Thursday, July 20, 2006

Anti-homeschooling Views - part 3

Continuing on from Anti-homeschooling Views - part 1 and part2,


Here are few political reasons to dislike homeschooling.

1) Removes children from the reach of the great propaganda machines

Public education itself was embraced as a means of promoting social changes. Many believe that by manipulating the world view of children, they can bring about improvements to society. Those with a "messiah complex" contend that they, and only they, know best.

Unfortunately, it doesn't usually work that way. For example, the anti-drug campaigns in schools and on TV cost tax payers millions of dollars. The DARE program does nothing to decrease the use of illegal drugs. The "this is your brain on drugs" commercials have been shown to increase drug use, especially among boys.


2) Weakens bargaining power of teacher's unions and political groups

The NEA is one of the largest special interest groups in the United States. Their financial support and influence in politics is huge. Anyone part of this organization and those like it would, by necessity, dislike what homeschooling represents.


3) Jeopardizes employment of adults

The school system is one, if not the largest expenditure in state and federal budgets. Schools and the attached bureaucracies are one of the largest employers in many communities. People with few marketable skills outside the education venues will find anything that diminishes the influence of that bureaucracy very threatening.


4) Persuasion from Anti-homeschooling factions

It is easy to be intimidated by someone with credentials. Bureaucracies and teachers unions promote the idea that "you can't make it without us." Schools do a lot of self promotion. They are "saving children from a life of crime" and so forth. Parents, who themselves are a product of public school, are taught to be dependent. They see themselves as incompetent to meet the educational needs of their children.



To be continued..... part 4.

My next post will debate the psychological and emotional reasons to dislike homeschooling.

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15 comments:

Spunky said...

Interesting series Jeanine. It's a great mental exercise to look at things from the other side's point of view. You're brining up some good points.

Janine Cate said...

Thanks.

Mama Squirrel said...

So far I think you've caught a lot of the reasons, but I'm not sure if anyone's touched on the feminism angle. Homeschooling is one reason that women stay out of the work force (and don't put their younger kids in day care, adding that to your "creates unemployment for adults" category). The feminists (and those who listen to them) insist that we're wasting our education and weakening womens' position by choosing to stay home. Homeschooling ties right into that.

Mary Beth said...

SO TRUE! The secular humanists didn't even try to cover up their agenda. The homosexual actvists are now doing what the SH movement did in the 60's.

Elaine said...

I'm a public-school mother who is very interested and, I hope, open-minded about the homeschooling phenomenon. I do get a bit frustrated, however, when homeschoolers attack public school education with the same gross generalities that public school parents have too often leveled at homeschoolers. Let me suggest that all public schools aren't the same. And as a journalist who most definitely questions the status quo (and teaches my children to do the same), I can't help but bristle at statements like "Parents, who themselves are a product of public school, are taught to be dependent. They see themselves as incompetent to meet the educational needs of their children." Surely, there are parents out there who probably shouldn't homeschool, just as there are public schools I wouldn't allow my kids to attend. Before I run on too long, I just want to throw this thought out: Many public school parents I know (ourselves included) take an active role in our children's education, both by being involved in the school and by educating them at home, too, in values and academic interests. We spend A LOT of time reading together, discussing history, playing board games, etc. in what many of you might consider a homeschool model. However, there are many, many positives to public school (it's not all (or at all) standing in line and name-calling I assure you). To offer one: my children aren't dependent on only my creativity or resourcefulness (although they get that, too, at home.) And please don't tell me creativity doesn't exist in public education--I've seen it. To summarize: It's wrong to generalize, no matter how you choose to educate your children. We all have good reasons for our choices, I'm sure.

Janine Cate said...

>Many public school parents I know (ourselves included) take an active role in our children's education, both by being involved in the school and by educating them at home, too, in values and academic interests.

My family was like that. I did very well in school. I had some good years and a few really good teachers. I also had some really bad years. Academically, I did well. Physically and emotionally I did very poorly. I attended good schools 30 years ago when things where easier than now.

As a parent, I've decided that the benefits and conveniences of public education do not out way the bad. It also rubs me wrong to be so dependent and vulnerable to the whims of a bureaucracy.

Elaine said...

