the most significant social movement of our time

Don’t Believe Critics, Education Reform Works: Jonathan Alter - Bloomberg:
"America’s education-reform movement - - the most significant social movement of our time -- is just completing another productive school year, with hundreds of districts beefing up accountability and standards."
Jonathan Alter must be kidding: ed reform the most significant social movement of our time? Ed reform is corporate corruption and entitlement that uses anti-democratic methods to try and fix what they do not understand.  Ed reform by people within the system is like financial reform by banks.  People embedded within the system have inherent assumptions about that system that real change must question. And all the money flowing in from the top only makes corruption a constant, ear-splitting noise as everyone scrambles to pick up the cash with hair-brained schemes and propaganda manufacture.

The most significant social movement of our time, in education anyway, is homeschooling.  
Homeschooling is a spontaneous, grassroots, citizen-led movement of parents from a wide variety of backgrounds who have changed the compulsory attendance laws in 50 states.
Homeschooling has been around since schools started as families have usually been deeply involved in preparing their children for the future.  It is worth explaining to American citizens who have been immersed in public education institutions for 100+ years that the family has a far longer history of involvement with their own children.  Because it is children who must endure the manipulation, experiments, and theories of well-paid so-called reformers. Families are disenfranchised by compulsory attendance laws that remove them from any say in their own children's education and in this way, the strongest advocates for the child are sidelined. 

Homeschooling is a uniquely American movement in many ways.  There's this history and according to Wikipedia, and there are issues with women who are the majority of homeschoolers, it grew from the work of many different people: Holt, Illich, the Moores, and Rushdoony. For my money, intellectuals like Illich and Rushdoony tend to lose their way in their intellectual edifices whereas Holt remained a practical activist whose clear prose is in the vein of Emerson. The Moores were an inspiring family who themselves homeschooled as a family.  Dr. Moore also pioneered the PASS test and worked on legislation.  Illich certainly influenced Holt and Rushdoony influenced conservative Christians but Holt and the Moores made it happen and popularized it.  The Moores showed personal leadership and set a stellar example while Holt showed a deep grasp of the direction of this movement and he addressed core issues that could raise objections by many: like poverty and schools, equity, learning and more.

Listening to ed reform debates I often wonder of any of these people really understand what is going on and has been for more than 30 years.

But the real pioneering work has been done by the thousands on parents who have taken up the task and actually homeschooled.  These families began by breaking the compulsory attendance laws.  It began with hundreds and then thousands breaking the law to some extent.  These activists were often families and mostly women.

Usually, people could see that they were not families who didn't care.  Maybe they cared too much, some thought.  They were often church goers or held college degrees themselves or seemed regular citizens. And families that actually wanted to spend time together seemed ok to many even if they thought it was a bit Disney-like for them.

Over time, policies were put in place and local authorities accommodated homeschoolers who worked tirelessly for their rights.  School authorities were less sanguine about it all and smelled a threat and often put up a lot of resistance.  Homeschoolers worked on a state-by-state level and built upon their successes.

They often did this side-by-side even though these activists were from wildly diverse backgrounds and often opposed beliefs.

Homeschooling has grown and now, 30 years out, there are many homeschoolers who have achieved all sorts of things, every state has regulations of some sort, there are studies about homeschoolers and it is going international. Homeschoolers have gotten many kids into college, won contests of all sorts, pioneered unschooling and uncollege,  and often brag about the fact that homeschoolers test better than their schooled counterparts, if they test.  Homeschoolers today are a diverse group with views of all kinds, many or most these days are rather less political and often unaware of previous work.


Ed reform?  It is already a failure.  The most significant social movement of our time in education is homeschooling.

School activists need to start learning about this, not to homeschool, but in order to move to the next level: to take schools to where they could go, what an activist like John Holt wrote about in the 1970s and people like me spent our lives working toward.

School activists will have to build on the secure and strong foundation we have laid down for real change.  Real change starts with the family and the child and it separates schooling and education.  The growth of the Internet has only made change more possible while the growth of corporate power has only made change more necessary.


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