Dec 12 2007
06:10 am

The plaintiffs claim the only way to protect their child from Christian proselytizing at the school was to withdraw him from Lakewood and school him at home.

Isn't it usually the other way around?

Kay Brooks's picture

Homeschooling for religious reasons

You need to get out and meet some more homeschoolers. We're a very diverse community now days. The reason MOST homeschoolers begin their journey is because they've lost faith in the public school system's ability to meet their child's educational needs. Public school protectionist would like people to believe it's about religion and not their performance.

Andy Axel's picture

Key words: lost

Key words: lost faith.

(link...) "Our team of visionary curriculum specialists, educators and technologists has developed an Christian online home school program that harnesses technology to do what many families have attempted to do alone. "

(link...) "No matter what we're going through in life, if God has called us to homeschool, He will give us the grace, wisdom and strength!"

(link...) "Listen December 22 to hear Jim Bob and Steve address the importance of the father's role in home education. (What? You mean homeschooling isn't just a mom thing?) Listen as they share a biblical vision of rebuilding a Christian culture through godly families led by godly fathers."

(link...) "Barb Shelton offers advice to Christian parents who are frustrated either with their children's school situation or with burnout with their curriculum choice."

(link...) "Sonlight has been serving the Christian homeschooling curriculum audience since 1990. Sonlight’s four- or five-day per week complete curriculum packages enable you to…"

(link...) "Christian Homeschool Community is an online community of families who desire to serve the Lord. Some are in the process of homeschooling, others are grandparents and others are just considering home education as an option."

These were just from the first page on Google - Results 1 - 10 of about 902,000 for homeschooling christian.

Meet Kay Brooks:

The Metro Council voted her into office by the slimmest of margins, 18-17, despite the fact that she possesses few, if any, qualifications normally associated with running a billion-dollar corporation, which is what the Metro school system is.

Brooks doesn’t even have a college degree, let alone a post-graduate degree. She’s a stay-at-home mother who home-schooled her four children—not the strongest endorsement for public education. She’s been married to somebody named Jon Brooks for 20 years and she’s a “good Christian mother,” according to Craddock’s endorsement to the council.


With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

SammySkull's picture

Key words: lost faith Okay,

Key words: lost faith

Okay, so we latch onto one word and discredit the entire rest of the statement? And the Nashville Scene is all you could come up with about Kay? Andy, you could have just clicked her name in the message above and found out more about what Kay does than the alternative newsweekly you linked to.

Kay is right, that we are a diverse group now, and if the truth be told, the original families that started homeschooling were not doing so for religious reasons but were being forced to step in and rescue their children from institutions that were just not interested in helping their children.

The loudest voices seldom speak for the whole, and that's where homeschooling is today. The face of homeschooling you seem to see most often is that fundamentalist, young earth creationist, quiver full type, and it's just easier to assume all homeschoolers are like that. Maybe you just haven't met my family.

tgirsch's picture

Homeschooling For Religious Reasons

OK, all you non-Christian homeschoolers, raise your hands...

(As it turns out, there are Jewish and even secular home schoolers, but I suspect they make up just a tiny fraction of the tiny fraction that home schools...)

Mello's picture

Two hands raised..........

Two hands raised.......... and I, as a liberal, pro-public education, non-Christian homeschooling parent have many friends in the greater Knox County area who are just like us. We don't ask for much, so you simply don't know we are out here raising happy and successful kids.

tgirsch's picture

Re: Two hands raised


I'd be curious to know what your reasons are.

Mello's picture

Long story short

It is not what the reasons are, rather it is what the reasons were. It was what was best for the boys. That is all that matters in the long run. Younger kidlet is in '11th' grade carrying a full college load. Mission Accomplished.

I never suggest this path for anyone. The reasons families make the choice to homeschool or send their kids to private schools or use the public school option are as varied as why people pick any given church. All them churches gots religion, but which is best for you?

R. Neal's picture

Note the headline:

Note the headline: Homeschooling for "religious reasons". Then note the irony of the story.

Anyway, I've only ever known one family of homeschoolers personally (well, two now counting Mello). Their motivations had nothing to do with religion or lack thereof in schools. There are lots of valid reasons to homeschool.

But anyone with a lick of common sense has to know that many homeschoolers are all about the lack of religion in schools (sorry to stereotype, because there are plenty of exceptions as noted, but just check Andy's links).

That's what I found ironic about this story.

