homeschooling

Beware of False Education Prophets

Just showing  my love for angry Al Pacino face.

Just showing my love for angry Al Pacino face.

Beware of false education prophets. They come to you in teacher’s clothing, but inwardly they support the anti-working class bastards who want to destroy the teaching profession.

This is sort of a spin-off from my last blog post on homeschooling. I offended the sensibilities of a few of the admins of a teacher’s discussion group I was a part of on Facebook by being an outspoken critic of parents who choose to homeschool their kids. (Remember, my blog was not completely anti-homeschooling. It was anti-against the idea that a parent can call themselves an educator with no fucking credentials whatsoever.)

Well I’m a big ol’ meanie and my writing sucks. As one of the white, upper-middle class admins who was a marketing major (not an education major) explained to me, I’m “not a good fit” because I don’t hold hands and sing Kumbaya with homeschooling parents. I should be nice to them since they support teachers and school reform. Well Ms. Peggy Privilege, they actually don’t support us, since the whole idea of an unqualified parent homeschooling a child is completely anti-public education and anti-teacher at its core.

Peggy P, who comes across as a progressive and claims to hate those evil “corporatist deformers”, is justifying all the negative shit those evil corporatist deformers say about teachers by supporting unprofessional homeschooling! When you support homeschooling/unschooling, especially as someone who is supposed to be an advocate for public school teachers, you are giving a carte blanche of teacher hate to the very deformers you claim to despise. You are telling the deformers that since little Caligula can be educated in his home by his mom who barely has a high school diploma, what do we need teachers for? You are giving them an excuse to bash us politically, decrease our pay and dismantle our union. You are giving them permission to say our profession is worthless and to do away with us all together. Why give a trained, licensed and vetted professional teacher a salary when we can get little Nero’s mom to teach him for free?

And this little incident just solidifies my whole experience with public education and education advocacy when I first started the journey to become a teacher 15 years ago. Yes, education needs reform. There is over-testing and there are too many private companies involved in testing and tracking our children’s data, just to name two of the several problems with education in America. But there are a lot of phonies in this game.

I learned very early on in my teaching days not to say certain things in front of certain people; they will rat you out to an admin just so they can get their hands on precious per session* gigs. I also learned very early on that a good number of our union leadership, including my chapter leader and our wonderful union president talked out of both sides of their mouths–giving these rah-rah speeches railing against admins and bureaucrats, then turning around and making concessions with them. Let’s not forget, that we gave up the right to file grievances under the falsely militant Randi Weingarten. She was the union leader when many beloved neighborhood high schools across the city were dismantled. Now with the protests against Common Core, you get people like Peggy Privilege who dare call themselves a progressive reformer and teacher advocate, but do exactly as my union leadership did; act all rah-rah in front of teachers but then turn around and support people & policies that directly undermine our existence. As I see it, we will continue to be fooled by these false prophets of education reform.

*Per-session is the New York City Department of Education terminology for overtime.

I was Homeschooled by a Narcissist… And Other Horror Stories from American Suburbia

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With the demise of public education in this country–which includes under-funding by the government, overcrowded classrooms, ineffectual administrators, and private entities like testing companies having their filthy hands all over your children and their data–it is inevitable that the homeschool movement has grown exponentially over the last couple of years. Instead of trying to improve public education and how our politicians treat our schools, our teachers and our children, many have chosen to pull their children from school all together and educate them at home. Even with a less-than-perfect public education system, I believe it is still infinitely better than homeschooling your child.

This is not an anti-homeschooling blog. There are some instances when I believe homeschooling is appropriate, such as a child with really bad anxiety, a bully situation, an injury or remote living. Even in these situations, there is a right way to homeschool. This includes following professionally designed and state mandated curriculum. It includes professional oversight, with trained and state certified educators coming to your home to make sure your child is learning everything they would in a traditional school setting. And it includes opportunities for group learning with peers, in a format such as a homeschool collective.

And it’s not just fundamentalist Christians homeschooling their children either. Many people in the atheist, skeptic and non-believer communities are homeschooling their kids as well. I find this trend to be very troubling. As skeptics, we tend to be the first ones to condemn a non-vaxxing parent for using snake oil to treat their sick child instead of taking them to a doctor. We criticize parents who think a google search can replace a medical degree. We loathe parents that take medical care into their own hands and think they can replace the professional education and training of doctors, nurses and medical staff. Why don’t some of my fellow skeptics feel the same way about education and teaching?

Some of the excuses I’ve heard from my fellow skeptics for homeschooling their kids are just as ridiculous, if not more ridiculous, than reasons given by religious fundamentalists. The following are some reasons I’ve heard in favor of homeschooling followed by my personal commentary on why they are complete bullshit.

1) “I think I can do a better job than anybody when it comes to educating my children.”

No you can’t. Get over yourself.  Teaching is NOT “so easy a caveman can do it.”

