Getting To The Principal Of The Matter

| MD, USA | Learning | July 13, 2017

(I work in a call center for a well-known virtual charter school. We are state-funded and thus have to abide by all state regulations. Many parents think that our company does homeschooling.)

Caller: “Hi, I’m trying to enroll my kids in homeschool.”

(We are trained to make sure parents know the difference, but casually.)

Me: “You would like to enroll your children into our virtual charter school? Certainly. Have you started your application online?”

Caller: “Virtual what? Is this homeschool?”

(I explain the difference, and like with 99% of all parents, she understands and we continue the call. I start to hear squealing and crying in the background, which is common for this job.)

Caller: “My name is [First Name], [Last Name].”

Me: “Okay, I see you started an application with us and you’ve already started filling out the online forms.”

Caller: “Yeah, but it wouldn’t let me put my kids in.”

(I notice there are seven children listed. Our default application maxed at eight people and a message would appear that you had to call if you needed to add more people, which is what she did. She is the only adult listed.)

Me: “I see you have seven students listed. Did you need to add another student to your account?”

Caller: “Yeah, I need to add [Kid #2], [Kid #8], and, uh… [Kid #9].”

Me: *scanning the kids’ names* “I see that [Kid #2] is listed here already, but I’ll add [Kid #8] and [Kid #9] for you now.”

(I add the two other kids, bringing the total up to nine children. I have a flag I see on the account that there aren’t enough adults to allow the application to process. This means I have to go through a list of questions with her to see if she even qualifies for our school.)

Me: “Our program requires your children to have learning coaches who are available to help with things like organization and homework. Who will be the primary learning coach?”

Caller: “That will be me.”

Me: “Do you have someone else you’d like to add as well?”

Caller: “No.”

Me: “Do you have someone who might be willing to help you with this? Our program requires no more than four students per learning coach.”

Caller: “What? Why?”

Me: “Well, it can become very hectic with four children, keeping track of their class schedules, homework, and teacher communication. We want our students to succeed while they’re with us, which is why we want to make sure learning coaches have manageable schedules with their students.”

Caller: “Oh, okay. In that case, you can add [Name].”

(I go ahead and add that person.)

Me: “Okay, just have that person call us when they’re available to finish setting up their account.”

Caller: “What? She can’t call you people.”

Me: “Why is that?”

Caller: “She’s eight.”

Me: “…what?”

Caller: “She’s my daughter. She’s the smartest though. She’s good at that stuff.”

Me: *I am trying so hard* “I’m very sorry, ma’am, but the learning coach must be at least 18 years old. Your daughter will not be able to be a learning coach for your other students.”

Caller: “Well, you put her on there, right? I have two more kids I need to add.”

Me: “Okay, we can do that, but I am letting you know that with 12 children, you will need two more learning coaches in order for us to process your application.”

Caller: “What? No. There ain’t no other learning coaches. How many times do I have to tell you? It’s me. I’m it.”

Me: *at her insistence, I put her other kids on her application* “Well, we can put your other kids on and maybe you can speak with relatives or friends who might be willing to help out. What are your other children’s names?”

Caller: *pauses* “Uh… which ones do I got on there?”

Me: *lists names of children*

Caller: *pauses* “Do you have [Kid #5]?”

Me: “Yes.”

Caller: “What about [Kid #11]?”

Me: “No, let me add him. Okay, he’s in. Who else?”

Caller: “How about [Totally Different Name]. No wait. That’s not her name. Uh…” *to the crying children in the background* “You. Your name. Tell mommy your name.” *to me* “Do you have [Kid #7]?”

Me: “Yes, she’s on there.”

Caller: “D*** it. I don’t know which kid I’m missing.”

Me: *half-joking* “You could try a roll call?”

Caller: “That’s a good idea. List them off again.” *to her kids* “Raise your hand when the lady says your name.”

Me: *I list the names of the children*

Caller: *to her kids* “Your name wasn’t called?” *pause* “Tell mommy your name.” *pauses, to me* “Add [Kid #12].”

Me: “Okay, he’s on there.”

Caller: “So when do we get our computers?”

(Some states provide a computer to households or students, but it varies. Not all states do this and it is 100% funded by the state. The computers have to be returned when the kid is no longer enrolled in our school. This caller’s state pays for one desktop computer per household. In rare cases, the principal might get approval to get a second computer, but never more than that.)

Me: “After you complete the enrollment process, the computer would be shipped to your house for your children to use to attend classes and complete their homework.”

Caller: “They each get one, right?”

Me: “No, ma’am. Your state pays for one computer per household.”

Caller: “How are 12 kids supposed to all share one computer?!”

Me: “Well, most states don’t even provide a computer to any families. This would help you out, but you would be responsible for making sure your students have what they need.”

Caller: *fuming* “I ain’t got the money for that!”

Me: “If you qualify for the program, there is a chance that the principal MIGHT be able to get your household a second computer, but even that is a stretch. If you aren’t able to provide another computer for them to use, this might not be the best program for you.”

Caller: “What?! What else am I supposed to do with this many kids!”

Me: “You do have the option of sending them to your local brick and mortar school as you have been doing up until now.”

