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From the week of February 14, 2002

The Tapes of Wrath

Mountains of praise: I've been a Westword and Patricia Calhoun fan for years. As a "minor" publisher myself (Westword actually receives my weekly paper, the Mountain Jackpot), I have to say that Calhoun's February 7 column, "Tape Worms," was one fine piece of editorial journalism.

You are appreciated, especially by us mountain boys who only get stuff like the Texas 7 dropped on our doorstep once in a lifetime -- and even that was pretty lame. Keep the shiny side up.

Robert Leininger
Divide


Home, Home School on the Range

Class dismissed: I were cooling my heels down to the Vitamin Cottage, frettin' over which free newspaper to read, when out of the weeds leaps none other than Buffalo Patty Calhoun! Jabbing the muzzle of her Colt Peace Keeper into my ribs, she rasps, "Do you wanna read my rag, or take yer chances with one of these others? Well, do ya? Punk?" My copy of the January 31 Westwordheld in plain view, she goose-stepped me into a nearby caffeine purveyor's and then sat, cold and immovable as a Republican's heart, and forced me to read every word, right down to the very last enticement from a massage parlor promisin' "genyouine Asian girls!!"

Now I know exactly how many in Colorado's home-schooling community must feel.

It's clear from Julie Jargon's "Reading, Writing and Refrigerator Raids" article on Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA) that public-school districts across the state have a new hiring category: bushwhacker. Apparently, home-schooled kids are now frog-marched to computer screens provided by this public-schools-operated program and forced to use it.

Typically, this is the kind of overwrought twaddle you hear from the left. Here, though, it's the (mostly) right/conservative types who are running in circles and screaming about dislodged chunks of sky. Sorry, folks, but from where I sit, it looks like a sunny day with no chance of acorn blizzards. Those wailing that COVA will be the end of home schooling as we know it (TEOHSAWKI?) are engaging in exactly the same kind of fear-mongering they've long accused the public schools and their professional highwaymen of. Those so vehemently opposed to COVA are adopting the elitist stance of the educrats who've always patted us educational peons on our collective curls and assured us that they "know what's best for us."

I don't have a burro in this race -- I send my kids to a private school. But if someone chooses COVA, what business is it of the Christian Home Educators of Colorado or other home-schoolers? For years we alternative-schooling proponents have screamed that the public schools are afraid of the competition, and then, when the pubs start competing, instead of giving it an objective chance, many of you home-schoolers turn into puling hypocrites.

The best I can hope for is that Doc Calhoun didn't get the drop on your kids like she done me. I'd hate for them to see y'all make such braying asses of yourselves.

JM Schell
Arvada

The 14 percent solution: Thank you for your story on home schooling and COVA. We don't think the problem is so much public or home-based education as it is quality and accountability. The home-based schoolers, according to a Colorado Springs information packet, have an unreasonably low standard of 14 percent as passing. Any good parent will go way beyond that, because, let's face it, 14 percent is unacceptable.

We think what worries people, and what we would like to hear about, is the other kind of parent -- the kind who thinks 14 percent is great. Their children are visibly not being educated and are borderline illiterate, and they have been doing it for years. Who do you call? Well, we spoke to superintendents, school administrators, legal defense groups, etc., and we were finally told by the governor's advocate for education that the agency to call was the already overburdened and overworked social services. Very rarely do they know about home schooling, and then they will once again get behind on the already existing abuse cases. Yes, it is abuse through lack of education.

So let's see: We have low standards and no separate body to check into violators of this growing "entity." As we know, violators can go unchecked for years, especially if no one knows they exist.

We were also told that when they reach age sixteen, they no longer need to go to school. We would like to hear the wonderful success stories from Linda Dobson about these kinds of families that go into society with their 14 percent education and diploma in their hand, written by Mom (oh, yes!). Better yet, next time they need to see a doctor, ask for the one with the 14 percent degree.

Cheryl and Nick Campbell
Aurora

Home is where the heart is:I wanted to thank you for a well-written and thorough job on the subject of virtual schools. I am a conservative Christian home-schooler and believe education is a parental responsibility, not a government responsibility. It doesn't mean governments cannot help, but they are not the authority in the matter.

The best part of the virtual academy is that it offers yet another avenue for parents in taking some control back in educating their kids. I would put it in the same category with other charter schools. Parents should realize that there are stipulations. If a parent does not feel comfortable with those stipulations, then don't do it.

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