Movie music is the subtle cue that tells you how to respond to a certain scene. Happy, sad, afraid, angry–you name the mood and the composer will ensure that the desired emotion is accomplished.
I sometimes wonder if news articles work the same way. Take the recent and widely shared Washington Post article on the explosion of homeschooling occurring since Covid. “In 390 districts,” The Post explained, “there was at least one home-schooled child for every 10 in public schools during the 2021-2022 academic year.” That 10 percent mark, also known as “the tipping point,” helped inch the numbers of homeschooling students up to a high of 2.7 million–1 million more than the number of students in Catholic schools, according to The Post.
Such numbers, although still relatively small, appear to have The Washington Post worried. Very worried.
For example, The Post quotes Elizabeth Bartholet, the Harvard professor who infamously called for a ban on homeschool–right around the time the whole nation was forced into teaching its children at home due to Covid. The Post quotes Bartholet as saying, ‘”Wow — this is a lot of kids’ … We should worry about whether they’re learning anything.’”
Another Post interviewee, Florida’s Hillsborough County school board member Lynn Gray, also expressed concern:
“I can tell you right now: Many of these parents don’t have any understanding of education,” she said. “The price will be very big to us, and to society. But that won’t show up for a few years.”
To be honest, this worry is nothing new, for The Washington Post has produced a number of articles on homeschooling in recent months, many of them with a similar, worried, and alarmist tone.
Have people like Bartholet and Gray seen things in homeschools that give them cause for concern? Sure. No homeschool is going to be perfect on every subject–nor is every public school for that matter. As someone with his doctorate once wisely told me, “Everyone has holes in their education regardless of whether they went to public school, private school, charter school, or homeschool.” In other words, no one is going to learn everything perfectly in the K-12 school years.
Thus, the important thing to look for in the quality of a child’s education is whether it teaches him to be a life-long learner. If it does, he can continue filling those education holes as he grows older. And there are many indicators–both anecdotal and scientific–suggesting that homeschooling is a form of education which does indeed set students up to be life-long learners.
But then, perhaps fear over what the kids aren’t learning isn’t the heart of the matter. Perhaps it’s more about what they are learning in the home, not from agenda-driven teachers … and how their absence will affect the public schools.
As Kentucky social studies teacher Krystal Goode tells The Post, “If [home-schooled] students are not enrolled in our district, we are not getting funding for them.” The article also worries about “the near-absolute control” homeschooled students’ “parents wield over the ideas they encounter.”
Ah! So … is the fearful tone The Washington Post is generating over homeschooling really a matter of “follow the money”–and the ideas fed into children’s minds?
It shouldn’t surprise us if it is. Money–and the fear of losing it–is always a great motivator, after all. And as to the fight of who controls the minds of the next generation, consider Goal 41 in the Communist Goals listed in the 1958 work, The Naked Communist:
Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? Which is exactly why we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be swayed by such fear-mongering.
The fact of the matter is, a vast majority of parents genuinely love their children and want what’s best for them. And many families, through no fault of their own–ahem, Covid and government shutdowns!–stumbled onto the fact that homeschooling does one of the best things in the world for a child, namely, makes him closer to his family. Because a close family will give him confidence to tackle challenges, incentive to learn and grow in order to contribute and make his family proud, and love and support which provide a safety net for when he fails.
At the end of the day, any school which doesn’t do that really doesn’t deserve our time, attention, money, or concern.
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