While most Americans were enjoying barbecues and the Hanley family was watching 70 mph winds blow a stream of water up the hill in front of our house, homeschoolers were busy organizing a boycott against Subway and possibly even Scholastic. My email box had more messages related to the boycott than spam, and the forums were hopping over a holiday weekend.
In a way, it is one of those feel good moments as a homeschooler. There are just enough homeschoolers that someone, somewhere will notice any slight dealt to the homeschool community. And we are networked well enough that major corporations bend in a single weekend. And a holiday one at that.
On the other hand, what was the boycott over?
$5000 in athletic equipment for my child’s school? This is clearly meant to benefit a school. And while Nebraska may consider me a private school, as many states do, I do not hold corporations to the legalese surrounding homeschool legislation. And they are not doing anything morally reprehensible with their dollars in supporting public and parochial schools. They just don’t want to give me that much playground equipment for my backyard. HSLDA chimes in with a letter dated for the 27th:
We understand that the competition is focused on traditional public and private schools because the grand prize of $5,000 of athletic equipment is designed to be used by a traditional school and not an individual family. A potential homeschool winner, however, could simply donate the grand prize to a public or private school of their choice or to a homeschool sports league. Open Letter to Subway
Sure we could donate the equipment. But I think Scholastic and Subway want a little more assurance that the equipment is going to benefit a school. One with an enrollment greater than my family’s size. Now, the whole thing could have been avoided with a simple readjustment to the rules. Something like:
The playground equipment will go the accredited school of the winner’s choice.
Then regardless of who wins, the real prize goes where it is intended to go.
It isn’t pretty out there, and it is rare that I really see this much division in the boards I frequent. I never knew someone’s choice to boycott or not boycott could be so personal. That my shoulder shrug at the whole thing would result in impassioned defenses of how boycotting does work, and an insistence that we have to remain vigilant even in the little things. Or that those who are not boycotting would see fit to not merely state why they think it is not necessary but go so far as to belittle those who have chosen to do so.
But really, do we make this big of a deal out of other companies who choose to support traditional schools?
Why aren’t we up in arms over Campbell’s Soup? Homeschoolers have been excluded from their label drives for as long as they have been going on without homeschool message boards mobilizing for war. How about General Mills’ Box Tops for Education Program? Or Target’s Take Charge of Education? Corporations have gotten away with donating money to schools for some time without raising the ire of homeschoolers. Simply because it comes in the form of a contest, we are suddenly boycotting? And worse, flaming each other?
Update: the petition has over 1500 signatures?
Some more opinions on the boycott:
Electric Barbarella, who is writing Subway asking them to please disregard the boycott.
And one pro-boycott from Sprittibee, because I like Heather. And there is an interesting discussion over there. And she tempered her title after reconsidering which I respect in anyone.
And one of the better articles I have read from American Thinker:
But why is this snub at homeschoolers even an issue? Homeschoolers face constant harassment from “officials” at the state and local school board level, as well as from teachers unions, and they are therefore more than a bit sensitive to perceived commercial discrimination. By banning homeschooled children from their essay contest, Subway has — accidentally or intentionally — placed themselves firmly in the “enemy’s camp.”
I think that is the real issue, even if I disagree with boycotting over this.
Updated to add:
A Woman on Purpose has a list of quite a few companies which do not allow homeschools, or require validation by some sort of governing body.
And Standing on Isaiah 54:13 is having difficulty with Pop Warner Football which her children have been involved in. They have finally gotten around to changing the rules to more easily accommodate homeschoolers, but now they need some validation by a governing body. Something that does not even exist in all states.