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Article posted Feb 21 2012, 12:54 AM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: William Grigg Print

"Progressive Homeschooling" is a Crime against the Holy State, Insists Lefty Think Tank Wonk

by William Grigg, Republic Magazine

Politically progressive parents who withdraw their children from government schools are ideological hypocrites who undermine the common good, insists Dana Goldstein, a  Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation.

In recent years, "there has been a resurgence of interest in homeschooling -- not just the religious fundamentalist variety practiced by Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum, but also in secular, liberal homeschooling," writes Goldstein in an essay for Slate.

Although a definitive tally of the number of home-schooled children is elusive, the best estimate places the "un-schooled" population somewhere in the vicinity of two millions, "and the number is growing. It is unclear home many homeschooling families are secular, but the political scientist Rob Reich has written that there is little doubt that the homeschooling population has diversified in recent years."

As someone who adheres to the cult of the State as a quasi-divine entity that is the source of all good things, Goldstein is troubled that the individualist heresy has taken root among self-described progressives. Homeschooling "is rooted in distrust of the public sphere, in class privilege, and in the dated presumption that children hail from two-parent families, in which one parent can afford (and wants) to take significant time away from paid work in order to manage a process -- education -- that most parents entrust to the community-at-large," she writes with a palpable sense of disgust.

For the devout collectivist, the question is not whether homeschooling "best serve[s] the interests not just of those who are doing it, but of society as a whole," according to Goldstein. Furthermore, it's entirely inappropriate to "encourage children to trust only their parents or those hand-selected by them, and to mistrust civic life and public institutions... Nor can we allow homeschoolers to believe their choice impacts only their own offspring." Removing intellectually capable children from the government school environment undermines the "peer effects" created in the classroom setting, thereby supposedly making it "harder for less-advantaged children to thrive."

For all of these reasons, Goldstein writes in a scolding tone, "Lefty homeschoolers might be preaching sound social values to their children, but they aren't practicing them."

For centuries, wrote the late social commentator  Christopher Lasch (who in his youth was a Marxist) in his book The True and Only Heaven, social engineers have "sought to remove children from the influence of their families … and to place them under the benign influence of state and school.” This is true not only of Dana Goldstein's ideological ancestors among 19th and early 20th century American progressives, but among her ideological kindred in the Soviet Union.

In his 1937 work A Book for Parents, Soviet sociologist A.S. Makarenko–at the time a personal favorite of Josef Stalin–wrote that the Soviet family “is not a closed-in, collective body, like the bourgeois family. It is an organic part of Soviet society….” While “parents are not without authority” in the Soviet system, “this authority is only the reflection of social authority,” insisted Makarenko.

Not surprisingly, given his role as a functionary in a state apparatus devoted to the extirpation of religious belief, Makarenko explicitly repudiated the biblical foundations of parental authority, stating that in the pre-socialist world “parental authority issued from the Lord’s commandment. In our modern family things are different.” He denounced the pre-socialist father as an “odious figure”–”Master, overseer, teacher, judge and sometimes executioner,” “despotic,” a monarch who exploited his children. He taught that the State--the institutional arrangement that made it possible for Stalin to annihilate slaughtered tens of millions–must forbid parental physical punishment and “maternal indulgence.” This wasn't because Makarenko had moral objections to corporal punishment, but rather because allowing such displays of limited punitive authority would undermine the State's monopoly on force.

The family’s purpose in the Soviet system was to raise the State’s children according to the State’s dictates. “Morality requires general emulation of the most perfect conduct,” wrote Makarenko. “Our morality must already be the morality of communist society…. In our country he alone is a man of worth whose needs and desires are the needs and desires of a collectivist. Our family offers rich soil for the cultivation of such collectivism.”

Thirty years after publication of Makarenko’s book in the Soviet Union, it was published in the United States under the title The Collective Family: A Handbook for Russian Parents. The introduction in the English-language edition was written by Russian expatriate Urie Bronfenbrenner, who at the time (1967) was a member of the Planning Committee for the Head Start program. According to Bronfenbrenner, the wisdom offered in Makarenko’s Soviet handbook should help shape American social policy:
The Collective Family … has something to say to the Western world…. Soviet leaders and educators have emphasized that effective character training requires imposing on the child challenging responsibilities for service and self-discipline not only within the family but, equally importantly, in his collective or peer group both within and outside the school.
The vision that enchanted Bronfenbrenner, and inspired generations of American educators, bureaucrats, and social engineers, was laid out with remarkable clarity at a Communist Party Congress held shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution. In that gathering (as recounted in the 1986 book Utopia in Power: A History of the Soviet Union from 1917 to the Present, by Russian expatriate scholars Mikhail Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich), Soviet educators were told: “We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them. From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children’s nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.”

