"Goat-Boy Goes to Harvard" was how Grant Colfax was once described.
In addition to raising dairy goats, the teenager's admission into the venerable New England institution, in 1983, attracted national media attention because he had been homeschooled by his bookish, hard-working parents - David and Micki - on a ranch in northern California . While home education wasn't a new phenomenon, young Colfax became the catalyst to jumpstart a dormant debate. He was living proof that a schooled-at-home student could acquire the type of education needed to gain entrance into one of the most selective educational institutions in the world.
Consequently, Grant, as well as his adventuresome parents, became the "it" family of homeschooling to status-conscious baby boomers who were in the thick of parenting and who were examining the state of American education. The 'Colfax method' gained even more credibility when Grant's younger, also homeschooled, brothers - Drew and Reed - were subsequently admitted into Harvard.
Twenty years later the Colfaxes' legacy is hardly forgotten. But even their electrifying accomplishments have been slightly eclipsed by a new generation of home scholars who are also crafting impressive resumes. Last year, when Calvin McCarter, a 10-year-old homeschooler from Michigan , won the 2002 National Geographic Bee, he became the youngest competitor to ever do so. Sho Yano, 12, who also has a home education background, has just begun his first year of medical school at the University of Chicago .
By now, scores of homeschoolers have become National Merit Scholars. (The National Merit Scholarship Corporation selected more than 70 homeschooled high school students as semifinalists in its 1998 competition. By 2002, there were 206 semifinalists.) Homeschoolers have also run small businesses, played on collegiate sports teams, made a mark in Hollywood , authored best-selling books, and donated time and money to charitable causes.
These many feats wouldn't surprise John Taylor Gatto, a loud critic of compulsory education. Writing in the September issue of Harper's, Gatto has concluded that "genius is as common as dirt," especially when children aren't subjected to statist schooling.
Indeed, the mystery is why so few adults raise a fuss over the fact that the young and the healthy are routinely treated like indentured servants. Public school students are expected to arrive and depart at a certain time, have no say over what they are taught, are segregated by grade regardless of aptitude, and are labeled "learning disabled" regardless of potential. Year after year after year. Homeschooling, on the other hand, liberates youngsters - and their parents - from being obsessed with grades, popularity, fashions, homework, bullies, and bad teaching. These families have more energy to devote to 'big picture' issues like life and liberty.
Can you imagine any of the following people roaming the halls of Hormone High or applauding the National Education Association?
*Ashlie Campbell. This teen-aged homeschooler won $1500 in an essay contest, sponsored by an Oklahoma think tank, opining about the topic of freedom and national security. Wrote Ashlie, "It may even be that if American citizens had been free to bear arms, 9-11 might have had a much different ending."
*Jason Murphey. This homeschool grad also has ties to the Sooner State . He is a city council member and the father of two little homeschoolers. He uses his "seat at the table" to merrily subvert the "government is your friend" paradigm. To boot, Jason encourages budding politicos to read books by that passionate advocate of individual liberty - Frederic Bastiat.
*Pieter Friedrich. This 17-year-old is also a homeschool grad, and he's training to be a copywriter. Pieter organized a pro-life rally on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade at the California State Capitol, and 300 teenagers showed up. Banner displayed at the event: Stop Killing Our Generation.
*Diane Connors. This mom is the president of the Connecticut Homeschool Network. Last year she warned other families about legislation that contained a list of intrusive mandates for Constitution State homeschoolers, including having their individual curriculum plans scrutinized by public school superintendents. Thanks to her efforts, over 1,000 people attended a hearing in Hartford to voice their opposition to H.B. 5535. On March 22, 2002 , the bill died, missing the deadline for receiving a favorable vote.
*Daryl Cobranchi. This Delaware chemist operates "Homeschool & Other Education Stuff: A libertarian leaning edu-blog." He daily exposes the atrocities that occur in public schools while bragging about the victories of the homeschooled. Daryl hopes that through his cyber efforts "maybe someone, somewhere will just bring their kids home to protect them. And, if enough people do that, the whole government education monopoly may implode."
Implode the edu-monopoly? Yeah, baby!
Here's to another 20 years of the heirs of Grant Colfax.