My homeschool advocacy work has resulted in scores of conversations thus far this year with people who were previously ignorant of the many benefits of homeschooling. Their stated concerns about homeschooling have been largely consistent, a string of debunked or irrelevant notions fueled by the propaganda of partisan politicians, teachers unions, the media, and power hungry statists who think that they can better raise your children than you can. It starts out with questions about the ability of parents to teach their kids as effectively as certified degreed teachers can. After being informed of the superior academic outcomes of homeschooling, they typically turn to the ability of homeschoolers to be properly socialized. After being reminded of the terrible socialization effects of public schools, most people acknowledge that they have been duped. However, some continue on with a smattering of false beliefs, such as public schools being better able to create the informed citizenry necessary for a functioning democracy, a technology-literate workforce that can compete in a globalized world, or a moral and just society through their ability to pass on their own preferred values to children.* One final argument I sometimes hear is rather unique in that it doesn’t focus on the child, but on the parent – that the parent is “selfish”.
These people usually preempt this statement by rightly acknowledging that the public education system is failing, but then argue that homeschooling parents should keep their children in the failing system in order to prop up and improve public schools, as if it is some sort of civic duty. They claim that when these parents withdraw their kids from public schools, the schools often lose funding which inhibits the ability of the schools to properly fund the education of the leftover kids. They claim that because these parents care more about their children’s education than other parents, that the leftover kids will suffer because they’ll have fewer parents demanding quality education from local school boards. And they claim that because homeschool parents tend to better nurture their children’s intellectual development, that by pulling their kids out of public school the leftover kids won’t benefit from the in-class contributions of the homeschooled children.
Not sacrificing one’s own child to the failing public school system in order to help out all of the children whose parents don’t care enough to pull them out of public schools is most certainly selfish. Any parent who homeschools is selfish, without question, irrespective of the effect on the public school system. However, that selfishness is a virtue, not a vice. They are selfish in that they want to see their children grow up before their eyes, as opposed to handing those observations off to a slew of indifferent teachers. They are selfish because they want the best possible education for their children, that is tailored to their individual learning styles and which maximizes their unique potential. They are selfish because they prefer to protect their kids from bullying, drugs, materialism and corrupt values, rather than injecting their kids into the backward environment of public schools so that they can somehow lessen the pain of the children left in the system. They are selfish because they want to share their own values with their kids, rather than handing their kids over to government thugs who want to push their non-values on the children in order to shape them into compliant slaves, ensuring a docile and controllable society.
Of course, we rarely ever hear about the selfishness of public school parents. We don’t hear about how selfish they are in turning over their parenting responsibilities to others so they can have a job, or do whatever they want to for about 8 hours a day. We don’t hear about how selfish they are in getting free babysitting on the backs of other taxpayers. We don’t hear how selfish they are in not wanting to pay multiple times (in taxes, lost wages, and tuition) for their children’s education. To be fair, we do hear about those who send their kids to public schools because they sincerely believe it is the best option for their children. But of course, those parents aren’t selfish like homeschool parents.
The homeschooling-parent-is-selfish argument is argued most loudly by people who are concerned not about the child, but about the institution of public education. To many of them, the destruction of your child’s life is worth it if the perceived greater good of public education is protected.** But it is not the responsibility of the homeschool parent to participate in efforts to drive educational change from within the system. It is not the responsibility of the homeschool parent to help raise the kids of other parents. And it is most certainly not the responsibility of the homeschool parent to sacrifice the health and welfare of their child to a corrupt and inept system in order to validate that system … or as they would like you to believe, to help out other kids. Sacrificing your children for the supposed future benefit of the children of strangers is not noble; it is irresponsible and unloving, and perhaps even evil.
* The laughable results of our biennial congressional elections are a sufficient argument against the ability of public schools to create informed citizens. The 20% of high school seniors who are functionally illiterate at graduation is a definitive argument against the ability of public schools to create a technology-literate workforce. The belief that public schools (driven by political, corporate and special interests) should inculcate children with values is something that only the most arrogant and self-important (and most likely ethically-challenged) person could argue. The record of those social engineers in running up our national debt, engaging in multiple unnecessary and murderous wars, funneling money from the people to corporate interests, and continually eating away at our liberties should be enough of an argument against allowing them to dictate what values they will impart on our children.
** Similar arguments have been used to justify genocide; so naturally it can be used to justify attacking parents who homeschool as well.