Green Room

VodkaPundit’s Sept. 8 Rebellion: Now Endorsed by Hoodlums and Homeschoolers

posted at 8:10 am on September 3, 2009 by

VodkaPundit says parents should keep their kids home from school next Tuesday rather than subject them to the Obama Mass Indoctrination. In reply Allahpundit says, “I’m with CJ” and ridicules the idea:

One pap-filled 20-minute speech about working hard and serving others is so lethal a threat to tender minds that they have to be yanked off the premises for the day to shield them from it? Or is this more of a protest in principle at the idea of the president giving a captive audience of schoolkids a pep talk on civics? . . .
Irresistible exit question: If it’s true that “state indoctrination of children is a hallmark of totalitarian government” (never mind that various subtle forms of indoctrination are happening in schools constantly), does that mean atheists were right all along in opposing prayer in public schools?

I oppose public schools, period. And none of my kids have attended a public school since my wife and I pulled our daughter (now 20) out of the system after kindergarten.

As for prayer, every public-school student should be praying, “Please, God, get me out of this public school.” When they get older, the smart ones will start ditching class so they can do something useful with their time, like hanging out with hoodlums and smoking cigarettes.

Ben Franklin was a third-grade dropout. Neither Thomas Jefferson nor George Washington ever attended a public school. And although Jefferson once proposed a public school system for Virginia — a plan that the thrifty Virginia Assembly wisely rejected, except for establishing the University in Charlottesville — neither Jefferson nor any other of the Founding Fathers ever endorsed compulsory public education.

Whose Schools Are They?
Let’s begin this discourse by clarifying our terms: They are government schools, not “public schools.” They belong to the government, not to you, the citizen — a fact you’ll quickly discover if, as a parent, you ever disagree with a school administrator.

For at least three decades, conservatives have wasted their time and energy pursuing the idiotic rallying cry, “Let’s take back our public schools!” They aren’t your schools, folks. They belong to the government, which is to say that the child-penitentiaries known as “public schools” are operated by bureaucrats for bureaucrats.

The reason your local school system is immune to public pressure is because the bureaucrats who control the system — the teachers, administrators and other employees — are politically organized in defense of their fiefdom. The bureaucrats are organized, and parents aren’t, so the bureaucrats exercise a decisive power in school-board elections.

Even where the district schools are not dominated by a teacher’s union, the teachers are generally united in their political efforts. And because most local school-board elections are “non-partisan,” there is no “R” or “D” beside the candidate’s name on the ballot to give the ordinary voter a clue as to which candidate might (emphasis on might) be more conservative.

In effect, then, the government-school bureaucracy elects its own management by organizing politically to control school-board elections. No wise school board member dares oppose the interests of the educational bureaucracy. Therefore, the most important interest which the system serves is not the interests of children, and certainly not the interests of parents, but rather the interests of the people who operate the system.

In most communities, the board is a rubber stamp for the superintendent who, in effect, is chosen by the bureaucracy he pretends to supervise. Any superintendent who falls afoul of the teachers’ union will likely be disappointed the next time his contract comes up for renewal. But this almost never happens because, of course, the superintendent is himself a lifelong member of the bureaucracy who has spent decades as a dues-paying union member.

Bureaucratic Self-Interest
What you see, in the political reality of government education, is that the bureaucrats who run the system are completely unaccountable to the taxpayers who foot the bill. This is why teachers’ salaries always go up, up, up and — even in times of budget crisis — school systems almost never lay off employees or reduce pay. The entire purpose of the system is to provide employment for education majors (who on average have the lowest SAT scores of all college students) and to make that employment as cushy, secure and lucrative as possible.

Actually educating your child is not even a secondary concern of the system, except insofar as the system can falsely claim credit for your child’s success and thereby justify another bond referendum or property-tax increase. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does your child get good grades because he’s smart, or does he get good grades because his teacher is smarter than you?
  • If you are smarter than your child’s teacher, isn’t it possible that your influence is the determining factor in your child’s good grades?
  • What do you suppose distinguishes the “good public school” (which, of course, is the one your child attends) from those bad public schools elsewhere?
  • Since your child is a natural genius — a chip off the ol’ block — is it possible that his academic success is essentially independent of the quality of the school?
  • If you consider that your child is so smart that he would excel in whatever school he attended, exactly why is it that you’re paying outrageous property taxes to support this particular school system?
  • Finally, if you were to take your genius kid out of the local public schools, wouldn’t this result — because one less genius kid tends to subtract from the overall academic prestige of the system — be more of a loss to the system than to your child?

The one thing the government education system will never teach your child is to question the legitimacy of the system. Your child will only learn to do that when he’s ditching class and smoking cigarettes with hoodlums.

