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There is a school choice revolution under your nose
Why don’t we hear about it in a positive light?
Why do we cling to the rows of chairs, the focus drugs, and the factory bells to educate our children?
We know kids learn best when they’re allowed to tap into the mechanism we evolved to help us learn (play). So why do we cling to the idea that proper learning takes place in buildings with the same architectural charm and interpersonal warmth as prisons? Do we have a collective case of Stockholm syndrome?
As a culture, we have bonded over the notion that "school sucks." So many movies are about teenagers learning to overcome the pain school causes. In some sense, we have trauma bonded with our public schools.
But that's not the reason school choice isn’t mainstream news.
Really, nobody in power benefits from you having a happy and empowered kid.
That's a bold claim we want to back up carefully.
Don’t be a conspiracy theorist
We don’t have to argue that a conspiratorial cabal of powerful people is laughing madly as they keep you disempowered with chemtrails and fluoride.
Patterns of power play out without anyone having to twirl mustaches in smoky back rooms.
Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s book, "Manufacturing Consent," presents concrete evidence that news outlets (like the New York Times) conveniently leave out stories that might be damaging to their advertisers or their government.
One concrete example they use to illustrate their point is the stark difference in media coverage given to the atrocities in Cambodia under the Pol Pot regime versus the atrocities in East Timor under Indonesian occupation. Both of these human rights crises occurred in the same time frame - the mid to late 1970s - but the media coverage was heavily skewed.
The Cambodia genocide was widely reported in the U.S. media, which aligned with the U.S. government's agenda. However, the concurrent genocide in East Timor, where the Indonesian government (a U.S. ally) killed hundreds of thousands of East Timorese, received little media attention.
What they are implying is not that there is a "conspiracy department" at the New York Times, but, like water seeking its own level, power tends to reinforce itself through subtle changes in the behavior and incentives of everyone involved.
There are only so many stories that can be covered. While no one is "trying" to cover up stories (in some cases, anyway), the net effect is what you would expect – stories that hurt the powerful are left out — no grand conspiracy required.
You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that the news media does not have your best interest at heart. That is just how the patterns of power tend to play out.
And, in the case of the school choice movement, the news media stands to gain absolutely nothing from the independence, power, and freedom of the family unit. On the other hand, it gains everything from protecting the established power of The Department of Education, high-level administrators, teachers' unions, and the universities.
We repeatedly and clearly see the outcomes for public education are bad and getting worse, while the outcomes for many alternative education options are far better. By understanding how power preservation works, we can finally make sense of why this isn't headline news every single night: nobody in power stands to gain from it.
We’re not silent
We considered titling this piece "The silent education revolution," but we decided that it didn't quite fit — because the people involved are anything but silent. But they are still struggling to be heard.
Or, they are caricatured or parodied for what they believe.
When "alternative" education comes up in the mainstream media, usually shortly afterward, you see homeschooled kids who can't tell you what 4x4 is, but they believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. "Don't let this happen!" the media implies. "We need public schools to prevent this kind of ignorance."
The story of the "backward homeschooled kid" is so salient and understandable. It's an extremely viral idea. But kids like that are statistical outliers. A 2017 study published in the journal "Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences" found that homeschooled students often outperform their peers on standardized tests. Similarly, a 2015 study in the "Journal of School Choice" found that homeschooled students scored between the 70th and 80th percentile on standardized math and reading tests, well above the national average.
The public school system is much, much more efficient at instilling ignorance.
For example, thanks to an intellectual fad in the school system, we taught kids to read with the "whole word method," which was so wrong and backward that millions of perfectly capable kids never learned to read. An oddly high portion (21% read below a 5th-grade level) of adults today are effectively illiterate.
Stories of the Appalachian homeschoolers who don't know the earth revolves around the sun but have memorized the entire Bible might be more viscerally catchy. But they don’t represent the real problem with American education.
Powerful people using the news media to bury stories or ideas that don't benefit them, and the failures of public education don’t get the attention they deserve. Public education is in a downward spiral, and yet nobody seems to be able to form a coherent solution that gains widespread appeal. Suddenly, it all makes sense.
Any parent (or future parent) reading this should feel empowered to ignore the fear that your kid "will not learn the right things" or "won't be socialized properly" if you take their education into your own hands.
Statistically, those claims just aren't true.
Convincing the in-laws
We understand that facts like that don't convince your neighbors, co-workers, and other parents that you're doing the right thing. Let’s not downplay it – that's a big hurdle. Public education is what is “normal” to do.
That’s why we’re putting together these articles and gathering all these experts on education, ex-teachers, and change-makers. We want to make the careful consideration of better, nonstandard opportunities to educate your children “normal.”
By cramming your child into a box not designed for them, the institutional school system crushes the genius out of them. That’s not theoretical: we’ve seen a decline in genius in the last decades.
What is missing is not a “better” public school. It’s choice. And not the choices of administrators or politicians but choices for parents.
When we invest taxpayer dollars in education, they should be in the hands of concerned parents, not bureaucrats beholden to powers that don’t care about your kid.
The institutional education system was a parasite on the hope for a brighter future people held in the early 20th century. The powerful people who set up the system exploited this optimism to established a system explicitly designed to stamp out people’s free will. We inherit their legacy. But we can change it.
Let's take the optimism we have for a brighter future and, this time, allow each of us to make our own choices about how to get there.
Let’s let parents decide how to educate their children.
That revolution is happening under your nose. If you have the ability, join it now. Take your kid out of public school. Contact us about finding alternatives and accessing public funds.
Hopefully, pretty soon, school choice will seem more normal than public school. Help us spread the word.
Thanks for reading,
Taylor + rebelEducator team
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