An article at WorldNetDaily is titled "Homeschool your kids and save the planet!" with the thrust of the article beingÂ an ecological side-effect of mass-schooling: emissions-producing school buses.Â He’s on to something, but stops short with his argument.Â
- WorldNetDailey, Grant’s Pass, Oregon, 26 Sep 2005, Homeschool your kids and save the planet!
After reading about schools closing to conserve fuel and save money, it occurred to me that homeschoolers have had it right all along: No gas guzzling bus is required.
Maybe conservatives should turn homeschooling into an environmental issue instead of an educational one. This may encourage even some of those on the left to embrace the movement. After all, homeschoolers are helping to "save the planet," right?
The modern human artifact of mass-schooling, whether conducted by conservatives or liberals,Â not only has an ecological impact via school bus emissions, but also from the production of the buses themselves (the raw material needed to produce them, the energy needed to convert the raw materials into buses,Â the emissions produced by transporting to the fuel to the area where the buses need to be fueled, the energy needed to refine the petroleum into the fuel needed to be transported to the area, and so on),Â and also in the side-industries that support mass-schooling:Â pencils, pens, paper, crayons, watercolors, construction paper, book-bags, gym shoes, floor wax, the powder janitors throw on vomit to clean it up, bulletin boards, books (of course), desks, cafeteria lunch trays, thumbtacks, monkey bars (haven’t seen many see-saws lately), and the school buildings themselves.
Mass-schooling not only takes the lion’s share of local tax money (and probably a good bit of state and federal money as well), but it involves a lot of industries, all of which must have ecological fallout because production of just about anything, from cooking potatoes for supper to building a space shuttle, uses resources and involve chemical change.Â Human activity effectsÂ our environment significantly, both ecologically and socially.Â Â If most people homeschooled, would thatÂ change the magnitude of the effect?Â It might.Â
Some changes could be:
- Less land used for large buildings to contain schoolchildren — since they already have homes in which to live.
- Fewer raw materials used for construction — long-term change since the existing buses and building have not yet worn out.
- An economic effect because of the lost jobs — perhaps offset by different spending habits by those who now had fewer taxes to pay?
- A boost for post-secondary training and education when all the education workers retrained to fill the jobs vacated by the parents (men or women) returning home to be with the kids.
- A shift inÂ the liberal/conservativeÂ portions of the textbook market — without blocs of schools purchasing hundreds of books at a time, textbooks could be written for smaller audiences instead of being written to the standards ofÂ Texas, orÂ California, or Florida.
Overcoming structural barriers to good textbooks
California, Texas, and Florida offer the potential for large profits; collectively, they represent about 25% of the total national market. (See Appendix II for "Percent of Total Sales" by State) If the publisher’s book can clear the adoption hurdle in one or more of those states, the company’s viability is virtually guaranteed. Conversely, if a company fails to win state approval, it is shut out of the entire market in that state, and may even be forced out of business. Adoption contests are a treacherous business, especially in California. Therefore publishers study the curriculum frameworks, bid specifications, selection criteria, and politics in those states with the concentration of someone facing the prospect of an immediate hanging.
- Less opportunity for child predators — without swarms of children flowing back and forth between home and school, there should be reduced chances for predators to target children on their regular routes (‘regular routes’ being something overseas military personnel are told to change to thwart terrorists)
I don’t know that I see the disappearance of mass-schooling.Â There are enough news articles and support-group notices about co-ops thatÂ there seems to be something built-in to the human social construct that almost demands schools.Â Most (not all) of us seem to like getting together in little groups.Â I’m treading way outside my field of expertise (which is reading books while drinking cups of tea) but I have to wonder if the mass-schools aren’t just a modern socialÂ expression of the desire of the tribe to bring children up in its own way?
Still, the idea, at the least,Â of helping to decrease the amount of carbon dioxideÂ in the airÂ by staying at home more, leaving those long chains of petro-carbon-chemicals well underground,Â and not having yellow behemoths trundling the streets twice a day in their stop-and-go fashionÂ for nine months, is tempting.Â
But then all the homeschoolers would have to stay home, and we know they don’t do that.