Skip to comments.DeVos irony: NBC News discovers that liberal homeschoolers do exist
Posted on 02/11/2017 6:03:33 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o
Back in the days of intense Harry Potter warfare, I wrote an "On Religion" column in which a very articulate mother explained why she was seriously considering homeschooling her child.
First of all, she said it was clear that her local public schools didn't take religion all that seriously. A kind of watered-down faith was OK, but she was sure that her family's intense religious beliefs and traditions would clash with the culture in nearby schools. She didn't want to have to compromise her family's beliefs in order to fit in.
Then there those omnipresent books about a certain young wizard. She told me:
"The whole Harry Potter thing has just taken off and glamorized everything. It makes it seem like all of this is about spells and magic. ... It can be hard to get children to remember that what we're about is faith and spirituality. ... Many pagan parents consider Harry Potter a mixed blessing."
This mother, you see, was part of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and the author of a book called "Pagan Parenting." And she was preparing for life as a homeschooling mom.
I thought about this anecdote when I read the NBCNews.com piece that ran with this headline: "DeVos Backlash Sees Parents Threatening to Homeschool Kids."
All kinds of people were passing this URL around online, laughing at the irony of that statement. However, it quickly became clear that reporter Jon Schuppe not only saw the irony, but understood it. Here is the overture on this surprisingly nuanced piece:
Among the initial opposition to Betsy DeVos' confirmation this week as education secretary were calls on social media by parents, including liberals, to start homeschooling their children.
That reaction to DeVos a billionaire school-choice advocate who has never worked, attended or sent her kids to a public school reflects how polarizing her nomination was.
It also comes layered with paradox. That's because DeVos, whom the Senate confirmed Tuesday to head the Education Department, is herself a big proponent of homeschooling.
The NBC piece backed that up with this direct quote from DeVos:
"We've seen more and more people opt for homeschooling, including in urban areas. What you're seeing is parents who are fed up with their lack of power to do anything about where their kids are assigned to go to school. To the extent that homeschooling puts parents back in charge of their kids' education, more power to them."
But, wait, aren't homeschoolers all rightwing Calvinist or trad-Catholic types who dress their minivan-stretching families in clothing inspired by the Little House On The Prairie fashion guides?
Schuppe accurately notes that the truth is more complex than that. Yes, the norm in homeschooling land tends to be "conservative Christians who resist government oversight." That's the negative way of stating their motives, but that is accurate. However, this piece also notes again, this is accurate that members of the homeschooling movement "span the political spectrum."
At some point, you know that the story is going to have to turn to an expert to explain some of these details.
In this case, NBC I would assume an online search did the trick (finding the book "Homeschool: An American History") found an academic at an evangelical Protestant school that is known as a rather progressive campus. This is not the kind of place where one automatically expects to find a DeVos fan club.
This passage from the piece is a bit long, but it's essential:
Until her nomination, DeVos served as chairwoman of the American Federation of Children, a group that advocates for education savings accounts, which redirect public school funds for use by parents to pay for other options, including expenses associated with homeschooling. DeVos could push for states to implement them.
"DeVos would love nothing better than for parents to decide to spend their money on private Christian schools ... or to homeschool them using Christian curriculums," said Milton Gaither, an education professor at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, who researches the homeschool movement and wrote a book about it.
Asked whether it seemed ironic that some liberals were now talking about homeschooling, Gaither said no: In a sense, those potential converts would mark a return to the fold of left-wing parents who gave helped give birth to the movement in the early 1970s.
"If they take it seriously enough and do it, they will find themselves in world populated by conservative Christians and people like Betsy DeVos," he said.
Once again, the wording in this part of the piece take that "education savings accounts" reference is accurate, but rather one-sided. Many activists on the DeVos side of that argument would say that parents are, in effect, receiving some of their own tax dollars back from the government so that they can choose what to do with those funds. Yes, this form of choice is fiercely opposed by the public-school establishment and by many who see this as a violation of church-state separation (since many parents choose faith-driven educational alternatives, including homeschooling materials).
The bottom line: There was much more to this story than an ironic chuckle or two.
This is a topic worthy of further exploration, if only to probe whether there are many feminist homeschoolers, LGBTQ homeschoolers, liberal Jewish homeschoolers, progressive Catholic homeschoolers and others who simply don't fit into the templates of America's educational establishment. To what degree have these niche-busters made the full leap into being pro-choice on matters of educational funding?
Bravo to the NBC News team for recognizing that this issue exists. You see, irony is a good thing, especially when it leads to interesting information.
People should have liberty in the education of their children. Period. The state has completely blown their contention that they have an interest in education by institutionalizing children for twelve years without their learning to read or do basic math or fix a toilet or change a tire.
I spent more than an hour on the phone this afternoon with a lady in my church who would like to start homeschooling tomorrow, because the middle school environment is so toxic for her daughter. (In our state, she could probably start Tuesday, unless the issuance of the private school registration is automated and works on the weekend.) Math and English, I said. English and math.
I don’t doubt that Ms. DeVos is a fine person who has done a lot of good, but I’d like to know what the Federal Department of Education has contributed to the public good. I’d like to see her file a zero budget for the agency.
If it is a violation of the separation of church and state for a religions person to receive tax money from the state, wouldn't it also be a violation of the separation of church and state for a religious person to pay taxes to the state?