The ‘Good Public School’ Myth
One reason most parents don’t ask tough questions about the government education system is that they are invested in the system. They buy a house in a nice suburb with “good public schools” and thus unconsciously enlist as apologists for the system.

“Oh, yes, there are problems in the public education system, but not in my kid’s school,” says the unconscious apologist. “The problem is in those other schools.”

To admit that your local school system is a wasteful mess run by mediocre minds producing mediocre results would be to admit that you have been bamboozled by the bureaucrats. And publicly derogating the quality of your local schools might hurt property values. When a man is paying the mortgage on a $300,000 home, he has a direct financial incentive to proclaim that the local schools are the finest in all recorded human history, unequalled by anything this side of Athens in the 4th century B.C.

Furthermore, the system cleverly creates incentives for parents to believe that their child is receiving an extraordinary quality of education. Parents compete to get their children included in “gifted” classes, a designation presumed to pre-qualify the child to take “honors” and “advanced placement” classes in high school, so as to qualify them for attendance at an elite university.

The parent who accepts all this rigamarole as legitimate and necessary — the jumping-through-hoops process by which their child “competes” for special prestige within the system — has probably not spent enough time smoking cigarettes with hoodlums. A hoodlum asks questions seldom asked by those idiot liberals with their “Question Authority” bumper stickers:

  • If these “gifted” classes are so darned special, how come they’re taught by people who aren’t qualified for any occupation except being a school teacher?
  • If your kid is so self-evidently smart — and you have the standardized test scores to prove it, right? — then why should your little Einstein be compelled to prove he’s a genius by jumping through all those silly hoops held up for him by the teachers who are just as self-evidently not geniuses?
  • Why is it that no child, no matter how smart, can be allowed to take the GED in eighth grade and skip high school altogether?
  • If “advanced placement” classes are, as the system claims, a legitimate equivalent of classes taken by the average college freshman, aren’t the students in those classes essentially receiving a college education at the expense of local taxpayers — including taxpayers whose kids don’t take AP classes?
  • Hey, did you ever notice that a lot of public-school teachers send their own kids to private school? Or, if they send them to public schools, the teachers’ kids get first dibs on their choice of schools, which aren’t always the same school where the teacher is employed?
  • How come we’re paying public school teachers so much they can afford to send their kids to private school?

As my old hoodlum buddies would say, it’s a scam, a hustle, a ripoff. And all of this scamming is embedded within the very organizational structure of the system, without regard to what is actually taught in the classrooms. So have another Marlboro Red, and let me introduce you to one of my buddies.

John Stuart Mill, Notorious Hoodlum
The first lesson a child is taught in government school is, “Your parents are too stupid even to teach you how to read and write.” And the second lesson is closely related to the first: “Government is good for you!”

The necessity of government assistance and, indeed, the necessity for ever-increasing levels of such assistance, is a lesson dear to the hearts of these educational bureaucrats who are employed at taxpayer expense.

A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government . . . in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. An education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exist at all, as one among many competing experiments. .. . . Unless, indeed, when society in general is in so backward a state that it could not or would not provide for itself any proper institutions of education, unless the government undertook the task: then, indeed, the government may, as the less of two great evils, take upon itself the business of schools and universities. . . . But in general, if the country contains a sufficient number of persons qualified to provide education under government auspices, the same persons would be able and willing to give an equally good education on the voluntary principle, under the assurance of remuneration afforded by a law rendering education compulsory, combined with State aid to those unable to defray the expense.
John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1869

Well, my hoodlum buddy Johnny Mill left open an unfortunate loophole there. Once education is made compulsory, and once taxpayers are on the hook for the expense, it is only a matter of time before 90% of students attend government schools, as is true in the United States. (Notice the similarity to the threat ObamaCare poses to the private health-care system?)

Certainly, no 19th-century Brit could have anticipated that his willingness to accept as “the less of two great evils” the possibility of some government role in education might lead to such a metastasized monstrosity as the American public education system. Miseducation is surely a greater evil than mere ignorance, and teaching kids to adore Obama like Chris Matthews is surely miseducation.

While Mill’s warning against a “general State education” is widely quoted, in the same chapter of the same book, he issues a less commonly quoted warning against the inexorable tendency of bureaucracy:

If every part of the business of society which required organized concert, or large and comprehensive views, were in the hands of the government, and if government offices were universally filled by the ablest men, all the enlarged culture and practised intelligence in the country, except the purely speculative, would be concentrated in a numerous bureaucracy, to whom alone the rest of the community would look for all things: the multitude for direction and dictation in all they had to do; the able and aspiring for personal advancement. To be admitted into the ranks of this bureaucracy, and when admitted, to rise therein, would be the sole objects of ambition. Under this régime, not only is the outside public ill-qualified, for want of practical experience, to criticize or check the mode of operation of the bureaucracy, but even if the accidents of despotic or the natural working of popular institutions occasionally raise to the summit a ruler or rulers of reforming inclinations, no reform can be effected which is contrary to the interest of the bureaucracy.

