Some people say that you have to be privileged to homeschool. Only white, Christian, rich, educated & socially empowered people can afford teach their children at home. This can tear down the confidence of people who don’t fit in that narrow category.
I’ve already dealt with the demographics of homeschoolers. 41% of homeschoolers are people of color. Homeschooling parents have a wide range of education levels and homeschooling families are more likely to be below the poverty line than non-homeschooling families. Homeschoolers are ethnically, economically and educationally diverse.
So, what is that “privilege” based on?
These days most people talk about privilege as “an inherent advantage that is built into the system for the benefit of a defined group of people.” Let’s use that as a definition and see where privilege lies in the education system.
- What if a group had virtually all their education costs subsidized by the general population – even families without kids?
- What if the standardized national tests were geared toward a specific model of education?
- What if a certain population was given their own libraries, labs, computer pools and subsidized Internet connections?
- What if the whole society was bent on improving the way that group taught?
- What if that group had so much social credibility that no one seriously questioned their existence?
If a single group had that many advantages, wouldn’t you call them “privileged”? Wouldn’t you say those benefits are inherent in the system?
If you agree with that, you can see that the truly privileged group in our society are public schoolers!
All the benefits mentioned above that are built into the government school system. Schools are funded by taxes levied on the entire population (not just public school families). The standardized tests are based on public school curricula expectations. Public schools have resources available to them that aren’t accessible to the rest of the population. No one ever questions why parents send their children to an institution all day to receive a mediocre education. And improving schools is a perennial topic on ballots across the nation.
Compare that to the situation of homeschoolers:
- Homeschoolers pay taxes that support the public schools and also have to pay for their own materials.
- Standardized tests don’t account for the different teaching and evaluation methods used by homeschoolers. In many forms of homeschooling, tests aren’t even administered!
- Homeschoolers don’t have access to most public-school equipment and resources. Instead, homeschoolers often have to pool their resources to acquire expensive equipment.
- The homeschooling community is regularly subjected to attacks based on false information. Think of all the red herrings used to argue against homeschooling. We published an 40+-page guide answering challenges to homeschooling. There are that many objections and accusations!
So, rather than claim that homeschoolers are all privileged, people should be talking about privilege enjoyed by public schoolers and the inherent power they have over the education system.
The next time you hear someone tell you that homeschoolers are all privileged, you can address their arguments head on. Homeschooling is an ethnically, economically, and educationally diverse group of families. There are no inherent benefits in our society for homeschoolers – in fact, there is a legion of naysayers that oppose the educational style.
Nevertheless, homeschooling is within reach of most families. Don’t let the opposition wear you down. Homeschooling your children is an opportunity that you don’t want to miss!
Mike is a co-founder of Homeschool Awakening where he devised the HEART diagnostic and writes a lot. A father of 5 and homeschooling for more than 15 years, he has been in the trenches and understands the thrills and challenges. When he is not writing, he is typically on an adventure with his family.
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