Letters to the editor

By NEMS Daily Journal

Homeschooling deserves
more credit than it gets
Thank you for reprinting Billy Watkins’ homeschooling story and for recent sports-section mentions of the homeschooled Spartans Running Club. It is refreshing to see positive coverage in the Daily Journal, where homeschooling has generally been ignored or criticized. Some editorials have implied that homeschoolers (and private schoolers) are not community-minded and may even be bad citizens.
Common sense indicates that enrolling your children in public school is not the only way to support the community. Otherwise, how could singles, childless couples, and empty-nesters be good citizens?
Homeschoolers pay our taxes, but we also serve the community by volunteering at the library, singing at nursing homes, helping neighbors, fostering and adopting needy children, and more. My oldest son has volunteered hundreds of community service hours through Boy Scouts. It’s hard to call an Eagle Scout a bad citizen. Brian Ray’s 2003 study Home Educated and Now Adults shows that 71 percent of homeschool graduates participate in community service, compared to 37 percent of similar-aged U.S. adults.
But what about socialization? Contrary to common misconceptions, homeschooling excels at training children to thrive in the real world. Homeschooling is age integrated, not age segregated. How many adults spend all day only with people their own age? Homeschoolers learn to get along with a wide variety of people through church, co-ops, 4-H, sports, field trips, community events, mission trips, and more.
Homeschoolers excel academically, and achievement is not correlated to the amount of state regulation. One-on-one tutoring has proven effective for centuries. Homeschoolers’ test scores are 15-30 points higher than the public school average, and two Tupelo homeschoolers are recent National Merit Finalists. Colleges like Harvard, Stanford, and Yale recruit homeschoolers because they have mastered independent learning.
Homeschoolers aren’t freaks, social misfits, or hermits. Sure, we have our share of odd ducks, shy kids, and occasional failures, just as public and private schools do. But most homeschoolers are ordinary folks who have made a proactive choice and are deeply committed to giving their children the best possible education and upbringing. This can only benefit the community at large.
Mary Jo Tate
Host of “Homeschool Spotlight” for the Homeschool Channel
Tupelo

Pledge requirement links
citizens to a civic god
I read with amusement about your judge requiring citizens to repeat the pledge of allegiance to the United States’ flag. I thought you people stopped pledging your fidelity after Reconstruction.
The “God” in the pledge, which the court (supreme) approves, is a civic creature much like the Romans had on their buildings and coins. You may recall Caesar Augustus was on their coin. True Christians do not believe in this civic “God” or linking such blasphemy on their money or pledge.
At least one Mississippi attorney has Christian and true patriotic spirit.
Roger Miller
Fort Wayne, Ind

Students shouldn’t sit
in judgment on peers
I applaud the young ladies at Guntown Middle School for recognizing and addressing the issue of bullying in their school (“Bully Court” Oct 5).
However, I disagree with the Principal Haven’s approval of a student-led “Bully Court” to deal with improper behavior among and between students.
If a student is being bullied, he or she should immediately inform an adult member of the education staff, not other students. Bullying can be a serious issue, and confronting it shouldn’t be delegated to 11- and 12-year old girls.
Allowing 11- and 12-year old girls to act as a “jury” of their peers, making decisions that can critically affect other students and administering judgment is better left to experienced and properly trained adult educators and parents. The student body has no business playing the part of disciplinarian within the school system.
If a student is creating a disruption via “bullying,” the issue should be handled in private between the parents of the student and school administrators.
By allowing this “Court,” the school is putting these students at risk for retaliation outside the safety of the school premises by bullies who feel they were maligned by the Court.
Additionally, two of the girls in the article embodied the suggestion of “embarrassing” the bully into submission by a jury of student peers. Isn’t this, in itself, a form of bullying? No student should be placed in a position of ridicule, embarrassment, or intimidation by a school-approved selection of other students.
Putting young girls in a position of confronting bullies is simply a dangerous proposal.
Randy Sharp
Tupelo