Homeschool Headline: We are Rich, White and Shifty!

29 05 2009

Making the homeschool parent blog rounds this week is a USA Today screamer: Profound shift in kind of families who are home schooling their children!

Stop the presses! We’ve been homeschooling for two decades and I’ve got the journalism background AND the education background, and I MISSED this?? What the heck happened to profoundly change my peers while I was home being my unshifting self?

Home schooling has grown most sharply for higher-income families. In 1999, 63.6% of home-schooling families earned less than $50,000. Now 60.0% earn more than $50,000.

So 36% of homeschooling families were above that income level in 1999; eight years later, 60% are? But consider, over that eight-year period, what was the change in real value of $50,000? And from another US census report, it looks like U.S. real median income increases by 1% to 2% per year including all families, not just homeschooling families:

Real median household income in the United States climbed 1.3 percent between 2006 and 2007, reaching $50,233, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the third annual increase in real median household income.

In other words, homeschooling families tend to cluster around the real median income. So what’s “profound” or even any sort of “shift” again? I think USA Today must have been really hard up for a story . . .what I’m trying to figure out now is why this one particularly appealed.

Was it a “positive” economic trend they could spin to make readers feel a bit better off in these cash-crashing times, or maybe the newspaper as corporation sees profundity in its own story, and thinks we are a more attractive and well-heeled demographic for their advertisers now than homeschooling was before?

Is that it, do they believe their own staff’s misinterpretation of the data? Too bad if so — if their own survival is the underlying motivation, it seems to me the profound shift they need to be studying and reporting on, is the one in newspaper economics, not homeschool household economics.

And really, what’s profound about these “shifts” either?

Among the other findings:

•3.9% of white families home-school, up from 2% in 1999.

•6.8% of college-educated parents home-school, up from 4.9% in 1999.

So 98% of white families did not homeschool before; eight years later, omigosh, profound change alert, now 96.1% do not homeschool. Stop the presses again!

And ninety-some percent of homeschooling parents didn’t have college degrees before, and they still don’t? Or maybe it means almost all college-educated parents continue to choose not to homeschool? Either way, hardly profound or even a shift, not news nor any kind of positive imo — and certainly that is not government reporting *I* want the American public repeatedly reading and thinking about.

From another US census study:

The tables also show that in 2008, 29 percent of adults 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree. . . That compares with 24 percent of adults who had a bachelor’s degree in 1998.

(No wonder the general public feels unchanged the need to regulate homeschooling parents as teachers of the next generation. This report doesn’t say we’re well-educated, it says exactly the opposite!)

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22 responses

29 05 2009
Dana

And here’s the really exciting part..,of all the topics covered in the report, they choose to write about the little bit based on data from a survey in 2007. It was released last year. Why is it news now?

29 05 2009
Principled Discovery » My failure as a homeschool mom

[…] Cocking a Snook also has a thing or two to say about the newspaper’s reporting. […]

29 05 2009
JJ

Right — and if I were scouring US Census data for news stories to blog about, what about:

“For each of the 50 states, women had lower median earnings than men in the 2007 ACS.”

or

“The number of uninsured children declined from 8.7 million (11.7 percent) in 2006 to 8.1 million (11.0 percent) in 2007. ”

More than one of every ten children in the whole nation are uninsured. So who cares what fraction of these children — America’s children, not only their parents’ children — are homeschooling, really? It’s not that our culture is inaccurate or factually wrong, it’s that we have no judgment or sense of proportion. That’s what real education is supposed to provide, the ability to think more critically, to weigh and consider comparisons, contrasts and contradictions, etc.

And if as is painfully apparent, our educational approach as a nation isn’t providing that, not even for government researchers and Fourth Estate professionals, then THAT to me is the profound story well-educated parents should be talking about! 😉

29 05 2009
JJ

Not to be snarky but quite seriously, because it matters that “we” think much better than this — homeschool blogger dad Henry Cates speculating in a national newspaper about mean girls and wealthy folks being more inclined to take risks, or whatever all that personalized spitballing was, doesn’t help!

