Several months ago, while engaged in a conversation with a fellow homeschooler, I made a rather extreme statement. That statement has since been challenged, so I’ve been giving some major thought to formulating a response.
"I will NEVER send my children to public school."
"Why would you say something so extreme?"
A while back I posted The Top 10 Reasons Why I Homeschool. While these were all very REAL reasons, many of them were also somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and therefore, do not fully explain what has motivated me from the very beginning to homeschool my children. The very simple truth is this:
I teach my children at home because I will never put them in public school.
I acknowledge that this position is extreme. Homeschoolers keep their kids at home for a multitude of reasons. Many of these are more proactive than defensive. While I agree with many of these reasons, for me they are all secondary. My main reason IS defensive. I don’t want my kids in public school! I am a certified teacher and my arguments against public schools are based on experience and observations from more than 20 years of association with and involvement in public schools. I began to recognize many of these issues early on in my teaching career…some even before I graduated from college! The problems I began to observe more than 20 years ago have only gotten worse in the years since. Interestingly enough, my daughter, now training to become a teacher herself, is making many of the same observations now that she is spending time in public school classrooms.
Schools are institutions designed to educate the masses. They are not designed to meet either the emotional or academic needs of the individual. As such, they will most effectively reach "the average" student, often missing the needs of the lowest and highest performing children.
Schools are places where values such as tolerance, acceptance, self-esteem, diversity, and relativism are often esteemed more highly than academic excellence. Ironically, the tolerance so tenaciously preached, is often not objectively practiced by its most vocal proponents.
Schools are places where a dangerous brand of socialization is valued. This brand of socialization insists that children are capable of preparing each other to be meaningful, productive members of society. This brand of socialization argues that being bullied, osticized, laughed at, or worse is a necessary part of the socialization process…"how else will your children learn to deal with people who don’t like them??" This brand of socialization favors the popular, the attractive, and the likeable, creating a social hierarchy which diminishes the value of others. Ironically, in a place intended for learning, this brand of socialization often values academic mediocrity over academic excellence. In other words, in school it’s often considered "not cool" to be smart.
Schools are places where government bureaucracy and union mentality prevent good teachers from being rewarded for being good teachers…and there are MANY outstanding teachers trying to do their best for the children they teach. This same system keeps bad teachers from being penalized for being bad teachers and may even prevent dangerous teachers from being removed from the classroom. In addition, schools are places where parents have little or no say in who teaches their children. The NEA (and the politicians who they control) stubbornly refuse to allow a system of school choice intended to create competition which would inevitably result in improvements to our schools and a better education for all our children.
Schools are places where curriculum rich in revisionist history, environmental indoctrination and liberalism is often taught by teachers who share a similar agenda. Current teaching methods may stress "self-esteem" more than academic excellence. In much of today’s curriculum, activities which require critical thinking are largely non-existent.
Schools are places where creativity and independent learning are stifled in exchange for "teaching-to-the-test". Performance is judged by standardization rather than by the presence of inquisitiveness, curiosity and wonder.
I could go on and on, but I hope I’ve made my point.
It was 1985. I was a newly married college graduate, recently certified and looking for a teaching job. I was reading a book (Child Abuse in the Classroom by Phyllis Schlafly) which presented evidence of many of the issues which I have just addressed. I looked at my husband of just a few months and said, "I will never send my children to public school."
And I haven’t.