Dear Tracy….

(Hat tip to my friend and fellow blogger, Arby, for writing a GREAT blog post that led to this one…more about that in point #2 below.)

Some people just don’t get it.  Tracy Jackson doesn’t get it.  Tracy is a high school science teacher who recently responded to a comment on a Wall Street Journal “Question of the Day” with a challenge:

Homeschooling – I have no problem with homeschooling, but please don’t compare that with my job. There are VERY FEW similarities. If I had only 3-4 self-selected students to educate in the comfort of my own home with any bathroom/food/physical activity/food break and could set my own hours and discipline appropriately, etc. etc. etc —— I could get even better results than those parents. If you don’t believe me, then please fund that study and I will be happy to participate. I will even take 10 students.”  (emphasis mine)

Dear Tracy,
You’re right.  There are very few similarities between what you do and what I do.  Frankly, I don’t think you have any idea just how true that statement is.  So, I’d like to take you up on your offer of a study designed to prove your point.  I think the study will prove a point.  I’m just not sure it will prove the point you think it will prove.  Anyway…in the interest of scientific purity (as a scientist, I’m sure you’ll agree,) we’ll need to set a few parameters just to be sure the study is “legit.”

1.) No can do on your “you-fund-the-study” requirement. Homeschoolers don’t get funded. You are definitely on your own in the money department.

2.) No can do on the “self-selected” students thing either. You will receive a randomly selected, representative sample of students. And speaking of “self-selected” students, you might want to read what my friend Arby has to say about that HERE

3.) Since you’ve made the claim that you could get better results than homeschool parents can, this study really needs to last at least 2 years.  Otherwise we won’t be able to adequately evaluate (and compare) the results.  I’d suggest standardized tests as a fair method of evaluation.  Oh.  And you have to pay for the tests.

4.) As long as we’re talking about money: you don’t get paid for your participation in this study.  No salary.  No benefits.  No collective bargaining agreements.  Sorry, but there’s no one to bargain with!

5.) We’ll go ahead and let you have the 10 kids you suggested you could handle. But even though homeschoolers rarely have more than 1-2 kids in the same grade level, in the interest of fairness, we’ll give you a little bit of a break. You can have two sets of twins. Lucky you!  Your 10 kids will only be at 8 different grade levels.  But though your twins may be at the same grade level, they’ll likely have totally different learning styles.  And the special needs kids (odds are, your representative sample will provide you with at least one!) don’t get a teacher’s aide or resource teacher.  It’s all on you.

6.)  By the way, just so we’re clear, you have to teach all subjects…not just science.  Are you ready for a kindergartner?  Or two??

7.) You have to find, select and pay for all the curriculum for all 10 kids.  Be sure to check Ebay, Half.com, Vegsource, homeschool book fairs, and any other used curriculum resource you can possibly think of.  It’ll probably only take you 6-8 weeks of constant searching to finally secure all the curriculum you need at the prices you can afford.  But don’t worry, it’ll be much better next year when you can reuse all your non-consumables with the younger kids.  And if you make the big kids do their work in notebooks instead of writing in the books, you can even reuse the consumables!!  And guess what?  What you won’t be using again, you can sell!  It’s fun. Homeschoolers LOVE using all their free time buying and selling curriculum!

8.) You have to homeschool those 10 kids in your home. With furniture, food, supplies, etc. that you have purchased, begged, borrowed, or stolen yourself.

9.) And speaking of home, you can’t “go home” at the end of the day.  You are home!  You have to live with, cook for, do the laundry for, shop for, wipe the noses of, and everything else for the 10 children you’ve agreed to homeschool. Oh, and by the way…your students never leave.  You don’t get evenings, weekends, holidays, and summers off.  No teacher’s “in-service” days, either.

10.) Each child has to be involved in at least one extra-curricular activity outside the home…you know, so they can get the “socialization” they need.  That’s very important, you know.  I hope you have a big van.

11.) While you’re waiting in the van during one of those extra-curricular activities, you might want to make a list of all the ways your kids are getting socialized.  Keep it handy.  You’re gonna need it.

12.) And finally, there should be at least one other “extenuating circumstance” in your life.  Normally these “real life” circumstances pick us. We don’t pick them. But we’ll be kind. You can pick.

a.) You’re juggling homeschooling and a part-time job. And being the director of the local food co-op.

b.) Your spouse is out of work so you’re down to NO incomes.

c.) You’re caring for your aging parents who live 60 miles away and require regular visits and care.

There. I think that about covers it.

So, how ’bout it, Tracy?  Still want to participate?

Link Up!

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30 responses

    • The only sub I ever tried is my husband. And he was fired years ago! Somehow he seemed to think that nothing in the lesson plan was really that important. The kids, of course, thought he was a GREAT sub!

  1. Great post.

    Ha ha at her “self selected” students idea. We don’t get to pick our students that means we have various personalities, ages and stages, sometimes a learning disability or two or more and medical challenges to juggle also. You said that though.

    Also in the middle of doing the homeschooling you have to add in all the medical and dental care, orthodontist for said childen (oh and for yourself). Better get those kids to behave well so you can leave them alone in the waiting room while you have your annual pap smear and mammogram. A mom deserves a little privacy and hey we call getting to be alone during a pelvic exam “me time”!

    How about also helping aging relatives?

    Oh and being asked by relatives to help as “you really are not working a job and you have lots of free time to do that don’t you?”.

    And juggling the home repairs and home maintenance, must be home for that and keep schooling while the guys are tromping through the house making a mess. Homeschooling continues when the furnace breaks and there is no heat until it’s fixed.

    Oh and juggling the car repairs and maintenance.

    Now that you are home there is no complaining about poor quality school lunches you now have breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner to plan, make, and clean up after.

    If the child struggles to learn is it your fault due to poor teaching or is the child lazy (oops can’t blame the parents as that would be you) or is there some LD that needs investigation with (fill in the blank) kind of specialist that you have to pay for as there are no free services given to you and oh, surprise, the health insurance often doesn’t cover these.

    Oh how hard it is to pay for all this stuff when the homeschool teacher gets no pay! I know now you are tempted to quit homeschooling and go back to teaching someone else’s kids for pay!
    Let’s see what else we can come up with

  2. Where can I apply for a job like that? How’s the pay, benefits? Teachers union back you up? Who do you send your kids to when they act up? I hope Tracy got to read your response!

  3. Let’s not forget that there’s also no janitor for the previously mentioned sick days and the mess that goes with them, or to clean the desks and windows and floors of the school room(s), or to restock toilet paper, soap and the like.

  4. Erin! Great addition to the list! I completely forgot about the janitors! I am the janitor and grounds keeper. I am also the head cook and cafeteria lady. I hope that doesn’t mean I have to start wearing saggy support hose.

  5. Excellent response, Linda. And I like Erin’s follow-ups too.
    I would add:
    And be prepared for the constant barrage from armchair quarterbacks, like YOU! In a public school, your superiors don’t blame YOU if a child fails to grasp the curriculum, all the blame is placed on the child. We homeschooling parents don’t have that luxury, because we know if a child doesn’t “get” it, we’re not teaching it the right way.

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