just babysitting

Ida May Fuller, the first recipientIda May Fuller first social security recipientpublic domain image via WikipediaCareer Ruin: Homeschooling | Penelope Trunk Blog:

"So in the middle of realizing that school is really just a babysitting service, I became militant. I realized that public school is like Social Security. There is no money to do what we are pretending we are aiming to do. We should just grow up and admit that we cannot have effective public schools for everyone. Just like we cannot have Social Security for everyone.

But parents in the middle class can have one parent working and one parent home with their kids. 

I'm not sure where blogger Penelope Trunk gets her information on social security. Robert Reich, Dean Baker/CEPR, William Greider and Jim Luke disagree.

Many feel that shifting from things like the predator drone program to school funding would be a good way to fund plenty of stuff. The idea that the economy of the US is like the household economy, just bigger, is a false analogy so it is not really clear what we can afford, as a collective group of people in the administrative unit called the nation-state. And there's even wage slavery  as steep inequality creates many issues.

But I am quite sure we cannot afford to lose the valuable skills and talents of so many human beings in system that relies on coercion instead of working with citizens to provides services. Families would be a real check on corporate and curricula overreach. Even John Holt thought we could spend less if we understood the difference between schools and learning. But Trunk makes this statement as well:
Believe me. There is absolutely no evidence that middle class kids from college-educated parents should be sitting in a classroom. Find me some. Really. Put it in the comments. Because if I could have found some, my kids would be in a classroom today. 
True enough. Except I'm not sure there is any evidence that sitting in school helps working-class kids all that much either. We seem to have very low social mobility in the US and prolonged education has contributed to that. Poor kids would benefit the most from an emphasis on making their lives better where they are, as activist John Holt wrote many years ago in his essays on schooling and poverty. (Holt also said we can't create more good jobs at the top to fix our problems: we must find ways to make all jobs good jobs.)

But Trunk is nothing if not honest. She is a working mother and Trunk's post shares her struggles:
But you know what? I can’t figure out how to get my work done and do homeschool too. I can’t figure out: Should I work more to pay for more childcare so I can work more? I know I don’t want the pressure of trying to have a big job and be a mom. I want to be a mom and I want to have an interesting job. And, I guess, I want to figure out how much more I have to work in order to pay for somehow getting a break from the kids.
A blue-ribbon achiever like Trunk may feel torn between achieving at work and achieving at competitive mothering.
Care Work Live:
"Employers have changed, too since the 1960s. The caricatures of status-conscious ladies of the “league” have been replaced by harried, working professionals. Their concerns have changed as well. The wife in the “companionate marriage” of the 1950s and 1960s concerned herself primarily with enhancing her husband’s status at work by being a hostess and by improving her family’s social status through engagement in civic and volunteer organizations. Mothering was an important, but lesser concern. Contemporary women, by contrast, are judged by the upward mobility of their children, not of their husbands. Evidence of “competitive mothering” is everywhere from Baby Einstein to enrichment classes for one-year-olds, to the long waiting lists for the best pre-schools. Demographer Susan Bianchi has shown that the at-home mothers of that golden age of the nuclear family actually spent less time with their children than do the working mothers of today."
The Daycare Function of Schools 
Acknowledging the importance of care work is a tenet of feminism. Families rely on the much maligned daycare function of schools for time to work. And kids need places to go in communities where we are bowling alone.  Walkable neighborhoods with adequate parks and nearby services are not common. Schools provide lots of community spaces and we could use schools to help transition communities in reclaiming more public spaces.

We could provide these services more honestly and comprehensively by understanding the dual function of daycare and learning that schools provide. We could allow families to have access to services for both of these reasons. And allowing parents and families real flexibility and choice could transform the factory school into a place where real and meaningful social ties could develop just as allowing kids time for food, exercise, and grade-free learning experiences could allow each child to make choices that help them grow and contribute in the ways they choose.

Mass schooling hides the fact that learning is natural and work is also something human beings engage in naturally. If central planning is over, then we must recognize the inherent ability of communities to make schools social spaces and learning zones. Corporate exploitation and legal codes that redline poor neighborhoods and use sorting techniques to cull children out instead of offering learning resources and letting children sort themselves in, well, that will have to end.

We need open access learning centers that allow real choices to be made by every single child and family.

background posts
what real choice would look like


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