Home School, The Tea Party, and Religion

Recently I've been hearing the Tea Party speak of a bloated Department of Education. There are complaints that students are not performing as well. Questions are raised about how the Catholic Schools are performing better than public schools and for less money. So of course the Department of Education and Big Government are the problems. This, and homeschooling in general, is about religion. 


By the numbers, Catholic schools appear to cost less and get better results than public schools. In 1995, The Seattle Times did a piece that showed that Catholic schools cost 4000 per student per year whereas similarly placed public schools cost 6700 per student per year. Sure seems like the Catholics have it figured out and we have something to learn, right? If you dig further into the numbers, you'll find that the reality is that when you take away the costs of transportation ($271 per student) , the Superintendents Office ($776 per student), and food services ($231 per student) you'll find that the numbers close in to a closer $5422 disparity. So what could account for the difference? How about the education of Special Needs students at a cost of $13,700 (1995 dollars)? In the end, the closer look showed that actual costs for just the education portion were less when apples to apples were compared. Moreover, what does it cost have a parent stay at home to home school teach each year? Depending on where you live, $35,000 a year is the cost of a parent not working. Might be 200k, might be 10k. Either way, it's an added cost that Home Schoolers don't want to factor in. So don't let them tell you that it costs less for a private education. 


Citing better test scores amongst the Home School Crowd or saying that since the Department of Education came into being the test scores have dropped is another common argument. It's also a myopic viewpoint. SAT scores have moved down since before 1979 when the Department was implemented. Over the 40 year period, reading scores are down by an average of 20 points. But math is up by 10. In fact they have been climbing since the implementation of the Department of Education until the No Child Left Behind Act was implemented by George Bush when we see a drop off in both scores. Clearly the Department wasn't the cause of the problem prior to 1980 since it wasn't a cabinet position, so why call for it's dismissal? It would seem that they are holding or improving except when it's meddled with. But do Home Schoolers perform better. That all depends on the test used, which is chosen by the parents. In reality, it becomes a narrow measure as you can simply choose to test on what you taught. It doesn't measure the whole of education which is much broader than reading and math. Success in higher education and life depends on more than these two areas. Socialization, computer science, science in general, etc are all critical to succeeding in life. Higher Education recognizes this and many institutions give a preference to students whom attend traditional schools.    


 When Tea Partiers cite these standards, recognize it for the attempt to indoctrinate your child that it is. When the Department of Education asked in 2003 why parents home school, "72 percent cited "to provide religious or moral instruction" as an ...". There are other listed motivations, but when 72% say that religion and morality is the motivation, what more do you need to hear? 72% of people agreeing on something is pretty compelling. They really don't want to teach science in an honest manner. They don't want their children to evolve with society but rather to hold on to an ideal that their parents pushed on them. That's fine, but don't ask me to pay for it with vouchers or the abolition of a Department designed to standardize education in a manner that allows a kid in Alabama the same opportunities in life as a kid from Vermont. The argument is a sham and we should be openly calling it that. 


Education is changing. Math is no longer about showing your work. It's becoming about making your algorithm work in software. A parent educated 18 years ago that barely recalls finding the area of a isosceles triangle is going to be left behind. A parent strong in science, might be weak in English. A parent strong in English might know nothing about Current Events and how to tie the stories in to historical perspective. Anyone who knows anything about education will tell you that making the connections and finding relevance is critical to helping children understand importance. If you don't think that the date for the signing of the Magna Carta is relevant, why would you remember it? But if your instructor can tie that into the beginning of the building of Western Democracies and the establishment of rights, 1215 becomes a date to remember.


Home Schoolers may perform well on a few tests. If you focus on just one line item, it looks cheap. In the big picture, they are left behind socially, and with education as a whole. Be sure to speak up and stand for keeping religion out of school. These latest chants to end the Department of Education are just latest way to wedge religion into schools. Quash the speech before it gains any headway. 

