Homeschool to Harvard
This is the story that the teachers unions wish had never happened. This is the story that proves all their hysterical demands for more money are nothing but a sham. This is the story that makes the unions and education bureaucrats sick to their stomachs. This is the personal story of my daughter Dakota Root.
In each of the books I’ve written, I’ve taken great care to acknowledge my beautiful and brilliant little girl, Dakota. I often noted that Dakota and her parents were aiming for her acceptance at either Harvard or Stanford and would accept nothing less. The easy part is aiming for gold. The hard part is achieving it. “Homeschool to Harvard” is a story about turning dreams into reality.
Dakota has been home-schooled since birth. While other kids spent their school days being indoctrinated to believe competition and winning are unimportant, and that others are to blame for their shortcomings and failures, Dakota was learning the value of work ethic, discipline, sacrifice and personal responsibility. While other kids were becoming experts at partying, Dakota and her dad debated current events at the dinner table. While other kids shopped and gossiped, Dakota was devouring books on science, math, history, literature, politics and business. I often traveled to business events and political speeches with my home-schooled daughter in tow. While other kids came home to empty homes, Dakota’s mom, dad, or both were there every day to share meals and a bedtime kiss and prayer. Despite a crazy schedule of business and politics, I’m proud to report that I’ve missed very few bedtime kisses with my four home-schooled kids.
While others were out learning to drive so they could attend more parties, or experimenting with alcohol and drugs, Dakota was practicing the sport she loves with dedication, intensity and passion- fencing. The result? She became one of the elite junior fencers in America- winning the Pacific Coast Championship and representing the United States at World Cup events in Germany and Austria.
Was all the discipline and sacrifice worth it? A few days ago, Dakota Root achieved her lifelong dream. She was accepted at both Harvard and Stanford. She was also accepted at Columbia, Penn, Brown, Duke, Chicago, Cal-Berkeley, USC and several more of the elite schools in America, an unheard of record for a home-school kid. She actually had the confidence to turn down an offer from the Yale fencing coach before she had gotten her other acceptances. The kid turned down Yale!
Here is the most amazing part of the story: The first classroom of Dakota’s life will be inside the hallowed halls of Harvard. This fall she will fence for the Harvard team- one of America’s best. Only an elite 1% (30,000) of the best of the best high school seniors dared apply to Harvard. Virtually every one was #1 in their class, or a world-class scholar/athlete, or had perfect S.A.T. scores. Out of 3 million high school seniors headed to college, and those 30,000 applicants, only 1500 or so will attend Harvard. That is the lowest acceptance rate in college history. To be accepted at one or two Ivy League colleges is rare- to all, an almost impossible feat!
At a time of educational free-fall, it is a remarkable story. With America’s public school system ranked at or near the bottom of the industrialized world (and Nevada near the bottom of that), with record dropout rates, grade inflation, violence, gangs, drugs, teen pregnancies, and the scandal of graduating high school seniors requiring remedial math and reading before starting at college, Dakota’s story offers hope. Dakota proves the American Dream is alive, if only we’d stop depending on government to save us.
There is no one answer for education. Our choice of homeschooling melded parental education with tutoring by hand-picked retired teachers and college professors, combined with a personally-chosen curriculum. It’s called parental freedom: the power to decide how to best educate children belongs with the parents, not teachers unions. School choice, encouraging competition for our failing public school system, and offering vouchers on the state level to give parents the power (and money) to choose among charter schools, private schools, parochial schools or home-schooling is the way to force public schools to improve. Competition works. If it’s good enough for Coke and Pepsi, why not public schools?
The sad reality is that teachers unions and government aren’t the solution – they are the problem. Our public schools get worse every year, yet teachers unions demand more and more money. They get their money, it gets worse yet, and they demand even MORE. That is the definition of insanity. This is “Groundhog Day.” It isn’t working- and hasn’t since the day that government took over education in this country.
Dakota Root proves it doesn’t take a state certified teacher, or a teachers union, or a village to raise a child- it only takes two loving parents who give a damn. One home-schooled girl has driven a stake through the heart of the public school education sham. “Homeschool to Harvard” is a powerful story that every parent should be allowed to offer their children.
May 5, 2010