Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » A MUST READ

    Filed at 2:37 pm under by dcobranchi

    This 1999 paper is a direct answer to both Apple and Reich. This sounds like Apple’s paper, eh?

    Homeschoolers have also been accused of being elitist. The argument takes one of two forms. The first one is that the current public system is in disarray, but parents have a duty to try to improve that system to make it better for all children. Taking a child out of school may be fine for that one student, but it does nothing to improve the situation for all of the other children who are left in school. Homeschooling then, is an ungenerous act because those parents who choose it are shirking their duty to the other families who stay in the system (Menendez, 1996). In addition, if middle and upper class parents leave the school, this removes active and concerned parents who might otherwise fight for improvements. Occasionally, this criticism takes on a class or ethnic dimension as well. That is, homeschooling may be a viable solution to poor schools for middle and upper class families with a stay-at-home parent, but it is not an option for the lower classes where both parents must work in order to survive. Since ethnic minorities are over-represented in the lower classes, homeschooling is a way for ethnic elites to protect the education of their own children while abandoning children from other ethnic backgrounds.

    And, here is Reich’s general premise:

    However, Callan is clear that these are very unusual circumstances, and exemptions are only to be granted after careful scrutiny of each case. One cannot keep their child out of school simply because they think it is in the best interests of the child to do so. He explicitly argues that parents do not have the right to reject great sphere schooling for their children. The reason is that this would interfere with the child’s future “zone of personal sovereignty” (Callan, 1997:155) by keeping the child “ethically servile” (Callan, 1997:155) to her or his parents. Children who are ethically servile to their parents are those who have been raised in “ignorant antipathy” toward all points of view other than that of their parents. In other words, parents do not have the right to keep their children out of a common, great sphere school because they could be brainwashed into believing in only their parents very limited view of the world. This is not only harmful for the child so brainwashed, but also for the larger society. As Callan wrote,

    Large moral losses are incurred by permitting parents to rear their children in disregard of the minima of political education and their children’s right to an education that protects their prospective interest in sovereignty (Callan, 1997, p. 176).

    Arai does a very nice job of countering both arguments. Definitely worth a read.

    6 Responses to “A MUST READ”

    Comment by
    Chris O'Donnell
    February 22nd, 2004
    at 3:41 pm

    Homeschoolers have also been accused of being elitist.

    I plead guilty, and I’m damn proud of it 🙂

    His data on college admissions is way out of date, but the rest of the article holds up well 5 years later.

    Comment by
    Tim Haas
    February 22nd, 2004
    at 4:26 pm

    Hey, did you find this paper on your own, or just rip off my comment yesterday? Credit hog!

    The charge of elitism, which might have had the slightest bit of traction years ago in certain parts of the country, is utterly laughable at this point. In my area of South Jersey, it’s stunning how many working-class families have finally become fed up with the indifference or outright hostility of their exurban districts and told the elites where to stick it as far as education was concerned.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    February 22nd, 2004
    at 4:28 pm

    Sorry- I didn’t follow the link in your comment. I found this through a list-serv. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

    Comment by
    February 22nd, 2004
    at 7:58 pm

    I guess when I successfully dinned it into my child that if there is a conflict between what she learns in school and what I tell, her, I’m right, I was keeping her ethically servile. Whatever.

    Here is my view, and others have argued with me about it. It may be true that homeschooling hurts the public schools. I am convinced that white flight in response to court-ordered bussing inflicted a mortal blow on the public schools. By transferring my child out of the neighborhood school she would automatically be assigned to, I lowered the average test scores at that school. But parents have a duty first to their own kids. It’s wrong to do something you know is not in your child’s best interest, to shore up a public institution that’s not being run well. That enables incompetence. Where I am argued with is that some people cannot separate the concept that an action can be harmful, from casting blame.

    Let parents look after their kids, and let the state look after the public schools. There should be enough parents of kids in those schools to do whatever “fighting for improvement” needs to be done.

    Comment by
    Sheila N
    February 22nd, 2004
    at 10:37 pm

    Tim, lol – go easy on Daryl – I know he’s innocent of the charge – NJ people must have similar webbrowsing instincts…

    Comment by
    February 23rd, 2004
    at 2:17 pm

    I dont see homeschooling as hurting public schools at all, quite the reverse actually. If homeschoolers were permitted to not only freely withdraw their children, but even their tax money support of public schools, that still gives the remaining students 2 key advantages. 1) tax and other monies submitted by those without children will be distributed among fewer students permitting an increase in available funds per child. 2) class size being one of the major issues in public schools, anything being done to reduce the number of students will be an improvement.

    Furthermore, calling upon parents to lobby for better child conditions, while leaving their children in a bad situation is ridiculous. changes made may be too little too late, particularly considering governments response time. Also, children have different needs, and parents have different views of needs as well. A few parents that lobby for a certain “improvement” may in a sense hurt the overall situation by using resources for a “need” that only applies to their children.

    Calling upon the children themselves to improve the school situation with “positive peer pressure” by leaving the “good kids” in school is a responsibility the children are not qualified and prepared for, nor is it right to saddle a child with that sort of workload. It is not the responsibility of children to teach other children.