William F. Buckley, Jr. – Calvert Homeschooler

In a previous blog post, we told you about a well-known Calvert alumni, Barack Obama.  The next person in our series on notable Calvert Homeschool students is William F. Buckley, Jr.

Buckley, a well-known American conservative author and commentator, was born in New York city in 1925.  He was the sixth of ten children.  As the offspring of an oil baron, Buckley and his siblings spent many of their early years in England and France.

Carl T. Bogus’ book, Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism, gives some insight as to Buckley’s early education and the roots of his political beliefs:

“Will [William Buckley senior] set up a homeschool in a small building immediately behind the main house at Great Elm, and he sent around a circular to three hundred families in the Sharon area inviting them to consider sending their children to his homeschool in order to avoid the ‘blight of Liberalism and Communism they will encounter in almost all elementary schools’.”

“Will purchased curricula from the Calvert School, a venerable homeschooling organization in Baltimore.  The children used Calvert materials for academic subjects, which they studied in the mornings.  In the afternoons, they received additional instruction in a wide assortment of sports and hobbies, ranging from golf and ballroom dancing to bird-watching and carpentry.”

Mr. Buckley’s education via Calvert certainly prepared him for an impressive number of accomplishments!  Here are just a few:

Yale Graduate – while studying political science, economics, and history at Yale, Mr. Buckley was the chairman of the Yale Daily News.  He graduated, with honors, in 1950.

Author Calvert’s composition lessons certainly prepared Mr. Buckley for his writing career!  Author of more than 50 books, syndicated writer, and news columnist, Buckley was the founder and editor in chief of, National Review, a political magazine credited for having a major impact on stimulating the conservative movement.

Central Intelligence Agency – Like many of his Yale classmates, Buckley was recruited into the CIA.  He served for two years.   Buckley later wrote about this time period:

“In 1980 I found myself seated next to the former president of Mexico at a ski-area restaurant. What, he asked amiably, had I done when I lived in Mexico? “I tried to undermine your regime, Mr. President.” He thought this amusing, and that is all that it was, under the aspect of the heavens. “

As if Buckley’s political writing career were not enough, he also later became a spy novelist, fashioning his characters and situations after his own CIA experiences!

Political Commentator and TV Show Host – Mr. Buckley may be best known as the host of the television show, Firing Line.  This political affairs show ran for more than 33 years and won an Emmy Award in 1969.  During that time period, Buckley became well-known for his conservative viewpoint, interesting mannerisms, and superior debate skills.

As an adult, Buckley often showed his support of homeschooling.  In the 1993 excerpt below, Buckley commented on homeschooling, both his own experiences and those of a public school teacher who was homeschooling his own children (which was rare at the time).

“The New York Times on Dec. 30 (1992) carried a touching story. It is of a young man with three boys and an infant daughter. The boys are 11, 9 and 7. And Dave Guterson and Robin Guterson are undertaking to educate them at home. This is legal in the state of Washington, where teacher certificates are not required of parents. However, the children need to submit to the same tests given to public school students. The Gutersons are having no problem with this: Their boys are getting substantially higher grades than their contemporaries in public schools.

There is a nice irony here because Mr. Guterson teaches at a public high school. He doesn’t find this in any sense paradoxical: He will do the best he can at the school he tests in, but he knows that better training can be done at home. He is so confident that his little home school is, if not the universal answer to the problem, at least a partial answer to it. And so he has written an extended essay, published as a book: “Family Matters: Why Home Schooling Makes Sense.”

I write with special sympathy for the Guterson model inasmuch as I am myself a product of home schooling (up until age 15). There were 10 of us, and life at home was as “Life with Father” in the famous play, the father in question having a mad-dog enthusiasm for everything from Latin to how to construct ship models inside glass bottles. It is Mr. Guterson’s point that the whole enterprise can be conducted on a modest scale, that the notion that expensive tutors need to be hired is incorrect.”  (Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel, 1-6-93)

Although more than twenty years have passed since Buckley wrote this, we think his perspective will sound quite familiar to many of our families and we are delighted to know that Calvert Education played a large role in William F. Buckley Jr.’s successful career.

What do you think?  Will we write a similar blog entry about YOUR child someday?


Buckley: William F. Buckley Jr. and the Rise of American Conservatism  By Carl T. Bogus