Monday, January 26, 2015


I'm living proof of this:
And which is worse: that junior might hear, once a week, some sort of religious message which, to judge by the people I know who went to parochial school, has a fairly dim chance of sticking; or that junior won't be able to read and write and will spend the rest of his life moving heavy things from one place to another?
Twelve years of catholic education and I'm everything I shouldn't be: a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage hedonist nonbeliever. It's isn't that surprisingly actually. Contrary to all that's big and scary about religious education, my high school was pretty secular. A number of the students weren't catholic and church attendance wasn't required.  Religion was taught, but thanks the "loosening" of Vatican II (or more likely the discretion of the relatively liberal teachers and principal), it had an almost hippie vibe to it, if you squinted hard enough. Sex ed was okay, considering I hit my teen years at the peak of AIDS panic. My grade school, however, wasn't immune to the occasional holy fuck up. I came across a word a few weeks ago in Katha Pollitt's book Pro I hadn't thought of is over twenty years: homunculus.
The concept has roots in preformationism as well as earlier folklore and alchemic traditions. [...] Preformationism, a theory of heredity, claimed that either the egg or the sperm (exactly which was a contentious issue) contained complete preformed individuals called "animalcules". Development was therefore a matter of enlarging this into a fully formed being. The term homunculus was later used in the discussion of conception and birth.
I used to bags of tiny, nondescript, plastic green army men. I imagined the "homunculus" looked like one of those. Thankfully, I had parents who taught me proper biology and I knew a fetus looked a lot more like tadpole than a fully-formed but tiny man. But hey, thanks for reintroducing me to a word I'd completely forgot existed.

I bring this up because I was reading this post on Popehat, a reaction to a slate piece calling middle-class people who send their children to private schools "bad." (Around the same time a blogger on Gawker called for banning private education altogether.) I coasted in my private school, but I had a cabal of adults who saw that I graduated. Had I gone to the terrible public school in my neighborhood, I could have easily dropped out. Middle-class liberal opponents of school choice rarely mention that having the means to move to a district with a good public schools is school choice. My private catholic school was cheaper than uprooting our family and moving to the suburbs, but even if it wasn't, I refuse to call my parents "bad" people or even "bad" liberals because they chose what they thought was the best school for me.