In response to Retorts Illustrated’s homeschool cartoon

To the Editor:

I find the homeschool cartoon on your “Retorts Illustrated” page extremely offensive. Homeschooled students consistently outscore public schooled students on standardized tests, are more involved in the community, qualify for more college scholarships (by percentage), are more likely to be holding down jobs in high school and even win more spelling bees (big deal, right).

I hope you will run an equally disparaging cartoon about public school students, who are truant to the point of causing the community at large to be in danger of losing freedoms in order to bring these delinquents into order so they are not a nuisance to the community. Our freedom has not been placed in jeopardy by the homeschoolers! It is the public school students who do not seem to be able to simply go to school! And their parents are as bad as they are, because they cannot make sure their children are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there, so the rest of us have to try to take up the slack for these irresponsible adults.

Maybe you should do a cartoon about these adults (parents of truant children) who are such a nuisance to our community, and make fun of them instead of the kids who are actually working hard and getting it right.

In fact, your cartoon may even attract the wrong kinds of people into homeschooling. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. (I have been told by more than one mom that they couldn’t stand to be with their child all day! Imagine that!) But by far, most who do it are schooling in accordance with the law. In fact, I do not personally know of any that are not. And the prosecutor can bring criminal charges against those who are not, which is more than they can do to the parents of truant public school children!

I thought you guys had more sense and better taste. I was wrong; you have effectively demonstrated your ignorance. Unless there is a public apology, I will not be supporting your publication. I will, in fact, be providing an (accurate) report of your lack of sense, your lack of compassion, your misunderstanding of community issues and inability to accurately report the news every chance I get.

Kim Grubbs


To the Editor:

You have such an informative publication, but I must tell you… the cartoon on homeschooling was really, really offensive to those of us who work so hard to make sure our children receive a top-notch education.  I’ve encountered the “your kids must be nerds” stereotype but never anything like what was depicted in this offensive cartoon. 

Perhaps Mr. Stalder might consider drawing funny pictures about the reasons why our homes are centers of learning and life lessons – when our public schools have failed to fulfill their tax paid obligations to be so.

Thank you,

Heather Willard


To the Editor:

I’m wondering why you would run such an attack on parents who homeschool.

Homeschooled children routinely outperform public school children, especially the KCPSD children, or is this the reason that you attack them?

Or, is the artist an employee of the KCPSD? Is that why he attacks home schooled children?  Is he of the mistaken belief that the majority of parents that homeschool their children are so irresponsible to let them run wild?


William McCullough


To the Editor:

As parents, it is our primary responsibility to ensure that our children receive an education. How we choose to fulfill that responsibility is up to us, whether it be by delegating to public or private schools, or by educating our children at home. The overwhelming majority of those of us who have made the decision to educate our children at home take this responsibility seriously. Along with this responsibility we also recognize and vehemently strive to protect the freedoms that allow us the privilege of making this choice.

The recent (and on-going) debate on the necessity of a daytime curfew/truancy ordinance in Kansas City will obviously solicit responses from both those who support and those who do not support this ordinance. However, the cartoon by Brian Stalder published on 3/21/12 goes beyond civil debate and maliciously attacks all homeschool students and portrays them all as juvenile delinquents, when every comprehensive study has proven that this is exactly the opposite. Mr. Stalder has either through his ignorance or malice (and we sincerely hope it was just his ignorance and unfamiliarity of homeschooling) equated criminal behavior to homeschooling, and this not only extremely offensive, it is just wrong.

While we recognize Mr. Stalder’s constitutional right of freedom of speech, as well as your right to publish this cartoon, we would hope that your publication would encourage him to respond with an apology to the thousands of homeschool families in the Kansas City area that he has offended.

We also recognize our right to do business with the many advertisers on your website, and pending an apology from Mr. Stalder, we will make sure that we contact them and let them know that we will take our business elsewhere, and we will encourage all the other homeschool families that we know to do the same.