Caller: “They ain’t been to no school! They been homeschooled their whole life!”

Me: *feeling so incredibly sorry for these unfortunate kids* “Well, ma’am, given how many there are and how much time they will need to be successful in classes, maybe sending them to a brick and mortar school is the best option.”

Caller: “Why do you care what I do with my kids?! This is a HOMESCHOOL! What I do is my business!”

Me: *shaking my head* “Ma’am, this is a state-funded school. We want all students to be successful with us and we have program rules that all parents are expected to abide by if they want their children to be enrolled with us. Keeping up with 12 different curriculums and 12 different schedules is just not possible for one person. That is why we have a cap of four students per learning coach. The curriculum is going to be a little more rigorous than in your typical public school. There is just no way the principal will allow a household enroll that does not meet those requirements.”

Caller: “OH, REALLY? I want to talk to this principal.”

(She puts emphasis on “principal” like we don’t have a real principal. We do. Each individual school has its own principal located in a real office with a real address that any parent can go to or call.)

Me: “Okay, ma’am, here is the principal’s number. He can explain anything you need in more detail.”

Caller: *smugly* “Yeah, we’ll see about that. You’ll see.”

(The principal explained what I did and told the caller that she would not be permitted to enroll in the school. His notes described her as “frightful” and “generally confused.” He certainly saved me a LOT of pointless work with this lady.)

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  • Powers

    I… I can’t even.

  • DragonEmpress

    Oy. I can’t keep my family’s names straight, and there’s only six of us and a bunny. I can’t imagine twelve people. No wonder she had to take roll. (Pre-empting people who diss her for not being able to keep her kids’ names straight.)

    • Powers

      Can’t keep them straight, or don’t even know them?

    • Carrie

      Yeah, this isn’t a case of her calling Billy Bobby, it’s her not realizing Bobby even seems to exist.

      • Vulpis

        Yeah…in general in these situations, the mother will brainfart on which name belongs to each kid…but knows all the names. Hence the classic ‘roll-call’ trope. This woman needed the OP to list them for her..

    • Matt Westwood

      Why do you need to? As long as *they* have a vague idea of what their names are, and that the brown things swimming in the bottom of the toilet aren’t food, surely that’s enough for them to graduate?

    • SicklyGiggler

      My mother is one of 9, a cat, and two dogs. She has been called by every name at least once. We have a joke when someone forgets the word for something or someone’s name to start just rapid fire saying “Shar-Bran-Cas-Mea-Steph-John-etc., whoever the f*ck you are!”

      • zizania

        Same with my family and there were only three of us. The first syllable of all our names rhymed, so it was quite comical when Mom was trying to figure out which of us she was trying to call.

      • Oldest of five girls here. Dad would run through all our names before getting to the one he wanted. His mother was the baby of 15 children and spent part of her life thinking her name was “D*mmit Jean.”

    • And all I can think of is Dr. Seuss’s “Too Many Daves.”

  • Ken

    Usually parents with that many kids are thrilled to ship them off to school everyday.

  • Kitty

    What the… I was wondering if this was a woman who does homeschool for people’s children as her job, but she seems to be the mom of all twelve of these kids. I… wow… Okay. I’m already sitting down, but I think I need to sit down.

    • Eilonwy_has_an_aardvark

      Yeah, I was wondering if maybe her kids’ cousins (on whatever side would give them the same surname) were in the mix.

      Otherwise, to have 12 kids of school age requires either throwing in a few multiple births or having basically a kid a year. The oldest few would be old enough to be almost done with school.

      • It could also involve adoption or step kids.

        However she ended up with twelve kids, she’s clearly not cut out to homeschool them.

      • Crazed Sanity

        Could be a religious family, plus being super fertile.

  • Dani Toussaint

    Over 18 years experience in homeschooling & 10 in homeschool counseling makes me seriously doubt this was a homeschooler. I suspect this was a woman with a “day care” of some sort trying to get free educational curriculum. It could also be a case of someone who thought they would get money for the virtual online school. I, unfortunately, had to deal with someone like that but fortunately for their kids I talked them into keeping the kids in the public school. A lot of people like to claim they are homeschooling when they are not.

    • sakasiru

      If she just wanted to get the learning material and the computer, she could have just enrolled four of them and then share or copy their material. If it’s a day care, several of them should be around the same age.

      • Sophia West

        She could’ve been aiming to get free computers too

        • sakasiru

          Yes, I got that feeling, too, since she really got angry from that point on when OP told her she would only get one.

        • Dani Toussaint

          I actually counselled a family that just wanted to say they were using the virtual school to get a free computer and the free science equipment but still do their own thing. I informed them it doesn’t work that way. The virtual school work is checked over by a state certified teacher every night and testing is done at the local schools .

      • Dani Toussaint

        You cant share. Each child gets a sign on name & password. Their work is check on each night by a state certified teacher. If the work is done more then once, the program records that and would send up red flags. Plus, the teacher is required to speak to each student and they show up for testing periodically during the year, in some school districts its monthly. There are also field trips set up that in most cases are required events with attendance being taken. If this woman is running a day care /private school, the parents will not get the paperwork needed if each child is not signed up which will lead to legal issues.

