Are homeschoolers whiny crybabies?

The Subway “did they/didn’t they discriminate against homeschoolers” matter is basically resolved.  They issued a statement, a compromise of sorts, promising to be more sensitive and include homeschoolers in future promotions.  So, enjoy your sandwiches, if you choose. 🙂


An ongoing issue remains debatable…was the outcry against Subway justified?  Was this really discrimination, or are homeschoolers a bunch of whiny crybabies who demand to get their way? 


Dawn left a comment on my blog, disagreeing with my view.  She states her opinion reasonably, without the less mature name calling some have stooped to on both sides, and I think her questions are worth considering and discussing. 


From Dawn:

Do a search for contests that are only open to homeschoolers. I’m sure you’ll find quite a few. If the Subway apology seems wishy-washy, I don’t blame them. they were well within their rights to limit the contest as they did.

This brief comment packs in a number of points which I’ve thought over this morning.  Is this true?  Does she make valid points?  Let’s consider them one by one.


1.  Do a search for contests that are only open to homeschoolers.   Okay, I did that.  I searched, I really did.  I didn’t find any.  That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but Dawn believes “quite a few” abound.  I’m curious now, so if anyone knows of some, please point me in the right direction. 


In the past, the Home School Legal Defense Association hosted writing contests for homeschoolers.  I also remember once an amateur film competition hosted by a homeschool group run just for homeschoolers.  So does that make us hypocrites?  It seems to be what Dawn is implying (and what many other blogs stated outright). 


I don’t think so.  The HSLDA is a special interest group.  They exist for the sole purpose of promoting homeschooling.  Their agenda is open and clear.  One would expect them to host homeschool only events.  In the same vein, I recently saw a contest hosted an organization of elementary school principals hosting a writing contest for public school elementary students.  I didn’t even bat an eye.  Special interest group…special interest in promoting a special area.  Agenda clear.  It’s the same reasoning that leads us to accept scholarships for nursing students from medical societies, activities for MSU students hosted by MSU, events for Catholic students hosted by Catholic churches.  They’re special interest groups. 


Subway is NOT a special interest group.  Neither is Scholastic, a sponsor of the contest in question.  Both are companies which sell goods and services to (and receive a tidy profit from) homeschoolers just like any other customer.  So when they pointedly exclude homeschoolers, eyebrows are raised.  Feelings are rankled.  They now give the appearance of having a hidden agenda…a surprise interest.  We feel misled.  Wait a minute…I’ve been supporting this company and suddenly I find out they aren’t what I thought they were? 


Second point, when a special interest group (or even more general group) hosts a contest to promote a special interest, they generally target that special area/group.  For example, a civic group might offer a scholarship to nursing majors believing that there’s a shortage of nurses in the area.  Journalist majors don’t get upset because this is pointed at them.  If that civic group offered a scholarship to every field of study EXCEPT journalism, then now journalist majors feel excluded.  They’ve been singled out.  It looks like that civic group is just picking on them.  What Subway did was offer a contest to everyone EXCEPT homeschoolers.  We were the only group excluded.  No rational reason exists for picking out one group of students to exclude.  It gives the appearance that Subway cares about all kids’ health and fitness except homeschoolers.  Tacky.


2. If the Subway apology seems wishy-washy, I don’t blame them.  Fair enough.  You don’t blame them.  I do.  I believe words mean things.  The letter was dishonest, and since they wrote it, I blame them.  Why couldn’t they just be straightforward?  They never intended to exclude homeschoolers?  Does anyone believe that happened accidentally?  The person designing the website stumbled, splayed her hands across the keyboards, and the words “No home schools will be accepted” were randomly typed in?  Uh-huh.


It was a deliberate exclusion, and this statement was a semantic shuffle to apologize without admitting having done anything to apologize for.  If they did it deliberately, but in ignorance not knowing that homeschoolers have the same problem budgeting for group athletics that public schools have or that homeschoolers would be upset or that homeschoolers number in the millions, why not just admit that?  I respect honesty. 


The statement was wishy-washy.  I’m not fooled by it.  But…whatever.  It’s what they offered, and I’m glad that they offered that much.  On reflection, I did not express my gratitude graciously.  Thank you, Subway, for meeting us halfway. 


3.  They were well within their rights to limit the contest as they did.  On this point, Dawn and I agree completely.  Subway has the right to limit their own contests.  No laws have been broken.  I haven’t heard anyone insinuate the Subway did anything illegal. 


