The Divine Name and the Old Testament
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Homeschooling and Manny Rivera

When Mrs Sheepandgoats and I decided to homeschool our 2 kids, 21 years ago, some challenged us. How could we expect to do better than professional educators? they wanted to know. We looked at it differently.

How could we do worse?

To be sure, had we lived in one of the suburbs, we might have been less confident. But we didn't. We lived in the City School District, which last year achieved a graduation rate of 39%. Yet I'm glad we lived there. Not only did our kids' homeschool education surpass what a suburban school would have offered, but they became "streetsmart," and learned to mingle freely with persons of all ages, levels, and cultures.

My daughter carries herself well. At her workplace, a spa that caters to the well-to-do, co-workers ask her where she was raised. "We lived on a side street off Hudson," she says. "Oh...," they murmur in confusion. (Hudson is in a poor area) But then they brighten... the street ends in more upscale Irondequoit. "You mean the part in Irondequoit," they say knowingly. "No," she replies, and leaves them scratching their heads. 

But she would not likely have had such poise had she actually attended the Hudson Ave schools. Superintendent of those schools, Dr. Manny Rivera is just leaving, headed for greener pastures, taking an education job with the Spitzer administration. City! newspaper interviewed him on his tenure with the District. What had he learned?

"I learned that we couldn't do it alone," he says. "It's too big a problem to think we can handle it by ourselves. We needed our college and university partners." Also the "unions." Also the "business community."

We all want "higher performance," he says. "but you have to have systems in place to get there." The trouble is  [when speaking with the mayor] "we didn't get to a strategy for implementation.....If this community can come together and embrace key strategies, Rochester would get the results everybody wants to see."

We need "systems," "our partners," our "key strategies." Not only our key strategies, but we have to "implement" those key strategies, and to do that we need to "come together!" Fine words. How can one not be enthused? Yet the skilled interpreter of Educatese can without difficulty detect the underlying message: don't expect any changes in your lifetime.

Trouble is, this is the same baloney we heard back in 1986 from Rivera's predecessor. Had we entrusted our kids to them back then, I wonder just where they would be today.




Tom Irregardless and Me            No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'


Romulus Crowe

Sounds like the usual 'someone else's fault' mantra so beloved of those in positions of authority.

"We'd like to educate the kids but we can't do it without outside help."

This makes me want to hit someone. Their job, their training, their responsibility is all about education of children. It's what they're paid to do. It's the only thing they're expected to do. If they can't do it, they shouldn't be in the job.

I've seen students who arrive at university unable to spell, and I think 'these are the top students from their class. What on earth are the rest of them like?'

I had many battles with administrators because I refused to pass someone who couldn't even spell the title of their course. These days, it seems spelling is optional. Dr. Johnson must be spinning in his grave.

Surely, if homeschooled kids are getting better grades than those exposed to 'professional' educators then someone, somewhere, must perceive a problem in the system?

No, it's always someone else's fault.

A graduation rate of 39% is diabolical but sadly typical of the world today. The UK government even resorted to paying kids to stay on in school. These kids don't benefit (other than financially). They aren't there to learn, just to pick up the money. So they disrupt those who are genuinely trying to learn.

I think it's time to invent the long-range slap-o-matic.


Peace Tom,
Thanks for sharing your experiences. We live in the suburbs which makes me wonder twice/three times about the decision we have to make. But still, it's about the aims of the public education system (which has never been to actually produce thinkers/intellectuals...)

I decided to take it a year at a time...and see what each year husband is totally on board, which is a siblings and extended family think I am nuts of course.


I'm glad you wrote this, Tom. My girlfriend is a teacher, and the things I hear scare me. Ironically, the "No Child Left Behind" laws are hurting some children. Educators are passing students and not getting them assistance because it will hurt their numbers to do so.

Here's a real life example: My girlfriend had a student who barely knew the alphabet (8th grade class). English is this student's primary language. This student needed extra attention in order to catch up, but because it would hurt the school's numbers (and therefore their funding levels) they simply gave him assignments that he could do and didn't penalize him for not turning in homework. In short, they "dummed down" the class so that their "passing rate" stays in tact.

My point is simply this: we can legislate all we want to, but we are tying the hands of our educators with political maneuvering and legal battles. Their authority is diminishing in the interest of being politically correct.

Unfortunately, we cannot just state that our politicians and educators are "passing the buck." We as a society want to keep blaming people, and not change anything. After all, why should we bother to take an interest in our children's education? American Idol is on tonight...


I'm not entirely sure if the No Child Left Behind Act is not analagous to the bus company enacting a No Passenger Left Behind Act. The driver waits and waits and waits, then sends people to roust the latecomers, who finally show up, and, sure enough, no passenger is left behind! But they're all late for their appointments.

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