First Lady Admits “Prejudice” Against Home Schooling
On September 5, 1990, Barbara Bush verbalized strong reservations about the concept of home schooling in response to a caller during an ABC American Agenda special radio interview hosted by Peter Jennings. The topic of discussion was literacy, and the First Lady shared a multitude of suggestions for attacking this prevalent problem in American society.
Mrs. Bush reinforced the fact that parents are very important teachers in the process of motivating children to read. She emphasized that it was in the home that the importance of reading should be modeled through reading to children, valuing books, and simply expecting children to excel in this crucial skill. “Imitative learning is natural to human beings,” and who better to imitate than parents who care!
Then a strange contradiction occurred. Toward the end of the program Chris from Columbus, Ohio called: “Hi, Mrs. Bush. I'm really pleased to talk with you, too. You're a great role model for us stay-at-home moms in this day and age when it's not that popular. I'd like to know your comment—You said earlier that it is up to the parents to resolve the problem and I agree totally with that—I wondered what your opinion was on the new trend in home schooling and why some states make it rather difficult to use that as an option for our children.”
Mrs. Bush hesitated and stammered briefly before replying, “Well, I really haven't delved too much into that, but my own sort of automatic reaction would be that part of school is interacting with other people other than your own family—that's part of growing up and it's part of responsibility—I think the parents have the responsibility to make sure the schools are good, and I think for your own child's benefit to make them active, giving citizens, they should be in the public school or private school with other children.”
Chris hastened to reassure Mrs. Bush that home schoolers do care about the socialization needs of their children: “Right. We would, of course, take care, you know, to see that they were involved with social interaction with other children, too.&rdquo
Mrs. Bush settled the matter, “Well, I just prefer the schools. I sent my own children to public and to private schools depending upon the problem the child had or what the school was like. I worked in the school system, both public and private, and I'm just a little prejudiced that way. I think it made them healthy, strong, wonderful children. I would highly recommend you do that, too.”
We have no problem with Mrs. Bush sharing her positive experience in training her children in the context of the traditional classroom, but we are very concerned that she does not seem to know much about the successes of home schooling. It appears from her comments that she believes the only place to learn to be well-rounded, healthy, strong citizens is in the schools. The dictionary defines prejudice as “a judgment or opinion formed before the facts are known; a preconceived idea, favorable or, more usually, unfavorable.”
Negative comments about home schooling coming from the First Lady (especially in light of her commitment to literacy) have the potential of causing unwarranted damage to our movement. Thus, we are strongly recommending that parents have their children write Mrs. Bush to share the joys of their experiences in home schooling and their love of learning at home. The impact of the “proof of the pudding” from the nation's home-schooling children would have a far reaching effect, perhaps even going further than persuasive letters from parents which deal with philosophy and defense of viability.
CALLING ALL HOME SCHOOL STUDENTS!
Let's help Mrs. Bush learn about the thousands of “healthy, strong, wonderful children” who are becoming “active, giving citizens” by sending her letters from you! Tell her about your activities and particularly about your love of learning and reading along with reports of your interaction with others. Proof-read your letters and copy them in your best penmanship. Address your letter to:
Mrs. Barbara Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20006
If you can do it, send us a photocopy of your letter. We would love to see how you help our first lady turn her prejudice against home schooling into a vote of confidence. Write your letter today!