        • sakasiru

          I see, thank you.

  • SS

    Since she doesn’t even know her own children’s names, and it sounds questionable how much education they are getting, I hope you sent someone out to do a wellness check on the family.

    • Dani Toussaint

      In this case it would be an educational neglect call

    • sakasiru

      Is there no regulation about homeschooling? Regular tests the kids have to take to check if they are up to the curriculum? I hope you can’t just pull your kids out of school an declare them homeschooled, but never teach them a thing.

      • Gnomer Denois

        My nieces have been homeschooled the last couple of years to allow for practice time (they are competitive gymnasts) and their homeschool program has them complete assignments and tests online to meet curriculum requirements. I know that my sister shopped around a bit for homeschool programs that she felt were good for her kids, so it’s possible there are shady ones that let them skate by, but I believe to qualify as homeschooled they do have to be in a homeschool program approved by the state.

        • Dani Toussaint

          Approval by the state requirements vary from state to state and from homeschool group to homeschool group. Some bad homeschoolers skate by but not for very long. The school or relatives turn them in for educational neglect pretty quickly. Other homeschoolers, like me, do not encourage them to join in our groups because they give those of us who do work hard a bad name. It doesn’t take long for them to get fed up with being hassled and put the kids back in school.

      • Benny

        Homeschool regulations and requirements are set at the state level, so some have much greater rigor and oversight than others.

      • WizardStan

        There’s supposed to be. Here in Ontario kids can be homeschooled and then do regular tests to ensure they’re keeping up with the prescribed curriculum. My cousins were homeschooled, but my aunt discovered that taking these tests meant in the eyes of the government they were still “enrolled” in school, so the school board would get money for them. She was having none of that, didn’t want to let the system that had failed her precious babies have even one extra cent.
        Yeah, she pulled them out at grade 1 and 3 respectively, they’re now in their 20s, and only one of them knows how to read properly and that only because her husband taught her. But it’s the school system that failed, she’d insist.

        • sakasiru

          But how did she pull that off? If these tests are required, she can’t just say “my kids don’t take them” without consequences?

          • WizardStan

            They’re required in order to graduate, that’s all. She was well aware of the fact that, by not having them take the tests, they would never get their grade 6, grade 8, nor high school degrees. That didn’t matter. Other than that there are no consequences.

          • WizardStan

            In other words, yes, you can absolutely pull your kids out, call them homeschooled, and teach them nothing, you’re just literally setting them up for failure. Not entirely true, my one cousin, despite barely being able to read, has found employment as a mechanic, and my other cousin got pregnant and then married and her husband does well enough for their family, so it did work out, sort of, I guess.

      • Jules

        I had a friend who was “home schooled” but her mother never taught her anything. She self-taught and was only successful because she happened to be very intelligent. She would have thrived in public school, but her parents didn’t allow it. Depends on your state what the regulations are. Some parents can do it well but some do it terribly.

      • Mechwarrior

        A lot of home schooling in the US is done by fundamentalist religious groups that are quick to cry about “religious discrimination” if they’re asked to follow the same rules as the rest of society.

        • I’d say it’s probably split 50/50 between those groups and parents who disagree with their area’s public school system in some way or another (unrelated to religious beliefs). In fact, all the homeschoolers I know (and I know quite a few) dislike the public school’s teachers, feel its curriculum is inadequate, dislike the district’s success rate and test scores, or are trying to avoid a high percentage of troublemakers in the public schools. And this is in several different states.

          • Novelista

            With the stories I’ve heard about Common Core, I would homeschool my children if I had any. But I probably couldn’t use any of online programs out there, because I imagine they’d all stick to CC. 🙁

          • I have siblings who are math teachers, and from discussions with them Common Core isn’t really any better or worse than other math systems being taught (also Common Core isn’t the only system being used, if my kids’ current and previous schools are anything to go by).

        • Dani Toussaint

          That may have been the case some years ago but not anymore. Homeschooling use to be done only by fundamentalist or hippies. Now the vast majority are homeschooling due to the poor education provided by many public school systems. There is also a huge increase in homeschooling among those with special needs/learning disabilities and the African American community; so much so that some major cities have exclusive African American homeschool groups.
          As far as following the same rules, that is not the problem. In many cases, we would like to follow the same rules but because the local public schools lose money for students not being in the system they try to create extra rules for those that homeschool in order to harass us.

        • RoseDragon11

          Yep, I remember a homeschool pamphlet going around to protect parents from CPS calls when they abuse their kids in the name of religious beliefs. It talked about training your kids on what to say and hiding your spanking paddle ( I’m not talking about just spanking, there was also other types of abuse like isolation and forcing your children to do dangerous tasks without getting caught or noticed but spanking is the most accepted one in the US). It was disgusting and I wish I’d never read it. These people use religion as an excuse to keep their children under lock and key so they can abuse them and never teach them about the outside world.

      • Emma

        So, I was homeschooled my entire school career until college. Basically, homeschooling laws differ by state. Where I live (Texas) and in a lot of the southern US the laws are pretty much nonexistent.

