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Now, More Than Ever

By Mary Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #93, 2010.

Why right now is still the best time to homeschool.

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Mary Pride

Ever feel like you’re living in the Twilight Zone? On the surface, everything looks the same as it always has. But you sense that, not far underneath that same surface, strange things are swirling and coiling, and if they ever break the surface, we’ll be very sorry to see them.

The makers of the hit 1999 movie The Matrix tapped into that feeling. When the character Morpheus uttered these famous lines . . .

    “The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”

. . . many audience members felt a surge of sudden recognition. “Yeah, I know what he’s talking about. Something about the way the world is being run today just doesn’t make sense.”

If you’re a power-draining robot, of course, the Matrix makes perfect sense. What is a little confusion or feelings of meaningless (on the part of your human hosts) compared to the feast of power you gain from them passively accepting the fake world you have created for them?

It doesn’t take too much imagination to draw some eerie parallels between the world of The Matrix and what we’ve been seeing lately on the national and international political scenes. But I’ve been told there was too much politics in the last issues of Practical Homeschooling. So I won’t linger on the questions of why the very people who engineered the financial crisis have been put in charge of supposedly “fixing” it, or why turning over control of huge swathes of the economy (and access to your bank accounts and credit cards, and the power to make decisions about your medical treatment) to government bureaucrats can possibly be expected to make things better for typical Americans. I also will say nothing at all about illegal immigration, Goldman Sachs, or other current hot topics, though like most people I have plenty of thoughts on these subjects.

Instead, I’m going to jump directly to the question of what it means . . . and will mean . . . to homeschool in this new economy.

Public School Red Flags

First, consider the main alternative to homeschooling. That would be public schools. And state governments, which pay most of the tab for those same public schools, are going broke.

“But states can compete for federal ‘Race to the Top’ education funds!”

Sorry, but that’s a one-time Bernie

Madoff-style “fix” for a few favored states, based on reckless borrowing from China, not on sustainable tax revenues.

Right now, state legislatures everywhere are hunkered down trying to figure out where they can cut the budget. So far, public schools have been more or less sacrosanct, thanks to the clout of the teachers’ unions. But if things get bad enough, this could change, and the change could be fast and ugly.

Meanwhile, both curriculum and administration in the public schools keep getting stranger. When you and I went to school, we never had classes (starting in kindergarten) designed to help us fret about our sexuality. Social studies classes might have had a pro-big-government tinge, but we didn’t face a ceaseless barrage of “America stinks! Founding Fathers bad! Boys and men nasty!” like you’ll find in most textbooks (and teacher training) today. When we were in school, Christian, Jewish, and atheist kids did not have to don robes, recite Islamic prayers, and role-play a pilgrimage to Mecca as part of a required middle-school class. Plus, we weren’t facing an epidemic of school teachers having sex with their students (way more, proportionately, than the highly publicized Catholic priest scandal). If you take just a few minutes to google some of these topics, you’ll find more than enough to shock you. Or you could just read The Harsh Truth About Public Schools by Bruce Shortt (available for purchase on our website) and get it all in one scary dose.

A few decades ago, we also didn’t have zany “zero tolerance” rules that would get us expelled for holding a pill a classmate handed us, even if we immediately handed it back (as recently happened to a girl in Jeffersonville, IN). Or for taking a camping utensil to school (as happened to a Newark, DE, 6-year-old). Google “zero tolerance craziness” and find your own stories.

I could go on, but my point here is that, for public school students, things are only going to keep getting worse.

Homeschool Green Flags

Everywhere public school is threatened or failing, homeschools succeed.

Homeschool parents and children get to choose our own curriculum, so there is none of the strain that comes when one group tries to force its views on others.

We are also free to ignore public-school mandates which require developmentally or morally inappropriate sex ed, or indoctrination in religions to which we don’t belong.

We aren’t teaching 30 kids at once, so if boys (and girls!) want to hop around and make a bit of noise it isn’t the end of the world.

We have lots of tolerance for our kids, while at the same time we teach manners and good behavior.

And we’re even saving our state and local governments thousands of dollars per child per year, which could be critical for basic services if times get worse.

These are just a few of the reasons why now, more than ever, is the time to homeschool.

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