Are Sad Developments in Public Education a Reason to Homeschool?

Reader David Bellamy sent me two disturbing stories about idiots overrunning the systen of public education in this country.

The first story tells about a initiative by the NYC Department of Education that proposes to ban a list of 50 “bad” words from standardized tests:

Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests. The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; a “birthday” might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . The word “dancing” is also taboo. However, there is good news for kids that like “ballet”: The city made an exception for this form of dance. Also banned are references to “divorce” and “disease,” because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.

For the full list of the banned words, consult the link. I warn you, you will be outraged.

The second story is just as sad and has to do with legislation that dictates how climate change should be taught in schools:

One such model bill has just passed the Tennessee state legislature, and this one mandates that schools teach climate science as a theory alongside other ‘credible’ theories – like those ones preferred by fossil fuels companies, for example, that hold that global warming is caused by solar cycles and other nonsense. Sound familiar? This is the same structural tactic employed by creationists to try to discourage the teaching of evolution in schools.

DeSmogBlog explains that the bill was opposed by almost every respectable scientific institution – and was passed by a margin of 70-23 anyway. Tennessee joins Texas, Louisiana, and South Dakota in passing such ‘model’ legislation. As a result, children in each of these states are apt to receive a confusing, less fact-based climate science education.

Having read these disconcerting articles, David made the following observation:

There is more and more reason to homeschool to prevent your childrens’ indoctrination, I fear. Next we shall have laws mandating the teaching in public schools that storks bring babies, since children must not have any prompting to think of sex.

I fully agree that the sad joke about the storks is likely to become a reality in the near future. I don’t, however, agree that this – or anything else – is a valid reason to homeschool.

As you all know, I went to school in the Soviet Union. No public school in the US can even begin to imitate the kind of indoctrination we had there. Daily discussions of capitalist evildoers, endless books about Grandpa Lenin whose photograph we all wore in a small badge next to our hearts (I kid you not), regular military marching and singing of patriotic songs, a very carefully sanitized list of readings from which every work of the world literature that was not considered proto-Communist had been excised, stories about admirable kids who ratted out their anti-Soviet parents to the KGB – this is just a small part of the constant brainwashing I was exposed to since early childhood.

Now, if you have been reading this blog for a while, please tell me, do I seem like a particularly pro-Soviet person as a result of all that indoctrination? Have you met anybody who is more critical of the USSR than I am? Not really, eh? Obviously, the brainwashing did not work. A school simply does not have this kind of power over a child.

And do you want to know how often this Soviet indoctrination comes up in psychoanalysis as something that impacted me for life? Never. Because it didn’t. As opposed to the fact that I was kept at home by a bunch of adoring relatives until the age of 7. That comes up a lot because this was a very negative factor in my development and socialization that I’m still, 28 years later, working to overcome.

All of the Education Boards, silly bureaucrats and incapable teachers combined and multiplied by fifteen cannot cause as much damage as an immature parent who resolves his or her issues by depriving a child of normal socialization. The entire process of growing up consists of a gradual separation of a child from her or his parents. The damage that is caused to a child by a parent who wouldn’t let the poor kid out of their sight is so absolutely tragic that a mere list of a few banned words looks like a silly little joke by its side.

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23 comments on “Are Sad Developments in Public Education a Reason to Homeschool?

  1. I don’t… I can’t… What?

    I mean look at the list. An item says “Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)”. I can think of a lot of stuff that can make for traumatic material.

    I mean maybe we should just stick to drawings to express ourselves. I bet human society will be much more free and boundless once we get rid of all word.

  2. The word list is so completely idiotic. Traumas are a very personal thing and if you wanted to aboid kids having unpleasant feelings there are much more words you should ban… like, hearing/reading the word “brother” really upsets me, and there is people who has hydrophobia, so let’s ban “water” too… let’s ban the whole dictionary to be actually safe, ok?

    • Good point. What is the point of all this sheltering anyways? People sometimes get upset, that’s life. Should these children be sheltered from the reality that upsetting things exist well into adulthood?

  3. Perhaps if we all communicated in a series of grunts and squeals, paradise might at last be found!

    Re homeschooling: now, I’ve met a few homeschooled kids. My impression from these admittedly very brief meetings is that they were much more alert, involved, sociable, and intelligent than I was. However, it is just a small sample, and it’s obviously the way the child his homeschooled that counts. Homeschooling works if 1) one parent has the time to spare (and isn’t always pregnant like that woman in that article about a cult that homeschools you linked to a while back), 2) the parent is in a group with other parents that homeschool and they make sure their kids meet up to socialize, 3) the kids are not left isolated from the rest of their society, and that includes the public-schooled kids (they join extra-curricular activities that both groups can join, etc.), and 4) they aren’t being taught from some weirdo non-standard religious or other perspective, and the parents reason for homeschooling is to actually teach them, not just separate them from the “sinful” world, and 6) the children are allowed plenty of free time where they aren’t continually under the eye of some relative or other.