        My parents kinda just needed to make sure the state knew we were receiving some form of education somehow. We never had to take any kind of state tests except the SAT and ACT for college apps.

        I know that in general, the further north you go the stricter the laws are regarding homeschooling. In the south you can absolutely just take your kids out of school and say they’re being homeschooled.

        However, it’s not actually that bad. Repeated studies have seen that homeschooled children routinely score higher on the SAT than their public or private schooled counterparts.

        In the United States, the education system is pretty dismal. Underpaid and overworked teachers with too few resources and too many students to teach. When one is homeschooled the ratio is usually 1 teacher to 3-8 students. The kind of focused education homeschooling provides is a definite positive.

        • pointe4Jesus

          In my experience (also homeschooled, woo!), the people that pull their kids out of school to homeschool them are the people that care about making sure that their kids get a good education. The exceptions, while often egregious, ARE the exceptions. Sadly, the outliers are most often the ones who make the news, due to providing much more interesting headlines than those who consistently do what they’re supposed to. But that doesn’t make them the rule.

          • Laren Dowling

            Yup. I was homeschooled for half a year, because the middle school I was attending in Missouri was horrendous. I learned more in those few months than I had in the previous 2 years. And I only did school for 2-4 hours a day, because Mom and I were able to get through my curriculum so quickly. I had some extra chores, to make up for the fact that Mom took time out of her normal schedule to work with me. But after that, I was free to do as I wished. I got some wildflower books and started studying the local plant life. I learned about birds. I rode my bike all over the place.
            For P.E., I joined the county track team. Practice 3-4 nights a week for 3 hours, and meets on Saturdays. While I’ll never be a runner (I had asthma, but we didn’t realize that’s what was happening until a few years later), I medalled in race-walk, shot put, and long jump. My dad also worked with me on basketball, baseball, and other organized sports.

          • BMK

            I wish I was homeschooled for the reason that, like you, I learned a lot more on my own after graduating than I did in school. As a writer, I think I learned more interesting facts about things like science and history just by googling random things in the name of research. A lot of it even turned out to be surprisingly practical in the sense that someone would ask, “I wonder why X does Y?” and I would jump up and be like, “I’ve waited for this day all of my life!”

          • Laren Dowling

            There are definite advantages to homeschooling. My interests certainly informed my studies, and we were able to do much more hands-on learning than can be done in a school setting. We also had the time to study everything in-depth, and still get done with the whole school day in only a few hours, because we didn’t waste time. And we had a lot of fun, too. I also learned how everything actually applied to real life, instead of just learning the classroom application and then forgetting it after the test.

        • Moon moon

          Yeah, I’m from Texas. My brother-in-law was homeschooled and hated it. His parents didn’t teach him anything. He eventually managed to convince his parents to let him go to public school (where he met my younger sister) but the school made him start as a Freshman because he did so poorly on the placement test they gave him. He was supposed to be a Junior, a year above me. I always forget he’s actually older than me because he graduated with my sister. His younger sister, who remained homeschooled, can’t pass the GED even after more than a year of prep because she just… doesn’t know anything.

  • Richard Hanck

    Twelve kids… the smartest of whom is 8. Assuming all of them are hers full term, and not twins/triplets/etc, that’s a minimum of nine years (straight) pregnant. But, if all the kids are supposed to be of school age and capable of using a computer, that’s another five to six years tacked on to #1. That would make the 8yr old second or third youngest (and the oldest ~14 and homeschooled by her (shudder)).

    Statistics says that if this lady had multiple births, she hit the reproductive lottery.

    (if I did my math right)…
    Twins are about 1% of births. Chances of six sequential sets of twins is roughly one in ten billion.
    Triplets are about 0.013% of births. Chances of four sequential sets of triplets is about 1 in 3 quadrillion.
    Quadruplets are about 0.000142% of births. Chances of three sequential sets of quadruplets is about 1 in 349 quadrillion

    Something does not add up. Easiest thing I can think of is that she’s running a “day care” that she wants to get paid by her clients as a “private school” without doing any of the actual work of such a school, or having any of the credentials, by using a “home school” program to do the heavy lifting.

    • sakasiru

      Having twins is influenced by genetics, though. It’s unlikely that every pregnancy results in twins, but there are couples who have several sets of twins.

    • Difdi

      Your math is fundamentally flawed — you can cite statistics all you like, but the thing you must always remember about them is that no one told the universe it can’t do something that is statistically impossible.

      • Mechwarrior

        There’s no such thing as statistically impossible, just greater and greater degrees of implausibility.

        • Difdi

          I’m aware. But when you’re discussing probabilities that the universe or the planet or the human species isn’t old enough to contain if the statistics accurately describe reality, is there really a difference?

          But nobody told the universe about that either.

    • Chances of having multiples can also be affected by fertility treatments, so that’s an option.

      I do know a family that had 14 children, 2 of whom were adopted and 4 of whom were two pairs of twins, so multiple sets of twins isn’t wholly improbable.

    • 4302

      Well, there are genetics involved which means she might be more likely than the average woman to have twins and such. It’s also very possible that she’s not the biological mother of all of them.
      Still, it’s an impressive number of kids.

