Thought Experiment for Gender-neutral, Cruelty-Free, Emission-Free Progressives
If you consider yourself a progressive, are you brave enough to do a little thought-experiment?
Imagine a two-mom family committed to a no-carbon footprint, cruelty-free lifestyle, who have embraced extreme gender neutrality in raising their children. They are certain that eliminating all bias and influence on their offspring's identity will create happier, healthier children.
Since each of these lifestyle choices have specific tenets and guidelines for every aspect of daily life, the moms decide what is best for their family is homeschooling. No public school experience could be trusted to endorse ALL the values, practices and beliefs associated with gender-neutral, cruelty-free and emission-free living. In their opinion, it can only be achieved by having their child's education supervised at home, in conjunction with other families who share those same values. These moms still contribute (albeit involuntarily) through their taxes, to the education system which does not support their values, but their view is: This is right for us. We are willing to let other parents make the choice that is best for THEIR children.
Now imagine the rest of society sees the two moms' decision to homeschool as a threat to the preferred social order. So laws are passed which require these moms' to jump through a lot of hoops to prove what they teach their children is "accredited." And more laws are passed setting up standards and tests to frequently evaluate what their children are learning.
Imagine lots of public school teachers and teachers' unions make a point of diligently searching out the one homeschool child, at the most awkward age, in the most uncertain stage of development. Then they hold up that one kid as the poster child for the inadequacy of this type of education, (while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge the majority of other homeschooled children test academically and socially far ahead of the systematized kids.) And imagine the media looking for every opportunity to ridicule the sincerely held beliefs of any family who wants to live gender-neutral, cruelty and emission-free. In particular, they relish twisting these "outlier" views to extreme lengths in order to "prove" they are a threat to the rest of society.
Now imagine all the rest of the children who are not gender-neutral, cruelty and emission-free homeschooled, are indoctrinated to accept without question that there is only One True Religion. Any source of information which contradicts teaching from the sacred texts of that religion is "unreliable" or a "denier." And imagine the bureaucracy which administers the state-run schools scrutinizes parents who contradict or disagree with the One True Religion for possible abuse.
In fact, the moment a child steps onto the school campus, the parents have no authority over what happens: their child could be taken off-campus (without parental notification or consent) to get a religious tattoo or piercing, or to participate in an animal sacrifice or a sexualized worship service. At the state-run school, children are told they have "protected confidentiality" with regard to any school activity or conversation (meaning their parents will not be told). The clear objective of all curriculum and staff interactions are to funnel students into either joining the clergy or into a profession which will support and promote the One True Religion.
It sounds absolutely horrifying, doesn't it?
If you identify with the gender-neutral, cruelty and emission-free homeschooling moms, the state-run school experience I described is probably your worst nightmare. The idea of having the opposite of your values imposed on your children, of being ridiculed, harassed and vilified for beliefs which you can defend (given a forum and an open-mind), seems hideously unfair. You might even be relieved that you don't live in such a "backward" country!
If that IS what you are feeling, you have just transported yourself into the emotional experience of the majority of homeschooling parents in California. They are forced to support through their taxes an education system which contradicts virtually all of their sincerely-held beliefs. They choose to homeschool because in CA, the Department of Education has absolute authority over a child who steps on their campus.
School personnel can and do routinely and legally:
Take children off-campus for abortion services, hormone therapy, birth control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
Tell children whatever happens at school can be concealed from their parents.
Expose children to a singular perspective predetermined by academic elitists.
Categorize dissent or disagreement with state-endorsed curricula as potential emotional or religious child-abuse.
Eliminate through ridicule and/or censorship any contradictory evidence, opinion or point of view.
Even if the end result of all this indoctrination is a homogeneous society where everyone shares the exact same beliefs -- "for the greater good," of course -- being stripped of the liberty to choose those beliefs hardly constitutes a free society.
How much better to provide the opportunities for children to examine the claims of every religion, science, and philosophy, on their way to their own conclusion and conviction? Wouldn't a more worthy goal be to create a society made up of individuals who were not coerced into a singular way of thinking, but who are both willing and able defend alternative positions? With the ultimate aim of building a society which evolves through respectful, open discussion, where the truth emerges and falsehood is abandoned.
What was I thinking!? That would never happen... This is California!