This is exactly what’s wrong with the government education system. The school bureaucrats have established their occupation as a “profession,” requiring government certification, so that Michelle Malkin couldn’t be allowed to teach a high-school journalism class. And how do you get certified as a teacher? You take a prescribed regimen of classes as an education major in college, receiving a diploma which qualifies you for nothing else except teaching in public schools.

The people who set up this system then declare that, unless you hold the certification thus obtained — by choosing a major that effectively disqualifies you for any other employment — you are unqualified even to teach a 6-year-old to tie his shoes.

Kindergarten Festival of Death
Once you recognize the bogusness of this system — once you realize that the credentialing process qualifies the teacher to presume that the parent is a complete idiot — you begin to understand why the schools are unresponsive to parental input.

I learned this shortly after my wife and I sent our oldest child to public-school kindergarten. One day in October 1994, our daughter Kennedy told her mother that the school was getting ready to celebrate “The Day of the Dead.”

Dia de los Muertos is the Mexican version of a Catholic holiday celebrated Nov. 1 and known in English as All Souls’ Day, when the faithful are supposed to pray for lost souls in Purgatory. The Oct. 31 holiday we call Halloween was originally “All Hallows’ Eve,” based upon the superstitious belief that the ghosts of the dead rose on that night.

Well, our family is not Catholic and we don’t believe in ghosts, and my wife was horrified when Kennedy explained that her kindergarten class would be compelled to participate in a huge school-wide celebration of “The Day of the Dead,” complete with all sorts of macabre stuff about graves and bones and various supernatural spooky things.

This did not strike us as age-appropriate curricula for 5-year-olds. My wife talked to the teacher, but the teacher — as teachers are required to do whenever parents question the curriculum — dismissed my wife’s concerns.

My wife’s worries, however, were not allayed, and she asked me to meet with the principal to discuss our issues with the Dia de los Muertos celebration. I had taken developmental psychology as a college student and was familiar with the theories of Piaget and others in the field, so I tried to explain to the principal that asking children to spend an entire week preparing for a festival of death might not be such a cool idea.

Have you ever been pooh-poohed by an elementary school principal? No more insulting experience could be imagined. Yet I restrained my impulse to strangle this man — he was just doing his job, quelling dissent from one of those notorious troublemakers, the parents — long enough to express my second objection.

How is it, I asked, that it is strictly forbidden for the teacher to say even a simple blessing over lunch — “Thank you, God, for this crappy cafeteria meatloaf” — or to engage in any other religious observance, and yet the entire school was devoting itself to observing a Catholic religious holiday?

Well, the principal had no answer for that, because no answer was possible. The pretext of “multiculturalism” was transparently bogus. They weren’t going to celebrate Yom Kippur or Ash Wednesday, were they? If I were the kind of pestilential nuisance who files lawsuits, West Central Elementary’s Dia de los Muertos celebration might have made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Instead, Kennedy was allowed to “opt out” of the Mexican death-festival. Our daughter, the kindergarten pariah. We were so proud.

The 4-Second Decision
That was the first tiny spark that eventually led us to home-schooling. Kennedy finished out the school year at West Central. The next fall, Kennedy enrolled in a church school where we eventually discovered that, alas, her young teacher didn’t believe in math drill, but did believe in “creative spelling.”

One afternoon, when our daughter was in the second semester of second grade, car-pool duty obligated me to pick up Kennedy and two of our friends’ kids after school. We were riding home and, on a whim, I asked, “Kennedy, what is eight plus seven?”

It took her about four seconds to answer, “15.” Correct, but why did it take so long? Because she hadn’t been drilled.

“7+8 = 15” is a fact, one which every child in the second semester of second grade ought to have long ago committed firmly to memory, and those four seconds it took for Kennedy to answer that question were the four seconds during which it was decided that she would no longer attend that school. Why were we paying them tuition, if they couldn’t teach a simple fact to a kid as smart as ours?

That’s the kind of a question you’ll never ask unless you’ve spent some time with hoodlums. Whatever their faults, hoodlums tend to disdain the phony prestige with which authority figures endeavor to intimidate the weak-minded. (My wife was a nice little girl, although her brothers have smoked a few Marlboro Reds.)

