I have been kinda quiet as authoritarianism and fundamentalism takes over our country. But it doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring it. Rather I’m trying to collect my bearings, decide what to do next. I had genuinely hoped that this stuff would be a fad and fade away and I could go have a normal life, but it has not and now I cannot. Not like this. I profoundly misjudged the extent of it and how easily others would misunderstand and either dismiss or capitulate to this movement.
In case you didn’t know, we now have Mike Pence, a Christian patriarchalist/dominionist/reconstructionist as the VP of the United States, and Betsy DeVos, a former fundamentalist Christian homeschool mom and Christian charter school aficionado, heading up our department of education. In a lovely fundamentalist gesture of solidarity, he served as the tiebreaking vote on a someone roundly criticized as unqualified.
I really didn’t realize the DeVos news was going to hit me as hard as it did. I was trying to prepare. But it really did. I’m just imagining all the little children in underfunded public schools with peeling paint and teachers that feel more like babysitters, while others are in online charter schools, at computers all day, and or ones that could best be described as little Christian madrassas, and some really selfish already rich people getting more rich off of that. And things deregulated enough to where homeschooling is going to be able to be used to cover for even more abuse and neglect than it already does, and 20 years from now we’ll have a larger share of adults saying “I forgot my glasses” instead of admitting the truth, which is that they can’t read. Because our nation failed them. Like it failed me, when I was a homeschool kid and it did not guarantee my rights or ever acknowledge that they had been stolen. Like it silently failed so many others that I know and whose stories I have known and then pretended we didn’t exist. And it all just feels like a little much right now.
We have all the data in the world to point out why this course of action is wrong and this woman is wrong. But data and qualifications didn’t matter in this decision. They didn’t factor in. Neither did the pleas of countless voters around the nation to their representatives. Ideology and money did. The prospect of weakening teachers unions as a political tool did.
The children of today and tomorrow, the little humans that we are supposed to collectively form a nest around and guide into adulthood didn’t matter enough to do the right thing. And I am sad for all of us.
I want to rejoin the fight I started against this stuff. Because there are only two choices when confronted with it – succumb or struggle for a better life. There is no reasoning with them, no way to get through their self-sealing arguments or convince them to stop of their own accord. No way that they won’t think their view of the world is better than yours and won’t feel allowed to do just about anything to win it. It is pure power dynamics and they legit think they are doing it for Jesus and family.
I write this and think it sounds dramatic, wish it was hyperbole, some dystopian fiction, but in this case it’s not. It is real and it is here and it is now made the formal head of all of America’s public schools. It’s no longer an extreme homeschool subculture for some to snark and gawk at and commiserate about from a safe distance, but a thing every single one of you now face along with me, and I have already faced before.
I hope to be blogging more in the coming days, sharing more about what I see and know with old and new readers interested in this threat taking over our nation, emperiling our freedom and our children’s futures.
I hear you! AS a no schooled kid who had to lie that I was being homeschooled this whole thing hits me in the gut too! I always had the feeling that at least the government was trying to provide an education whether my parents allowed me to peruse it or not. Now, I feel children today are at risk and there will be no one to stand up for their rights and provide for them. This will affect the entire nation as less education means less awareness and less ability to survive in this world. Keep writing truth!
Peace and freedom to you!
It sounds to me that this was a matter for the local Child Protective Service agency. There is a difference between choice and educational neglect which is rightly against the law. So sorry.
There are no mandatory reporters in homeschools and many prominent homeschool advocacy organizations (such as the HSLDA) put out pamphlets and hold workshops on how to stave off CPS involvement, and then threaten them with legal action when they do act. So please learn a little more about the environment these things occur in before suggesting easy fixes to people who are survivors of abuse and neglect in homeschool settings. There are hardly any protections for these children in most states, and no regulations at all in 10 states. It is a large under-recognized problem. Here’s more information if you are interested:
Cherilyn, if you are still around, I want to apologize for my last comment.
Heather is right. I commented too hastily. I homeschooled my own children when they were young in a state where there was oversight, and I’ve worked in Child Welfare in the state of Pa. where we would surely investigate parents based on concerns of educational neglect. I simply assumed this was the case across the board.
But, I see following Heather’s link, that there is not this over sight in all the states. I feel this does need to change. Politically, I’m more a progressive libertarian, but certainly feel that all children have the right to an education, and the state has a vested interest in the citizens being literate, able to write well, do math, and understand the history of our country.
Again, please forgive me for my hasty and thoughtless comment.
No worries friend, I was not offended. My parents had us hide all the time behind curtains and under car windows and then there was the moving all the time. We were told they would be put in jail and we woudl be separated from each other if they got caught so we felt the fear of them being taken away and hid all we could to prevent this. Sadly, no one know or realized what was going on.
