Why parents and schools do not matter

Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner has lots of interesting stats based on their studies on economics and how things aren't what they appear to be. I found the chapter on more abortion equals less crime to be very thought provoking. The numbers do not lie and I'll chew on its meaning sometime in the future. That said, my post today is on whether what parents do which make any difference in children's educational abilities.

The chapter "What Makes a Perfect Parent" analyzes stats on what things affect how well children turn out academically. According to the authors, the following correlated positively to higher test scores:
  1. highly educated parents
  2. parents have high socioeconomic status
  3. mother was thirty or older at the time of her first child's birth
  4. parents speak English at home
  5. parents are involved in PTA
  6. has many books in the home
Negative ones are:
  1. low birthweight
  2. adoption
[you'll have to read the book on the detailed reasoning of the above]

The factors which had no correlation to high test scores (if you do or don't do the following, it won't matter):
  1. family is intact
  2. recently moved to a better neighborhood
  3. mother didn't work outside the home between birth and kindergarten
  4. attended Head Start
  5. regularly go to museums
  6. regularly spanked
  7. frequently watches TV
  8. parents read to him nearly everyday.
Wow! So reading don't matter while there is no such thing as too much TV?!? [The book goes in depth of analyzing them.]

They summerize how it isn't so much what the parents do but who they are that seems to matter the most:

[T]his is not to say that parents don't matter. Plainly they matter a great deal. Here is the conundrum: by the time most people pick up a parenting book, it is far too late. Most of the things that matter were decided long ago -- who you are, whom you married, what kind of life you lead. If you are smart, hardworking, well educated, well paid and married to someone equally fortunate, then your children are more likely to succeed.
There are many angles I take from this. In terms of home education, the actual teaching method do not really matter. Another is that what goes on at home (and school) does not matter a whole lot since how the parents live (behave) matters more than what is being forced down their throat: monkey see, monkey do. Unfortunately, if success is how good of a follower you'll become (i.e., an obedient employee) then I don't know if their results are something one wants to aim for (to become a better test taker).

The goal of a school system is to turn out good followers: get a job, pay taxes, vote, etc. Raising iconoclastic godly men (and women) would be a disservice to the public at large. Which is why I think Dianne Glass rightly points out how home education would not help "the public good."