Quoting Quiverfull: Public Schooling is Always Mediocre?

by Carma from her blog Winging It and Ladies Against Feminism – Put Your Own Mask on First in response to an article at Salon – Private school vs. public school: If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person

The gist of Ms. Benedikt’s article is the point she intends to make, which is:

But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

So, let’s follow this argument logically: We should force every child to attend public school where they all will, according to Ms. Benedikt, receive a mediocre education. They will grow up with this mediocre education. With this mediocre education they will in their turn become the teachers and policymakers of the future. Then, armed solely with the strength of that mediocre education, they will somehow … make education better.

I don’t know about you, but I smell the burning synapses of a cognitive disconnect there.

Anyone who has ever flown on a plane knows the truth about this claim. Just in case you forgot what your friendly flight attendant told you last time:

Put Your Own Mask on First!

When the oxygen is being sucked out of the plane, you don’t struggle to get a mask on your hysterical toddler. He could possibly fight until you both pass out, and then neither of you gets any oxygen. But if you get your own mask on first, you’ve got what you need to take care of him, even if he does end up passing out for a moment. Once that is done, you can look around the plane and see who else needs help with a mask.

The best outcome Ms. Benedikt can envision is a generation or three spiraling downward in an educational freefall, at which point …

(¨*•.¸.¸.•*¨) sparkly magic happens (¨*•.¸.¸.•*¨)

… and we pull out of it with a better educational system at the end.

How about instead, if your child is struggling in school in some way – due to bullying, or behavioral problems, or poor grades, or really miserably hating it, or even brilliant and being held back – you get the oxygen mask on your own family first. Get him into private school or homeschool. Fix her problem and you are a step closer to fixing the school’s problem.

Healthy, well-adjusted kids grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults who will be able to help others. Self-educated kids raised outside the system will grow into self-motivated adults who think outside the system and will come up with new, creative, better ways to help their communities.

I don’t know about private school vs. public school, but it’s already been demonstrated clearly that adults who were homeschooled are more involved in community service than their public school peers: 71% participate in an ongoing community service activity compared to 37% of U.S. adults of similar ages.

Compare that to Ms. Benedikt’s idea of forcing everyone into a mandatory dumbed-down government education. I don’t know about you, but I’m unfamiliar with many downward spirals that end in large, overall improvements.


Comments open below

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • http://winging-it.me Carma

    Hi, I’m Carma from Winging It. I appreciate the shout-out. I’m not familiar with your column so I may be misunderstanding the “Quoting Quiverfull” title, but just FYI I am not and never have been in the Quiverfull world or mindset. I am in no way affiliated with the “Ladies Against Feminism” blog, which quoted my article last week.

    Also, regarding the title: neither Ms. Benedikt nor I said public schooling is always mediocre. We both agree that currently there are stellar, mediocre, and poor examples of public education; it’s just that we disagree on what the results would be of a generation or two of forced public education for all.

  • JeanPing

    I thought you wrote a pretty good response to that goofy clickbait of a column. Her logic…well, I don’t think that word means what she thinks it means. :)

    I look forward to seeing what she says 6-8 years from now, after she spends a few years trying to change the system from within (apparently her oldest is 4?). Many of my friends started off as staunch public-school supporters, energetically devoting their time to the school. Several of them homeschool now. And I live in a pretty good school district.

  • Saraquill
  • brbr2424

    I would like to see the statistic on community participation excluding church activities. Being involved in a church that you are a member of, full of people like yourself is not community participation anymore than being a member of a white supremest militia is community participation. Every person I encounter in my community – coaches, PTA members, street cleanup, are all publicly schooled and have public school children.

    This is the same twisting of statistics as saying The right wing is more charitable. Take out the church tithing and membership dues and lets see which group is more charitable. Despite the fact that the IRS lets people deduct payments to their church as charity, those payments don’t serve the community in any substantive way.

  • Angela

    I’m torn. I do think that our public schools need help and that the problems will only worsen if everyone with money and influence jumps ship. I also would have a hard time throwing my child under the bus out of principle. It would be one thing if my child was attending a mediocre public school but was thriving despite the lack of Mandarin or AP Calculus, but what if he were floundering and the school was refusing to work with us? What if the public school in my area was overrun with drugs and gangs to the point that it wasn’t a safe environment? Not to mention that every child is different and that even if we lived in an excellent school district (and there are several) there’s no guarantee that it would be able to meet my individual child’s needs.

    Also, I think there’s other ways to bring about educational reform. For one thing I’d like to see equalization of funding so that poor students get just as much invested into their education as the wealthy ones. And I’d like to see a widening of social safety nets so that more parents are able to get involved without worrying about working 3 jobs to keep food on the table. I don’t believe that people who opt out of public schooling should get any kind of break in their taxes either and would be willing to pay higher taxes in general in order to raise teachers’ salaries, decrease class sizes, etc.

  • gimpi1

    That’s exactly what I was thinking, brbr2424. I don’t count tithing as charity, it’s membership dues. I don’t regard missionary work as public service, it’s public-relations. I don’t believe working for your church is community involvement, unless what your church does actually benefits the community. Some churches are very active in community-service, soup-kitchens, homeless shelters, and such, all open to the community-at-large. Most churches, however, spend most of their money on themselves – on buildings, salaries, and on helping out members of the church. That’s not charity or community service. That’s investing in your membership.

  • http://winging-it.me Carma

    It would be interesting to see those statistics, but you appear to be making a drawing a false dichotomy here: namely, that all homeschoolers are Christian and involved in church activities, and conversely that there are no Christians in public school and therefore no public schoolers involved in church activities, and that is what accounts for these numbers.

    Emphatically, all homeschoolers are not Christian. It’s about the same proportion of Christian/nonchristian as are in public schools. I am a Christian and a homeschooler, but in my personal homeschooling circle the Christians are very outnumbered by the nons. Certainly the Christian portion of homeschooling is generally the more vocal in the public arena, but that does not automatically make them the more numerous.

    So the stats you really want to see – since you cannot automatically assign church activity as the cause of higher community participation in homeschoolers, and lack of church activity as the cause of lower participation from public schoolers – are Christian public schoolers compared to Christian homeschoolers, and also nonchristian public schoolers compared to nonchristian homeschoolers.