Having made the acquaintance of a few home-schooling families, we knew such a thing was possible. August 1997 marked the inaugural session of The McCain School, with an enrollment of three — 8-year-old Kennedy and her 5-year-old twin brothers, Bob and Jim. My wife was the teacher, I was sort of an administrative overseer, and the curriculum was an improvisational ad hoc collection of workbooks and such.

By the time Kennedy was 13, she was working her way through a ninth-grade online curriculum and had progressed to the point that I had difficulty assisting her with her algebra lessons. So one day, when I came home from work, my daughter invited my wife and I to a kitchen-table presentation.

Our 13-year-old had gone online and located a Christian academy about 40 miles away. She had contacted the school and they had sent her a package of information. And there, at our kitchen table, Kennedy argued the case for why she should attend this school the next fall.

She won, and that August, at age 14, Kennedy enrolled as the youngest member of the sophomore class — in fact, she was younger than all but two of the freshmen. And in May 2006, at age 16, she graduated with honors. She sang in the school choir, participated in dramatics and was a member of the school newspaper staff and the volleyball team. Oh, and her boyfriend was the star of the school soccer team.

She has already completed her community college degree — dean’s list all four semesters — and between scholarships and part-time jobs, has paid her own way through. She took a year off (2007-08) to do a year in a full-immersion Spanish-language program at a college in Argentina, and is now a 20-year-old junior at a state university where I have no doubt she will make dean’s list again this semester.

Not bad, for a hoodlum’s kid.

Time for an Exodus?
None of these achievements should have been possible, according to the theory of education which holds that only government-certified experts are qualified to teach children. It is estimated that there are more than 1 million home-schooled kids in America, and each of their parents can probably tell you a story about the moment when they finally saw through the bogus prestige with which the government education bureaucracy attempts to bamboozle the taxpaying public.

Home-schooling parents, being undeceived by the lies the government school system tells to justify its existence, enjoy little moments like this Sept. 8 Obama Mass Indoctrination of America’s school-children (which the Department of Education is now trying to whitewash). It’s about time more parents woke up to the reality of what this system is actually all about and exactly what is being taught to America’s children.

Having myself been subjected for 12 miserable years to the coercive organized idiocy of government schools, I hate that system almost as much as Allahpundit hates God. Unlike God, however, the school system is not transcendent and eternal. And God achieves the impossible every day.

What if all the children of smart parents were “yanked off the premises” not just next Tuesday, but permanently. If this is the event that finally reveals to smart parents the truth of what this system is really all about, what if Sept. 8, 2009, marked the first day of home-schooling for millions of American children?

Impossible, you say? Let me introduce you to my friend E. Ray Moore Jr. Ray is not a hoodlum. He is a Christian minister and founder of Exodus Mandate, an organization dedicated to encouraging Christian parents to take their kids out of the government school system. Ray compares the government school system to Pharoah’s Egyptian enslavement of the Israelites.

About 10 years ago, Ray published a book and produced a video (available on DVD), both entitled Let My Children Go. He said that the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School was a wake-up call, warning Christian parents that they should get their kids out of the government schools. More recently, Moore helped produce Call to Dunkirk, encouraging Christians to rescue their kids from “enemy territory.” Here’s a YouTube clip:

So far, there has been no mass exodus in response to Ray Moore’s call. If this creepy Sept. 8 Obama lecture doesn’t do the trick, what ever will?

Have Another Vodka, Steve
Maybe some parents who wouldn’t listen to the preacher will listen to a former high-school hoodlum: These schools are teaching your children to hate you and to hate God, too.

They signally failed in my case, but not before the coercive stupidity of the system (I recall an experimental sixth-grade “gifted” program in 1972 where we were taught statistics by the principal, a man who couldn’t even correctly pronounce “statistics”) turned me into a defiant rebel, a relentless foe of authority.

Thanks to various interventions — by Sheriff Earl Lee, my father and others — that path didn’t lead to its usual destination: Prison or an early grave. I’ve lived long enough to have six children of my own, none of whom have yet, thank God, turned into total hellions like their Dad used to be.

However, some rebellious habits are hard to outgrow. Even though I can’t handle the Marlboro Reds anymore (Parliament Lights are now my preferred brand), I still love to hang out with hoodlums, like VodkaPundit:

The President of the United States — whether an Obama a Bush or a Lincoln — is not my son’s daddy.

You tell ’em, Steve! I’m with VodkaPundit!

Anybody else want to join Hoodlums for Homeschooling? It’s sort of a non-denominational ministry, you might say. Vodka and Marlboro Reds are strictly optional.