    • Leah

      sakasiru is right. Twins etc is genetic. I have a friend who, out of 3 pregnancies, 2 of them were twins.

      • Athena Anne

        I used to know a lady like that too. She had 5 kids within 3 or 4 years. I think it was twins, a single, and then triplets.

        • Noinipo

          I’m pretty sure that’s six kids.

          • Athena Anne

            You’re right, lol. I was clearly sleep deprived when I wrote that

  • Linda Spitsyna

    I seriously hope social services were notified. A lot of things there are raising red flags.

    • Peter

      Only one flag needed, which social services should already be aware of: 12 kids. There’s no way they can do their job right if they don’t schedule a friendly visit after child number 7.

      • Nora Miller

        While there are plenty of people that cannot handle that many children, there are many others that can. To say DSS/CPS needs to visit after #7 is wrong, unless a “red flag” is reported.

      • KL Walpole

        It’s not necessarily the number of children but the fact that she didn’t seem to know all their names that caught my attention.

        • Dana Corby

          Naw… I’m one of only 5 and there were plenty of times when mom would draw a blank, point, and say “Whoever you are, do such and such ”

          But this obvious Quiverful loon takes the cake. CPS, stat!

          • KL Walpole

            I’m the oldest of three, and my mother once yelled at my sister by saying my name, my brother’s name, my sister’s name, the dog’s name, and my mother’s boyfriend’s name, she was so mad. We still talk about it, thirty years later. But that was a one-time happening, and she was really embarrassed. This woman sounds like it happens a lot.

          • Disconnected

            I’m the youngest of three, my mother once went through two dogs, a cat and my sister (I’m male) before she got my name right.

        • It wouldn’t be my only flag, but combined with everything else (like the insistence that they’ve been homeschooled all their lives and yet she doesn’t seem to already have an education plan in place or seem willing to listen to someone with whom she’s trying to enroll), the “tell mommy your name” bit is troublesome. How many multiples does she have for the eight-year-old to be her first go-to for “additional learning coach”?

          I mean, my parents would draw a blank and occasionally call my sisters and I “whoever you are” or “number [whatever],” but when talking to someone else, they’d actually take the time to remember our name instead of just sounding like they had more kids than sense. My mother’s parents (who had eight children total, with my mother as the oldest) didn’t do this. Heck, my paternal grandmother was the baby of fifteen children and her parents still didn’t pull the “who are you again?” when around strangers. I even knew a family in CT who had 14 children total, and didn’t pull this in strangers’ hearing. It’s the sort of thing you keep as a family joke, not a serious “I can’t remember all my kids’ names.”

          Also maybe I’m just cynical, but her insistence on all twelve of her children having their own school-supplied computer sounds a lot to me like she’s trying to scam computers rather than actually caring about her kids using them for learning.

      • Anne

        You may want to read “Cheaper by the Dozen” – the movies don’t do the story justice. A husband and wife have twelve kids, don’t hire nannies, don’t forget names, and everyone does just fine. All the kids graduate early and go to college. And, yes, it’s from real life not a made up story.

        • Jules

          19 steps up the mountain is another great real-life story like this. Except all their kids are adopted at-risk kids.

        • Holly

          Actually, the real Cheaper by the Dozen family had domestic help. There were nannies (plural), a cook, and Lillian’s mother in law lived with them, which certainly helped.
          There were never 12 young children in the household at the same time. First of all, one of their children died at age 6, and she was “int he middle.” But I see the argument that 11 is not much easier than 12. Of course, the kids were also spaced out a bit in their birth dates. By the time the youngest was born, the oldest one was 17.

          The book is a fictionalized account with some quite serious embellishments.

        • Mechwarrior

          If it were easy for most people to handle 12 kids, Cheaper By The Dozen wouldn’t be a notable book.

          • Anne

            True, but having 12 kids doesn’t automatically warrant a call to CPS either.

          • Mechwarrior

            For a family that large, it probably actually would be a good idea for CPS to keep an eye on things just to make sure that there aren’t any problems.

          • Shawn Crews

            I don’t think anyone would necessarily need to step in but really, a quick pop in isn’t outrageous. 12 is an extreme number of kids for one family and that alone would be reason to check it out.

          • I’ll agree that it could help, if done as a “we want to make sure you know you have resources available” rather than an immediate “we don’t think you can cut it.”

          • Vulpis

            Yeah…I was thinking maybe not CPS as such, but a more general social services check to find out if they do need assitance (and at least in my area, they much more readily give assistance to those with kids than just about any other situation)

          • Leah

            “that alone would be reason to check it out.”
            No, it wouldn’t be. If nobody has reported any kind of neglect, abuse or any other problem, the number of children alone is not a sufficient reason to check it out.

          • Laren Dowling

            No, it’s not. My grandfather was the youngest of 19. No problems there. One of my close friends has 14 siblings. Again, not a problem.
            One of my neighbors has 10 kids, all healthy, happy, and well-adjusted. Their oldest son is a year out of high school and doing great. He’s stopped by to help us out a few times, just because he had spare time. Wonderful kid.
            There is no reason why having 12 kids should be anyone’s business but the family’s.
            HOWEVER, this crazed bat obviously has problems that have nothing to do with the number of children she’s birthed.