Thanks, Janine. I understand why homeschooling works for you and your family. But as for the overgeneralizations about public school--it that necessary? I certainly wouldn't expect to get away with gross generalizations about homeschooling, because it just wouldn't be fair. All I ask is that we public schoolers be accorded the same respect, because we aren't all dependent sheep who can't think for ourselves (or teach our children how to be independent thinkers).

Janine Cate said...

>All I ask is that we public schoolers be accorded the same respect, because we aren't all dependent sheep who can't think for ourselves (or teach our children how to be independent thinkers).

Elaine,
You are going to have to help me here. I really can't see where you are coming from.

I can not picture children immersed in a peer group at school gaining true psychological independence? It's not just the school, but the socializing of children to the norms of other children that would impact independent behaviors.

How do you define independence when tax payers are funding your child's education and government sets the standards for what your child learns, when and where. You can't pick your child's teacher or the course of study. Homework is assigned, regardless of the needs of your child. You can't choose the school calendar or the time that school starts and ends. Even the number of days of instruction are set by law. (I know a family that was threatened with expulsion and truancy for taking their children out of school to attend a family reunion.) Your children's peers define the style of clothing that your children want to wear and the type of music they want to listen to. Most, if not all, of their self image is determined at school. I'm not trying to be insulting, I just can't see what you mean. That IS my definition of "sheep."

From my experience with public school families, independent behavior is rare. Some public school families successfully teach their children to go against the norms at school, but they are in the minority. There are few schools which promote autonomy and self sufficiency.

With that being the case, isn't the "generalizations" about public school children as sheep a fair generalization?

If most of the children and their families have those dependent characteristics, how can it be an overgeneralization? It may not be true for your family, but it is true for most. The statistics for drug use, consumption of alcohol, cheating, sexual activity, and low basic skill compentency among middle school and high school children bear this out.


I suspect we are not talking about the same thing, kind of like comparing apples and oranges. So if you could, draw me a picture (figuratively) of what autonomy and self sufficiency look like when your children go to a public school.

Or, does "independent thinker" mean something else for you?

Janine Cate said...

My last phrase looks harsher than I meant, so I will try rephrasing.

I know some parents who buck the trends at their schools. They get involved. Their children do well, don't do drugs, and grow up to be good people. The parents do things like demand an alternate book for their child to read in English class when the assigned book is pornographic, etc.

I think these families do a good job. I don't consider them "sheep," but I would never call them truly independent. They may have independent thinking, but their behavior demonstrates a dependency upon an institution for the care of their children.

That's not to say that all dependency is bad. For example, husband and wife are inter-dependent. Children are dependent upon their parents. I am dependent upon my family and friends. I was dependent upon the doctor who performed the surgery that saved my life.

Dependency is bad when you feel you can not walk away or speak up as needed.

For example, I know a boy who is an almost perfect speller. After school he must do spelling homework even though he spelled every word right on the pretest. If he doesn't do the homework, he can't go out to recess the next day.

This is the point where I would say, "No, we are not doing this busy work, and yes, my kid is going out for recess." However, his parents haven't done that because they fear retaliation from the teacher or other school staff.

Dependency on instituitions is problematic. My point is that public school families seem far too oblivious to their danger. I personally know too many high functioning parents who have children that came out of the public school system unable to function as adults. These parents thought everything was fine, until it blew up in their faces.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

Janine Cate said...

Mama Squirrel,

I think you are right about the feminist angle.

Elaine said...

Yes, Janine, that was a bit harsh. So let me put a finer point on my perspective for you.

Your generalizations about public schools and the families who choose to participate in them is comparable to me describing all homeschooling families as antisocial, unschooling elitists who would rather let their children play video games all day than participate in government-provided education. I would never do that because I frankly don't believe it; however I suspect there are homeschoolers who provide their children with a less-than-optimal, if not downright neglectful experience. I would even go so far as to suggest--based on most blogs I read--that most homeschoolers provide their children with a less than optimal experience on an occasional basis. That's to be expected because we are all human. And perfection in any human enterprise or institution, including the family, doesn't exist this side of heaven.

