Sand in the Gears

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Criminalize this

January 13th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry, The Art of Parenting

Perhaps most disturbing about Robin West’s attack on homeschooling is that it’s published in a scholarly journal, even if it does come out of the University of Maryland. One might expect more thoughtfulness, even from a second-rate scholar. But instead we get breathless fear mongering like this:

“In other words, in much of the country, if you want to keep your kids home from school, or just never send them in the first place, you can. If you want to teach them from nothing but the Bible, you can. If they want to skateboard all day, and you choose to let them, you can.”

The argument from the what-these-people-might-do-with-their-liberty is generally pretty silly, and the starting point for every closet totalitarian who fancies herself a fair-minded humanist. And make no mistake, West is an intellectual thug: “Homeschooling” she laments, “is now such an entrenched practice, recriminalization is not a viable option in any event.”

At the dark heart of her thinking is the notion that home-schooled children are imprisoned. No sports teams, no church activities, no Boy and Girl Scouts, no summer jobs, no sleepovers with friends. Thus will abuse go undetected, self-esteem unnurtured. Worse, these children become part of an unthinking Republican army.

Which pre-empts, of course, the ability of professors like West to turn them into soldiers for the unthinking Democratic army. Which is why we need regulation. Forced testing and immunizations. Home inspections by state regulators.

I propose a deal, Professor West. I’m happy to have my sons enrolled in school, should they fail a standardized test, so long as the public schools commit to testing teachers, and firing the ones who fail. I’m happy to let inspectors assess our home curriculum, if we can do the same to the hodgepodge of theories and dry-as-dust, dumbed-down, modernized materials that get bandied about under the guise of pedagogy in public schools. If you’re nice, we might even let you borrow some of our classroom materials.

Finally, when my kids are older, I’ll match them up against any precious little free-thinking high-school radicals you perceive as unshackled from the lockstep conservative brainwashing you imagine goes on under my roof, and we’ll have ourselves a debate on philosophy, theology, and politics. If your kids win, I’ll pay your Georgetown salary for a year. If my kids win, you resign.

How’s that grab you, Doc?