Bill Maher on Friday attacked Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Christians, and anyone that homeschools their children.
In his final New Rule on HBO's Real Time, Maher said, "Rick Santorum homeschools his children because he does not want them eating [from the Tree of Knowledge]. He wants them locked up in the Christian madrassa that is the family living room not out in public where they could be infected by the virus of reason" (video follows with transcript and commentary, vulgarity warning):
BILL MAHER: But I bring up the old tale of the poisoned apple -- no, not "Snow White," that's a fairy tale - because the Adam and Eve story is taken literally by half the country and it's no coincidence that the type of tree which god forbade Adam and Eve eating from was the Tree of Knowledge. Rick Santorum homeschools his children because he does not want them eating that f--king apple. He wants them locked up in the Christian madrassa that is the family living room not out in public where they could be infected by the virus of reason. If you're a kid and the only adults you've ever met are mom and dad, and then they're also the smartest adults you've met, why not keep it that way? Why mess up paradise with a lot knowledge? After all, a mind is a terrible thing to open.
It's of course not at all surprising that besides his anti-religious bigotry, Maher believes homeschoolers receive less of an education than those in public schools.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
The 2009 Homeschool Progress Report found "homeschoolers scored 34–39 percentile points higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests. The homeschool national average ranged from the 84th percentile for Language, Math, and Social Studies to the 89th percentile for Reading."
The average is 50.
Homeschoolers also score higher on the popular college entrance exam ACT.
The 2003 study Homeschooling Grows Up offered more evidence of Maher's ignorance:
Homeschool graduates are active and involved in their communities. Seventy-one percent participate in an ongoing community service activity (e.g., coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association), compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages (Table 2). Eighty-eight percent of the homeschool graduates surveyed were members of an organization (e.g., such as a community group church or synagogue, union, homeschool group, or professional organization), compared to 50% of U.S. adults.
Only 4.2% of the homeschool graduates surveyed consider politics and government too complicated to understand, compared to 35% of U.S. adults(Table 2). This may account for why homeschool graduates work for candidates, contribute to campaigns, and vote in much higher percentages than the general population of the United States (Figures 2 through 7). For example, 76% of homeschool graduates surveyed between the ages
of 18–24 voted within the last five years, compared to only 29% of the relevant U.S. population (Figure 7). The numbers of homeschool graduates who vote are even greater in the older age brackets, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared to a high of 53% for the corresponding U.S. populace. Interestingly, the three participants in the age-55–69 category were also more civically active than their peers nationwide (but the sample size was so small that this category was/is not included in the figures).
58.9 percent of homeschool grads report that they are "very happy" with life compared with 27.6 percent for the general U.S. population. 73.2 percent find life "exciting" compared with 47.3 percent.
Also of note, 98.5 percent read at least one book in the past six months compared to only 69 percent of the general population. 99.6 percent know how to use the internet versus 37 percent of the general population.
Yet this is what Maher considers a "Christian madrassa" preventing children from knowledge and reason.
What a dunce!
Update: For more recent homeschool statistics, please see "Academic Achievement and Demographic Traits of Homeschool Students: A Nationwide Study, 2010."