I have a passion for teaching children and education’s power to change lives. The problem is that education is America is failing. Our kids are still kind of stupid when they graduate.
So it can be a daunting task for parents to decide (if they have a choice) where to send the kids to school. To a public school, where they might lose their souls? To private school, where you can break the bank? Or to homeschool, where children will be socially handicapped forever? Can a child thrive in any school environment if the parents don’t have any other options?
I got a few people who know a thing or two about education to help me out. Turns out, maybe the choices aren’t all that grim.
Public School: A Pit of Despair?
Here’s the problem with public education in a nutshell: it sucks. It has, as I see it, has two major problems.
The curriculum: districts are constantly cramming kids’ skulls with useless information, from political propaganda to sex ed in kindergarten. All this while we continue to fall behind every industrialized country in the stuff that matters.
Then there’s the bloated, virulent “system.” It’s the bureaucracy and the unions. I will say it: the teachers’ unions need to be dismantled. They have evolved into nothing but political machines that protect lazy teachers and prevent people like me from getting jobs. Don’t believe me? Watch “Waiting for Superman.” All those whining teachers in Wisconsin weren’t heroes. They should’ve been fired on the spot. I’d have gladly come to work for half their salary and benefits.
But not all is lost in public schools. The district I live in is great, and I’ll gladly send my kids there. My mother and sister in law are wonderful public school teachers too. And I didn’t lose my soul in public high school. In fact, there may be some hidden advantages to sending kids to your local public school…
“My husband and I send our kids to our local public school because we believe it offers the most opportunities for us to teach our kids about loving their neighbors. At school our kids are exposed to a diversity that reflects the world they live in and we are intentional about talking them through situations as they think through their faith.”
Private School: A Matter of Choice
Of course, some people have a choice on where to send their kids, a charter school, or a private school. But too many parents look at school like a Wal-Mart. They think it should be a one-stop shop for their kids to get all the education they need. But who ever felt more educated in a Wal-Mart?
The other half the problem with education is what happens at home. Maybe it doesn’t matter if Christians send their kids to public or private schools…
“Christians should educate their children in the venue that best serves your child’s education and moral development. Our kids attend a public charter school, which is Montessori based. We make sure they get a strong Catholic foundation at home and through our parish. I don’t think there is one answer, other than take it seriously. Schooling does have a lot of influence.”
Homeschool: Awkward Forever?
If you have a steel will, you can just homeschool. Actually, homeschooling is becoming more prevalent across the country, and even homeschool academies are popping up everywhere (where kids can go to school and learn from other homeschooling parents the subjects their own parents aren’t qualified to teach.) I actually taught at one last year.
But I wondered. What kind of accountability is there for homeschooled kids? And does staying home make them weird and awkward forever? Maybe homeschooling isn’t as unnatural as you think…
“Homeschooling allows parents to make adjustments to the curriculum, peer pressure is minimal, and kids learn social skills from adults who theoretically have better social skills than other kids. It builds strong family ties and teaches kids how to build strong families. That’s one of the most important aspects of homeschooling because no one ever got a divorce because they did poorly in math.
I don’t think homeschooling socially handicaps kids, though it might pop-culturally handicap kids. But public, private and homeschool will all leave gaps in a student’s education. That’s why adults lose to ten-year-olds on “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.” In reality, homeschooling may have more accountability than public schools. With only two people managing the curriculum and lots of tools for tracking, there are fewer subject gaps.”
I’ve taught in all three places: public, private and homeschool academy, and my experience backs up what these moms know: your kids’ education amounts to what you put into it. All three places have their own problems, but one thing stayed the same: the parents. Kids did great with interested parents, and lousy with disaffected parents.
Easy question today. Tell us where you send your kids for their learnin.’ If every choice was an option, would you keep them there?