“Public schools have been starved for 40 years, since the passing of one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of our country, Prop. 13. And you wonder why foreign kids are so much smarter than ours. They’re better educated! Other countries see investing in children as a win-win for their countries. How can so many of us be so fucking shortsighted?” Bette Midler FB February 7, 2017
Note: Since the last post, Betsy deVoss, a billionaire product of private schooling, has been made Secretary of Education. The abandonment of public schooling is confirmed by this knife in its back.
Homeschooling as a Screen for Conservative Republican Evangelical Activist Groups
As an example, Kieryn DArkwater posted on January 26, 2107, an article in autostraddle.com. In it she explains how “I was trained for the culture wars in home school, awaiting someone like Mike Pence as a Messiah.” This is the agenda behind the conservative state’s abandonment of public education. Destroying one of the three main pillars of our democracy has weakened the unity we need as a citizenry.
The conservative evangelical right profits from homeschooling three ways: reducing expenditures, fostering for-profit education, and students and parents with time – time to organize, propagandize, and sabotage any view they do not share. Her article is an eye opener about how homeschooling is just one of the arms of this political agenda.
These are expectations of teachers or administrators that cannot be fulfilled because they are general and unmeasureable. They reflect attitudes drummed up by negative media in order to support privatization and profit. They arise also from a cultural growth in consumer entitlement, parental angst, and unwillingness to allow children to adapt to cultural diversity.
One respondent to Zeise’’s website seems typical: “When i chose to homeschool my oldest at the end of his 2nd grade year, I didn’t notify our school district. I informed his principal/teacher that i would be only because i was tired of dealing with this individual’s lack of desire to communicate or try to solve issues that continually arose.”
Homeschooling as a Mask for the Right to Abuse Children
Social workers report masks of homeschooling to shield child abusers from authorities. While a misuse of homeschooling and tragic, this is not the danger discussed here. Fortunately there are organizations like the Coalition for Responsible Home Education that are shining the light on what homeschooling can become. Their website states “Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but requirements vary from state to state and are often inadequate to safeguard children’s interests.”
As a school counselor myself, I have often seen students who were hotlined for being abused taken out and “homeschooled”, moved to a remote part of the state where they would be hard to find. With no reporting required, the student effectively disappeared from any protections.
Homeschooling as an Attack on A Cohesive Democracy
Stories of homeschooler graduates doing fine on standardized tests like ACT and SAT create the impression that homeschoolers do not lag academically. Some stories about gifted people like Margaret Mead who were homeschooled promote the idea that, left to their own devices, children are better with the freedom to explore on their own. Exploration should definitely be part of a child’s education. But not up to 30 unstructured hours a week.
The danger is that, along with media, public schooling is one of the three pillars of our culture and democracy. Realize that the constant and enormous criticisms of education have another side: the idea that it is so important that all problems can be traced to it when it “ doesn’t work”.
But irrespective of one’s political orientation, the abdication of state responsibility to support education for all of the students in the state remains. Most do not realize why the campaign began to promote homeschooling. And they definitely don’t realize the long term harm it is doing.
The answer to this frustration, which has been fueled and magnified because of greed, is not to abandon public schooling.