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Comments

You go Stacy.

I’m with Vodka Pundit, but as I said somewhere, one day’s absence isn’t going to do that much good. Home education is the conservative parent’s friend.

Pundette on September 3, 2009 at 8:18 AM

Nice rant, and I agree with most points. But — single dad, so I can’t home school. Can’t afford private school. A voucher program would be nice.

Daggett on September 3, 2009 at 8:35 AM

Nice rant . . .

“Rant”? I compose a 3,800-word essay in less than seven hours, with bullet points and quotations from John Stuart Mill, and that’s a “rant”? Sigh . . .

single dad, so I can’t home school

I know some nice girls. And some not-so-nice girls, too. Which would you prefer as the next Mrs. Daggett?

I try to be proactive on this “family values” stuff . . .

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Look out. He’s an incorrigible matchmaker.

Pundette on September 3, 2009 at 9:04 AM

If you can afford to homeschool your kids, more power to you. Public schooling isn’t going anywhere, though, so be sure to support the charter option, too.

RightOFLeft on September 3, 2009 at 9:14 AM

Seriously complentating a career move as a stay at home teacher as well as dad..

DaveC on September 3, 2009 at 9:31 AM

Nice rant, and I agree with most points. But — single dad, so I can’t home school. Can’t afford private school. A voucher program would be nice.

Daggett on September 3, 2009 at 8:35 AM

It’s not a “rant”… it’s fifty really good Tweets, all at once!

Nice work on the essay! I don’t have any children, but I would have done the same thing you did, in your situation. My skepticism of public education grows with every passing year. The problem Daggett pointed out, single parents who don’t have a realistic option to home-school, highlights the tyranny of forcing people to pay for a failed system they have both intellectual and moral reasons to oppose. We should be spending less time fantasizing about trillion-dollar health-care takeovers, and more time discussing a plan to dismantle the public education system and return it to the private sector, where it has always belonged.

Doctor Zero on September 3, 2009 at 9:37 AM

One day’s absence will do more than you think. The school will lose money for each student not in attendance on any given day. I’m sure they’ll fudge the attendance records for that day, in any case, to keep getting every taxpayer penny they can steal.

You have no more lasting legacy than your kids. You can lose your home, car, job, everything– with little regret in comparison to failing to equip your children for their future.

Several generations of lesser people have allowed the government to support them while they stayed home and “rocked the cradle” to the tune of their hideous masters. We see what that hath wrought.

Half seriously: Walk away if you have to, and let the government afford you that same opportunity to organize a community of like-minded patriots, teach and rebuild YOUR values. You owe it to your fellow countrymen!

Joan of Argghh on September 3, 2009 at 9:42 AM

I have had some many anecdotal stories about public schools that to put them here would fill a book. I can tell you that I put my kids in a public school when they were small due to lack of public school funds and my abusive ex’s unwillingness to let me homeschool them. I was, however, allowed to substitute teach and work in their school so I was in on most everything that went on in the school. Later, after I remarried, I wanted to move the kids to private schools as I could then easily afford it, they weren’t too hep on HS at 11 & 13, as they didn’t want to leave friends during their already tumultuous life events. They were only there 2 yrs. My daughter had a boy become obsessive about her, and he later committed a very public suicide in front of her. His parents blamed her because she kept rejecting him. They went so far as to harrass her at school, at the mall, ball games, etc. His sister even threatened her life. The school was well aware of all of this and basically made it worse by allowing the parents to hang around the school talking to kids, in the guise of quelling their grief. The mother actually cornered my daughter at the school and said she’d pay. My daughter went to the principal, yet they didn’t even call me or the police even though this was a clear threat. I ended up sending my daughter 70 miles away to a private boarding school and my son went to a local self-paced Chrisitian school and worked at home. My daughter, even with all the stress and loss of 4-5 mos of her school yr, graduated at 16, my son, one month before 17th b’day. I have seen what goes on in public schools, intimately, and I detest them. My step daughters two kids go to a private Catholic school and my daughter’s kids will start at a private Christian school. I am paying for them, and will continue, as long as the Obama economy lets me. If not, they all be home schooled.

di butler on September 3, 2009 at 9:43 AM

“If you can afford to homeschool your kids, more power to you.”

Yeah, the lucrative blog-o-bucks path to riches!

After I quit The Washington Times in January 2008, I liquidated my savings and retirement to subsidize the launching of my blogging/freelance journalism career. I’m 49 years old, I’ve got six kids, I’m flat broke most of the time, I’ve got no health insurance and my creditors hound me daily.