          • Shawn Crews

            I never even hinted that they couldn’t be a wonderful family. I just think that someone making contact with them isn’t a bad idea. I’m not sure why people are so bothered by it. If these kids were in public school someone would already have contact with the family and have a clue as to whether or not there were issues. Being homeschooled isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does limit contact with people who can assess welfare. 12 kids is a lot. One person homeschooling 12 kids is concerning. Either way, no one is harmed by a quick welfare check.
            “It seems like you have everything you need and things are going well. Please don’t hesitate to call if I can help in any way.” Easy peasy.

          • Laren Dowling

            Right, because social workers aren’t already overloaded as it is. No, having a large number of kids is not an indication of there being a problem. Until there is such an indication, the government needs to stay out of people’s private lives.

          • Shawn Crews

            Again, I never said having a large family is an indication of there being a problem. Being aware of an unusual family situation isn’t the same thing as calling it a problem. You are being pretty defensive about it. One unqualified person being solely responsible for the health, welfare, and education of 12 kids seems like something we should at least be aware of to me since these kids don’t really have much power to take care of themselves but if you are sure that no one should bother saying a quick hi then ok. You win.

        • chickenface

          My grandfather knew the real Cheaper by the Dozen dad.

        • Kyeara Jones

          That was a really good book. The parents also taught/worked with the kids in many aspects.

      • pointe4Jesus

        I know a very lovely family with 12 children, and yes, they were homeschooled. Those who are grown are upstanding members of society, most with beautiful families of their own, and the younger couple show every sign of being well on their way to the same. As others have said, it’s not the number, it’s everything else going on.
        (They do have both parents, as it seems this family does not. That changes quite a number of things.)

      • Leah

        Wow, really? So families should be capped at 7 children? Because why? When I grew up we were friends with a family who had 11 kids (no multiples). They had really good parents, all attended a private school up til year 10 when they chose if they wanted to change schools (some did, some didn’t). A majority of them completed Year 12 and most of them went on to complete university or a trade qualification. Their mother is perhaps the gentlest, loveliest, most generous woman I have ever met. I would never in a million years have 11 kids but that family did it pretty much perfectly IMO, and did a better job with their kids than a lot of families I see with only 2 or 3.

        • Zania Sovijarvi-Spape

          No need to cap families at any size, long as the parents can care for them. And no need to not be generous with help to struggling parents, one unplanned one is an accident that could happen to anyone, and two or three unplanned is colossal bad luck, like being struck by lightning, which also happens to people. But if someone has twelve they cannot properly educate or provide for, you start seriously wondering if they really have not heard of family planning, and if so, what else haven’t they heard of.

  • Lucía Bazán

    What sort of “education” do these kids get? If children are the future, this frightening.

  • Matt Westwood

    Why is this NAx-worthy? Just sounds like a normal run-of-the-mill everyday encounter with an averagely-above-performing American family to me.

    • Frédéric Purenne

      Even by American standards, that is not average.

      • Kristen

        Oh no it is not. Americans would be torching this woman’s ass for child abuse

  • Kevin Conti

    I can’t help but read this story as an alternate history of the Duggars, in which the dad either died or left the family.

  • Vormen Lennie Namender

    So she has 12 children and wants to teach them all by herself in home schooling environment and the one that is 8 will help her? How does this even suppose to work? And she doesn’t even remember all names?
    The story kind of reminds me of a school project where we were discussing the School right in the German Constitution and a text where two parents refuse sending their son to school with the reasons “We can teach him better than any school since we are unemployed and have enough time for our child.” “Our child can live an learn here peacefully without any tricks from stranger students” “We can prepare our child better to his future job. He will be an engineer so Maths, physics and technical studies are more important to him than history or music”. I wonder if this is what people also think when they want to do home schooling (except for the reason that “school teaches lies in biology and history”)

    • Laren Dowling

      No, that’s not what most homeschooling parents think. My mom homeschooled me for half a year, because the school I was attending was atrocious. Within those few months, we covered more material than I had in the previous 2 years. Missouri allowed for dual enrollment (being homeschooled while still taking certain classes at the public school), so I stayed in band and choir. For P.E., I joined the county track team and had practice 3-4 nights a week for 3 hours, plus meets on Saturdays. My dad also taught me all the different sports, being an athlete himself. We did a lot of hands-on experiments for science, and since I was starting pre-algebra, mom had me applying it in practical ways, like figuring out the the grocery list based on recipe ingredients and the family budget. So my homeschool education was far more well-rounded than any public school.
      Then we moved, and I attended normal school again, as the middle school in Wisconsin was far superior to the one I’d attended in Missouri.
      A few years later, my mom did the same thing for my little sister, after her teacher actually yelled at her in class for being “too stupid to breathe.” That sister has permanent brain damage due to medical malpractice during her birth; it’s not severe damage, but it does cause problems with learning at times. So you have to teach her in a different way than most kids. But once she gets a concept, she’s got it, and there’s no going back. The one-on-one teaching from my patient mother allowed her the time and style of learning she needed to grasp certain fundamentals that helped her when she went back to public school a couple years later. And even after she went back to regular school, Mom still helped her at home with new concepts, like algebra.
      There are many reasons to homeschool. So long as the parent is willing to put forth the effort it takes to actually educate the kid (and makes sure they still have opportunities to socialize), homeschooled kids tend to out-perform their public school counterparts in most every way.

