January 20, 2007


Light blogging lately. School started this week and I have been scrambling to get ready. Only week one and I am already exhausted!


Read yesterday that a recent poll has Bush actually less popular than Darth Cheney. Ouch. Interesting that his push to get the American people behind him seems to be losing ground. Part of that, I must say, is reaping the whirlwind.

Chuckled when I saw this line from Senator Rockefeller about Bush's curiosity.
Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: January 14, 2007 - January 20, 2007 Archives: "“I don’t think he understands the world,” Mr. Rockefeller said. “I don’t think he’s particularly curious about the world. I don’t think he reads like he says he does.”

He added, “Every time he’s read something he tells you about it, I think.”"
I suspect the same thing.


Tony has an interesting post on homeschooling. I took issue with it in his comments (respectfully, I hope) and wonder if anyone here might weigh in. As I wrote here earlier, I fear a Christian homeschooling movement that teaches adoration for someone like Stonewall Jackson for, for his "black flag" approach to warfare.
In All Things for Good: The Steadfast Fidelity of Stonewall Jackson, fundamentalist historian J. Steven Wilkins opens a chapter on Jackson’s belief in the “black flag” of no quarter for the enemy with a quotation: “Shoot them all, I do not wish them to be brave.” The only path to peace, he believed, was total war.

I have no doubt that Tony and many like him are teaching their kids in a responsible fashion. But the existence of curricula like this means that there are many, many, many homeschooling parents who know shit about history who are buying this because it resonates with their political/social world view. That scares me.

updateWhite House lie to us? That's unpossible!

My favorite part of this story is the White House denial, and assertion that Brown is making "false statements." You know, because the White House has been SO very HONEST with us about everything from WMD to reasons for war to Halliburton contracts to how things are going in Iraq to why they are firing US Attorneys at an unprecedented rate. Oh, on that last one. Latest word is that the GOP wants to pad the resumes of political hacks. Like the one who made his bones doing opposition research on Democrats.
Brown: Politics played role in Katrina on Yahoo! News: "Brown told a group of graduate students Friday that some in the White House had suggested the federal government should take charge in Louisiana because Blanco was a Democrat, while leaving Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, in control in his state.

Brown, speaking at the Metropolitan College of New York, said he had recommended to President Bush that all 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast affected by the devastating hurricane be federalized — a term Brown explained as placing the federal government in charge of all agencies responding to the disaster.

"Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking, 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor, and we have a chance to rub her nose in it,'" he said, without naming names. "'We can't do it to Haley (Barbour) because Haley's a white male Republican governor. And we can't do a thing to him. So we're just gonna federalize Louisiana.'""


ubub said...

One of the commonly asserted benefits of public schooling is that it provides similar socialization experiences that promote social cohesion. This argument refers to the form ('the grammar') of schooling, which has remarkably little variation between regions, social classes, etc., not necessarily the content, facilities, etc.

These common culture arguments underpin many of the arguments of those who oppose what they view as secularism, multiculturalism, revisionism, etc. Bloom, Hirsch, et al., argue that multiculturalism is inherently divisive.

What I find most interesting is that there seems to be a lot of 'common culturists' who oppose BOTH public school (not necessarily home schoolers and not necessarily conservatives) and multiculturalism, etc. Surely these go hand in hand in the minds of many people, but it seems contradictory to use a line of reasoning to oppose one while ignoring the fact that the same arguments would apply to the other as well.

OK, I'm going to wrap this up before I start going full-on doc student here.

Streak said...

Are you saying that people who support multiculturalism but oppose home-schooling are contradictory?

Or am I missing this one?

ubub said...

I am saying that both are often viewed as threats to unified civil society. There are many who would lump charter schools, home schooling, private schooling, and other alternatives to public education as threats to unified civil society. Similarly, there are those who view multiculturalism as equally divisive. While neither movement lines up neatly in terms of Left-Right, both are vulnerable to the same arguments re: social cohesion despite the fact that many support only one while villifying the other.

Streak said...

Interesting point. I am going to have to think about this. I have always thought of multi-culturalism as adding information to the process, as opposed to the uni-cultural view. And, as I am sure that Tony can attest, homeschooling is in no way inherently a threat to civil cohesion either.

