Homeschool debate: not for liberals?

Published: Monday, Feb. 27 2012 11:32 a.m. MST

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Homeschool is the wrong choice for liberals, said Dana Goldstein in a column this month for Slate. It is fundamentally illiberal she wrote:

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 at least 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."

Goldstein argued that educated progressives should send their kids to racially and economically integrated public schools. This would pull up the achievement of their less-privileged classmates and help everyone learn to appreciate diversity.

"If progressives want to improve schools, we shouldn’t empty them out," Goldstein wrote. "We ought to flood them with our kids, and then debate vociferously what they ought to be doing."

Goldstein's article was a response to Astra Taylor's memoir essay, titled "Unschooling." Taylor, a filmmaker, wrote of her experience being homeschooled by her left-leaning, countercultureal parents. She urged parents to “empty the schools,” to free children from “irrational authority of six and a half hours a day, five days a week, in a series of cinder-block holding cells.”

In the essay, initally published in the literary magazine N+1, she implored parents and students to “empty the schools,” which force students to endure “irrational authority six and a half hours a day, five days a week, in a series of cinder-block holding cells.”

The debate between Goldstein and Taylor is part of a growing interest in homeschooling. Although traditionally Christian converatives like Rick Santorum have been associated with home schooling, diverse groups are joining the ranks. The number of secular people homeschooling their children is also increasing, noted Linda Perlstein in an article for Newsweek. There is also increased participation by minority groups such as Muslims and African-Americans, reported the Huffington Post.

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