Tom & Tabitha Valencic


To the Editor:

Your cartoonist, Bryan Stalder, posted a cartoon March 21 that sets back the struggle of homeschool families to live free from prejudice.

His cartoon shows a youngster breaking into a house and calls it “homeschool fire drill.”  He shows a youth breaking into a car, and calls it “homeschool drivers ed.” He portrays a young man spray painting gang graffiti and calls it “homeschool art class.” 

Shame on him.

For the sake of a few cheap laughs, he has given new life to old stereotypes, treating some of the most amazing people you would ever want to meet like second class citizens, and making it harder for their children to grow up in a world without prejudice.

When Gayle McCorkle took her four sons out of public school, a staff member said, “You know, you have really bright boys; it’s a shame to equip them to be garbage collectors.” Stalder has expressed the same bigotry in cartoon form.

But here’s the rest of the story. Two of McCorkle’s sons went on to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy; one was admitted to West Point; the other earned a Ph D. from Iowa State University. 

Homeschooled students in the KC area will, in fact, go on to distinguish themselves in many ways -perhaps even comparably to the McCorkle boys. Eighth grade homeschoolers score at the 12th grade level on standardized tests, so they tend to stand out in a crowd.

One of the homeschooled youngsters who testified at the recent council committee hearing may one day even sit on the city council. But he or she will face just a little more headwind because Stalder’s cartoon tacitly encourages the public to judge people based on stereotypes.

Scott A. Woodruff, Esq., Senior Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association


To the Editor:

 As a long-time homeschooler I have to admit that I nearly laughed out loud when I saw Bryan Stalder’s March 21st Retorts Illustrated. Compared to the numerous caricatures of homeschoolers with buckteeth living in backwoods trailers or winning the National Spelling Bee while simultaneously translating Homer from the original Greek all in the name of Jesus (with her 10 siblings backing her up), this particular take on homeschoolers was quite refreshing.

However, it also illustrates one of the primary fallacies of the proposed ordinance. In 3 of the 4 frames the youngsters appeared to be engaged in activities that are already against the law. To my knowledge no homeschooler or other opponent of the proposed ordinance have concerns about enforcing existing law nor is anyone asking for homeschoolers to be exempt from laws regarding vandalism, auto theft, or breaking and entering. The concern is that this ordinance makes the act of being in public illegal for youth between the ages of 7 and 16 and while there are a number of exemptions, the burden is on the child and family to prove that they are innocent. How that “proof” would be provided is not stated and leaves a number of questions regarding the type of investigation which could ensue, particularly in “suspect” cases based on the neighborhood or appearance of the child/family. And then there are the cases of children who are actually truant, claiming to be homeschooling.

At the (Public Safety and Emergency Services) committee meeting, members of the Northeast community raised a number of serious concerns regarding personal and public safety – concerns they believed could be reduced by the passage of a daytime curfew. Interestingly, a number of studies published in a variety of journals, including Western Criminology Review and The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, show little to no reduction in the commission or victimization rates among youth in municipalities with daytime curfew ordinances compared to municipalities without such ordinances. There were also concerns raised about the unintended consequences of the ordinance, including getting youth involved in the legal system at young ages, the lack of alternative schools and other infrastructure to support struggling students, the disruptive behavior of reticent students on the classroom environment, and the “School to Prison” pipeline which is a burgeoning body of research documenting the ill-effects of dealing with struggling students through coercive and punitive measures.

The breakdown of education in America is a disturbing and growing phenomenon. Prior to becoming a homeschool parent I taught students with emotional and behavior disorders in the public school system; I do not take these challenges lightly. However, a knee-jerk reaction to “do something” over the substance of systemic change which may actually accomplish something isn’t even worthy of being called a band-aide. Yes, the homeschoolers showed up to voice their concerns regarding the potential intrusions into our liberty and privacy, but that is only one among a number of concerns that have been raised regarding this proposal.

Jessica Mattingly, LEARN Secular Home Education Network

Comments are closed.

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