I wrote today about how Obama’s proposal for universal pre-K is stunningly out of touch with the realities of today’s society. It’s clear that most mothers do not want to work full-time when they have kids, and it’s clear that Obama is advocating school as a daycare system rather than an educational system. You can read the whole post here.
But what I noticed, as I was writing it, was how mainstream media manages to report this story without mentioning homeschool. What is best for kids when they are four years old? Unstructured play. This is well documented, but if you push parents to provide unstructured play to a four-year-old it’s like pushing them to provide breastfeeding to a one-year-old: maybe it’s too hard on the parent!
So it’s not politically correct to tell parents to suck it up and do what’s right for their kids. And it’s not politically correct to advocate spending tons of money to let low-income parents stay home with their kids. But it is politically correct to tell low-income parents to drop their kids off at daycare even if they would rather stay home with their kids?
It’s obviously ridiculous, but it’s in keeping with the way media reports on homeschooling, which is that they ignore it. Mainstream media misses the opportunity to point out that homeschooling works for everyone, no matter where they are in the economic spectrum.
The Economist says that the average homeschool family in the US does not earn any more money than the average stay-at-home parent family in the 1970s. Which means that homeschooling doesn’t take a lot of money. What it takes is basic respect for parents and kids, recognizing that their time together is more valuable than trying to teach four-year-old boys to sit still and do math.
This is an enormous missed opportunity to close the education gap by enabling all parents to homeschool, no matter how rich or poor they are. The best path out of poverty is to have self-confidence and a strong sense of how to leverage your skills to fit into society. We don’t know how to give that to poor kids yet, but I know it’s going to come in the form of getting them out of a system that teaches them to be spoon fed, test-takers, limited by what they can learn from a baby-sitting teacher in a traditional classroom.