However…was Subway right to limit the contest?  Were they wise?     Companies generally use promotions to benefit themselves…after all, they only exist so long as they make a profit.  They’re trying to make a living.  By reaching out to give back to the community (in this case, the national community), it builds goodwill.  Subway markets its image as a healthy restaurant, and as part of that image, it seeks to promote healthy lifestyles among children.  That’s admirable.  It makes me think, “What a generous and caring company.  I like them.  Let’s go eat a sandwich for lunch!” 


Decisions like that alienate customers.  Now I’m thinking, “Oh, they don’t think my kids are as worthy as someone else’s kids?  Well, I don’t think their sandwiches are as good as Quizno’s.”  Not a wise marketing choice.  Not good public relations.  Not even very nice. 


Subway was within their rights to limit the contests.  They were also foolish and misinformed.  The same Constitution that gives Subway the right to control their own private property (their money, their marketing resources, their advertising plans) gives homeschoolers the right to notice that they’ve been excluded, to be unhappy about it, to share that information with other homeschoolers, to write letters of complaint, and to choose to eat tacos instead of subs.  Their rights…our rights…we’ve all exercised our Constitutional rights.  Subway is now exercising its wisdom and business sense in deciding not to arbitrarily exclude chunks of its customer base. 


I welcome reasoned comments and feedback.  No whiny crybabies or name-calling need participate here.



The Subway brouhaha…the bigger picture

It’s not often I blog twice in one day.  The Subway brouhaha weighs heavily on my mind.  Not so much the essay contest and the $5K grand prize, because honestly, that was only going to affect one student and one school.  What’s pressing on me now is the emotional damage being inflicted because that can affect a great populace.

Clearly, the debate about whether or not homeschooled students should be allowed to compete in this contest taps into a much deeper emotional well than simply writing a children’s story that might win a gift basket.  Both sides drag heavy baggage with them into this debate.  Homeschoolers who’ve been demeaned, belittled and ostracized.  Public educators who are defensive, snubbed and worried about whether kids are being properly educated.   Years of passionate feelings on the issue are boiling over now. 

I enjoy a good debate.  I’ve read logical arguments for both sides of this one.  What worries me is that I’m also reading a large amount of mockery aimed at children.  This sweeps in from both sides.  Home schoolers mocking the intelligence of public schooled children and public school defenders throwing out hateful stereotypes of homeschoolers, mocking their religion, social skills and brain power. 

My prayer is for maturity on both sides.  We can talk about all the issues related to Subway without descending to ridiculing children.  Whether or not any children actually read these comments is irrelevant.  We’re digging a deeper chasm in an unhealthy controversy.  Why is there such a dichotomoy between public school and home school proponents?  Aren’t there benefits to both?  Aren’t they both legal and useful?  Haven’t they both turned out a large number of well-educated people?  We could debate which is better overall or which is better for individual families, and still all go home friends at the end of the day.

Here in our community, I’ve seen children from both “sides” working together, competing together, even doing public service projects that benefit each other.  Barwise Junior High invites homeschoolers to their Fairy Tale Theatre productions during the school day, put on for benefit of visiting school groups.  The homeschool drama club did the same thing, putting on plays and inviting public school groups to enjoy the show for free.  I’ve seen homeschooled junior high kids go into public and private school kindergarten classes and read to the younger ones.  They’re all just kids until their parents teach them to look down on someone else.

I’ve pulled some great quotes from another site that is promoting allowing homeschoolers access to public school sports (  These folks sum it up well.

Let us keep in mind…that a student is a student – regardless of where they receive their education.  Each child is already a part of our society.  Turning out the best equipped individuals should be the goal of us all. 

And this one:

First of all there is no “you” nor “our” to this issue.  We are all citizens…with hopefully the same goal in mind and that is to provide the best for our children.  This is about what is best for the student – not what is merely good enough. A homeschooled student is a student…just the same as a public or private schooled student and therefore deserves equal and fair treatment…Many who exhibit this attitude [of us against them] often have the misconceived notion that homeschoolers think they are “better” than others.  While this notion may be the case in some instances, the same could be said of public-schoolers.  So it simply points out a bias or resentment…Again it has nothing to do with the intelligent debate that many on both sides of this issue are trying to conduct. 

 Okay.  That’s my big picture.  I hope it sounds more like the inspiring Dr. King’s “I have a dream…” than the somewhat more mundane Rodney King’s “Can’t we all just get along?” 

Something to think about.


