Why educate at home?
Heather has spelled her thought process over here.
My decision doesn't focus per se on any quality problems with public education. I've known too many public educators to doubt their dedication and ability across the board. Mine is a little simpler, and can be summed up in one word: Sewage.
As in American Culture, Anno Domini 2006.
The center is not holding. Not by a damn sight. In fact, to continue the military metaphor, our exposed flank has been hit and we are reeling in a retreat that is threatening to turn into a rout.
We can raise our own children. We can instill virtues in them, limit access to the unblinking eye, dress them appropriately, refuse to buy them appalling products available in a bewildering variety and so forth.
But I can't act in loco parentis for everybody else.
Consider, for example, the moral absentee parents who buy their pre-teen daughters pants with "Juicy" stenciled on the rear, or "Bitch" emblazoned on the front (were to God I was making this up). The so-called adults who let their sons blare the gangsta rap from the speakers of the family car.
Most memorable in my mind was the case of the woman living four houses down from us who was arrested a couple of months ago for disorderly conduct on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. During the arrest, she was defended by pre-teen sons who screamed "motherf**ker" at the police. It was like watching an episode of Cops unfold, only without the spiritual uplift.
[The authorities were, not so BTW, far too indulgent of the belligerent offender and should have maced her five minutes earlier.]
Maybe it's just our neighborhood? It's not the brick ranch ideal, to be sure, but we have a local police officer and his family kitty-corner from us, and it is safe to leave stuff unattended in your yard. Not ideal, but far from the worst.
And I'll even go so far as to say that the parents who enable this behavior are not at their roots evil-minded. For some reason, they have lost the ability or the will to make moral judgments or hard/unpopular decisions. Trodding the well-worn path of least resistance, they shrug and give in. Which is the last thing their children need, or, deep down, really want.
But lack of ill-intent does not change the fact that the culture is falling to the lowest common denominator. Peer pressure is a ratchet, and it does not click upwards. I can't send my children into that maelstrom. I won't. As Greg Krehbiel put it, I don't want my kids socialized by kids who have been socialized by the television set.
Yes, I do have concerns about home education: quality, the pressure on us both time and ability-wise (we're both liberal arts to the hilt), loss of positive socialization, etc. But that's outweighed by the fear of losing my kids' hearts and minds. It's not worth the risk.