Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Dim View of Public Schools

I read Tom's A Dim View of Homeschooling and thought I would respond.

Tom says

This boy had come to me after a previous bout of homeschooling, essentially two years behind his peers, but was just beginning to make steady progress

I know many public school students who are two years or more behind their peers. Maybe you should spend more time worrying about them Tom and less time worrying about homeschoolers. In fact when I started homeschooling my children Youngest Son had come home with a large packet of school work after completing third grade in public school and a letter stating

This is all the material that we didn't have time to teach during the school year. Please teach this material to your child over the summer break so he/she will be ready for fourth grade.

So all the third graders in one public school were behind and the parents were expected to catch them up over the summer.  Seems to me if the school officials thought I was capable of teaching material that they failed to teach and that was vital to a successful fourth grade school year I could just as easily homeschool full time. My Eldest Son who had just finished fifth grade in public school was behind in Math because his teacher for the second semester in fifth grade wanted to teach kindergarten and didn't like higher Math, so she just skipped it. So all the fifth graders in one public school class didn't have Math for an entire semester.

Tom said
before long her son came to into view and began chanting, "I wanna go back to school, I wanna go back to school."

Remember we are talking about a third grader here. Kids chat a lot of things "I want ice-cream", "I don't want to go to bed" ........................ Just because a kid is chanting something doesn't mean it is good for them or that they should get it.

Tom said
Discussing the visit on the drive back to school, we both had the strong feeling that the mom was just plain lonely. She wasn't working at the time, seemed depressed and wanted her son around to keep her company. The incident at school may or may not have happened in the manner that her son described it, but we suspected that she was using it as a way to justify having her son home with her for essentially selfish reasons.
Some public school teachers could be accused of teaching a class for essentially selfish reasons. Certainly all my Eldest Son's Fifth Grade Teacher for the second semester was interested in was the pay check. She didn't even want to be a fifth grade teacher she wanted to teach Kindergarten.  His original fifth grade teacher had resigned during the middle of the school year in order to take a higher paying job as a school counselor. Although to give him credit he did pop into the class and try to help out Miss I want to Teach Kindergarten whenever he could, but I really can't say either one put the children's welfare over their own economic well being.

Tom seems like a decent public school teacher who genuinely cares abut the students under his care but all public school students aren't  lucky enough to have a teacher like Tom.

Parents have the right to homeschool their children without having to jump through hoops imposed by the states. As homeschool parents bear the full financial burden for educating their children the states have no right to impose regulations.

My eldest son started college at sixteen after being homeschooled sixth grade on, he now has a BS degree in Computer Science and is working on his Masters. My youngest son is in his first year of college full time after being homeschooled since fourth grade. He took two classes his senior year of Homeschooled High School at the local community college for dual credit.

~Alasandra, a retired homeschooling Mom



  1. You go girl! I think if we can pay for public schools and pay for our own homeschooling materials the district, state, and federal government should mind their own business. I didn't need government instruction for how to make children or how to give birth to them. So why is it they think I need them for educating my children. They need us and our tax money!

  2. First of all, I'm flattered to have my post the subject of your blog. And I mean that. You're obviously a dedicated and successful homeschooler and I applaud you. And I also agree with Tori, in that the last thing we need is more hoops for people to jump through. That said, don't you think we should do something to make sure parents homeschool their children correctly?

  3. Tom, the problem with that is who decides what is the correct way to homeschool? There are many different homeschooling methods. Just because I choose to do it one way doesn't mean another way isn't equally correct or that the students will not be equally successful.

    I know a few public school teachers who have chosen to homeschool their own children and they all say how much they enjoy the freedom from regulations and the chance to be creative homeschooling provides. There is no one right or standard way to homeschool and frankly I wouldn't want there to be. I choose to use different homeschooling methods with my boys as they both have different learning styles. I am very thankful I wasn't forced to do it such and such way because some bureaucrat thought it was the way it should be done. Or that I wasn't forced to teach such and such because some bureaucrat determined that is what a child a certain age should be learning.

