Friday, December 20, 2013

Homeschooling anti-social?

Hot button issues like Senator Cafaro's proposed legislation in Ohio often brings out passionate commentary. And, sadly, too often, over-the-top, mean-spirited, little-better-than-name-calling vitriol.

However, there can often be thoughtful discussion woven through the midst of all the garbage.

I was impressed by the following interchange on Matt Walsh's blog as a result of his post Wednesday on Senator Cafaro's proposed legislation.

imsargarepa wrote:
I think there is an ideology associated with some brands of homeschooling (and I sense this from you) that is a dangerous current in American society. Here’s why: how lovely that you are financially and intellectually able to educate your children in your home. Good for you. There are MANY, MANY, a MAJORITY of families who can’t. When families like yours continue to pull out of the public sector, you take with you valuable resources, energy, and parental support that could benefit the community as a whole. While there are some valid and good reasons to homeschool, I consider the practice, in general, to be incredibly selfish, shortsighted and individualistic. Way to teach your children to be a part of something greater than themselves and their own ideals.

What I fear more than the dystopia of which you speak is a generation of children who have never heard any other perspectives than those of their extremist parents.
And LYM replied:
Do you put your children in failing inner city schools? Or do you use schools with the highest academic standards whose participating homes you can afford? If you don’t put your kids in the worst schools, you are pulling out of their tax base and taking with you the valuable resources, energy, and parental support that could benefit that community as a whole. While there are some valid and good reasons to go to non-horrible schools, [should I quote back to you what you just wrote?] "I consider the practice, in general, to be incredibly selfish, shortsighted and individualistic. Way to teach your children to be a part of something greater than themselves and their own ideals."

Truly, unless you have had personal contact with schools like this (I have), you have NO IDEA how much they could benefit from a family like yours participating in it. How selfish that you go to a school where students can afford their own lunches, buses get the kids to school in time for the first bell, and teachers aren’t sworn at by, or swearing at, children every hour!
imsargarepa responded:
Yep. My husband [and I] do, in fact, live purposely in the inner city and send our children to the local school, which is not by anyone’s standard a stand out institution. Our school is 80% free and reduced lunch; however there is no swearing at or by teachers at our school. My children are thriving there despite many problems we encounter there. It’s a very real world situation. We try to pour ourselves and our resources in to making a difference where we can, with what we have.
And, once more, LYM replied:
If it is not a charter school, and truly is an inner city school, kudos to you for putting your money where your mouth is. With my honest admiration in mind, though, I have two points for you.

The schools I am talking about are 100% free (not even reduced) breakfast and lunch. Yes, the students swear at and hit the teachers. Daily. Yes, one of the school buses arrives half an hour late for school, every day. Yes, the 6 year old is bullied and beaten regularly (no one does anything), but is somehow expected to know what a declarative sentence is (developmentally inappropriate expectation). No, the middle schooler does not know who the first president of the US was. No, the high schooler making A’s in history does not know who George Washington was. Yes, the school calls CPS on parents because a child regularly loses her glasses and doesn’t tell the parents she lost them again, resulting in yet another pointless months-long investigation. Yes, the principals and teachers have been indicted for cheating scandals. Yes, 50% of the students are pregnant before graduation, if they graduate.

Now, with that in mind, would you put your children in *that* school? If not, why not?

My point is that there is a scale of what any individual is called to do on a given issue. And that brings me to my second point. I cloth diaper, make my own cleaners of baking soda & vinegar, compost, recycle, buy organic food from local farmers only, refuse to buy synthetic fabrics or new clothes made by sweat shops, and as a result of all my efforts, put out only one bag of trash per week for 7 people. Is it right for me to go around saying that any of my friends who do less are incredibly selfish and short-sighted? NO. We all have causes that tug at our hearts, and we throw ourselves into the things about which we’re most passionate, even while recognizing that there are other causes deserving of attention. We can’t all do everything, and we shouldn’t go around verbally assaulting those being called to work on something else, or work on the same issue in a different way.

I homeschool my children not because I’m selfish or individualistic (actually, I find that homeschooling them has created much more community-minded children than the dog-eat-dog public school peer-herd mentality in which I was educated), but because I feel that is the best way for me to produce well-rounded, compassionate, generous, extremely well-educated human beings for the next generation. I help inner city families who wish to get out of the atrocious schools I mentioned to homeschool. You help them by putting your children into the pit with their children, and I trust that your judgment is correct that the net effect is positive both for them and for your children. I help them by helping them to get out of the pit. Who am I and who are you to say that the other has made the wrong, selfish, short-sighted choice?

Peace be with you.
As with so many things in life--whether haircuts and hair color, clothing, cars, sporting events, other forms of entertainment, exercise, health, food, drink, vacations . . . and just about anything else on which we might spend our time or money, some of us are willing to invest more . . . and some of us are willing to invest very much less.

So the question becomes: must everyone else toe my party line? Or . . . ????
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