Homeschooling parents are accustomed to the prejudice, misunderstanding, and scorn that results from choosing to take direct charge of their children’s educations. Because of this, finding fresh ways to insult the diverse and varied homeschooling movement can be quite a task. Robin L. West of Georgetown University Law Center, however, has proven that she’s more than capable of rising to that challenge.
Writing in the University of Maryland’s Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly, West has produced what is undoubtedly the silliest, most offensive caricature of homeschooling to ever be published in a scholarly journal.
West’s thesis—the government should have primary oversight of a child’s education—isn’t original but she managed to put a unique spin on despicable stereotypes. When is the last time you’ve seen a serious policy journal claim that poor, overbreeding, fundamentalist Christian families are destroying the tax base?
The average homeschooling family may have a higher income than the average non-homeschooler, as was recently reported by USA Today. The radically fundamentalist “movement” family, however, is considerably poorer than the population, and it is the participants in these movements—the so-called “patriarchy movement” and its “quiverfull” branch and related groups — that are the hardcore of the homeschooling movement. The husbands and wives in these families feel themselves to be under a religious compulsion to have large families, a homebound and submissive wife and mother who is responsible for the schooling of the children, and only one breadwinner. These families are not living in romantic, rural, self-sufficient farmhouses; they are in trailer parks, 1,000-square-foot homes, houses owned by relatives, and some, on tarps in fields or parking lots. Their lack of job skills, passed from one generation to the next, depresses the community’s overall economic health and their state’s tax base.
Another danger, warns West, is that the movement is creating mindless GOP drones that are similar to the mindless drones of the U.S. military:
Fundamentalist Protestant adults who were homeschooled over the last thirty years are not politically disengaged, far from it. They vote in far higher percentages than the rest of the population. They mobilize readily. The “army” in which adult homeschooled citizens are soldiers has enormous clout: homeschoolers were called “Bush’s Army” in 2000 and 2004 for good reason. Their capacity for political action is palpable and admirable, although doubly constrained: it is triggered by a call for action by church leaders, and in substance, it is limited to political action the aim of which is to undermine, limit, or destroy state functions that interfere with family and parental rights. Nevertheless, and by their own accountings, these citizen-soldiers in the “homeschooling movement” and the various political campaigns in which they are enlisted have no clout in the army in which they serve. They are as effective as they are, and as successful as they are, because they engage in politics in the same way that soldiers participate in combat. They don’t question authority, and they can’t go AWOL. With little education, few if any job skills, and scant resources, their power either to influence the lines of authority within their own sphere, or to leave that sphere, is virtually nil.
Sadly, the rest of the article isn’t able to keep up this jaw-droppingly condescending tone and merely slips into a banal offensiveness. But if you’ve ever wanted to read an article by a feminist legal theorist who knows nothing about her subject other than what she remembers from watching Jesus Camp, then “The Harms of Homeschooling” is a must-read.
(Via: Big Journalism)