Taty Sena of Park Slope only recently felt comfortable admitting that she home-schools her 6-year-old daughter. “I was a closeted home-schooler for a while,” she says. “I needed to fully justify it to myself before I was made to explain my decision to others.”
It hasn’t been an especially good PR year for home-schooling, thanks to high-profile arrests in California — like the Turpin family, who home-schooled (and shackled) their 13 children in Perris, and Ina Rogers and Jonathan Allen, who home-schooled their 10 children in a feces-covered home in Fairfield, a North Bay town near San Francisco. In both cases, the children were taken from their parents and put into protective custody. But there’s not much about Sena that adheres to the cultural clichés of home-schoolers; she has only one kid, she’s not especially religious and she’s not, like the home-schooling parents in the recent bestselling memoir “Educated,” a survivalist prepping for the end of the world.
In fact, she lives in an area “with one of the best public schools in the city, PS 321,” she says. “And the vice principal of that school is one of my best friends, who is a great defender of children and their right for a childhood, so that was not a concern at all.”
So why did Sena, the director of education for the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, decide to educate her only child at home?
Inspired in part by Sena’s own less-than-perfect public-school education and her experiences teaching kids who’ve lost their love of learning, she says she no longer has faith in an “unnatural system created during the industrialization era.”
Whitney Koski, who moved to New York from Memphis, Tenn., in 2015 when her youngest daughter, Eleanor, was cast in “Les Misérables” on Broadway, feels the same way. She started home-schooling her daughters, at ages 11 and 9, because she “didn’t want our girls being put in an environment where everyone had to learn the same way.”