Tuesday, August 15, 2006

You asked for it. I'm up on my soapbox.

Well now, THIS is an interesting comment:

"Your husband is willing to earn a salary from public schools but not to send his own kids to them. Interesting. Are you afraid that children of color or of poverty might infect your son? He can't stay in that little cocoon forever, you know. Someday he'll have to deal with all sorts of people."

Dear Anonymous,

I'm sorry I can't reply to you directly, since you've chosen to hide yourself even as I bare intimate details about my own family. Your brief comment contains many inaccurate assumptions, but I will respond as thoroughly as I have time for. I figure you're not the only reader who's curious about our decision.

I do realize that it seems a bit contradictory that my husband will be working for the public school system even though we don't plan to send our children into it. However, our choice to keep our children home has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the color or economic levels of children who do attend school.

Some families choose the homeschooling path in an effort to protect their children from the influence of people whose values they disagree with. I believe they have that right, perhaps even that responsibility. But those values are not necessarily related to poverty or color. They don't have to be. There are homeschooling families of color, believe it or not. Some homeschooling families even qualify for public assistance -- they've given up a second salary and free child care, after all. And not all homeschooling parents have college degrees. They don't have to. CHILDREN KNOW HOW TO LEARN!

As far as our little "cocoon" goes, we actually live in a rather diverse neighborhood. That was something we liked about it before we moved here eight years ago. We have shared our block with Latino families, Black families, Asian-American singles, and elders. Our children are under no illusion that all people look the same or live the same. They have friends with divorced parents, working mothers, stay-at-home dads. Their friends live in small houses, larger houses, and apartments. They are conservative Christians, politically-liberal Christians, and pagan.

In fact, if we lived in many other neighborhoods in our city, sending them to public school would do absolutely NOTHING toward enriching their world with a diversity of people, because the children at each school come from the same neighborhood of the same suburban socio-economic class. There's not much cross-town bussing around here.

School can be its own "cocoon." The current school system is not about supporting or creating diversity. It's not about opening up a world of possibilities to each child. There may be teachers and administrators who would like it to be that way. But the budget limitations and state mandates prevent it in most cases.

Instead, school applies one educational agenda to nearly all students. Just like the rest of mainstream American culture, it is full of practices and ideas that encourage negativist win-lose thinking. It was designed to control the masses with bells, grades, and other forms of behaviorism which interrupt creative thought, but ensure a particular social order that will continue to uphold the failing economic system we call capitalism.

There, I've said it. Now I'm REALLY going to get some hate mail. But no, I'm not a communist. No more than Jesus was, anyway.

I haven't addressed why UberDad is entering the public school system to work as a teacher. It was not his career goal. As a child, he did not dream about being a school teacher -- though he humiliated at least one by knowing more chemistry than she did. Maybe God has seen fit to humble him by putting him in her shoes! In any case, it turns out he's pretty darn good at relating to kids and sharing his love for math and science with them. Teen-agers love him.

Obviously, not everyone can homeschool. Wal-Mart is the largest employer in this country, and we all know the minimum wage is not a living wage. But don't the children of those who must work outside the home deserve a teacher who sees the possibility of a better future for all children? Is it so hard to believe that someone would try to be a light in the darkness?

Only those who recognize the limitations of a system can enter it and affect change. But that doesn't mean they have to drag their children along -- not when the opportunity to explore and learn in freedom is available to them on the outside.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Way to go amanda!! I'm looking forward to seeing what responses you get!!
your nutty neighbor

Rebecca said...

Bravo!

As someone who worked for my town's lovely school district I have been asked many times why I would consider homeschooling when I spent so much time in the district. Well, I should refer them to your post, it was excellent!

On a side note, I was inspired by your blog design and have Ciao My Bella now making one for me! WooHoo!

Take Care,
Rebecca

Laura- Swank Mom said...

Way to go Amanda!! :)

You ready for a new design yet? ;) I'm ready to go.


And Rebecca- I did Amanda's design and no longer work for ciao my bella. I work for a company called Swank Web Style... and we rock. ;) LOL

Rebecca said...

Laura, a fabulous job you did! The link on the side still goes to Ciao My Bella though (thought you should know LOL) I can't wait for my design, my first email said it would probably be ready Friday Aug. 11, well, now it's Tues. Aug 15 - I'm starting to panic!! LOL Seriously, I just want it to look cool. I have one for my kids that I want redone to, I think I'll look up your site!

Amanda, sorry to invade your blog and talk business.:)

Tammy said...

Well said Amanda. There are many different reasons for homeschooling, and none of them are right or wrong. We do what we feel is right for our families, and that is all we can do. We have nothing to prove to anyone else either. It is a shame that others feel the need to impose their beliefs upon you, and not even let them true identity by known. As a fellow homeschooler, I support you 110% !!!

lesa said...

Amanda,

that was wonderful... I can't believe the hate and misunderstanding in the original post... thank you for speaking up for all of us in such a respectful and thoughtful way.

Lesa

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