Calling myself a homeschooling mother doesn't make me one
I opened my email the other day to find a personal note from Aisha Gaddafi. I was a little surprised as I had never met the daughter of the now-deposed leader of Libya. I found it difficult to believe that she had selected me to help her extract several million dollars out of Libya, so I let the opportunity to get a substantial cut of her fortune pass me by.
Aisha isn't the only one sending me great offers. I routinely get instructions on how to obtain a diploma from the school of my choice. All I need to do is pay a small fee and I can proudly call myself a graduate of any of the finest institutions in the world.
Many years ago, I used to wear a crimson cardigan with a white "H" on the pocket.
From time to time, people would ask if that "H" on the pocket was a monogram, and I got to have some fun. "Oh, no," I'd say with a smile, "I got this old thing when I went to Harvard."
I could enjoy the reaction for only a moment before I had to come clean. Harvard's motto, after all, is "Veritas." I had gone to Harvard for a weekend once when I attended a conference, and I bought that cardigan while I was there.
I have earned two degrees, neither of them as prestigious as a sheepskin from Harvard. If only I had that sweater now, I could buy a diploma with the riches Aisha Gaddafi wants to share with me, and I'd be a standout success. Calling myself a Harvard graduate should make me one, right?
"What's in a name?" Shakespeare pondered. "That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." By such logic, I can say I graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, just as any woman who does not enroll her children in school can call herself a homeschooler.
The Chicago Tribune has been calling Lydia Price a homeschooling mother. Apparently, for the Tribune, restricting the definition of homeschooling mother to someone who actually educates her children is as nit picky as expecting me to pass all those pesky Harvard classes before saying I've earned that Ivy League degree.
If you haven't been following the story, Price's 14-year-old son, Matthew Degner, died last month in Berwyn, Ill. The Tribune reported that when police arrived, they found "four other children along with 109 cats, three dogs, 39 cockatiels, two kinkajous, a large raccoon and other exotic animals." Various news reports listed hissing cockroaches and brown bats as just some of those "other" animals.
Having all those animals didn't make Price a zookeeper, so why did having children at home qualify her as a homeschooler? The Tribune report laments that Illinois has no regulation of homeschoolers, as if having a registration requirement would have certainly prevented such squalor and the loss of a child's life.
Price reportedly kept her five children home from school and isolated from the community in a small home with taped-up windows, toilets that didn't work and feces covering the floor. The stench was so intense that the cleanup crew wore hazmat suits.
Stories like this make rational people wonder what went wrong. How could anyone think this is normal? And, I would add, how can anyone call that homeschooling?
Rose Godfrey is a homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.