I don't think I am opposed to homeschooling. I am opposed to this particular movement who seeks to completely avoid modern scholarship and undermine the public schools. As much as I respect many of those who homeschool, I remain highly skeptical of it as a policy of education in this country.

As I ramble here, I am struck by the right's recent discovery that Barack Obama attended a Muslim school as a 6 year old child in Indonesia, yet that same right seems to want to replace our public schools with the Christian version of the madrassa.

Tony said...


You were right, ubub makes good comments here. I do not think homeschooling threatens any social order. My question is, does public schooling really breed multiculturalism?

Laying quality of education aside, does it really bode well for a group of kids to move throughout the first 17 years of their lives under the influence essentially of their peers for the better part of every day?

How does this foster multiculturalism in a way that any other form of education does not?

Or am I missing the point?

Oh, and one addendum to my comment to you at my blog (I guess I should really make it over there, huh?)--consider the black homeschooling community; now there is a group that essentially feels left out.

Streak said...

tony, I hope I am not overly defensive at your blog. I am tiring of having to assure people that I am not advocating modifying the Patriot Act to allow George Bush to jail homeschooling parents.

Let me just say something about my own experience with public schools. I grew up with Mormons, Jehovah's witnesses and numerous "unchurched" peoples. My education at this little school in western Colorado was subpar, but I think I benefit every day from that need to work with people of differing backgrounds. I learned to "play well with others" so to speak, and think that has served me well.

Your question about how the public school fosters multi-culturalism is valid. I think ubub can speak to that better than me. But I am unsure how diversity can be achieved if everyone simply chooses who they want to be around.

ubub said...

I am not at all convinced that public schooling 'breeds multiculturalism.' I am only noting that I encounter a lot of objections to multiculturalism by those who argue that it leads to a disuniting of civil society. Here I am thinking of Schlessinger, D'Souza, and others.

Those same arguments about disunity are also made by those who oppose homeschooling, private ed, or parochial ed.

For the most part, each reflects a sort of strawman view that does not reflect reality. Mutlicultural education is a highly inclusive, often constructivist approach that is often portrayed as promoting Balkanization.

Similarly, home schooling is often portrayed as a "Fortress America" movement that promotes maladjustment, prejudice, and xenophobia.

I hope we can recognize that neither represents reality and that there are ways that either can be implemented in a manner conducive to civil society.

For example, multicultural education can promote greater understanding by illuminating our commonalities and helping us to see where, and perhaps why, we may hold different views. These views, we might think of it as an ethic of noninterference, are part of the infrastructure for civil society.

As another example, and certainly this is not news to Tony or most other home schooling parents, there are many home schooled kids in our area participating in school community rec athletic leagues, cooking classes, etc., specifically to provide opportunities for kids to interact with their peers as well as pursue an interest. They are engaged in civil institutions.

Because I think of civil society in terms of how we are to live together, this concern leads me to wonder what any of us owe to all of us in terms of how we raise the next generation. If we isolate ourselves from each other and from civil institutions, how do we build and maintain civil society?

Tony said...


Point well-taken. I often wonder at how I can foster that in my kids, because frankly they are not around kids of differing backgrounds.

I was public schooled also, in Spartanburg, SC, and there were only two black boys in my class all the way through ninth grade. Incidentally, both their names were Tony, too and we considered one another very good friends. So, multiculturalism in my little world was essentially black and white, no pun intended.

I didn't achieve any sense of it until college and my best friend was a Latino.

So both sides has their drawbacks and I think we both see that.

I don't think you were overly defensive; when I read my friend Steve's comment, I got REAL worried. :)

I hope ubub checks back.

ubub said...

(Tony, I think we may have been composing at the same time.)

There are limitations in any approach, so the key is going to be focusing on the highest priority and mediating the effects of limitations of that approach by supplementing the primary means of instruction.

For example, religious families who send their kids to public schools might provide instruction in the home and faith community to supplement their secular lessons.

As another example, home schooling parents might use rec leagues, service learning projects, community organizations, etc., to provide opportunities to interact with and learn from those different than themselves if such opportunities are otherwise absent.

Tony said...