That said, I would never argue that the public school environment is flawless or as good as it could or even should be. Why would I? However, I strongly disagree with your disparaging description of a system that I know very well and which works for my family for a variety of reasons.

"Your children's peers define the style of clothing that your children want to wear and the type of music they want to listen to. Most, if not all, of their self image is determined at school. I'm not trying to be insulting, I just can't see what you mean. That IS my definition of "sheep.""

Yes, that would be my definition of sheep, also, but it most definitely does NOT describe my family or sooo many other families I know. Indeed, in my experience, the local school is much more a reflection of the community than of some impersonal government bureaucracy. And I thank God for the many, many good people I have encountered there, from dedicated teachers and administrators to wonderful friends and caring neighbors.

None of whom desire, much less depend upon, ANY institution to care for our children. Nor do we feel as if we cannot walk away or speak up as needed. Far, far from it.

I write a newspaper column in which I regularly speak out on public issues. My children are learning to do likewise. When my sixth-grade son was frustrated with the homework load, we discussed ways in which he and his schoolmates could mount a protest. Eighth-grade history students at his school recently identified a worthy civic cause and, under the watchful eye of their excellent teacher, campaigned actively to promote it.

In our family, we realize that "taxpayers" and "the government" are just other names for ourselves and our neighbors. As Christians and citizens, we OWE it to our community and ALL children to work for its betterment, whether in the schools, in our town or, yes, even nationally. This is hardly "dependent" behavior. It takes strength of character, independent thinking and a true love of country, not to mention attentiveness to Jesus's admonition to care for those less well off. So no, "the "generalizations" about public school children as sheep" are NOT at all a fair generalization in my experience.

As for the statistics on sex, drugs and alcohol that bear out your viewpoint: it really isn't an apples-to-apples comparison, is it? Public schools service a wide, wide range of students, including some who come from homes where books and even parents are non-existent. Homeschoolers, by nature of the commitment involved, have the wherewithal to have a parent at home during the day. Better to compare the statistics with public school families with educated stay-at-home moms (many of whom make the same economic compromises as homeschoolers).

"So if you could, draw me a picture (figuratively) of what autonomy and self sufficiency look like when your children go to a public school."

Well, Janine, it probably looks a whole lot like what you see in your own home and homeschooling community. Indeed, the more HS blogs I read, the more I realize that conscientious public school parents homeschool just as much as those of you who avoid organized education entirely. (Oh, and by the way--how many homeschoolers do avoid it entirely? Seems like many HS families I know take classes in a variety of venues from a variety of instructors, not all of whom are excellent. Or so I'm told.)

I think of a strong family as the Biblical house built on the rock. Children from such homes are generally very able to think for themselves, happy and balanced. Building this house on the rock includes religious instruction, patient transfer of values, lots of reading, lots of time spent together, lots of discussion about the world around us. Does that sound a lot different than what you do?

So why public school at all? Well, I actually like my children, confident and self-posessed as they are, being exposed to different perspectives. And although I consider myself a fairly resourceful and creative person, I don't think I'm the be-all and end-all. Let me offer an example: When my son's class studied flight, he was asked to design a paper airplane. We spent some time discussing the application of what he had learned and he came up with a couple of good examples. At school the next day, he had the opportunity to test his airplane in the gym, along with 50 other sixth graders. What he discovered was an abundance of ideas of how to turn paper into a flying "machine"--many, many more than we could have devised within our family alone. This abundance is a good thing, I believe, just as my daughter's Pioneer Day experience--punching tin, sewing quilt pieces, square dancing--was a good thing I would have been hard pressed to duplicate at home. Just as my son's English class Poetry Cafe was a good thing. Among so many other examples I could offer.

You seem to have bad memories of your public school years. I have mostly good ones: of loving school and of being exposed to books, skills and ideas my loving and Godly parents would never have been able to offer. I did however, benefit first and foremost from their love, their values and the close family bonds that I continue to enjoy and foster with my own husband and children. Public school--or any school--can never replace or detract from any of these blessings!!!

I guess the vehemence of your posting, and those on so many HS blogs, just leaves me scratching my head about the hostility homeschoolers feel they must address to public school families. Why must it be an all-or-nothing proposition? Why the need for such gross and patently unfair generalizations? Why the unwillingness to accept the good in other choices?

