Monday, February 20, 2012

Well, I guess it's a good thing I'm not a liberal then...

You may well have seen this by now: Liberals, Don't Homeschool Your Kids

I guess I'm okay to home school (starting with Marie, danged divorce decree), since I'm conservative.  All the bullshit stuff the author of this article says left-minded people should be concerned with aren't things I'm expected to be concerned with, and all I can say is "Thank God for that."

Nevertheless, I am certain the author extends his disdain to all home schooling--and likely even private schooling--parents.  Hell, he even manages to take a swipe at attachment parenting, while, of course, mischaracterizing that movement as well.  (Wait, is the author a man?  Dana's still a guy's name, right?)

The whole article is worth reading if you want to sample some crazy.  A few choice quotes:

Could such a go-it-alone ideology ever be truly progressive—by which I mean, does homeschooling serve the interests not just of those who are doing it, but of society as a whole?

This overheated hostility toward public schools runs throughout the new literature on liberal homeschooling, and reveals what is so fundamentally illiberal about the trend: It is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families, in which at least one parent can afford (and wants) to take significant time away from paid work in order to manage a process—education—that most parents entrust to the community at-large.

Nor can we allow homeschoolers to believe their choice impacts only their own offspring. Although the national school-reform debate is fixated on standardized testing and “teacher quality”—indeed, the uptick in secular homeschooling may be, in part, a backlash against this narrow education agenda—a growing body of research suggests “peer effects” have a large impact on student achievement. Low-income kids earn higher test scores when they attend school alongside middle-class kids, while the test scores of privileged children are impervious to the influence of less-privileged peers. So when college-educated parents pull their kids out of public schools, whether for private school or homeschooling, they make it harder for less-advantaged children to thrive.

Of course, no one wants to sacrifice his own child’s education in order to better serve someone else’s kid. But here’s the great thing about attending racially and socioeconomically integrated schools: It helps children become better grown-ups. Research by Columbia University sociologist Amy Stuart Wells found that adult graduates of integrated high schools shared a commitment to diversity, to understanding and bridging cultural differences, and to appreciating “the humanness of individuals across racial lines.”
 I am so tempted to do a point-by-point fisking of the stupid, but it basically boils down to this: According to Dana Goldstein, you are classist and racist and, worst of all, individualist if you do not put your kids in government schools.  It's for the good of ALL THE KIDS, you see, that your children attend schools of questionable quality.

I will, however, take the time to take great exception to the statements that lower-income kids benefit from going to school with middle-income kids and that integrated high schools make for better adults...While either or both of these assertions may well be true, they're terrifically misleading and don't begin to tell the full story.  For one, I wonder where they're finding these racially-and-economically integrated schools.  To the best of my knowledge, geographically-based school assignments are still by far the norm.  This means that where you live dictates where your kids go to school.  Racial segregation in neighborhoods has become more prominent in most cities, not less, and the largest reason for that is economics.  I rather suspect these integrated schools are few and far between, and I'd be willing to bet they are not the average government school to which this author claims we should all entrust our children.  My high school was racially, and to a lesser extent economically, integrated.  This is because it was a magnet school, so kids from all over the district and (eventually) city were able to attend.  My daughters attend a racially mixed school right now, and it's not a neighborhood school but a charter school.  The school they "should" be attending?  Overwhelmingly black and impoverished.  I don't think Goldstein has the slightest clue about what he (she?) is speaking.  I mean, it's a nice ideal, but it doesn't exist in the real world.

And then there's the other thing that particularly galls me.  Larry Elder wrote about it back in the day; he said that white condescension is worse than black racism.  This article is the very embodiment of that condescension.  Goldstein is the classist here.  Those poor, minority kids are going to be raised up by the presence of your middle class white kids.  Fuck that.  It is utter bullshit.  Kids in poor-performing public schools will only have their lot improved by parents who give a damn about their offspring.  Given his (her?) stated distaste for private schools, I have no doubt there is a concurrent dislike of school voucher programs.  Then there is the inherently classist assumption that poor/single/working parents aren't capable of schooling their children.  In short, Goldstein seems determinedly opposed to the very things proven to improve outcomes for children.

Because it doesn't benefit the collective.  Only failing as a society benefits us all. 


greg said...

Lord knows I would hate for someone to think I'm an 'individualist'.

Ruth said...

I think the only problem I have with home schooling stems from knowing a couple kids who were homeschooled from kindergarten through the end of highschool:

They were great kids, fun to hang around, funny, very well educated, but woe-fully unprepared for dealing with their "peers" who came from any situation outside of the same background (in this case a religious background). And it caused them some issues, both in college and after, where signals were missed and misscommunications happened that they were just totally unprepared to deal with.

Otherwise I think homeschooling is the best way to make sure your kid actually LEARNS something, since they obviously aren't teaching it in alot of schools.