It’s taken me a while to be able to write this post. When the news stations came out with the Turpin abuse story I was horrified. As I learned more and more of the details of the inhumane treatment of these kids, I was physically sickened. Then, the initial shock wore off. I saw heroes coming forward espousing the best of humanity: love and compassion.
As the situation was brought under control, the children sheltered from their deranged parents and filthy living conditions, a new dialog began to form. Before I knew it, the Turpins were being held up as an example of “Homeschooling” gone wrong.
Let me be clear here. What happened in that household is beyond criminal. I feel, however, that I need to speak up on this. Homeschooling has nothing to do with chaining and torturing kids; it’s about preparing children to go out into the world and live healthy, happy, independent lives. Many of the kids I know have sever sensory or attention disorders (some even kicked out of school because of it) . Their tremendously devoted parents live EVERY DAY to meet their children’s needs.
Now the legal requirements for Homeschooling in California are under scrutiny. Yes, it is a relatively simple process with pretty much no oversight. Usually, there isn’t much need for it. Most parents I know are not doing this for fun. It would be much easier for us to drop our kids off at the local school and get on with our day. We are Homeschooling because our kids have unique challenges, situations, religious beliefs, or our available public school is not up to our standards, and the cookie cutter solution doesn’t work for us. Someone I know mentioned that a lot of homeschoolers would love to take a few classes or be involved in sports through the schools. Once we go down the homeschool path, though, we are not typically welcome. Want to keep tabs on us? Make it possible for us to join the party on our terms. Isn’t inclusivity and diversity supposed to be a primary focus these days? Don’t attempt to use more legislation, that’s the last thing anyone needs.
Let’s look at the most popular alternative, public school. Why is it that school shootings are still happening despite our schools efforts? Please explain to me why I keep seeing in the news some sick person who happens to be a teacher has abused one or more students. The frequency of these reports is incredible. We don’t, however, blame all the teachers and administrators for this. Most of them are great people, doing the best job they can do.
The same is true in the homeschooling community. The real issue in the Turpin case isn’t that they claimed to be homeschooling, it’s that no one in the community spoke up when they saw something odd.
In my own community, when my girls and I aren’t seen for a while, I’m questioned. “Where have you guys been lately?” You know what? I love it. The girls tell about trips we have been taking and new stuff we are studying. We are missed when we are not around. This is what was lacking for the Turpin kids. Nothing about their interactions with their community was even remotely approaching normal, not to mention their relations with their extended family.
Just last night, a beloved neighbor of mine expressed to me how she hopes this case doesn’t affect what I’m able to do with my kids. Another neighbor chimed in with an effusive review of the results of my labor. I’m sharing this not to toot my own horn, but to highlight that this lifestyle does not typically create shy, social outcasts. My kids are well-liked, bright, and happy.
I’m hopeful we can all realize that the Turpin case was not a Homeschool fail, but a failure of an entire community and the few schools they attended, to ring the bell for these poor kids.