I repeat: I honestly respect the decision of parents to homeschool and truly appreciate the benefits of homeschooling. It isn't something we wish to pursue at this point, but I have considered homeschooling in the past and may consider it again in the future. And if that is one day our choice, I hope I can do so without the smug judgementalism I've seen on so many blogs.

Thanks, Janine.

Elaine said...

Yes, Janine, that was a bit harsh. So let me put a finer point on my perspective for you.

Your generalizations about public schools and the families who choose to participate in them is comparable to me describing all homeschooling families as antisocial, unschooling elitists who would rather let their children play video games all day than participate in government-provided education. I would never do that because I frankly don't believe it; however I suspect there are homeschoolers who provide their children with a less-than-optimal, if not downright neglectful experience. I would even go so far as to suggest--based on most blogs I read--that most homeschoolers provide their children with a less than optimal experience on an occasional basis. That's to be expected because we are all human. And perfection in any human enterprise or institution, including the family, doesn't exist this side of heaven.

That said, I would never argue that the public school environment is flawless or as good as it could or even should be. Why would I? However, I strongly disagree with your disparaging description of a system that I know very well and which works for my family for a variety of reasons.

"Your children's peers define the style of clothing that your children want to wear and the type of music they want to listen to. Most, if not all, of their self image is determined at school. I'm not trying to be insulting, I just can't see what you mean. That IS my definition of "sheep.""

Yes, that would be my definition of sheep, also, but it most definitely does NOT describe my family or sooo many other families I know. Indeed, in my experience, the local school is much more a reflection of the community than of some impersonal government bureaucracy. And I thank God for the many, many good people I have encountered there, from dedicated teachers and administrators to wonderful friends and caring neighbors.

None of whom desire, much less depend upon, ANY institution to care for our children. Nor do we feel as if we cannot walk away or speak up as needed. Far, far from it.

I write a newspaper column in which I regularly speak out on public issues. My children are learning to do likewise. When my sixth-grade son was frustrated with the homework load, we discussed ways in which he and his schoolmates could mount a protest. Eighth-grade history students at his school recently identified a worthy civic cause and, under the watchful eye of their excellent teacher, campaigned actively to promote it.

In our family, we realize that "taxpayers" and "the government" are just other names for ourselves and our neighbors. As Christians and citizens, we OWE it to our community and ALL children to work for its betterment, whether in the schools, in our town or, yes, even nationally. This is hardly "dependent" behavior. It takes strength of character, independent thinking and a true love of country, not to mention attentiveness to Jesus's admonition to care for those less well off. So no, "the "generalizations" about public school children as sheep" are NOT at all a fair generalization in my experience.

As for the statistics on sex, drugs and alcohol that bear out your viewpoint: it really isn't an apples-to-apples comparison, is it? Public schools service a wide, wide range of students, including some who come from homes where books and even parents are non-existent. Homeschoolers, by nature of the commitment involved, have the wherewithal to have a parent at home during the day. Better to compare the statistics with public school families with educated stay-at-home moms (many of whom make the same economic compromises as homeschoolers).

"So if you could, draw me a picture (figuratively) of what autonomy and self sufficiency look like when your children go to a public school."

Well, Janine, it probably looks a whole lot like what you see in your own home and homeschooling community. Indeed, the more HS blogs I read, the more I realize that conscientious public school parents homeschool just as much as those of you who avoid organized education entirely. (Oh, and by the way--how many homeschoolers do avoid it entirely? Seems like many HS families I know take classes in a variety of venues from a variety of instructors, not all of whom are excellent. Or so I'm told.)

I think of a strong family as the Biblical house built on the rock. Children from such homes are generally very able to think for themselves, happy and balanced. Building this house on the rock includes religious instruction, patient transfer of values, lots of reading, lots of time spent together, lots of discussion about the world around us. Does that sound a lot different than what you do?