Views: 144

Comment by Morgan Matthew on February 27, 2011 at 9:24pm
Great post as always Gaytor! I am going to assume you have already read this post about not wanting to be a teacher any more.
Comment by Gaytor on February 27, 2011 at 9:32pm
I hadn't. How in the world did teachers go from being nearly universally recognized as under-paid to being a financial burden? I've had some discussion on FB recently that led to this. Home School advocates... all deeply religious friends of mine. Good luck having the average housewife explain physics in a meaningful way.
Comment by Skycomet the Fallen Angel on February 27, 2011 at 10:44pm
Homeschool is a dumb idea if there ever was one! Specialized schools in the case of disabilities would be appropriate... but the idea that parents can teach as well as professional educators is a fantasy. And there is one thing about religious private schools that statistics don't mention... they are laden with dogma, virtually diversity-free, and hostile toward students that don't believe the taught religious dogma. Also, they are not protected from creationism. You couldn't PAY me to send a child of mine to a religious private school!
Comment by Gaytor on March 17, 2011 at 6:50pm
The Tea Party not having a platform or anything coherent isn't my fault. I'm left with nothing but the ability to generalize. It encapsulates are large demographic and picking out the points they have pushed actively is all that can be focused on until they can form coherent ideas. Let's be honest, there isn't a coherent idea of what to do. It's simply a mob pushing through one issue at a time without a sense of direction or any particular goals.

Homeschooled kids will soon have no chance in the world. Propaganda aside (I agree with the point), does having your mom teaching you Algorithms, Computer Science, Political Science, History, English, Physics, etc sound like a good idea? Education is changing quickly. Taking your time to show your work in math will leave you behind tomorrow. We are no longer a country focused on manufacturing but one that deals in complex business and technology. No parent could possibly effectively teach on all of those subjects. We all know that the best teachers focus on only one or two subjects.
Comment by Gaytor on March 18, 2011 at 12:50am

Collectivized terms. It's not like I'm making this up or it's a one off position. Many, many Tea Partiers hold this anti-DOE position. It's not like I'm assigning this to them. They are choosing it. Not just random Tea-Party folks, but name Tea-Party politicians. Here's a screenshot of Tea Party and Department of Education Google search.



855,000 results. Rand Paul, Sharon Angle... Who would you have me name and I'll look up their position on it? 


Comparing politics to race is a good emotional ploy. If I said that Korean's eat Kimchee, I can't imagine someone taking offense. Sure, there are exceptions, but it doesn't disprove the generality. The Tea Party has enough people to get a general sense of where they are going. To say that I have to interview each person in order to speak about the group is non-sense. Ron Paul abhors war, but he's still a Republican. Does that mean that I can't say Republicans are Hawks? If you don't like what is being said but it's demonstrably true, then you should be asking if they are the group that you want to speak for you.


What old ways are you talking about getting stuck in? Are they the ones where capitalism is the solution to everything? Are they the ones where our laws came from the founding fathers so we should stay just like they hoped forever? They created the most liberal and fluid government that had ever existed but they wouldn't want anything to change... ever. I'm actually the guy saying let's change and it's the Tea Party that is saying let's go backwards. We have been a virtually Libertarian Country before. We had a small government which allowed mistreatment, have & have nots (supply side economics has brought us back to that) Monopolies, no workers rights, etc, etc. I'm not interested in that worldview. As an aside, I'm not an Atheist because if found dogma to be trapping people in ignorance.

Comment by Gaytor on March 20, 2011 at 10:49pm

Here is the irony though. You say that I'm generalizing too much, they you say "socialized systems always fail in the long run".

Germany- Bismarck Health Care Model. The Health Insurance Act of 1883 still exists today.

Canada spent the last decade erasing debt even as a socialist state.

China has 9 trillion dollars in savings and has huge socialist programs. Some estimate that the                                majority of the economy is ran by the government.

It would seem that there are actually plenty of examples of socialist countries doing better than we are for their people. 


I don't see education failing us. I see a Taxed Enough Already party member complaining that schools are failing while trying to de-fund them. The fact is that over time, SAT scores are about even and they have been rising until No Child Left Behind students started to take the test. Education is an investment, and we aren't making it. The failure is in the anti-tax attitude that doesn't allow change to happen rather than of the system itself. 

If you want to save some money, and you don't like socialism, maybe the military is a great place to chop some budgets. It creates generational dependency as we have to care for soldiers for the duration of their lives. Effectively, WWII isn't paid for yet. Germany only spends 3.3% of it's budget on the military. Do you think that Germans are scared? Few European countries spend more than 5%, so let's take on something truly effective that can be deeply changed and have no ill effects.

We aren't going to get anywhere on education. I think that education through college should be free, so clearly there isn't going to be a middle ground in that area. I'd pay to put books in the hands of 20 year olds, whereas others think that there is a good historical practice of putting guns in them.  

