Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Education Is The Goal
I may have an unusual take on the issue of public school vs. homeschooling. My parents are both school teachers. My sister was a school teacher, though she's currently teaching teachers how to teach Math to grade school kids. I also have two kids who are being helped a great deal by the public school system.
I don't have any illusions about public schools. Personally, I had a terrible public school experience. I truly hated school. My education was quite good, but socially I was miserable. And having family on the front lines of trying to get their students what they needed, I know the issues with funding, too many administrators in some places, and the restrictions placed on teachers including real class time lost so that they can teach to tests.
But I didn't homeschool my kids because I hate public education or believe the worst about it. For example, I don't believe public school teachers are rigging tests to increase their funding. And most teachers that I've talked to, while concerned about money for education, are much more concerned with their day-to-day needs of their students. It's the administrators job to worry about funding.
There is no great push that I've seen to label kids as having special needs. From what I hear from special needs moms, the exact opposite is more often the case, with parents fighting hard to get their kids into the programs that they know their children need to succeed and the schools unwilling or unable to help. Schools may get increased funding for special needs kids, but they also have to spend a lot more, and allocate more resources. Right now, especially, that's hard to do. In our district, some special needs programs are being cut. Which, by the way, no one is happy about, including those working in the schools.
Homeschooling frees us from many of the restrictions placed on kids in school. Our kids can meet people of all ages, get real-life experiences in all the things we do, from going to the bank and grocery store, to hitting the library, or field trip spots when they're not overrun with school kids. We don't have to teach to tests. Some of us don't test our kids at all. It's not necessary, since we already know how well they're doing. We have the blessing of getting to know our children deeply from spending so much time with them.
Still, sometimes, school may be a better fit for a kid. It certainly is for my two sons right now. I do tell my oldest son, often, that if socially school is getting to be too much, he can always come back home. Interestingly, that gives him the freedom he needs to get through it. He knows there's always another option. But I don't think I could give Ciaran what he needs right now. He's blossomed in his school, and I'm so grateful.
I do take issue with groups like the NEA, who oppose homeschooling. Though most teachers I've talked to are unaware of this stance. I do take issue with moves by government to limit or restrict homeschoolers. I think the government should try to fix public schools with known issues before trying to fix homeschooling when there's no evidence that it's broken. I do think homeschoolers need to be aware of what is going on in the world of education so that we can continue to advocate for our rights and freedoms. I do think that schools have some real issues that will have to be addressed, and I think most people involved in the school system realize that. But, we all want our children to have a great education no matter where they go. And I'm grateful that I live in a country that provides an education to it's children. Especially when so many children in the world go without.