Cato Blogger: Some Falsely Insisting Spelling Bee Champ NOT Home-Schooled
Here's a new T-W-I-S-T on the Spelling Bee story we blogged about here last Friday. You'll recall that the MRC Culture and Media Institute director Robert Knight noted that many news outlets ignored champion Evan O'Dorney's homeschooled status.
Now, Andrew Coulson of Cato Institute informs us, Sara Mead, an education issues blogger at "The Quick and the ED" is suggesting characterizations of O'Dorney as homeschooled are false, "because he is registered with a public school independent study program."
Yet, "As I point out [in my post], even the O'Dorney's liaison at the Venture alternative public school refers to him as a homeschooler -- I called and asked," Coulson told NewsBusters in an e-mail.
Here's an excerpt from his blog entry "Bee Sensible" posted today at "Cato-at-Liberty":
And the fallacy for today is: false dichotomy.
While Mead attempts to create an either/or distinction between homeschooling and the home study program of Venture school, she is mistaken. There are four legal avenues for homeschooling in the state of California. One of them is to be associated with a public school home study program. Evan is not a “public school student” in the normal sense of that term. He is, as a local paper points out: “homeschooled by his mother Jennifer through Venture School.”
I had a nice conversation with Jim O’Brien, the Venture School official who liaises with the O’Dorneys. They meet about once every other week (not every week, as Mead asserts). He is available to consult with the family, but is not Evan’s teacher in the conventional sense of that word. Evan’s mother is his teacher. Mr. O’Brien himself describes Evan as homeschooled.
Mead also misrepresents the significance of homeschoolers’ showings in academic competitions. These showings are not based on “a few outliers” as she claims. In competition after competition, year after year, homeschoolers are overrepresented in the top spots. As I noted, public school students outnumber homeschoolers 40 to 1, but, in the 2007 Scripps Spelling Bee, U.S. public school students captured only 5 of the top slots — the same number as homeschoolers.
Perhaps public schools are teeming with brilliant spellers who mysteriously decided to stay away from the competition in droves. Again. Or maybe it has something to do with the educational freedom homeschoolers enjoy….