Magistrate MahoneyrnOr: How I Learned to Stop Worr)’ing and Started Homeschoolingrnby Scott P. RichertrnI n Mav 1995, when our first cliild was born, my wife and Irnwere living in Northern Virginia. I had inst completed thernconrse work for my doctorate, and mv wife was the exhibitionsrnregistrar at the National Bnilding Muscnm in Washington,rnD.C Bnt jnst two weeks later, the day after our danglitcr wasrnbaphzed, we packed all of our belongings into a Ryder truckrnand headed nortli.rnAlthough I had no job lined up (nor even any real prospects),rnwe never once doubted that we had made the right choice. Severalrnmouths before, as the realit)’ of Rebekah’s impending birthrnhad begun to sink in, we had realized a number of things. Wernwanted ni’ wife to stay home with our children; we wanted tornbring our children up in a more healthy environment thanrnWashington, D.C, could offer; and we wanted them to have anrnadvantage that ve had both enjoyed —growing up close to family,rnespecially to their grandparents. And so we headed back tornour home state of Michigan.rn.After four years and two more children, I still hae no doubtrnthat we made the right decision —although there were somernanxious moments during the seven months w ithout a paycheck.rnSome cliches become cliches because they arc true; and ourrnchildren are truly the most important responsibilit)- that Godrnhas given us.rnThat is why it surprises nrc to realize that vvc had never givenrnmuch thought to our children’s education. We had uprootedrnourselves, cut our income back drashcally, all “for the sake ofrnthe children”; but we had always assumed diat the education ofrnour children would be handled by “experts'”—public (or possiblvrnparochial) schoolteachers “who knew what the’ were doing.”rnAmy had attended a Lutheran school through eighthrngrade, before going on to her local public high school in a subiirbrnof Flint; I had attended public schools in my little village inrnScott P. Richert is the managing editor of Chronicles.rnWest Michigan. Mv elementary school was a true neighborhoodrnschool, just around the corner from my house, and mvrnjunior high and high school were just across tiie street. We liadrneach received a solid educahon, both intellectual and moral,rnand we expected nothing less for our children. Then we movedrnto Rockford, Illinois.rnOver the past two vears, readers oiChronicles have probablyrnbecome more familiar with the Rockford school desegregationrncase than thev’ care to be. Now in its 11th year, the desegregationrnlawsuit has cost Rockford taxpayers almost a quarter of a billionrndollars, raised our propertv taxes to the third highest in thernnahon, and destroyed public education in Rockford. ForgetrnStar Wars and The X-Ff/es—for sheer evil, LOarth Vader and thernCigarette-Smoking Man have nothing on Rockford’s own emperor.rnFederal Magistrate P. Michael Mahoney, and his master,rnFugene Eubanks.rnWe realized rather quick!)’ that we could never send our childrenrnto Rockford’s public schools, and so began the hunt for arnsuitable Catholic school. SomeHmes cliches are less than true,rnand that seems to be the case with the popular statement thatrnprivate schools have about 20 years to go before they will be asrnbad as public schools are today. We had entered school 2Srnyears ago, but the qualit’ of education in Rockford’s Catholicrnschools (and private schools in general) runs far behind that ofrnthe public schools at the time that we left them, only a dozenrnyears ago. The problem can be traced pardy to the desegregationrnsuit—private schools expanded too rapidly as thev tried torncapture their share of the students who have left the publicschoolrnsystem —bnt the root of die problem is the failure ofrnAmerican educahon as a whole.rnAnd so, reluctantiy, we began to look into homeschooling. Irnsay “reluctantly” not because we had an) animus against homeschooling;rnon the contrary, while sHll in graduate school, I hadrnwritten two courses for a college-level homeschooling curricu-rnSEPTEMBER 1999/19rnrnrn