It had nothing to do with religious instruction, just the desire to have the family together.
Calvert School, right? They even sent paper and pencils to Borneo or wherever you were stationed.
Come across the rare few online, but, fortunately, most curriculum is Christian-based. Our local school system was trying to lure us back into the system by offering “Core” classes online and the teachers grading. I said NO WAY!
Libs will be right at home with that crap.
In California, it you want to home school through the public system you have to account for every “education minute,” which is measured by the amount of worksheets the kid turns in. I filed my own private school affidavit. My daughter is now studying industrial design and my son is a Marine.
I think it’s better to stay away from government schools.
It has contributed to a great many parents deciding that they have had enough of this nonsense and pulling their kids out of public schools.
Back when schools were local controlled parents had the happy illusion that they were in charge of their child's public school education. They were not. The arrival of the DoE forced them to face that truth and react accordingly.
That was probably not what you meant by public good but tearing the mask off was a good thing.
Those libs are at least spending time with their kids instead of dumping them on other people to raise from birth through high school. Some of them will learn that they can help their kids more than the public school system. And some of that sub-group will eventually learn to vote what they learn — I have seen it happen.
No, that is not what I meant, but it’s a good point.
Yes, I want her opinion on home schooling.
There will be regs once u take the bait. Just homeschool and stay off the radar
Yep. It was nice because mom would just have to open the box and everything was there. I remember they sent paints and modeling clay for the art classes. They did not send me a chemistry set though. I was very disappointed in them for that.
Homeschool advocates generally do not like government funds in homeschool, but the “school choice” people would LOVE to force government funds on homeschoolers.
You know, that was very well said.
I had just had that thought when I read your comment :-)
Well, maybe. I saw the article, and I don't know if Schuppe understood it or just stumbled onto an obvious irony--something MOST journalists don't really catch.
Having been intimately involved in the homeschooling community in my area, our contacts are mainly Christians--but not necessarily "conservative" in a political sense.
The heartening truth is this: in South Florida (ESPECIALLY since the edict from B. Hussein Obama that bathrooms have to be open to both sexes) we have seen a rapid increase in inquiries about home schooling from parents all along the socioeconomic and racial lines.
A good percentage of our homeschoolers are black. They don't want their kids growing up like thugs.
A loving community is what homeschoolers are....we have had some very, very liberal Jewish folk amongst us, too...they are welcome.
Homeschooling will get a kid to learn at their OWN pace. And with online courses and computer based teaching, it is so much easier than people think.
There is even a physical education program called "Saints" here in Florida for homeschoolers.
Public schools, with the teachers unions and the violence and the liberal politics and all the other rot are no longer worth the time.
So far I would have to say no.
And it is really hard to type like this.
Schools have to teach Virtue. Period. Today’s factories promote vice only and embed dependency, totally emasculating our boys. Virtue is only posited with Classical Christian curricula-—the type that created the Renaissance, the Age of Reason and the US Constitution and the minds of our Founders.
Franklin went to “school” less than 4 years. Most people NEVER went to “school” for more than 5-6 years. Why? Because schools were not into social engineering and destroying the minds of children. The real “school” is the Natural Family—the only thing which instills individualism and agency—thinking for self.
For agency and thinking for self, children had to be in the real world, doing real things to help their families. It is where true self-esteem (virtue) is learned and how socialization should be learned. They embed self-esteem by mastering real tasks—not wasting time in artificial “schools” learning that gender is fluid (satanism) and other worthless mind-warping, soul-warping ideas which keep them from pursuing their true interests.
The flaw is “thinking” that you never posit a worldview in children. Everything posits a worldview—or “Faith” in a child. ALL people have a “faith” that they promote. BUT, the only one allowed in schools until evil Dewey was the Christian “Faith” because it was the most rational, just and brilliant religion ever to exist, which got rid of slavery as a good, misogyny and pederasty, incest ,etc: a true Just system of ethics.
Our “justice” system WAS only based on Christian Ethics since all other ethics systems are irrational and removed from Natural Law Theory (science.logic/God’s Laws).
The evil unconstitutional mandatory system of mass indoctrination into satanism (yes, the schools posit the religion of Lucifereanism) has to go.
Virtue needs to be habituated and practiced and agency only comes from unstructured free time where children can actually learn to think for themselves as they act in Reality with real human interactions (grow the nerve pathways that allow agency).
Only reading the Great Books (including the Bible) will give them the brilliant mind where thinking critically is possible and Mind Control by the elite/TV is rarely effective. Vice creates slaves and you have as many masters as you have vices (St. Augustine). Without Virtue, inner control of base emotions, you are never Free. Everyone before the brainwashing of Dewey’s programming understood these simple truths which were known for over 2400 years in the West.
We should go back to local, parental control of any “school”. No union “board” members who don’t have children in the school, who can control content, etc. Only the Classical Christian curricula should be allowed and no data bases-—only exit exams that worked so well for centuries in America. No computers/screens, etc. that shut down the brain formation and stunt intellectual growth. Paper, pencils, pens and great books are all that is needed for a mind like Newton’s. After basic mastery of the Classics and all the tools to “think” which will be done by age 12-—people can go into a trade or whatever-—to specialize or do what they love. And they can marry at 21 without debt and with real life skills and the virtue to flourish and raise emotionally healthy children.
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