Thursday, July 10, 2008

Homeschoolers Threaten Our Cultural Comfort

I discovered this gem over on Laura's Homeschooling With Joy blog:

Homeschoolers threaten our cultural comfort

You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.

It's a big family by today's standards - "just like stair steps," as the old
folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with
braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as
she fills her no-frills shopping list.

There's no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The
older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.

You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home
schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for
academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting
them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively
estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion.
When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools,
but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.

Home schooling parents are usually better educated than the norm, and are
more likely to attend worship services. Their motives are many and varied.
Some fear contagion from the anti-clericalism, coarse speech, suggestive
behavior and hedonistic values that characterize secular schools. Others are
concerned for their children's safety. Some want their children to be
challenged beyond the minimal competencies of the public schools. Concern
for a theistic world view largely permeates the movement.

Indications are that home schooling is working well for the kids, and the
parents are pleased with their choice, but the practice is coming under
increasing suspicion, and even official attack, as in California.

Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?

Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the home
schooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment
of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the
things that Caesar's be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of
us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered
our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our
values, and we reject them in return.

Just as the jealous Chaldeans schemed to bring the wrath of the king upon
the Hebrew eunuchs, we are happy to sic the state's bureaucrats on these
"trouble makers." Their implicit rejection of America's most venerated idol,
Materialism, (a.k.a. "Individualism") spurs us to heat the furnace and feed
the lions.

Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day
school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. "A
family just can't make it on one income." (Our parents did.) "It just costs
so much to raise a child nowadays." (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing,
pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of
a house on the daughter's wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made.
We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the
formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers. We
compensate by getting a boat to take them to the river, a van to carry them
to Little League, a 2,800-square-foot house, an ATV, a zero-turn Cub Cadet,
and a fund to finance a brand-name college education. And most
significantly, we claim "our right" to pursue a career for our own
"self-fulfillment."

Deep down, however, we know that our generation has eaten its seed corn. We
lack the discipline and the vision to deny ourselves in the hope of
something enduring and worthy for our posterity. We are tired from working
extra jobs, and the looming depression threatens our 401k's. Credit cards
are nearly maxed, and it costs a $100 to fuel the Suburban. Now the kid is
raising hell again, demanding the latest Play Station as his price for doing
his school work ... and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made
dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow.
Wouldn't you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?

Is it any wonder we hate her so?

Sonny Scott a community columnist, lives on Sparta Road in Chickasaw County
and his e-mail address is sonnyscott@yahoo.com.

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