It’s not just that a segregated education system entrenches comparative privilege or disadvantage from one generation to the next – that it allocates educational resources differently not according to the merit of the child but the merit (or fortune) of his or her parents.
It’s also that having separate educational regimes, like home-schooling, exposes children to creepy and destructive indoctrination when they’re supposed to be receiving a comprehensive, neutral education:
My parents were originally fairly ordinary evangelicals. Like so many others –it’s a common story — it was homeschooling that brought them to Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull. They began homeschooling for secular reasons, and then, through homeschool friends, conferences and publications, they were drawn into the world of Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull. It starts slowly, one belief here, a book there. For those who are already fundamentalists or evangelicals, like my parents, the transition is smooth and almost natural. Suddenly, almost without realizing it, they are birthing their eighth or ninth child and pushing their daughters toward homemaking and away from any thought of a career…
By homeschooling us, my parents could completely control what we learned. I studied from creationist textbooks and learned history from a curriculum that taught “His Story,” beginning with creation, Noah and the flood, and Abraham and his covenant with God, showing the hand of God moving through the 6,000 years of the earth’s history. I never had anyone tell me to dream big, or to think outside the home, or that with my talent and intellect I could have a brilliant career. Everyone around me believed the way my parents did, including all of my friends, who, after all, were without exception children of my parents’ friends. They encouraged me in my steadfastness of beliefs and held me up as a paragon of virtue. Why would I desire anything else?
It didn’t help that I was taught that those outside of our beliefs, including humanists, environmentalists, socialists, and feminists, were evil, selfish people who were destroying our society, and that Christians who did not share our beliefs were “wishy-washy” and “worldy.” There is a very “us versus them” mentality in Christian Patriarchy. They were the enemy, the agents of Satan out to destroy belief in God and pervert the world. They cared only for themselves and their own desires and were not to be trusted. I was taught that the world outside was a scary and dangerous place. If I stayed under my father’s authority, I would be protected and safe.
The full article’s worth reading to better understand the mindset of those confined to that particular subculture – one powerful enough that the candidates in the US Republican primaries are presently doing their utmost to earn its approval.
But it’s also a reminder of the power of education, and just how taking kids away from their peers and segregating them into special little enclaves of people with views matching their parents’ can be so destructive. And unfair – many of those children never have real exposure to alternative choices at all.
Even in its mildest form – Islamic schools, or Catholic schools, or Jewish schools, the kids are being denied a real choice. They have teachers – the teachers they’re supposed to trust to teach them Maths, or Science, or English – using their authority in the classroom to push one religious view over all the others. Is it any wonder that such an overwhelming majority of people who hold a religious belief just happen to pick the one that their parents hold, or the one that is dominant in their society? Could it be because they’re taught from a young age to associate any spiritual feelings with one particular religion, and their educations completely lack a reasonable consideration of the alternatives?
There’s only one excuse I can see for homeschooling – if you live in Texas, where they have armed police officers at schools handing out fines and worse. To the children.
Seriously, armed police? At primary schools?