cross posted at post in space

There’s a hard and unfeeling undertone to many of the anti-ed reformers discussion of homeschooling. And the jab at homeschoolers (below) was popular with many who read Diane Ravitch. After all, even as they fight ed reformers and No Child Left Behind, this group cannot really support parents and homeschooling.  Just as the NEA is still completely against homeschooling instead of seeing it as a viable option for making stronger families.

Pearsonizing Our Children « Diane Ravitch’s blog: “We’ll have Pearsonized their minds, their lives, and their bodies. Here is one true example of the cost we contemplate: “She’s pretty typical. She is a very sedentary child, has been for a long time, really has no experience with activity, no way to think about being active. She’s relatively socially isolated, doesn’t really have very many social opportunities. She’s homeschooled. She has a number of medical problems, in addition to her diabetes.”

And the example of Pearsonized minds, lives and bodies? A charter school kid drilled into compliance?  No, its a homeschooled kid with health problems.

If you click through to the NPR story on diabetes, you’ll find that the quote is from a doctor. (Video at link above or watch Study Says Traditional Diabetes Treatment Not Effective on PBS. )

The full quote. (Her doctor is pediatric endocrinologist Phil Zeitler of the University of Colorado):

DR. PHILLIP ZEITLER, University of Colorado: She’s pretty typical. She is a very sedentary child, has been for a long time, really has no experience with activity, no way to think about being active. She’s relatively socially isolated, doesn’t really have very many social opportunities. She’s homeschooled. She has a number of medical problems, in addition to her diabetes

Dr. Zeitler offers no evidence for her social isolation but he seems to assume this is true because she homeschools, an unfair stereotype that is often leveled at homeschooling. And an incredible charge when you think about it.

Parents often have to homeschool in order to have the time to care for kids that are ill. Schools will level truancy charges at families with health problems that go beyond the meager sick days allowed and schools do not accomodate chronic illnesses.  The use of antibiotics is greatly increased by demands that schools make for attendance and doctor visits — a parent’s word is not considered good enough, they could be lying!

We do know that most teens are not homeschooled and many are unhappy even in schools. From the CDC:

School-Associated Suicides — United States, 1994–1999: “Suicide-prevention efforts are needed not only to address the risk for school-associated violence, but also to reduce the much larger problem of self-directed violence among adolescents overall. In 2001, suicide was the third leading cause of death in the United States among youths aged 13–18 years, accounting for 11% of deaths in this age group (2). In 2003, approximately one in 12 high school students in the United States reported attempting suicide during the preceding 12 months (3). Data from Oregon indicate that approximately 5% of adolescents treated in hospitals for injuries from a suicide attempt made that attempt at school (4).”

Homeschooling does not mean social isolation but, like kids in schools, family income plays a large role in most families’ social strength. Many kids in schools are socially isolated and bullied and their talents ignored, and again, family income plays a role. We know that what many call socialization in the public schools is an experience of mass coercionbullying, and intense peer orientation more so as social capital, families with sufficient incomes, and strong local food supplies have all declined. We know that support for public spaces and public services is threatened in the US and that poor people are more isolated than the middle class and the rich since they cannot buy social venue access.

This study shows that the better the relationship with the parents and the lessening of peer orientation were associated with more successful treatment of diabetes. And we know that many states do not permit homeschoolers to access sports and activities though some do, so homeschoolers have fewer options, even if their physical or mental health conditions limit their engagement in the factory process. NPR didn’t mention that fact nor examine whether the homeschool girl shown had had negative school experiences. Instead they focus on activity and show a young women smiling and playing sports (and eating a poor-quality school meal) and an unsmiling homeschooler, driving (and playing with a pet).

The doctor also attributes the rise in Type II diabetes to social changes, the first of which he mentions is women going back to work (his list of social changes does not include the rise of corporatized food and decline of nutrient values in chemically-treated soil & seeds, the decline of wages for families as corporations outsourced jobs, the lack of family leave and maternity leave, the documented decline of social capital, or the continuing inability of doctors and hospitals to support breastfeeding (and here):

DR. PHILLIP ZEITLER: This represents the outcome of a large number of social changes that probably began in the ’70s, more mothers working, so the kids were coming home to empty homes, being told to stay indoors, more opportunities for sedentary activities. When I was a kid, you went outside. So, the opportunities for sedentary behavior have increased.

Does this homeschooled teen really have to represent social isolation, obesity, and also corporate school takeover?

Pearson wants to greatly extend harmful practices that are already in place within our schools. I think we need to change the public schools’ mission.  We should have schools focused  on working with families and children, not “on their behalf” or against them. I think we need to reconsider many elements in the system, from grading to credential manufacture as a mission.

And I think those fighting ed reform need to truly reach out to homeschooling and learn from it. Ignoring or vilifying homeschoolers and the progressive alternative education movement shows an inability to fully respond to a crisis and move to a better model.

background

supporting families

blaming parents, blaming the family

blaming families, juvenile justice edition

bullying families and children

every parent should have real choices

deschooling, family style

undermining the family and the child

ngram: school and family