      • Vormen Lennie Namender

        Thank you for your detailed reply. I agree, if those were such horrible school those are good reasons for home schooling (the teacher called a student stupid? What kind of character is that? Those should never be teachers). After all you weren’t alone at home and had some outdoor activities and practiced actual siocial life. And if someone needs healthcare then it needs special treatment, this is understandable.
        But the problem is that how do you check if the parent is teaching the child properly and actually educate the kid. I can imagine that some parents who have their own impression of the world, e.g. if they live a very religious way or are nationalists and don’t want to send them there due to lessons that don’t fit in their own picture then it is a point against it. Children should be taught that there are people with different opinions and that not all are nice. It is part of life experience too.

        • Laren Dowling

          Yeah, some teachers are just horrible bullies lording their authority over their students.
          There were state-mandated tests that I still had to pass (which I did, with flying colors). And my mom didn’t agree with a lot of the crap being taught in certain classes (our school’s sex-ed was famously risque, so mom just pulled out her medical textbooks – she’s an x-ray tech and EMT – and covered it that way; I certainly knew more about the biological aspect of things than any of my peers).
          Whatever the reason someone chooses to homeschool, that’s their perogative. Their kid, their choice. And the vast majority of homeschoolers do great jobs. There are countless homeschool associations out there who provide support for the parents, and group events, to help kids socialize while they learn. Some even have their own bands, choirs, sports teams, etc.

  • Zumi Chase

    “Tell mommy your name”…? What, did she pull a Bender and adopt a gaggle of kids from the local orphanage?

    • Dixie Landings

      Twelve baby humans, twelve hundred wingwangs!

    • Seeoahtlahmakaskay

      “Gaggle?” That’s kind of an odd way to refer to a group of kids.

      • therapod

        Well, what would you call a group of kids? A pod?

        • Seeoahtlahmakaskay

          A cornucopia. What would you call a group of adults?

          • therapod

            An infestation.

      • Well, it’s often like herding geese, so I think the term is appropriate.

  • Kira

    JFC lady! It´s a vagina, not a clown car!

    • EJ Nauls-Poland

      One of the best comments I’ve read today.

    • Farker?

  • beacon80

    Cletus: I teach the big’uns, and the big’uns teach the little’uns. Course, no one taught me, which makes the whole thing an exercise in futility.

    • Kathryn Baggs

      Thank god, I was hearing Brandine and Cletus through that whole story. *shudder*

  • godzillahomer

    Schools, not cheaper by the dozen

    and I smell a scam, either a day care or orphanage woman trying to get free computers

  • I can’t… I can’t even say anything except that I feel so bad for those kids.

  • Adrian Mckeehan

    Do parents get paid in someway to home school their kids? Because if this lady has 12 and can’t remember all of their names then maybe this is some sort of scam.

    If not she is just one dumb parent.

    • Joy Rose

      Parents don’t get paid in any way to homeschool. Not even a tax break on school supplies. And they pay the taxes that fund public education on top of it all.

      Foster parents, on the other hand, do get paid to foster, and there are unfortunately situations in which people will get in as many kids as possible just to make money.

      • Holly

        Some states provide a small stipend to purchase curriculum materials from an approved list, as far as I know. It is NOT enough to make a living on, and the stipend can go only towards those materials.

      • Adrian Mckeehan

        Thank you for the response

        That Foster thing is sad.

      • Dani Toussaint

        However it is extremely rare to see a foster child being homeschooled. In order for a foster child to be homeschooled you have to have permission of the state and you could probably count on one hand how many times in the US where this has happened. As a general rule, children’s services do not like the concept of homeschooling in any situation.

        • S Busersky

          It’s more common than that. I was homeschooled growing up and involved in activities with many other homeschooled families. I can think of three foster children off hand that I knew in that group. I will say however, in at least two of the cases they were planning to adopt the child, so the state might be more willing to allow it in that type of situation.

  • bahknee

    Why does it seem like she really just wanted 12 computers?

  • Raven Odette

    Homeschooled, 12 kids

    Lemme guess. Quiverfull?

    • 4302

      I don’t know what that last word means but reading it made me want to play Skyrim as an archer.
      At least in that game you’re limited to two kids unless you mod it.

      • Raven Odette

        The quiverfull movement is a fundamentalist christian offshoot, basically the idea is for couples to have as many children as they possibly can within physical limits. In order to basically “outbreed the heathens” and to “supply more soldiers for god’s army”

        • 4302

          Oh, I haven’t heard of that before. Man, that’s creepy. Sounds like an excellent setup for child abuse.

          • The Duggar family on TLC’s. show “19: Kids and Counting” is a prime example of a quiverfull family.

