This book should terrify and infuriate everyone who reads it because you know what? At the rate our local, state, and federal governments are defunding public education and deregulating what’s counts as “school choice”, this kind of child abuse will be allowed to proliferate instead of be curbed. And I say child abuse before I even get to the physical and emotional abuse in this book – child abuse as in denying your kid access to a real education. We’ve found one of my high horses, folks, get ready because the air is real thin all the way up here.
Yes, I know, no amount of legislation and regulation will catch every cookoo crazypants that wants to deprive their child of a future, but godDAMN we should at least be making that decision harder.
Educated is Tara Westover’s all too true story of growing up in rural Idaho under the most unreal of circumstances. Her father, charismatic as he may have been, was utterly fucknuts insane – religious fanatic, doomsday prepper, anti-government paranoid, the works – and her mother pliantly went along with it all. Maybe half of their seven children were born in a hospital or had any kind of birth records (Tara has since chosen her birthdate, as no one can prove it one way or the other). As the youngest, she bore the worst of it. Her brothers and sisters grew up and started to leave and her father’s mental illness got worse. She worked with him as a junker starting at the age of ten. She never set foot in a classroom until the day she started college. One of her siblings had the strength to break the brainwashing he’d been raised under and helped her be strong enough to do the same. She taught herself physics, algebra, trig, all of it and scored high enough on the ACTs to be accepted to Brigham Young and she started classes there when she was seventeen years old. It took much, much longer to more fully escape the control of her family.
“But wait, wouldn’t an accredited university like BYU need high school transcripts?” Apparently not. Apparently claiming your children are “home schooled” is good enough even if they have to learn to read while hiding from you. Because yeah – in this country you can “educate” your children however you like and get away with it as long as no one looks too hard – and as we continue to strip funding and resources from education departments, the bare bones staff doesn’t have the man power to give anything more than a passing glance. In this country we have deemed it acceptable to utterly deprive your children of a future – by sheer force of will, three of the seven children get out, but for the other four (more than half) there is nothing but near-illiteracy and the family business.
Tara Westover is a brilliant, determined, unbelievably strong woman who beat near insurmountable odds – and the path this country is on can put too many innocent children in those same shoes.