Our big problem as a demographic is our public reputation being a few notches below Sarah Palin [shudder] in education, reasoning, debate, private parenting and public policy problem-solving ability. And it’s no wonder, when our collective response to such news stories is so ignorant, not ignorant of factoids we grab from thin air and throw around or short on personal conceits to toss in with them, but of how to really read a newspaper, how to really understand government reports, how to study a study much less conduct one ourselves, how to hold several relevant ideas or issues in one’s mind at the same time and make productive sense of them, instead of going off on some rant about how persecuted and misunderstood we are. And then saying god has it all planned out anyway so who cares.

And the worst part is that we don’t know what we don’t know, and strut around like cocks of the walk while as a group we just sound like blithering idiots most of the time. If one of us — okay, usually me! 😉 — dares point this out and suggest ways we could educate ourselves (without school) to do much better and benefit from the resulting improvement in public attitudes toward us, the response to THAT is tarring, feathering and riding that person — yeah, usually me, sigh — out of town on a rail as a homeschool heretic.

This happens to me with liberal public school defenders too, though. My description of the problem is that the entire citizenry ought to wise up:

And if we can’t, or won’t, if we think learning to think better is stupid at best, or a conspiracy to derail our singleminded pursuit of our own education hobbyhorses at worst, methinks we really have no business pretending to be advocates for “education” in any form . . .

So I’m not picking on homeschool parents only, much less just on Henry Cates. But I’d have to say after years of my own field work and analysis, that homeschooling does have a glaring education problem and it’s not the kids, it’s us; we won’t educate ourselves in problem-solving for our own best public interest. Unchanging perhaps but profound.

29 05 2009
Nance Confer

Darn! I thought I was going to be rich! Damned facts! 🙂

Nance

29 05 2009
JJ

Don’t blame the facts, maybe that’s what you get for kissing before marriage? 😉

29 05 2009
COD

Of course, the actual evidence (not that anybody there cares about facts) shows that Christians are more likely to end up divorced than non-Christians. I doubt there is any data for the “never been kissed” subculture but how can it not lead to a high incidence of divorce? These kids are getting married at 18 and 19 just so they can get lucky without endangering their souls.

29 05 2009
JJ

Well, it’s not likely to be compatible with unschooling, which as far as I’m concerned, mainly involves saying yes instead of no. 🙂

30 05 2009
boremetotears

The “Virgin Lips Movement” 😐

30 05 2009
JJ

I thought Lynn was being wise, but that’s really what it’s called!
True lips wait.

30 05 2009
JJ

Since we’ve got all these statistics on home education and grade levels of parent education, etc, I wonder what future US census data will report to the public re: sexual abstinence education shifts and particularly the virgin lips “counterrevolution”. . .

30 05 2009
Crimson Wife

I’m pretty darned conservative when it comes to sexual morality but even I think the “no kissing before marriage” thing is too Puritanical. Abstinence before marriage? Absolutely. Courtship instead of dating? Okay, I can see the merits of that (though I don’t care for the patriarchal version that requires asking the father’s permission first). No kissing even during the engagement period? Give me a break!

I don’t buy the argument that kissing is a “gateway drug” to sex. I’ve kissed multiple boys/men in my life but have only ever been intimate with my DH.

30 05 2009
Crimson Wife

And in terms of the divorce rate among Christians, it varies quite a bit by denomination. Lutherans and Catholics have a rate that’s lower than the U.S. average (21% vs. 25%), the same as atheists/agnostics. Mainline Protestants have exactly the average rate. Baptists have one that’s slightly higher than average (27%). Nondenominational Evangelicals have a very much higher one (39%).

Jews average 30% (likely dragged up by the high percentage of interfaith marriages, 50% of which fail). Mormons are at 24%.