So why public school at all? Well, I actually like my children, confident and self-posessed as they are, being exposed to different perspectives. And although I consider myself a fairly resourceful and creative person, I don't think I'm the be-all and end-all. Let me offer an example: When my son's class studied flight, he was asked to design a paper airplane. We spent some time discussing the application of what he had learned and he came up with a couple of good examples. At school the next day, he had the opportunity to test his airplane in the gym, along with 50 other sixth graders. What he discovered was an abundance of ideas of how to turn paper into a flying "machine"--many, many more than we could have devised within our family alone. This abundance is a good thing, I believe, just as my daughter's Pioneer Day experience--punching tin, sewing quilt pieces, square dancing--was a good thing I would have been hard pressed to duplicate at home. Just as my son's English class Poetry Cafe was a good thing. Among so many other examples I could offer.

You seem to have bad memories of your public school years. I have mostly good ones: of loving school and of being exposed to books, skills and ideas my loving and Godly parents would never have been able to offer. I did however, benefit first and foremost from their love, their values and the close family bonds that I continue to enjoy and foster with my own husband and children. Public school--or any school--can never replace or detract from any of these blessings!!!

I guess the vehemence of your posting, and those on so many HS blogs, just leaves me scratching my head about the hostility homeschoolers feel they must address to public school families. Why must it be an all-or-nothing proposition? Why the need for such gross and patently unfair generalizations? Why the unwillingness to accept the good in other choices?

I repeat: I honestly respect the decision of parents to homeschool and truly appreciate the benefits of homeschooling. It isn't something we wish to pursue at this point, but I have considered homeschooling in the past and may consider it again in the future. And if that is one day our choice, I hope I can do so without the smug judgementalism I've seen on so many blogs.

Thanks, Janine.

Janine Cate said...

Elaine,

You could be right about that judgemental thing. That is a word I've heard used to describe me before, ah... once in a while.

I still think you are underestimated the risk you are taking by allowing an institution so much control in your life.

In my experience, about half of my friends who have children in public school run into real problems with long term consequences. The other half do fine.

It is the high caliber families that have children who get into serious trouble that I find disturbing. You kind of expect it from the less functioning families, but when the family you highly respect has a kid who is in drug rehab and another family has a kid who works a dead end job and lives at home, you start to wonder what went wrong.

You paint a pretty rose picture of your school. And in fairness, I paint a pretty rosy picture of homeschooling. It might be fair to say that neither of us represent the norm.

I do know that our family felt "called" to homeschool. I philosophically have a hard time believing that if school would have been harmful to my family, that it would not be just has harmful to yours.

Maybe you have different types of kids at your house than I have at mine.

Anonymous said...

I think generalizations are troubling. I worked in a large public school and was disturbed enough by what I saw in this school to consider homeschooling before I ever had kids. However, our local public elementary school by all accounts is supposed to be excellent and the kids I have seen seem happy and well adjusted. I think school quality varies tremendously from one area to another.
I also have an extremely shy daughter who has trouble in large groups, although does very well in small groups or one on one. I think I will homeschool this one, or find a private school with a very small class size. She also has a follower personality and to top it off, would be the very youngest in her class. She is also reading at a 3rd grade level as a four year old. She is not the greatest fit for public school right now. That might change in the future. If I had a different type of child, I might tend to think she would be alright in our local public school, although I would be on top of the situation and evaluate every year, which I am sure most good parents do.
Yes, some kids of seemingly strong families(and I say seemingly because one never really knows the inner dynamics of any family)get into trouble in adolescence but that can also happen in a homeschooling family. Homeschooling offers no guarantees, its just an educational choice.
There will be many wonderful things about homeschooling that I know my child would not get in a public school, but I also am realistic. There ARE good things that do happen in public school. Peer influence can be negative a lot of the time, but it also can be positive and can achieve some things that parents might have difficulty. (case in point- my daughter is flourishing in a group swim lesson currently because she wants to be like the other girls in her class who are jumping off the side and getting their heads wet. Would she have done the same for me? Never!)
I also know some hs families who seem to have a lot of unrealistic expectations for their kids and a lot of tension at home. I think these particular kids and families might be better served by a school environment. The other hs kids I know are doing wonderfully and are very happy and are flourishing. So I think generalizations on this kind of thing are impossible! Kids and families and schools are so hugely different from one another!---carolyn

Janine Cate said...

Homeschooling is no magic bullet, but it gives parents a huge strategic advantage if they know how to use it.