    The beauty of homeschooling is that homeschool parents can tailor what they teach to their uniquely individual child. It is a luxury that a public school teacher with 20+ students doesn't have. And it's a concept that bureaucrats find hard to grasp.

  4. I feel that the point of this whole discussion should be that people don't dismiss public schools as wholesale ineffective or useless because some of the students fail or develop other problems. We do not condemn a teacher as inept or a failure simply because some of her students don't turn out to be geniuses. We don't label all public schools as a bad idea because not all students succeed, some are condemned to geekdom and some become criminals. But somehow it appears that it is quite acceptable to the general public at large to criticize homeschooling parents and students based on a statistically small sample of‘geeks and nerds’ and a tiny sample of outright failures.

    Yes, there are home schooling parents who are clearly ill-advised and unprepared to take on this task, but the vast majority of home schooling parents that I’ve met are hard working, dedicated, and loving people who put their childrens’ academic future at the forefront of their lives.

    Tell me Tom, when you have a bunch of parents from a public school sit together do you think they’ll spend hours discussing various curricula, text books, educational websites and activities? Chances are they don’t. I was one of those parents (private school no less) and while we discussed teachers and some of the activities engaged in by our children in class, we certainly weren’t all that involved in their education to the point of looking around to see if better text books and workbooks were an option. Now throw a bunch of homeschooling parents together in a room and the conversation eventually ends at books, techniques, materials etc. We are consumed with the pursuit of enriching, stimulating and fun academic material for our kids. Most of us have bookshelves groaning under the weight of reference books (I drool over DK books) etc. Most of us drag bags and little kiddie wagons back from the library loaded with dozens of books at a time.

    Rather than focusing on homeschoolers educating their children to live up to some one elses standards it would benefit the vast majority of children if we ensured that the children in public schools are ‘educated correctly’. Alas I think every one of us who experienced public schools can come up with many examples where that process stumbled or came to a grinding halt. Home educated children are but a small fraction so let us take a look at the big picture first. Why don’t you start by fixing the public schools (here’s an idea get rid of unions to start with and make teachers and parents accountable) and then take a look at regulating homeschoolers.

  5. Tom, don't you think the government should make sure we are feeding, bathing, loving, housing, clothing and the list could go on and on. Should they give us parenting test too? Should the government require me to send in a packet with details about how I am parenting? The public school system is not the authority of education. Anyone with a library card can learn what the public schools teach and then some. My son was reading paragraphs and they had him listed as reading level e because the books in his class didn't go beyond that. It would be educational neglect if I allowed a public school to dumb down my child. This year he would be watching people learn to read when he did that at 3 and 4 years old. He would be learning to add and subtract when he learned that at 4. My child is way beyond the curriculum at his school. I looked at the district curriculum map and as far as I can tell they teach kindergarten for the first 3 years of school. The government is not an authority over the people who pay them "taxpayers" and it is definately not the authority of education. Talk to me about homeschooling standards when the public school education system can beat Korea. If anyone is the authority of education we should be sending out IHIP and idiotic quarterly reports overseas so the real authorities of education can tell me what I am doing wrong.

  6. Can I cheer? You are a kindred spirit.

    I wonder why Tom isn't focused on making sure teachers --who get paid by taxpayers -- educate "children correctly"?

    I have six kids. The two oldest are now at a large private university that is tough to get into. They are both doing very well. I'm just not too worried about my methods.

  7. "That said, don't you think we should do something to make sure parents homeschool their children correctly?"

    There is no evidence that parents aren't teaching their children correctly.

    Don't you think we should do something to make sure public schools teach their children correctly?

    There is a LOT of evidence that public schools are failing the kids that are in their "care" already. It seems they could take some tutoring from homeschools and private schools. But they won't, because that would be too easy and cost effective.

  8. As a former teacher in public and private school and an experienced homeschool mom (I have a daughter graduating from college this year, pre-med, after being on full scholarship), I see many more students coming from public schools with issues than those coming from homeschooling behind. I also teach courses in writing, literature and history, and I have yet to see a student come from ps ready to match my homeschool students. If only there were more teachers like Tom and more parents who didn't wait until the system failed to pull their kids.

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