WhitesCreek's picture

One thing I note about this

One thing I note about this whole discussion is that not one bit of data is provided either way. I don't plan to change that much but I did note this interesting bit of info:

The Bob Jones University (BJU) Press Testing and Evaluation Service is the largest and oldest of four organizations providing home school families access to standardized achievement tests.

Bob Jones U...Really? And looking at the acheivement score of homeschooled kids they are quite high compared to the general population, only they aren't the general population. There's no comparative data to show how these kids would have performed in Public school. A couple of things are alluded to though...They are great spellers and memorizers and not so good at critical thinking. This is not universal and may, once again, be related to the demographics of who gets home schooled rather than any fault of the scenario.

(I kept mine in public school and just talked with them and helped with homework a lot. They seem to have good social skills, diverse friends, and one is one track for Magna Cum Laude. The other is a scholarship athlete on the dean's list. Purely anecdotal and of no value to the discussion, except for bragging rights. We homeschooled in the afternoons and weekends on canoing, kayaking, camping, and social activism.)

Pam Strickland's picture

I think you've hit on

I think you've hit on something here. For most of the last 8 of the last 10 years I've taught freshman English at either a four-year college or a community college. The two years that I didn't, I taught high school journalism at an Episcopal high school.

Almost to a kid, the ones who did best -- thought critically and had curiosity and flexibility -- where the ones who had a strong parental support, but not helicopter parents, and were acquainted with a cross section of the world, not just everyone just like them.

In my current work, with students who score low on the ACT and need remedial work before going on, there is a very large proponent of conservative religious background, so that even if they weren't homeschooled they have a narrow view of the world. The exceptions are kids who were bored in school because they didn't see a connection between what they were doing and what they were interested in re the real world.

Interestingly, I'm in the midst of end of the semester grading right now. This semester I had a homeschooled girl take two of my classes as part of her curriculum. One was college reading, the other a study skills course. The 16-year-old regularly was in the top 5 percent in both classes in large part because she was a proactive student, not a reactive one.


Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

rocketsquirrel's picture

if more of Knox County

if more of Knox County Schools were accredited by SACS, maybe less people would pull their kids out. Maybe that's more important than religion. Good to see, though, that Dogwood, Copper Ridge, Gap Creek, Inskip, Rocky Hill, and Karns elementary schools, among others, FINALLY got 2007.

That's just a sad commentary on the priorities of our school system and our County government. Comparatively, West High was accredited in 1951. Good to know these schools followed, only 56 years later.

What happened in between?

Mello's picture

I wish my son would have had

I wish my son would have had you for a teacher Pam. At 16 the kid did incredibly well on the ACT but his um, whatever English 101 thingy teacher was not a Vonnegut fan. :-)

Our biggest problem is simply that the kidlets had planned on attending UC Santa Cruz or Cal Poly, which sadly won't happen. Pelli and UT here they come.

Pam Strickland's picture

I have a former student at

I have a former student at UC Santa Barbara. She wanted to go to Standford, but didn't make it and was determined to go to California. Santa Cruz is great.

The thing is there are very good teachers at both P-zippy and UT. The problem at the community colleges is that you've got a mandatory five-course load fora semester and in the writing classes -- especially freshman comp and the developmental classes -- they make the classes too big and the teachers are just plain worn out. They can't give everything to there students that they need, and sometimes even want. Or, they have adjuncts who are the most underpaid people in the academic world, and then they are trying to make up for it by doing other work or adjuncting at other places -- I've known adjuncts to teach eight courses on three campuses. It's insane.

At UT, they only have to have an interesting cross section of folks teaching freshman comp. The one thing they have done which is actually forward thinking is that Comp is no longer based on literature. Instead it's rhetoric based, which actually helps the students when they are writing in their field of study. And, they have some great people teaching it.


Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Small classes at UT

“The problem at the community colleges is that the writing classes -- especially freshman comp and the developmental classes -- they make the classes too big. At UT, they only have to have an interesting cross section of folks teaching freshman comp.”

It was over thirty years ago that I took freshman comp at UT, but I landed in an honors section with just 12 or so kids in our class. More often than not, we met outside the McClung Tower, under a tree. Another honors English colloquium, of probably fewer than 12, met inside the Tower, sprawled on sofas in our professor’s office. These settings and others equally relaxed were grand venues so far as this former freshman was concerned, and I dearly loved my classes from the start.