Middle-class people who say you’ve got to be able to “afford” to do something before doing it, are mentally enslaved to socially-imposed norms and standards of living. If you would be free, first ask yourself, “What should I do?” Determine to do it, and then find a way to “afford” it.

As Hunter S. Thompson said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

You’ll excuse me, but I’ve got to put on my ski mask and head to the local 7-Eleven now . . .

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 9:43 AM

Stacy, nice, overly-long rant. So good, in fact, that the absence of your tip-jar rattling was hardly noticed!

Joan of Argghh on September 3, 2009 at 9:44 AM

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 9:43 AM

That’s great that you found a way to make it work. A lot of families can’t afford to sacrifice work hours from either parent to teach their kids.

RightOFLeft on September 3, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Just want to throw in that homeschooling doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Yearly expenses are less (way less, if you’re thrifty and willing to use the library a lot) than most families spend on one vacation. (Not ours – we can’t afford expensive vacations. And we get by with one car. Used.)

Someone does need to be there with the kids, though. I wonder if a single parent might barter with a homeschooling parent who might want to help with teaching? This wouldn’t work so well if either family was large but if you’ve just got a couple of kids it’s an idea, maybe?

This does bring home the reality that schools provide government daycare and that service is built in to many families’ budgets.

We put off the home purchase and rented for many years so that I could stay home. The kids didn’t know or care to whom we wrote the monthly housing check but they benefited from having me home with them. We homeschooled through some significant periods of unemployment, too.

Pundette on September 3, 2009 at 10:22 AM

So good, in fact, that the absence of your tip-jar rattling was hardly noticed!

I had to make the sacrifice, Joan. There was just something about the phrase “I’m with C.J.” . . .

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 10:40 AM

My kids and I will be hiding in the closet as soon as Obama or anything generated by him (even pumping his Marxist image over the airwaves qualifies) comes into our little town….this guy is dangerous and creepy………

Cinday Blackburn on September 3, 2009 at 10:45 AM

This is a tough choice at my house–I’m gone on deployment and will be a lot for a few years. It’s a lot of work, and it would be nice to have the kids do their own thing out of the house every once in a while. We’ve got the money, I think, but might finesse the problem by working overseas a tour or two (DoDDS schools are pretty good, usually) until I leave the military.

I was near Omaha for the last tour. Many Catholic folks there homeschooled…in the same room…sharing books and taking turns as to who taught what. Sure sounded like a school to me, but since such things were not allowed there, it must have been something else! Funnily enough, the Mormons and Muslims did similar. I could understand why when my neighbor’s kids got forced to watch “Super Size Me”–and “An Inconvenient Truth” in three different classes over a two month period.

I’m not sure being on the football team is worth being in a school like that.

Chap on September 3, 2009 at 11:01 AM

We finally made the jump out of public school after discussing it every fall for over a decade.

We went through the “work within the system” and “we’re paying for a good school” and “we can’t afford private school” and “school test scores confrim this is a good school” and … ya know, in the end, it’s all crap.

We could have chosen to live in a less-nice area. We could have chosen to go, hat in hand, to friends, family, etc. We could have lived on ramen. We bought the myths, and sent our son to public school. He did not thrive.

He’s now in a private micro-school with a student-teacher ratio some homeschools would envy and a pricetag that means we will be living on ramen for a while, assuming I can stay employed… but .. he’s getting interested in learning again.

Mew

acat on September 3, 2009 at 11:33 AM

We put off the home purchase and rented for many years so that I could stay home. The kids didn’t know or care to whom we wrote the monthly housing check but they benefited from having me home with them. We homeschooled through some significant periods of unemployment, too.

Pundette on September 3, 2009 at 10:22 AM

The homeschooling movement was still nascent in the late 70’s, when my kids started school, but we, too, held off buying a house, among other things, in order to afford private school tuition, since the alternative was forced busing to a school 30 minutes away, in a neighborhood so crime-ridden that evening PTA meetings or parent-teacher conferences would be a clear and present danger.

Even so, I spent many an hour doing remedial grammar and math with my “gifted” kids, while paying tuition.

So, Mr. McCain, I hear you — to reject those “good” public schools entails sacrifice, and there were times I wondered if it was worth it, until one parent or another in little league would regale us with the latest public school horror story. So we kept on, and our kids turned out college-educated, conservative, employed and productive.

As tough as it may be, it helps to consider it an investment in the future that will live on when you’re gone.

Nichevo on September 3, 2009 at 1:09 PM

We bought the myths, and sent our son to public school. He did not thrive.

Today, my 10-year-old and 8-year-old built a fort in the backyard from some wood my 16-year-old brought home from one of his odd jobs cutting down trees. How many kids nowadays get the valuable enrichment of building backyard forts? How many kids nowadays get the valuable enrichment of odd jobs cutting down trees?

