The perils of home schooling for American Muslims, 7 April 2008, Insight on the News, Washington, D.C.
A recent March 26, 2008 piece in The New York Times, “Many Muslims Turn to Home Schooling,” on the struggles faced by Pakistani-American girls in Lodi, California, highlights the problems caused by home schooling. Although many Muslim, as well as Christian, Jewish and secular parents view home schooling as a necessary alternative to the social ills plaguing public schools … the adverse consequences on their children are profound and usually last a lifetime. The biggest problem is that home schooling by traditionalist religious communities perpetuates the creation of social ghettoes, whereby students are often alienated and disconnected from the larger American culture. It fosters a kind of balkanization that, ultimately, is not good for America or for the students.
The only way to reverse this trend towards voluntary religious segregation is to stress the benefits of assimilation. This should not be done through coercion or by denying parents the right to home-school their kids. Instead the integration of Muslims in America should be done in the same manner millions of previous immigrants were successfully absorbed: social pressure and the cultural melting pot. For all of its flaws, the melting pot approach has served America”and its numerous waves of immigrants”very well. It can do the same for this generation’s Muslim newcomers.
To succeed, however, Americans must re-embrace the melting pot ethos and jettison the destructive ideology of multiculturalism. If we do not, then we risk the emergence of a new era of segregation in this country”not a separation based on race (as in South Africa or the Jim Crow South), but a divide based on religion. This is a recipe for disaster.
The author of this piece is Jeffrey T. Kuhner, editor of Insight magazine.