Parents Of Talented Athletes Choosing To Homeschool
June 9, 2005
Jackson, TN -- A story this week in USA Today examines how parents of many gifted teen athletes -- some of them Olympic hopefuls -- are turning to home-schooling to give their children more time to practice their sport.
One of the athletes profiled in the piece is Will Viana, a 13-year-old Floridian swimmer who has dreams of competing in the Olympics. Viana gets up each day at 4 a.m. for several hours of training.
When some of his teammates head to school in the morning after practice, Will goes home for lessons with his mother. He's then able to return to his training by mid-afternoon, much sooner than those who attend traditional schools.
"At one time I was looking forward to the kids going to school," said Will's mother Tracy in the article (there are four children in the Viana family). "I was hoping to get some help. We prayed that God would not ask us to homeschool. Faith is important to us. But then we became certain that this was what God wanted."
For athletes like Viana, homeschooling offers much more flexibility -- and that's one reason why the practice is catching on, among athletes and non-athletes alike.
Parents in increasing numbers, especially people of faith, are growing weary of the weak academics, liberal indoctrination and negative socialization commonly associated with public schools. Homeschooling gives these parents more control over what their children learn and the pace at which they learn it.
Of course, some are critical of the practice, especially liberals who think the government can educate children better than their parents can. The USA Today article quoted a political science professor from Stanford, Robert Reich, "who has argued in several essays that it is in the best interests of society and the individual to teach children subjects that might be in opposition to a parent's beliefs."
It should surprise nobody that such an opinion comes from a Stanford professor.
"The state has a role in reining in possible abuse," Reich said. "Sports are by no means unique in the potential to limit a child's independent future. The situation is the same for child actors, musicians and other specialists."
Isn't it interesting how liberals think parents should have the choice about whether to kill their children before they’re born, but when it comes to education they think parents are unqualified to decide what's best for their kids?
As a parent, I deeply resent the suggestion that the government knows better than my wife and I when it comes to educating our son. I don't yet have any direct experience with homeschooling, as our son isn't at that age yet. But I did spend three years as a teacher in the public school system, and I can say with all certainty that it wouldn't be difficult to provide a child with an education better than what he or she gets in public schools.
A colleague of mine one time compared public high schools to daycare for teenagers, and he's not far from the truth.
Homeschooled children have in recent years excelled in national spelling and geography competitions, and their test scores often outperform those of their counterparts in public schools. Parents like the Vianas should be applauded for their commitment to provide an education for their children far superior to what they could get from the government.
Tim Ellsworth writes this column from him home in Jackson, Tenn. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.