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter where you go to school, it’s how you’re treated overall. My parents treated me like I had a brain, and I had a library card, so anything I wanted to know I could look up myself if it wasn’t taught in school. And school “censorship” didn’t bother me at all because I didn’t rely on the school to provide my reading material. And I learned early to form my own opinion.

  4. The actual problem with the public schools are the security guards, body searches, locker searches, corporal punishment. Since they suspend you for just anything, and you can’t pass your grade if you have been suspended too many times, you have to choose the corporal punishment option over suspension. It isn’t all right and I wouldn’t force anyone to go through it.

    • How can you be suspended for “just anything”? That translates to me as “being a disruptive, disobedient ass.” Sorry, there are way too many rules and regulations guarding what teachers and administrators are allowed to punish students for for me to believe that students can be punished for “anything.” I’ve heard this before: a complaint about some unjust punishment almost always turns out to be the kid’s fault — he wouldn’t shut up and sit down in class, he was openly hostile to a teacher, he got in a fight, he was where he wasn’t supposed to be (like hanging around in the halls during class without a pass and/or a good explanation), he was found with some prohibited substance, he was caught smoking, he was goofing off and bothering people…

  5. For a long time I’ve believed that elected school boards are a terrible idea, as they give too much power to parents. I’m not sure whether the school board in New York is elected or not, but this has only strengthened my belief.
    As for Tennessee, I am at this point prepared to completely write-off all so-called ‘red states’ as swamps of backwardness and illiteracy, the base of the Republican party having long since shuttered itself (and its children) off from any semblance of reality. My real concern here is that subsequent generations will have their heads so full of obfuscatory lies that they will, first of all, be unequipped to deal with the greatest ecological catastrophe of our time, and, more generally, lack the knowledge of the science necessary to discern truth from falsehood.

    • Yes – this is the problem.

      On school boards, appointed ones are worse, I fear. Consider the scenarios when they’re appointed really retro officials, who are handing out jobs and salaries as payoffs.

      Schools that are like detention / torture / reeducation centers vs. overprotective parents, those really aren’t the only imaginable choices.

    • “I am at this point prepared to completely write-off all so-called ‘red states’ as swamps of backwardness and illiteracy”

      Aren’t you the little ball of tolerant, rational sunshine. The ignorance of people from so-called “blue states” about the rest of the country outside their tiny urban enclave of cute coffee shops, ethnic restaurants, art galleries, and bike paths is just as deep if not more so than that of so-called “ignorant rednecks.” In fact, the ignorance of the self-proclaimed educated liberal elite is worse, because these people claim they are so very, very wise, yet every time they open their mouths some stereotype falls out.

      • First of all, I don’t see how the fact that you’re Canadian means anything. Second of all — oh actually it does. I do so love it when foreigners opine on the internal matters of other countries. It’s so very… American.

        Oh, and the fact that your “small-town Montana girlfriend” agrees with you means nothing to me. I’m a big-city Miami woman who now lives in a smallish town up in the mountains of Virginia, one of the dreaded “red states” (a town with a world-renowned Shakespeare theater, among other things liberals are supposed to delight in) and I know that stupid people live everywhere in every sort of community. You don’t gain smart points when you move from your little town to a big city.

  6. The voters in Hawaii recently voted to make our state school board appointed rather than elected. So far this is working well, since we have a liberal governor. Hawaii is unique in having a single school district for the whole state. That means that even poor districts have decent public schools, although there is plenty of complaint anyway.

    • Meh, I graduated from Lahainaluna, and I wouldn’t describe many of the public ones on Maui as “decent”, a good portion of my graduating class wasn’t even functionally literate. There’s a huge gap in what I learned at my college prep courses at Seabury Hall, and what was being taught to me at LHS. The fact that Hawaii has so many private schools (Punahou, Iolani, Seabury, Waldorf) still contributes to a huge gap in education across the state, even though the standards are the same from county to county.
      Also, even though this was more the previous governor’s fault, if I were a parent, I would have plenty to complain about when it came to Furlough Fridays.

  7. I agree that words are rarely traumatic in and of themselves. There always have to be actions accompanying them to make them traumatic.

