Re: Homeschooling and SVS

Dale R. Reed (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 20:56:05 -0800

Scott David Gray wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
> On Tue, 19 Nov 1996, Dale R. Reed wrote:
> > > Would many people choose to home-school instead of
> > > going to an SVS-type school? Why?
> >
> > Cost. I can not imagine spending thousands of dollars a year to have a....
> >..........but in 1996 with all the less expensive alternatives, no way.
> Yes and no. ...... However, we quickly found SVS valuable for its own sake, in its > own way.
> 1) The available resources and materials are worth the tuition for most
> kids.
> a) SVS has very stimulating environment, academically socially and
> physically. There are many more people at SVS than there are in a single
> family. As that number goes up, the number of interesting conversations,
> fun sports, fascinating activities, etc goes up geometrically.

Most homeschooling families do not keep the children home all the time
and none of the have to. The big difference is that homeschoolers get
to chose who they are with each day while children in a school are stuck
with who enroles that year. Actually school can be more or less like
real life. I know each of you have examples of more and less but a
couple where school is more like real life than homeschooling is when
you work for a company you will be assigned a desk next to someone not
of your own choosing and I did not get to chose who I wintered over with
in the Antarctic. I met some of them for the first time when I arrived
on the ice

But available resources and equipment and being around people like
Daniel Greenberg every day would be worth a lot that's for sure. Having
lots of other children around might be OK for the few hours you are at
school if you liked lots of children. Kinda depends on whether you had
something you wanted to do by yourself that day and whether the other
kids would be stay out of your hair so you could do it. I assume that
there was staff that would support the students interests in any subject
some of which a parent might not know very much about or the parent is
willing to pay someone else to help their child with. Makes sense to

> b) Most kids find it valuable to spend their days _away_ from their
> parents. It often enriches the home life if the kid does different things
> with his/her day than the parents (just as married people who work in the
> same office may have less to talk about in the evenings). This issue
> always comes up when parents run for staff... Parents as staff work
> better when the parents stay well away from their own children during the
> day.

Once again most homeschoolers do not stay at home all the time. They
live "Real Lives" as Grace Llewellyn has documented or taking "The
Freedom Challenge." Most of them have plenty of interesting things to
talk about at the evening dinner table. In fact the homeschoolers
stories are so interesting they have been written into tens of books. I
know three little black children that travel all over America with their
small business owner Mom(actually their engineer Dad is starting to make
presentations also so who knows where this will lead) as she makes
presentations to homeschooling conferences, etc. I am sure these bright
look-you-in-the-eye children would feel stifled by a school of any

> c) The presense of a community, which the child can involve him/herself
> in, is of great value. The fact of _ownership_ of that community means
> something... The presense of other children with whom the child can
> create and recreate the community around him is important. At home, the
> parents have already formed their community, and the "tone" of the
> household/home is set much more so than the "tone" of a yet-to-be
> discovered group of friends.

David, it obvious you and I have far different images of homeschoolers
daily environments. In fact more and more homeschoolers call themselves
unschoolers and I think they are at least one step further along the
educational evolutionary trail from SVS.

> d) The presence of a variety of staff, from different walks of life, is
> valuable. The kids see more than just _their_ parents, but see many
> adults, and how they interact.

The same adults every day at SVS but a almost infinite number of people
including all they meet in cyberspace for the homeschoolers. Of course
the SVS students are only in school a few hours a day so one could say
they have the best of both worlds but at an added cost in dollars of
course. One might get more value for the dollars taking Cello lessons
from a Cellist or tutoring in Algebra from a retired engineer or working
in a restaurant rather than learning from a staff member that is "from a
different walk of life."
> 2) The economic reality is that homeschooling is _much_ more expensive
> than SVS for many families. SVS costs a few thousand per year. Home
> schooling costs one parent _out_ of the work-force... Even at a pittance
> wage ($5/hour), this means a _minimum_ cost of $12,480 to the household
> income. It is a very rare school district that allows "home schooling"
> for kids when no parent is home -- which seems to be a tool for forcing
> lower class families to listen to state-sponsored propaganda while
> middle-class and upper-middle-class parents are allowed to protect their
> children from it.

There is truth in this. I know it has been a consideration for many
families I have tried to talk into dropping out of the welfare schools.
But I have yet met a homeschooling Mom that would rather be at work no
matter how much it paid. Many maybe even most of the homeschoolers gin
up little businesses on the side to pay the bills. These businesses are
a learning experience for the whole family.

Of course these considerations will depend on what I was trying to get
across in my HIRF letter. It depends on the circumstances, the maturity
of the student, whether one of the parents already has a home business
or is allowed(even encouraged nowdays) to work at home by the company

But I would be interested in where you got the "It is a very rare school
district that ....." for there is nothing in the Washington State Laws
that requires an adult to watch the children all the time when they are
homeschooling or not. I suspect that most of the pre teens and early
teens in Andy Smallman's Puget Sound Community School ( ) are home alone some days but I might be wrong.
This cyberschool is modelled after SVS but without the buildings and
operates under the homeschooling laws rather than the private school
laws that SVS schools must operate under.
Anyway I was answering for myself and just because my imagination is
limited doesn't mean that other parents and their children will not
decide that the cost is worth sending their children to school.
Obviously the SVS model works for many. As has been said on this
discussion group the idea of children being responsible for their own
educations for a few hours each day, in a school setting, is growing and
I am enjoying hearing about all the choices available as we approach
year 2000. I think as the old system dies we will see lots of
alternative learning environments such as the one Tina has created.