One of the things every beginning home-schooling family goes through is the “let’s-replicate-public-school” model: We’ll start school at 8:30 a.m., do English for an hour, then math for an hour . . .” And then you figure out that, with three hours or less of direct instruction daily, your child can easily exceed the performance of public-school kids. And suddenly, not only is your child free, but you’re free, too:

“Today, let’s make cookies!”

“Today, let’s go to a baseball game!”

“Today, let’s go to the mall!”

Smart children are naturally curious and, once you’ve got them reading, they’ll find stuff they like to read, and do it for their own reasons. Our 10-year-old, like many boys, was slow to start reading. Then, about the time he was 8 — click! It was like a light went on, and now he’s up ’til all hours of the night, in bed with a flashlight, reading everything.

As far as the “nice neighborhood” trap: People pay a premium to buy into a “good public school” district and then complain they “can’t afford” to home-school. But once you decide to home-school, you can live anywhere, and your child’s educational experience is unchanged.

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 1:17 PM

As far as the “nice neighborhood” trap: People pay a premium to buy into a “good public school” district and then complain they “can’t afford” to home-school. But once you decide to home-school, you can live anywhere, and your child’s educational experience is unchanged.

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 1:17 PM

The problem I’ve seen with my own kids, as well as nieces and nephews, is in putting the cart before the horse.

First, soon after marriage, they buy a house that they can barely afford, based on two salaries, in a “nice neighborhood,” and then, some years later, they have kids. By the time the kids start school, there’s little leeway left in the budget for private school tuition, while taxes, mortgage and upkeep of the “nice” house, and lifestyle, necessitates Mom returning to work, either full or part-time.

So off go the kids to public school, while creepy school assignments, which should raise loud warning bells, are laughed off as inconsequential…until it’s too late.

Nichevo on September 3, 2009 at 1:48 PM

First, soon after marriage, they buy a house that they can barely afford, based on two salaries, in a “nice neighborhood,” and then, some years later, they have kids.

By the time the kids start school, there’s little leeway left in the budget for private school tuition, while taxes, mortgage and upkeep of the “nice” house, and lifestyle, necessitates Mom returning to work, either full or part-time.

Whatever happened to young people getting married, renting a crappy little apartment, and struggling together to make a go of it? Whence this obsession with “keeping up appearances” via material purchases? It bespeaks a disturbing level of status insecurity.

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 2:24 PM

When is AP going to submit a 3800 word rebuttal on how government schools are an absolute necessity for the “Greater Good?”

Kalapana on September 3, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Whatever happened to young people getting married, renting a crappy little apartment, and struggling together to make a go of it? Whence this obsession with “keeping up appearances” via material purchases? It bespeaks a disturbing level of status insecurity.

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Whatever happened? Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the belief that renting is a waste of money, and that the value of a house will increase forever. Add that to the delusions of the self-esteem curriculum that has taught a few generation of youngsters that they are special, and worthy of large salaries, just by virture of existing…

Nichevo on September 3, 2009 at 3:36 PM

the delusions of the self-esteem curriculum that has taught a few generation of youngsters that they are special, and worthy of large salaries, just by virture of existing

I think the status-obsession is due, in large measure, to the sexual revolution and the rise of divorce rates. Young people stay single longer, and want to hedge their bets against a failed marriage. Ergo, they feel a need to maintain the social prestige necessary to success in the singles market, even after marrying.

You see this in the way married couples with small children — who, by all logic, ought to be scrimping and saving — who nonetheless seem to believe that they must drive a late-model, high-end vehicle. To be seen in a 5- or 10-year-old car would be socially unacceptable.

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Mr. McCain –
“good” public schools do exist, but they are good as a result of a partnership between the families and the school. They focus on education without the frills – much like homeschooling. They require personal responsibility of all parties involved – much like home schooling It’s not the neighborhood and most of the cases those schools are placed in neighborhoods where you don’t want to be. Please look into the history and results of the Fundamental Schools in Pinellas County Florida. There are other “good” public schools -they have parents highly involved. It’s not adversarial, it’s cooperative and cordial.

A few things you may be unfamiliar with:
-In most school districts teachers who teach gifted classes (a special ed pull out class for enrichment) are required to take classes in that field and maintain their ceu’s in that area. Teachers who work with the GT population better find the tools to work with that population or they will quickly find the GT kids will run them off. GT can be taught by someone with a teaching degree as you suggest, but usually is taught by a teacher with an advanced degree and seniority. The GT teachers I have encountered… really you have to want to do it.

