Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: If you don't send your kids to public school, you're a bad guy?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

If you don't send your kids to public school, you're a bad guy?

A controversial article from Slate made the rounds on social media about this time last year. The title says it all. "If you send your kids to private school, you are a bad person." It's not the first time a Slate writer stirred things up with an inflammatory article bashing parents who opt for something other than public school. In 2012, the hot button title was, "Liberals, don't homeschool your kids."

Both of these articles had the same general premise. Parents, especially educated and affluent parents, have a responsibility to the community at large to send their children to public school. Those who choose to do otherwise, by either sending their kids to private school or homeschooling, are cheating the public school kids out of their involvement and influence.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dok1/4389466199


These authors acknowledge that public schools in many instances are broken, and that it might take generations of involved parents to get them back on track, but they insist that parents should make the sacrifice, foregoing the benefits of an alternative education, in order to eventually improve public schools for all.

As a parent, I balk at the notion of sacrificing my children's education, their happiness, and even their safety in pursuit of a collective social good that may never be obtained.

If public schools might be compared to swimming pools, many today are choked with crud. You have everything from predators on the faculty, academic scandals in the classrooms and bullies in the hallways. What the Slate writers insist is that the slime in the schools could be cleared away if parents didn't pull their kids out of public school and choose other alternatives. But kids aren't magical filters that can change a system that has been decades in the making. Leaving your kids in a cruddy school only guarantees one thing - they will come home covered in the same grime they've been swimming in every day.

We chose to homeschool because we believed it was the best option for our kids. We sacrificed my income so that we could provide our kids with an alternative education that is individualized and helps them reach their potential. Making the best choice possible for our own children doesn't make us bad people.

Why didn't we stick with the public schools and devote our time and energy to making them better? Don't we care about kids stuck in failing public schools? Certainly! Do we have the power to effect change on behalf of those children? Unfortunately, to a large extent the answer is no.

Because as I see it, public education in America is no longer a local entity that can be changed with the involvement of caring and dedicated parents and teachers. I see public education as a giant, run by corporations, unions and government officials. And the chance of changing anything, from the number of standardized tests kids take to the time they have at the lunch table, is virtually nonexistent, at least in the short time that my kids will still be kids.

So I do what's best for mine, and I hope you can do what's best for yours. And together we can vote for officials who will try to put control of the schools back in the local communities, back where parents and teachers really can make a difference.