Homeschooling was the topic of a recent of edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with Sen. Ron Paul as guest. Paul expressed his hope that more people would choose homeschooling. “I want people to be able to homeschool their children. Not everybody is designed to pick out the leaders who want to, and maybe 20 percent might be interested in doing this.”
Paul’s lofty goal of 20% of families homeschooling their children would obviously revolutionize American education and have a dramatic impact on families. According to the federal government, the percent of homeschooled children in the United States is currently in the single digits.
But rather than focusing on education, MSNBC Morning Joe commentator Katty Kay worried that bringing all those children home with their mothers would deal a devastating blow to opportunities for women in the workplace.
Twenty percent of children being homeschooled — that’s going to mean a vast drop in the number of women in the work force because it’s largely women who are doing the homeschooling. A lot of women can’t afford to give up their jobs. A lot of families can’t afford that and do we actually want to be encouraging women not to take part of the work force because we know how valuable that diversity is. I’m just, I’m concerned about advocating homeschooling on this level when women are having such a hard time already, staying in the work force.
Did you ever notice that liberals are all “for the children” until it comes to sacrificing their personal desires or their beloved “diversity,” which apparently ranks higher than “the children” in these debates? With the current state of the American family, the decline of the culture, the behemoth welfare state, and the soaring incarceration rates, should diversity in the workplace even be a consideration in the decision about whether or not to homeschool?
Whether she intended to or not, MSNBC host Katty Kay touched on an issue so politically incorrect that you can’t even mention it in polite company — the fact that increased gender diversity in the workplace has resulted in fewer women being able to choose to stay home with their kids. The gender diversity we now see is the result of government policies that, while well-intended, have made it more difficult for mothers to stay home with their children and more difficult to make the choice to homeschool. In his book, The Family in America, Allan Carlson explains some of the history of how we got to where we are today. He notes a shift in the Family Wage Ratio, which divides the median income of the households with working wives by the median income of households where the wives are not employed.
Note that this ratio was quite stable between 1951 and 1969… This was a time when culturally sustained job segregation by gender (“men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs”) reinforced the breadwinner/homemaker family, reserving the higher paid positions for husbands and fathers.
Carlson said that after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made gender discrimination illegal the ratio changed, but not necessarily to the benefit of the family.
Overall, total family hours devoted to paid employment each week rose by over 50 percent between 1970 and 1998. Yet the real median family income for these dual income households rose by only 31 percent. Among one-income households, average real income declined between 1970 and 1993…It is reasonable to assume that the collapse of the family wage regime contributed.
In other words, when men and women began competing for the same jobs and women left their homes for the workplace, one-income families saw an overall decline in their incomes as higher salaries for jobs traditionally reserved for male breadwinners disappeared. And income for dual-income families rose, but disproportionately with the amount of time mothers now spent outside the home.
Carlson sites several other social factors that have resulted in the decline of the family and concludes that:
There is compelling evidence that these dramatic changes in American social life have been linked, in turn, to a rise in juvenile crime, a sharp increase in the incidence of drug abuse, the decay in the educational performance of youth, a sharp rise in youth suicide, and (in part) soaring levels of health care costs.
Is the idea of mothers leaving the workplace to homeschool their children completely unrealistic? Perhaps not.
A survey by Forbes last year found that many women aren’t choosing to work outside the home simply for their own fulfillment or to further their careers — or to increase workplace diversity. Rather, out of 1000 women surveyed, 69% said they felt financial pressure to provide income for their families. More than a third of working moms (36%) said that they sometimes resented their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home with their children. Half of working moms said that their happiness would increase if they were able to stay home with their kids while only 19% of stay-at-home moms thought their happiness would increase if they worked outside the home.
Carlson sees the rise of homeschooling as a positive change that can strengthen the American family. “But the more important effects of homeschooling related to family life. Simply put, home-schooling families were measurably stronger.” He said the family in America’s future may rest, in part, on whether homeschooling is “the start of a broad movement to rebuild families by making them functional once again” or if it’s part of a retreat into sheltered communities.
To be sure, asking 20 percent of families to homeschool is not a modest goal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate for mothers with children under the age of 18 is 70%. It’s a terrifying prospect for many families to think about giving up one income. For some, it’s simply not possible in our current economy.
There are many factors families must evaluate when determining if homeschooling is a good option for them. But sacrificing your children on the altar of “diversity” in the workplace? How do you explain that to your kids when they’re in a really lousy school, getting a poor education, and being bullied by their teachers? “Mommy has to make sure that boys don’t get all the good jobs, so you’re just going to have to take one for the team. Someday, when you’re a woman, you’ll understand.”
They may not be able to read, but they’ll understand.