At the NCSW yahoogroup and blog, the reader will find a picture of a bridge. The bridge represents to me a bridge of communication that I have been interested in establishing for some time now with those who are involved in public school at home programs. I see homeschool parents at one end of the bridge, and parents whose children are enrolled in home-based public schooling at the other end. I see it as opposite ends because the differences between the two educational options are much like oil and water. Oil and water are both liquids. Yet when mixed, the mixture will soon separate. The reason for this is that the two are chemically distinct. Oil and water can be blended together, but it is an unstable relationship. Although, unstable relationships can be profitable and enjoyable. Salad wouldn’t quite be the same without salad dressing. I envision that through the group we are able to meet in the middle of the bridge together without fear of the bridge being sabotaged by either side.
At NCSW, the goal isn’t unity between two groups of parents to strengthen educational choice. The goal is understanding what polarizes us with our focus on our two different educational options. We want to know answers to questions such as:
- Is homeschooling being negatively impacted by public school at home programs?
- How might homeschool parents and home-based public school parents work together in ways that are beneficial to both of the two educational options?
- Why it is that online homeschool discussions have the tendency to deteriorate when the topic of public school at home arises? What can we do to prevent this from happening?
- Are the two educational options able to comfortably co-exist, side by side?
- What things should we understand are not going to change among the two groups?
- How might our differing perspectives be a stumbling block for communication?
One thing I would like to leave the reader with is Shawna’s experience with a public school at home program. I believe homeschool advocates find it a reason to celebrate when a child is able to get out of failing public schools into something better. However, there are too many experiences of parents like Shawna who are feeling overwhelmed and dismayed with the public school program their children are enrolled in. In such cases, homeschool advocates are quite willing, unapologetically, to point out the reason for their dismay and frustation, and offer a possible, better alternative for that particular family called, independent homeschooling.