Conservatives will continue to appear brave enough to think big, posing bold solutions to society’s problems (charter schools, eliminating teacher tenure, instituting merit pay), while progressives defend the status quo. What intrigues me about the history of radical pedagogy and the unschooling tradition is that its proponents were and are not afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom, to dream of different ways of doing things, to take seriously words like “freedom,” “autonomy,” and “choice”—inspiring and important ideals that have been all but ceded to the political right in recent decades.
[M]y Slate piece was not about the benefits or drawbacks of homeschooling for particular families or children. Rather, my piece was about the educational needs of society at-large. To clarify my own position, I do not think homeschooling should be illegal, and I acknowledge it may be the best option for a relatively small population of disabled and special-needs kids. My own belief is that when it comes to the typical child, however, homeschooling does not comport with crucial social justice values related to investing in the common good, and so I’d urge parents concerned with social justice—both broadly and in terms of their own children’s development—to think twice about making this choice.