-Testing for GT is not to have students “jump through hoops” but to discern those are not only high IQ, but those who would benefit from the class, and frankly some testing is done at the behest of parents who are sure their kid is the super-duper smartest ever. Further, you must realize how many “disruptive” boys have been misidentified as needing to be medicated when they are in fact bored GT students. Identification also gives the educator (home or public) insight into the child’s intellect and learning needs.

– You asked about skipping High School -Not sure about your school district but some school districts allow children to test out of classes and move on – “skip grades” or skip classes & take college classes at the same time as high school. Does your school district preclude early graduation? In Texas if you graduate early you qualify for an early graduation scholarship for college.

-AP classes – It is just a class. A more challenging class but just a class. It is taught by a High School teacher. If you want to take the test at the end your parents pay for the test. If you score a 4 or a 5 on the test you get college credit (at some universities)…. not for taking the test. Dual Credit classes – are taught by a College Professor – parents pay the college part of the credit hour fee and must pay for a college text book. The rest of the college credit fee is pick up by the high school – but they are not paying a high school teacher so it’s a wash. You get college credit for taking a dual credit class.

I am in favor of homeschooling but I am also in favor of taking back our public schools. Both require you to be active and involved. There is no such thing as sacrifice when you have kids, it’s just part of the deal.

batterup on September 3, 2009 at 4:27 PM

batterup on September 3, 2009 at 4:27 PM
—–
Batter,

Even in the areas where there’s enough money to hire the (more expensive) AP teachers, and enough parents involved to keep the bureaucrats under control, that still doesn’t guarantee good schools…

Mew

acat on September 3, 2009 at 5:24 PM

The Other McCain on September 3, 2009 at 1:17 PM
—-
We did the “crappy little third floor walk-up with broken A/C close enough to the airport and the train you stop hearing ’em” thing. In hindsight, we should have stuck it out a couple more years there.

The current micro-school doesn’t cram quite as effectively as a home school can – there is still some regimentation – but there’s enough time saved to let him have one day a week off, and a full hour for lunch.

Mew

acat on September 3, 2009 at 5:29 PM

The leader of the state has no business speaking directly to school children or enlisting them in his agenda, no matter how innocent it may appear. Far too many teachers think it’s their job to teach kids what to believe, rather than teaching them how to think. Establishing a set of values is the job of the family of a child. When the state establishes a set of values, the state is trying to act as a parent.

I remember the “recycle, reduce, reuse” mantra being drilled into my head at elementary school> I remember being shown videos of dire predictions of the earths future if we didn’t act now. I was in 3rd grade and nobody ever said, well that’s just one opinion. The propaganda was delivered as fact and we were expected to buy into the message. Nobody ever explained that it was all irrational panic and there was plenty of landfill space for centuries to come. Nobody ever explained to us that recycling was actually a way for the environmental movement to effect the thinking of children and try to get them to place “nature” above people.

The best lesson I received in school was by accident. Our principal pushed for a big recycling drive. We were told to bring in our newspapers so we could recycle them and make some money for the school, while helping the planet. We brought stacks of newspapers and there were so many that a truck had to be borrowed to deliver the papers to the recycling center that was able to deal with a load that size, about 30 miles away. The money the school received was either less than the amount spent on gas or perhaps a bit more. Either way, I remember seeing the face of my principal and his frustration at the situation. If recycling was really a good thing, it wouldn’t cost far more than the regular trash.

Stickeehands on September 3, 2009 at 10:34 PM

Great article, you never cease to amaze me and amuse me. I have followed you for some time, though have not ever commented. I regret never home-schooling my two girls, and wish I could do it with my two grandchildren. Alas, I work overnight, so would be useless by late morning…I do stive to provide extra learning activities and opportunities whenever I can. I was the first in my grandchild’s school to call about the president’s speech. The principle had no knowledge of this–guess he wasn’t on the list of those notified. He stopped me today and said they would only show the speech in the upper elementary grades, but that it was up to the individual teachers to determine if they would be able to fit the speech into their scheduale. He welcomed me when I asked to sit in my grandson’s class (5th). and said I should come even if the speech wasn’t shown. He said only one other parent had asked about the speech…*sigh*
Thanks for the “rant”. You did the right thing, made me tear up at what a lovely, and remarkable woman your daughter turned out to be…

lovingmyUSA on September 4, 2009 at 3:43 AM

My wife and I spent our formative years being dumbed down in public schools. Sorry Stacey, no rebels here. However, I’ll work three jobs to keep my children out of public schools. We like private schools. Remember, not every parent should be a stay-at-home.

Blacksmith8 on September 4, 2009 at 11:34 AM