Monday, August 9, 2010

Bad Educational Choices

For the moment my BlogHer pictures are still resting comfortably on my camera. So I will clear my throat by telling you this:

OMG. This morning I had a front porch convo with my neighbor Conspiracy Guy. You know, the slightly crazy, slackerish stay-at-home-dad whose daughters, my Foster Children, are at my house all the time?

I do mean all the time. They are here right this second.

So Conspiracy Guy had some news to share. It is this:

He is homeschooling this year. His girls are entering Kindergarten and 1st grade, but he is keeping them home, as he explained, to save the $14,000 in tuition to the Wingnut Academy they attended last year, as well as the gas money he spent in transporting them to and fro.

Let me pause to say that I know there are countless top-notch parochial and private schools in this country that do an awesome job of molding young minds. Wingnut Academy is not one of those.

I also believe there are many homeschooling parents who are doing excellent work and turning out brilliant little omnivores of knowledge. I know some of them. Reader, Conspiracy Guy will not be one of those.

Am I being judgmental? Yes, and totally right. Having interacted with this family for four years, I am pretty sure that he will not put in the time, gumption, and wits required to do a good job at this. It is a bad choice. Is it a worse choice than the Wingnut Academy? Yes, I think it is.

And because I can take a sort of joking tone with him, during this little discush about tuition and money I said, "You know, the local public school is excellent, free, and they pick up on the corner." I wrapped this in a big smile. He acknowledged this but said that, so far, his mother-in-law and I were the only people who took a dim view of his plan. So I think that was his way of telling me to shut up? Which is okay, I know it is not my bidness.

Or is it? I mean, education being the cornerstone of a free society and all. You know, like how Whitney said the children are our future?

So that's what's up in the hood this morning. I carried this bit of intel to Matt and he was like, "Oh dear. No." I gotta tell you, it feels good to be back in the swing of things, "things" being, in this case, bearing witness to the poor life choices of others.

BlogHer reportage in the soon-ness.


Amy said...

Well, thank the Lord you're back. Who ELSE is going to keep us informed?

Yeah, I think you're right. Having met the Conspiracy Family, I doubt those girls are going to benefit from this new plan. And this means they'll be at your house EVEN MORE, if that were possible.

Wingnut Academy is so awesome as a name that I don't even know where to begin. We've missed you.

Camp Papa said...

Statement of Disclosure: I am a retired public educator, elementary school principal, and supervisor of principals. Make of that what you will.

Having said that, this is almost certainly a bad, bad thing for the girls. I've seen home schooling done well and I've seen it done poorly. There is nothing that I know about this family that makes me think this enterprise will go well. Both of these sweet children are about a half bubble off plumb as it is. Further isolation from the world won't do them any good. That's true even if I thought CG-Dad was going to diligently deliver a comprehensive, planned, and appropriate curriculum for them...which I most certainly do not.

gretchen said...

I share Amy's fear that your home will become the Conspiracy Family Academy Annex. You must not allow this. Perhaps CG will give up on this idea when he realizes how much effort this whole homeschooling thing involves?

I can't wait to hear your take on our recent Woohoo Fun Time.

Marie said...

As often as they are in your house now...OMG. You are going to need to sue for child support!
Hope you had fun, but glad you're back!

P.S. My word verification is"readowit". I know you could do something clever with that!

Michele R said...

I'm thinking perhaps yours and this MIL's opinion are very qualified opinions. Hey, maybe Frenemy and he speak? Doesn't she homeschool her daughter?

Becky said...

Indeed, I did think, "Oh goodness, does this mean they're going to be knocking on my door after breakfast every day?"

And yes, Frenemy does homeschool, though her daughter goes to one of those homeschool center things one day a week, for "science." Science like learning how Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church.

I am being a bitch because I'm tired and I got my boob expanded today.

Actually I suggested Frenemy to him as a resource, because I think he's going to need a resource.

Casey said...

Like I have said before, I would rather cut off a limb than home school. And if your kids are are in (well one of them) the public school you're zoned for, it has to be a good one. What a whack job.

But you, my dear, were a pleasure to meet. :) Glad we got to hang.

Beth said...

Can't wait to hear about BlogHer.

Good grief, what has the world come to when Frenemy is recommended as a good resource! CG is in bad shape.

I'm sure there are people who are qualified to home school. Personally, I'm not sure home schooling is ever a good answer. Most of the people I know who were home schooled are off from all that isolation. I heartily concur with Camp Papa, who is clearly more qualified and eloquent than I am. I will paraphrase Men In Black here: "Hire an *educator* to come in here quick, cause... DAMN!"

Jenni said...

Oh, god, Frenemy and Conspiracy Guy united toward a common goal? That could lead to some serious hilarity.

Michele said...

Something tells me this plan has blog fodder written all over it.

Once again, I bow to your father's brilliance. "half a bubble off plumb", HA! It's statements like that that bring to mind all the wonderful things my dad use to say.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Watch out! Homeschooler in the house! All the homeschooled kids I know are not "isolated." Usually, there are so many social things to do, I have to make sure to protect our (albeit short) book-larnin' time. And, even as a fairly relaxed homeschooler, there are families I see where I think maybe the kids would be better off in school. The thing is, it's impossible to generalize. Schools have their good points, home education has its good points also. And the kids who are schooled sort of "wacky"? They would have been raised wacky anyway.

Elle said...

