Eric Haas and our friends over at the Rockridge Institute have a great Monday Weekly Workgroup feature that I encourage everybody to investigate. Today the subject is homeschooling, and that’s obviously one that’s going to matter to a lot of folks here. Several of us at S&R either are or were educators and it’s a topic our readers have demonstrated a good deal of concern for, as well.
Eric frames this week’s conversation nicely:
In sum, the key is that this accountability encompasses both personal and societal responsibility. We all have a responsibility to provide every child with a level and quality of education so that they are likely to develop into healthy and competent adultsâ€”both society and individual parents. This means that there is two-way accountability. Primarily, there is societal accountability â€” has the community, usually through the government, provided the infrastructure and policies needed so that students can get a high quality public education? Parents shouldn’t feel they must pull their students out of school because they are unsafe or have, let alone, detrimental learning environments.
He then poses some questions:
- What is the community’s role in protecting children?
- How does infrastructure (empowerment) relate to interventions (direct protection)?
- How far should homeschooling accommodations go?
- When is homeschooling not an appropriate education?
- How far can progressive protection go?
- Is homeschooler protection different than public school protections?
- Did the California court go too far when it required homeschoolers to have credentialed instructors?
As I note on the thread, over there, this is a sticky issue that’s bogged down in several centuries of ideology.
As I contemplate the issue of homeschooling I can’t help empathizing with all the parents out there who feel a need to do so because our public system is such a failure. If I had a school-aged child right now I’m not sure what I’d do.
Ultimately I think this is a symptom of our nation’s foundational estrangement between individual and government. I’m not sure if any nation in history has been more thoroughly founded on the idea that the government is not to be trusted than ours, and while I see why it happened (and harbor a measure of distrust myself), this ideology breeds an irrational faith in the wisdom of individuals – to listen to conservatives talk, it’s almost like there’s no such thing as an idiot who shouldn’t be trusted with a decision – and a pathological refusal to invest in collective structures to our own benefit. It’ as if we’re incapable of understanding that the word “invest” DOES apply to public institutions. As I wrote a few months ago, a dollar spent on education is at once a dollar spent on health care, the environment, arts, and every other form of human endeavor imaginable.
All my yarping doesn’t suggest much in the way of actionable tactics, I know, but it seems to me that this is one that can only be truly solved once we evolve a more enlightened understanding of the role of government in our society, and that’s a long war on centuries of misguided paranoia, isn’t it?
Thanks to Eric and his colleagues at RI for addressing these kinds of important topics in such a thoughtful way.