A couple of years back, though, I was alarmed to learn that my daughter’s high school honors English class had 28 enrolled! I phoned the number for UT’s honors program, to recount my experience there years ago and to ask if the classes were still as small (and nomadic). I was told yes, that classroom size averaged about 15 students in the program.

(Once my daughter was a high school sophomore and taking her first AP classes, though, I noticed they do run about 15 to a class, at least at her high school. She reports that it's because about half the students enrolled in the honors/AP program as frosh are gone, now that they're all juniors...)

But I’m veering way off topic. Just meant to suggest, Mello, that depending on where your kids land at UT, they may yet receive that close attention of the sort you gave them. Carry on.

Mello's picture

How do I say this

How do I say this without appearing to insult anyone? We have no complaints and nothing but praise for Pelli. Certainly the pre-calc class which dwindled down to a very small handful of students would never be considered overcrowded. I said I wished the kidlet could have had Pam as a teacher because I am at least somewhat familiar with her perspectives from her writings on here.

The vast majority of students in the kidlet's E-1010 class came in with a shared experience via high school. They had read the same books while in high school. Those books are not the same books which influenced my kid so he has an entirely different perspective and that shows in his writings. He went in thinking he would get a chance to discuss everyone from Edward Abbey to KV. That did not happen but they did talk about Toby Keith a great deal.

As I said, I don't ever suggest to anyone that they should homeschool and I most certainly would not say don't do it. We have lived in 5 states in the past 11 years and this afforded us the opportunity for the kids to have accumulated friends and experiences with great cultural diversity. This first semester at Pelli has shown that we as parents have failed in one aspect of raisin' the kids. Somehow, some way, our open minded and rather liberal philosophy created a couple of kids who are rather bigoted against southern white men. Go figure.....

Pam Strickland's picture

I can assure you that Toby

I can assure you that Toby Keith's name has never come up in any of my classes.

However, I did use the Dixie Chicks once in how to deal with a title because the name of the CD and the song are the same, and I was trying to distinguish how to treat titles of different types of things.

And, Tamara, is right that at UT the honors program is good. And, my guess, is that even regular Comp is 20-22. It's the community colleges that go with larger numbers.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Carole Borges's picture

The medieval adjunct teacher scam...

Most universities have fewer and fewer regular staff and more and more adjuncts. Don't even get me started. I was an adjunct for years. REALLY bad pay. You can't even survive without teaching 4 classes. More than that, and you ought to be in a mental institution.

Most universities and colleges have a rule that adjuncts can only teach 2 classes. That's to keep from having to pay them well or give any medical benefits. So most adjuncts drive between two schools, using up time and gas, to just make a bare living wage. My students were making more at Papa Gino's.

I quit being an adjunct because I felt I could no longer be a part of such an archaic system. It was originally designed for housewives, retired people, or experts with other income who enjoyed teaching. I forget what the figures are but many, many schools only hire a few full time teachers with adjuncts making up the rest of the staff.

I loved teaching. My classes were packed, but I hated the adjunct role. The universities I worked for really liked me, but they only had a few full time or tenure positions and they were filled by teachers who weren't leaving. When a professor died or moved away, the waiting list of adjuncts who had been teaching at that school for years and deserved to be hired first was usually lengthly. Parents and self-paying students keep seeing tuiton rise, but that's seldom reflected in instructor pay.

Many of the adjuncts I worked with were spectacular teachers. Some far better than the tenured old toads who had long forgotten what it was like to have enthusiasm for the subjects they taught. It's a hard slog for adjuncts. I admire their desire to teach, but abhor their treatment.

It is heartening to know that as a group adjunct professors are beginning to understand how critical they are to the university system. They are beginning to stand up for themselves.

The whole system as my granddaughter would say: SUCKS BIG TIME.

Pam Strickland's picture

That's great. It's happening

That's great. It's happening more and more across the country, but given the labor attitudes in Tennessee, it could be a while. I'm friends with the union guy with Campus Workers United at UT and I know there are discussions about doing work with the community colleges and other educational institutions in ET. Fingers crossed.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

pan's picture

We're -considering-

We're -considering- homeschooling our son, at least for the first few grades. Not for religious reasons but for educational.

My wife has many cousins out in California who were homeschooled (also not for religious reasons) and who've turned out incredibly well, including one award-winning filmmaker who is now 19 years old ((link...)).

smalc's picture

We're considering it as

We're considering it as well. Not for religious reasons either. My wife is a certified teacher. She's currently of the mind that if she is going to be at home, she might as well school the kids. We have a couple of years yet to decide.

