Federal Relations

Bright Spots in Home Schooling

January 14, 2005  

Homeschool graduate chosen as battalion commander

By Christina Ishizu

Navy life was all that James Brown knew, so it was only natural for him to enlist in the Navy, as he did in July of 2001. His father and grandfather had both served in active duty, and his father, John Brown, was a graduate of the Naval Academy. Following in his father's footsteps, Brown was recently selected to a three-month term as battalion commander at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island.

Aviation Electronics Technician James Brown (Airborne Electronic Warfare/Naval Air Crewman) served at the Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island with Squadron VP40 until they were called to the Middle East. Stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, James flew 15 combat fights, logging in 625 flight hours and 125 overland hours. Brown was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for the superior performance of his duties in the Middle East. During this time he also applied to the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island. This was the first step to getting into the Naval Academy. The application process was grueling, but other Naval Academy graduates assisted Brown-for which he was very thankful.

During their time overseas, the VP40 Squadron came to greatly respect James and his commitment to duty. Homeschooling contributed to this, said James's father, in allowing James to be an individual and not conform to peer pressure. "We don't drink," said Mr. Brown. "That has been an area where James's friends have asked him a lot of questions, and a source of respect, too." The Browns started homeschooling when James, their oldest, was in kindergarten. Mrs. Brown's sisters, who both homeschooled, were the ones to introduce them to the concept.

James's duties as a battalion commander included fostering communication within the chain of command, leadership and supervision of the other students, and correcting and admonishing students who got out of line. When he wasn't studying, James played left-field on the Naval Academy Preparatory School's baseball team.

John Brown, who himself pushed for a Department of Defense trial program for homeschoolers, has a few words for homeschoolers who are interested in entering the military. "If a homeschool graduate wants to go into the service, it's a team effort between the parent, the student, and the recruiter. The military has become much more homeschool friendly."