    I also lived under a communist regime for a while. The “whites” used to find it very funny. “Comrade is not to be used as a title!” they used to laugh. You can’t use “comrade” instead of Mr or Mrs.

    It wasn’t so funny for me when my family migrated to Australia and my father tried to prevent me from adapting to the culture here. The emotional blackmail, yelling, condemnation, etc. for thinking differently did me substantial harm at the time.

  8. Folks, let’s not fight. We are all good people here. The bad people are the ones who are trying to destroy education, science and reason. Let’s hate on them because I’m just in the mood for that.

    Hell, I’m always in the mood for that.

  9. Hey, it’s been awhile. My hubby got back from Iraq, we graduated my son in Dec. and we’re having beautiful weather here right now.

    I had one question – what do you define ‘normal socialization’ as? That, of course, is the main issue always brought up in homeschooling. Not how will you handle education or what curriculum will you use, but how will you socialize the children.

    We need to determine what socialization looks like in order to figure out if we are providing it. So, what is your definition?

    • Hey, Liese, long time! :-) It’s great to hear that you husband is back with you and the kids! And your son has graduated, how great!

      As for socialization, I have mentioned before that I was kept at home until the age of 7. So when I did go to school, I did not have the skills that other kids did. I didn’t know how to initiate contact with other children because playmates were always provided to me by adults and playdates organized. I didn’t know how to be alone around strangers. I didn’t know how to organize myself, how to decide where to go and what do do by myself. I didn’t know how to handle group dynamics or the issues that arose between me and other kids because there’d always been an adult around to manage my social life for me before that. And many many other things.

      The sad thing is that I never really caught up on some of those skills. Only now I’m kind of getting to acquire them. :-(

  10. How weird, it’s not telling me via e-mail that there was a reply to this, glad I checked.

    Thank you on both counts, Joel is working on his private pilot’s license (he’ll have to wait on the EMT class until the Fall when he’s closer to 18.)

    I know your situation and I do know some homeschoolers that are ‘helicopter parents’ too. But, I also know some public school parents who keep their kids indoors when they get home from school, never let them do things like dance or scouts or even volunteer with our HOA to clean up the park. Why? Because they think the school provides them with every opportunity to socialize and make them into perfect citizens. Of course, that is not the majority of public school parents, but neither is the ‘lock them in the basement and brainwash them’ indicative of every homeschool parent.

    As for my kids, just mine – that’s all I can speak to, they wake up in the morning and eat breakfast, get cleaned up and read their devotions. Then, if it’s a day we’re doing school, they go tackle what they need to on the list of things to do. Today it was (for the younger ones) phonics, math, reading and spelling. Then we went to the library for speech club where they each got 5 minutes to present on a topic to an audience (the topic was food today! So we had doughnuts, Swedish pancakes, brownies and bread.) My son was putting together his cross country flight plans for tomorrow, his third solo so far. If my kids wanted to go to school, they could. However, they see the amount of time spent doing school at home that leaves them time for other things (dance, scouts, flying, art, guitar, writing books) and they know that if they spent 8 hours at school they would never have time to delve into other things like they do now.

    Homeschooling will never take away the majority of children from the public school system. It is just another schooling choice that parent have to make in regards to what is best for their child at that time. Many people homeschool for a few years and then go back into the public school and vice versa. One is not better than the other, they are just choices like private school, on-line school, etc. that families use for education.

    And as for banning certain words in school – what about all the books that are banned? I always laugh when I remember my school taking away books that were ‘evil’ or ‘upsetting’, I would just go to my local library with the list and get them there. They probably wouldn’t let my daughter read the ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ poem by Angelou because, OMG, it has themes of racism and discrimination in it! Funny, because the bird sings of freedom and by banning that poem they have ‘clipped the wings and tied the feet’ of anyone wanting to read it.

  11. This means we can ban all references to religion, right? ‘Cause that’s sure as heck gonna cause some people stress…

  12. The latest development in education are “value schools.”

    “…develop[ing] a lower-cost model for K-12 public education with a funding mechanism that resembles school vouchers.

    The education reform advisory team has dubbed itself a “skunk works” project working outside of the government bureaucracy and education establishment with a goal of creating a “value school” that costs $5,000 per child annually to operate… The school would seek to maximize the roughly $7,000 annual per-pupil funding regular schools get from taxpayers by applying “concepts familiar in the private sector — getting higher value for less money.”

    http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teacher_in_a_strange_land/2013/04/cage-busting_skunks_disrupting_the_status_quo.html

    Basically it’s like supermarkets. If you can afford good food, you go to decent supermarkets and if you can’t then you get junk food at low prices with the consequence of lower social mobility and a permanently stratified society.

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