I don’t care if you are Neil Degrasse Tyson. Nothing takes the place of a licensed, professional, experienced, teacher in a public or private classroom who is surrounded by other professional educators, counselors and school support staff. I used to teach high school and I WOULD NEVER homeschool my kids. EVER. Do you think I am extensively trained in early childhood neurological development? How to teach reading to a child? Methods in teaching fractions? I can teach my child about the rise of dictatorial governments throughout Europe following World War I, but I think he would want to learn how to read and play in the sandbox first. If you think you can do at better job educating your child than hundreds of rigorously trained and vetted professionals, you are a self-important narcissist with a grandiose sense-of-self.

2) “I don’t like the curriculum being dictated by a school board. I want to make my own curriculum.”

Okay. That’s nice. You think as a teacher I liked everything in my social studies curriculum? Of course not. But most teachers know how to play with the curriculum and make it enjoyable for students to learn. Curriculum and standards are there for a reason; they ensure your children learn what they need to know to not only graduate, but to become well-rounded adults. Also, professionally trained educators are constantly designing and modifying curriculum to reflect the latest standards, methods and innovations in education. Curriculum is NOT designed by an army of Illuminati robots despite what you read in your FB parenting group.

If you’re wondering why we now have a generation of young adults who think vaccines cause autism and the holocaust never happened, blame the parents who think they know how to write curriculum simply because they shot a child out of their nutsack and/or vagina. Don’t like the curriculum? Supplement your child’s education with further materials and learning experiences. Have a meaningful conversation with them. Visit a museum. Give them experiences that will enrich their lives and grow their empathy, compassion and curiosity. Limiting the amount of people who they learn from, including peers, will only limit the amount of knowledge they acquire.

3) “I want to teach my children what I want them to learn, not what teachers and the government wants my kids to learn.”

A person gains culture and knowledge through interaction with others. I had teachers of all different personalities, political affiliations, backgrounds and cultures. I had mean teachers. I had nice teachers. I had sane teachers. I had crazy teachers. I had extremely intelligent teachers and a handful of clueless ones too. I learned from them all. I learned a variety of views and experiences.

I’m a non-believer. I’d like my son to be a non-believer as well. However, if he learns some religion and wants to be a bible thumping Christian, then I’m cool with that too. As long as he treats others with respect, kindness and compassion. Many homeschooling parents are afraid their little snowflakes will learn something evil or different at school from teachers or other children–views that might question a parent’s authority, beliefs, and fears. What if I told you not everyone has to think as you do, not even your child. They are not an extension of you. They are individuals with their own thoughts and agency. If you only want your child to know what you WANT them to know–to only know your views and your experiences–you are a self-important narcissist with a grandiose sense-of-self.

4) “I don’t want the school to call Children’s Services on me.”

This is a reason why some homeschooling/unschooling parents don’t want to send their kids to evil government schools. Teachers, counselors and other school staff are mandated reporters and are trained to identify signs of abuse and neglect, such as changes in behavior or physical appearance. Mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse can not be detected by school staff when a child does not attend a school. Homeschooling is a way abusers can get away with their crimes. It also prevents a child from escaping from an abusive situation, even if it’s just for six hours a day. And if you’re looking for a common thread here to connect to my other points, narcissistic personality disorder is a common feature of abusive parents.

5) “The schools are bad in our area.”

This is racist/classist code language for “I don’t want my little Caligula sharing a classroom with a poor and/or brown child.” What is interesting about this argument is that I see it put forth mostly by so-called progressives and leftists. If you’re so progressive, you should have no issues with your children learning from children who are different from them.

6) “My kid is not challenged at public school because he/she is too smart.”

Most parents who proclaim their kids are too smart and therefore bored at public school are completely full of shit. They are suffering from special snowflake syndrome; they think their special DNA and special homeschooling is producing the next child prodigy. These are the types of parents that take all the credit for their child’s hard work and achievements, since they were the only ones smart enough to recognize their child was a special snowflake whom is too good to share a classroom with the rest of the plebes.

Teachers do something now called differentiated instruction. We recognize that every child has specific strengths and weaknesses, and we individually tailor instruction just for your special snowflake! There are special programs for gifted and talented children. Your kid being a genius or a prodigy is still no excuse for you to solely educate them. Wouldn’t they become a better genius or prodigy if they learned from others besides yourself? Isolating them from the ideas of others because you think your child is better than everyone else is definitely not going to make them better than everyone else. But let’s admit, homeschooling is not about them. It’s about you and your ego.

7) “Public education is in shambles. If the schools were better, I’d send my kids and I can’t afford private school “

If you gave a damn about public education, you’ would still send your kids to school while fighting to change policies like other parents and professionals do.  So let’s get to what this is really about: you. Homeschooling proves to the rest of your friends and family (and blog subscribers) what a super mom or dad you are by taking on a huge responsibility, while being smarter (and smuggier) than the average momma bear.

“Look at me–Look at me. Look how awesome I am homeschooling my special snowflake. I’m so much better than you! Nanny Nanny poo poo!