Pro Homeschooling Documentary, Not so Pro Christian?

If you are a long time reader of Communication FUNdamentals, you will recall that about a year ago our family had agreed to be filmed for a documentary that a USC grad student was doing on homeschooling for a local cable TV and internet show.  I have to admit being a bit nervous about whether or not a positive image of my family and homeschooling in general would survive the cutting room floor. Since we are members of HSLDA, I called and spoke with Michael Smith to ask his advice.  He shared a story with me about how his words had been twisted in an interview by the editing process but that, in his opinion, any publicity for homeschooling is good publicity.  He advised us to pray on it and, if we felt lead to, consent to the interview.   We discussed it and prayed over it as a family and decided to allow the camera to film "A day in the life of the Tabares homeschooling family." It was an exciting day where we met the producer who was also to be our cameraman.  She was a very nice young woman who asked us a great deal of questions, filmed each family member's answer and even went with us to two different outside events.  She filmed my daughter going to her not-so-local public school for her AP classes in the morning.  She even went with us to film both of the kids at karate class where my daughter was one of the black belt instructors. We felt she was, as they say on Fox News, fair and balanced.  She asked a good number of open ended questions as well as questions that might reveal any difficulties about homeschooling.  Overall, we felt it a good experience for the family. Just the other day, we finally received a link to the online video segment of the show.  It is actually a very positive piece on homeschooling and I pray that theme reaches many, but we were a bit disappointed with the way our Christian family was portrayed in contrast to the other family that was interviewed. I'll give you the link so you can judge for yourself. First we noticed some obvious errors-one was a major typo at the end where they reported that my daughter is now attending "Vanterbilt" University.  That should be spelled  Vanderbilt.  Sorry all you Commodores!  The other was when the narrator reported the public high school where my daughter was taking a few AP classes was in Hesperia.  I wish it had been in Hesperia!  It certainly would have been a much faster commute and a lot easier on the old wallet as gas was at it's all time HIGH then! ROFL  Granite Hills High School is in Apple Valley. The disappointment, though, is due to the way in which they seemed to have made a conscious decision to leave on the cutting room floor all of the footage that shows our family as active in the "real world" outside of our family.  The producer told us she was interviewing a few families to compare them, but the way it was edited leaves the impression that a Christian homeschooling family is lonely and secluded from the rest of the world.  I guess it goes back to the age old question of socialization as if it may not be a problem in secular families, but may still be for Christian homeschoolers. For example, in contrast to the active, bustling and colorful environment of the other family, they showed my daughter sharing about her frustration with her public school classmates for interrupting class to ask irrelevant questions. They never showed her teaching karate class where she was one of the black belt instructors for two years.  They never mentioned that she was in a performance choir that traveled and did concerts.  They never mentioned the schedule she kept with her friends or the times she was able to raise money to fly to Texas and D.C. to attend various leadership conferences and other events with young people from all over the nation. They showed my son playing a game of pool by himself as he talks about a problem he had with a neighbor boy.  They never showed the footage of him at karate or talked about all the other activities he was involved in that year.  They also had no way of knowing  that this neighbor boy was a problem for many of the families in the neighborhood. My daughter was upset for my son because they updated each of the homeschooled children at the end but never included my son. Am I sorry we did the interview? No!  I think it was a good experience for the kids.  I also think it will help homeschooling.  It's actually a very pro homeschooling piece.  But you judge for yourself .  Here is the direct link to the homeschooling segment of this show. Please share what you think about it.  Do you think it helps homeschooling?  Do you feel they were at all biased against Christian homeschoolers?  Did it just come off this way?  Or are we being a bit sensitive? What say you?


  • Carla Ives

    I’ve watched it twice now and I feel that it’s very positive towards homeschooling. I thought your family came off very well, too. I was pleased that they didn’t cut out your comment about how important the Lord was in your life; they could have easily done that.

    My only complaints would be that they left out your sweet Christopher in the updates (not to mention NOT knowing how to spell Vanderbilt University :) and that they didn’t list your family’s extracurricular accomplishments, as they did for the other family.

    Other than that, though, I feel that the reporter did an excellent job in portraying homeschooling in a positive light. She only used one negative voice when she could have inserted a lot more. She countered this opinion with another education professor who was more inclined towards homeschooling (and quoted an actual study) and she brought him back on more than one occasion. To me, that shows she at least approached her subject with a somewhat open mind.

    I was really worried last year when you first broached this, JoJo. I felt it had the possibility to be a major hatchet job. I was therefore very relieved to find that it was a fairly-balanced piece on homeschooling. I know you’re disappointed that so much was cut, but I think the Tabares clan came off very well, indeed.

  • Holly

    I watched it and thought it was quite good. Your family is so adorable! I was impressed that they left the part in when you talked about the Lord and creation. From what I saw, it representative of typical homeschoolers. I liked the part about your son and how he would be labeled if he were in public school. Good job!

  • Laurie Neumann


    I just watched the segment, and I agree, that is was quite positive on homeschooling in general. And that is always good!

    I know, when we are involved in a project, we tend to look at it with very “examining eyes.” I think we’re always more critical when it comes to our own involvement. I do see what you mean about the comparison of the two families, but I honestly, didn’t feel your family was put in a negative light. There was the situation of your son playing pool by himself and talking of the neighbor kids, and your daughter speaking of the other high school kids, but on a whole, I think your family came across well.

    I liked the part about you bringing out the fact that your son may have labeled as “ADD” if he was in school – that is a good point for parents to be aware of. And you didn’t put down the teachers – you showed understanding of them having to deal with a lot of kids.

    I probably would not even have noticed the misspelling of Vanderbilt if I had not known of it.

    So try not to be discouraged. There are things that I know you would like to change, but all in all, I think you shed a positive light on homeschooling.

  • Mike

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed watching the video and can see some bias in the editing but it was subtle.It actually educated me a lot about homeschooling since I have so many questions about it.

  • beth @ brew*crew

    Thanks for sharing the link. I really enjoyed watching the video/interviews and think that your family did a fabulous job representing us! Yeah, it was really crummy that they left your son out of the updates, along with the other pertinent info. you mentioned in your article that they edited out- almost like they were trying to fit you into a box so as to draw some of their own pre-conceived conclusions and stereotypical points from. Though overall, it was a great representation of homeschooling! You must be so proud of your kids!

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