Shannon's picture

When I was in high school

When I was in high school and college I dated a guy from a homeschool family for about four years. I got to know them and the other homeschoolers in the association with which they were involved. I can say for certain that the difference between successful homeschool families and iffy ones is intent. The guy's mother homeschooled her kids because she could give them a better education at home. She did not do it to hide her children from the rest of society, which was the case with so many other homeschoolers I met. Her kids were hooked into their peer groups through outside activities like Boy and Girl Scouts, karate, soccer and more, while other families were getting all their outside social interaction from church.

That really made the difference for her kids. They worked better in society and made a better transition to college than the "hiding" homeschoolers. It's important to realize that school isn't just about academic learning. It's about learning to socialize, learning to work and live with people who are different from you, learning to adapt to changing situations. If you do homeschool, please get your kids involved in outside activities. It really is the key.

Bird_dog's picture

Lots of reasons to homeschool

My friends who did delivered an education without wasted admin time and BS in the government schools. Simply takes less time out of the day, leaving time for music, art, sports. There is quite a large homeschool population in Knoxville who meet regularly for group activities. The kids are not isolated in any way. I was very impressed with the maturity of their kids.

WhitesCreek's picture

It's funny that we turned

It's funny that we turned this thread into the merits and demerits of homeschooling when it was originally about protecting one's children from a school system that allows other people to push their religion on them without the parent's permission.

The "Praying Parents" should be renamed th "Preying Parents." They were claiming their religious rights were being infringed, when in fact they were the infringers. We have no right to proselytize our religious views on other's children without their permission.

Irony is an illusive thing sometimes.

egalia's picture

Raising My Hand

Religious homeschoolers get all the press, but there have always been many of us who homeschooled for other reasons, including a basic disagreement with the 'read and regurgitate' philosophy of education.

Homeschooling or unschooling was a great experience for my family; my kids are closer because of it. Some years the kids went to public school, many years they did not. John Holt's unschooling network was a big help; we networked with liberal homeschoolers in Knoxville and all over the state. It's not for everyone, but for my family, it was a wonderful experience.

local_yokel's picture

Homeschooler here!

We do not homeschool for religious reasons.

The strength in homeschooling lies in the ability to customize your curriculum to the kids' learning style and interests. I have 2 very different kids and I use completely different methods and curriculum for each. So far, our test scores are out the wazoo - post high school level for our fifth grader, and many homeschooling friends achieving the same or better results. Lots of the high schoolers wind up earning dual credits at community colleges, as I think many public school kids do.

I don't think it is what it might have used to be, judging from the funny looks people give me when I say I homeschool. There are stay-home dads taking on the home education while the mom works, and there are many, many former public school teachers (several who moonlight at Pellissippi teaching college-level courses). Homeschoolers are rich and poor and everything in between. I know lots of folks who homeschool their ONE kid, and quite a number who homeschool four, five, and even eight kids.

I think people assume homeschoolers don't get out enough or are "over-sheltered," but really, that just isn't the case. Even the very fundamentalist ones I know are very busy - and not just with church. There are clubs, weekly classes, lessons, field trips, socials, teams, bees, contests, field days - you name it - for homeschooled kids and parents to be involved in. My family spends a lot of time on the road, and lots of time with other kids. We also have the flexibility to take the children on lots of trips, to expose them to many cultures. This has been a priority for us.

Here's an interesting tidbit for you, though. The state offers 3 ways to homeschool. Option 1 is to sign up with the Local Education Association. The others both require specifically a "church-related" school. Parents without a 4-year college degree cannot homeschool without the aid of a church-related school. So you might say that non-religious, or atheist parents wishing to homeschool are discriminated against in the state of Tennessee. At least the ones who didn't get a degree.

Pamela Treacy's picture

Student Teacher Ratio

It seems you can't beat a low student teacher ratio to produce extraordinary results. If we fought to have our school system lower the number of students per class, could all the students benefit from a better education?

Some of us are not gifted, talented or have the patience to home school our children.

Pam Strickland's picture

I'd all but guarantee it. I

I'd all but guarantee it. I know there's a different in my classes when they are small and when they are bursting at the seams. A really good size for the courses I teach is 14-17. The official cut-off is 25. This semester two of them had 28 enrolled.


Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

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