There's been a bit of a dust-up over at Business Week over their recent cover story, The Permanent Temporary Workforce. The story was written with the intent of casting the rise in the free agent workforce in as negative a light as possible. For some people it is a bad thing -- you're doing the same job as an independent contractor, and so not getting any benefits. But for many of us who consider ourselves more entrepreneurial, it's great not to call any one company boss, and certainly worth the trade-offs (like buying our own health insurance, something I did for a few years).
Anyway, the dust-up is that Business Week later had to run a letter from the lead character in the story, a single mom named Tammy DePew Smith, disagreeing with the whole premise, namely that "You know American workers are in bad shape when a low-paying, no-benefits job is considered a sweet deal." Smith works with LiveOps, a Santa Clara provider of call-center workers. She works from home, basically when she wants to, earning about $15/hour -- not great, but not exactly poverty, either.
So what does this have to do with education? Well, it turns out that Smith is also homeschooling her 7-year-old son. I know a lot of Gifted Exchange readers are homeschooling, and often this involves one parent stepping out of the workforce for a while to function as their children's full-time teacher. But the economy is changing. More of us are working wherever, whenever. While working from home is not a good way to save money on childcare when you have little children (trust me on this one), if an older child can be started on a lesson, the parent can then go do something else. In Smith's case, what she does is go answer customer service phone calls for half an hour or so until he's done. This allows her, as a single parent, to support her children, and homeschool one of them too.
Indeed, Business Week could have written a whole story about that! It could have read, "isn't it great that the economy is now so flexible that a single mom can not only support her kids, she can homeschool, too?" But I guess this was not the company line. Michael Bloomberg, whose Bloomberg company now owns Business Week, has often told graduating classes in his stump commencement speech that "it never hurts to be the first one into the office each morning -- and the last to leave." Well, it hurts if you don't get to homeschool, and you've decided that's what's best for your kids.
I always like to hear stories from homeschooling parents about how you're making it work, particularly if you are combining it with paid work or other commitments.