Do Gas Prices Define “Hard Times” for Homeschooling?

3 06 2008

Dana got me thinking about this today.

I remember the gas wars of the early 70s, when I was a teen driver buying gas for the first time, for my huge, heavy, inherited 1957 Oldsmobile Super88 Rocket — just like this picture, same blue even, except not a convertible.

I doubt if it got even 10 miles to the gallon, but I could get a gallon for a quarter and a couple of pennies, so who was counting? My boyfriend’s family drove ugly little economical stick-shift cars not to save pennies — his dad was a medical doctor employed by academe — but because they were humbly connected to the community, defining themselves as environmentally responsible in those socially conscious “good times” that created the first Earth Day.

His parents could have driven anything, paid any price for gas to go anywhere they chose, because they were so much better off budget-wise than was my shabby-chic academic, politically conservative, school-is-your-economic-ticket-to-ride family story — literally driving My Father’s Oldsmobiles to school and the library and into the economically fickle future — and yet, my boyfriend’s family traveled more lightly through our community and upon the planet than mine.

Or so it seems to me looking back, with new stories on my mind.

But what made those years such good times to both my boyfriend and me, wasn’t the price of gas high or low — any more than the price of gas today makes these times seem like bad times, hard times (much less end times) to me. It was completely irrelevant to our happiness, as it is now.

And without criticizing the stories other folks have in their heads, I need to say that for me, if “now” DID seem like hard times, I sure can’t see how contracting into a little hardshell at home, each homeschooling family pulling into some self-contained, self-sufficiency survival mode script, would help the hard economic times get better. Much less be the change we want to see in the world!

This family’s homeschooling, for example, won’t be helped by mom tilling a garden, hoarding gold or not driving the family car to the library anymore. The economy isn’t so much about her family budget as her community’s thinking. Therefore her librarian’s attitude is more clearly an economic hard-times sign than the price of gas — what a strangely dangerous anti-social idea for librarians to have about education and information and community, that the tax-and-gas-gobbling public school system is more “economical” and educationally beneficial to the community than the public library!

“It is really not the library’s responsibility to provide all materials to people who choose to school children at home instead of in the school system,” said Cheryl Ferverda, spokeswoman for the [local library system]. Ferverda says the process of putting books on hold is really expensive . . .

Putting public library books on hold is “really expensive?” But what about the school system’s fuel usage just for bus transportation, never mind the community cost of books and buildings and teachers? What’s wrong with this librarian isn’t the price of gas high or low, or the state of the economy or education — it’s simply that she has the wrong power of story in her brain.

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10 responses

3 06 2008
sunniemom

I have a hard time believing that it costs major bucks for a librarian to take a book of a shelf and place it on hold for a patron. I thought that the library’s responsibility was to provide books and materials for their customers. Hence the use of the word “Library” over the door.

I am going to have to ask the librarians at our library about this. They are very friendly and seem to think it is fun to fill requests for books and DVDs. They have also had to cut back because of budgetary issues, but they chose to change their hours of operation, and are now closed on Sundays during the summer break.

3 06 2008
JJ

Really! Everything she was quoted as saying seemed completely off.

Maybe “bitter” fits more folks than we thought? 👿

4 06 2008
Meg

Shoot, our librarians LOVE it when I put a bunch of homschool related stuff on hold. Usually I’ll take a topic and run through their catalog requesting EVERY thing that looks like it will fit the bill.

Then, after they collect them for me, I browse through the pile and pull the ones we want, returning the rest. They like it because it shows high patron use and often pulls unused books off the shelves, keeping them circulating.

4 06 2008
JJ

Hmmm, maybe there’s been some bad local incidents with homeschool book-banning censor types, at the public and/or school libraries? Librarians identify strongly with the First Amendment and take their own professional responsibilities for community-approropriate book selection very seriously.

So could that make a librarian resent “homeschoolers” generally, enough to spout ridiculous reasoning like this?

This is so much like the ill-founded grumbling we hear about homeschoolers unfairly sucking scarce resources by parttime participation in school coursework, music, sports, etc — except even less logical. Maybe it’s more like the ranting about immigrants?

4 06 2008
Nance Confer

There are so many hsers around here you’d think we’d feel the blowback if there was any sort of resentment. But, like Meg, we get nothing but positive feedback.

Heck, our librarians solicited a letter from me when I complained about a mystery that wasn’t marked “religious” and actually followed up with the little stickers I asked for. Not a hsing issue, but they actually listened! Maybe it’s just a surprise when anybody does! 🙂

Seriously, the librarians here fall all over themselves to be helpful and greet DD by name in some branches!

Unfortunately, they have had to close our closest branch one day a week because our brilliant citizenry voted themselves a property tax cut recently. Sigh. . .

4 06 2008
JJ

Nance, where did your lovely summery flipflops go?

(Eliminated in the latest round of budget cutbacks perhaps?) 😉

4 06 2008
JJ

Hmmm – thinking more about this, I’m wondering if the librarian was really resenting the schools more than the homeschoolers, because she felt the library budget was being strained by school-type material needs that the schools rightfully ought to cover with THEIR budgets, and in these shortfall times when her colleagues are being laid off and the hours for her system’s operation are being lost, she feels the schools rather than the public libraries should cover any homeschooler curriculum type needs?

4 06 2008
NanceConfer

Hmmm. . . maybe so. Irrational resentments are pretty hard to figure out. 🙂

You’d think any demand on her time would be welcome — more job security.

Who knows. . .

And my flip-flops just have a mind of their own too, I guess. 🙂

Nance

4 06 2008
JJ

Just now I flashed on what happened to my boyfriend after high school graduation. His father moved from UF to the University of Colorado and Boyfriend married a hippie-girl in a grannie dress up in the mountains. I visited them once when I flew to Denver for a national school administrators’ conference, and he’d really gone a bit around the bend for my taste (in my dress-for-success years), dropped out of college and the job market, living in a cabin with a big black beard like Grizzly Adams while his grannie-wife combed the white hair from their Alaskan Husky to weave with it! She made candles too, as I recall and they were having a baby. I left in my hose and heels, leather briefcase clutched to my chest, counting myself SO lucky for not hooking up with that lifestyle for keeps. He was happy and so was I but not in the same world at all!

Anyway, the real reason this amuses me is that it wasn’t the last time I saw him. By our 20th high school reunion, he came back to Gainesville a changed man indeed! He’d gone back to school, working as a liquor store manager to pay the bills, and now no longer married, he was clean-shaven with close-cropped business hair, dapper draped slacks and European shoes, talking like Norman Vincent Peale or Jerry Maguire’s mentor — Human Resources VP for a major computer company and flying all over the world (can you calculate the carbon footprint, boys and girls?)

Meanwhile I’d become a stay-at-home mom for Favorite Daughter, who was two-and-a-half I think, and was beginning to rethink what the heck I’d been doing with my career, when I could be educating my own child instead.

Again, we both were happy but again, not in the same world — at the same time! 😉

11 12 2008
Wonder Bread, Twinkies and My Father’s Oldsmobiles « Cocking A Snook!

[…] like My Father’s Oldsmobiles, I thought drowsily. We always had GM cars when I was growing up, and they always broke down when […]

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