Saturday, May 23, 2009

Home-Schooling Works:
Fencing Champion Dakota Root, 17

One of the questions every home-schooling parent hears is, "What about extra-curricular activities?" OK, even with six kids, I'm still five kids short of a varsity football squad, but my 16-year-old twins sons, for example, are excellent swimmers who just completed YMCA lifeguard certification.

Lots of home-schooled kids not only compete in sports, they excel. The Las Vegas Review-Journal just featured one such athlete, 17-year-old Dakota Root:
"Every time you fence, you have to keep changing your game," Dakota said. "You can't just rely on your skills. You have to rely on growing within the bout. You don't do that in most other sports."
Dakota has been in the sport only four years, but she is considering attending college at Ivy League fencing powerhouses such as Harvard and Columbia as well as Duke, Northwestern and Notre Dame. There appears to be reciprocal interest. . . .
She has achieved scores of 2,240 on the Scholastic Achievement Test (Dakota still hopes to break 2,300) and 31 on the American College Test. . . .
Last November she traveled to Germany and Austria for 16-and-under World Cup tournaments. Dakota fenced especially well in Germany, making the fourth round of pool play.
Showing that performance was no fluke, Dakota in April won under-19 epee at the Pacific Coast Championships in Long Beach, Calif. She was second in the senior epee, which was open to all ages.
That's a head-turning rise through the ranks for a relative newcomer. It's also a rise that could continue, perhaps even to the Olympic Games, with 2016 as the likely target. . . .
You can read the whole thing. Dakota is also a refutation of the stupid claim that home-schooled kids aren't "socialized" adequately. You want to see poise? Watch this C-SPAN video as Dakota Root (then just 16) nominated her father, Wayne Allyn Root, for president at the 2008 Libertarian Party convention:

I covered the 2008 LP convention, where Wayne made it to the fifth ballot of the six-round "Dogfight in Denver" nomination battle, and then was chosen as Bob Barr's vice-presidential running mate.

When I saw Wayne at the Georgia LP state convention last month, he spent most of his time bragging on his daughter who -- and I hope I'm not spoiling any scholarship negotiations here -- is leaning heavily toward Columbia. (She likes the big city.) Wayne also brags on Dakota in his new book, The Conscience of a Libertarian:
To illustrate the remarkable talent, creativity and intelligence of home-schooled children, I offer Exhibit A: My 17-year-old daughter Dakota Root. She is beautiful; well mannered; disciplined; articulate; poised beyond her years; treats adults with respect; maintains a straight A+ average in her studies; scores in the 99th percentile of every national test she takes; devours as man as a dozen books a month (because she wants to, not because she has to); has achieved a black belt in martial arts; and is a world class fencer who has participated in Junior Olympics, Fencing Nationals and World Cup events internationally. . . .
Many adults that have had the pleasure of meeting Dakota have made the comment, "Is your daughter home-schooled?" I always answer, "Yes, but how did you know?" The reply is always the same, "In my experience, only home-schooled kids are this focused, disciplined, well-mannered and respectful of adults."
It's true. Hearing one's children praised for being poised, well-mannered and respectful is one of the joys of being a home-schooling parent. Wayne writes:
Dakota has had the advantage of being taught one on one literally since birth, by people that love her . . . praise her . . . motivate her . . . and expect the very best of her.
The official publication date for Wayne's book The Conscience of a Libertarian is the Fourth of July (when else?) but you can order it now at

UPDATE: Hey, Wayne's not the only home-schooling dad who can brag on his kids. And remember, I'm an expert.


  1. I happened to be at my church last week when they were hosting a piano recital for home-schooled kids. Performances ranged from so-so to brilliant but all of them succeeded wonderfully. There are a world of activities available to home-schooled children that the school-bound won't see or know about.

    One of the things I've noticed about the home-schooled is their standards for themselves. They achieve rather than attempt a passing grade. This applies to their hobbies and sports as well. When they do something it is the real thing, not the "participant medal" awarding, esteem building public school version.

  2. Another laughable complaint to home-schoolers is that they lack socialization with kids their own age. Sure... like I'd want my kids to learn social skills from the average middle school or high school mob.

  3. Someone needs to make the brain trust of the CAl GOP read this!
    Their de jure position is they support school choice. Their de facto position is not so much. Arnie and his Sec Ed have taken action against many home schoolers. Some of the home schollers have had the money to fight back against Arnie and there are several cases in several local courts about is home schooling legal?! One of his Sec's of Ed said Home Schooling is bad therefor illegal!

    Rod Stanton
    Cerritos, Cal

  4. Hmm... you just smell the hypocrisy here. Yes, RMS, it takes some chutzpah to mention the name Wayne Allyn Root in the same sentence with the word "conscience", nearly as much as it took Root to write the thing. Root's vocation is separating desperate sports bettors from their cash. Problem is that Root can't handicap to save his life. A dart works just as well, and its a lot cheaper.

  5. She only packs that sword to keep the brutha down, man!

  6. How does this prove anything? Does the wild success of kids who went to nothing but public school prove home schooling is nonsense?

    And since when does fencing impart any meaning about homeschooling. I was on my college fencing team and none on my time fenced in high school. Competitors who did, had private coaches.

    I know several families who home school for various reasons. I've found that their kids are as diverse as mine in terms of success. I have friends who've home schooled some of their children and chose to send others to public school based on each child's needs.

    One thing I've long observed is that parents who are passionate about education tend to have children who do well in school, be it public, private or at home. (Note the word "tend".) Likewise, parents who passionate about a sport, will tend to have children who participate in that sport and if they have a modicum of talent, do well in it.