I keep typing and deleting things.

I think that kindergarten and first grade are pretty much as well spent at home as anywhere. (And in fact, I do not think there is a state in the union that even has compulsory kindergarten.) Education & socialization's last trains have not even started boarding yet, much less left the station. Georgia has quite a bit of oversight in their homeschool law, and as long as they spend time, yk, playing and reading or being read to, they will probably be fine.

My experience is that homeschoolers tend to be somewhat self-selecting, because you have to want to be around your child/ren all the freaking time, esp at that age. It's much less about the schooling and way more about home part. This does not seem like something CG has thought through, particularly if they spend their time out in the streets and/or at yr house. So don't worry + lock yr doors.

What you might want to mention to him, however -- helpful to you both, and making the C in CG work for you -- is that child-welfare authorities tend to take a dim view of homeschooled children who seem unsupervised, since the presumption is that already they are feral, let loose by unregenerates who can't even take their kids to school. Also, that people love to call the authorities about what seems like truancy. (It's for the children, you know) Once you step off the grid, everyone is crazy to put you in yr place. Tell him it will be just like being a woman.

Anyhow, he might tighten up his game, and the kids might be out of yr hair, except for following civilized arrangements.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, my gosh. I do love your posts.

Keely said...

Gah. Those poor kids. I don't think that will be to their benefit, no. While I firmly believe that homeschooling is a preferable option to most public school systems, I only believe that if it's done correctly. Which seems unlikely.

Becky said...

Elle, I hoped you'd happen by as you're one of the power homeschoolers I know.

I have thought before about the different homeschooling cultures in different parts of the country. In Santa Cruz, CA there was a strong DIY school culture, it seemed, and here there is a TOTALLY DIFFERENT strong homeschooling culture, a bible belt-ish one. Anyway, I wonder if that presumption of "feral"ness operates around here. I tend to think that homeschooling here isn't so much off the grid as on a different grid. I don't know the stats but it sure seems like a lot of people homeschool.

Several families around me are doing it or have done it. One of the K(C)athies homeschooled all six of her kids at different stages, and they were busy bees, like you say, Sub Corr. Frenemy's kid comes to mind as an isolated one, though I think you're right that she is being raised wacky and would be raised that way no matter what. Her parents managed to make her isolated when she was attending school.

puncturedbicycle said...

Well, we all know that saving money is THE leading factor in fostering academic excellence.

What I have taken away from today's post are the following points:
Homeschooling debate aside, it seems to me this guy being a borderline negligent parent and a bit of a nutjob is the potential problem to which you refer, and rightly so.
Quotable quote #1: "about a half bubble off plumb."
Quotable quote #2: "Tell him it will be just like being a woman."

So much enlightenment already and it's not even lunchtime! (I hope your boob feels better soon.)

Elle said...

Ok, Becky, but there is church and then there is snake church, and it is perfectly fine to be in the former and not so much in the latter. If you see what I mean. Letting little girls run around dirty & unsupervised is just not ok and to add homeschooling to the profile will make agents sit up straighter. These agency dynamos feel strongly about the paternalistic power of the schools to monitor families and child welfare, and when you remove the school from your family's dynamic, they want to see you toe the line in other, very culture-specific, acceptable ways. We ran into a whole thing a couple of years ago because our children are vegetarian. Homeschooled vegetarians! Where is the Department of Homeland Security?!

Megan said...

Becky, how much do you want to bet you'll be building, directing and teaching the curriculum for these kids within a matter of weeks? (You know you'll have to, just out of pure pity.)

Elle, I was with you on home schooling, since Ms. Becky clearly respects you. But vegetarian? My my my. Clearly your values are out of whack and your children should be removed from your home at once. School food is so much healthier than a vegetarian diet. ;)

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine him thinking home schooling was the cheap option! In my experience it costs us my annual salary plus an ungodly amount in books, sundry explosives, silicon chips, metric tonnes of clay etc as well as endless weekly clubs, trips to exhibitions and social events. Plus you have to power appliances all day and there is opportunity for ruinous fridge-raiding. Oh and I don't know how it is in the States but in the UK home educators pay (a lot) for any examinations taken.
Plus, as others have noted, it's really not something you want to do unless you very much like being around your kids all day. And clearing up a lot. I love it; my kids love it. I don't go around recommending it for everyone though.

Ash said...

I would suggest you move, but $10 this guy will quit about six weeks in and public school (shudder!) will be his only option.

In the interim, I suggest you unplug your phone and doorbell.

"Science like learning how Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church." - snort. Funniest thing I've read in a very long time. Excellent.

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Hoo boy. You've got front row seats for this train wreck and you can't avert your eyes.

Amy said...

I've seen some amazing results from homeschooling. (I'd like to add "brilliant little omnivores of knowledge" to the Quotable Quotes category begun by PB).

My guess would be that CG has his sights set on the "unschooling" model of homeschooling, which I think means the kids are ringing your doorbell right now.

And geez, hate the boob thing for you. I really can't imagine what that feels like, but I can imagine that I really don't want to know.

Amy said...

Okay, and I just re-read the post wherein CG had authored the note containing "rest pit" and "mouse like quiet." Yah-huh.

So on top of his other qualifications for this particular endeavor, it appears the man has only tenuous grasp on English construct...

Suburban Correspondent said...

Elle is cracking me up. I thought vegetarians weren't funny...