The America social welfare revolution of the past five decades has followed precisely the same course. Home school families constitute a counter-revolution -- and, increasingly, their ranks include disillusioned "Lefty" parents who commendably place a higher value on the practical education of their own children than the theoretical best interests of the "community-at-large."

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Comments 1 - 7 of 7 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Feb 21 2012, 8:44 PM

207200 WTF? Home schoolers are, to a large extent, removing their children from the incompetence of the PSS. The "No child LB" has created the "No Child to Exceed" as it exists today. When children inclined to succeed are put in the presence of children desighed to disrupt and destroy the learning process, with no repercussions, Home schooling is the answer. Get it?

Posted: Feb 22 2012, 8:29 AM

108194 I totally agree with djpbackup. From what I can determine, the homeschooling choice has more to do with the failure of the public school system and less to do with one's political or religious affiliations (however, like ANY decision, a family's world view and beliefs weigh in on the decision also.). We home schooled our daughter for 12 years have interacted with all kinds of home schooling families. The vast majority of them are extremely successful because the PSS can't compete with the individualized attention that a home schooling family can offer. Our daughter is a freshman at Purdue University this year and getting straight A's so far (and even a couple of A+'s). The prof was sending other students to our daughter for advice on how to organize and write the papers. Homeschooling isn't for everyone, and would not be the best choice for every child, but the decision should be left to the parents and they should have the freedom to make that decision. Definitely not the state. I wish I could comment more but I have to go to my job and contribute something to society AND to my family.

Posted: Feb 22 2012, 3:26 PM

7239 Unfortunately, the author being trapped in the right/left paradigm, makes the piece useless. Can't see the truth when your locked in a box.

Posted: Feb 23 2012, 12:17 AM

74108 The public school system isn't broken, its working exactly as intended. The principal lesson of school is obedience to arbitrary authority, and here the pss excels. It produces legions of children numb to reason and critical thought, who look to the institution and its appointed leaders for approval and self validation based on arbitrary standards, who learn never to question the orders or motives of those appointed to manage them; oh, it works quite well I assure you.
Al Benson Jr.

Posted: Feb 25 2012, 11:29 PM

9880 Years ago I worked for a home schooling organization in the Midwest. I can remember talking one day on the phone to a public school teacher who wanted to home school her daughter. Her comment to me was "I am there (in school) every day and I see what goes on there. No way is my daughter going to be part of that." I felt that was pretty damning testimony about public schools--right from the horse's mouth as it were. I have posted several articles about public schooling on which I would urge folks to take a look at. As far as public schools are concerned, if at all possible, get your kids out of them asap.

Posted: Feb 27 2012, 12:04 PM

2474 i'm almost 30. i can't speak for schools now, but i can say that i never felt my public schoolsystem was trying -- and definitely wasn't succeeding -- at creating automatons. i knew plenty of brainless fashion slaves and tv zombies, but even they were rebellious anti-authoritarians. i think you do a disservice to america when you suggest most americans accept authority blindly.
public schooling needs reform desperately, but it isn't some machiavellian scheme to create drones. i've worked with plenty of teachers, and there's no evidence of conspiracy there.

Posted: Mar 17 2012, 12:47 AM

6873 The writer is correct. I'm a liberal/pedagogical home education father. My son's intellectual and independent thinking well being WILL NOT take a backseat to the economic well being of society. While I watch my son's friends being shuffled off to day care and preschool I can't help but feel sorry for them. Instead of being allowed to learn at their own pace and on their own inner schedule,they are forced to learn on someone else's schedule and taught how to "group" think rather than to think independently. So for my part,the writer is correct. I do place a higher value on my son's education and development into a complete person over having him become a mindless drone fit only to serve the IRS and corporate America.
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