Comment by Gaytor on March 21, 2011 at 11:50pm

Half of this growth is accounted for in inflation. In 1970, 50 dollars would have the purchase power of 277 in 2008. In 1970, health care accounted for 7.6% of GDP whereas today it's roughly 17%. All of those teachers deserve health care with their jobs. Computers were introduced since then. The population has grown from 200 to 300 million. 

So we have 50% growth in students. We have a 223% increase in health care costs. Inflation alone accounts for more that 50% of the growth in costs to begin with. So it would seem that the problem is quite clear and simple. The number (cost) is bigger, but they are doing more with less. This is of course quite cursory.

Your argument that walking up to the neighbors and telling them to give me $1000 for education. You choose an emotional number when the reality is you could say, "How about we do away with write-offs, and everyone just pays what we agreed they should?" "How about we stop telling wealthy folks that they can write-off their private jet if they just have one business dinner on their vacation?" "How about if you have a $30,000 a month mortgage, the interest isn't a write off." Especially on multiple homes since you just own 20 personal corps to spread out the tax breaks. "How about no refunds for those (personal or corps) with incomes exceeding 1,000,000 dollars a year?"

Your position assumes that freedom means that no taxes are owed. I disagree. The laws that we have and their enforcement allow you the lifestyle that you live and the right to do business. No controls, this would be the US of the Rockefellers. That's is what Libertarianism wrought and only expanded government could defeat. 

Comment by Gaytor on March 22, 2011 at 3:44pm

If you compare this last graph to the one before on US spending, you'll find no vertical shot on the Federal Spending side. then when you go to look at the historical spending here you'll find that it's the local spending that is up. Why would the local spending be up from 98 to 2006? Revenues from property taxes? Look at how nicely these graphs fit.

Notice that sharp decline? Education spending has stagnated. Just go back to the Link above the graph. So state and locals stopped with the growth. The feds went down then jumped back up significantly after Obama took office. The locals were not from increased tax levels. It was simply as a result of it tracking with our successes which we later found out were all based on false economies due to companies not regulating themselves. They were in fact subverting regulation intentionally. Back to the heart of the matter.


What the standardized tests don't show is that students today learn how to use computers. In 1970, not so much. I spent an entire two quarters on typing through school. Kids today work with Excel, Word, some do HTML and coding. These types of things don't show up on those standardized tests. So so keep even with the scores shows me that the time is being well spent. Of course there could be a little less history and more being worried about what's next, but I don't see evidence of us doing so terribly. We simply have to tweak the system to catch back up to the rest of the world. Change our priorities.


Comment by Gaytor on March 22, 2011 at 4:27pm

There you go overstating it again. All it has done is given us kids that are still illiterate when they hit 12 grade.

The country is 99% literate, so you are 99% wrong in that statement. There is more to education than math, and reading which is what the SATs target.


As for your facts.

Point 1. 1978 to 1998, you have virtually identical numbers inflation adjusted, by your own graph. 98 to 06 have clear reasons for the explosion in the housing bubble. The increased spending was artificial. Being that it was artificial, it will go down through decreased revenues. and inflation adjusted, it has. No need to change anything.  

As for the test scores, Math scores were on a 24 year upswing. Source. Reading/verbal was up and down but stagnant overall. Since we have a 99% literacy rate, the comprehension component is the one needing addressing, but it hasn't been failing.

I don't accept your version of the facts.

Comment by Gaytor on March 22, 2011 at 9:43pm

Where I'm getting that idea... The graph you provided. 

So what are the real numbers? Back to here.

1978 - 81.9 Billion spent on primary & secondary.

1998 - 295.7 Billion spent on the same. 

1978 US Population, 222,000,000

1998 US Population, 270,000,000

So now we have enough info to toss it into a calculator to see how close it is, without looking into every detail. 

Inflation Calculator used

1978 = $81.9 Factor in a 20% difference in population due to growth, and the real 1978 number is or roughly $98.3 would have been spent with parity of population. Take $98.3 in 1978 dollars and it equals $244 in 1998 dollars. What did we spend? $295 billion. A 20% increase over 20 years. What changes could account for that? A doubling of health care costs. Adding computers as an educational item. Instituting the DOE as a central agency to get states like Mississippi to change (note: that we see a more than 300% increase in Federal Spending during this time). 

Autism rates have spiked 7x. That adds burden to schools. A burden that most private schools don't have to face. This could go on all day. There are lots of reasons that we saw a 20% increase there. And I've shown why we had the spike from 98 to 06.

It's like with religion, not knowing why, doesn't give you cause to assign a cause, especially to an unknown. 



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