A big reason conversations about our school choices often turn controversial is that education and money are closely related. And money has replaced sex as the topic we most like to keep secret from our friends. So a lot of the education decisions we make based on money are not topics we will freely discuss in the world.
While people love financial honesty, our ideas about financial responsibility are thoroughly conventional still. The more frank we are about our financial decisions, the more open-minded we will be about education. They are linked, whether or not they should be.
Here are some controversial money moments on this site that have surprised me:
1. School as babysitting. Taking your kids out of school means one parent stops working. It seems obvious to me that the parent who is not staying home should just earn more money. Because either your kids suffer in school or the main breadwinner suffers from the pressure of having to earn more money. This idea is, apparently controversial, but breadwinners should just buck up and take one for the team so the kids don’t have to.
2. Retirement savings. Of course most homeschoolers can’t have this. But I’m over it: so few people save for retirement that it’s no longer part of our culture to retire. But when I wrote that I’m obsessed with this reverse mortgage calculator as my retirement plan, commenters talked as if only irresponsible people punt on retirement.
3. Debt consolidation. If you have poor executive function it’s a great way to make paying bills manageable. As a person with poor executive function, the extra cost is nothing compared to the cost of anxiety pills I take to deal with tasks like paying bills. Paying a surcharge so you don’t have to learn what you’re bad at is the process of learning to be a specialist.
It would be great if we could separate choices about both education and money because each of the issues would be easier to deal with. If you’re feeling poor, it’s because you have kids. Kids make you poor, not homeschooling them. And if you feel like you can’t afford to homeschool, it’s because financially worried people hate change because change means unpredictable expenses.
Sometimes I’m good at separating homeschooling and money. Like, I can see that my attitude toward money (I always want more) largely does not relate to how much I have. Which means working fewer hours to homeschool is irrelevant to my financial well-being.
Other times I am not so good at separating money and education. For example, I’m constantly thinking about how boys need to earn a living because they won’t feel comfortable relying on women. And girls need to find a career fast so they can have that experience before they have kids and it all falls apart.
I get stuck thinking the point of education is to create a financially stable family unit. And school encourages goals that compete with having a family. Which makes me realize that I’m part of that group of people who links education to finances. And while I’m not successfully adjusting that outlook, I am more tolerant of the people who see dual incomes and public school as a path to financial stability.