30 05 2009
boremetotears

re: “Virgin Lips Movement” and “I thought Lynn was being wise, but that’s really what it’s called!”

Actually, I restrained myself from bringing up “Virgin Lips” while referencing a recent off-color exchange w/Nance about “the God hole.” 😐

30 05 2009
boremetotears

re: purity lips and convenant marriage “counter-cultural” movements

Well, I wasn’t going to public with this but… I watched the Duggar Family Wedding tv special. This was the episode where Duggar son, Joshua, and his betrothed, Anna, were married – after never having kissed – or even spent time alone together unchaperoned. During the ceremony, Joshua’s father-in-law transfered ownership of Anna to Joshua – and Anna pledged to submit to Josh as her new father figure. She had also taken a public vow to bear as many children as the Lord wills. Wheeling their suitcases behind them, they got to the room. Joshua swiped his key card to open the door; they entered the room where they would be expected to engage in marital intercourse…. It was the most unromantic, anti-climactic wedding I’ve ever seen. Actually, I think I do laundry looking more enthusiastic than Anna did going off to have sex for the first time.

30 05 2009
JJ

Lynn, how did they get bethrothed, if you know? Was there patriarchial planning involved?

30 05 2009
JJ

Kids have their big dance/musical theatre recital tomorrow afternoon and today was dress rehearsal at the theatre. More on that later (Young Son is The Cat in the Hat with this big baritone voice coming our of his 13-year-old body, so strange! But it was great for the Shakespeare. . .)

Anyway, driving home after, I had NPR on the car radio and heard an interview with the college-aged author of a new book, “The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University.” Apparently he went “undercover” for a semester at Liberty U, living in the dorms and even attending a campus support group called “Every Man’s Curse” or something like that, to help masturbating evangelical celibates cut out even that . . . sounds like a book for our list?

In the interview he said he realized that he (from his secular background and Brown U) and these Liberty kids could barely communicate at all, had to work really, really hard at it.
And I thought about how hard we homeschool parents of good will, have to work at it. 🙂

“I had never really come into contact with conservative Christian culture,” he says. “It became clear very quickly that we had almost no way to communicate with each other.”

He decided to investigate. “My goal was to see the real, unfiltered picture of life at Liberty University,” he says. Even though his method required deception, Roose says the intent was honest. It “really did allow me to get a more accurate — and actually a fairer picture — of what life at Liberty was like.”

30 05 2009
JJ

I’m pretty sure the Founding Fathers were rather more reckless than this with their lips (never mind the rest of their um, gifts!) and shouldn’t that be the public school and Americana education standard, rather than any interpretation of the Bible?

30 05 2009
JJ

Here’s an excerpt from The Unlikely Disciple.

30 05 2009
boremetotears

Unlikely Disciple author: “It became clear very quickly that we had almost no way to communicate with each other” and CW: “nondenominational Evangelicals have a very much higher (divorce rate).”

I’ve always wondered if the higher divorce rate among evangelicals is due to one partner converting (or de-converting) when suddenly mismatched (“unequally yoked”) couples find themselves living in completely separate worlds. I think it’s why spouses (like “atheist-turned-believer” author, Lee Strobel?) suddenly “find Jesus” after a spouse does; it’s either that or divorce.

I’m sorry I don’t know more about the story of “Joshua and Anna.” I do remember Anna’s father talking the talk of biblical patriarchy, but it’s the only episode I’ve seen.

30 05 2009
betty malone

JJ, I constantly hear the same NPR reference as you…and want to read the book.

It sounds like this young man really had a great attitude, not out to search and destroy the kids at Liberty, but to just see what they were like. And he still has friends he made there..very cool..which means that they found a way to communicate and still are..and that’s what it seems the point of his book might be..how to talk to others that have such a different viewpoint..and still remain true to our own self..

It’s a path that we constantly maneuver here in our homeschool world in central Indiana.

31 05 2009
JJ

I thought that too, Betty. 🙂
Very Obamania.

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