Answer: The short answer is, No. At least not in the sense of a movement that is organized. I think many people believe a movement isn’t a real movement until there are some non-profits involved, hiring lobbyists to give the movement ‘a voice’ in Washington. That’s not a movement. A movement is something where a huge number of people end up doing the same thing without the need for mailing lists, newsletters, calling trees and fundraising campaigns.
IF we are using the later term, then yes, I am part of the homeschooling movement. And I got into it by simply not forcing my kids to attend their local public school.
I didn’t get involved in the “movement” so much, as I just decided to become an involved parent. We decided to be involved in the raising AND education of our children. We decided early on that one of us was going to stay home when we had children, and as it turned out, I was self-employed in a business that was not conducive to a steady income and my wife was. Choice made.
While the kids were growing up, I used my skills to develop a web based and user-group based homeschooling network http://www.ihen.org. I also joined a few other, like-minded parents to found http://www.indianahomeschoolers.com. For about a decade now, we’ve supported, helped, networked with other parents who need help with their homeschooling. We’ve (collectively) answered literally thousands of questions and pointed thousands of people in the right directions, finding co-ops, internet resources, hard resources (like museums, libraries, etc.) and generally Helped Hoosiers Homeschool. In fact, that’s our motto: Helping Hoosiers Homeschool since the turn of the century.
Are we a movement? Nah. We’re a project. A work in progress. We aren’t so much a “movement” as we are a simple networking hub for information and ideas about alternatives to public, state schooling.
So, am I a part of the movement? I suppose so. But it’s not like I have a fancy placard on the wall making it official.
Now… What About Those Other People?
The end of your question reflects a condition I like to refer to as: TOPS (Those Other People Syndrome).
If I can encourage you to think outside of the box a little, I would like for you to think deeply about your last two sentences.
You say you experienced a lot of positive things. Were those experiences more positive than you might have experienced with a public school? If so, then isn’t that the entire point of having the freedom to choose the educational paths for your family? You did great! Kids are great! Life is good!
But you say it’s unfortunate that (in your opinion) there were some parents who weren’t doing a good job homeschooling their own kids.
First… so what? Does the fact that (in your opinion) some people don’t do such a good job, impugn the entire enterprise? (I ask that because there are a surprising number of people who believe that a few bad apples should indite the entire barrel.)
Here is where I would like for everyone to do a little deeper thinking: If that is the case — bad homeschoolers make homeschooling an undesirable lifestyle for everyone — then what are we to do with other failing things? What about failing government schools? Bad teachers? Uninvolved and neglectful parents? Are not they just as, if not more, influential and destructive to the lives of children?
And what about those parents who are just plain bad? They send their kids to public schools because it’s convenient to not have to care for your own children 24/7, they don’t have to take responsibility for the kids’ education — and it’s free. The State Schools teach the kids next to nothing in a values-free vacuum, because they believe that kids that don’t learn things just don’t have involved parents. The kids don’t get any instruction at home, so in essence, we have millions of kids being raised by government schools adopting Lord of the Flies philosophies and nurtured by the media culture. The kids are screwed until they can leave home and make a mess of their lives all on their own.
It’s at this point where we can easily tell which young adults were homeschooled and which went to public institutions. And I can say without doubt that the worst homeschooler I’ve met has never been worse than the best public schooler I’ve met. See, I don’t judge the parents; I judge the fruit (once it has matured.)
Are the bad parents doing a good job? Can we more easily point to those families on the street and say, “I’m worried about the way they’re raising their kids.” Sure we can.
But we don’t. Do we. So why the scrutiny on homeschoolers… who are most likely sitting quietly in a library, reading or researching or doing something relatively useful with their lives, with some involved guidance from their parents?
Homeschoolers are easy targets because they’re not doing things the way the rest of the Sheeple do, and that makes the Sheeple nervous.
The point is: at the end of the day, there isn’t much we can do about how people raise and educate their children, can we? We can’t conduct junk food raids on the homes of fat parents with fat kids (yet) and we can’t conduct “educational neglect” raids on the homes of homeschooling families (mostly because most public schools are doing much worse at that teaching thing.)
Fact is: Homeschooling families are always “suspect” and under suspicion for somehow harming their own children by doing something so out of the ordinary as RAISING THEM. Why is that? Please think about it a bit.
If there is one thing, dear reader, you come away with after reading this post, I hope you begin believing that it’s more important to watch out for the people who are REALLY affecting, abusing, indoctrinating our children and stop worrying about how parents — you’ve seen or heard about — are raising and educating their children. Here’s another motto I’ve used for years:
All Parents are Educators. What are you teaching YOUR children?
And THAT is what I do. I help people make progress and think for themselves and stop worrying about Those Other People by busting a few myths. If this is something you call a “movement” — to that I say, “Whatever. I’m in.”