Why are Homeschoolers so Touchy about Subway's Snub?

As a private corporation, Subway is free to include or exclude anyone from their essay contest,  and can set up the rules of their contest as they see fit. So why -- beside the blatant misspellings that even the eight-year-olds caught -- are homeschoolers so offended by this?

Homeschooling has grown in the United States to the point where 3 million children are currently being educated at home. Will Smith homeschools his kids, along with Winona Judd, NASCAR drivers, astronauts, lawyers, professors, doctors, nurses, and truck drivers -- all of whom are finding this educational choice works for their families.

Homeschoolers usually are one-income families, whether they are married couples, a single parents, or gay couples. Unlike private school parents, where commonly both parents work, homeschool parents have one adult dedicated to the day-to-day education of the children.

Homeschooling has come a long way, finally breaching the final frontier with a national Homeschool League football Super Bowl. Kids have to cough up $200 to pay for their pads and uniforms. Beyond that, teams still do fund-raisers to pay for the (non-dad) coaches, for the referees, for the rental of the fields. The cheerleaders also pay for their uniforms and their leaders are volunteers.

Our Homeschool League National Basketball Tournament draws scouts from many colleges, while our children have flown to Europe for International Championships in Fencing -- with no tax-funded support, they got there using donated frequent flyer miles. We have Olympians who are homeschooled and we have college scouts checking out our baseball players. We have a national golf tournament and national volleyball tournaments. I bet you only thought we did great at Spelling Bees.

All across America, homeschooled kids get together once a week for Sports Days. As one mother put it: "Our kids actually do crazy stuff like play basketball, baseball and volleyball instead of sitting in a circle to discuss global warming." Moms volunteer to take care of first aid - or the little kids - while others oversee the big kids play group sports for several hours a week.

The organizations that provide these activities are often 501c3s which are overlooked by corporate donations because we are not begging for money every week.  Our kids are not at your door every week trying to sell you stuff. Instead of asking others to pay, we homeschoolers quietly sacrifice our time and our money to provide our children with the richest education possible.

So homeschooling Moms don't get their hair done as often. We drive older used cars. We know every thrift store in our town. We also do curriculum swaps -- trading costly educational material, such as textbooks, with other homeschooling parents so we can educate our children on less than $500 a year. We develop field trips so our kids can participate in zoo classes, museum classes and homeschool days at various venues across America. When local business people see a group of 350 families with 1200 kids among them, they add those dollar signs very quickly.

Too bad Subway did not contact homeschool leaders to learn about our community of 3 million.

Jube Dankworth is manager of Texas Home Educators and a homeschool Mom of 20 years
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