Thanks for your comments!
Peace and freedom you!
Thank you, Cherilyn, for your kindness. Peace and healing.
Heather, I’m one that has a different perspective here, but I’m looking at this more from a progressive libertarian point of view than from a religious paradigm, although I am a committed Christian believer. Why do we feel that the government should be the one to determine where children attend school rather than their parents? There are so many poor inner city kids trapped in a failing public school system. I question if just providing more public funds is the answer. Why not give these kids a chance to attend alternate schools, to have choices that many upper middle class, and wealthy families have? Would not bringing the pressure of competition to bear, overall, increase the quality of education in time. Families could “vote with their feet” so to speak. I also think the pressure of competition would also lead to improved public schools. Right now the public school system has a virtual monopoly. This does not seem like a good thing to me.
All this being said, I’m sure there are good people coming from all sides of this issue. No one is really the enemy in my mind, if we all genuinely care about kids. There needs to be more discussion concerning the issue.
Hmm, I see a number of issues in what you’re saying. There’s a reason “school choice” has been rejected by most parents, and it is because they’d like the schools in their communities to be good. Spreading the money out even thinner to schools springing up in competition doesn’t usually help with that. Betsy DeVos wants to privatize education and encourage religious schooling, which isn’t the same thing as giving families choices. Not everything is improved by competition. Collaboration is typically very useful when it comes to things for the public good – fire departments, making sure children are literate, etc. You also can’t “vote with your feet” if the options you end up with are ideological religious charter schools, a poorly funded public school, and homeschooling.
If you want to have choice, choose to pay for private school or use public education or homeschool. That’s definitely not a monopoly.
It is the responsibility of the person who holds this position to make sure public education can be as good as it can be, not to offload it onto the private sector or turn it into a cash cow for ideological online curriculum designers. And if you don’t see the risk in that, I can’t make you see it, but I think many already do and that’s why she was a very very unpopular nominee. Most of America does not want this. And I definitely do not.
What are you feeling are somethings that can be done to improve public education, particularly in our inner cities. I’ve read ideas such as linking raises in teacher’s salaries based in student performance. My feelings are mixed concerning this, but what do you think?
I think that inequality is the core problem. Having “good school districts” and “bad school districts” because funding stays with this district is a huge part of the issue across America. But it’s a political third rail and I don’t see anyone trying to fix it anytime soon. So until there is a viable solution we can’t attack the real core, and may only address some of the side problems.
I don’t think that teacher pay should be based on student standardized test performance. There are too many intervening variables and this pressures the students in a way that isn’t appropriate. It should be based on teacher performance and time in the field. And that is best evaluated by quality involved leadership at a school rather than a one size fits all metric.
As far as intervening variables that influence student achievement: classroom size, whether the kids in the class are “high acuity” or not, how authoritarian/rote the school is vs. self-directed learning, and how trauma-informed the school is with at-risk children are just some. Seeing behavioral problems as insubordination rather than trauma causes a lot more punitive interventions that lose kids and distract and disillusion their classmates in the process. I would say working on non-punitive processes for behavioral issues and including more self-directed learning and time for physical exercise is important.
Also, research shows that educational outcomes are closely tied to the education level of the mother. Involving parents and giving extra help to children who don’t have very educated parents is a way to help close these gaps.
Encouraging competition just pits the haves against the have nots, so I am never for the idea of making schools compete, except in sporting events, which is done just for fun.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I’ve worked in family based therapy, so I definitely can agree with your perspective that many behavioral issues have their roots in trauma, and it’s best to not take a punitive approach to discipline.
I question, though, if just giving more money to poorer districts is the answer to better educational outcomes. For instance, I’m familiar with a case in Camden, NJ . A lawsuit was brought in the 1990’s based on inequality.
” As part of a long-running school funding lawsuit known as Abbott v. Burke, the state increased spending in 31 of its then-poorest districts, dubbed Abbott districts. In fact, they got so much new money that spending in some of them eclipsed spending in some of the state’s wealthiest districts.
School Funding In New Jersey
Map of school funding in New Jersey
Credit: Katie Park/NPR
This remarkable investment in New Jersey’s poorest schools turned heads and made headlines across the country. And, if money truly matters, then the Abbotts should be a success story.
But, it’s been pointed out that all these years later, many are still “spending 2.5 times the national average, and there’s no real evidence that they’re closing the achievement gap or that they’re doing significantly better.”
It may be that these schools are being mismanaged, or that the problems associated with poverty in the community are too great to overcome with even more money being poured into the schools.
I think the breakdown of the family in our inner cities plays a huge role in the high drop out rate, and poor performance of many of the students.