Er, I misspoke. I was wrong. Flat wrong. The wrongness, it burns. I messed up. Brain fart. Don’t be mizzled, brother; I misled you. I disseminated misinformation to the point of dissimulation. I bore false witness, even if it was against myself, mostly.
Here’s the whopper I told, almost without thinking:
That’s not quite correct. Mi dispiace. I best get to expiating my guilt by explaining myself to you fine people, before I end up asking a ghoul with a hot trident for a glass of icewater for all eternity.
Words mean things. At least they used to. They’re currently debased and euphemized until nobody knows nothin’ about nuthin’ by reading the newspaper. “Homeschooling” has been freighted with meaning, and it’s not the meaning I want it to have, but I used it anyway, because newspapers that call someone’s boyfriend their “partner” have worn me out. I tried using the lingua franca to save time. It was a mistake. Let’s fix it.
It would have been much more accurate for me to tell you that my children are receiving a public school education at home. They are. They simply don’t attend the public school; they’re getting this education from my wife, inside my house.
Hmm. But that’s bound to give you the wrong idea, too; you’ll assume that means we’re giving the kids the same sort of education that’s being offered in those buildings they still call public schools. You see, there are no public schools in America that I know of. They’re reeducation camps for people that weren’t educated in the first place, maybe, or little prisons, or pleasure domes for creepy teachers, or places where tubby women work out their neuroses about eating on helpless children at lunchtime — but there’s not much schooling going on in school. A public school is a really expensive, but shabby and ineffectual, private school that collects their tuition with the threat of eviction from your house.
I grew up in the same town as Horace Mann. I know all about public schools. The concept is as dead as a Pharaoh. The idea that universal literacy and a coherent public attitude toward citizenship would result in a better life for the country as a whole was a sweet one, and it worked for a while, until they “fixed” it. They’ve been fixing the hell out of it for over half a century now. They fixed it the way a veterinarian fixes dogs, to my eye.
Here’s Wikipedia’s list of Horace Mann’s reasons for public schooling:
(1) the public should no longer remain ignorant
(2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public
(3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds
(4) that this education must be non-sectarian
(5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society
(6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers. Mann worked for more and better equipped school houses, longer school years (until 16 years old), higher pay for teachers, and a wider curriculum.
Let’s take them in turn, and see how Old Howlin’ Horace’s ideas have turned out in what’s called the public schools, but aren’t anymore.
1) Is that cursive? I don’t read cursive.
2) The public seems completely uninterested in what happens in public school, or they wouldn’t send their kids there. Anyone really interested in public schools is horrified by what they find out. Talk to a teacher about what they’re required to do in there — after they’ve had a few drinks. I have. One I spoke to referred to themselves as a “tard farmer.” Do you want to sent your children to a “tard farm”? We don’t.
3) My children are from a variety of backgrounds, all by themselves. We didn’t turn either of them away. Tell my Irish grandmother and wife’s Calabrian grandfather that all white people are the same. Bring a weapon to defend yourself. A “back-up piece” is probably a good idea if you’re talking to my grandmother, by the way.
4) Public Schools aren’t non-sectarian. They teach their own religion, and persecute any vestige of any other, except for momentary alliances with subcultures that will help them persecute what they feel is the dominant culture outside the school.
5) Parents are not allowed to enter a public school, even to walk their children to the door. Children are routinely persecuted for any behavior that deviates one iota from the what a militant vegan on a recumbent bicycle prefers. That’s not the spirit, method, or discipline of a free society.
6) Teachers are well-trained and professional — just not in delivering an education to children. They are trained to be vestal virgins in a weird temple that forgot where they put the statue of the deity of mammon they worship. If public school worked, everyone who graduated from it would be capable of teaching in one.
The teachers in public school are as much at the mercy of this weird situation as the students. A teacher recently told us she has to keep a dossier on every child in the class, every day. That’s the Stasi, not Goodbye, Mr. Chips. They said that it’s not possible, really, so they have to make stuff up to finish it. All that time is subtracted from what little time they have for the kids in the first place. The teachers don’t know where all these weird directives come from any more than you do. They just don’t want to get fired for forgetting to rat out little Timmy if he chews his Pop-Tart in to a recognizable weapon-like shape. They go along to get along.
We like our kids too much to go along to get along, so my wife and I set up our own public school. The desks are in a row. There’s only one row, with one desk, but still, it’s a row. There’s a flag on the wall, unironically hung, because we’re not ingrates. The public –our children — have not remained ignorant. My wife and I would appear to an alien as the most “interested public” on the face of this earth, since we’re doing it ourselves, with no help and no money, and a lot of opposition, while the rock-and-roll moms abandon their children at the public school so they can go get their infected tattoos looked at. Oh, and by the way, 100 percent of our students are immunized against childhood diseases, because Jenny McCarthy isn’t regarded as an adequate peer reviewer for Jonas Salk at our school. She is at the public school.
Our children are taught moral rectitude, by word and deed, just like Horace Mann intended. His term, “non-sectarian,” had nothing to do with being irreligious. He explicitly said one kind of Christianity shouldn’t trump another kind in school. That’s it. A very strict Know-Nothing religion, consisting of little more than a fetish for recycling and ancient imaginary score-settling, is all that is allowed in public schools. That’s not non-sectarian. That’s one sect. Hell, we allow our children to know that there’s more than one kind of light bulb. That’s blasphemy in public school.
As I said, I grew up in the same town as Horace Mann. So I know for a dead cert that they tore down Horace Mann’s house and put up a shitty stripmall in its place in the 1960s. It’s the absolute perfect metaphor for what happened to his idea, too.