            That pretty much says all that needs to be said

          • 4302

            Well, I haven’t watched that show and don’t think TLC is available to me but I did hear about that family when the molestation thing became news. Gross.

          • pointe4Jesus

            From some of the things I’ve heard about Quiverfull, I don’t think the Duggars quite qualify. They believe some specific things that, from the book of theirs that I read, the Duggars don’t.
            They do share the belief that contraceptives, by artificially preventing pregnancy, violate God’s will by telling Him that He cannot work, but that’s about all they share, IIRC.

  • Medusa Jordan

    Unless she has had several sets of twins she should have lots of kids over 8. That the 8yo is the brightest implies that the older ones have special needs (but this has not been mentioned) or it is BS, and I inclined to believe the latter.

    • chickenface

      I agree the 8 year old is probably not the oldest, but even without special needs, it’s not impossible for older kids to be more obnoxious or more stubborn and the mom knows they are not helpful. In some days, my 10 year old is easier to deal with than my 13 year old because hormones. But still, this whole thing is nuts, and I wonder if it was a prank call or a scam.

      • Medusa Jordan

        I think it was a scam – she heard you could get a computer for homeschooling and being rather stupid thought she could get 12.

        • Laren Dowling

          That’s my impression as well. I know too many people who’ve tried to bilk programs like this.

  • LadyBelle

    I’m thinking this lady has maybe 1 or 2 kids. She heard from somewhere that if she enrolled kids into this program, she would get computers for each kid. So she grabs all the kids from the apartment complex and tries to pass them off at hers to get a truck load of computers. She can then turn around and sell those computers for profit. No, not a smart plan, but crack heads don’t always come up with good plans to get cash

    • I’m certainly hoping that’s the case, because the alternative is scary.

  • Cepheron Kalle

    I think it’s just…freakin f*cked up to have that many kids. You wanna talk about an actual “breeder” well that’s it. Not knowing their names, not really having the money to afford good care (which includes education), it’s just….ugh.
    Why do people like this have kids anyway?1

    • KashyaCharsi

      Not the big family is the problem but that she couldn’t be trusted with a cactus, let alone children.

  • Bethany Lieflijk

    My mother has five kids and three dogs normally plus an unknown but adequately large of additional kids and dogs of varying origin for visits. Not once has she confused any of them.

    • Laren Dowling

      Whereas I only have one son and a dog, and my husband still confuses their names half the time, especially when upset or flustered.

  • Evandril

    Anyone want to bet she just wanted the twelve computers?

    • KashyaCharsi

      Maybe, but I’d ask myself what for because I doubt she knows how to even use them.

      • Laren Dowling

        Probably for the resale value.

  • Novelista

    As many times as she said “ain’t”, I daresay she needs to graduate from this school before she enrolls anyone!

  • David Bourke

    Especially not knowing all the names I’m assuming she just gathered a load of local kids to try and scam free computers. They could have been all hers, there are some crazy breeders out there, but I find it unlikely

    • KashyaCharsi

      That’s actually a more reassuring explanation than what I imagined. I’d call CPS to look around in the household, just in case.

  • Jonathon Side

    Oh.
    My.
    Glob.

  • Brianna

    Maybe she should try a sterilization program instead?

  • Crazed Sanity

    Christ, now I’m depressed. Life isn’t going to be easy for those kids…

  • Kristen

    2 Possibilities:

    1) she only has 2 kids and the other kids are other nonexistent or the neighbors’ kids. This was all a scam to get 12 free computers to pawn off and get money

    2) This woman is one of those “must have 10+ children” and was trying to dump the education responsibilities on an 8 year girl while she continues to breed because only girls can do the child rearing and chores.

    Pray to every god in existence that this is #1

  • BMK

    That’s not a family. That’s a clan.

  • Lev Borovoi

    “Why do you care what I do with my kids?!”
    Only libertarians believe that what one does with their kids is entirely their own business. But libertarians also believe that nobody should get a computer at the taxpayers’ expense.

  • Sadies Ariel

    Soon to be 9 kids total for my niece’s and nephew’s house. Except there’s 5 adults that most of them came from (2 of the 5 are a gay couple who adopted twins and are adopting another little boy). Even with that ratio it can get hectic. The kids are all over the board with age ranges (unborn – 12) but you know the odd part? NONE of them ever get called the wrong thing by any of the adults. It’s not that uncommon for one or 2 to take all the kids out for a fun day (back when there was only 5 I used to do it on my own as well but now I don’t live near them). Raising multiple kids is not that difficult if you’re competent.

  • Estil Rumage

    Geez I could only find one person in all that who REALLY needed a good education and it wasn’t her kids 😛

  • AJofTX

    Is anyone else concerned that our tax dollars are used to pay for a school/program that gets to pick and choose who it educates?

    The money for this school was taken away from public schools where they are required to teach everyone, even a child in a family of 12 where the mom doesn’t seem to be at all intelligent.

  • MarvelGirl27

    12??? 12 Fraking kids?!??! Holy freaking Christ on a Bike lady, it’s a vagina, NOT a FV*KING Clown car!!!