out-think, and out-debate most every college student and adult that I know. The result is a young lady mature far beyond her years. Home-schooling has made the difference.
As I write this commentary, Dakota just received her S.A.T. (college entrance exam) scores. She not only scored at the very top percentile of students across the country, but scored perfect 800 scores in both writing and reading.
So now we come to the most important part of the story. Why are alternative education and home-school success stories like Dakota's not covered by the mainstream media? The media rarely covers homeschooling at all. When they do, the stories tend to take a negative slant. Why does the media bend over backward to smear homeschooling? Why, like the California judge who recently tried to criminalize it, do close-minded bigots want to outlaw homeschooling?
Is it possible that the success of alternative education threatens the liberal establishment? Is it possible that a positive story like Dakota Root threatens the funding of teachers unions? Is it possible that teachers unions believe that if more U.S. citizens are exposed to the success of home-schooling, parents might be emboldened to take their children out of failing public schools? Perhaps the media isn't looking very hard for proof that home-schooling works. Perhaps they're afraid that stating the truth would hurt their liberal friends in the education union. Perhaps they're going out of their way to distort the picture.
And, it's not just homeschooling that is ignored and maligned by the media, it is any alternative to failing public schools. A good example right now is Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. We hear much about Ms. Sotomayor being a true American success story- the child of immigrant parents raised in a housing project in the South Bronx. The one detail, of course, that is ignored by the media is that a major reason she was able to succeed was that she attended Catholic school. Studies prove that minority students in Catholic schools often fare far better in testing than minorities at public schools. Shouldn't all children have the same opportunity as Ms. Sotomayor? Without her mother's sacrifice and ability to choose, Ms. Sotomayor would very likely be just another unknown victim of the failed public school system.
Please understand that my support of school choice is not an attack on teachers. The world is full of good, honest, caring, bright, passionate teachers. All of my daughter Dakota's homeschool tutors are retired public school teachers (from New York). The problem is not the teachers- it's the teachers union and the overpaid bureaucrats (who never pick up a book, erase a blackboard, or teach a lesson). The same union mentality that fatally damaged the American auto business, has failed our children.
The well-known failures of our public school system have nothing to do with a lack of money. If money was the answer, Washington D.C. (which spends the most money per student in the USA) would be a huge success story. It is not. The fact is that Catholic schools and private schools across the USA spend far less, and pay their teachers far less, yet they produce far superior results to public schools. Public education is the only profession where the more they fail, the more money we give them. And, we have shuffled it to them in bucketfuls. It is insanity- throwing good money after bad- especially, when the solution is so simple: freedom, choice, and competition. Dissolve the Department of Education; start offering competition and choice (with school vouchers) to parents; and start firing poorly performing teachers- then watch public schools dramatically improve.
Home-schooling and the personal attention it offers has certainly brought out the best in my daughter Dakota. Her life is not about the silly things typical teenagers devote their lives to- shopping, gossiping, sleeping, drinking, smoking, drugs, watching American Idol, and so on. She is a disciplined, mature young woman whose life is dedicated to achievement, success, and the acquisition of knowledge- not the kind defined by “state certified” teachers, but rather the kind defined by her free-thinking mind.
Dakota has narrowed her college choices to the Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Penn; as well as Stanford, Duke and Northwestern. She is quite an exceptional and hopeful example of the future of our great country. She makes her father very proud. And I'll bet she can run rings around close-minded bigots, like the California judge who recently tried to criminalize home-schooling without ever meeting a diverse cross section of home-schooled students. I suggest unleashing Dakota Root on the U.S. Supreme Court (if that's where the home-schooling debate winds up). I guarantee soon thereafter that home-schooling will be the law of the land!
I hope that telling Dakota's story might do some good for other thoughtful, caring parents considering educational alternatives to public school. Homeschooling is no longer an isolated fringe idea, but rather a popular mainstream trend. In the end the answer to why homeschooling works is pretty simple: a vast, faceless bureaucracy can never teach a child more effectively than his or her own parents.
The solution to the educational crisis must be increasing parental freedom; expanding educational choices; moving education spending to the state level; offering parents school vouchers; firing poorly performing teachers; and encouraging competition to the current public school system. In the end it's clear that a village doesn't raise a child. But even worse than a village is the damage done by a teachers union. It's a terrible thing to destroy Detroit, or an automaker like GM. But it's a mortal sin to destroy a precious child's future.
Wayne Allyn Root was the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate. His new book will be released by John Wiley & Sons this July entitled, “The Conscience of a Libertarian: Empowering the Citizen Revolution with God, Guns, Gambling & Tax Cuts!” The book is available for pre-sale at Amazon.com. For more of Wayne's views, commentaries, or to watch his many media interviews, please visit his web site at: www.ROOTforAmerica.com