By Hilary White

SURREY, January 10, 2006 ( – B.C home schooling parents are dismayed after discovering harsh comments about home schooling made by Jim McMurtry, Liberal party candidate for South Surrey, B.C., in the September/October 2003 edition of Teacher Magazine.

McMurtry wrote that parents who educate their children at home are “condemning their children to an impoverished, friendless, and segregated learning environment.” Home schooling parents, he said, “participate in what can be perceived as a form of child abuse.”ÂÂ

Paul Faris, Director of the Home School Legal Defence Association said, “Jim McMurtry has insulted every home schooling family in Canada,”

Study after study has shown that the academic and socialization outcomes for the average home schooled child are superior to those experienced by the average public school student,” said Deani Van Pelt, author of Home Education in Canada.

Ironically, McMurtry himself has himself hosted in-house classes for high school students. In 1992, the Toronto Star reported that a then-suspended teacher Jim McMurtry was holding impromptu classes for his grade 12 law class at his home in Ajax, Ontario. According to the Star article, McMurtry read passages from Northrop Frye’s “On Education” and portions of his own PhD thesis on censorship to 14 students who sat on the floor and filled every available chair.

The assertion that home schooling has detrimental effects on children, though popular on the political left, is strongly refuted by the available data. In October 2003, the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) released a study of 7000 adults who had been educated at home showing that home schooling had a significant positive impact on the students’ future success. American universities are changing their admissions policies to include provisions for home schooled applicants, who regularly score significantly higher than publicly schooled confreres.

The NHERI study showed that 74% of home-educated adults ages 18-24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46% of the general United States. 59% of the subjects reported that they were “very happy” with life, while only 27.6% of the general U.S. population is “very happy” with life. 95% of the home school graduates surveyed said they were glad that they were home schooled.

Given McMurtry’s affiliation with the scandal-plagued Liberal Party, his objections may also come from the results that showed home schooling significantly raises awareness of political realities. A mere 4.2% of the respondents said they consider politics and government too complicated to understand, compared to 35% of U.S. adults.

Given the general liberal antipathy to religious belief, McMurtry’s poor opinion of home schooling could also derive from the 94% of those surveyed who said, “My religious beliefs are basically the same as those of my parents.”