After having a heck of a time falling asleep last night, I was awakened at roughly 4:17 a.m. with an elbow to the eye socket.
Jim didn't mean to do it, and the eye didn't blacken. (Good thing, because we're going to a party on Saturday and I would've hated having to offer explanations and dodge sympathetic looks.) But after finally getting back to sleep--not an easy thing to do with a throbbing supraorbital process--I was plunged into a horrible "anxiety" dream... really more of an "annoyance" dream than anything else.
I was in a classroom at a church. A stereotypical church classroom, with brown carpet, concrete-block walls and that weird musty smell that only church classrooms recently overpopulated by legions of middle-grade children ever seem to have. And I was stuck in some sort of dreadful "human potential" class with people talking about getting in touch with their inner spirit guides and the Earth Soul and the like.
So I looked around to figure out what kind of church it was, to see if I could speak up against this intellectual travesty without getting beaten. I figured it was probably a Unitarian Universalist church, and they're cool with pretty much whatever you want to believe (or not), and I could feel myself getting ready to shout "I don't believe any of this!" Then I picked up a flyer lying on a chair next to me and read the name of the church... it was an ASSEMBLY OF GOD.
Cue waking up screaming. Well, not screaming, but in an absolute pisser of a mood. Which almost kept me in bed for the morning, but then I heard this truly awful irregular knocking noise and I had to get up and figure out what it was. (It was the neighbor splitting wood on his front porch. Blargh.)
Cut to an hour or so later, as I sit at my computer and browse through my regular round of blogs. Notice that the HEM "News & Commentary" blog has a mention of another blogger's writeup about John and Elizabeth Edwards homeschooling their daughters; click over to read the original post--a newsy and interesting writeup. Then I get to the comments. And feel the smoke slowly start to curl out of my ears.
The Edwardses have chosen to take their daughters out of school and hire a tutor, who keeps the girls on track with their regular public school assignments and is in daily contact with their classroom teachers. They wanted to have the option of bringing their daughters along for multi-day trips on the campaign trail, and they felt "[we] shouldn't be pulling them out willy-nilly just because that's a convenient time for you, even if we could get away with it, it would leave the impression that our children were entitled to special treatment and we do not think that." And, naturally, someone else "resent[s] this being called homeschooling.... Mrs. Edwards, like most politicians, is trying to win votes with one group (homeschoolers) while not offending another (public school teachers)."
Good. Freaking. Lord.
In my long (ha) and illustrious (ha ha) career as a homeschooler, I've discovered that this one thing both sets me apart from lots of homeschoolers and makes me very very angry. I am NOT anti-public school. I do NOT think that people who send their children to public school are somehow failing their children, or that they are not as good of parents as I am.* (In many cases, they're probably far better parents... sigh.) And I am 100% uninterested in determining for anyone else what homeschooling is or isn't.
You want to sign your kids up for a virtual school where they'll learn all about the Babylonian Empire courtesy of Bill Bennett? Fine. You want to send your kids to public school half-days so they'll qualify for football or cheerleading or whatever else godawful thing I would personally avoid like the plague? No skin off my bony nose. You want to let your kids squander their valuable childhood screwing around with Legos and occasionally reading you a book (as is my unschooly wont)? Swell. You want to hire a tutor for your children to keep them abreast of what's going on back in their classroom school so you'll have the opportunity to take them with you on the campaign trail when you see fit? Rock on. But no matter which of these choices you make, someone in the homeschooling "community" is going to make it her (yeah, usually "her") business to snipe at you.
And then when Elizabeth Edwards speaks honestly about what she thinks of homeschooling--namely, that there are some fantastic homeschool experiences and some which are probably less than amazing... oddly enough, I feel the same way--she's accused of pandering to the homeschooler vote. Derrrr. First off, the homeschooler vote is not really large enough to worry about, honestly. Secondly, most homeschoolers, sadly, are already drinking the Ron Paul and/or Mike Huckabee Kool-Aid. Those who aren't leaning toward one of these candidates for their own Christian conservative reasons are probably not single-issue voters for whom a candidate's stated position on homeschooling is going to be a make-or-break deal. (Those would be those of us who are more concerned about things like the economy... health care... Iraq... civil rights and civil liberties... you know, those issues that affect more than one-half of one percent of American families.**) And thirdly, as I think I might have implied above, the hard-core politicized homeschooler crowd is so inflamed by anything they see as an intimated criticism of homeschooling that they would vote against, not for, anyone who suggested that perhaps raising your children to be ignorant of any scientific or historical fact that contradicts the Bible in any way is less than a wonderful thing.
So I guess now I have to turn in my Real Homeschooler (tm) badge. That's OK... maybe Elizabeth Edwards will send me a Real Crankypants (tm) badge to make up for it. I think that one would look better pinned next to the "WTF?" button on my jacket anyway.
*I think there is no way to give this last clause perfect singular-plural-subject-verb agreement all around without introducing far too many prepositions to the mix. Go ahead and try it if you like.
**this figure is 100%-guaranteed pulled out of my butt