National School Choice Week 2013, which runs from Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, shines a spotlight on the need for education opportunities for all. In only its third year, this bipartisan, grassroots effort features more than 3,500 events spanning all 50 states.
This is a guest post from Steven Horwich, teacher, writer, director, and founder of Connect the Thoughts, providing resources and training for homeschooling. You can follow him on Twitter @Homeschoolcurr and Facebook.
There is a great deal of discussion today about school choice. I would like to suggest to you that schooling is not much of a choice at all. There is a better educational option you can take for your family, for your children.
That would be homeschooling.
I offer this to you as a teacher with 40 years experience who has worked in public schools (1 year – all I could stand), colleges (2 years), private schools (over 10 years), private workshops, and finally homeschooling (the last 10 years plus).
The High Cost of Schools
The woes of public schooling are well-documented, but please apply most of what you are about to read to private schools as well. Most private schools use the same methods, and often the same books, as public schools. Their results are similar. And private schooling is very expensive.
The drop-out rate for public schools is astronomical – over 50% in many large cities. The low level of education provided in schools is legendary now. Functional literacy in the U.S. has been in dramatic decline for decades. Test scores continue to decline year after year – even using the tests designed by and for public schools, and built around their own curriculum!
The cost of public schooling to the nation is crippling. The average student costs taxpayers between $12,500 – $27,000, depending on the school district. And those allegedly underpaid teachers make, on average, between 2-3 times what the average working Joe makes — for 9 months of work a year.
Beyond the Obvious Concerns
But there are many problems that are not often discussed. Per a Department of Education’s 2004 report, between 6-10% of all students will be sexually abused (physically or verbally) by teachers or staff during the student’s time in public school. That’s millions of students. Most such abuses never get reported. After all, who will believe a child over a teacher?
Abusers count on this silence, as well as the fact that teacher unions spend upward of $500,000 a piece to protect abusers who are brought to court. Most school districts will quietly move the abusing teacher to another campus to avoid incurring the cost of prosecution. And the tidal wave of bullying and other forms of abuse experienced by children in schools is monstrous.
A parent’s first job is to keep their children safe. Everything else follows safety, of necessity. A child learns nothing from an environment of threat, except fear.
Often the methodology of schooling is subtly destructive to families and students.
- Sticking a child in a room with 10-40 other children, regardless of whether they have anything at all in common outside of age.
- Forcing a student to study subjects for over a decade that they very well may have no aptitude or use for.
- Failing to even discuss issues of importance, such as religion.
Then there’s the fact that schools fail so miserably that teachers can’t even get through the dumbed-down materials they are provided – and so we have homework. Hours of daily homework, and a shuffling of responsibility to educate the child from the school to you, mom and dad. Do I need to tell you how destructive this is of family? [Bill: See my post Why Schools Should Get Rid of Almost All Homework.]
Homework creates another evil effect. It robs the student of discretionary time. That’s time the student would have used to play (these are children we’re talking about) and to discover the world. The time is stolen where the child would have experimented with his own ideas, interests and skills, and perhaps discovered a calling, something wonderful they could do. But schools say “No!” Schools say “You will study the approved studies only, and we’ll enforce our will with grades and report cards, homework, and, if necessary, labeling the child and drugging him. If we, the school, feel like you (mom and dad) are not supporting our plan for your child, well –we’ll call in child services.”
Here are a few quick reasons to homeschool:
- Safety. Homeschooling is FAR safer than schooling. As to the foolish argument that kids who homeschool won’t learn to work well with others, exactly the opposite is true. Feeling safe does wonders for a person’s self-image and for their relationships. I’ve worked with thousands of students. Homeschoolers as a group are simply better socially adjusted, it isn’t even close.
- Family control. The family controls what is studied. Sure, you should make sure all the essentials go in. But you can also organize studies around the student’s actual interests and skills. You are NOT obligated to educate according to government guidelines.
- College acceptance. Most colleges and universities want homeschoolers now. Why? Because they score higher on tests, as a group, than do those who go to schools, particularly public schools.
- The price. The cost of homeschooling is almost nothing. And folks, it IS legal to homeschool pretty much everywhere.
Of coure, I know there are other concerns. Can mom and dad teach Jr.? Where will the time come from? And many more.
As to what and how to teach, I’ve spent 10 years developing a homeschool curriculum for ages five-High School, called Connect The Thoughts. You can find hours of videos, articles, and many free samples at www.connectthethoughts.com.
I believe in homeschooling. I believe that any and every family can homeschool, though it’s most easily and successfully done by small groups of families working together. I’ve seen the results of homeschooling in my own children, and in hundreds of others. Homeschooling is simply the best educational option today.
[Bill: In addition to Steven's resources, for those looking for a blend of traditional schooling and homeschooling, I strongly recommend checking out the Veritas Classical Schools movement. If you can't find a location near you, maybe you should get something started by contacting my friend Dave Kinsey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him I sent you and he'll be really nice to you. Well, actually, he'll be really nice either way, but I'll feel better.]
And here’s a helpful video from homeschooling mom, author, speaker, and writer extraordinaire Tricia Goyer:
School Choice Week next post: See Why Parents Choose School Choice in Ohio