Subway issues an apology…sort of

The Subway restaurant recognizes a mistake when it makes one.  Or when it floods the internet and their customer service lines with complaints.  Discrimination is wrong.  Here’s their official statement:



Well…..they did get the point, and quickly, too, but a couple things about that apology leave me unsatisfied.  It’s wishy-washy and fuzzy.  Notice how they dance around the point and never actually admit what they did.  Subway doesn’t admit to excluding homeschoolers and does not apologize for having done so.  The letter only admits being sorry for homeschoolers “feeling” excluded.  The truth is, we don’t “feel” excluded.  We ARE excluded.  In straightforward black and white, the rule says, “No home schools will be accepted.”  That’s a fact, not a feeling. 


It reminds me of a petulant 8 yo saying to his sister, “I’m sorry you got mad when I called you stupid.”  A mature adult should be able to say, “I’m sorry I called you stupid.”


Then the letter states that Subway never intended to exclude homeschoolers.  Let’s examine the evidence.  “No home schools will be accepted.”  The rules clearly and deliberately exclude homeschoolers.  Now, Subway might not’ve intended to anger homeschoolers.  It might not’ve intended to alienate us, insult us, or classify us as second-class citizens.   It may honestly not have realized that homeschoolers participate in groups and can benefit as a group from fitness equipment.  But whatever else Subway did or didn’t intend, they DID intend to exclude us, and I wish they’d just admitted that.


A more honest letter would read, “We messed up by excluding homeschoolers.”  An outstanding letter would go on to read, “We have amended our rules.  Homeschoolers may now participate in this competition on an equal footing with other students.  If a homeschooler wins the grand prize, the prize must be used in a way to grant access to a group rather than an individual family.”  Why are they going to create additional contests which will include homeschoolers?  We haven’t demanded special new prizes.  Why not just allow homeschoolers to compete openly and fairly within the ongoing contest? 


I will still eat at Subways.  I’m giving them credit for making the gesture and publishing an apology.  Maybe I’m being petty, but I know that letter was carefully worded by a team of professional pr reps and lawyers to placate the unhappy homeschoolers without actually admitting to doing anything wrong.  I’m not fooled by it. 


I’m not going to boycott Subway over it.  I think they’ve learned a valuable lesson about the size, organization and outspokenness of the homeschooling community and about our unwillingness to passively accept discrimination.   


Hmm, homeschool moms teaching a lesson….what a concept! J





Why does Subway discriminate against homeschool students?

The reaction ranges from puzzled, to disappointed, to outraged.  Some families are ready to boycott.  I haven’t hit that point, but I’m confused.

The Subway restaurant chain is hosting a contest for school kids to write a story and win prizes such as gift cards to Subway.  The stories must include one of its sandwhiches and are encouraged to include “random acts of fitness.”  For the corporate gurus, it seems like a good public relations move.  They’re promoting healthy eating and exercising habits among school children.  They’re promoting goodwill among parents and educators (read: customers).  They get good publicity for their contest.

 So why the negative reaction?

They have specifically excluded homeschoolers from their contest.  I expect the reason is that one of the grand prizes is a package of fitness equipment for the winner’s school, although clearly if a homeschooler won that particular prize, it could easily be designated to a group that the particular student was a member of or some other organization the student might have access to.  I’m taking this opportunity to let Subway know how disappointed I am with their arbitrary discrimination based entirely on the location of a student’s classroom.  Perhaps I’ll even use letter writing as a language arts assignment this week.  J

Here is the link for the contest:

And here is the text of the rules:

Contest is open only to legal US residents, over the age of 18 with children in either elementary, private or parochial schools that serve grades PreK-6. No home schools will be accepted.


Here is a link for their customer service: if you want to send them your opinions. 

This is my letter, submitted this morning:

I write to express my disappointment in your Every Sandwich Tells a Story competition.  My school age children love to tell stories.  Your contest provides a creative outlet for their writing skills with the added motivation of prizes and the bonus benefit of promoting thinking about healthy eating and exercising habits. 

Unfortunately, your corporate policy specifically excludes my children from participating based entirely on the location of their schoolroom.

My children study and learn at home instead of in a government sponsored public school.  Why would discriminate against them so arbitrarily?

In the USA, more than one million students learn at home.  Put another way, there are more home school students nationwide than there are public school students in Wyoming, Vermont, Delaware, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Montana, and Hawaii — combined.  I know you wouldn’t host a contest and arbitrarily exclude kids from all these states.  Besides being unfair, you wouldn’t want to alienate millions of customers.  Why then do you exclude home schooled students? 