I agree. We must seek out where the commonalities are and attempt to preclude the hegemony of idealistic groups, but neverthless, is this entirely possible?

For example, in our area, the inclusion of homeschoolers in public school sports is frowned upon, not corporately, because that would not be right, but in the general square. They generally take a condescending attitude, that if we are too good to send our kids to school with the rest of the county's kids, then you are certainly too good to play ball with us.

This has not happened to us because I have four prissy girls and they are more interested in pottery classes and music rather than softball/soccer, but it has happened to families in our hs group. Their children were allowed to play but were nearly ostracized because they didn't go to "real" school.

In some cases, even if the willingness to diversify and foster a sense of unity is there, it is often rejected. Misunderstandings abound, and not just on the hs side of the equation.

But you are correct, we still must at least try.

Streak said...


Thanks for your patience on this topic. It is deeply personal for you and largely theoretical for me. It has a personal connection in that I have two nieces who were homeschooled for parts of their school life. That has been interesting to observe and I see good and negative aspects to it. One observation, and to be honest, I felt this in the discussion on your blog--at least partially, is that I often hear homeschooled parents and children who are rather contemptuous (perhaps too strong of a word) of public schools and public schooled children. While I can certainly see your experience the other way, I have experienced the other.

I suspect some of this is changing as communities have built more and more opportunities for crossover on sports, music, etc. I hope so. I think this conversation is helpful, especially for liberal academics like myself who really do worry about what is going on out there.

BTW, I was struck by this from ubub: For example, religious families who send their kids to public schools might provide instruction in the home and faith community to supplement their secular lessons.

this strikes me as exactly what has happened most of the life of public school. Frankly, one of the issues I lack patience for (perhaps too harsh) is the idea that children will be exposed to ideas their parents don't hold or that they don't hold, or even that the teacher might be a bit of a jerk about it. Perhaps my experience is not normative, nor perhaps, exemplary, but my school experience had many of those. Not only was I around people of different faiths and economic backgrounds (which I still think is huge), but I still remember going home and reporting something that the teacher said in class that bothered me. I remember my dad saying, "don't believe everything you hear, even from your teachers." He was not advocating disagreement for disagreement sake, but to be skeptical and questioning. I certainly incorporated that into a long history of going to school (lost count of the years spent as a student....), yet, with the possible exception of my bad actions towards my high school spanish teacher, I remained quite respectful. In college, I incorporated that skepticism into some great disagreements with teachers on a variety of subjects.

Not sure how that is bad. And further, I am not sure how that can be learned in a homeschooled environment where parents are judge, jury and, let's say, the implementation of discipline. Or at least, I wonder about that.

Tony said...


The contempt you describe does work both ways. In the church I serve, there are three teachers, one librarian, one computer services technician for the ps system, and a school board member. So, the disdain was pretty high, as you can imagine!

The look of horror when we shared we would be homeschooling and not sending our children to the local elementary I will never forget.

They did legitimately feel we looked down upon the school system and really, we didn't and still don't (with the caveat that I do have a lot of issues with the school system).

I think their concern was not necessarily that we were not sending our kids to ps, but rather they felt that we believed ourselves to be "better" than them.

I concur with ubub's comment that you reference. I think I see where you are coming from in that some kids might not be exposed to competing ideas in the homeschooling environment, and that would be the case in the BJU curricula and Barton school of thought.

They just spout bad, bad, bad. I wish I could say it does not happen but it even happens in our hs group. I do try to be a sound voice of reason and affirm that teaching your kids competing ideas will not lead your child trip-tropping down the primrose path.

As I commented to ubub on my blog, one of our goals is to lead our children to engage differing ideas with grace and humility. So, a degree of skepticism is not at all bad. One must evaluate all ideas against one's own convictions, pragmatically, and philosophically.

Did I run ubub off?

Streak said...

I doubt sincerely that you rubbed ubub off. He is busy this week and will be in and out, I am sure.

I really wonder if we don't have a couple of things going on--though probably not with all concerened. Some, certainly, seem to be making their choice (ps or hs) with anger and resentment at the other group. Or fear. Or something. Not what you are describing, but what I have enountered elsewhere. Perhaps we have the opportunity in communities to bridge those gaps. From both sides.

At least for some.