I understand that you may mistakenly believe that the grand prize fitness package for the recipient’s school couldn’t be useful to a home school family.  If a home schooled student won this particular prize, that portion of the prize could easily be designated to a home school group or other organization that the student belongs to/has access to. 

Home school families desire physical fitness and healthy lifestyles in the same way families with public schools or private schooled children.  A student is a student – regardless of where he receives his education.  Each child is already a part of our society.  Turning out the healthy individuals should be the goal of us all. 

As a home schooler, I do not ask for special privileges or favors, merely the same opportunities to participate in worthwhile activities as every other family.

Pizza Hut, Braum’s and other fast food chains already include home schoolers in their educational promotions.  It makes sense for you to do the same.  Changing your policy to include home schooled families in your Every Sandwich Tells a Story is a win-win decision, allowing you to reach out and include a wider customer base, inspire more students to consider healthy habits, and show yourself a friend to a community of millions.


Homeschool Graduation

My niece Amanda with my daughter Jordan

Commencement is the perfect word.  For me, this is where the homeschool journey began.

12 years ago, I attended a kindergarten graduation ceremony for my adorable niece Amanda.  She blew me away.  She was brilliant, creative, and sweet.  (Not that I’m biased!)  I knew then what a blessing homeschooling could be and that this was the education I wanted for my 3 yo son.

This week, she did it again.  I’d never attended a high school graduation for homeschool kids (they are still kids, right?  I’m not sure.)  It was a more touching and personal graduation than I knew was possible.  The atmosphere breathed respect for family and individuality and God.  A speaker read a biography for each student as the graduate presented her mother with a rose.  The mothers conferred the diplomas and the fathers moved the tassels on the mortarboards and gave the graduate a blessing.  The photographer snapped the graduation picture of the newly graduated student standing between her parents on stage. 

And what a lovely young woman Amanda has grown into…she’s not much taller than she was at her first commencement, but she’s still brilliant, creative, and sweet.  She begins a new chapter in her life as my sister closes the book on her homeschooling career for her oldest child (four more still in the chute). 

She’s inspiring.  She always has been for me.

Amanda\'s Senior Picture

Evil twins (bwaaa-haaa-haaa)

I apologize upfront about the gratuitous use of the evil laugh in the title, but I just can’t resist.  Sometimes you need to grab every opportunity to cackle villainously.  Like when you’ve discovered that words have evil twins. 

I’m an admitted word nerd.  I devour etymologies and read histories of the American English language for enjoyment, but I never realized until today that words can have evil twins.

Take this quiz, and see how many evil twin words you can sort out.  Who knows, you may need to save the universe someday with your stupendous brain powers.


Just how many homeschoolers DOES it take to change the lightbulb?

One of the benefits of living with a son twice your size is always having someone handy to change the lightbulbs.  Or so I thought.

Yesterday, the lightbulb in the kitchen burned out.  Sure I could drag out the step ladder, but yelling for Cameron is so much easier.  He gamely trotted into the room, reached overhead, placed both gargantuan hands on the globe, and began spinning in place.  This goofiness achieved exactly the reaction he was aiming for: laughter all around.  So he kept spinning, assuming that he was unscrewing the globe to reach the lightbulb. 

No!  Actually what he did was dissassemble the entire light fixture (with the lightbulb still inside the globe).  He stood stock still, staring at the fixture in his hands, unsure what had happened.  More laughter.  Eventually, he decided that he should actually examine the problem before taking action.  What a concept!

So we’re back to the corny old joke…how many homeschoolers does it take to change a lightbulb?  At my house, the answer is 4.  One goofball to mess it up, and 3 to tease him for the rest of the day. 

Life can be fun.

The difference between schooling and education…as relevant today as 18 years ago

I don’t know how many of you are John Taylor Gatto fans.   His work fascinates and disturbs me.  I was re-reading his “Why Schools Don’t Educate” speech from 1990, and just wanted to share this quote for your consideration.  It causes me to re-evaluate the difference between schooling and education, and to carefully consider which I’m providing for my children.


I don’t think we’ll get rid of schools anytime soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if we’re going to change what is rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution “schools” very well, but it does not “educate” – that’s inherent in the design of the thing. It’s not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent, it’s just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing.

Schools were designed by Horace Mann and Barnard Sears and Harper of the University of Chicago and Thorndyke of Columbia Teachers College and some other men to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through the application of formulae, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.